The weather forecast isn’t as good as it was but we’re off to Ilkley for a days walking with friends regardless. For once we’re not travelling by rail. Instead we’re in a rather different vehicle. Can you guess what it is?
It’s a Tesla.
So, part of the day was really interesting for a completely different reason – the chance to travel in an electric car, hear what the owner thought of it and gather our own impressions.
Jason’s had his Tesla for two years and covered a fair bit of ground in it as he uses it for both business and pleasure. I doubt he’ll mind me describing him as a car enthusiast who’s owned many different vehicles over the years.
Firstly, here’s my impressions of the Tesla S. It’s very roomy, but then it’s a big car. A lot of space inside the saloon is saved by the lack of a transmission. The fact it doesn’t have an engine means it has a (small) front boot as well as a rear one. It’s also very quiet – and stable, that’s because the battery covers the base of the chassis between the wheels, giving the vehicle a very low centre of gravity. Acceleration is impressive, very impressive. It would easily beat shit off a shovel. Jason told me it will do 0-30 in something like 1.5 seconds. He gave us a demonstration of what happens when by putting his foot down for a few seconds and it really did move (all within the speed limit of course).
Then come the caveats. Jason and his partner Nikki talked about the vehicles autopilot and the problems they’ve experienced. Apparently, you can trust it(ish) on roads where there’s clearly defined white lines, but if there’s none – forget it. Jason talked about the time he’d left the car in Autopilot when he was in a queue at traffic lights. The car suddenly decided to take off. Now, when you consider that at Tesla S weighs well over 2 tons and can accelerate rapidly, that’s a lot of kinetic energy – as the car in front that the Tesla didn’t sense found out. Jason’s Tesla rear-ended it so hard that it caused £10,000 worth of damage! Other things I learned were that the build quality is ‘typically American’ (and no, that’s not a compliment) and that because of the cars limited (but still impressive) battery charge life, you really have to be careful about travelling long distances as you have to make sure you can find working charging points. They’re not ‘go anywhere’ vehicles, but I’m sure that this factor will change as the technology improves and expands.
All in all I was quite impressed with the vehicle, just not the much-vaunted auto-pilot capability. Electric cars are certainly here to stay and the technology will continue to develop and improve. They cold make a real difference, but we have to be realistic about them. I still remain deeply cynical about the autonomous car hype and Jason’s experiences re-enforced that. Oh, there’s also the small matter that a Tesla isn’t exactly cheap, this one cost North of £65,000, which doesn’t exactly put it in the household car spending bracket. That said, other car companies will produce mass produced vehicles – which Tesla is failing to do.
OK, I realise that I’ve turned into ‘Top Gear’ here, so let’s get away from cars. The four of us had headed over to Ilkley for a day walking and chance to catch up – and we couldn’t have chosen a better day. Despite the forecast we didn’t see a spot of rain. In fact, the weather was far sunnier than was expected, so we had a great few hours exploring Ilkley Moor. Here’s a selection of pictures.