There is a car company that many people have ignored and continue to not take seriously. In 2013, it won Motor Trend Magazine’s Car of the Year. Despite this, in 2015, a prominent Bank of American-Merrill Lynch predicted it to collapse. Since then, the company has gone on to produce the most technologically advanced automobiles in history and their stock price has gone up instead of down. This company is Tesla, and in this article we’ll look at their current lineup and other endeavors.
Before we begin, I do want to start with the several downsides of Tesla. While their vehicles are no doubt the most technologically advanced, this comes at a very high cost. Their main car, the Model S, starts at $68,000 and can go up to over $100,000. Their SUV, the Model X, starts at an even higher $82,000. Recently, they have realized how unaffordable they are. Their smallest car that is under production right now costs $35,000, comparable in price and size to their competitor, the Chevrolet Bolt. The other main downside is the time it takes to charge. Even at the fastest charger available to the public, the Tesla Supercharger, it takes around an hour to go from empty to full. Also, there are very limited places where chargers are available. From Macon to Atlanta, an 85 mile trip, there is no charger. If your battery is low between those two stops, you are out of luck. If you have a Tesla with a good range (200+ miles per charge), you should be able to make it. However, on a long roadtrip, as Buzzfeed demonstrated, it can be a pain. Thankfully, a company based in Israel called StoreDot has a battery that can charge in 5 minutes. Hopefully, this charger and battery will be made available to the public soon.
For years a self-driving car was purely science fiction. However, Tesla is making it more of a reality. “All Tesla vehicles produced in our factory, including Model 3, have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver,” Tesla writes on their website. You can look up Youtube videos of the Tesla self driving car. It is crazy how the car can recognize a stoplight, steer, and change lanes all by itself. It can brake for traffic ahead. It is absolutely fascinating. I think this is one of the key selling points of Tesla.
The Tesla Model S has been around for a few years. It is a high powered sports car, but, unlike its counterparts, it’s electric. The first cool feature you notice about it is the door handles. They go inside the door. After the car is unlocked, they pop out. Once inside the car, you immediately notice the touchscreen. It is a 17 inch screen between the driver and passenger seats that replaces the radio, climate control, navigation system, and backup camera screen spaces in many other cars. This screen has AM, FM, and Satellite radio as well as online radio. You can also connect it to Bluetooth devices and through USB. Through Bluetooth, you can use Bluetooth calling. They also offer navigation through Google Maps. You can change the temperature of the car and see the backup camera. It does just about everything. It can even access the internet on its own internet browser. With everything from voice activated controls to multiple USB ports for media and power, the Model S certainly stands out in the crowd. There is one final feature that no gas car, sports or other, has. A front and rear trunk. If you open the Model S’ hood, you won’t find the engine and battery you’re expecting. Instead, you’ll find a trunk. Most of the mechanical elements are under the vehicle giving room for both a front and rear trunk. Despite this, pickup is amazing. This vehicle can go from 0 to 60 in just 2.3 seconds. Its range is about 250 miles on average per charge, though under ideal circumstances, you could get up to 340 miles.
The Model 3 is a cheaper version of the S coming out late this fall. It is smaller and lacks some features such as the fancy door handles or panoramic sunroof. Its range is also less, only 215 miles per charge. The Model 3 also replaces the 17 inch vertical screen with a 15 inch horizontal screen. It will take the place of not only the main screen with navigation, radio, and the internet, but also of the dashboard screen that tells you your speed and any alert lights. The average 0 to 60 miles per hour time is about 10 seconds on a sedan. While it’s not as good as its Model S counterpart at 2.3-4.3 seconds, it can get you up to highway speeds in 5.6 seconds. The Model 3 also lacks in some of the luxury features the more expensive Model S. One of these is auto-presenting door handles, the door handles unlock as you approach the car. Another big one is the power liftgate trunk. With the Model 3, you’ll just have to put up with a manual trunk like people have been doing since the 1940s.
The last of their lineup, the Model X, just came out earlier this year. Like the Model S, it is a very sporty car and has many similar features such as the 17 inch screen and a similar 2.9 second 0 to 60 time. Besides its super cool looking falcon wing doors, the Model X is more focused on practicality than new luxury features. It seats up to 7 people. It can last 295 miles on a full charge, longer than the Model S or 3. It also has large trunk space to fit anything you need to take with you.
Overall, Tesla has some amazing cars that rival BMW and Porsche. Before you consider to purchase one, you need to keep in mind that during travels you will have to wait for an hour or more at one of the few superchargers across the country as your car charges. Unfortunately, with the way electricity is generated, electric cars are not even as clean as gas cars. So, don’t buy a Tesla to “save the environment”. Instead, if you can afford the hefty price tag, buy a Tesla for the features (like autopilot) and the driving experience (like a < 3 second 0 to 60 mph pickup). To help produce clean energy, Tesla is encouraging drivers to use their new Tesla Solar Roof. The roof tiles look like normal roof tiles, but they have solar cells inside allowing them to generate electricity. While for most homes this won’t solve all their energy needs, it can help lower the bills or at least cover the electricity for your car.
For now, owning a Tesla is a luxury most can’t afford. Only time will tell if Tesla will actually produce cheaper cars. But what I can tell you is that what they’ve started with autopilot and other features will expand to the regular market. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have official autonomous cars by the time I graduate college (2023). I’ve enjoyed thinking about what future cars might be like or how autopilot might work. It’s fun to dream, but it’s even more fun to see those dreams become a reality, and that’s exactly what Tesla’s doing.