The Sheet test drives an intergalactic space boat of light and wonder
Elon Musk, eccentric billionaire, outer space geek, founder of PayPal and CEO of Tesla Motors, doesn’t know me personally which is probably why his friendly employees let me test drive an all-electric $70,000 P100D Model S sports car. The P100D can go about 300 miles on a full charge, which costs the driver about $11.
Model S is the cheap Tesla. The SUV-type, Model X, runs about $85,000. Little does Musk know I’ve eaten through three cars in the last year (deer like me) and am hungry for a fourth.
Tesla Motors representatives parked their mobile gallery, an Airstream trailer, at the Sierra Center Mall all this past week to let locals test drive their luxury automobiles.
The sleek, pearl white machine looked like it would flounder on icy roads; low to the ground, light weight, tender. It looked more suited for cruising up the coast on Highway 1 than braving Mammoth’s winter driving conditions.
A Tesla representative, let’s call her Al, showed me the Model S’s bells and whistles before letting me take the wheel. It comes with the standard amenities you’d expect from a luxury automobile like heated seats, a back-up camera, smartphone interface, and touch screen display. The display screen in the Model S was 17 inches across, bigger than the one on my personal computer. It comes pre-loaded with Google Maps.
The suspension and steering can be adjusted to suit conditions or driver preference. The front end can be lowered or raised at the touch of a button. No lowrider, but still cool.
The Model S has two motors, one for each axel to ensure amazing traction, but more about that later. The dual motors get the car from zero to 60 mph is less than 3 seconds. This is no Prius. When I stepped on the gas, the pick up was instantaneous.
The cars are built and designed to be driverless with eight cameras, 12 sensors, radar, autopilot mode, autosteer and Smart Summon. Just like calling for Trigger, Smart Summon alows the driverless Tesla to depart from the parking garage or spot next to the curb and arrive at your doorstep or feet.
I closed the door on the Model S with Al sitting shotgun, and away we went. I drove as cautiously as you would expect a pauper in a car worth about twice his annual salary to drive, and headed south on Meridian Boulevard.