Model S

No wonder you think the Model S looks like a Mazda - head designer Franz von Holzhausen worked for Mazda before he joined Tesla. Looking at the Model S, you understand it is not among the most beautiful cars, but when thinking as a financist, you understand the design is perfect - it is acceptable to a very large group of people. The interior design is very well sorted.

Battery range and performance
The 85 kWh battery pack weighs approximately 540 kg. It consists of 16 modules, 14 in the flat floor section and 2 stacked up front. The battery is guaranteed for 8 years against malfunction. The warranty does not cover the loss of the battery capacity over the time. After 8 years it is possible to buy a new battery pack for a special price. The cost is approxmately 10.000 USD for the 60 kWh battery and 12.000 USD for the 85 kWh battery. As the 85 kWh battery can be fitted into the originally 60 kWh car, it is a wise idea to spend the extra 2000 bucks to get extra performance and extra range.

All gearboxless electric cars are more economical in the city than at the highway speeds. The Model S is most economical when driving at approximately 60 km/h. Driving at this constant speed in a test in ideal conditions led to the 685 km record distance without recharge with 85 kWh battery pack.

The officially announced driving ranges are measured according to US EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) and NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) standards and the NEDC ranges are approximately 15% more optimistic than the EPA ranges although even the EPA ranges are hard to achieve in real life. Still, the Model S ranges are more than enough for 95% of the days. If you don't like flying and need a car for long trips, it is more cost-effectve to rent an internal combustion engined (ICE) car for a few days a year than to own one.

Electric motors and their locations
In the non-Performance model with 4WD, the rear motor is smaller than in the rear wheel drive version and the front motor is also small, so the dual motor version doesn't have double the power.

The performance is defined by the electric motor(s) and the battery pack combination. Cheaper models have more motor power than the battery pack can squeeze out from them and with Performance models the car could be even quicker given a more powerful battery pack.

Made in California, the European models are also made in USA, but then dismantled to some extent, transported to Europe and put together again in Tesla's factory in Tilburg, the Netherlands. American and European standard equipment and options packages are the same. By the way, Tesla Motors is not patenting its inventions as Tesla wants other manufacturers to produce more electric cars. The more electric cars are produced the more popular they become. And with better design on the next models, Tesla will probably keep its top position among the then electric car manufacturers just that it will be much bigger. Tesla is also a component manufacturer and already since 2013 has produced components for Mercedes-Benz, Smart and Toyota.

The closest ICE cars in their body configuration and price to Model S are the Audi S5 and A5 Sportback versions.

2015 models 0-100 km/h max. speed
Tesla Model S P85D   3.3 sec.   250 km/h
Tesla Model S 85D   4.6 sec.   250 km/h
Audi S5 Sportback 3.0 TFSI   5,1 sec.   250 km/h
Tesla Model S 70D   5.4 sec.  225 km/h
Tesla Model S 85   5.6 sec.  225 km/h
Audi A5 Sportback 3.0 TFSI   6.0 sec.   250 km/h

Ludicrous acceleration
The 2015 P90D with Ludicrous Speed Upgrade accelerates from 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds and covers 1/4-mile from standstill in 10.9 seconds. This is exactly the performance of the 2015 Porsche 911 Turbo S, just that the Model S is a much heavier family car.
Tesla has quickly reached the limits of 'usable performance', so when the lighter batteries will be mass-produced, smaller motors could be used which both make the car lighter and more race track ready.

Driving impressions
Powerful electric cars are so fun to drive that many drivers don't care about the factor that created these cars in the first place, the efficiency. Efficiency is just a bonus on top of the fantastic driving experience. If you have to drive an ICE car after Model S, you think you are in some historic vehicle. It is hard to understand why you need ICE built from thousands of parts. And all this despite the electric cars were there already more than 100 years ago (the different fully electric and hybrid Lohner-Porsche models for example). Secondly as important in the Model S is the user interface and the instruments that look future, but really are the present and other manufacturers just are the past.

Optional air suspension set at the lowest level

The door handles come out when the driver approaches the car

Flat underbody

Optional glass roof

Optional glass roof

The seats are OK, but not as supportive as in premium European cars

No analog instruments, no buttons, just the two large displays are what set Model S apart from other cars

With 30% of the battery left you have 113 km range in the 85 kWh model

The clear central touchscreen and its ease of use are just phenomenal

Adjustment of the air suspension

Adjustment of the glass sunroof

After you have driven this American car and tried its most convenient user interface, you agree the new European premium cars still use the technology from the last century

The navigation system uses GPS and a mix of Garmin and Google Maps route guidance

Optional rear-facing child seats fodled down and hidden

Third row seats extracted from their hide-away. The option includes a stronger rear bumper.

The front luggage compartment is quite large

Tesla Roadster
In 2008 Tesla Motors stepped into the world of car manufacturers with a Lotus Elise-based electric sports car called the Tesla Roadster. Although the Roadster created the image of a sports car company, this was a marketing trick to gather fame and have people talk about the brand. It was later found out that the real business plan was to produce electric family cars. The Tesla Roadster weighed 1235 kg which was hundreds of kilograms more than the Lotus Elise, but still light compared to other sports cars (despite it having the very heavy battery pack on board). The high torque electric motor ensured supercar acceleration. The top speed was limited though because the manufacturer was an American company (no high speed roads in USA) and in order to save weight the car was built without the gearbox. Just a fixed ratio transmission was used. With the list price of over 100.000 USD, the Roadster was quite expensive and every first owner should be admired. More than 2000 were bought before the production was terminated in 2012.

Tesla Roadster in Tallinn during the 2011 Tallinn-Monaco electric race

Tesla Motors
Tesla Motors Inc. was founded by Martin Eberhard, Elon Musk, Marc Tarpenning, JB Straubel and Ian Wright. With its headquarters and factory in California, Tesla Motors designs, manufactures, and sells electric cars. Tesla also manufacturers electric vehicle powertrain components for other manufacturers. The position of Chief Technical Officer is held by Jeffrey Brian Straubel. The biggest shareholder and product architect is Elon Musk. He became the CEO in 2008.

Elon Musk
Musk made his first millions in 1999 when he sold his share in the web software company Zip2 which he had co-founded in 1995. Following the sale, Musk co-founded another internet company which merged with PayPal. In 2002 PayPal was bought by ebay. In 2002 Musk had also founded a company called SpaceX which develops and manufactures space launch vehicles. SpaceX has become the most successful private space technology company in the world. In 2003 Musk co-founded Tesla Motors.

Nikola Tesla
Tesla Motors was named after electrical engineer and physicist Nikola Tesla (1856-1943). Serbian by his parents, he was born in the Empire of Austria (in nowadays Croatian town Smiljan) and moved to the USA in his late twenties to work for Thomas Edison.

Copyright James Herne

Many thanks to electric car enthusiast Kristjan Sinisoo for helping to make this article!

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