Naturally, since Chloé, our Nissan Leaf, is at the hospital, this makes me think about a new car. I am unquestionably hooked on electric cars now. With solar on the roof of the house, aside from the actual cost of the car, driving the car is free!
At first we started talking about just getting a new Leaf. But the range has only improved minimally—infinitesimally, actually. And while Nissan made about 40 improvements to the car, they are mostly tediously incremental. Sort of Apple’s little game, just for cars.
We had an early dinner at the mall. (Remember, many malls in California are completely outdoors.) And there it was, in the center, glistening in the setting sun. People were fawning all over it. Unexpectedly, it looked directly at me and cooed. I had to pet it!
The sales person saw my moment of weakness!
We signed up for a test drive the next day (which was yesterday).
Here are some of the things I really loved about the car:
- When you approach the car, the door handles light up and pop out from the body. Get in, buckle up, put the car in drive or reverse and start driving. The Tesla has nothing to turn on, crank, or disengage. Tesla totally rethought the entire driving experience.
- When you have arrived at your destination, you put the car in park (press a button) and get out. As you walk away, it turns itself off.
- The emergency brake functions automatically.
- The Leaf handles very, very nicely. The Tesla, which is lower to the ground, hugs the road even more and handles stunningly well.
- The Tesla feels, in every way, like a true luxury car. The Leaf feels far more functional/practical than luxurious, and I’m not disparaging the Leaf—love that car.
- The Tesla only has 32 moving parts and is being referred to more and more as the “forever car.” Aside from the battery and the tires, there is nothing really to replace or maintain. The battery is guaranteed for 8 years, and the car, bumper to bumper, is guaranteed for 4 years.
- Upgrades and updates are all done over WiFi as the car connects to your home WiFi network. New features are added to the car via software updates.
- The Tesla has a super large “iPad” that controls all but 2 functions on the car. (There are actual buttons for the emergency flashers and the glove box.)
- The accelerator functions very differently on a Tesla. When you press it, the car moves. When you take your foot off of it, the car begins to slow down very rapidly, almost like putting on the brake. It’s reclaiming energy. So you always keep your foot on the accelerator and use the brake far less than in a conventional vehicle. I very quickly began using the accelerator as my brake, once I got the feel of it. This is significantly different than the Leaf or a traditional car. I actually quickly grew to like this feature.
- High speed chargers (specific to the Tesla) will cover 98% of the US within 2 years. Today, I can already drive much of the west coast!
- The car has live web access. The software does not require you to wait until the car is stopped to use anything on the monster iPad thing. (I hate that about almost all other cars.)
- The large screen can display the back up video feed at any time. With the large screen, the image is huge compared to any other vehicle I’ve ever seen!
So what did I not like about the Tesla?
- It’s very pricy!
- It doesn’t have the “old people handles” above the doors to hang on to when getting in/out of the car or when the driver is scaring you to death.
- Frankly, I found getting into and out of the car difficult. Start with the fact that the car is low to the ground. The top metal door facing is much lower and farther back than a typical car; so, I really have to duck down to get in. The top to bottom metal brace nearest the car seat is too far forward, making the whole of the entry space considerably smaller than a typical car. I actually complained to the salesperson about this. It’s just really awkward for a tall person. She explained that once inside the car, your head is protected by the car’s steel cage, not glass, if the car were to roll. (True, but sales speak) The Tesla has the highest safety rating of any car ever made. The more I got in and out of the car, the less aware of this issue I became, but I find it significant.
- I wish the charging port were in the front. I don’t back up any car well, even with the huge screen showing the backup video.
- It takes 2.5 months to get the car. (This isn’t a real negative, because your car is built to your specs. You have 2 weeks to change anything. Then the car hits the assembly line, which takes 2 months.) I’m just impatient.
- The sun visors are not extendable.
All in all, this car is just too amazing to pass up. I won’t have any range anxiety in it.
So, when Chloé comes home from the hospital, we will trade her in.
Now the hardest part of the whole process: what to name the new all electric car?!