2012 Tesla Model S, brief test drive, New York City, July 2012
6. No Eco and/or Sport modes. In some ways, Tesla pulls out all the stops to wring the last smidgin of range out of every kilowatt-hour. (See: retractable door handles.)
Yet it ignores a basic range-stretching strategy used by virtually all other electric and hybrid cars: different power modes that give varying degrees of throttle response and power output. Max range or max power, take your pick. It just makes sense.
7. State-of-Charge indicator not delineated. Instead of the vertical-stack bars of the Leaf and Volt, the Model S displays its battery state of charge with a continuous horizontal line. That's fine, but it lacks any delineation.
In addition to the readout of estimated remaining mileage--always a crapshoot--I'd like to see a simple percentage readout of remaining battery charge. Unlike the mileage "Guess-0-Meter," I happen to know how fast and how aggressively I'll be driving the upcoming miles, and how hilly the terrain will be.
Give me the raw percentage data for battery state of charge and let me have the option of my own mileage estimate.
With all of these quibbles listed, I hold out hope that some can and will be addressed quickly.
Tesla engineers can make changes with lightning speed if they want to: After CEO Elon Musk took a test drive in early June and demanded more robust acceleration, the car was tweaked to his new specs by the time the first production model rolled off the production line two weeks later. The suspension was also reportedly recalibrated at the last minute..
Most of my grumbles can be corrected with software adjustments, which could presumably happen quickly. I'm told there's already talk of adding an idle-creep mode, along with a hill-holder function.
I also have a long-term fear about the air suspension system, which is a mandatory extra-cost "option" on the first couple of thousand cars.
Air suspensions on other cars have been notoriously unreliable over the long run and hideously expensive to repair. My fears are inflamed every time I drive past a local repair shop, where an old Mercedes-Benz has been resting on its deflated suspension for almost a year.
But you know what really worries me most? The Tesla factory in Fremont, California, lies just 17 miles from the San Andreas Fault.
I'm hoping the Big One holds off at least until they finish building my car.
David Noland is a Tesla Model S reservation holder and freelance writer who lives north of New York City. This is his second article for High Gear Media.