Life With Tesla Model S: Owner's Report After 5,000 Miles


2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan on delivery day, with owner David Noland

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan on delivery day, with owner David Noland

Enlarge Photo

It's now been more than five months and 5,000 miles since I took delivery of my 2013 Tesla Model S.

The four-year wait after I put down my deposit in 2009 created a huge burden of pent-up hopes and expectations.

With the initial glow of ownership now dulled by the daily routine of  real-world driving, how has the Model S stood up to those grand expectations?

Very well indeed. The car has basically changed my outlook toward driving.

ALSO SEE: Tesla Model S Vs Chevy Volt: Owner Compares Electric Cars

Getting behind the wheel used to be a chore I embraced reluctantly. I'd always been the type to car-pool and bundle errands to minimize driving time.

Although I've usually had fun cars that made the burden a bit less onerous--most recently, a Mazda CX-7 and a couple of Saab 900s--I've just never been the guy who volunteers to jump in the car to go get a loaf of bread.

Until now.

To my wife Lisa's utter bewilderment, in fact, I did exactly that last week.

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan on delivery day, with owner David Noland

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan on delivery day, with owner David Noland

Enlarge Photo

All I can say is that driving becomes a whole new ballgame  when the fuel is free and the car takes your breath away every time you stomp on the gas pedal.

(About that free fuel: I have a hydroelectric generator on the creek that runs by my house in New York's Hudson Valley. It pumps out enough juice to run the house and two electric cars--so my Model S "fuel" is literally free, and carbon-free as well.)

Free fuel and green cred aside, what makes the Model S so extraordinary is simply driving it. The instantaneous, seamless, effortless, silent,  massive acceleration never fails to stir my soul.

On virtually every drive, I punch the throttle at least once, just to feel that rush. I'm addicted.

Not Perfect

The car's not perfect, of course.

In my view, the Model S has two major shortcomings and several minor annoyances. Tesla promises to fix most of them. We'll see.

Big Problem No. 1 is the inability to make long trips.

My car is the 60-kWh version, which has a practical range of about 200 miles. (The 85-kWh version can do about 250 miles, at a cost of $10,000 more.) On three or four occasions, I've been forced to drive my Chevy Volt for trips longer than that.

Tesla is promising a fix, of course. By this fall, eight new Supercharger quick-charging stations are supposed to open in the Northeast, including two along the New York State Thruway and one on the New Jersey Turnpike.

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]

Enlarge Photo

These will open up most of the Northeast, and allow me to visit friends--who are currently out of range--in upstate New York, Cape Cod, Maine, and Baltimore. The new Superchargers will turn my Model S into a practical long-distance traveling machine. But it isn't there yet.

There are now just two Superchargers within my range, in Darien and Milford, Connecticut.  Although I've had no reason to make a long trip in that direction, I've tried both of them out of curiosity. 

They work well: On both occasions I was able to plug in immediately and picked up about 75 miles range in 20 minutes. Had my battery charge been lower, I would have gained more range.

The Stubborn Vampire

Big Problem No. 2 is the Tesla's "vampire" thirst for kilowatts even when it's turned off and parked.

I've measured idle power losses of around 4.5 kilowatt-hours a day, for a total of about 750 kWh during the time that I've owned it.  That's almost half the electricity I've used to drive the car!

The 15,000-odd Model Ses now on the road collectively squander about 60 megawatt-hours of electricity a day. That's the equivalent of about 50,000 60-Watt light bulbs left on 24 hours a day for no reason--what a waste.

The Vanishing vampire Fix

Once more, Tesla keeps saying that a fix is coming--but in this case, the promised arrival date keeps getting farther away.

This spring, Elon Musk promised a 'sleep mode' software update by July that would slash vampire losses virtually to zero. That has not happened.


 
Follow Us

Commenting is closed for this article

Take Us With You!

 

Get FREE Dealer Quotes

From dealers near you
Go!

Find Green Cars

Go!


 
© 2015 Green Car Reports. All Rights Reserved. Green Car Reports is published by High Gear Media. Stock photography by izmo, Inc.. Read Our Cookie Policy