TBO.com: Tampa Bay Online.
Sunday, Aug 28, 2016

Plug and play in the new Tesla S

No doubt you've heard about Tesla. It's based in Silicon Valley, co-founded by that guy who made a mint selling PayPal to eBay; the one who created "Mars-here-we-come" SpaceX. You know, Elon Musk. What Musk and his team have created is quite possibly the future of the luxury automobile. His new, all-electric Tesla S sedan is stylish, sexily elegant, beautifully appointed, fun to drive and fast. Very fast. And the best part? It's completely free of those nasty global-warming emissions. And exceedingly economical to run; you simply plug it in to the nearest wall socket. But an electric car. With batteries. Doesn't that mean a serious case of range anxiety with every trip?
This is where the Tesla is different. It has a huge battery bank. More than 7,000 state-of-the-art Panasonic lithium-ion cells. Big enough, probably, to power Christmas lights in Tampa during the holiday season. In the Tesla S, that means a range of 300 miles on a full charge. Or 232 miles on the cheaper, lesser-amped battery pack, which is still pretty amazing. And driving the S is simple and simply breathtaking. That's because the experience is so different from a traditional luxury vehicle. Climb in, turn on and there's nothing but eerie silence. Step on the "gas," not that there is any, and the car lunges forward with mind-numbing velocity. With the bigger 85 kWh battery pack - the smaller one is 60 kWh - it'll whoosh to 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds. Again with next to no noise. This is a big car. Almost 200 inches nose to tail. About the same length as a Lexus LS. And inside, it's just vast, with space to cross legs in the back. There's even space behind the rear seat to offer a couple of jump-seats for the kids. And techies will positively salivate at the giant 17-inch, oversized iPad-like touch screen in the center of the dash with its cool Google Maps navigation. No, the Tesla S isn't cheap. While the base model with 60 kWh batteries stickers at $62,400, you'd really want the longer-lasting 85 kWh version at $72,400. But simply knowing that you could well be driving the future of the luxury automobile? Now that's priceless.