At Yahoo Finance we discuss Tesla (TSLA) on a regular basis — principally by way of the corporate’s wild and loopy inventory value or Elon Musk’s antics. However what in regards to the vehicles themselves?
What’s it wish to drive a Tesla, and much more vital, to have the luxurious electrical automobile be your major mode of transportation?
To search out out, I took a Tesla on that almost all American of excursions: A summer season street journey and trip, in my case from New York Metropolis to the good state of Maine.
The parents at Tesla mentioned this may be no downside, however I had one million questions: Do I’ve to learn to drive a Tesla? The place do I cost the automotive on the drive up? As soon as I’m in Maine, how do I cost the automotive? And is there sufficient room within the trunk for me to carry residence some lobsters?
Not simply any automotive
To be clear — particularly to you Tesla house owners — I’m hardly the primary particular person to go on a Tesla street journey. There are greater than 600,000 and counting Teslas on the market. However when you’re one of many 200 million adults within the U.S. who doesn’t have a Tesla, learn on. (Tesla house owners would possibly need to peruse this too, if solely to maintain me sincere.)
A Tesla isn’t simply any automotive. Positive, it’s electrical and I’ll get into that. However you additionally uncover that you simply’re a part of an ecosystem — as they are saying — linked to a community by an app that controls the automotive, plots your routes, and maps your charging wants.
As I climb into the Mannequin three, the very first thing I discover is there’s no dashboard, solely a pc monitor. It solely takes a couple of minutes to acclimate your self to the touchscreen interface, which is extremely intuitive (lights, windshield wipers, local weather, leisure). I used to be by no means vexed for various seconds.
To start out up, you unlock the automotive with the app, put your foot on the brake, hit gear selector stalk on the fitting facet of the steering column — down for ahead, up for reverse — and also you’re off!
What does it really feel wish to drive a Tesla? Totally different and the identical. After all there is no such thing as a engine sound in any respect. Tremendous clean and tremendous quiet. And the acceleration is insane, like nothing you’ve ever skilled. However there’s nothing to be frightened of. In actual fact, when you get used to the ability, the acceleration is game-changing. You see a spot 100 yards forward, and also you simply … go there! (Okay, watch out.)
One distinction is if you take your foot off the fuel, (err accelerator), you don’t coast, you actually decelerate. That’s as a result of the Tesla makes use of one thing referred to as regenerative braking — friction if you’ll — to cost the battery. (Why let the power of slowing down go to waste?)
I’d say it solely takes about 10 minutes behind the wheel to change into snug with the fundamentals. (There are superior capabilities like Autopilot, which take a bit longer to get the grasp of.)
As for the entire vary subject, the Mannequin three goes 300 plus miles on a cost and the place we’re moving into Maine is a few 350 miles away, so we might want to recharge on the way in which. Plus, we don’t need to arrive with an uncharged battery, all of which the software program will get. Nonetheless, like most, I had range-anxiety. And like most individuals, my anxiousness dissipated over the course of the journey.
How my journey went down
First, we drove north from NYC via Westchester to choose up our niece. The mapping (Tesla makes use of Google maps for show) then directs us north on route 684 to route 84 east via Hartford and up the Mass Pike on route 91. Most Tesla house owners cost up at residence, however on a street journey like this, you’ll need to cost on the street, after all.
The software program suggests recharging at a supercharging station in Auburn, Massachusetts, about midway via the journey. (Fascinating as a result of this about the place we normally fuel up.) Supercharging stations — there are over 700 within the U.S., every with a number of charging docks — are preferable as they’re Tesla-owned, which implies they’re quicker and extra environment friendly. You don’t want any experience to cost, simply pull up and plug in. The app can let you know what number of charging docks are free. (I by no means needed to wait on this journey.)
One massive distinction from gassing up — it takes about 30 minutes to cost a Tesla battery 90%. Due to that 30-minute wait, Tesla tries to place superchargers close to issues of curiosity, on this case, subsequent to the Auburn Mall. And so whereas the automotive is charging we seize a sandwich. I additionally see a Sears and purchase a cable I’ve been needing. By then the app is warning me I have to retrieve my automotive or I would incur charges for staying too lengthy after the automotive is charged.
How a lot does it run you to cost on the street? Tesla says on common supercharging prices roughly $zero.28 per kilowatt hour, that means that over the course of 1,500 miles for the Mannequin three, a mean price of $100 in comparison with $153 for gasoline (Gasoline price assumes 28 MPG for Mannequin three at $2.85 per gallon.) Additionally, Tesla lately announced that new Mannequin X and Mannequin S autos include free supercharging.
You can even cost up at non-Tesla run charging stations, (there are tens of thousands in the U.S.) which present up on Tesla’s maps (or Google’s for that matter), however they’ll price you extra.
We buzz up route 495 via Massachusetts after which over to route 95 into New Hampshire and throughout the Piscataqua River Bridge at Portsmouth into Kittery, Maine. Professional Tesla tip: You need to listen as a result of the trip is so clean, in any other case you’ll end up doing 95 mph.
Maine, with a inhabitants of 1.three million, doesn’t have many superchargers. There’s one in Kennebunkport (residence of the Bush household summer season compound), one other at L.L Bean in Freeport, and a handful of others. We determine to recharge at L.L. Bean and store a bit, the place I uncover a 20% off $19.99 flannel shirts sale. Good!
We’re going to the Mid-Coast area of Maine, and earlier than we go all the way down to the home, I need to take a look at the closest non-Tesla charging station. There’s one on the Maine Mall in Topsham. And one other subsequent to Flight Deck Brewing within the decommissioned Naval Air Station in Brunswick. (Have-a-beer-charge-your-Tesla, sort of factor.) However the one which’s presupposed to be at Lowe’s (LOW) seems to be non-existent. It pays to verify.
Talking of big-box shops, we pop into Walmart (WMT) to purchase a 100 foot heavy-duty extension twine so we are able to cost the Tesla from our home from an outside outlet. Perceive that that is snail-slow method to cost a Tesla. You solely get about three miles per hour of charging, so in a single day you get 30 to 40 miles. Tesla has a quick residence charger — prices $500 — which is able to cost your automotive 80% in eight hours, however I don’t have that.
How a lot does it price to cost at residence? Principally half of what it prices at a supercharger, or 13 per kilowatt hour (a rough national average). In the event you do the mathematics, it could possibly work out to be as a lot as 50% of what it prices to fuel up your automotive. Some utilities provide reductions for off-peak charging. And when you have photo voltaic panels and a battery system, it can save you much more.
‘You’re simply going to must get pleasure from our parade’
Seems the gradual cost — 30-40 miles in a single day — is okay although as a result of as soon as we’re down on the home, we aren’t driving that a lot anyway. In the midst of the week, we do go over to the brew pub on the air base and whereas we’re charging, take a look at the classic P-3s that use to patrol the North Atlantic in search of Russian subs. (See pic.)
Later within the week, we drive all the way down to the airport in Portland to choose up our daughter and determine to juice up in Freeport once more. On the way in which into city I discover a parade appears to be beginning up on Essential Avenue. I attempt to hustle us out of there, however too late! We’re blocked. I ask a police officer if there’s another manner out of city. She takes a fast take a look at me and the Tesla and says, “Nope. You’re simply going to must get pleasure from our parade.”
And so, due to the Tesla, we sit again, loosen up and watch an old-school, small city New England parade, replete with Shriners and their mini cars, serendipity that by no means would have occurred if we had been driving an inside combustion automobile.
Too quickly, it’s time for us to go again residence to NYC. There’s loads of room for the brand new shirts we purchased at L.L. Bean. Teslas have all types of trunk area, together with what they name a “frunk,” or entrance trunk (no engine keep in mind?), the place we might have packed some lobsters on ice.
We plot our drive again, this time stopping for a cost in Kennebunkport, the place we hit the Starbucks (SBUX), after which onto a supercharger in Waterbury, Connecticut. I’m a bit bummed as a result of we normally fuel up exterior of Hartford the place we additionally cease for a Frank Pepe pizza — amazingly epic New Haven fashion. However wait, that is superb. The Waterbury charging station is subsequent to one other Frank Pepe, making it much more handy than an everyday journey!
After that, we make it again protected and sound — and with no vary anxiousness.
Tesla passes the check
Web, internet, it was a fantastic journey. Was it much less handy than having an everyday automotive? Probably not. Charging at house is one thing you’ll be able to’t do with an everyday automotive, proper? (If I had the quick residence charger, it might have been that significantly better.) And I ended up having fun with the stops for charging; L.L. Bean, the air base, the parade, the pizza — even Sears. As for the driving half, I liked it. Tremendous clean, loopy quick, quiet and with insane acceleration. What’s to not like?
I’d say the Mannequin three isn’t probably the most rugged automobile you’ll ever drive. It’s straightforward to scratch the hubs if you park and I simply kissed a rock at one level, and the bumper dented greater than I assumed — however hey, nobody mentioned that is Ford F-150. I ponder about proudly owning a Tesla in New York Metropolis and charging it there, however there are increasingly charging stations on a regular basis.
And right here’s the factor. Ask your self, are vehicles 5 or 10 years from now going to be extra like a Tesla, or extra like a Buick Lacrosse? (Duh.) And naturally Tesla isn’t standing nonetheless. It’s including extra charging stations that cost quicker — the new superchargers launched in March can go as much as 1,000 miles in an hour or greater than 75 miles in 5 minutes — on a regular basis, in addition to engaged on longer battery life.
I don’t know what’s going to occur to Tesla as an organization, or Tesla’s inventory for that matter. All I do know is that driving one — for 10 minutes or every week — is fairly dang cool.
And greater than that, the Tesla handed the check. It took me on a improbable summer season street journey and trip. No small factor there.
Andy Serwer is editor-in-chief at Yahoo Finance. Observe him on Twitter: @serwer