back to article We got behind the wheel of a Tesla S electric car. We didn't hate it

The Tesla S is a very different type of electric car from the previous models featured here on El Reg. While the others I’ve driven – the Leaf, C-Zero, e-Up and even the Tesla Roadster – all have electrification as an odd quirk, to the Tesla S it’s in its soul. You can't see but Elon Musk is in this one I drove one of the …

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  1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    Sounds similar to The Oatmeal's review. Gotta say, they look like nice cars. Too bad they don't come with a self-driving AI.

    1. corestore

      Yet...

      If anyone would be first with this, Tesla is a logical one to bet on; they ARE in the business of selling the future.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Well, you'll be pleased to know they're working on it, and have targeted 2017 for their first self-driving cars.

    2. g e

      Ahhh The Oatmeal

      I too read Oatmeal's Tesla thingy and it makes me tempted but unless uk.gov are offering me a large bung to trade in the XKR for an S I can't afford one (85kW, natch), nor do I relish the thought of having to install a chargepoint at home for a few K to make filling it up practical.

      I hear there's supposed to be a network of (free to Tesla owners) chargepoints 'coming in around a year' ... we'll see if that ever materialises cos if it doesn't it's a fail.

      Savings per year are around 4k fuel (assuming free chargepoints), 280 tax (my XKR is X-reg so not £400), some saving on servicing for sure as there's less to maintain, presumably, like spark plugs, oil filters, etc. 'Full tank' range is the same.

      The car is £72k though and the 0-emission benefit in kind runs out next year so that perk is eliminated, too, else it'd be a more plausible thing if there were 5 years left in that.

      I quite fancy one but I don't think it's quite there yet (for me, anyway) except for people who can afford to go drop half a house on a car from their back pocket (or have more cunning accountants than I)

      Shame. For me, leastways!

  2. Danny 14 Silver badge

    nice idea and at least it looks like a car rather than something a hippie imagined a car should look like. But useless for me, it really needs a small engine for emergency use or casual charging. For the market it is aimed at then it would be too large for the majority of London use, if you are "big" enough to have your own parking space in London then you'd surely want a more prestigious car too. How many charging spots are there at heathrow? Youd be annoyed if you turned up and saw that piddly little nissans had taken them all (or a 4x4 without electric which is what usually happens).

    Im surprised the euro hasn't cottoned onto charging, afterall there is plenty of electricity flowing through electric trains.

    1. Dave Bell

      All the practical reviews of electric, even the sometimes risible Top Gear report of a couple of years ago, seem to agree that recharging is the big problem. They made a joke out of Clarkson and Co. hanging around in Lincoln while the battery recharged, but it's a real problem.

      Around 15 years ago there was some of the same problem with LPG, a cleaner alternative to petrol and diesel. It had already been around as an alternative for a long time, but getting filled up needed a bit of planning ahead.

    2. Psyx

      "But useless for me"

      And baby nappies are useless for me as a product, too. It's also useless for me in the same way that a Ferrari is useless for me: Too expensive. Although it really doesn't matter who or how many people find it useless or how much they dislike it. Rather, it's success is gauged by the number and happiness of customers. Negative reviews by people who don't own one and are outside the demographic really are rather irrelevant. (It's not like we go onto Amazon and add 'I would never buy this as it would be useless for me' in the reviews section, is it?

      "it really needs a small engine for emergency use or casual charging."

      Multi-billionaire businessman disagrees. Other people are building those cars. His aim is to do something else.

      "For the market it is aimed at then it would be too large for the majority of London use, if you are "big" enough to have your own parking space in London then you'd surely want a more prestigious car too."

      You mean like the Roaster? I'd be far more likely to consider a Tesla prestigious and cool than a German-made jelly-mould.

  3. jake Silver badge

    There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

    Restoring and driving 1960s cars (with modern technology) comes to mind.

    Both options will be driven about the same distance per year, but one won't be using the totally environmentally atrocious Li-Ion technology.

    That one also won't have a 17 inch television distracting the most important part[1] of operating a motor vehicle.

    These things are an accident waiting to happen ...

    [1] That's the nut behind the wheel actually DRIVING, if you are wondering.

    1. Lionel Baden

      Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

      I have to agree about the screen.

      Using my phone for music (in a holder) or playing cd's in my car. I know which one takes my concentration.

      Im getting a new bluetooth unit just so i can control the music from my phone with a physical button.

      1. Weapon

        Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

        Actually, most of the common stuff on the Tesla you can control from the wheel which has physical buttons. There is no reason to reach for the screen while driving really. There is also voice command.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

      Pray tell, how are you going to restore a 1960's car to be more aerodynamic? To weigh less? And how are you going to replace the engine, transmission and the rest to make it less environmentally harmful than an electric car - even, to cut short the inevitable response, one that's charged from electricity from a gas fired power station - and all for less than £50,000?

      Really, I'm dying to know. Do you just shrug and it happens?

      1. Arnold Lieberman

        Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

        Whilst I agree with your sentiment, I think it's only fair to point out that most modern cars weigh considerably more than their 1960's equivalents. All that passive safety does come at a cost!

        As for aerodynamics, that's another area where things haven't advanced as much as one might hope. For instance, there was car from the 1920's with a Cd of 0.28 http://www.autospeed.com/cms/A_113084/article.html

        Apart from that, give me modern any day...

        1. James Hughes 1

          At last

          Jake has slipped up. Most previous posts have just enough sense in them to make you wonder whether he has any idea at all about what he is posting about.

          This one has proven that he doesn't so now we can all safely ignore everything he posts without worrying.

          Thanks Jake!

          1. jake Silver badge

            @James Hughes 1 (was: Re: At last)

            I'm just using your post as a spring-board to answer various posters in this thread; I'm not picking on you personally:

            The 1963 Ford Consul Capri GT that I rebuilt with a Mazda RX4 13B engine & 5-speed cost roughly USD8,000 to get running (I was sad to lose the three-on-the-tree, but that's progress). Roll-over & crash protection, ~500 in materials (full roll cage, front to back, we race her occasionally). Suspension mods (including disk brakes at all four corners, a complete back-halved rear-end, and custom front suspension) about USD3,200. Fit & finish was probably USD1,500 (mostly chrome & materials for the interior). Low-end sound system ... we only listen to baseball when in the car. There are maps in the glove box (free, from AAA). Incidentals cost another USD2,000-ish.

            I did all the work but the chrome.

            Probably about USD 20,000 total in parts, when all was said & done.

            Today? Stable car at ~150MPH. Around 34MPG on the freeway at 70MPH. I don't expect to pay for much more than fuel, oil, and misc. rubber, brake & clutch parts for the next twenty years. Probably (extrapolating) about another USD25,000 (depending how daft fuel costs get, of course).

            Total cost of ownership? $45,000 for 20 years of fun. Including the rebuild. Maybe USD50,000 if I can't keep my nieces & nephews from destroying the tires as I teach them to drive ...

            Probably won't be able to re-sell her for much in 20 years ... but I saved all the "stock" parts. She can be restored, should someone want a three-on-the-tree, 6Volt generator, positive ground show car with matching numbers.

            What will the TCO of anything Tesla be in 20 years? Will any of them be worth anything? Will anyone want to restore one after 50 years? Gut feelings, as a gear-head? Scrap value, minus hazmat. No. Absofuckinglutely no!

            On the other hand, I'll bet the first Teslas will be used to restore the matching Lotus within 10 years ... if they haven't been already;-)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @James Hughes 1 (was: At last)

              Yes, of course you did that jake, no doubt.

              Even still you didn't answer anyone's post about why that is better than a class leading car for safety, with zero local emissions.

              The car you describe has terrible economy, is unsafe to others, has cost a bomb to get nowhere near the levels of a modern car and has cost you more than a modern car to rebuild.

              So your initial statement was complete bollocks, as usual for one of your posts.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: @James Hughes 1 (was: At last)

                "Even still you didn't answer anyone's post about why that is better than a class leading car for safety,"

                My little runabout is actually a race-car that is street legal. Full roll-cage, fuel-cell, automatic fire suppressant system, 5-point safety harness for all occupants, etc ...

                "zero local emissions"

                Oh, there's your problem. Typical NIMBY. Whose backyard would you prefer those emissions to be released in?

                "is unsafe to others"

                How do you figure? Nobody drives her, unless they actually know how to drive.

                "has cost a bomb to get nowhere near the levels of a modern car"

                I could argue otherwise ... Ergonomically, she's a hell of a lot nicer on street & track than anything new I've test-driven. For me, of course. She passes TODAY'S CARB smog tests easily.

                "and has cost you more than a modern car to rebuild."

                Excuse me? USD 20,000 for a car with this kind of performance is available to you "off the showroom floor"? What colo(u)r is the sky on your planet? (Yes, there was my labo(u)r involved. But I look at that kind of thing as meditation. The IRS will confirm that my time is valueless.)

                "So your initial statement was complete bollocks, as usual for one of your posts."

                Rather, your complete post was utter bullshit, as is usual for ElReg's cowardly posters.

                1. Chris Parsons

                  Re: @James Hughes 1 (was: At last)

                  Jake, you are my man! These chaps have no soul.

                2. Psyx

                  Re: @James Hughes 1 (was: At last)

                  "My little runabout is actually a race-car that is street legal. Full roll-cage, fuel-cell, automatic fire suppressant system, 5-point safety harness for all occupants, etc .."

                  Because twitchy track handling is really good for the road.

                  5-point harnesses are inherently dangerous for road-drivers, because if they're tight enough to work, they stop you turning for visibility. I know because I have harnesses and NEVER use them on the road. I also doubt that you've got TC and ABS. It's all very well to say how much better a skilled driver is without them, but the average driver is better off with them, and even a skilled track driver switches to 'commute mode' at times, and ABS/TC would be a boon on occasions where attention wanders in a way that it doesn't do on track days.

                  "Excuse me? USD 20,000 for a car with this kind of performance is available to you "off the showroom floor"? What colo(u)r is the sky on your planet? "

                  Isn't it $22k for a Mustang these days? Sack of cr4p pony car it might be, but the performance is probably comparable to a refurb 60s vehicle.

                  You can't just discard the labour time as moot in a general comparison, either. If you're seriously expressing your option as an option for general motoring (which you initially did), then cost and time is a factor. Not to mention the fact that 99% of people do not want to climb in over a roll cage, sit in a loud track-tuned car and get their fillings shaken by hard suspension in a car that regularly tries to swap ends and kill them. It is not a motoring solution for the future. It might be a motoring solution for YOU (just as my old cars are for me) but that cannot serve as a sweeping condemnation of the Tesla, or modern vehicles as a whole, or some kind of solution for everyone.

                3. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: @James Hughes 1 (was: At last)

                  "My little runabout is actually a race-car that is street legal. Full roll-cage, fuel-cell, automatic fire suppressant system, 5-point safety harness for all occupants, etc "

                  Of course it is.

                  Every car enthusiast that I actually know loves taking their pride and joys on short trips to the shops and down to the dump at the weekend. After all cars benefit from frequent restarting and the smell of garden rubbish just adds to the charm.

                  Obviously I was joking, they use something shit and not hand rebuilt as a runabout.

                  "Oh, there's your problem. Typical NIMBY. Whose backyard would you prefer those emissions to be released in?"

                  As you point out, electric cars do mean generating the power in someone elses backyard. But the emissions from a power plant are easier to capture and neutralise than trying to do the same in millions of cars.

                  "Excuse me? USD 20,000 for a car with this kind of performance is available to you "off the showroom floor"? What colo(u)r is the sky on your planet? "

                  $20,000

                  plus a work space large enough to work in a car with protection from the elements

                  plus tools

                  plus expertise gained through either education or a lot of practice.

                  plus a divorce once the wife gets sick of the amount of time you've spent on the car rather than her

                  A lot of people would struggle just getting the work space and if everyone was doing it then the workspace would cost more than the car.

                  So yes, you post was complete bullshit

                  Restoring cars is all well and good but completely impractical for the majority of the population.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

      So how are you going to convert the 1960s cars so that when they have an accident the fronts and rears crumble protecting the occupants and other drivers? Or making sure that the front aren't like being hit by a wrecking ball for pedestrians who may inadvertently fall into its path?

      Also "a 17 inch television"? Do you actually know what a television is, as there isn't one inside the Model S?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

        Actually, if you define television as the ability to see a moving image at a distance on a screen then there is one because the car has a rear view video option. Just sayin ...

    4. Steve Todd

      Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

      2nd generation Prius models have a large, multifunction screen in the middle of the dash that covers everything from the GPS maps through power usage to the audio system. You don't see too many of them embedded in the landscape or other cars because of it. Screens are only distracting if they are continuously updated with information not relevant to driving.

      The other point about Li-ion cells is invalid also. The cells are very recyclable (95%+). Lithium mining isn't impact free, but it's one of the cleaner mining operations and it's certainly no worse than the extraction of oil.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

        The difference is, that the Prius (and most other cars) also have mechanical switches for the important stuff, like turning on the lights! No having to look down at a huge display, you know which stalk it is on and a quick twist using muscle memory has them on. With the Tesla, even if you know where, in which menu it is, you need to look at the screen to be able to accurately hit the right buttons.

        With time you'll be able to use it without having to fully look at the display, but you still need to know you are pressing the right buttons, which you can't do without looking, because there is no tactile feedback.

        Putting lesser used functions, like changing settings or suspension type etc. that you don't do regularly and generally don't change when the vehicle is moving, can be controlled by a touch screen for all I care, but lights, wipers etc. need to be quick and easy to do, without having to take your eyes off the road. Now, if it could use audio commands...

        1. tony72

          Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

          "The difference is, that the Prius (and most other cars) also have mechanical switches for the important stuff, like turning on the lights!"

          I don't know for sure, but I suspect you still have regular stalk controls for those basic operations in the Tesla too, from a google image search they certainly appear to be there. I'm sure you can control lots of additional parameters from the touchscreen, but they're not likely to change or remove the basic and familiar controls that people learn to drive with. You can quite clearly see what appear to be conventional lights and wiper stalks in this image of the Tesla S dash.

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

            Hi Tony,

            yes, looking at the image there seem to be stalk controls. I was going by the articel and the comments...

          2. David Kelly 2

            Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

            I don't know for sure, but I suspect you still have regular stalk controls for those basic operations in the Tesla too,

            The Model S's steering column is borrowed from Mercedes-Benz models. Its the one with the turn signal stalk on the lower left, many grab the cruise control stalk the first time they reach for turn signals.

            Headlights (but for high/low) are only on the touch screen. The car complains if you leave with the headlights manually turned on, but automatically turns them off anyway. What bugs me is that the car always boots with headlights in Auto mode. I don't need the lights to exit my garage and there is no way to keep them from coming on before I can turn them off.

            Likewise the fog/aux/driving lights can only be controlled from the touch screen. Thats an important function to have at the driver's fingertips to turn off quickly so as not to blind other drivers.

        2. jzlondon

          Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

          Your personal opinion is great 'n all, but is refuted by the numbers.

          The average road death rate in the US, where almost all Teslas have been delivered to date, is approximately 1.2 per hundred million miles. As of about two weeks ago, Tesla Model S's had been driven 344 million miles with no deaths. And not just that, but no serious, permanent injuries.

          Does that sound like a car that is unsafe? Maybe nobody dying is a fluke, due to the relatively low sample size. But no serious permanent injuries either? And on top of that, it achieved the highest safety rating of any car ever tested in the US.

          http://insideevs.com/elon-musk-344-million-miles-serious-permanent-injury-death-tesla-model-s/

          So while I understand your concern that the screen might be a distraction, it would appear that in practice it's not.

          1. Kristian Walsh

            Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

            Tesla Model S's had been driven 344 million miles with no deaths. And not just that, but no serious, permanent injuries.

            Does that sound like a car that is unsafe

            I have no particular reason to believe Teslas are less safe than other cars, but like most marketing headlines, this is an utterly bogus assertion by Tesla.

            Tesla's entire fleet is new, and their cars have, to date, been largely sold to affluent freeway commuters in California. The 344 million miles driven by these owners fall into perhaps the lowest-risk category of driving: daylight on controlled-access multi-lane roads, in a climate that sees no snow or ice, and very little mud or rain. It has also been long understood that there is a strong correlation between income and chance of injury in a road traffic incident (One example http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3309632/ ), so being able to afford a ModelS immediately puts you in a lower risk group.

            To compare Tesla's extremely low-risk population of customers with the entire US vehicle fleet is statistically meaningless.

            1. jzlondon

              Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

              The point I'm trying to make isn't that it's super-safe, just that it's clearly not unsafe, which the concern about the screen would imply.

            2. PAW

              Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

              Hmm. Check out "America's 100 Deadliest Highways" at thedailybeast. Ranked by number of fatal accidents per in-state miles, sunny California came in #4 (Interstate-15), #5 (I-10), #16 (I-80), #32 (I-5), #40 (I-8), and #79 for I-40. The California freeway system is high risk.

              A dated study (2002) titled An Analysis of Traffic Deaths by Vehicle Type and Model did find that the category 'Imported Luxury Cars' (ex: BMW 3-5 series, Mercedes C and E, Infiniti) had the lowest combined risk for fatal highway crash. I suppose that's the category most applicable for the Tesla S.

              If someone wants to dig deeper look at the Fatality Analysis Reporting System at http://www.nhtsa.gov/FARS

          2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

            I wonder what the driver demographics are for the Tesla Model S? I suspect that the age range is fairly much around the age range of the safest drivers - too old to be fearless show-offs, too young to be doddery and forgetful.

        3. Boothy

          @ big_D: Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

          Erm.. Check your info before posting.

          Apart from the fact that things like lights and wipers are mostly automatic these days, the Tesla S does have manual on/off for all these controls on standard steering wheel stalks, just like any other 'normal' car.

          The screen is for the none critical stuff, heating, music, map etc.

          1. David Kelly 2

            Re: @ big_D: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

            Apart from the fact that things like lights and wipers are mostly automatic these days, the Tesla S does have manual on/off for all these controls on standard steering wheel stalks, just like any other 'normal' car.

            Not the headlights which are touch-screen only. And wipers are not on the touch display, they are on the turn signal stalk exactly like older (pre 2012 M-class that I know of) Mercedes-Benz.

        4. David Kelly 2

          Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

          The difference is, that the Prius (and most other cars) also have mechanical switches for the important stuff, like turning on the lights!

          Prius has more hard switches to supplement the MFD but if the MFD fails the Prius owner will have significant trouble controlling everything.

    5. Weapon

      Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

      Most of the damage to the environment comes from driving the car, not producing the car. Even taking an old car and restoring it with newer technology would be more environmentally damaging then an electric car.

      Lithium Ion is not atrocious by any means, it does not use any rare earth metals, is recyclable and is non-toxic. Tesla produces their batteries in an environmentally graded rank A factory that even recycles 100% of water used.

      There is also no reason to touch the touchscreen while driving, most of the common controls are on the wheel. There is also voice command.

    6. cray74

      Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

      "That one also won't have a 17 inch television distracting the most important part[1] of operating a motor vehicle."

      A common design feature of big center console displays is to lock out many features while rolling so you shouldn't be *so* distracted by it. For example, my car (not a Tesla) won't let me type in a destination in the GPS while I'm rolling, and it shuts down any playing videos when I start moving.

      But there's still room to be distracted by the display, since you can still fiddle with it at least to the level of a 1960s' car radio. Your 1960-era cars would have a radio, right? They were pretty universal by the 1930s.

      Ye olde non-digital radios can be distracting enough to cause wrecks. "In 2002, the [US] NHTSA blamed 66% of the 43,000 fatal car crashes on “Playing with the radio or CD.”" That's true enough for a cousin of mine. She crossed into oncoming traffic while fiddling with her old-school radio dials. She paid for that distraction with an impressive range of broken bones, a concussion, a through-thigh perforation by the handbrake, loss of license, and impressive insurance rates. Everyone else involved, fortunately, got away with bruises and soiled seats.

      Historical perspective: people freaking out about car radios and driver distraction.

      http://mentalfloss.com/article/29631/when-car-radio-was-introduced-people-freaked-out

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

        @cray74

        yes, the computer in my old Mondeo was like that, start driving and only critical controls and the radio could be changed, the navi computer locked out manual input. I found it a good idea, although annoying when you have a passenger who can type in a change of destination...

        Having driven with people who constantly twiddle with the settings on their onboard computer whilst driving, I wish they all locked out making changes whilst driving!

    7. Psyx

      Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

      Jake, your 60s car will have drum brakes, rubbish suspension, a fair chance of just breaking at the roadside (potentially then getting stacked into), no rear belts, probably no front seat-belts either, no roll-over protection, seats not designed to survive a crash and sod-all crumple zones. There'd be no ABS or traction control and the headlights will be rubbish. It won't have hazard warning lights and might not have indicators.

      If we all drove them the roads would be FAR less safe than if we all drove a car which re-defined the limits of crash tests and has a screen in the dash.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

        @Psyx you mean a car where you actually have to know how to drive and where you have to think about your own skin, so you drive it more carefully? And that is bad? ;)

        1. Psyx

          Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

          "@Psyx you mean a car where you actually have to know how to drive and where you have to think about your own skin, so you drive it more carefully? And that is bad? ;) "

          Nice try, but I drive old cars which need to be double declutched and develop healthy arm muscles due to their lack of power steering, so I know from first hand experience that they are inherently dangerous in a crash, difficult to drive, lack all the signals which show drivers in today's day and age your intentions, and handle like crud.

          It doesn't matter if you drive more carefully, because the car is less safe. And frankly... I don't drive more carefully in older cars anyway. It doesn't change my driving behaviour. I drive to compensate for crap handling, but not inherently more carefully: I don't give cyclists a wider birth or check more times before pulling out of a junction. Slower!= More carefully.

    8. Goldmember

      Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

      Well, I'm not convinced about restoring 1660's cars as being greener. While it's true Li-ion batteries are certainly not enviro friendly, neither is restoring an old car. There's paint, metalwork, new interiors, engine rework/ rebuilding to do, and that's before you get into the topic of lead replacement and MPG.

      But with the touchscreen, you're bang on. I see enough bell ends driving around playing with their phones and sat nav screens when they're bored of looking at the road. Giving someone a 17" screen, with web access and shitloads of options sounds like a really bad idea.

  4. frank ly

    A quick couple of points ...

    " ... the power consumption in kilowatts per mile .."

    A meaningful figure would be kilowatt.hours per mile, the energy consumption. You don't 'consume' power. The battery will have the ability to hold a certain amount of energy, hence an idea of your possible range in miles.

    " ...the mathematically complex miles to the gallon ..."

    I don't see what's complex about mpg. My car gives 40 mpg on a long motorway run so it'll slurp 2 gallons if I drive 80 miles. Simple.

    1. Dave Bell

      Re: A quick couple of points ...

      There are two rival measures. It's either fuel/distance or distance/fuel, and we're used to miles per gallon.

      Using the inverse, and plotting against vehicle weight, gives a straight-line graph. Getting that straight line needs a bit of clever math to get the best fit. but it's a simple end result. You can't get that simple result from miles per gallon.

      I think the alternative used in Europe is liters per hundred kilometers. We buy our petrol in liters now, and if I wanted to figure out how much petrol I needed, calling 100km 60 miles would be near enough, with a margin. Since we don't buy petrol in gallons any more, and we don't measure distances in km, either way it's more complicated than it needs to be.

    2. S4qFBxkFFg

      Re: A quick couple of points ...

      Interestingly, fuel consumption can also be thought of as a surface area (volume of fuel per distance is just a length cubed per length, i.e. length squared) with a smaller area being more fuel efficient.

      Explained better on XKCD (scroll down a bit): http://what-if.xkcd.com/11/

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A quick couple of points ...

      Yes that's a journalistic error! EV Battery Energy is kWh, and hence should be kWh per mile.

      I don't know what that is in El Reg units, but it isn't kW!

    4. d3vy Silver badge

      Re: A quick couple of points ...

      "I don't see what's complex about mpg. My car gives 40 mpg on a long motorway run so it'll slurp 2 gallons if I drive 80 miles. Simple."

      I think the complexity here is that we are in the UK, we buy fuel in Litres and measure distance in miles...

  5. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    WTF?

    Google maps? Really?

    Why would any sane person choose a navigation system that requires a permanent connection to t'interwebs?

    If you're local, you know where you're going. If you don't have an unlimited data plan, it eats it every time you drive. If you're going abroad, you're stuffed by the roaming charge... there's absolutely no reason not to have an onboard map, updated every now and then - with the added advantage that the chocolate factory doesn't know where you are.

    I wonder how much Google paid to have their maps installed?

    1. corestore

      Re: Google maps? Really?

      "both" would be a better option; Google is (at least in theory) always up to date and should have accurate real-time data on traffic density and delays.

      If the satnav is internal, it's always available, but needs periodic updates and a source of real-time traffic data...

      1. Dave Bell

        Re: Google maps? Really?

        I've come across stories of real-time data effectively warning of such things as Police speed traps because of their effects on traffic flow.

      2. phil dude
        Pint

        Re: Google maps? Really?

        on a trip to San Fran a few weeks ago, a friend of mine and I were looking for a steakhouse for dinner. Amazingly, google suggest no less than 3 that were no longer in business in San Fran. The 4th was the chain "Ruth" something, so current information.....?

        We had the (tipsy) idea we should write it on a postcard and stick it through google's mailbox, but they probably don't get mail....

        P.

    2. Lionel Baden

      Re: Google maps? Really?

      I only get a 2g signal out wher i live and google maps has enough bandwidth to deal with that.

      If I were planning on going to somewhere constantly with no mobile coverage i would as you say get an offline system. In England at this point google maps can do just fine without having to have a connection 100% of the time.

      It just takes longer to find the address on 2g, so either do it before you leave home on the wireless connection or wait 4 min to set it up.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google maps? Really?

      Well you could buy an unlimited data plan, from Three it's pretty cheap (about £13) and it works through many parts of Western Europe and other countries without any roaming charges.

    4. jzlondon

      Re: Google maps? Really?

      The Tesla navigation system has offline map data.

    5. David Kelly 2

      Re: Google maps? Really?

      Why would any sane person choose a navigation system that requires a permanent connection to t'interwebs?

      Originally the Model S was to have a healthy allocation for digital music storage. When the car was finally released that feature was deleted, nominally the excuse given was to allocate storage for maps to reduce bandwidth consumption. In the USA Tesla is paying the 3G data costs for the first 4 years of ownership. So its in their best interest to be efficient.

  6. Chris G Silver badge

    Twizy

    In the last year I had had the opportunity to drive both a Renault Twizy and a Tesla S, each for a very short distance.

    The Tesla belongs to a coach and limo company here, they bought the S to collect VIPs from the VIP terminal at Ibiza aiport which is where I saw it while waiting for a client.

    I doubt if I drove it more than half a mile but I can say it is definitely worth more than the price of thirteen Twizys, smooth and very fast acceleration, something I guess would take a bit of getting used to when you are used to accelerating with increasing noise. The Tesla gives very little sense of speed, I found I was doing over a hundred Km in a couple of seconds without realising it until I looked at the readout. The stereo was better than anything I have ever owned in my house.

    The Twizy on the other hand is slow, expensive for a two in line seater that is almost comparable to the Sinclair C5. That however, had the advantage of pedal power when the battery was flat.

    1. Van

      Re: Twizy

      "The Twizy on the other hand is slow, expensive for a two in line seater that is almost comparable to the Sinclair C5. That however, had the advantage of pedal power when the battery was flat."

      Utter garbage. The Twizzy has proper suspension and disc brakes. It was designed to compete in the young person scooter market, to be easy to park and cheap to run. Scooters and small motorcycles arn't particularly cheap and they're not particularly fast or comfortable. So wrong to compare it to a Tesla doing airport ferrying.

      1. James Hughes 1

        Re: Twizy

        I believe the phrase 'ALMOST comparable' has been missed here.

  7. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Thumbs up!

    For that nice big screen to look at instead of the usual dull business of avoiding errant pedestrians, cyclists, delivery vans...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thumbs up!

      > instead of the usual dull business of avoiding errant pedestrians, cyclists, delivery vans...

      "avoiding"??? No wonder you get bored. :(

  8. Matthew 17

    how are they likely to be in Winter?

    An internal combustion engine keeps the car nice n warm and the ice away. An electric car is going to need a big fat heater to stop them freezing which would kill their range?

    I'd like electric cars to work, the local air quality is bound to be miles better if/when they become the norm.

    1. mikeyw0

      Re: how are they likely to be in Winter?

      Matthew 17 are you seriously trying to argue that the fact that petrol/diesel cars waste huge amounts of fuel in the form of heat is a good thing?

    2. Anonymous Blowhard

      Re: how are they likely to be in Winter?

      Probably pretty good; you can't cross the street in Oslo without the risk of being silently run over by a Tesla.

      Most Norwegians I know are very practical and wouldn't tolerate a car that doesn't work in the winter.

    3. jzlondon

      Re: how are they likely to be in Winter?

      It turns out that this question has been asked a lot before, surprisingly. And there are actual, factual answers available.

      It also turns out that heating the cabin isn't a major drain compared to moving the car. And Norway is one of Tesla's biggest markets, and much of the northern US, not to mention Canada, has very harsh winters. Etc. Etc.

    4. Psyx

      Re: how are they likely to be in Winter?

      "An internal combustion engine keeps the car nice n warm and the ice away. An electric car is going to need a big fat heater to stop them freezing which would kill their range?"

      What? Do you genuinely believe that the waste heat caused by a petrol engine 12 months of a year is less than the waste heat caused by running a separate electric heater on days when you use it?

    5. David Kelly 2

      Re: how are they likely to be in Winter?

      An internal combustion engine keeps the car nice n warm and the ice away. An electric car is going to need a big fat heater to stop them freezing which would kill their range?

      I took delivery of my Model S 85 in December 2013. When temperatures are low my 10 mile commute at 14°F was often around 400 Wh/mile. Same commute at 70°F to 80°F with A/C on is usually around 250 Wh/mile in the morning and nearly 300 Wh/mile in the late afternoon.

      At low temperatures the car will actively heat the battery (and cool when hot). Can select an Eco mode which is less aggressive at heating the battery but also limits power output and regeneration until the battery reaches safe temperatures.

    6. Weapon

      Re: how are they likely to be in Winter?

      So your one of those people who prefer to sit in a freezing cold car until the engine warms up instead of having instant electric heating?

    7. Parax

      Re: how are they likely to be in Winter?

      Meh even my 'cheap' ev will preheat from the mains. Enjoy scraping ice off your dinosaur juice burner.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: how are they likely to be in Winter?

        I its near the supply.

  9. mikeyw0

    A few comments on comments so far... (from someone who has owned his Model S for 4 days so far)

    1. Tesla are opening "superchargers" inside central London precisely to deal with the fact that on-street parking is so common here. 20 minutes will half charge the battery, i.e. 150 miles of range. I've already met a few people who have ordered the Model S even though they won't be able to charge at home. But yes of course there is a huge challenge around building a charging infrastructure for long journeys, just like there was when the petrol car was invented 120 years ago. There will be fast chargers at every UK motorway service station by the end of the year.

    2. The battery is reckoned to have around a 20 year life (8-10 years in the car, then another decade or so helping to load balance the grid) and at the end of that process it's still 97% recyclable. How is this "environmentally atrocious"? Watch Robert Llewellyn talking about this at the end of his review at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bv2UE7sNBfA

    3. Having driven my Model S for about 500 miles now I can tell you that the display isn't the slightest bit distracting. Like anything else you just have to get used to it. Go test drive one and see for yourself. Also I'd love to see a side-by-side comparison of someone programming a sat nav destination in say a VW Golf vs The Model S. When I collected my car last week I wanted to drive into London to show the car to my colleagues. I just pressed a button on the steering wheel, said "navigate to Duncannon St, Central London", and off it went.

    4. Of course the satnav works offline. If you are out of range of 3G you don't get to see full google map or satellite view tiles but you still get turn by turn nav, with maps, in the instrument display, voice prompts etc, just like any car. And the 3G service is included and free anyway, including pan-European roaming.

    1. Chad H.

      What a well reasoned response to the chicken-littling.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "2. The battery is reckoned to have around a 20 year life (8-10 years in the car, then another decade or so helping to load balance the grid) and at the end of that process it's still 97% recyclable. How is this "environmentally atrocious"?"

      Llewellyn reckoned they'd outlast the car. If that's only 8-10yrs thats not very impressive for a start, and actual performance may depend on charging patterns, especially how often it's supercharged. Tesla seem to be offering a battery swap for $12,000 after 8yrs or $30,000+ before then. This may not be a problem for a rich actor who swaps his car every couple of years, but most of us don't expect to replace the 'engine' every 8 (or less) years in a normal car. Llewellyn also doesn't say the batteries will then go on to help the grid. He says Tesla (or Solar City) will sell the batteries again to a home owner to use as a UPS. Then presumably charge that customer again to dispose of the batteries once they're no longer useful.

      1. mikeyw0

        Were you watching a different video?

        There are Model S's in the US that have covered 50k miles already. They're seeing battery capacity drop by around 1% per 10k miles. A petrol car loses range at least that fast (as the engine gets less efficient). So with 200k miles on the clock you might expect 80% of delivery range. I don't know what the average mileage on a car at the time it's scrapped is, but I bet it's less than that.

        And why would Tesla be selling my battery? It's mine. I bought it.

        Also where are you getting your battery swap pricing? The only battery sales going on at the moment are a) when owners want to upgrade to the large battery and b) to repair cars that have been damaged in major accidents. No owner is looking to replace their battery with a new one just to recover the 2% range they've lost!

        1. Can't think of anything witty...
          Mushroom

          @ mikeyw0

          Get out of here with your facts, personal experience and in depth knowledge of the topic under discussion, we've got baseless criticisms to throw around!

          :)

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "I don't know what the average mileage on a car at the time it's scrapped is, but I bet it's less than that."

          ObMyCar: 10 year old turbo diesel still doing a reported 60mpg on the motorway. No signs of rust and only minor servicing bits needed. Which is possibly why the car industry likes electric cars, not just for the subsidies but also for the baked-in major component replacement costs.

          "And why would Tesla be selling my battery? It's mine. I bought it."

          As you've bought one, then may be you could share the UK terms for battery replacement? My sources have been googling Tesla S battery. For US versions, the 85K battery is guaranteed for 8 years, then $12K to replace it as a swap. If you need to replace it sooner than that, what will it cost you, and do you get to keep the old batteries? The searches show some vagueness regarding "normal degradation" for battery replacement under warranty.

          1. Van

            Minor servicing? You'll be due for a new turbo soon (mine lasted 6 years) a cam belt every 5 years give or take with water pump is not a minor job either. Then your crank shaft oil seal will start to leak. Injectors, fuel pump, very expensive especially if your injectors wont budge. Your expensive MAF and MAP sensors don't last for ever.

            1. Cpt Blue Bear

              "Minor servicing? You'll be due for a new turbo soon (mine lasted 6 years) a cam belt every 5 years give or take with water pump is not a minor job either. Then your crank shaft oil seal will start to leak. Injectors, fuel pump, very expensive especially if your injectors wont budge. Your expensive MAF and MAP sensors don't last for ever."

              Yes minor servicing.

              I have a Toyota Hilux 3 litre turbo diesel coming up on 270,000km. I consider timing belts (at around $30 each every 100,000km) and a water pump ($48 from Toyota no less and took 20 minutes to fit) minor servicing for such a vehicle, but then I've run 2 stroke motorbikes as daily commuters. No oil leaks and still turns in 6.5l/100km (that's about 35mpg for those mired in the 1960s) despite stupid tyres and a bullbar ruining what aerodynamics it ever had. Compression is a little down and it uses about half a litre of oil every 5000km so maybe we'll lift the head at half a million and have a look-see.

              The trick is to actually do that minor servicing not just keep driving until something has to be done.

              What on earth did you have that did a turbo in six years? I'd like to know so I can avoid them. Was it French by any chance?

          2. ian 22

            @Anon

            If you've the £100000 to purchase a Tesla S, I'd expect £12000 to replace the battery would not be a stretch.

            Very likely you'd simply replace the car for another one at £100000 a go.

        4. David Kelly 2

          Also where are you getting your battery swap pricing?

          Tesla once publicly discussed the possibility of a battery futures contract where for $12k they would replace the 85 kWh after the 8 year unlimited mile warranty expired. There was some question as to whether this was an on-demand replacement or whether it was only a warranty extension. Warranty does not replace until capacity falls below 70% of new.

          1. James Hughes 1

            Not really relevant, but my Honda Civic, Petrol 1.6L, 02 plate is just coming up to 215K miles. It's still on it's original clutch, second cam belt and I think the second exhaust. Got through lots of disks and pads, and two front springs and some lower wishbones (I need to replace the whole thing as the bushes are not replaceable). Everything else is original. Still doing high 30mpg's compared with its as new mileage (apparently) of 42ish.

            However, I do think it is the exception rather than the rule.

      2. Hairy Spod

        ???

        Anonymous Coward, what relevance has the context of being poor got to do with anything when discussing luxury cars.

        I'm pretty sure that a poor person would struggle affording the fuel in an old V12 Jag, so that argument about the battery is pretty lame.

        I dont think that it is that unusual for high mileage drivers (mini cab drivers in particular) to not think twice about putting a new or reconditioned engine in high mileage ICE car, so why should swapping out the battery in an 8-10 year old electric one be so outragous?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > If that's only 8-10yrs thats not very impressive for a start

        The design life of a consumer car is ten years. How long do you think the engine in your car, if you have one, is designed¹ to last--or the body, for that matter?

        ¹ "Designed" has a specific meaning here, before you go retorting that your car is almost 300 years old and you've only changed the spark plugs once.

  10. Benno

    Sounds lovely - I can't wait for the 'next gen' Tesla; hopefully slightly smaller, slightly cheaper and a _real_ market changer. Evolution is a good thing.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      These things always come in at the top of the market.

      Where was ABS introduced? Electric windows? virtually anything else you now consider standard.

      Probably in the Merc S Class...

      1. Don Dumb

        @John Robson - Where was ABS introduced? Electric windows? virtually anything else you now consider standard.

        I thought most developments (with regards driving aids rather than the 'leccy windows) were originally developed in Formula 1 cars - like ABS, semi-auto gearboxes, etc

        1. S4qFBxkFFg

          Not 100% sure, but I think ABS came from the people making aircraft landing gear.

          (source was my dad, who was in the RAF)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            > I think ABS came from the people making aircraft landing gear.

            Aircraft landing gear do indeed have an anti-blocking system, and have had so for a long time (60s?) but it's an entirely different development from car ABS. For a start, the system on aircraft is purely mechanical, as opposed to the electronic nature of ABS.

            Source: Myself. I used to fly the darned things. Which means I can take them from A to B (on a good day) but honestly I have no idea how they actually fly. All I know is lots of money are involved in the process.

        2. Psyx

          "I thought most developments (with regards driving aids rather than the 'leccy windows) were originally developed in Formula 1 cars"

          Indeed. It's one of the main points of F1.

          Which is why it kinda beggars belief that people are moaning about the new F1 power-plants.

          US stock cars are stuck firmly in the past mechanically, and so are utterly irrelevant dinosaurs when it comes to automotive development.

        3. John Bailey

          "I thought most developments (with regards driving aids rather than the 'leccy windows) were originally developed in Formula 1 cars - like ABS, semi-auto gearboxes, etc"

          Quite possibly.

          But OP stated "introduced" Not developed.

          The Ford Fiesta was not the first street car with ABS was it?

      2. cray74

        "Where was ABS introduced? Electric windows? virtually anything else you now consider standard. Probably in the Merc S Class..."

        Probably, or a similar luxury mark. I've heard that GM uses Cadillac for its experimentation with new features (new to GM, anyway). The customers can better afford warranties and repairs, while the profit margins are higher for GM to soak up warranty issues, recalls, and so forth.

  11. IHateWearingATie

    Great stuff

    Good to see 'leccy cars improving. Cost is still too high for me (if I had £50k I'd be buying a second hand 911 and saying sod the environment), and my ideal would be to have a small on-board engine to get me home if I'm too far away from a fast charger.

    Still, another 10 years and I may have an electric car sitting on my driveway

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    I was going to buy one of these...

    ...but cancelled when I saw the images of the screen. £50k and no AdBlock Plus?

    1. mikeyw0

      Re: I was going to buy one of these...

      You joke, but one of the changes expected in the next software release (V6.0) is to change to using chrome as the in-car brower. ABP may not be that far away ;-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Devil

        Re: I was going to buy one of these...

        one of the changes expected in the next software release (V6.0) is to change to using chrome as the in-car brower.

        Chrome? Fuck it, I'm cancelling the other one too.

  13. Don Dumb
    WTF?

    Wait, the screen is used for what?

    "you have to look at it too much by saying there are anchor points – buttons which don’t move – to call up the essential screens for things like the lights and windscreen wipers."
    Wait, hang on - to turn on the lights or windscreen wipers, both actions required to be able to do while at speed, you have to press a button on the touchscreen to bring up another display with controls? That surely can't be right.

    If true, it's terrible, especially considering the screen is below dashboard level. On the motorway you have to be able to turn on (and off) the wipers and/or lights, sometimes quickly, without looking away from the road. Say for instance, when a rainstorm suddenly hits. How many times are you going to have to look down because you've missed the right button or need to work out where the button for high intensity rear lights is on the screen.

    I'm sorry, a clean UI is helpful but not in all cases, some things are important enough for physical switchgear to be able to be used without looking at. You wouldn't have the indicators operated by a touchscreen (please tell me Tesla hasn't done that!), neither should the other essential controls. I notice that the example owner hasn't used the car beyond a few miles and so likely hasn't come across these situations.

    1. mikeyw0

      Re: Wait, the screen is used for what?

      The wipers and headlights are both automatic (like in any car costing £50k or more).

      And the wiper controls are on a control stalk on the steering wheel, as is the full beam headlight control, just like in every car.

      Tesla have sold around 30,000 of these cars (mostly in the US). You can be pretty sure that all the crass usability issues were ironed out at the prototype stage, and most of the minor ones have also been fixed based on feedback from those early owners.

      The car updates itself automatically like an iPhone - you get in one morning and it tells you there's been a software update and that new features are now available.

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Wait, the screen is used for what?

        "you get in one morning and it tells you there's been a software update and that new features are now available."

        Hello- I wonder what this new stalk does...?

      2. Don Dumb
        Happy

        Re: Wait, the screen is used for what?

        mikeyw0 - Thanks for the clarification, very helpful. The implication that crucial controls were entirely on the touchscreen did seem mad, and thankfully inaccurate.

        Can I ask how good the height and position of the touchscreen is? It looks like it would benefit from being placed higher (like the screens are in modern Audis are). I get annoyed at some cars for having screens and controls too low down on the centre console, outside of peripheral vision.

        The car updates itself automatically like an iPhone - you get in one morning and it tells you there's been a software update and that new features are now available.

        That would make me nervous considering how rocky my iPhone updates have been lately.

        1. mikeyw0

          Re: Wait, the screen is used for what?

          The large screen is definitely a lot lower than other screens I'm used to (my previous car is an Audi A8). But then the instrument display directly in front of me is also an LCD and all the important info is there (speed etc obviously, but also nav stuff) and that's the one whose height/position is critical.

          I think if the main screen were any higher it would start to become more intrusive (it is large after all!) - there's nothing critical on it that you *must* look at while driving so that's OK with me.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wait, the screen is used for what?

        Actually they're (optionally) automatic on cars costing a lot less than £20k - pace of change and all that.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wait, the screen is used for what?

      > a clean UI is helpful but not in all cases

      A clean UI is helpful in all cases. Note however the difference between UI and GUI.

      For the rest, why go on making assumptions when you have been nowhere near it? Just fucking go and have a test drive if you're really interested, rather than posting bollocks in here.

    3. jzlondon

      Re: Wait, the screen is used for what?

      I love all these people speculating on humungous, glaring problems that the car doesn't, in fact, have. It's been driven for half a billion miles by tens of thousands of owners over more than a year.

      But, hey, maybe they forgot windscreen wiper stalks and some random Register commenter is the first to think of that?

  14. Ventilator

    Re "I was going to buy one of these..."

    You appear to have chosen the "Joke Alert" icon by mistake.

  15. Phillip.

    Well laid out

    Having taken one for a test drive, the screen is not distracting at all. It pretty much drives like a regular luxury car, everything where you would expect it. Performance is incredible. Love the extra large sunroof. Certainly one of the most amazing cars I've ever driven.

    One thing not mentioned is the extra screen on the dash. For instance I program in my route. I then I hit the music button and the gmaps flips up to a small screen on my dash next to the speedo. I can then follow the map without having to look at the touchscreen. Everything is so well thought out.

    Phillip.

    1. cray74

      Re: Well laid out

      "One thing not mentioned is the extra screen on the dash. For instance I program in my route. I then I hit the music button and the gmaps flips up to a small screen on my dash next to the speedo."

      How large is the Tesla's secondary screen by the speedometer? My Dodge also has twin screens (8.4" and...tiny), but the little display among the gauges is so small (2-3"?) that it's not suited for map display without really refocusing from the road. (Dodge realized that and only uses it to flash turn arrows when the GPS is navigating.) Since Tesla seems to be breaking ground or at least popularizing next generation car features, I'm curious what the future holds for secondary displays.

  16. Tringle

    I'd love one. How do I win the lottery?

    1. KPz

      By choosing the right six numbers. Easy!

  17. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. mikeyw0

      Re: No.

      Good luck. There is literally nothing faster at suddenly accelerating out of the way of a moron doing something idiotic. The benefit of a car with a single speed gearbox is that it is always in the right gear, and pushing electrons down a wire means pretty much instant throttle response.

    2. Jason 41
      WTF?

      Re: No. @unwarranted triumphalism

      What a very odd thing to say

  18. big_D Silver badge

    Keyless

    What is the big deal of the keyless driving? My 2010 Toyota has that as well. It is very comfortable to just climb into the car and hit the start button. No key to unlock it - it unlocks itself when you touch the door handle - and no ignition key slot, just a button marked Start/Stop.

    Okay, the Tesla "key" looks more swankey than the Toyota one.

    1. mikeyw0

      Re: Keyless

      big_D it's not a particularly big deal to be honest. Though in the Tesla there isn't even a start stop button, or a lock button. The car unlocks as you walk towards it, the engine is "on" as soon as you press the brake pedal, and when you arrive somewhere you put it in park, get out and walk away and it locks and shuts down behind you. But no this isn't really something to get excited about compared to other features of the car.

    2. David Kelly 2

      Re: Keyless

      What is the big deal of the keyless driving? My 2010 Toyota has that as well. It is very comfortable to just climb into the car and hit the start button. No key to unlock it - it unlocks itself when you touch the door handle - and no ignition key slot, just a button marked Start/Stop.

      Tesla Model S doesn't even have the start/stop button. Open the door and things start lighting up, radio starts playing. Foot on brake, put in gear, drive away. Drove 2007 Prius Pkg 6 (leather, SmartKey, Nav, everything but satellite radio) 7 years before replacing it with a Model S 85 this past December.

    3. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Re: Keyless

      As a slight aside, I've always worried that the car won't be locked properly. You walk away, the car locks... or does it? So you walk back to check... and the car unlocks. Or does it?

      Repeat ad infinitum.

      1. mikeyw0

        Re: Keyless

        No, if you're worried about whether the car is locked you just fire up the iPhone app and it tells you.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Keyless

        I've always worried that the car won't be locked properly. You walk away, the car locks... or does it? So you walk back to check...

        My in-laws' Micra* had this about 10 years ago. It drove them a little bit (more) insane.

        * The model just after Nissan and Renault got into bed together.

  19. LucreLout Silver badge
    Go

    Range

    I was thinking it looks like a possible option for my needs, which is suprising given previous leccy motors weren't really viable. Then I realised that the 300 mile range would likely drop to about 200 after a couple of years, rendering it useless for much of my driving.

    However, IF Tesla can follow through with fast charging points at motorway service stations, then it becomes a perfectly viable choice of car for my usual 330(ish) mile trips, as I'd need a toilet/fuel/food stop along the way. Even with a reduced range, as 50% charge in 20 mins means I don't have to care.

    I'll still keep my fun cars, but this would do the job of my motorway cruiser for most journeys.

    1. Steve Todd

      Re: Range

      See the post above about range drop. This is about 1% per 10,000 miles driven. Even at 20K miles/year at 4 years you'd still have 275 miles per charge in range, though fast charging would reduce this.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On the verge

    I've been fiddling around with gasoline engines for almost fifty years. I've owned over 150 cars, countless motorcycles, a couple of airplanes, worked on them, rebuilt them, written technical books about them, basically know them pretty well.

    They're doomed.

    I've now started playing with electric vehicles. Once the range issue, recharging time and battery life issues are resolved, and they are being resolved right now, everyone will go to electric. They do everything SO much better than gasoline engines that there will be no contest. In a few years, people will look at gasoline vehicles the way we look at horse drawn buggies - people actually rode around in those things?

    1. Psyx

      Re: On the verge

      I have to agree. I love my petrol-powered cars and always will, but from a performance and comfort viewpoint, electric has got it nailed. I would take a Tesla Roadster in a heartbeat, if offered one.

    2. Van

      Re: On the verge

      I would love to convert some modern classics to electric.

    3. Irony Deficient

      Re: On the verge

      Anonymous Coward, you didn’t note one additional issue in your list: price. Internal combustion vehicles won’t be doomed until there’s a sufficient supply of second-hand electric vehicles available with all of your issues resolved, at prices comparable to second-hand internal combustion vehicles of similar condition — from both purchase and maintenance perspectives. As such, I think that “a few years” is wildly optimistic.

      I don’t know the answer to this question, but could our national electricity infrastructures cope with 50% + 1 of vehicles on the road being electric? Probably Norway’s could, and perhaps Finland’s and France’s, but what about those of other G-20 countries? If they can’t, what would be the cost of bringing the infrastructures up to where they would need to be to support that switch?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: On the verge

        I'm already seeing 2011 Chevy Volts (your Opel Ampera) at $17,000 to $20,000 (retail asking price), these are three and four year old cars. The average used car in the US is 14 years old, and generally after that 14th year, resale value is nil. When they get to $10K, which I anticipate in two to three years, I intend to grab one. Since the average price of a new car in the US is a whisker over $30,000 these days, $10,000 puts a used electric car into reach for a LOT of people, including cheapskates like me.

        I drive 7,500 miles a year, which is about 21 miles a day, well within the range of most electric cars even today. I calculated the cost of electricity at $210 a year (based on a power cost of about a dollar to go 35 miles) for the 7,500 miles, I pay 10 cents per KWH and am not on time-demand metering. My electric bill is $70 to $80 a month as I have a very energy efficient house. Florida Power & Light (a/k/a Florida Plunder and Loot) will have NO problem supplying me with another $20 worth of electricity a month - and that assumes I don't install net-tied solar when the prices of solar cells come down a little more.

        Presently, I buy about 300 gallons of gas a year to go that 7,500 miles, at a cost of about $3.50 a gallon, for about a grand in fuel every year.

        Looking at these numbers, getting on the electric car bandwagon makes *very* good sense for me. It is my fond desire to bid OPED adeu (actually bid them two words, the second of which rhymes with adeu) in the next two years or so.

        Besides, you know this is a coming thing when Harley-Fricken-Davidson announces a full size electric motorcycle, and they're doing test rides now . . .

        1. Visual Echo

          Re: On the verge

          Thanks, I was wondering where the Volt fans were. I live in Michigan and my driving and gas prices are about the same, but if I charge from 11 PM to 9 AM (completely programmable through web pages that connect to the car), Detroit Edison Electric Company charges me 7.75 cents/KWH. Less than a dollar for 20 miles in February, 40 miles in July, and if my battery goes flat, I still have 200+ miles worth of gas. The only 'range anxiety' Volt owners get is that using real gasoline screws up their statistics.

          Detroit Edison has the smart meter, the Department of Energy gave me the charger (chargepoint.com), and OnStar coonects to the car. I've got more energy usage data than I can print on a whole loaf of Koch Industries' Wonder Bread. I didn't have to wait to buy the car either... the factory is in a Detroit suburb (they're made at the Cadillac plant) and they are for sale today.

          There are many like it, but this Volt is mine... right down to the "Is it still called the gas pedal? This one goes to eleven" bumper sticker.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: On the verge

            If you have an all-electric vehicle and think you'll be pushing your range, you can always invest in a $400 honda generator to go in the boot for those one in 1000 events.

            For longer trips an electric trailer is probably a decent option, assuming the car can be trained to accept power whilst rolling.

    4. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: On the verge

      "They're doomed."

      ...as I said in a previous comment to an article about electric cars and was soundly trounced.

  21. Weapon

    A few thing

    Just to point out a few stuff:

    1) It is Tesla Model S, not Tesla S

    2) There is no reason to be looking at the screen or using it while driving. All the common controls from climate controls to audio and etc are on the wheel in form of physical controls.

    3) The LCD will outlast most smartphones. Their LCD is industrial grade.

    4) Even if you steal someone's phone, you can't steal the car. And for 2 reasons:

    A) The phone most likely has a lock screen with pincode/fingerprint/pattern

    B) The phone can only open the door, but it needs the key to be in your pocket to drive the car away. It won't start without the key.

  22. Alistair Silver badge
    Pint

    Wow. FUD sprayers are *still* at the electric car?

    I've finally had the pleasure of a ride in a model S. (85, not the 95).

    WOooooooooooow.

    The gent who took me out in his, has had it for just shy of 3 years. This is Canada, although not Tuktoyuktuk, it is still Canada. Last winter we had some *nasty* cold spells in and around our area -- According to this fellow,

    a) the car cabin went from soul freezing cold to comfy in about 5 minutes. The heater is just fine thanks.

    b) the house charger he has (75A) had the battery at full when he was ready to head to work, and in a three day stretch he noticed perhaps a 1% or 2% drop in battery charge *beyond* his normal commuting due to the temperatures. Certainly not the overhyped horsecrap 40% drop due to cold reported in a certain financial industry rag. ((think about Wellhead prices vs refinery price for oil before you comment))

    c) average commute for him is 57km each way (about 34 miles) -- and on weekends the run to the cottage and back eats about 65% of his battery.... .he has enough room in the battery to potter about in the local town a couple of times and still not sweat it on the way home. He's seen (and this is a direct quote) "No appreciable loss of charge or range" over about 80,000km of use.

    d) The one issue he has had was a fuse failure on an accessory circuit. A Tesla tech drove to the office in a repair vehicle, replaced the fuse, tested the curcuit and charged him nothing. *this* however is likely due to him having an "early adopter" status with Tesla.

    It is incredibly QUIET. Both inside and outside. I'd almost be inclined to put some sort of noise maker on mine if I got one -- I live on one of those little side streets with 100,000 kids that like to play in the street.

    I'll still make the point --> electrical delivery infrastructure will need to be heavily uplifted in Canada to support more than 20% of folks having a vehicle like this - BUT it will SO be worth it.

    The oil industry will have a s**t fit about it but there is *SO* much *less* to go wrong on an electric car, and even if our energy source (here in Canada more likely Hydro electric, Nuclear or gas than coal or oil) isn't particularly clean, the use of electric will have positive influence on carbon emissions.

    Still want one. Cant afford one, but still want one. Maybe a used one will come up sometime in my life.

    Oh. And in my opinion, this thing is still sexier than any Porche, Mercedes or BMW. About the only sexier car exterior in my books is the original Vandenplas. (Sp??)

    All standard controls are in the places you'd expect to find them on any vehicle. Gas and brake pedals on the floor in front of the driver NOT on the touch screen. Ticky thing on the steering column. Almost all the crud you need is on the steering wheel or on the Ticky things sticking out from it.

    Now. STOP buying in to the horsecrap about range --> for normal day to day use, I have a round trip commute from *one* end of my city to the *other* grand total of 190Km each day. This car will certainly handle that. And more if needed. This is *not* typical or average in north america. And I seriously doubt that this is *average* in Europe either. Yes, you will have *some* folks who have longer runs in general, but not a typical day to day commute.

    I will agree - the average "hybrid" available now is near enough to pointless as to be so when it comes to range on electric -- but for some folks they are a viable solution.

    **and** Elon has effectively thrown his company's R&D out to the world to be looked at and improved on. Yes you might have to still write up some paper if you want to use it commercially, but now I could try building one of these in my back yard......

    (hmmmmmm)

    1. David Kelly 2

      Re: Wow. FUD sprayers are *still* at the electric car?

      All standard controls are in the places you'd expect to find them on any vehicle. Gas and brake pedals on the floor in front of the driver NOT on the touch screen. Ticky thing on the steering column. Almost all the crud you need is on the steering wheel or on the Ticky things sticking out from it.

      Not headlight on/off or fog/aux/driving lights. Those are only on the touch screen.

      Now. STOP buying in to the horsecrap about range --> for normal day to day use, I have a round trip commute from *one* end of my city to the *other* grand total of 190Km each day. This car will certainly handle that. And more if needed. This is *not* typical or average in north america. And I seriously doubt that this is *average* in Europe either. Yes, you will have *some* folks who have longer runs in general, but not a typical day to day commute.

      80 mile range of lesser EVs is totally unacceptable. The range of the Model S plus the promise of Superchargers makes Tesla a serious player. I waited 7 months with my Model S 85 to try this but Saturday-week I drove 247 miles round trip to see a friend, without stoping to charge. Had 35 miles remaining when I arrived home.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wow. FUD sprayers are *still* at the electric car?

        Head lights are automatic and the FOG lights you seem so keen on mentioning don't have the sense of urgency you claim, if visibility is low enough to need them then you won't need to turn them off to avoid blinding someone, if you have to take that action you shouldn't have the bloody things on in the first place.

    2. unwarranted triumphalism
      Thumb Up

      Re: Wow. FUD sprayers are *still* at the electric car?

      Some very interesting info, thank you for that. Especially the account of how it deals with cold weather; I had been curious.

      There's certainly an argument that for the journeys the vast majority of car owners do - under 10 miles in mostly urban areas - that this vehicle is an excellent choice. I find it a bit odd that so many commenters will suddenly, with no warning, need to undertake a drive of over 300 miles. Perhaps those bringing up this objection are either projecting their particular use case onto everyone ('I need to do this, therefore so does everyone'), or maybe it's a case of FUD as you allude to.

      It's good to hear some positive feedback to counter the relentless negativity.

      Would I buy one? When you pry my Scott CR1 Pro from my cold dead hands, then maybe I'll consider it. :)

      1. David Kelly 2

        Re: Wow. FUD sprayers are *still* at the electric car?

        There's certainly an argument that for the journeys the vast majority of car owners do - under 10 miles in mostly urban areas - that this vehicle is an excellent choice. I find it a bit odd that so many commenters will suddenly, with no warning, need to undertake a drive of over 300 miles. Perhaps those bringing up this objection are either projecting their particular use case onto everyone ('I need to do this, therefore so does everyone'), or maybe it's a case of FUD as you allude to.

        Its American to demand range out of one's vehicle. To demand things we only use 1% of the time. Thats why the Ford F150 is so popular. Its the liberating knowledge one may go anywhere, do anything, on a moment's notice.

        I routinely drive 160 miles round trip on a Saturday. Recently I went the other direction and drove my Tesla Model S 85 247 miles round trip before returning to the 240V outlet in my garage.

        Even so I feel forced to keep a conventional vehicle for when the Tesla won't serve. Tesla says the first Supercharger within my range will be online in August, 130 miles away.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Wow. FUD sprayers are *still* at the electric car?

      "I'd almost be inclined to put some sort of noise maker on mine if I got one -- I live on one of those little side streets with 100,000 kids that like to play in the street."

      I want one which makes the same sound as George Jetson's flying car. The Leaf makes a noise like alternator when on an untuned fm radio - which is just naff (but disableable, unlike creep mode)

  23. Aaron 10
    Mushroom

    This is NOT Top Gear!

    I'm fucking done reading your reviews of electric cars. They constantly have errors and a distinct bias against these vehicles.

    Since when does the Nissan LEAF have an odd quirk about being electric? Other than an unusually-styled shifter knob, how would one even know this car was electric? The i-MiEV has a standard shift knob. It's even less obvious that you're driving an electric car.

    "You can, however, unlock the car from the app, meaning if someone steals your phone they can steal your car."

    WRONG! They can unlock your car. That is not stealing the car. Driving the car away requires the actual Tesla car-shaped fob in your pocket.

    I wish you would do some fucking research on these articles and stop trying to make electric vehicles look bad!

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: This is NOT Top Gear!

      "Since when does the Nissan LEAF have an odd quirk about being electric? Other than an unusually-styled shifter knob, how would one even know this car was electric? The i-MiEV has a standard shift knob. It's even less obvious that you're driving an electric car."

      Both of these are repurposed IC bodies, not electric-dedicated designs. The Leaf's quirk is that it can press you back into your seat with a surprising amount of force if you floor the pedal. The i-Miev's quirk is that it can't.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wanna convert my bmw z3 into an all electric car, cause it looks so cool (my personal preference, YMMV). I know I have enough room under the bonnet for large battery packs. I need a large battery pack and 4 leccy motor-equiped wheels. Now, when these cars take off, and they will, large batteries will become affordable and pretty efficient.

  25. phil dude
    Boffin

    domestic power....

    I watched the youtube "fully charged" vid, and R.Ll. pointed out the battery packs could be used as a house power pack.

    Are there any published estimates of the proportion of the population (european or usa) that would need a home power pack, to even out the supply/load cycle for the renewables?

    It would seem that once there is a critical mass of chargers (for transit) and sinks (for domestics), the grid will have a reserve capacity not unlike a big dam...

    P.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: domestic power....

      "It would seem that once there is a critical mass of chargers (for transit) and sinks (for domestics), the grid will have a reserve capacity not unlike a big dam.."

      I think these are two of the biggest challenges (aside from cost). Teslas's rolling out it's Superchargers which cut filling times to more realistic levels, but not petrol/diesel convenience. Plus the challenges of managing high current charging and battery life. Potential problem there is they'll only be for Tesla's vehicles at present. Fair play to Musk for getting on and doing it but incompatible charging infrastructure will increase cost and reduce take up.

      For domestic, the pitch seems to be buy a Tesla and a SolarCity solar charger/storage system using Tesla batteries. That's fine if the panels charge the store batteries ready to charge your car when you get home in the evening. If not, then demand isn't going to match solar profiles, so there'll probably be an increased night-time demand.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: domestic power....

      "It would seem that once there is a critical mass of chargers (for transit) and sinks (for domestics), the grid will have a reserve capacity not unlike a big dam..."

      Yes and no. Overall efficiency of such setups will run around 50%. You'd better have a very cheap source of primary power to make it economic.

  26. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    "It’s generally held by UI designers than when you are concentrating on one thing, such as driving, it’s better to have physical buttons for a secondary task, such as altering the air con, because you can rely upon muscle memory."

    And only blinded-by-the-shiny fucktards don't already know this.

    No wonder we need cars that drive themselves. Idiots can't figure out for themselves that they shouldn't be arsing about with a menu-driven touch screen while tooling along the M25.

  27. Sam Adams the Dog

    As in all else, Orwell is correct.

    Hey, regarding how you'll feel about the touch screen 20 years from now, I'd say don't worry. In 20 years, people will be producing "retro" Tesla-S control software so that your new car or spaceship or whatever it is will look and feel like a Tesla S. Of course, 10 years from now, it will feel embarrassingly antiquated. May you live a long life.

  28. R Callan
    Boffin

    The problem that most people do not acknowledge with electric cars is:

    When all cars are electric and no-one pays fuel (road) tax, how are the roads paid for? Is the assumption made that all electricity is used as automotive energy and then taxed at current automotive fuel rates to replace fuel taxes. People without cars might object to having their electricity bills quadruple.

    1. KPz

      Death and taxes

      Simple - the government will just put more duty on electricity.

    2. JamesPond

      When all cars are electric and no-one pays fuel tax

      And when is that likely? Given roughly £7k to replace the car's batteries every 7-10 years (quote is for a Lexus), I don't see that there is currently an economic argument for purchasing a purely electric car. The only people purchasing electric cars at the moment are the 'haves' who can afford the bragging 'green' rights. As far as the tree-hugger arguments go, I don't see electric cars as being all that nature friendly, given the very nasty chemicals and metals that go into making the batteries in the first place, and then get sent to landfill upon expiry.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: When all cars are electric and no-one pays fuel tax

        "Given roughly £7k to replace the car's batteries every 7-10 years (quote is for a Lexus), I don't see that there is currently an economic argument for purchasing a purely electric car. "

        The oldest Priuses are at that point and noone's paying that much for new packs.

        1: They're lasting a lot longer than envisaged

        and

        2: It's far cheaper to replace individual defective cells than an entire pack.

        and

        3: The batteries are almost 100% recyclable

        As a result there's a burgeoning industry in reconditioned battery packs - which are quite cheap on a swapout basis.

  29. Coussa

    I'm not sure it's true that "The trip shows the power consumption in kilowatts per mile", that would be like saying how much power or how many horse powers it consumes per mile. Should read KiloJoules or KiloWatt seconds, or more probably, as we do with home gas and electricity, KiloWattHours (1 KWH = 3,600 KWS or 3,600 Kilo Joule)

    1. mikeyw0

      Instantaneous power consumption (i.e. the "rev meter") is in kW.

      Charging rate can be configured to show in kW or in mph (i.e. number of miles range added per hour assuming typical driving).

      Trip consumption figures are in Wh/mi. Lower is better obviously, with 300Wh/mi being regarded as pretty economical driving.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Practicality

    I like it and think its a cracking car.

    I drive a diesel, principally to use as a tow-vehicle as I need to pull 2,000Kg. I've so far been unable to find a Braked Towing Weight on this vehicle (if it is even possible - considering the potential additional drain on the battery).

    Good prospects though.

    1. Simon Rockman

      Re: Practicality

      I mailed Tesla to ask about towing, they say the Model S doesn't support it, and that the company does not offer a tow bar. It's under consideration for the Model X

  31. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Yes, but ...

    ... does it run Linux?

    "Sorry, officer. I didn't see the red light as I was busy recompiling my kernel at the moment. Must be a problem with a bad driver."

    1. mikeyw0

      Re: Yes, but ...

      Yes, the system that runs the two interior displays is linux based.

  32. Todd R. Lockwood

    A few details from a Model S owner

    Note to the author: It is possible to program the thumb wheel on the right side of the steering wheel to function as a dimmer control for the touch screen. In my Model S, I keep the touch screen in Night Mode at all times; It has less blank white area in this mode. Combined with the dimmer control, I can set it perfectly for any situation.

    One of the extraordinary things about the Tesla Model S is that its software is constantly evolving. New features are added regularly, and they are often derived from customer feedback, which brings up an interesting point: Can you name another car manufacturer that actually listens to and uses customer ideas?

    The software updates are sent wirelessly over-the-air. There's no need to go to the service center to get them installed. While other manufacturers will hold feature improvements until the next model year, Tesla releases them all the time, even to the earliest vehicles from 2012. I took delivery of my Model S fifteen months ago, and I've received six software updates, many including terrific new features.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Question for current Tesla owners

    First a bit of background: I am considering a Tesla as my next car (Incidentally I've been a TSLA stockholder for a few years). The reason I like the idea of electric cars is, as the author of this article has correctly identified, the lack of engine noise and associated vibration.

    At the same time, torque is important to me. Top speed is also nice, as a regular Autobahn driver, but I can live with a max of 200 kph, as long as you can get to that speed quickly. :)

    I've heard a lot about the model S' torque from 0 RPM (as you would expect with an electric motor), and seen the 0-100 km/h numbers, but what about torque and acceleration in the 100-200 km/h range? My current car is rated at 420 HP which on paper is similar to the model S, but I wonder how different the power distribution is across the speed range.

    I'll be going for a test drive in the next few weeks when I have the time, but obviously I won't get to try this myself--there are no unlimited roads in the vicinity anyway, so any feedback from current owners would be most welcome.

  34. AOD
    Go

    Bit different to an i3

    Yes the BMW i3 is perhaps a bit more oddball compared with the Tesla but then again, it's around half the price of the basic Model S and it has the option for a range extender that you can just top up should you get a serious case of range anxiety.

    In the interests of balance, we were at the San Diego Zoo last year and when we parked up, spotted a saloon that initially I thought was a Maserati but on closer inspection turned out to be a Model S.

    As I hadn't seen one in the flesh before I took the opportunity to have a good look and came away thinking it was a great looking piece of machinery. The solar charging station in the car park (or parking lot) was a very nifty idea as it served both to shield the cars from the full force of the California sun and to charge them at the same time.

    Got to say though, if I was in the position to drop £100k on a lump of metal, I can't help thinking I'd probably rather have an i8 instead.

  35. Alan Brown Silver badge

    creep mode

    "I’ve never really liked the way most electric cars creep like autos."

    A new auto box (back in the 70s) wouldn't do that. They only started creeping when things started wearing.

    I detest creep, but when test driving a Leaf a few weeks ago it was useful in crawling traffic. I'd still prefer to be able to toggle it off.

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