The Tesla Model S is a pure electric car with a 300-mile range, a 0-60mph time of 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 132mph. It also has seven seats, it looks fantastic – including on the inside where the dashboard is dominated by a huge 17-inch diameter iPad-like touchscreen – and it has an excellent safety rating. Green Car Guide drove the Model S at LCV2013 and we can report that it provides a new benchmark for other manufacturers of ultra-low carbon vehicles.
Anyone who is struggling to consider the merits of a future of electric rather than petrol cars would have a different view within just a few seconds of depressing the accelerator pedal of the Model S. The car’s acceleration feels even more intense than its official figures, thanks to the way that the electric motor delivers maximum torque virtually all the way from standstill to well over 100mph.
The Tesla weighs just over two tonnes and it has to cater for the comfort needs of the American market, but it still has excellent handling thanks to the battery being in the floor of the car, resulting in a very low centre of gravity.
There are no tailpipe emissions, and refuelling the car with sufficient electricity to cover 300 miles is likely to cost less than £5. In comparison, refuelling a large petrol-engined sports saloon to cover a similar range would cost around £100. Such incredibly low running costs help to make up for the somewhat expensive purchase price of the car, which in the UK is likely to be between £70,000 and £100,000 depending upon specification, although ‘attractive’ leasing deals are promised.
But the most significant thing about the Model S is that it has been developed by a company that was created as a start-up only ten years ago, rather than by a car maker with many years’ experience of building vehicles. Having no traditional expectations about how to build cars has obviously worked well, and this is a perfect example of how a new company with a clear vision for a low carbon vehicle can succeed, overtaking many well-established car makers in the process.
This review of LCV2013 includes a summary of some of the initiatives that were presented at the event that have the aim of giving the UK a competitive advantage in the future development of ultra-low carbon vehicles. All the organisations involved in moving the UK towards this low carbon automotive goal need to drive the Model S and learn from the Tesla business model. By applying smart thinking, Tesla has been a disruptive technology in the car industry, and it has been able to move more quickly than many large manufacturers into the ultra-low emission vehicle space.
More of the latest low emission vehicles at LCV2013