March 31, 2015
It’s always easy to ADD MORE STUFF to a design.
The HARD part is TAKING STUFF AWAY.
I remember the first time I saw X-Plane, and Xavion, running on an iPhone: How the heck do we DO that?!?!? There seems to be no computer THERE!
ALL I see is the OUTPUT of X-Plane or Xavion, NOT the computer that is making it possible!
It just seems incredible the first time you see it: You realize that you have just seen the beginning of something new, because the FAT has all been cut away, and you will NEVER want it back. You get the OUTPUT you want, but WITHOUT the clumsy overhead to DELIVER it that has always bogged you down in the past. It’s FREEDOM!
And I just had that same feeling again a few days ago, with something a lot bigger than an iPhone.
We traded our family-car Dodge Caliber in for a Tesla Model-S, and the results are even more astonishing than throwing away a gigantic old PC and replacing it with an iPhone6.
Walking up to the car after it was unloaded from the truck (I had NEVER driven a Tesla before), I had some sense of apprehension: How fast or controllable could it be? Heck, the car does not even seem to have door handles! How am I supposed to even get IN this thing?
Keys in my pocket, the Tesla sensed my approach and popped out the door handles.
OH! OK… that worked.
I got in, noted the SHOCKINGLY clean, minimal, sleek interior and adjusted the seat.
The seats are right out of Star Trek, and the touch-screen display in the center BLOWS STAR TREK AWAY EASILY.
I moved the shifter down through one click into drive and nervously pressured the gas pedal.
Without a SOUND, the car was pushing me back in the seat with acceleration.
MOTION, but WITHOUT ANY DETECTABLE ENGINE!
After a block or two, I decided to see what the car could do: The answer is 0 to 60 in about FIVE SECONDS… ALL WITHOUT A SOUND!
It was like MAGIC! The car just RESPONDS to gas pedal input without any way to detect HOW ON EARTH IT IS DOING IT!
Soon I started getting aggressive with my driving.
Even comparing to a Corvette, the Tesla RESPONDS! The acceleration is smooth and effortless!
The braking is excellent!
The body roll is almost nil! (The batteries, which are the heaviest component, are in the bottom of the car, so the center of gravity is lower than a Corvette or other sports car, which nearly eliminates body roll).
The steering precision and crispness are GREAT!
Soon I started getting more aggressive, turning in hard, nailing my apex, and applying full power on the track-out, putting myself through considerable G-loads as I rocketed out of corners: All in complete silence.
It was like magic.
With no coolant, there is no concept of warming up.
With no transmission, there is no concept of gear selection.
With no gas-burning engine, there is no concept of noise, RPM, oil, or fuel.
Those things just DON’T EXIST!
You just apply power in the futuristic cockpit and the car rockets completely silently into the next turn or straight!
It is really just like one of those shuttle-craft from Star-Trek: All RESULTS, ZERO noise or environmental damage.
Every time I get a chance to pry the car away from my wife (it is technically her car) and drive it, it is like stepping into the future.
By far my favorite car that I have ever driven.
And with the leather and carbon fiber interior, you are doing all this in a futuristic, executive-class machine that feels like everything you could ever WANT in an Aston Martin or Maserati… but WITHOUT the noise, fuel, oil, rpm, warming up, and all the other overhead that has been simply… deleted!
Driving about on errands, I will often tell people that this car does 0 to 60 in under 5 seconds, and then offer to show them “what I have under the hood”. They always come over to look as I pop the hood to see… nothing.
Just storage space.
Is the engine in the back? We pop the trunk.
More storage space.
They can never believe it.
And then, after a day of driving (even FAST driving!) you just pull into your garage and… plug it in. The charging-port glows and the dash tells you how long until a complete charge is done. Plug it in at the end of the day, it is fully charged by first thing in the morning, every time. You never see a gas station. (The only fluid that ever goes in the car is windshield-wiper fluid).
So a Tesla spends LESS of your time getting fueled than a gas car.
With a gas car, you have to keep pulling into the station like a cigarette-junkie desperate for his next fix.
You are TIED to the gas stations, and must keep spending TIME there waiting for the tank to fill.
Not so with an electric car!
With the Tesla, you simply pull into your garage at the end of the day and plug it in. Done!
Sure, it will take some hours to fully charge… BUT THIS HAPPENS WHILE YOU SLEEP! It does not TAKE a MOMENT of your TIME! You NEVER WAIT for it.
So there is no noise, no fuel consumption, you never see a gas station… all the stuff you already know.
But here is what you might not have thought of:
It USED to be that before I would go out for a drive, I would think: “But what about the FUEL?” The fuel pollutes the air (Undeniably. There is no global-warming denier that can deny that exhaust pollutes), and the fuel in the car will soon run out, requiring a gas-station stop, with the time and cost involved. But now, those concerns are GONE! Eliminated completely. The car will be plugged in at the garage at the end of the day, and the electricity cost is negligible. There is simply no cost to driving! Only transportation and fun! Coupled with solar panels on the roof of your house… well, the age of sustainable living (an absolute requirement for a high quality of life in the future) has begun.
And, if solar panels on the roof are not up to the job (You live too far north? In an apartment?) then hopefully it will not be too long before Thorium nuclear power is powering the grid (China and India are well ahead of us on this, and good for them for being smarter than us in this area, as they clearly are! With idiots like Harry Reid (“Why should we be dealing with issues that have nothing to do with homeland security?”) in power, we stand no chance of having a rational energy policy, or even discussion of one.) But, if we ever DO catch up to the more advanced Countries like China and India, then electric cars like this will truly have no environmental cost to operate… while being more fun to drive than any gas-guzzler I have ever driven!
But even short of a (badly-needed) Thorium revolution, the Tesla is a most AMAZING first step into the next generation, a thorough de-pantsing the old guard. Tesla has bucked the trends of short-sighted fear and laziness so common in unions and big corporations, and is steering our future in a bright direction… in a really bad-ass car that I just can’t stop driving.