As the Digital Media guy for Cockram Nissan, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the EVolocity event at Ruapuna, Christchurch. EVolocity is an initiative of APEV: Association for the Promotion of Electric Vehicles.
While I was there to take some photos of our Nissan Leaf (more on that here), I was secretly keen to check out the Tesla vehicles that would be on show. I’d read that a Tesla Model S would be in attendance, care of its owner Steve West. A Tesla would also be drag racing against a few combustion sports cars in an ‘electric vs. combustion’ head to head battle. As it happened, there were three Tesla vehicles there, two Model S’s and a roadster built on the same platform as a Lotus Elise (thanks, Dave Moore).
I’m afraid to say that my first real interest in Tesla began when I read a tribute in the form of a comic by Matthew Inman, better known as ‘The Oatmeal’. Matthew calls this comic ‘a cartoonist’s review of his magical space car’. Later, I visited the US to attend an automotive expo and had the pleasure of spending some time on Rodeo Drive in Beverley Hills. The area is pretty famous for its sports cars, and we definitely saw our fair share, but it was the Tesla vehicles that kept drawing my attention. I was surprised to see so many.
Here’s one in the valet parking area of the hotel we stayed at, the Beverley Wiltshire on Rodeo Drive.
Back in New Zealand and I soon found out that Tesla’s owner, Elon Musk, had decided to release all of the company’s patents to the public (much to the frustration of the shareholders!).
I later read that he said something along the lines of “Imagine that we’re all on one big ship, and that ship is sinking. We’re each assigned to bail out a portion of the ship. Now, our team have found a more effective way to bail out our part of the ship. It’s in our best interests to share that information with everyone else.” After that, my interest in Tesla was complete. I’ve even been following their marketing in the US, going as far as to sign-up for a test drive as if I was a local, just to experience their processes and digital communications (which are great, by the way) with the intention of bringing some of that to our dealerships in New Zealand. So, as I said, I was pretty excited to find out that I’d be seeing my first Tesla up close at the EVolocity event, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The styling isn’t especially out-there – people who aren’t ‘in the know’ may not pay any special attention as a Tesla drove past them – this vehicle looks great, but it doesn’t have the LOOK AT ME styling of a Lamborghini or a Ferrari. For those that are in the know, the Tesla holds the greatest appeal. The technology in these cars is pretty amazing, and personally I love a good car interior. The Tesla’s interior is dominated by a large central touchscreen that looks like a triple-sized iPad.
Speaking of iPads, the Tesla has an app that allows the driver to control various functions, such as locking and unlocking the doors, flashing the headlights, honking the horn, closing the sunroof, and setting off the alarm. It also shows the current charge status of the vehicle, along with an estimated range. You can imagine checking to see how well the car is charging while you’re at your office (I’ve read that some businesses in the US are offering free charge stations for the electric vehicles of their employees, but the demand is so high that you have to book in advance).
I would have downloaded the app myself, just to have a play, but a) it’s not available in the New Zealand appstore yet (you can see it in the US store here) and b) I don’t have a Tesla and I’m fairly certain my Hilux Surf would stubbornly ignore my demands to remotely honk its horn. So will the Tesla be properly arriving in New Zealand? Here’s hoping. I received an email a few weeks ago from a representative of Tesla Motors (most likely because I’d registered for a test drive on their US website) which mentioned that Tesla would be coming to Australia. As of a few days ago (10th December 2014) Tesla have now officially launched across the ditch, with plans to add charge stations to connect Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne in 2015.
The Australian version of their website is live and features a Model S as well as a Model X (SUV). This doesn’t mean Tesla is officially coming to New Zealand of course. I’d guess that there are still a few bigger markets to go yet, but at least it’s a step in our direction.
Incidentally, Steve West tells me that the Tesla completed the quarter mile at EVolocity in 12.5 seconds, defeating a Ferrari and a Porsche, but just missing out on taking a V10 Audi R8 (12.4 seconds). Thanks, Steve.