Driving Tesla’s Model S, a most en-lightning experience

Let’s be realistic…electric cars are arse-numbingly boring

Copy & Photos: Angus MacKenzie

They’re too quiet, too heavy, too expensive, too short on range, and basically an afront to the American way of life. At least this is the chirpy chirp noise of petrol-headed fanboys who, like many dinosaurs before them, insist that the only good engine is a dinosaur fart powered one. The thought of an electric car surpassing the likes of a solidified German or American sedan in the areas of performance, quality and ride is about as left wing pinko commie as they come. Or so the gassy brained fanboys and protectionist, Mesozoic minded dealers from New Jersey would have you believe.

It’s been a few years now since the electrified bit of kit was introduced up on the land by one Elon Musk. That all-electric has since its inception become one of the greatest and most interesting automotive success stories of the past 50 years. In spite of some unreasonable claims regarding fire safety and quality control Tesla’s Model S has received its serious kudos from many key media outlets as one of the best sedans on the road. Regardless of the power supply.

But really, what’s it really like to drive the 416 hp all-electric P85? And exactly how does it compare to other premium sedans? Only one way to find out. Go to Tesla’s Palo Alto headquarters.

Tesla is seen as one of the forerunners in the development of electric vehicles, but the history of the EV goes back further than you might think. During the 1830s several inventor/designers were in the process of configuring carriages with electric powerplants. Scotland, Holland and Vermont, USA all contributed to the game with crude but ambitious EV’s. In the later part of the 1800s both France and the UK got behind the development of the electric vehicle, with Belgium producing the “La Jamai Contente”, the world’s first electric racecar. Designed by Camille Jenatzy, the car set a land speed record of 68 mph (109 km/h) in 1899 proving that electric was capable of providing adequate power to the new horseless carriages.

In the early 1900s the US got in on the EV act, with electric vehicles outselling steam and gas powered vehicles. Like the Tesla, the electrics in the day had a simpler transmission setup and did not stink or produce acrid exhaust like the early-day petrol powered alternatives. But the death stroke for electrics would ultimately be petrol’s increasing availability, limited battery systems, range limitations and charging options.

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