Sunday, July 24, 2011

Model S Prototype - Princeton NJ

Today I had the privilege of viewing the Tesla Model S Prototype in Princeton NJ. Tesla has had the car on display for several months, and it was in Connecticut about a week ago, but I wasn't able to make it to that showing. So instead I sat in Jersey traffic for 45 minutes and eventually made my way out to D&R Greenway Land Trust where the showing was being held.

My initial posts about solar panels (I'll continue those shortly) highlighted a new interest of mine. As I've continued exploring various aspects of the green economy, I've become a bit of an EV nut. Tesla is an American company based out of California. They only make one car right now, the Tesla Roadster. It will stop being sold in September. The next vehicle will be the Model S. It is sick. 

The Model S is a 4 door luxury BEV sedan that boasts impressive (low 5s) 0-60 acceleration and comes with three battery pack options: 160 mile range, 230 mile range, and 300 mile range. Each pack upgrade adds about $10k to the base price of $57k. The option list is currently unavailable.

Things I learned today:
  1. The prototype Model S is built on a Mercedes chassis.  The production vehicle will have a roomier interior. 
  2. Tesla vehicles are equipped with GSM communication systems that allow the car to send diagnostic info to Tesla. If your car has trouble, Tesla will likely call you before you even know about the problem!
  3. The report that Tesla will be making battery swap/rental available seems not to have made it to the marking folks I met with today. Although they did confirm that Tesla is working with A Better Place to potentially come up with some solution to the range question. 
  4. Tesla is also working on plans to potentially build out DC fast charge stations along high traffic areas. I threw in a vote for the I95 corridor, specifically in the NYC area.
  5. Tesla batteries in the Roadster need to be kept around 72 degrees. If they get too hot, the car goes into limited power mode. Something to consider if you will be driving hard in hot climates.
  6. All of the first year's production (with the exception of the Signature Series) have been sold. Sounds like the earliest you'd be able to get one is 2013.

Here are some pics of the Roadster that was onsite. People who had reserved a Model S were permitted to drive the Roadster- once its batteries cooled down. Since the ambient temp was about 95 degrees, the batteries stayed warm for a long while. here you can see the rep plugging in the car to a standard 110V outlet in order to try to force the car to cool down the batteries and get the car out of Performance Limited mode.

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