Monday, September 29, 2014

What drives you?

We are all quite well aware of the saga that has become the electric car.

Very good companies like General Motors have had great failure in producing reliable, long-range versions, yet one company continues to build a cult-like following and continues to grow and grow.
Tesla is a company that is certainly doing things right. Well, as right as you can with huge government subsidies to keep your business afloat.

Tesla, named after the famed inventor of modern AC current, and of so many other electrical advances, builds cars that are 100% electric.  No, you can’t top it off with gas if you run out of juice, and no, you don’t charge the batteries when you ride the brakes.

Charging at the Super Charger (FREE) in Limon Colorado.
What you do get, is a seriously long-range electric car that will spoil anyone... Yes, even the BMW owner or the Mercedes Maven and the Lexus Lady.

I had the luck to speak with Richard Levy at the charging station in my home town. The Tesla charging station is a bit of an anomaly, as none of the locals seem to know what the hell it is, or how you use it.

Richard was traveling a return trip from Northern Maine to Albuquerque in his Tesla model S.  And this isn’t the first time he’s done it.

When I introduced myself as the Big Kahuna, (Driving a filthy dirty farm pickup and toting my son who was fresh from football practice) he didn’t seem too impressed, yet still took the time to chit chat with me and answered all of the intelligent questions that I could throw at him... And most of the really stupid questions as well.

 One thing that I found amusing, was that as we stood next to his car chatting about the practicality of electric vehicles, people kept coming up and interrupting asking their own questions. In the 45 minutes we spent together, I heard 6 people ask how fast it went, and 11 people ask how much they cost.

I grew up in a family where it was considered pretty tacky to ask people how much something cost, but apparently an entire generation of parents gave up on teaching their children manners.

Richard just smiled and said, “You get a lot of people interested. Those are questions I hear 100 times a day... You might want to reconsider buying a Tesla if you don’t like talking to people.”
And he was right,  I had no more business taking up his time than any of the rest of the folks that stopped by.

What I can tell you about the Tesla that answered many of my nagging questions about electric cars:

They are very quiet. Obviously there is nearly no engine noise, but there is no road noise either, as they are build as well as any luxury car on the road.

They charge anywhere. You can plug a Tesla into a 110 outlet at your house where it costs approximately $7 to fully charge up for a 300 mile drive. For reference, it costs about $64 in diesel to get my pickup that far. 

For the cost of a camp site, around $30, (or less when you speak with management) you can charge up at a KOA Camp Ground if you are out on the road and have no other options.

Road and Track
Built into the car, you have an amazing navigation system that seriously reminds me of the control panel on a flying saucer. Yes, even I, your tech-savvy leader, was impressed with the electronics in this car! You can use this system to find the nearest Tesla Super Charging Station.

This is where I found Richard and his Model S, and where you can charge your car for free, and in record time.

With a Tesla Super Charger, Richard was charging his car at 290 miles per hour. That is to say that with one hour of charge, he would be able to travel nearly 300 miles before needing to plug in again... and did I mention that it is free?

But seriously, how much traveling can one do in one of these new-fangled machines? Doesn’t one really need Diesel or Petroleum based fuel to get across the country in a decent amount of time?

Well, the answer to part 2 is how fast do you want to go? If you think you need to travel from San Francisco to New York in 40 hours, driving strait through, then yes, you are going to need fuel. If you travel at a more leisurely pace, electric works just fine.

Richard had traveled from Kansas City to Limon when I spoke to him, and he made it to Lone Tree Colorado, on the south side of Denver, (where there is another Super Charger) before bedding down for the night.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to travel much more than that in a day! Even with the plush upholstery that covers the interior of the Tesla, I like to stretch my legs and take in the local scenery!

So where does this leave me on the thoughts of a Tesla?

They are beautifully appointed cars. After speaking with Richard, there is no doubt about the reliability and functionality of this car running on 100% electricity.
Are they affordable? Yes and no!

Sticker shock will cause a lot of people to pass out on the showroom floor. That said, have you looked at the cost of a new 3/4 ton diesel pickup lately? It’s pretty darn easy to shell out $60K on a new pickup that does NOT come with a tax credit and you pay dearly for every drop of fuel that goes into motoring down the road!

Drawing Attention in a parade!
With a local super charger that provides you with free travel juice, I’d say that the only thing holding me back from buying a Tesla is the fact that they are simply too small to haul cows, too nicely appointed to haul kids and draw a little too much attention.
That said, if they come out with a pickup....

For more information, great travel photos and Richard’s personal experience with the Tesla, check his blog out at


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