Tuesday, August 14, 2018


After having the Model X in my drive, and about 100km of familiarity I figure that owning a Tesla is all about relativities.

If you’re the sort of person who’ll fork out close to AUD$2000 for an iPhone X; then I guess you won’t blink at AUD$250 Grand for the fastest, in fact the most ludicrous SUV, which will crack 0-100km/h in 3.1 seconds. Right?

Of course, you could just settle for the entry-level model at AUD$146,000+, but you’d miss out on the extended range and the ludicrous acceleration provided by the bigger battery pack in the Model X P100D.

Then again, in the premium vehicle market, a quarter of a million dollars for something this unique, this eye-catching and this innovative, is not so much.

Bragging rights flow effortlessly when you park this in your drive.

Tesla has established a beachhead in the battery electric vehicle market, and sure, you pay for the experience, but once again it’s a mind-blowing experience to sample this car. It’s not just the performance, but the attention to detail, the technology, the unique design, and most of all, its audacity!

As a regular reader of Driving & Life, you will know I do not like SUVs of any description, but being offered the chance to sample the Model X, was just too good to pass up.

I would rather have my bum closer to the ground, in a Model S, but this time around it was the siren song of one of the most divisive automotive marques that sang to me: “Just drive it!”

First up, even if I could afford it I would definitely not pass over the cash to acquire one. It’s a BEV, and if you don’t have the specialist chargers, it takes forever to recharge, and if you give your friends and neighbours too many demonstrations of its ludicrous performance, you’ll be hooking up to a charging station much more often.

The 'Falcon Doors' - unique, but just make sure there's enough space to open them!

I’m not sure what the Model X is really good for? Maybe, just turning up at the Saturday soccer game with several junior players on board might be enough to establish your street cred. Then again, if you want to stand out in the parking station underneath your multi-level office block, the Model S would be more your car.

Look, it’s really about impressing people, but believe me, this will soon pass. 

Tesla’s vehicles are innovative and tech-savvy in the electric car biz; but if Elon Musk doesn’t start making money soon from his out-of-the-box ideas, then the Tesla Automotive company will be quickly displaced by all those who follow on behind his state-of-the-art thinking, and Tesla will dissolve into oblivion.

However, back to the facts. It’s a car. More precisely an SUV which can accommodate up to seven people.

It has a whisper-quiet electric motor operation, and in that ludicrously-oversized central screen it has more technology than many people can cope with. 

There are virtually no buttons, just screen icons, and anyone who is technically-challenged when it comes to using an iPad Pro, or an iPhone X, will certainly find the Tesla OS hard to use.

If you're into 'swiping' and operating both Apple and Android devices you won't have a problem - however, I think you'll need to ensure you participate in the one hour 'handover' presentation, to fully appreciate just how 'neat' this concept is.

You'll need to pay special attention to 'driving modes' and 'personalizing' the Model X for your own level of enjoyment.

And, just between us, you can forget about the semi-autonomous features, neither our road conditions, nor the technology are mature enough to provide any real benefit.

On the road however, despite the low centre of gravity provided by the batteries being installed under the passenger cabin, the Model X is ponderous, and quite frankly as any sort of sporting drive, it’s a failure.

The Model X P100D weighs about 2500kg; but after driving the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, left, (which also weighs 2500kg), at the same time - the conventional Korean SUV feels much more nimble, more comfortable to ride in and, funnily enough, more predictable.

Also, I must say that Tesla's choice of interior materials is a bit low-rent, the trim fit’n’finish margins are irregular, and the paint quality is definitely not premium.

Maybe I’m not cut out for this tech-savvy battery on wheels, but let me remind you of a very old-fashioned fact. You’re not doing the Australian environment any favours by driving a Tesla (or any BEV for that matter), because you still have to recharge it from a power grid supplied by coal-fired generators, spewing out pollution.
(Top) Fast charging setup for home; (bottom) emergency charging setup

On the subject of recharging. Once you buy a Tesla, you can have a home-charging station set up in your garage which reduces the time needed to ‘fill up’ the batteries, but each Tesla does come with an ‘emergency’ recharge kit, which has a regular power plug on the end of the cable.

However, if you plug this into a normal 10amp home power system, you will find it takes more than 12 hours to fully recharge the batteries – especially if you have a ‘ludicrous-spec’ P100D. A bigger battery takes longer to charge – fact!

But, I can’t help but admire Elon Musk. He's a real futurist.

He’s challenged convention with innovative ideas, and a completely new approach to providing a high-class, premium range of electric vehicles, but given his propensity for burning through the shareholders' funds just to prove a point, I can’t help thinking this will all end in tears.

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