Driving Tesla's Model S In the Real World

Chris Ziegler borrows a Model S for road trip around the California and finds its a very special car that convinced him this might be the future of transportation.

Published: 14-Feb-2013

It’s difficult to get comfortable in the driver’s seat of a $100,000 car that isn’t yours.

The particular Model S I flew to Los Angeles to sample last week was a Signature Performance model. That means that it was one of the first 1,000 to roll off the assembly line (indicated by the “Signature” designation) and is fitted with a high-output electric inverter that can propel the car from 0 to 60 in just 4.4 seconds, a key metric that slots it in with some of the fastest production sedans in the world. It’s a stat I would come to test on numerous occasions over the following 36 hours — within the bounds of the “no street racing” clause I agreed to upon taking delivery, of course.

But I arrived in LA fully expecting to hate this modern marvel of a car. I was raised in Detroit, the son of a woman who has worked at General Motors for nearly half a century. Tesla’s emergence was, perhaps, a little uncomfortable for someone who’d grown up surrounded by the infallible Big Three. I felt a little bit like former Palm CEO Ed Colligan in his infamous (and ill-fated) takedown of the iPhone: “they’re not just going to walk in,” I thought. The regulatory and financial hurdles are enormous just to make a single terrible car, let alone a good one that people will actually want to buy.


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