We waited at a stop light on a late evening north of Los Angeles in early January. Laura sat strapped into the back seat as I sat in the front passenger seat of a Tesla S, the most advanced electric-powered automobile in the world. I knew the car’s design went well beyond my technical knowledge and reports claimed it to be blazingly fast. Then the light changed, and a simplistic thought entered my mind – “Road? Where we’re going, we don’t need…roads!” .
Yes, Dr. Emmett Brown’s final line from the 1985 comedy Back to the Future was my thought as the Tesla shot from zero to near 70 mph in just a little over three seconds on an uphill road leading into the Southern California hills. As my lungs began to refill and my rib cage returned to normal, I could have sworn we had just “unraveled the very fabric of the space-time continuum.” Later, Laura and I agreed we actually felt we might have leaped through time in this dream automobile.
Over the years, I have driven or ridden in a variety of super fast non-racing cars, including a failed attempt to elude what turned out to be most of the Riley County Sheriff’s Department. Ah, but that is a story for another time. The point is that I have the had G-Forces squeeze me in many ways, but none more than when Laura and I sat in the luxurious cabin of an accelerating Tesla S.
The complete lack of engine noise and the quiet cabin left us totally unprepared for the massive surge of speed. There was a quiet whine from the tires at speed that led us on to our next stunning moment. With the car cruising silently at 40-mph, our driver punched the throttle and the speedometer leaped instantaneously to over 60 mph. Over and over again, our driver delighted in dropping his heavy foot onto the pedal. Each time the immediate rush snapped us back into our seats and time leaped again. Our next treat was an uphill dash along a narrow, twisting road where the sleek Tesla never wavered. Again, the shock of such speed and the car’s agility was clearly enhanced by the utter quiet.
The last technological wonder of this speed demon was the automobile’s ability to slow itself promptly without any manual brake assist. Every car slows when coasting, but the Tesla transforms itself into the most awesome golf cart ever driven. Digital sensors use the car’s own rolling energy to recharge the batteries in the same way an electric golf cart slows to a stop. The onboard computer allows the driver to select a full stop or creeping speed where a tap of the brakes completes the stop. Only in emergency situations are the brakes needed, which extends rotor wear to an almost limitless life.
The rest of our ride allowed us to take in the beauty of the car, both inside and out, and the attention to every driving need. To enhance aerodynamics, the door handles recess flush to the car body, but pop out instantly when the fob that serves as the key comes within range. The computer’s massive screen, when in map mode, keeps the driver aware of the nearest supercharger station. In case you think this is all just another California luxury, we discovered that Topeka has a supercharger station with eight outlets in back of a local Arby’s. Of course with a 220 volt charger in your garage, the cost of that electricity is lower than the electricity you use in your home. Depending on where you live, both federal and state rebates lighten the financial load while the cost per mile savings of an electric car add up quickly.
You owe it to yourself to go to the Tesla website and discover all the wonders of an automobile a Lincoln, Nebraska, car buff friend believes is the “most important vehicle of his lifetime.” I will let Back to the Future 2 sum it up for us. That 1987 movie set the future as 2015. We are not traveling back and forth in time now that we are living in 2015, but in the Tesla S, Laura and I discovered a vehicle that might be the beginning of an eventual trip through the time continuum.