Up until last week my only experience of electric cars was using the runarounds one can rent by the hour in Nice. I've a pal who lives just beside them and he's convinced electric is the future. He even managed to convince two of his friends to buy Teslas, one in London, no congestion charge and free parking in the West End, and one in Dublin. He was collecting the Dublin bound one for his pal from the Tesla factory in Holland last week and he asked me if I'd like to come along. So, with nothing else in the diary I did. My first surprise was that half the taxis in Amsterdam now seem to be Teslas. The driver of the one we got from the airport said he had traded in his S class Merc two years ago and had now covered over 180,000 Tesla kilometres with no issues apart from a stuck door handle. He said his battery still retains 90% charge capability. The build quality certainly seemed as good if not better than Mercedes'. Not something I've come to expect from US cars.
We collected "our's" in Tilburg and drove it to Dublin over three days via the chunnel, London and Holyhead and I have to say it's a stunning car, exceptionally well built and with outstanding technology. An example is a feature which Tesla says is in beta test but which is actually installed and enabled. This allows the car to steer itself, change lanes and overtake autonomously while one loosely holds the wheel in case of emergencies or system failure. Surprisingly range was never an issue, we travelled from Holland to the Chunnel on one charge while using the cars Porsche type performance all the way. Tesla has installed "superchargers" at strategic points throughout Europe and England has around forty. When you enter your destination into the satnav the car works out a route that will take you there via superchargers, if necessary. Twenty minutes at a supercharger, just time for a coffee, gives you an 80% full battery and it's free!
I'm going to change my diesel sometime in the next twelve months and I was considering buying a more environmentally friendly plug in hybrid. Now I'm wondering if, given my daily milage and the increasing number of superchargers, I could go with pure electric. A Tesla driver I chatted to at a supercharger near Warrington told me he had driven to Austria a couple of weeks before with no recharging issues at all. The current Tesla range is expensive but last week they announced an more affordable model, the 3, with prices starting at $35k and delivery scheduled for 2017. The event generated the sort of excitement normally associated with the late Steve Jobs announcements. Within three days over 300,000 people had reserved a car with a (refundable) deposit of 1K, Tesla had a boost to it's cashflow of a third of a billion last week :-)
In my opinion Tesla is giving the mainstream car (and oil) companies something to think about and no harm there. We may be on the cusp of yet another technology shift that will topple the incumbents.
I didn't book a 3 but maybe I should have.