I have had my reservations about electric cars for many years now, and for many reasons. David Smith chose to write about his experience, and I’m happy he chose to:
The only real analogy I can think of to describe how different this feels is to compare it to SSD hard-drives. SSD hard drives when they came out were ‘worse’ than traditional spinning disks in a wide variety of ways. They were smaller capacity, sometimes had lower maximum throughput and were considerably more expensive. But, from the moment you first used one it completely ruined computers for you. Going back to spinning disks once you have tasted instantaneous delivery feels broken.
It is the same with driving a Tesla. There is essentially no latency in your driving interaction with the car. I’ve often heard car fanatics (especially those who love manual transmissions) describe the feeling of being ‘connected’ to their car as they drive it. That their desire and the car’s ability to deliver it become closely and completely linked. Tesla delivers that experience but without all the training and skill needed to dance with a transmission.
That’s a unique way of looking at it, and I understood what David’s trying to convey instantly.
However, there are a few things I love about cars, being an enthusiast myself:
- I love the sound of a good engine (NA V8s especially) and a decent exhaust (here’s mine in quiet mode).
- I praise low weight in cars — the heavier a car, the worse it handles.
- I don’t much care for outright speed (despite having a quick car) — cornering is much more important. This is what does it for me.
- I actually prefer older cars to what the market now offers, apart from a few models which have caught my interest. The Mazda MX-5 RF is the newest addition to my wish list.
Perhaps most remarkable is how having regenerative braking changes things. Whenever I slide my foot slightly backward on the accelerator the car immediately begins to slow. The subtle difference between having to pull my foot all the way off the accelerator and then depress the brake makes a huge difference in how responsive the car feels to my desires.
I spent a day driving a BMW i3 — the regenerative braking experience was probably the only thing that really spoke to me, and which I got the hang of in just a few minutes. I do have one issue with this however — I used this method of braking to actually stop the car at lights, etc, but if you use regenerative braking to stop or slow down an electric car, the rear stop lights don’t light up. This could potentially be very dangerous if someone behind you isn’t paying attention.
Owning an electric car in my country is currently only for the extremely brave — there are hardly any charging stations and zero Superchargers. While I could see myself owning a Model S or 3, it would be relegated to being driven only in the city. One of my Twitter followers calculated that a 400 kilometre drive that I take regularly every few weeks, most of which is at 140-150 km/h speeds on the motorway, would take at least 7 hours, instead of the 3.5 it does now. No Superchargers, no fun.