Review: A day with the TESLA


Yesterday was one of those weird kind of days. There’s a bit of an end-of-term feeling in the office, thanks to having just finished another issue of Octane, and – well, Christmas is coming and, finally, I’m beginning to get into the swing of things…

There was another reason for the odd mood in the office – we had a TESLA delivered and needed to give it a day’s thorough road testing. The electric car has been around with us a long time but, in these straitened times, it seems that the idea of owning and running one of these things is becoming fashionable.

I’m sure you’ve all seen Top Gear and know just how quick and capable the TESLA is – but actually driving it and experiencing the other-worldly sensation of supercar matching acceleration without an associated soundtrack (it sounds like a quiet passenger jet spooling up under acceleration) was the most memorable feeling. As was the instant, devastating torque delivery – I have never driven a car that so effortlessly nails slower traffic on busy A-roads.

Regular Clarkson-junkies will also know that the TESLA breaks down constantly, does 50 miles on a recharge and handles with little finesse. Well, er, umm, I’m sorry to disappoint, but we scorched through 50 miles (and a lot more besides), without a hitch and the battery indicator told a rather more positive story…

But as fun as it was – and it was fun – I struggled with the idea of actually having one of these in the real world. Okay, the £92K price ticket that we all feel is ludicrous will probably not bother its Hollywood clientele base and the 200 mile range won’t be an issue for these guys, as they’ll be seen driving around in something that shows they care about the environment…

But is the electric car really that environmentally friendly? The concept of secondary pollution won’t be lost on you, I’m sure, and, as far as I know, the power stations that generate the electricity which is used to charge up the TESLA won’t be subject to the strict emission standards that internal combustion powered cars are… and what happens when those batteries need changing? Where will the old ones get dumped?

For me, the TESLA raises more questions than it answers – and it’s certainly no environmental Shangri-la. But it was a fun diversion for the day.


Keith Adams


  1. Very interesting what happened on Topgear Regarding this car.

    The fuel consumption running out after 50 miles is nothing new, Clarkson said before the most fuel efficient car ever on the track a BMW 530d only got 12MPG and most Ferraris etc used to get 1-2mpg.

    So i for one think it was quite good ‘fuel’ consumption on the part of the TESLA.

    Also as for reliability, if you drive a car like an arse it is going to break down! I’ve heard countless reports of cars breaking down and being wrecked on the TG test track (TVR, Morgans, Mercedes, Bentley, Alfa Romeo’s) but they never seemed to make an issue of it before.

    They are just trying to destroy the reputation of a car, just this time they are being subtle to keep the green brigade at bay!

    Or at least thats what i think, still love topgear tho!(Or is that too controversial to say after the Marina incidents?)

  2. Interesting that the secondary pollution brought on by ‘the long exhaust pipe’ back to the power station should be bought up – however, bare this in mind…

    The combustion engine is only around 30% efficient at best because of energy lost through noise and most of all heat. The electric motor is 90%.

    Fuel is required to transport fuel around – in combustion engined vehicles.. yet more energy wasted.

    However, I do buy the point that pollution from cars on the road is heavily regulated and that the amount of carbon given off is much lower per car than if the power station was providing the electric. There are all sorts of nasties that can come out of the powerstation stacks – HOWEVER – Wouldn’t it be better to concentrate energy production/consumption in one spot and work hard to make that efficient and pollution free than trying to regulate lots of little pollution creating units?

    One point that no-one has bought up is the fact that the Tesla car is made from carbon fibre, which takes immense amount of energy to produce compared to the equivalent steel bodied car – especially when you take into account that the body isn’t primary recyclable – only secondary recyclable. The steel can be directly recycled for use in other cars but the carbon fibres can only be ground down and re-used in non-critcal components, such as computer casings etc.

    To be honest, to take the electric car seriously, it needs a quickly ‘re-fill’ system (Toshiba are working on this right now), it needs to be made from steel or aluminium for recycling, the size of the cells needs to come down, or at least the weight. And a major manufacturer really does need to get on board to push the technology, not a cottage industry.

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