The evening of December 9, 2014 (coincidentally, A Wheel Thing’s Mum’s birthday), saw the official launch and first deliveries of the Tesla S in Australia. Complete with a stunning view over Darling Harbour and a powerful performance by Sneaky Sound System, Tesla have ensured that their presence in Australia is noticeable and for the long term.
The evening started with drinks and nibblies on the upper deck of The Star casino before being ushered into the theatre for the presentation, handing over of keys and unveiling of the cars. Tesla Australia’s Heath Walker held the stage, pumping the crowd of 300 or so, telling us that Tesla will have recharging stations, superchargers, covering Sydney to Melbourne (via Canberra) by the end of 2015 and further north in a year after. The superchargers get their name from being able to get a depleted battery system to half charge in just twenty minutes. There’s two battery packs, an 85 kwH (standard) which includes the supercharger or the 60 kwH system which has the supercharger as a $2000 option, as the car can be charged off a normal power supply, however it will take longer to charge. Part of the Tesla plan is to utilise solar panels in the charging stations; these will charge the batteries that will charge the car batteries and alleviate the draw upon the normal electrical infrastructure.
The fastest way to replenish the Model S is to charge to 80% state of charge, which is enough for travel between many Supercharger stations (overseas quoting). Charging the final 20% takes approximately the same amount of time as the first 80% due to a necessary decrease in charging current to help top-off cells.
The car itself, the Tesla S, is a fully electric vehicle with an expected range of just over 500 kilometres. The unique battery tech the company has in place complements the look and the tech of the Tesla S; the cabin is dominated by a 17 inch touchscreen, mounted centrally in the dash and controls all of the car’s functions. There’s a range of interior combinations for the trim and seats, which are hand assembled, eight airbags, LED maplights and safety function windows.
The exterior design is slippery, as you’d expect, yet looks bigger than the dimensions suggest. It’s 4.97 metres long, wiiiiiide at 2.1 metres and sits low at just over 1.4 metres. Interior room is maximised by pushing the huge looking 19 inch diameter alloys out to a 2.95 metres wheelbase, offering a metre of legroom for front seat passengers and 10 centimetres short of that in the rear. The width of the car gives even more breathing space, with 1.3 to 1.4 metres of shoulder and hip space. There’s storage space aplenty, front and rear, thanks to the floor mounted system which also aids in handling with the centre of gravity being so close to the road.
Performance isn’t sacrificed because it’s an a electric car and is one of the Tesla’s major selling points. Zero to 100 kph is seen at just over three seconds, thanks to the torque an electric motor generates and belies the heft of the Tesla S at a lick over 2100 kilograms, due, largely, to the floor mounted battery pack system. The S is a rear wheel drive car however there is an all wheeldrive car due in 2015, called the model X and aimed at the SUV market. The S, in profile, evokes feelings of luxury, sportiness yet is somewhat softened by a front and rear that seem a touch bland.
There’s no doubt that Tesla’s owner and founder, the visionary Elon Musk, has a further reaching view than most in his area and judging by the enthusiasm of the crowd at the launch, an infectious one. For more specific information on the Tesla Model S and including official pictures and video, click this link: http://www.teslamotors.com/models