All I wanted for Christmas was a top spec, latest edition, Model 3 Long Range, dual motor, all-wheel drive, in Stealth Grey, with 18″ Photon Wheels (I’m a simple man with simple needs…). And that, thanks to the good people in the comms team at Tesla, is precisely what I got for a one week test drive.
First impressions, this is such an elegant drive. It’s super aerodynamic and, as such, super quiet, or it would be if it wasn’t for the less than quiet music from the wonderful speakers. To my mind, more should be made of the superior music listening environment of EVs. The sound of silence is, of course, unique to EVs. Tesla hired Bang & Olufsen engineers and the Long Range Model 3 has the Tesla Premium Sound System: 15-Speakers, 2 Amplifiers, and 1 Woofer. This stands in contrast to the fetishisation of noise pollution that is so often referenced by acolytes of combustion.
Everything about this EV seems optimal: the carputer interface (computer meets car / software meets hardware); the size for city meets long journeys; the range meets battery size and weight; and the simplicity meets complexity of the controls. Then, of course, there is the intimate connection of car to charger with the Tesla Supercharger network. On the Supercharger network, the highlight of a week in this car, for me, was not one of the Model 3 in motion, but rather parked up, connected to a Supercharger – with the added excitement that this Supercharger hub, the Redbridge Supercharger hub, is a project born out of an EV SUMMIT collaboration – the high level business platform my business, Green.TV Media, founded.
This was the very first time I had experienced genuinely ultra rapid charging – charging that hist the electron flow superlatives that match the use of adjectives for charging speeds. I hit over 180 kW of charge speed (184 kW, to be precise). This added range at a rapid rate I’ve not experienced before – 781 miles per hour. That’s 130 miles in just 10 minutes – charging at a rate that, crucially, is faster than the key metric, that of the rate of impatience of my wife and kids to being stationary on a journey home. When I posted this to LinkedIn, I heard experiences of other Tesla drivers who have experienced over 250 kW of charge adding close on 1,000 miles of range per hour. Epic.
Tesla has created an experiential EV phenomenon: the joy of charging. The joy of knowing the chargers will be operational. The joy of knowing that they are genuinely fast. The joy of ease of payment with plug and charge. The joy of charging in a cabin that is a veritable digital playground. With the combination of this battery tech and charger tech, you have to ask the rhetorical question: range anxiety, what range anxiety? Anyone who doubts EVs are the future, I’m terribly sorry, but you are very, very misguided.
From the overall experience of adding energy to your car, and then having to go and pay for it, you can subtract the circa five minutes traipsing to a cash till. Tesla’s plug and charge delivers seamless payment functionality. This plug and charge tech is being developed for other networks via innovative companies like Subject. It can’t come soon enough. Software is an easier solution to deploy and it needs to be deployed at speed. Could someone remind me (it’s been a while), how long does it take to pump petroleum into your car, stood outside in the cold in a cloud of fumes?
All Superchargers are, of course, powered by green electrons, via sustainably sourced electricity: a fuel source that combustion can never lay claim to. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that this isn’t just better 21st century tech but clean tech, and that the reason we need to deploy this is to decarbonise transport and combat climate change.
From the climate to the cabin of the car, and let’s talk stalks – indicator stalks; perhaps the biggest first world problem talking point of this updated EV. I’ve now driven the Model S Plaid and the new Model 3, both with haptic indicators and minus indicator stalks. I’ll reference Apple, here, and I’m a big fan of Apple’s approach to the deleting of most technologies that we now consider superfluous, to the point of being ridiculous (can you imagine using a disc drive on a computer in an age of cloud storage and wifi). This is the opposite of a Joni Mitchell scenario, for me: you don’t miss what you had once it’s gone. Sure, indicating on a roundabout, with no stationary stalk, is a little discombobulating at first, but, equally, being able to indicate at the super convenient push of a haptic button is just great. It gives you a sense of the car being a continuation of your central nervous system. Overall, the ease of use of a haptic tap far outweighs the slightly tricksy contortion when the wheel is past a 90 degree turn.
To conclude, there’s a reason, or rather multiple reasons, that the Model 3 has been the best selling EV, globally, for many years (overtaken, over the last couple of years only by the same Tesla platform in a different form, the Model Y): it’s truly great. If anything, it’s a victim of its own success: the misplaced idea that something this ubiquitous can’t somehow be special. But it is. Very.