I’ve just experienced technology in a radically new way. A way that could (and probably will) eventually change my life — and yours.
And, the carnal beauty of it all is that this isn’t technology for technology’s sake. Rather, it’s technology for what technology is supposed to be: user friendly, engaging and intuitive — making life dramatically better.
It’s the kind of technology that actually, genuinely excites — it touches the emotions (yes, technology can be experienced as emotional). Hell, this particular flavor of tech might even make you quiver with excitement and anticipation.
How cool is that? Goosebumps … from technology.
I’m sorry…what did you say? You’re saturated with tech and don’t want any more of it in your life? After all, you’re neo-old school — retro even. You like your jeans tattered and worn. Your scooters — Vespa vintage. Your music — vinyl. Your cottages — Cape Cod-like.
You don’t want tech to infiltrate every last crevice of what’s become a screen-laden lifestyle, trapping the huddled masses into the digital servitude of tech’s long tail.
I get it.
This is the kind of tech advancement that even a luddite like you actually wouldn’t mind. Not at all. In fact, once you see and experience it, you’ll crave it like a blushing British schoolgirl about to meet Prince Harry on an impromptu field trip. It’s that impactful.
Oh, and did I mention that this technology is served on four very fast and responsive wheels? That it’s a car, too? The electric Tesla Model S, to be precise.
Here’s the deal: I just traversed 210 miles (each way) from Detroit to Columbus to get my first taste of this modern technology marvel.
And now? Well, now I’m a changed man — an egg that can’t be un-fried.
Call me Moses if you want, because I just saw the Burning Automotive Bush and there’s no turning back. Turns out, there really is a better mousetrap and I’m sold. Pick your cliché — they all work.
But now that I’ve experienced it, this Tesla, I must bring you — the technology oppressed — out of your old school shackles and into the dawn of a new automotive age. I have no control over it — it’s now a calling and I am compelled to lead you across your existing, barren automotive desert and into the promised land of auto-tech milk and honey.
Crazily enough, here in Detroit — the Western Hemisphere’s automotive capital —
I unfortunately can’t lead anybody anywhere, regardless of my passion and fervor. That’s because it’s currently illegal to sell Teslas (or even, curiously, to offer a test drive) in states like Michigan, Texas, New Jersey and others. I’m working on changing that here and have contacted key political figures (Gov. Rick Snyder, Sen. Stabenow and the Brothers Levin), but have heard nothing from any of them. I’ll keep trying.
But I digress. Back to the car.
The difference between experiencing the Tesla vs. driving a traditional and — gasp — gas-powered car is like … um … well, I guess it can’t be easily compared to much else, but okay, I’ll try. It’s like the difference between opting to cut a fine, imported filet of organic, grass-fed Kobe beef first with a plastic butter knife and then perform that same task with a diamond-tipped and just-sharpened Samurai sword.
It totally raises the expectation bar. Once you leave the company’s Apple-like showroom and drive it, you just won’t want to go back to “The Way Things Were.”
It’s like when Fonzie jumped the shark but with precisely the opposite outcome — a good thing that forever changes you. Maybe even spoils you.
Then again, upon self-reflection, maybe I’m just too naïve; too easily impressed. After all, these accolades are coming from a guy who once thought intermittent windshield wipers was cutting edge technology.
Yet, I also have 20 years of well-honed PR experience — 10 of which included strategizing and publicizing about the latest in cloud technology for connected vehicles. So, I’ve got at least some basis justifying and tempering my kid-in-a-candy-store mindset when in the presence of such an unbelievable fusion of technology, design and vision.
But once immersed behind the wheel, you’ll note that the Tesla swiftly and elegantly conducts a master class in engineering, handling, styling and efficiency — accelerating with the head-snapping, smooth quickness of nothing ever before experienced.
It even corners like it’s on roller coaster rails. In fact, for a brief moment somewhere between accelerating 0-60 in four blistering seconds, I thought I’d made the wrong turn at Toledo and was buckled against my will into the lead-car pole position at Cedar Point’s Top Thrill Dragster.
And although the on-board technology seems like it has the bits-and-bytes horsepower to command the International Space Station, it’s as easy-to-use as an iPhone. Even my dad, God bless him, would’ve been able to figure it out. You just intuitively and successfully start using it — feeling like a champ right away.
The center console presents itself as what seems to be a movie theater-screen-size iPod, enabling you to do everything such as setting the temperature, changing your music, alarms, door locks — even, it seems, shining your Bruno Magli wing tips.
But again, in true Tesla fashion, it’s all elegantly displayed: not too much and not too overwhelming. What you need is what you get — all right there in shimmering, cinematic 17-inch high-def.
There of course are other center-screen options exclusive to the Tesla, too. For example:
- Do you want to know your energy efficiency for, say, the past 5, 15 or 30 miles? No prob.
- Are you curious about how many miles you have left? It’s right there at the end of your nose. Just look.
- Is it your preference to change the stiffness of the steering, divide the large screen into two separate ones or change the degree to which the regenerative braking adds energy back to the battery? Presto!
Oh, and if you’re worried about the whole range/mileage thing (since you’ve heard horror stories related to competitors’ electric vehicles), don’t. You see, unless you’re consistently driving more than 250+ miles in extremely remote areas, the whole range issue is a nonstarter. Tesla’s also building out complementary quick-charging “Supercharger” stations across the country — essentially enabling you to drive anywhere in these United States for free.
The company’s founder and leader, Elon Musk, is an off-the-charts visionary coupled with the grounded practicality that enables him to actually pull off his otherwise outlandish dreams — something quite evident in this recent 60 Minutes piece.
Oh, and did I tell you he’s already built a commercial spaceship to go to the Space Station and eventually populate Mars — and that he was the founder of and brains behind PayPal?
So yeah, that happened too.
Musk is Einsteinian in his knowledge, Buffettian in his business acumen and Houdinian in his ability to capture our imaginations, vaporizing previous expectations of what’s possible.
He’s built a company that’s focused on the end-user, conscious of the environment and driven toward sustainability. His product messes with your brain (in a good way), slinging world-class technology in such a way that’s easy on the eyes, easy to use and, well, just easy to like. A lot. In fact, once you see and experience it, you keep wanting to say: “Yes, yes and yes! — That’s the way this stuff is supposed to work.”
Oh, and Musk’s four-wheeled horseless carriage:
- blows away the rest of the industry on safety
- received the prestigious Motor Trend Car of the Year award
- has kick-in-the-door range and propulsion compared with competitive models.
Finally, Musk decided he wanted to build a better battery factory, bringing the car’s upper five-figure sticker sheet down to more digestible levels and having fuller control over quality. Oh, and he recently opened his book of patents so that all could use and standardize on his technology, even competitors.
I have used the word visionary already to describe this man, haven’t I? How inspiring. How refreshing. How wow.
Tesla, Elon Musk and the Model S:
- A car-, environment- and spaceship-conglomerate? Sure.
- On par with Edison, Einstein and Jobs? Clearly.
- Blow-your-mind technology, performance and vision? Right now.
The worst part of my trip to into Buckeye Country for this U of M fan was that I had to somehow forage my way back home in my now-pitiful BMW 5 Series for three grueling, non-Tesla hours.
Look, if you don’t buy a Tesla, you at least owe it to yourself to experience it — even if you have to drive 420 miles for a test drive like I did.
It’s just that good.