Future arrives without peer
A few weeks ago, the future arrived in Perth.
The bell started to toll for petrol stations, fuel- distribution networks, underground tanks, refineries, tune-up shops, fuel excise, shopping discount vouchers and free-fuel offers.
It’s still a long way away but the course is now set and it’s unstoppable.
This seminal change has been kicked off by a single luxury car that is much too expensive as yet but has, in one fell swoop, permanently destroyed the technology barriers that have kept us in the relative dark ages.
Because of the “clean sheet of paper” approach, this car revs out to 16,000rpm almost silently, has perhaps three mechanical moving parts, has a 9.73:1 final drive ratio, one gear only, reverses by running the motor backwards and doesn’t burn a drop of any kind of fuel.
Additionally, it has no gearbox, clutch or driveline, uses no engine oil or transmission fluid, seats five in luxury and has two boots — one in the back, which is extra large because there’s no fuel tank — and one in the front, which in conventional cars is crammed with thousands of moving parts and major balance, noise and heat issues.
At the same time it’ll blow off most high-performance sports cars from anywhere in the world and begs to be driven enthusiastically. Yet the power system carries an eight-year unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Many journos overseas like to compare the Tesla S with existing cars. I actually think comparisons are pointless — apart from four wheels, five seats and a recognisable profile, the Tesla has no peer.
Tesla S. Picture: teslamotors.com
This car is an orange to the apple that is the internal- combustion car. It depends on a residence or an office for its lifeblood. It doesn’t just generate zero emissions, it generates no exhaust at all.
In the shadow of the Tesla, the most advanced hybrids are old technology. The Tesla is a third of the price of some of its supercar rivals, plus it comes with far less complication, better performance and you can even bring the kids.
And that’s not even touching on the service requirements. Every two years, Tesla replaces the brake fluid. Every five years, it replaces the battery coolant. And get this: every month, the owner has to check the tyres — rotate every 8000km — top up the washer fluid and make sure the air-con is working.
And that’s it.
Compare that to the servicing schedule and cost of any European exotic with similar performance credentials.
Tesla recently upgraded the cars already in service, by wi-fi — overnight. Owners got in the next day and their pride and joy informed them via the monster touch pad: “I’m feeling even better now.”
Tesla S interior. Picture: teslamotors.com
Tesla’s billionare creator Elon Musk has picked the perfect market point for his company’s masterpiece. It has to be expensive to allow a no-holds-barred technology avalanche and an impressive equipment list, which help set the advances in concrete.
Mass-market versions will inevitably follow. The car starts at $91,400 and the 85kWh Performance battery pack is an extra $28,500. That compares favourably with an “RS” or “M” spec conventional hot rod. But even in standard form the Tesla S outperforms competition in almost every sphere.
This Tesla’s owner is local resources identity Peter Meurs, one of the founders of engineering behemoth Worley Parsons. He knows about picking winners and has a widely recognised reputation as a businessman of unnerving calm and deliberation. But he’s changed character with a critical dose of “child in toy shop” syndrome.
He simply can’t shut up about his car. I hear his colleagues are already heading for meetings mumbling “whatever you do, don’t mention the car”.
© The West Australian
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