Tesla sets up shop here and shows 'range anxiety' is thing of past in its electric cars of future
Tesla has landed in Ireland and is open for business. At last, the famous electric car-maker has an outlet here (Sandyford, Dublin) and its first Supercharger (Ballacolla, at Topaz, Junction 3, M8 motorway). There will be more of the latter; they're just not sure where yet but they want to cover all major routes.
Along with Superchargers for long-distance travel, there are also 10 Destination Chargers (hotels, resorts) and free access to 1,200 public charging units.
With the Supercharger you get 400kW hours of quick-charge free every year - about 1,600km. After that it is 20c/kWh - €100 for 1,000 km.
A home charger costs €500 for the unit and €1,000 to fit.
Combine all that with claims of 450km to 600kmh+ on a full battery and it would appear range anxiety is a thing of the past in these cars of the future.
They claim that some models can do 600km-plus. That means Dublin to Cork and back on one charge. But even with lower real-world mileage, if you stop for half an hour at the M8 supercharger, for example, you'll boost battery power to 80pc capacity and have no worries at all. Welcome to the long-distance electric car.
For now there is the Model S saloon and the Model X SUV with its futuristic up-and-over Falcon doors. I drove both through Dublin and Wicklow on Monday. While not without their faults, both the S and X forced me to look at things differently. Tesla do things their way and it mostly works. That's the benefit of building an electric car from the ground up.
Nearly everything is controlled through the massive 17in high-res screen interface (media, nav, communications, cabin control, vehicle data). You can also voice command many of the functions as well as scroll stuff on the steering wheel button (from fan speed to volume). And you get a Spotify account free for a year with the car.
The Model S can be a seven seater: you can have two rear-facing child seats at the back and they fold away easily.
We drove more than 70km on one stint in the Model X 90D. Remaining charge fell from 86pc to 65pc with the range going from 336km to 252km. Not bad considering the way we drove it.
And the 'S' P100D we drove back had 'Ludicrous mode'. I believe them when they say it can do 0-100kmh in 2.7 seconds - that's Porsche 911 turbo-topping territory.
There is a four-year warranty (or 80,000km) on the cars; eight years for the battery. And there is a four-year warranty on used versions. Prices start at €88,650 for the Model S and from €105,500 for the Model X. Our 'S' P100D costs from €162,400. Both cars cost €120 a year to tax and enjoy a €5,000 VRT rebate and a €5,000 SEAI grant.
One major manufacturer benefit is that you get regular lifetime free, over-the-air software updates - like for your smartphone.
However, over-the-air doesn't extend to all areas as the recent recall over a parking brake shows.
Our drives highlighted some wonderful aspects: the stunning acceleration, the panoramic screen/roof on the X, loads of room in both for families. And I loved the 'disappearing' door handles.
Both cars were quiet and brilliantly responsive. And yes, they are totally different from conventional rivals.
Totally different in how you interact with them too. Not as good, however, in coping with things like rumbly roads where the X's chassis trailed the likes of a Mercedes S-Class, for instance.
And while some of the materials in the car are futuristically blended there were one or two little rattles that were out of place.
The S coped much better on handling and ride than the X which was only moderately effective. I'm loath to highlight that too much because I don't think they will be driven as we did. Worth noting nonetheless.
All except one version of the S has all-wheel-drive (a motor on each axle) and all Xs have it: brilliant traction.
It was a wonderful experience and brought a sense of occasion.
How often does a new brand come to Ireland?
I'd have reservations about some aspects - for the prices involved - but no doubt about Tesla's potency as an agent of major change in what we will drive over the years.