Saturday 23 September 2017

Tesla's new electric car claims to get 600km out of one battery charge - but the hefty price tag might shock Irish buyers

Tesla's new electric car has a striking range, but that comes with a hefty price tag

LONG-DISTANCE RUNNER: The fast-paced Tesla Model S
LONG-DISTANCE RUNNER: The fast-paced Tesla Model S

Martin Brennan

The first electric-powered car that claims to virtually eliminate range-anxiety, with battery power offering up to 600km, has just been launched here.

But buyers are in for a shock when they look at the price: €110,000 to €200,000 for top specification in the Model S and Model X versions.

"The future is here," says Tesla and it claims that the top S model, with twin motors, is the quickest production car in the world (beating the most lively Porsche) with an acceleration of 0-100kmh in just under 2.7 seconds. Tesla says that a full charge will cost about €5-€7 on night-time electricity, which will generate 605bhp with 960NM of torque through the motors to give a top speed of 250kmh, with absolutely no emissions and no road tax. The range depends very much on driving style and a moderate climate benefits longer battery life.

Compare this to a Range Rover 4.4SD V8 HSE. It costs €138,000, takes 6.9 seconds to 100kmh, puts out 219g of C02, costs €1,200 in road tax and €131 to fill the 105L tank. At very best motorway driving, it gives you 8.6L/100km. That shows the Tesla in a very good light, especially when you take into consideration that there are low annual servicing costs.

Tesla has set up showrooms at Bracken Road in Sandyford, Co Dublin and already there is huge interest. Last Wednesday night 450 interested motorists booked in for a viewing in just 12 hours and Tesla staff had to "shut the gates". Orders are already on the books and Tesla has decided there will be no dealerships - just the outlet at Bracken Road - from where test drives can be arranged.

IT bosses, well-healed environmentalists, snobbish professionals and Lotto winners will be anxious to get behind the wheel of the Tesla brand, which has stunned the motor industry with its rapid growth. The company is building a new battery manufacturing complex to keep ahead of the posse, and a more moderately priced Model 3 with an Audi A4-sized body is on the way next year. It has an American price tag of $35,000 (expect about €55,000 here).

The company has set up the first Supercharger quick-charge location at Ballacolla Topaz filling station at Junction 3 on the M8 (there are eight charging points) and more are to follow on main routes around the country.

Supercharging reloads batteries to 80 per cent in 30-40 minutes, just long enough to have a coffee. Domestic charging can take a day, but there is the option of getting a wall-mounted home unit for a quicker charge.

Both the S and X models drive well, probably not as refined as comparable internal combustion offerings, but sure-footed in AWD with tyre noise sadly intruding into an otherwise secure and well-thought-out aluminium surrounded cockpit.

The cockpit is, in fact, the showpiece of Tesla with a 12in TFT screen for the driver and a 17in information screen which sports wifi, media, camera (front and rear), maps, emergency controls, calendar, navigation, phone, alarm occupant call and a directory of restaurants, etc. Of course, there is keyless entry, voice activation, heated seats and automatic emergency braking and collision avoidance, with a five-star NCAP rating.

It is so high-tech that there is no starter, no handbrake - sensors detect when you're in the car with the key and you just hit the accelerator. There are 12 pre-sets for the seats to suit 12 drivers and even a 'valet control' button which can be operated from your smart phone to limit the speed and operation of your Tesla when you are not in it. Air conditioning can also be remotely activated so you arrive to a pre-selected interior heating. There is luggage space under the bonnet as well as the boot, as there is no engine, and the Model X can become a seven-seater with good room and easy access for all.

The Tesla comes with an eight year unlimited mileage battery warranty, four years on the cars, and there is also a warranty on used versions.

Sunday Independent

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