Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Edge

  Employing the style of Ralph Steadman, famous illustrator of Hunter Thompson books and Flying Dog beer, Piotr Kabat animates an excerpt from Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Adam Carolla Car Cast Model S



Adam Carolla discusses the Model S with the very articulate and knowledgeable Shanna Hendricks.

follow up test drive.

Carolla's initial impressions and follow up conclusions about the Model S are very similar to my own. You read about the car's impressive features and figures, and you feel like you have a good sense of what your experience is going to be like. Then you become a little better acquainted with it in person, marvel at its presence and features, and quickly realize its like nothing you've ever seen before. Before ever driving in it,  every visible feature of the car from the front and rear cargo space to the in dash touch screen with free internet connectivity is just miles ahead of any other car on the market (super-sedan or otherwise). Then when you get in and put on a few miles, you're blown away not just by the speed, but how it delivers the power.

It can be difficult to describe how the power feels (Dan Neil does a good job here). Again, its like nothing else youve ever been in except maybe a TGV or similar bullet train.When I try to describe it to my friends I try to compare it to the experience of putting the pedal to the floor in an automatic or manual transmission car. In an automatic, you mash the gas pedal, nothing happens for a second, then the car clumsily drops a gear and eventually gives you a surge of power and noise accompanied by some sloppy body roll/ rear squat. You then max out your rev limit and clumsily enter another gear at which point you are probably finished with what you were trying to accomplish. You no longer need all the power and the car takes a moment to calm itself down and understand what gear you should be in. In a manual, its less clumsy but there is still the necessity to be in the "sweet spot" in the rev range before you can make your move. In a two-lane road passing situation this means you are riding high in a gear for a few moments before you are able to tap into the full power and execute your pass. In the Model S, the massive torque means that you are perpetually in the sweet spot with all of that power is available "on demand". This coupled with the car's mass and dynamic air suspension produces an entirely different kind of sensation of acceleration.

Even if you have a mega torque/horsepower AMG Mercedes, M Series BMW or RS Audi and you have all that power at low RPM, the compromise is G-wagon/ Hummer gas mileage. Even if you don't care about the price of gas or the carbon footprint, the inherent inefficiency is antithetical to the whole idea of a performance car or even any high end consumer product. I have always loved those cars (particularly the RS6 Avant) and what they represent, but when compared to the Model S I cant help but feel slightly unimpressed (more and more so with every new generation using the same basic forced induction power plant). Its the same feeling I had about the Veyron when it came out. Ok Volkswagen, you built the fastest car in the world but how you got there was kind of a joke: 16 cylinders and 4 turbochargers, and then production delays resulting in ten radiators (band-aids) to deal with the heat.

After you drive this car and get a feel for what it would be like to own, you quickly conclude that there would be no reason to buy anything else from an S-Class to a Quattroporte, nothing comes close. You feel like its a car from ten years in the future but also wonder why no one was doing this ten years ago. You realize all of this and then you realize this is Tesla's first car built in house, and you just wonder how it is possible and why no one else is doing this.

As Carolla states, it is better than anything else, and somehow, there are also no downsides. In the first video, he addresses a concern many people have about the range/recharging by referring to his friend's desire to drive to the Grand Canyon. He makes the point that almost nobody ever does that anyway (maybe once every four years), and Shanna makes the point that even if you want to do that you can(for free) using the supercharger infrastructure.

I was surprised by Carolla's very positive review because I have heard his many jokes about priuses, EV's etc. His reaction and opinion of the car is refreshing and convinces me that even the most anti-ev people can be seduced by this car if they are exposed to it in person and can spend some time with it. His conclusion about its importance as a symbol of American ingenuity and greatness is also apt, and I think a big part of what makes the car so attractive.