Tesla’s founder and CEO Elon Musk, threw one of typical hissy fits when motor journalist John M. Broder wrote a critical article of the Tesla Model S in the New York Times article, pointing out that pointing out that it ran out of battery and needing towing. For those who don’t know Musk unsuccessfully tried to sue the BBC for malicious falsehood and libel over of a very fair Top Gear review of the Lotus Elise based Tesla Roadster that they accurately reported couldn’t do more than 55 miles on their track without recharging. The judge threw out both the libel and malicious falsehood actions. Musk’s accusations against both review is essentially they drove to fast for precious vehicles.
Wait a minute; isn’t the entire point of a sports sedan like the Tesla S that it can be driven fast down the freeway?!!
Apparently not! Or at least not in a Tesla.
The Tesla S can only make its maximum range driving at an asthmatic 55 mph. So if you’re prepared to fork out $52,400 on the entry-level 40 kWh model S you can expect to make a measly 160 miles before the car needs several hours of recharging. If you can stretch to $62,400 for the mid level 60 kWh model S, you can extend that to a slightly better 230 miles. For an additional $2000 you have it fitted with a supercharger to reduce charging time. The two range topping 85 kWh ($72,400) and 85 kWh Performance ($87,400) can both manage 300 miles at 55 mph before they need to recharge. They both come with a supercharger as standard. Whoopee! So if you’re prepared to between $70,000 and $90,000 to drive along the freeway at 55 mph you can make 300 miles on a good day before stopping for several hours to recharge.
Obviously if you’re travelling at 80 mph or more down a freeways you’ll need a tow truck following because you’ll run out of power between charge points. And if you’re planing on using it in Europe travelling well over 100 mph — forget about it!
According to Ana Kasparian the Tesla model S is a “very luxurious car” (F segment). Really?!! The interior looks pretty spartan for a luxury car to me. It’s certainly no comparison to the Maserati Quattroporte GTS or Aston Martin Rapide S. My guess is the Tesla model S is supposed to be sports sedan or executive car (E segment).
However, with a base price between $52 400 and $87,400, depending on which model you opt for, the Tesla model S is incredibly overpriced. This car clearly doesn’t have the range for freeway driving and it’s both far too big and pricey to be a practical city runaround. If you really wanted an E-car t as a city runaround there are alternatives. The FIAT 500e and Nissan Leaf are both much more realistic options because they are small, agile and relatively cheap city cars.
Another problem with the Tesla S is performance. It has good acceleration when it’s fully charged and working — but that’s not going to be often — but when the battery starts running low, so will the performance. Also and more importantly for a sports Sedan the top speed is dire. The 40 kWh engine can only manage 110 mph! That’s only 3 mph faster than the FIAT 500 with the 0.9 TwinAir dualogic engine, which is a lot cheaper, good on the environment, better around the city, and only takes a couple of minutes to refill. But even worse the top of the range Tesla model S 85 kWh Performance only has a top speed of 130 mph! Bearing in mind it won’t get anywhere near that speed when its running low on battery, which inevitable it will if you try to take it near the top end. So you would be spending $87,400 on a sports sedan that can’t be driven fast.
By way of comparison its competitors, the BMW M5 is electronically limited to 155 mph, the Jaguar XFR-S does 186 mph and if we’re comparing it to super limos, the Maserati Quattroporte GTS does a 191 mph. But actually, the Tesla S under performs against much cheaper and smaller cars. The range topping model S 85 kWh Performance only has the same top speed as the Abarth 595, and is marginally slower than the Abarth Punto Supersport and Alfa Romeo MiTo Quadrifoglio Verde. It’s also a lot slower than the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde which has a top speed of 150 mph.
I accept that a lot of environmentalists who jerk off thinking about the Tesla S zero emissions might not think that speed matters much but it matters to consumers.