A typical car-guy-review of the Tesla Model S

It is interesting to see tech pubs who don’t often, if ever, review cars get behind the wheel of a Tesla Model S.

Ars Technica is no different concluding that it does in fact ‘have a soul’, but stop short of calling it the ‘Jesus car’ that the guys above did.

The Model S doesn’t smell like oil, it doesn’t drink gasoline, and it doesn’t howl when you stomp on it. But even though it lacks a beating mechanical internal combustion heart, it absolutely, positively, most definitely does have a soul. The Model S is a young car without the proud racing history of companies like Porsche or Ferrari, but it’s still an incredibly powerful New World statement that squarely challenges the Old.

In the few days I had the loaner Model S, I gave rides to most of my friends—along with a few of my friends’ kids. The responses were identical, young and old. The slide-out door handles drew gasps from 10-year-olds and jaded thirtysomethings alike; the enormous touchscreen made all eyes pop; the gut-rearranging torque drew gleeful screams of “OHHH YEAAAAAAAAAAH” out of every single person that sat in the cabin.

As for the driving experience—well, you forget about all of the neat electronics and the touchscreen and the battery and the network of Superchargers when you slip behind the wheel because the Model S is not just a great electric car. It’s a great car, period. That’s the highest praise I can give; Tesla Motors has succeeded in making an excellent automobile that also happens to be the best electric car money can buy.

More interesting to me was their description of a Supercharger visit, which I haven’t heard discussed too often:

Supercharging

The Supercharger bypasses the car’s chargers and feeds DC directly into the battery—prodigious amounts of DC, in fact. Once connected, the Supercharger began dumping about 300 volts at 300 amps into our car. After a minute or two, the car started making all kinds of loud noises—fans came on that I’d never heard before. The battery is liquid-cooled, and it’s easy to see how moving this much power would produce significant heat.

Enlarge / During supercharging, the car takes on a LOT of juice very quickly.
Lee Hutchinson

We headed to the restaurant next door to grab lunch while the car charged; when we came back 45 minutes later, 180 miles had been added onto the car’s range. The charging rate starts very high, adding 100 miles of range very quickly so that long-distance drivers can charge quickly and move on to the next Supercharger station. After the first huge dump of electricity, the charging rate tapers off—by the end of the charge, the car was drawing energy at 400 volts and 20 amps. (This helps preserve the life of the battery, since dumping juice into it quickly will degrade the battery pack much faster than a slower charge.)

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