Up to 2017 the only Teslas you’d see on our shores were literally a handful of personal imports or tourists. The US brand has been the most talked about car company to launch in Ireland since Dacia came in to the new car market as a sub brand of Renault. Actually I don’t think there has been another new entrant to the market in the mean time but let’s just say we’re all excited about Tesla being officially here. In a nutshell all Teslas are electric vehicles that can accelerate very, very quickly. Teslas have remarkable battery range, up to 594km (Model S 100D) – that’s the envy of all EVs out there at the minute.
Elon Musk is the genius figurehead behind the World famous high end EV maker and let’s not forget he also makes incredibly cool reusable rocket ships with Space X. Sandyford in Dublin is the home of Tesla’s HQ, distribution and service centre for the island of Ireland. The two model range features the Model S (5 door) and Model X (SUV). Both feature ‘Autopilot’ semi autonomous driving ability and feature a range of power outputs and performance figures. Both cars ride on the same large car platform and can be configure to carry five, six or even seven people if required. As Tesla started with a blank sheet the platform and drive systems gave the designers more scope to play around. The resulting cars are really interesting and a breath of fresh air. With no engine to accommodate or fuel tank the interior layout benefits with acres of space as the rechargable battery packs are underfloor.
The model S is a sleek Audi A7/Jaguar XF-style sleek five door. Model S75 is the entry car, 75 relates to the battery power available. 75 is rear wheel drive but all other Teslas feature dual motors so they are all wheel drive. All model X are AWD and you can spot a Models S as AWD if there is a D (for dual motor) in its badging. If the number follows a letter P that means it is a performance version.
The Model X, that has a range up to 542km, came a few years after S and is a bulkier looking SUV. Its unique party trick are the now famous falcon opening rear doors. The double hinged doors adapt when opening to take into account the space available. Regardless of the roof height in a garage or carpark or the space beside the car (minimum space needed is 30cm) the mechanism will open to allow access. You can also open and close all doors remotely.
Model S is capable of ludicrous acceleration (literally) as the optional ‘Ludicrous’ mode shoots the Model S P100D at the horizon in a neck snapping 0-100kph time of 2.5 seconds (Model X in the same mode 3.1 seconds). Sadly the car’s tyres won’t last too long if you demo this performance to your friends but it is supercar like – in fact it is supercar beating acceleration.
Some people go to a dealership or a motor factors to upgrade their car but Tesla sends free over-the-air software updates, which roll out regularly to owners. Tesla owners are on software version 8 I think at the moment. These updates can add significant ability to the car.
Inside both cars you’ll find a very easy to drive automatic set up. In the centre of the dashboard is a huge 17 inch touch screen display that is like an iPad on steroids. There are further electronic dials and displays behind the steering wheel and a head up display on some models. Initially the tech is a lot to take in but in no time you find yourself taking it for granted and simply drive the Tesla as you would any other automatic car.
On the road the ride is not quick magic carpet but pretty good. The air suspension is very clever as you can adjust the car’s ride height manually. Say there was a nasty high bump on a road well you can adjust the height up to cross over it and then lower it the far side – the clever part is that the car will remember the location so the next time you come to it the car will automatically rise up to go over the bump and lower the far side of it! Look, Teslas are stuffed full of tech, great connectivity and driving aids that I don’t have time to go in to here, so take a look at Tesla.com for more detailed info.
What’s the catch? The batteries used are huge in terms of output and take a long time to charge fully. On street and even home EV charge points will work but you really need to use Tesla’s own very high output Superchargers to be efficient with your refueling time. There is just one Supercharger in Ireland at the Topaz services at junction 3 off the M8 – but there are plans for more. Overnight home charging should keep the car topped up as the range on all models is far greater than most daily requirements. Like most EVs you can pre-condition the car’s interior while it is still plugged in.
Tesla has partnered with a number of destinations to offer free charging when visiting. 10 initial locations have gone on line like the lovely Brooklodge Hotel in Wicklow that I visited on one of my test drives. Let’s not forget Ireland has an impressive 1,200 public charging points across the country from the one electricity provider. This infrastructure is the envy of EV users throughout Europe as they often have to sign up to many suppliers to charge in various locations in public.
With clever planning and use of Superchargers where available anything is possible and one owner from Galway recently took their Tesla all the way to Morocco via Edinburgh!
In terms of servicing, EVs tend to need very little, but people have asked me what happens in a crash? Tesla bodies are very strong thanks to the way the batteries are packaged but as to how readily parts, body panels and repairs can be carried out is yet to be seen in Ireland.
Tesla third model, imaginatively called ‘Model 3’, will be the most affordable Tesla yet starting from $35,000 in the US. The Audi A4 sized machine is due to come on stream in the States later this year but right hand drive versions are a low priority and will be some time further away.
Tesla, there is a lot to love.
Prices aren’t cheap and start in Ireland from €86,102 for the Model S and €107,591 for the Model X.
Model S versions: 75, 75D, 90D, 100D, P100D
Model X versions: 75D, 90D, 100D, P100D
Tesla buyers qualify for the current government SEAI grant of up to €5000.