Apple on Wheels

Apple, under Steve Jobs’s leadership, revolutionized the cell phone industry and defined the smart phone as we know it today. Tesla is positioned to do the same for the automotive industry.

Tesla has become the new standard for modern vehicles.
A gold Tesla Model 3 symbolizes the new standard for modern day vehicles.

In 2012, Tesla reinvented the electric vehicle with the Model S and captured people’s desire for clean, sexy, and powerful.  

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Electric vehicles existed over a hundred years ago, but they failed to succeed in the consumer market. There were also electric cars in the market in the early 2000s, but they sacrificed speed and range to be environmentally-friendly. What Tesla did differently, was create a battery electric vehicle with a futuristic design. The speed and versatile functionality made simple by advanced technology, the durability that you can depend on, and the potential to improve with time. In a way, this is roughly the recipe for the first iPhone, but on wheels instead. 

In 2008, a Tesla Roadster was ruthlessly mocked on Top Gear, the world’s most popular car show. Yet today, if you look at the Monthly Plug-In EV Sales Scorecard [2], you will find that more Teslas are sold in the U.S. than all other (42) Plug-In Vehicles combined. With Tesla finally becoming profitable in Q3 of 2018, Tesla’s stock has become one of those investments that many people wish they had made.  However, deep down, I have always had doubts toward Tesla’s success. 

In February, I decided to visit the “Meet – Greet – Share” event hosted by the San Diego Tesla Club at the Fashion Valley Mall Superchargers, to see if Tesla really is a challenger for the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) car industry. The gathering of over fifty Teslas and over one hundred Tesla owners, employees, and supporters was impressive.

Electric vehicles drive without emissions or noise.
EV enthusiasts and interested community members gather at the San Diego Tesla Club’s “Meet-Greet- Share” Event at Fashion Valley to enjoy no emission, no noise driving.

I enjoyed seeing a Roadster up close, even more than the one sent to space (see that one here).  

Electric vehicles accelerate fast and are fun to drive.
Tesla Roadster. I guess the people at Top Gear weren’t impressed with the paint job? Well, a fast car should look fast!

It’s funny how dozens of Tesla owners just came here to plug into the Superchargers, but then found out about the meeting and stayed! And these Tesla owners, unlike how some are portrayed on the internet, are great people too. They welcomed a non-owner, like me, and were happy to share how their Teslas impacted their lives. Tesla owners are passionate; many said, “Once you got a Tesla, you can never go back [to any other Internal Combustion Engine cars].” 

Contrary to what some harsh comments suggest on the internet, many of the Tesla owners are interested in seeing what the EV market has to offer and how various products have improved ever since Tesla helped to grow the EV market.

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Tesla has inspired many technological advancements.
Tesla Employees and EV Enthusiasts come together to appreciate technological advancements.

The Tesla employees were friendly, too.  Signing up to test drive a Model 3 was quick and easy. Bobby, the Tesla representative, was very thorough and professional in his explanation of the Model 3’s features. 

The credit card-like car key means you can slip it easily in your wallet or purse instead of getting it scratched on the key chain. The Model 3 achieves efficient usability through the 15 inch touchscreen and the two sphere controls on the steering wheel that provide all of the customization for the driving experience. 

The experience enters a new dimension once you start driving. The lack of engine noise provides a sense of peace and calm. The car starts instantly and can drive immediately, without needing to warm up. On a hot day, the cabin cools within seconds due to the seamless full width vent. 

Once we got to the open road, Bobby encouraged me to put my foot down on the accelerator pedal. After stepping gently on the pedal several times, I said to him, “I am gonna give it the beans, you ready?” Bobby said, “Yeah.” I floored the accelerator pedal. Within 3 seconds, the silence of the sudden acceleration was interrupted by a warning beep for going over the 40 mph speed limit. In the process, Bobby almost spilled his coffee (good thing there was a lid). When the light turned green at the next intersection, I did it again. None of the other cars had moved by the time we were through the intersection. 

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Now, following the launch of the Model Y, there really is something “S-3-X-Y” in Tesla’s lineup. The excitement and innovation that Tesla products offer makes those of us who love cars, love them even more, and for those who never cared, can now find driving more enjoyable than ever. 

Progress works in unique ways, even when it doesn’t happen easily or overnight. Not all of us can recognize the next big thing when it comes along, and some of us might even reject it at first. That’s why despite the challenges laid ahead of Tesla by profitability, layoffs, the stock market, and even the SEC, Tesla’s role in the history of automobile development is undeniable.

Today, we are at a turning point of automotive history, similar to when the early cars displaced the use of horses for transportation.  It is our job to embrace the future that belongs to electric vehicles. When we face our grandchildren decades from today, we can proudly tell them, “We weren’t the ones crushed by the giant wheel of history. We were the ones who rode on it. In fact, we were in ludicrous mode on a Tesla.” 

After the event ended, I test drove the MINI Countryman SE All4 featured in my last blog article (which you can read more here). The Countryman’s 0 – 60 mph time of 6.7 seconds isn’t slow at all, but it was not even close to the acceleration and thrill of driving the Model 3.

Reference:

1.  Sales figures obtained from http://carsalesbase.com/

2. Monthly Plug-In EV Sales Scorecard from https://insideevs.com/monthly-plug-in-sales-scorecard/