We’re in the electricity business, and the green electricity business at that, so we get pretty excited about electric vehicles. A group of particularly enthusiastic Green Mountain Energy employees recently received a special tour of the Tesla Motors Gallery in Austin.
Tesla Motors, for those unfamiliar, is a leading electric car company based in Palo Alto, Calif. and led by Elon Musk, the visionary behind SpaceX and the co-founder of PayPal. Its mission is “to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.”
Tesla sells its cars online, and their galleries allow visitors to learn more about the technology in the vehicles, as well as to explore different models and design options. The retail space is not a dealership, and the store employees do not discuss pricing. But you can enter your information to be contacted for a test drive. There also is some store merchandise for purchase.
In Austin, the Model S is on display. It’s a four-door luxury vehicle with sleek silver door handles that are built into the body and pop out when the driver approaches with the key. Other innovative features include a touchscreen display below the dashboard that controls almost every aspect of the car, including the built-in 3G connection with connectivity to Slacker and TuneIn streaming radio services.
Interestingly, the battery pack for the vehicle is underneath the car, so there is ample storage space in the trunk and the front where the engine in a gas-powered vehicle would be. They affectionately call this space the “frunk,” or front trunk.
While Tesla Motors has a nationwide network of super charging stations, the cars come with a J1772 adapter that allows for charging almost anywhere, including the NRG eVgo network.
Here are some other interesting stats, courtesy of store manager Lesley-Anne Lastimoso:
- A full charge uses the equivalent of roughly $8 in electricity (based on an $.08/kWh rate), and the range is an EPA-rated 265 miles
- There are approximately 300 Tesla vehicles in the Austin area, and 1,000 in Texas
- The top speed of a Model S is 130 mph (it could go faster, but they cap the speed for street use)
- The keys to a Tesla are a miniature version of the vehicle (see below)