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Over the weekend we experienced one whole minute of the future. There weren't hoverboards or McFly Nikes, just two Tesla Model S Betas. The Beta model represents roughly 90% of the production Model S. The first thing you notice upon approaching the Model S are the frameless side windows, just like the Audi A7. Like the A7, the Model S has that 4-door coupe profile often referred to as "athletic." It really is a visually striking vehicle in person.

Upon entering the car, you're greeted with a massive 17-inch touchscreen in the center of the IP stack. It resembles an iPad (we're glad to see emulation here), which is not surprising since Tesla has recruited some of Apple's designers to develop the interface.

With Tom Petty's Runnin' Down a Dream playing in the background, our ride began. Just like the Nissan Leaf or Tesla's own Roadster, the Model S accelerates with the quick, linear pull characteristic of an electric motor. Acceleration is powerful, but nearly silent--another hallmark of electric vehicles.

Even with the Model S sedan's tech-packed dashboard, 4-door coupe good looks, and quickness off the line, we may have left most impressed with the ride quality. We're going to go there and say it: we haven't felt a ride this smooth since driving the Rolls Royce Ghost, a car that starts at nearly $250,000. Of course, we offer the disclaimer that we were driving on Tesla's own perfectly paved course, but the way the chassis moved around the turns was nothing short of extraordinary. A lot of that is due to the optional air suspension, but also benefits from the ground-up design of the car's space frame chassis.

The battery essentially makes up the entire undercarriage. The battery's placement contributes to the vehicle's superb balance and handling, while completing the bottom portion of the vehicle's structure. This is exclusive to the Model S, until BMW's i cars begin to hit the showrooms.

We also got the chance to check out Tesla's new smartphone app, which, like the vehicle it supports, is fast, feature-rich and well designed.

  • Exclusive: Tesla Model S First Ride

  • Image Credit: TRANSLOGIC
  • Tesla Model S catching some speed. 

  • Image Credit: TRANSLOGIC
  • Exclusive: Tesla Model S First Ride

  • Image Credit: TRANSLOGIC
  • Exclusive: Tesla Model S First Ride

  • Image Credit: TRANSLOGIC
  • Exclusive: Tesla Model S First Ride

  • Image Credit: TRANSLOGIC
  • Exclusive: Tesla Model S First Ride

  • Image Credit: TRANSLOGIC
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk appearing very proud of the Model S.

  • Image Credit: TRANSLOGIC
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk

  • Image Credit: TRANSLOGIC
  • Potential customers await a ride in the Tesla Model S Beta.

  • Image Credit: TRANSLOGIC
  • Tesla Model S LED headlight

  • Image Credit: TRANSLOGIC
  • Exclusive: Tesla Model S First Ride

  • Image Credit: TRANSLOGIC
  • Tesla Model S Interior. Notice the Mercedes column shifter?

  • Image Credit: TRANSLOGIC
  • Tesla Model S 17-inch touchscreen

  • Image Credit: TRANSLOGIC
  • Tesla Model S 17-inch touchscreen, entertainment. 

  • Image Credit: TRANSLOGIC
  • Tesla Model S 17-inch touchscreen, maps.

  • Image Credit: TRANSLOGIC


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 74 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm sick of hearing about how people throw out these half-witted claims about how much this does or doesnt help the environment, and the amount of resources it take to produce a battery. The FACT is that none of you know any of the facts, because ALL of the facts are skewed and sorted. There is always going to be someone bashing the other side with what "seems" like it makes sense. This is no different than politics. So. Just go with the flow! Lets build the electric car, who give a cr** if the resources or knowledge about building a better battery exists "today", that will come with further R&D. There wont be any further R&D if you dont have an initial platform to work off of. The first cars ever made didnt run on gasoline either, but that didnt stop ICE from becoming the main power source we have today. Use your brains people! This is about providing viable competition, and putting the oil companies in the back seat for once.
      usci1
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nicholas Tesla built a car which ran on electricity (static) taken directly out of the atmosphere with an antenna on the car and had no battery. (Do a google search and YouTube video search for documentation) Tesla Motors would do it right to use Nichola Tesla's original technology which worked in every climatic condition and didn't need fossil fuel. However, fossil based lubricants were needed for mechanical moving parts, example: wheel bearings, transmission, door hinges, steering assemblies, hydraulic systems, etceteras.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Manufacturing of the bank of battery costs more energy and pollution than the total life time energy consumption of conventional car.....
        • 3 Years Ago
        That is, of course, untrue. This car uses essentially laptop batteries (many, many lithium ion cells) that contain no heavy metals nor any toxic materials. Heck, you can even eat lithium safely in safe doses and many do for treatment of depression. This battery taunt is a common misconception, so Tesla even has a page up about it: http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/mythbusters-part-3-recycling-our-non-toxic-battery-packs Also, Tesla has already announced they will recycle them safely: http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/teslas-closed-loop-battery-recycling-program
        • 3 Years Ago
        I hear this all the time from people that like to rag on electric cars. Yet not a single one has every provided anything more than talking points.
        • 3 Years Ago
        exactly.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Please site the scientific evidence to support your claim.
          Chris M
          • 3 Years Ago
          They can't, as it is bogus. Making the iron and steel for a V8 engine block requires far higher temperatures, thus more fuel and more pollution, than making the components of an EV battery.
      • 3 Years Ago
      In theory, I am for electric cars, but aside from allowing to not rely on oil, how eco-friendly are they really? Electricity doesn't come from nowhere. It is powered from coal, gas, nuclear plants, and, yes, oil. I will not call anyone names here, but we do all have to think a little more broadly.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Imagine you have solar panels on your house that during the day charge a reserve battery in your garage. Imagine that you come home at night and plug your car into that reserve battery and charge your car for the next day's travel. Imagine...no coal, oil, natural gas, or nuclear power were used to charge your car!!!
        Brian H
        • 3 Years Ago
        No, Patty, not oil. Try to find an oil-fired generating plant. You'll be a long time looking. Natural gas plants, yes -- but have you heard the news? The world is awash in cheap shale gas. Even UK and Israel and India and Poland and ... are now energy-independent for the long forseeable future, and the discoveries are just getting started.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Well, I live in Norway and we use virtually only hydroelectric energy - so i will truly drive in a very enviromentally friendly way - and have great fun doing it when i get my Tesla Model S
        • 3 Years Ago
        The larger the scale of power generation, the more efficient it can be. Power generated at a plant is much, much more efficient than power generated by your car's motor. People that like to dog on electric cars always like to think they are geniuses by pointing out that the electricity can be coming from coal and/or oil sources. What they almost always forget to mention is how much more efficient it is to generate it at the plant (were talking almost 10 times more efficient here).
          • 3 Years Ago
          Considering most car engines are on the order of 20% efficient, it would be impossible for power plants to be 10 times more efficient.
          • 3 Years Ago
          More efficiency comes from greater volume of power generated and the fact that waste heat is more controlled at a plant than in a car.
          Brian H
          • 3 Years Ago
          No, drew; the way it's calculated is to take the inefficiency figure and look at that ratio. 80% inefficient vs 8% inefficient, e.g.
      carney373
      • 3 Years Ago
      That touchscreen is beyond stupid. I get that Tesla is a Silicon Valley firm trying to portray its car as futuristic, but forcing eyes off the road is unsafe and making no-look navigation of the controls impossible is annoying.
        PiCASSO
        • 3 Years Ago
        @carney373
        Agreed. I can just imagine how difficult it will be on your eyes during a night drive when you try to find a way to change the air flow to the feet while increasing the fan speed. It's nice for perhaps the passenger, but certainly not for the driver.
        Doug
        • 3 Years Ago
        @carney373
        Yeah I was about to say that. Way unsafe to put so many controls on a touchscreen. In this case, having a typical nav screen would have made much more sense, if you wanted to go futuristic make a HUD like in the M5 and Corvette.
          Brian H
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Doug
          There's also a centered smaller screen directly in front of the driver, to which you can have critical elements of the display transferred. Combined with the manual steering wheel controls, there should be no problem with a bit of "getting-used-to" time.
          Chris M
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Doug
          You don't have to use the touch screen, the car also has controls on the steering wheel, and hands-free voice activated controls as well. The quiet nature of the car should help with the reliability of voice command.
          Joeviocoe
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Doug
          I agree with Chris M.... Better to have an option. Besides... it is easily programmable. Nothing is stopping you from loading software that minimizes the "on" portion of the screen to a small 5"x10" area while driving... and turn on the rest when stopped at a light or parked to check the larger map. So many possibilities. With today's generation, they are gonna be looking at a small 3.7 inch iphone screen while driving and holding it to text... it requires a LOT more focus than a large screen that you don't need an extra hand. Drivers are gonna distract themselves no matter what.. better to give them a few options that give them the info they seek while requiring less focus.
        who_the
        • 3 Years Ago
        @carney373
        OK, I give up. How is finding and touching a "button" on a screen somehow more difficult than touching a physical "button" made of plastic? Many cars have a ton of too-small plastic buttons to learn and remember. I don't see how finding and touching a small plastic button is easier than touching a large virtual button displayed on a screen. It's 2011, people. We, as humans, now interact with displays of various types and sizes using our fingers. It's a paradigm you'd better get used to.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @carney373
        I drive a Prius and the touchscreen (controls info/climate/sound) is anything but distracting. I can operate it nearly 100% of the time without looking at all or using peripheral vision
        bofdem
        • 3 Years Ago
        @carney373
        This might be the first car, but isn't the last car to have it. Just wait until Nissan/Infiniti models start rolling out with this tech (albeit with manual/redundant controls for HVAC/volume).
      • 3 Years Ago
      At long last... a stunning American car. I'm in love.
      bigred8690
      • 3 Years Ago
      Another ecologically-correct plaything for people who already have a Ferrari and two SUVs in their garage.
        Brian H
        • 3 Years Ago
        @bigred8690
        Designed from the ground up to be a first and primary vehicle. You have no clue.
        Ford Future
        • 3 Years Ago
        @bigred8690
        Your post should read: "The First Ecologically-correct" plaything for people who already have a Ferrari and two SUVs... And what's wrong with that? That's exactly the direction we need to move to to survive. People retiring who own two cars, could retire one of the cars, and buy one of these. Anyway Jag has got something to worry about.
      atomicar
      • 3 Years Ago
      Looks like new Jaguar. wait till bigger car companies come up with better hybrids to counter Tesla. Interesting to see how this car will perform in a crash test. Watch your electric bill go through the roof. Cars like this will cause gray outs for sure all ready maxed out power grid. Add few of these with dead batteries in your morning commute rush hour.
        Gary Birch
        • 3 Years Ago
        @atomicar
        As to the crash test - have you watched the video on chassis design? Typically charged at night, when demand is least, this will leval comsumption making powerplants more efficient. And using the cost we pay in Colorado (.08 KW) my calculations show a siginifigant savings over dinosaur juice.
          Jon
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Gary Birch
          Sorry Gary, meant to vote your comment up, not down lol. Anyway, Tesla *wants* big car companies to wake up. But so far no one has anything that can even compare. And the rest of your post is more lies and BS. Same old empty arguments made by those who hate progress.
        Ford Future
        • 3 Years Ago
        @atomicar
        I think AtomiCar must be new here. Your speculation about what it will cost to recharge, is not supported by the facts.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @atomicar
        Think you need to do a little more research: 1. The car is pure electric, not a hybrid. 2. Estimated cost for a full charge of the 300 mile battery is approximately $4-7. Compare that cost to a full tank of gas. 3. Tesla's goal is 5 star crash rating across the board, which would be a first in the industry. Basically, there is no engine up front. So when you crash, the front just crumples instead of having an engine in your lap. I was there at the Tesla event on Saturday, and I can assure you that this car is revolutionary and will define the next generation of automobiles.
          Chris M
          • 3 Years Ago
          One minor quibble - in most areas, the cost of a full 300 mile charge would be about $9, though some places with low utility rates might charge half that. Still, $9 is a heck of a lot less than the $30 or more for a 300 mile fillup on a gasser.
      Rick
      • 3 Years Ago
      Screen is too bright, will absolutely suck driving at midnight on a back road with no street lights.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Rick
        Rick, were you thinking about stalking someone undetected on said back roads with no street lights? It sure sounds like that.. LOL
        OhReallyDough
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Rick
        Yea im pretty sure its adjustable. My Chinese made in dash nav unit is and even they thought of alot of details the factory nav leaves out (i have a German car). Ergo, I expect a company likeTesla to remember something that essential. Anyway, after using so many touchscreen devices (phones, tablets, car navs), i've realised that a) although i love the idea of a bigger than normal in-dash touchsreen media unit, this seems pretty excessive. Like VERY excessive b) in a car environment you NEED a few tactile buttons while driving. You just do. All touch is a fun idea but while steering, shifting, watching traffic,etc and trying to turn down the radio/search stations/ switch media inputs/etc there will be times when you just cant look down. So although i dont see them here, i really hope there are a couple in the final product. imho
          Brian H
          • 3 Years Ago
          @OhReallyDough
          Lots of touch buttons on the steering wheel, plus voice command, plus a smaller screen for selected functions directly in front of the driver -- believe me, the Tesla engineers are WAY ahead of you.
        Andrey
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Rick
        The Nav was stuck in the daytime mode. It actually has a nighttime mode that will help significantly.
          lawrencetheman
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Andrey
          you can OBVIOUSLY adjust the brightness on the screen... cmon now... don't you have a smart phone?
      Noz
      • 3 Years Ago
      Too bad it looks like a Jag...
        Halldór Björn Halldó
        @Noz
        Quite the contrary, in my opinion the Tesla looks like the Jag XF should have looked like. I feel the design of the XF is flawed in many ways but the Model S looks just fantastic. Still not sure about the interior though, but I'm confident the final design will be pretty good. There's no doubt in my mind that the Model S will be THE car to have when it comes out, movie stars are probably queuing up already.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Noz
        Too bad?
      James Katt
      • 3 Years Ago
      Will it go 600 miles between charges? NO. Will it cost over $100,000. YES, Can you recharge it wherever you go? NO. Perhaps you should bring along a Honda Generator just in case you get stuck without an electrical outlet. They should build in an electric generator. Will it require the US to turn to Nuclear Power? YES. It is VERY VERY inefficient to use electric cars. An electric car uses 4 times as much electricity as a home. Society will have to build FOUR TIMES AS MANY NEW POWER PLANTS to charge electric cars. And power plants burns 4 gallons of fuel to power an electric car with the same energy as 1 gallon of gas to power a gas-engined car. Thus, Nuclear Power is the only way to go if we switch to electric cars. This means building 3 new nuclear power plants for every 1 regular power plant that we have. Hybrids which you do not have to plug in are still the most efficient way to go on a massive scale.
        kidcharlemgne
        • 3 Years Ago
        @James Katt
        James, perhaps you should read a bit more about the car before you post: http://www.teslamotors.com/models Information is free
        Joeviocoe
        • 3 Years Ago
        @James Katt
        Stop replying to James Katt, He is obviously a troll trying to see how many "down votes" he can get. He is saying the exact OPPOSITE of known facts. Not even the EV detractors believe that.
        Jon
        • 3 Years Ago
        @James Katt
        Who drives 600 miles a day? And yes, even the 300 mile range version will cost less than 100k. Your post is filled with misinformation. The 4 times figure is completely made up. Vehicles will charge mostly at night when there is tons of unused power capacity and rates are cheaper. And electric vehicles are far more efficient than conventional vehicles. Even if all the power to charge an electric vehicle came from coal it is still cleaner and more efficient than burning gas in a conventional vehicle. You are obviously led by some motivation to spew lies so I am not wasting time trying to convince you. I just didnt want this dis-information to remain unchallenged for other people to read who may not know better.
        Chris M
        • 3 Years Ago
        @James Katt
        Are there ANY cars that go 600 miles between refills? None that I know of. Will it cost over $100,000? NO - not even with all the options. Can you refuel a gasser wherever you are? No, you have to be at a gas station. Not surprising, then, that you have to be near an electrical outlet to recharge this car, but guess what! there are a LOT more electrical outlets than gas stations. Electric motors are usually over 90% efficient, batteries 85% efficient, that beats the 15% to 25% efficiency of IC engines by a very wide margin. Oh, and electrical power plants tend to be efficient, too. Fossil fueled power plants range from 40% to as high as 60% efficiency, and the power grid is about 97% efficient, depending on distance, so your claim that electric cars would use 4X more fuel is, simply, WRONG. Turns out that oil refineries need electricity, too, and the amount of electricity needed to make a gallon of gasoline would drive an electric about 25 miles. The electric motors and batteries in hybrids is what enables them to achieve such high fuel efficiency. Making them plug-in hybrids makes them even more fuel efficient.
          Chris M
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Chris M
          Well, Gorr, if you want to play the "What would I do if I got stranded" game, consider this: Which is more likely if you "run out" on the road: (a) finding a nearby house or business that will let you plug in for awhile, or (b) finding a nearby house or business that has a can of gasoline they'll let you borrow. The answer of course is (a). Every home and business has electricity, relatively few have spare gasoline on hand. Yes, I know some people wouldn't help out a stranded motorist, but that applies to both electrics and gassers.
          goodoldgorr
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Chris M
          Quote from you "there are a LOT more electrical outlets than gas stations. " . You're right but most of these electrical outlet are private, are into house, are not public and are 110 volts. Only bums or nerds will play a game of finding with some black majic an available plug while they experience a sudden need for energy. An available gas station is 100x easier to find and take 5-10 minutes to refill and they usually have extra to sell like coffee or pizza and public washroom. No gas station or few of them will be willing to give you an electric charge because it take space into the gas station for hours and they are not equip to make you an invoice because they don't have a metered plug. They should put a sticker on these battery only vehicle saying not to use this car far away from your house where 99% of actual battery only car are actually own and driven by some drivers, they are special early adopters and they are just experimenter owning already a gasoline car as an extra. Sales of battery only cars are already starting to struggle and most are heading for the musuem.
          Brian H
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Chris M
          Tesla is planning now to put fast-charge stations, for free, about every 100 miles on every major route in the US. And most stopovers, whether RV parks or restaurants or hotels, etc., will and are putting in outlets for EVs --- they want the business, and the chargers are comparatively cheap. As for private charging points, owners and supporters in Germany set up a mutual-sharing-charging network, and a similar thing is happening here. As for the "struggling", you're talking about the inadequate offerings of the Big Boys, who really don't quite get it. Paid reservations for the 'S' now outnumber all the sold BEVs in the world combined -- >7000 and climbing very fast. I personally expect 20,000+ reservations paid up by the end of 2011.
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 3 Years Ago
        @James Katt
        James, that's quite a load
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is really great, electric cars are the ones to change this polluted to death environment! If this works, it will be a sprint to the future! like this http://www.coldscoop.com/2011/10/25/toolkit-of-7-most-useful-ipad-apps-to-manage-your-budget/
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