I found myself in Los Angeles for a quick visit late last week and realized I wasn't too far from the brand new Tesla Motors store. Having read about the opening night gala event and curious about the chic new sales space, I wanted to go check it out. Trouble was, I wasn't close enough to walk, didn't have a car, and have heard too many bad things about LA's public transportation system to see if it was a feasible option for me. Luckily, I met up with Shannon Arvizu (TriplePundit) and she offered to drive the two of us down to the store to take a look at what they've got on display. Didn't take me long to say, "yes." I mean, even if there are have been problems with the development of the car and we're hearing rumblings about ego conflicts among some of the well-knowns who are involved, someone still needs to go and bring back a collection of photos for faithful readers, right? Right.
We headed down to Santa Monica Boulevard and found the well-designed store wedged between a Starbucks and the ING building. There are two Roadsters in the showroom, one in dark blue and the other is the silver VP10 (Validation Prototype 10) that Sam got to take for a test drive back in January. None of the cars in the store are for sale, as they're not the production versions, but that didn't stop a good half dozen customers from wandering in and making serious inquiries about being place on th waiting list in the hour or so that we were there. Between the two cars in the showroom sits a counter and barstools, the perfect place for store employees to talk to potential customers. A coffee bar and some Tesla swag are nearby in case you need either a jolt of caffeine or a fancy Tesla cap. Offices (doors open) and two wonderfully-decorated bathrooms round out the front of the shop.
The back half of the store features a garage bay with room for a three cars. This garage is incredibly clean today, and one thing we can count on is that the cement floor will never stained by a leaky oil pan (well, unless future models do come with the option of a range-extending ICE). The opposing wall houses a quick charger. But what really caught our eyes was a metallic blue Roadster aimed square at a garage door, looking like it wanted to go out. Read on after the jump to find out what happened next.
We made a call and asked a few questions. Not too much later, Tesla's Tom O'Leary smiled as he handed us the key to that metallic blue Roadster (it's VP16) and told us to have fun - but to remember to bring it back in one piece. This is a million-dollar prototype we're talking about, here.
It's been a year and a half since I first sat in a Roadster, but this was the only time I've had the chance to enter the left side of the vehicle. Shannon and I didn't have a plan (other than to not get into an accident) so we just went up and down the area streets. We weren't about to head into the mountains with the car, but you can check out our earlier post for the in-depth review of driving the Roadster. I'll just repeat that these things are simply too much fun to drive, even if you never get to go more than 35 mph. As for the size issue, the Roadster fit me about as well as a car can; it was just getting in and out that felt unusual to someone who doesn't sit in sports cars very often. During our drive, we happened upon an electric vehicle charging station and stopped for a little photo shoot. Sure, the connectors are all wrong, but for our pictures little details like that didn't matter. As Shannon drove back, I attempted to capture photos of people who were curious about what we were driving. The only picture that came out half-way decently is this one:
As you can see, it's thumbs up all the way. I got the feeling Shannon was pretty jacked about the whole experience, but she'll have her own take on driving the Roadster posted - with video, possibly - soon. (UPDATE: Shannon's post is here, video embedded below)
Speaking of soon, our drive was over far too quickly. We were riding around with the top down, and LA's May gray sky did threaten us a bit. Still, as I stepped out of VP16, I saw a little MP3 attachment cable that I hadn't noticed upon getting in. Guess that means I have an excuse for another drive. I need to test a Roadster out with some of my favorite tunes. You'd do the same, right?