The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - IMPRESSIONS - By GE­ORGE WONG g. wong@ thes­tar. com. my

F you had watched a cer­tain episode of the Na­tional Geo­graphic se­ries Me­gafac­to­ries, it of­fers some in­sight into one man’s am­bi­tious dream to pro­pel hu­man­ity away from fos­sil fu­els into an elec­tric fu­ture. That man: Elon Musk. That dream: Tesla Mo­tors.

To Musk, hy­brids are noth­ing more than a stop- gap mea­sure. In the mind of the se­rial en­tre­pre­neur, the only way to has­ten the ar­rival of the elec­tric era is to dump legacy bag­gage, make a clean break from yes­ter­day’s tech­nol­ogy and start from scratch.

That takes guts. And lots of money. Musk has both.

The re­sult was the Model S in 2012, the first all- new elec­tric car from Tesla. Be­fore this, it had pro­duced an elec­tric roadster but that was based on an ex­ist­ing car – the Lotus Elise.

Al­though Musk was one of sev­eral co- founders of the elec­tric car maker, the Tesla CEO has emerged as the charis­matic and very pub­lic face of Tesla.

Against th­ese back­drop, the Model S ar­rived at CarSifu’s doorsteps re­cently, ready to be probed and prod­ded.

It came cour­tesy of Green­tech Malaysia, a govern­ment agency that has been pro­mot­ing green tech­nol­ogy and sus­tain­able mo­bil­ity through elec­tric cars, among oth­ers, as an al­ter­na­tive.

Green­tech had shipped in two such cars through Tesla Hong Kong late last year. Both had iden­ti­cal specs hav­ing an elec­tric mo­tor to drive the rear wheels and 85kWh lithium- ion bat­tery. Tesla now only sells Model S with bat­ter­ies in 70 and 90kWh ca­pac­i­ties and there’s ev­ery like­li­hood a 100kWh bat­tery could show up soon. The 85kWh bat­tery, which can lasts up to 426km, was re­cently dropped in favour of the 90kWh for bet­ter range and per­for­mance. At present, the variant with the long­est range is the dual- mo­tored 90D with 460km.

The Model S is a big car, about the size of a Porsche Panam­era and looks ev­ery inch a lux­ury sports coupe with a long body and soft curves to please the eye. It’s the best look­ing elec­tric car we have seen lo­cally so far and is cer­tainly de­sir­able on styling alone. Oth­ers like Nis­san LEAF, Re­nault Zoe and Mit­subishi iMiEV look con­ven­tional, cutesy, or small and are mainly de­signed as city cars with lim­ited range.

As for Green­tech, us­ing this Tesla as the poster child is an eas­ier play to gain sup­port – and tax breaks – for elec­tric mo­bil­ity from de­ci­sion mak­ers and in­flu­encers in govern­ment. Sex ap­peal works.

The Model S is the first elec­tric car that aims to match or outdo in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gined ( ICE) cars in range and per­for­mance. Tesla’s goal, af­ter all, is to make its cars so com­pelling that peo­ple would be will­ing to switch over.

The 7,000+- cell bat­tery pack is laid on the floor and be­cause the compact elec­tric mo­tor drives the rear wheels, there’s only a sin­gle- speed trans­mis­sion to grap­ple with. The ab­sence of an en­gine also frees up more stor­age space un­der the bon­net if the rear one isn’t enough.

To max­imise range, the car is made of mostly light­weight alu­minium. It also has far fewer com­po­nents than an ICE car. The body is moulded to be aero­dy­namic; even door han­dles re­tract when the car is on the move to min­imise drag.

The car was spec­i­fied with two non- fold­able rear ex­ec­u­tive seats with a fixed cen­tre arm­rest. This op­tion is no longer avail­able. You could or­der the Tesla on­line and spec­ify it with ex­tras like you or­der a lap­top. One of the op­tions is the abil­ity to turn the stan­dard 5- seater into a 7- seater with two rear­ward fac­ing child seats in the boot zone. ( Or get the Lu­di­crous pack­age for the P 90D that shaves off sprint times for an even more im­pres­sive turn of speed.)

Apart from four seats and a flat floor, the in­te­rior is very un­like an ICE car. Fac­ing the driver is a clean a b p m f s w

u r t u i

s p e

F F p c

Warn­ing of ob­ject in front of car. Al­ways watch the range sta­tus shown as green bar ( lower left) to en­sure you are not stranded. Charg­ing port. Cables are pro­vided.

Rear seats with fixed head­rests are deep seated and lack thigh sup­port but floor is flat as there’s no trans­mis­sion tun­nel.

Driv­ing made easy. Flip the gear stalk down to D, ala MercedesBenz, press the ac­cel­er­a­tor and go.

The key fob shaped like a car.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.