What Business Does a Teacher Have Test Driving an $80K Tesla? …Plenty.

What Business Does a Teacher Have Test Driving an $80K Tesla?  …Plenty.

This is about Education. It’s also about innovation, creativity, thinking differently, technology, opportunity, sustainability, and the future. These are all things teachers are passionate about! It’s also about an amazing car, and I’m pretty passionate about those as well.

Why am I such a fan of Tesla even though they’ve never so much as favorited a tweet of mine? Because, like Apple did with computing and mobile tech, they are going to transform the way my children perceive transportation and energy. They aren’t the only ones mind you; but their role will be significant. Right now the brand is primarily associated with cars, but the really exciting part is that they (specifically Elon Musk) are focused on infrastructure and renewable energy outside of transportation as well (TheVerge article re: utilities). Here’s a link to a recent post of mine about Tesla that addresses some big-picture things.

My job here is to let you know that innovative technology has arrived and to describe it first hand. Over time, the price point will come down, so I want to spread the word sooner than later. And maybe they’ll learn a thing or two about customer experience from Discount Tire or Warby Parker along the way. And just so we’re 100% clear, this is all me. I admit my interest in Tesla is stalker-like, but I’m receiving no compensation, I promise.

The Car

The Tesla Model S is kind of like the Batmobile for the whole Wayne family. It’s big and crazy fast. But it uses no gas. It performs like a Porsche, but has 31.6 cu.ft. of cargo space (trunks in the front and back) because guess what’s not in the front? An engine. Look at comparable cargo numbers below:

Lincoln MKS: 19.2 cu.ft.

Chevy Impala: 18.8 cu.ft.

Mercedes S550: 16.3 cu.ft.

There are two options for the Model S based on battery type: 65kWh and 85kWh. There’s a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive option as well, but that’s a separate ball game. I drove the 85kWh. It has a realistic range of about 250 miles. The tour started with the massive touch-screen that controls literally everything.

(Click the images for better detail.)


In the above picture you can see that we’ve chosen to display navigation across the entire screen. The red dots are Superchargers. From where we are in Brentwood, I pretended like I needed to travel to Atlanta. I selected a Supercharger in Atlanta and with the help of Google Maps, it told me that I would be about 12 miles shy of my destination without recharging.  It recommended that I stop in Chattanooga at a Supercharger for about 20-40 minutes, just long enough to grab some coffee or lunch and use the bathroom.  If you don’t know what I mean by “Supercharger,” read my other post.


When the Energy app is selected (above), it offers some customizable range data based on driving habits. It also lets you know when you actually gain energy. More about that in a second. This image also shows how you can customize the screen to split as needed.


The settings screen above causes you to realize that you’re actually using a device similar to your smartphone that also happens to be a car. There are several fascinating features here but I’ll address just two:


You know how your car will “creep” forward when you take your foot off the brake? An electric doesn’t do that. So “creep” makes that happen. Why? Because you’re used to it.

Regenerative Braking

When you take your foot off the accelerator, the car is able to actually create energy through regenerative braking. In “standard” mode, you’ll actually feel that the car is braking as soon as you let off. In “low” mode, it will feel more like your current car coasting as you let off the gas. Why? Because you’re used to it.

There are some incredibly cool features related to traction and suspension, but I’ll just quickly address one that blows my mind. Assume you have a really steep driveway. One that typically causes your car to bottom out. You can set the suspension to lift the car when you arrive at your driveway. But how is it going to know when you arrive at your driveway? Are you ready? GPS!

Imagine that same technology at work in the P85D with a top speed of 155mph. You can research that on your own.

The Web app is exactly that. But video is not an option for safety reasons.


The camera feature is available not only in reverse but any other time as well. When parked, the bottom half of the image below shows anything around the car, not in a video format, but in kind of a sonar-like format within about a 16’ radius.


The media tab is not pictured, but as you might expect, it allows you to access any usb accessible device. Tesla has partnered with Slacker Radio for internet radio similar to Pandora. There’s no satellite radio and no CD player. And as my Tesla host pointed out, no 8-track either.

What about connectivity? It’s just like your phone. It grabs WiFi when available and a cellular connection when it’s not. Tesla covers the cell cost for two years.


The image above shows the driver’s view of steering and data. The tiny gear selector is there on the right leaving a massive center console of nothingness (below).


tesla console



There are a million beautiful exterior shots online, but here’s my high-tech iPhone pic of the Model S I drove today. Black on black.


You would think I would have a lot to say about the ride. I just don’t. It drove like a dream as expected. No noise and incredibly smooth with a cave full of interior room. It was because of Nashville’s “Winter Storm 2015” that I was able to make this test drive work, so I wasn’t comfortable getting too crazy, but I can say the pickup is amazing. Here are YouTube results for “tesla take off.”

You can do this too by the way.  Tesla does not run a credit report or check your income before allowing a test drive. When I spoke to the agent (in Palo Alto, CA) who arranged the drive, he asked if it was for educational purposes or if I was in the market. I said it was educational. You can request a test drive here.  Otherwise, when the school year slows down a bit, I plan to schedule some test drives and invite folks to join me.  Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll follow up.

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