Published October 30, 2012
By Jeff Cobb
85-kwh Tesla Model S.
When he’s not entertaining audiences commenting on various other topics, Jay Leno does a fine job reviewing vehicles on his “Jay Leno’s Garage” show, and yesterday’s 13-plus minute overview of the Tesla Model S with its Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen was no exception.
“Range is not really an issue in this car,” said Leno of an 85-kwh Model S as he and von Holzhausen drove around the Southern California area in the car EPA-rated for 265 miles. “The problem of the electric car has been solved.”
The video pretty well says it all, but among notable comments were von Holzhausen’s projection that the array of around 7,000 standard-format 18650 laptop batteries should last 10 years. The pack is thermally managed, and the car’s designer said that helps prevent cell degradation, while saying an undetermined amount of cell degradation over time will happen.
He also said Tesla’s proprietary charging interface was created purely as a benefit to its customers.
“Yeah, we wanted to make the experience a little more pleasant,” said von Holzhausen. So they designed the aesthetically pleasing hidden plug instead of having a “clunky interface” – implicitly referring to more-common competing standards, the SAE J1772 or CHAdeMO. The company does offer an adapter to fit other standards, he added.
Leno’s review is informative and takes into considerations expectations on a wish list for both fans of traditional ICE cars – commenting on power, performance, and range; and he notes the versatility of the quiet electric car, which of course, never has to stop for a gas station, but still – as another review by Automobile magazine found out – can run with a 500-horsepower BMW M5 in a 0-100 mph sprint.
The 85-kwh Model S has three battery packs on board, weighs a rather portly 4,600 pounds, but masks it well with its industry leading low center of gravity due to its skateboard chassis which positions batteries in the floor, and aerodynamic coefficient of drag of just 0.24.
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“The sneakiest performance car on the market,” says Automobile magazine's Ezra Dyer.
It is a pretty looking car, and rides with no clunks or noises, Leno also observed, indicating good design and build quality – even if the company has taken more time than originally projected to get its Fremont, Calif. assembly line in full swing.
What’s not to like, right? Aside from long-term durability questions for which only time will tell, some have said the roughly $50,000-$110,000 price tag for the Model S range is out of reach for them. For those who fit that group, von Holzhausen has previously said Tesla’s next priority after launching the 60-kwh and 40-kwh Model S versions and the Model X crossover, is to introduce an electric car, closer to the national average MSRP.
Undoubtedly many more electric car fans are looking forward to that entry level car which he also said Tesla was aiming to have for sale by 2015.
Meanwhile, with Leno doing electric burnouts with the top-line – and quickest – Model S, and Automobile and others doing sprints with it against established performance cars, Tesla's first sedan appears to be paving the way for more to come.
Jay Leno's Garage