2013 Tesla Model S first drive
The 21st century's most innovative car?
Mississauga, Ont. — The Tesla Model S is the gold standard of all electric vehicles, and judging from what's on the all-electric horizon in Canada, will likely remain that way for some time. It has been designed to address or negate every argument against the viability of fossil-fuel-free electric cars, either within the car itself, or with other measures taken by the company.
One such step is Tesla's bold plan for a Tesla-funded Supercharger charging network that will allow Model S owners to drive long distances in their EVs, even (eventually) across the continent, including Canada and the U.S. The solar-powered Supercharger network is foreseen to be complete by about 2017, said Tesla, when announcing it this fall. The first of the Supercharger outlets planned in Canada are to be installed by the end of 2014, and will be in the corridor between Montreal and Toronto.
Going the distance
Range anxiety for shorter trips is not an issue, since the Model S can comfortably travel more than 400 real-world km on a single charge. Its official EPA-rated range is 426 km, or more than some high performance gas vehicles. Of course, just as in a regular car, a heavy right foot will decrease this range, as will cold weather, hilly terrain, and especially highway speeding.
Unlike most EVs and hybrids, the Model S looks sexy. It cuts a futuristic yet not weirdly spacey profile, with feline curves that could easily be a love child of a Jaguar XF and an Aston Martin Rapide, two of the best-looking four doors out there, a list to which the Model S must certainly be added.
Cost and performance line up very well against European sport sedan rivals
Cost-wise, the Model S is not inexpensive, especially since the 85 kWh launch models will all push six figures after options and taxes. Still, it's right in the same upscale snack bracket as its similarly sized European luxury rivals, and actually undercuts many performance-minded competitors' prices — and that's before any government rebates. A BMW M5 starts at $101,500, while a top-line Fisker Karma Signature plug-in retails for $109,000.
In Ontario and Quebec, Model S buyers are currently eligible for at least $8,000 in zero emissions vehicle rebates, as is the range-extended Karma luxury sedan, with $5,000 available in British Columbia.
It's nearly impossible to even pick out which vehicles would be the Tesla's main rivals, because although its zero (local) emissions nature gives it distinct appeal amongst enviro-conscious luxury buyers (perhaps Lexus GS 450h, BMW ActiveHybrid 5 or Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid intenders), it can also zip to highway speeds ahead of or alongside powerhouse four-doors like the aforementioned M5, Audi S7 and the Porsche Panamera GTS. The aluminum-bodied S can dash from 0-96 km/h in 4.4 seconds, says Tesla, or quicker than published numbers for the V12 Aston Martin Rapide.