In San Francisco for a business trip, I decided to try to visit a Tesla store as I had a few hours to spare between 2 meetings. The Burlingame store and service center is a few miles south of the SFO airport, convenient location using the BART.
I sent an email to the store, explaining I’m member of the IrishEVOwners group, and I’d really enjoy viewing the store and a model S. I got a nice and friendly reply in no time, telling me they’d be very happy to accommodate my request!
So, a few hours later, I was at the store :)

Tesla Burlingame (CA) store

Tesla Burlingame (CA) store

Showroom

Showroom

Showroom

Showroom

I received a warm welcome from John Scalmanini (Senior Ownership Advisor). John took the time to answer all my questions, and even gave me a short drive in a Model S (Unfortunately, I couldn’t drive it myself).
He stayed with me for more than an hour, and I could never thank him enough for his time and patience, knowing I wasn’t even there to buy a car!
John, if you read these lines, thank you (again) so much! That made my ”Tesla” experience even more incredible!

And now the car! (Model S). I won’t details here all the models, options, accessories, etc. That’s what the Tesla website is for!
But some interesting facts:
The car has a proprietary port for charging, but it also comes with a J1772 adapter.

Tesla proprietary charging port

Tesla proprietary charging port

The door flap opens itself when you press a button on the cable handle!
Locking the car, also locks the cable in place.

Charging port

Charging port

The on-board charger is 20 kWh or an optional 40 kWh. The same port is used for “regular” charging and “super” charging!
A SuperCharger can charge the car at 120 kWh! Each station has from 6 to 12 superchargers, so virtually no queuing when you need a super charge.

Tesla SuperCharger (120 kWh)

Tesla SuperCharger (120 kWh)

Super charger plug

Super charger plug

Car embed a 3g connection and a wifi connection (when a wifi access point is within reach), very similar to how our smartphones connect to the internet.
The dashboard has NO physical buttons, everything is controlled via the giant 17” touch screen. With an impressive 1080×1920 HD resolution, powered by a Tegra3 processor, the gui is slick and very polished. Every detail matters, even the car on-screen matches the colour of your car! It displays in real-time the complete state of the car.: charge, lights on, doors open, GPS location etc.

Main screen

Main screen

Dashboard

Dashboard

Top of the screen always display the 6 main icons: Media, Nav, Energy, Web, Camera and Phone.
Bottom of the screen always display the AC controls.

Behind the wheel, is also a secondary (or “instruments”) lcd screen, displaying driving data: speed, energy usage, audio and a turn or by turn sat nav (optional). It’s a 12.3” LCD (1280×480 resolution), powered by a Tegra2 processor.

Instruments screen

Instruments screen

Using the main screen is a very enjoyable experience, as it’s very fluid and responsive. It feels like using a giant iPad or similar tablet! (far beyond the one in a Leaf).
But, from a software engineer point of view, what impressed me the most, is the frequency of software/firmware updates. Tesla pushes a new version every 6 weeks (average)!
And you don’t even need to go to a service center, as the new version is pushed over the air, just like our smartphones!

Note that the main screen uses Google Map where you can use Directions, but the Turn By Turn navigation (optional) on the instruments screen uses Navigon. The navigation pack comes with free updates for 7 years.

Google map on main screen

Google map on main screen

Turn by turn nav on instruments screen

Turn by turn nav on instruments screen

There is of course a Tesla App for smartphones. It’s far more complete than the Nissan one. You can of course start/stop charge and ac, but also start/stop the car, lock/unlock it, check its current location on google maps, and also track its speed in real-time (even honk horn)!
The Tesla engineers can also remotely connect for diagnostics.

The car has a front and a rear boot, with plenty of space (The motor is located on the rear axle):

Front boot

Front boot

Rear boot

Rear boot

Big loading space with rear seats folded

Big loading space with rear seats folded

As I already said, I couldn’t test drive the car myself, but John offered to take me for a quick ride, in a 85 kWh model S, with the Performance pack.
How can I describe it… We all know here what it’s like to drive an ev. Silence, power, and a smile on your face. Now imagine same thing, but in a super luxury, super powerful car. When you floor the accelerator, it violently pushes you against your seat, and it never stops until you release the pedal. Believe me, this is really impressive, far beyond anything I could have imagined.

Tesla Modal S 85 kWh with Performance pack

Tesla Modal S 85 kWh with Performance pack

Tesla Modal S 85 kWh with Performance pack

Tesla Modal S 85 kWh with Performance pack

The regen is also very impressive, 30 kWh just by releasing the accelerator. Up to 60 kWh when using the brakes.

Of course, this is a luxury car, not for everyone’s budget. But if they can achieve what they aim for the unofficially announced Model E (45 kWh battery, 200 miles range for £25k) then ICE car manufacturers are in troubles. The proof is that they are trying to block Tesla from selling cars by any means in USA, obviously indicating they clearly see Tesla as a threat.

With free “for life” unlimited access to super chargers, Tesla is clearly leading the way for EVs, and car industry in general. The future of motoring is already there, I saw it!

 

Model S technical details
On a side note, during my stay in downtown San Francisco, I only saw 3 Leaf, but I also saw 2 Tesla (a roadster and a model S). I was expecting to see much more Leaf. Also worth mentioning that ~60% of the taxi are Hybrid, mostly Prius!