The other night I was complaining about the price of gas (it’s gone up nearly 80 cents in a matter of days here in Los Angeles) but also about the lack of vehicles that run on alternative vehicles. The automobile hasn’t evolved as nearly as much as it should have. Could you imagine waiting 100+ years for the iPhone to improve? The only real jump forward in the last 20 years was in 1997 when Toyota released the Prius, the first hybrid electric vehicle.
In 2003 though there was the emergence of Tesla Motors, a car company designing high-end vehicles that run on a lithium ion battery. Bradley Berman recently did a story for New York Times profiling the new Model S, a Sedan that adds to their line-up. The story confirms that Tesla is making the cars of the future now, we can only hope other manufacturers can catch up quickly.
The Bauhaus-stark interior is dominated by a 17-inch touch screen — imagine a jumbo iPad embedded in the dashboard — giving digital control of nearly every automotive function. The interface is brilliant, but potentially spellbinding. Lighting, climate and music selection are intuitive. It let me do things as diverse as raising the chassis when pulling into my uneven driveway to switching the steering feel from comfortable to sporty.
There’s a high-definition backup camera, and full Web browsing is available — even when the car is in motion, a capability that safety regulators may one day frown upon. A Google-style search on the navigation screen, for addresses or a keyword, pulls up results that can be directly converted into turn-by-turn guidance. It is an ingenious improvement in automotive navigation.
Another innovation is Tesla’s ability to wirelessly push new features or software updates to cars already on the road. For instance, Tesla said it would soon be downloading a change on how much or how little the car creeps forward from a standstill.
Of course a vehicle like this comes at a price. The base model starts at $49,900 and can get to over $100k. The technology and features that the Model S have go above and beyond what most cars do, and the limited run (only 3,000 will be made) don’t help either. I hope that one day we’ll see more indie car companies pop up and start filling in the gaps in the market. The automotive industry needs some innovation desperately, and Tesla is only the first step.
To get more information on Tesla click here.