An Exciting Journey
As our family was growing, we have three children under 8 years old, I was looking to replace my Audi A6 with either an Audi Q7 or BMW X5, for the extra flexibility of the 5+2 seating configuration. While weighing up the options one of my social media feeds popped up an article about a US state blocking Tesla selling direct to customers. I clicked through. On discovering the Model S could seat 7 with the optional rear jump seats, the German SUVs seemed a lot less appealing. They just couldn’t compete on the combination of performance and running costs, while the minimalist interior styling and novelty of over-the-air software upgrades appealed to my tastes and interests in design & software engineering. Following a test drive from the Westfield White City store I was hooked.
When I placed my order at the beginning of 2014, I had about 5 months to wait before my Model S would be delivered. This gave me plenty of time to learn about what I could expect when I got my hands on it and also plan a true trial by fire - a 1,800 mile roundtrip from Berkshire to the south of France, 10 days after collecting the car!
Family road trips
We’ve now completed three trips to Europe in our Model S, totalling about 3,000 miles; we’ve driven to Cannes, Brussels and most recently Paris. The Model S is a brilliant touring car. It seats the entire family in comfort and with the copious stowage provided by the front and rear boots the car swallows all of our luggage and baby’s buggy.
"We’ve now completed three trips to Europe in our Model S, totalling about 3,000 miles; we’ve driven to Cannes, Brussels and most recently Paris"
The challenge with road trips is the obvious need to charge once you exceed the, not inconsiderable, maximum range of the Model S. The Supercharger network is still growing throughout the UK and Europe - when we made the trip to Cannes last summer we charged a motorway services near Maidstone and then had to drive fairly carefully through northern France before we reached the first Supercharger on our route, 230 miles away. We made it with 9 miles of range to spare! However, thanks to the car’s ‘Energy' forecast features we were able to accurately track our remaining distance versus predicted range and never suffered from the much-hyped “range anxiety”. Since then Tesla have opened new Supercharger sites in both Maidstone and Calais which saved us considerable time and inconvenience on our most recent trip.
Sure, you can cover the same journey in a regular car faster if you don’t stop for breaks but our aim was never to get there in the fastest time; if it had been we could have flown! We enjoyed the journeys and when covering such distances we found that we all welcomed the chance to stretch our legs and have a nice meal while the Model S picked up juice.
Oh, and all the Internet connected features, such as maps and streaming music, well they just keep on working when you cross over into Europe thanks to the roaming data connection that comes with the car.
Daily life with the Model S
When not on a road trip, the vast majority of my charging has been done at home, overnight at off-peak rates. The convenience of this shouldn’t be underestimated and it’s a great feeling not to have visited a petrol station for nearly a year.
I frequently commute into London, but even with the constant heavy traffic the drive is much more relaxing than in previous cars. With no vibrations, no gear changes and regenerative braking, you practically glide along in a stress free environment (so long as you avoid very narrow roads – the Model S is a big car!).
With its multiple cargo areas and flexible seating, the Model S is also brilliant when it comes to separating bags, bikes, buggies and muddy boys - which comes in particularly handy with the British weather!
More than a car, part of a community
The most surprising thing however, has not just been how great the car is, but that there is a really strong and enthusiastic community building around Tesla here in the UK. So much so that when the first UK deliveries began a group of owners wanted to share their private charge points and with a little encouragement a couple of us developed a secure site for owners to do just this - www.teslowjuice.com - and more recently have launched a second site - www.teslapedia.org - to share in-depth, accurate knowledge with fellow owners. The response from the burgeoning community has been tremendous and a real pleasure and privilege to be a part of.
When I clicked that link over a year ago I’d not expected it to lead me on such an exciting journey, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every mile since!