On the Road with Motor Trend

Motor Trend Technical Editor Kim Reynolds joined us for a day of driving Validation Prototypes 9 and 10 on Monday (December 3). Kim is an understated guy, but very knowledgeable about EVs. Kim knew Alec Brooks, Tesla's Director of Vehicle Technologies, from way back and told me stories about “back in the day” when he used to let Alec and Al Cocconi bring the AC Propulsion's t-zero over to the Motor Trend skidpad so he could help them understand how the car should behave on “throttle on” and “throttle off” while turning hard.

Preparing for test drives

Kim brought along a still photographer and a videographer, and we started the day by shooting in our shop and interviewing David Lyons, Director of Engineering, for the Motor Trend website. Then we set out for Canada Road, a nearby location that we often use for rides, photo shoots, and some performance testing in VP9.

Kim Reynolds (left) and staff

It was a bit nerve-racking as Kim wired up his equipment to the car and got it ready for some test runs. We have done our own testing but it’s different when you hand over the keys. After Kim did a few runs in both directions and came back, I asked how we did and he gave us the good news. While he needs to tweak numbers and adjust things, his results were basically in line with ours, give or take a smidgen. (I promised not to share results or specifics in my blogs until the articles are published – we expect to see the write-ups in the February time frame.)

With that behind us, Kim and I headed off for some beautiful driving up on Skyline Boulevard, with the rest of the crew chasing behind. We did a good deal of driving and then settled on a spot on Page Mill Road so the Motor Trend photographers could get some great photos of the car driving. This is the less glamorous part of the first drives, and it involves sitting around while someone drives the car over and over again through an area until a great shot is captured.

Looking for the perfect shot

When we were finished we headed back to the shop and met with about 8 or 10 of our top engineers – subject matter experts in all the major subsystems of the car. In setting up these days, it was my feeling that the best way to represent Tesla was to minimize the marketing content and maximize the journalist’s access to the engineers who do the actual work to build this breakthrough car.

Pizza and shop talk
with Tesla engineers

Kim felt this was a highlight of the day and had a totally different perspective after driving the car and meeting the people who actually designed and built it. At one point he asked what kind of car each of us drives, and I think he was surprised to discover what a bunch of gearheads we are.

We ended the day at about 5:30 pm, and I went to my office for the first time. I booted up my laptop and got to work catching up on all the emails and phone calls from the day. It was a long day but definitely a great one.

On Tuesday we had a rainy day with Car & Driver, but it all went very well. I’ll try to post something soon.