Gas prices have suddenly plummeted. People are already back to buying gas guzzling pickup trucks and SUV’s because who doesn’t like a 7 passenger, tall station wagon with a DVD player and backup camera? My question is what will the return of cheap gas do to the fledgling electric car industry? Chevrolet never managed to sell many of their cool-looking, part-time electric Volts even though they were priced less than $35,000. I’ve never seen a Nissan Leaf in person so I assume they do not exist. And Toyota seems to be selling more versions of the Prius than there are pickup lines on Tinder. Not that I know what Tinder is.
So back to the return of cheap gas. What is going to happen to the rather successful and crazy expensive Tesla brand? Elon Musk is part visionary, part engineer and King Midas, because all of the revolutionary technology he touches turns to gold. Ever hear of PayPal? He’s the one who took that from nothing and turned it in to $1.5 Billion. Elon is also the money and brains behind SpaceX, which became the first privately funded company to presumably deliver a change of underwear to the astronauts on the International Space Station in 2012. He was even in one of the Ironman movies because this guy is like a real life Tony Stark.
Musk also makes Teslas and he is so convinced that the electric car is the future of transportation, he opened up ALL of the patents Tesla holds to anyone who wants to mass produce their own electric car.
I have been a fan of these American made, electric cars since they threw a bunch of laptop batteries in a foreign-made Lotus and called it Roadster. Since then, Tesla has evolved and has been cranking out the Model S at more than double the price of a Volt, Prius or mythical Leaf. Tesla has encountered problems selling their cars in about half the states in the USA because of the National Automobile Dealers Association. The NADA seems to have put some pressure on some lawmakers that would force Tesla to open up traditional dealerships, making the cars more expensive to buyers. Tesla is already selling as many cars as they can make on the internet and in stores, like the new one that just opened at the University Town Center mall in Sarasota.
This week, a video of a new Dodge Hellcat racing a new Tesla at a West Palm Beach drag strip went viral. The 707 horsepower Dodge should be good for high, 10 second quarter-mile passes and should totally embarrass the large Duracell powered car, but Hellcat spun tires the whole way down the track and the Tesla set a new world record by running an firstname.lastname@example.orgMPH. But I don’t want to talk about the overrated Hellcat. I want to talk about the latest four door sedan from Tesla: The D. Before you say that out loud too many times, let me explain what The D is. It’s the new model of the Tesla S, but with an electric motor in the front of the car and another in the back coupled with all wheel drive. All of this somehow leads to a fantastic car with a D on the end of the name that is loaded with technology and goes really fast without using a drop of gasoline. The price of The D can quickly climb to over $120,000 if you load it up with everything and, for that kind of cash, you get a completely silent car that has the equivalent of 681 horsepower. The silence only makes it easier to hear your passenger’s screams as you floor it. They will inevitably get that same surprise that people get the first time they ride The Hulk at Universal Orlando.
For those of you who are all about the numbers, The D is capable 0-60 in 3.2 seconds. That’s as fast or faster than most Ferrari’s, Lambo’s, Corvettes, Vipers and so on and so on. Depending on how you drive it, the latest Teslas can go farther than ever on a charge. The more you beat on the car, the quicker you drain the battery. Drive it like a sane person and you can get almost 300 miles from a single charge.
But will anyone care about electric cars if gas prices hover at about $2 a gallon like they are predicted to do for the foreseeable future? I sure will, if they get to be stylish and affordable.
Erica Habedank | CW44 Tampa Bay