Opinion: How Tesla made the sedan attractive again


A row of Model S charging. Photo by Brian Barisa.

Brian Barisa
Oxford Stories

Many people grow up wanting the newest Ferrari or Lamborghini. Kids’ walls are donned with the posters of these wedge-shaped dream machines capable of speeds never before seen with doors that open up to the sky and a massive engine behind their seat or trucks that can conquer any terrain with ease while coughing out black smoke. Suddenly, however, many kids are dreaming of owning the exact opposite – an all-electric family sedan.

In 2003, Tesla Inc. was founded in California in response to General Motors recalling and destroying it’s EV1 project. In 2008, the Tesla Roadster was released to the public, based around a modified Lotus Elise platform to give the roadster a lightweight construction making a sporty electric car that generated 288 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. While this was the first car produced by the company, it still did not fill the daily-driver bracket that the EV1 had made an attempt to fill.


A Model S displayed in a Plano, TX showroom. Photo by Brian Barisa.

And so, the Model S was born in 2012. Unlike the Roadster, the Model S was a full-size sedan that could comfortably seat five. Unlike many of the battery electric cars at the time, it stood out in its large size and a range almost twice as long as the other EVs in the U.S. market, achieving 208 miles in one charge in it’s cheapest 60 kWh platform over the Toyota RAV4 EV’s 103 miles according to Green Car Reports.

It arrived as a car for early adopters. It stood out on the roads all around the country as an electric example of what an everyday car could be, showing that an electric car does have the ability to be used every day, or even for long road trips through a growing network of Superchargers owned by Tesla and smaller chargers that can be purchased and installed by businesses, two of which are located at The Graduate hotel in Oxford, Mississippi.

Tesla, more than seemingly any other company, has gone the furthest in marketing to the masses and making an appeal for cars to people who don’t necessarily like cars. They use marketing more like a tech company than a car company, generating hype over “the next big thing” and pulling in tech-savvy buyers or people who call themselves early adopters.

One of the biggest pulls to an electric car is that it does not emit any emissions, but depending on your area, that may not exactly be true. To charge an electric car in Oxford, Mississippi, the vast majority of the electricity comes from coal, according to The Environmental Protection Agency.

In Oxford, 67.8 percent of electricity comes from nonrenewable fossil fuels, all of which still emit gasses like a car with an internal combustion engine, so the pollution isn’t exactly destroyed in the local area, but instead moved elsewhere. In the end, CO2 is still emitted. Still, there are hydroelectric sources in the area, limited hydroelectric, but still clean energy as well as nuclear energy.


A P100D plugged in. Photo by Brian Barisa.

Of course, being more efficient and daily drivable aren’t what cause younger enthusiasts to fall in love with a car. Tesla and a number of online publications display the Model S’ rapid 0-60 times, which, at 2.5 seconds is no joke and makes the P100D trim supercar fast, faster than a Ferrari LaFerrari at 2.6 seconds, the Porsche 911 GT3 at 3.2 seconds, and faster than the Lamborghini Aventador SV.

Keep in mind, this is still a four-door sedan that weighs 5,000 pounds. Getting these speeds does take some effort from the driver though, unlike with the aforementioned sports cars where power is on tap at all times.

To fully uncork the five-seater, the driver first needs to set the batteries to maximum power to warm them to reduce impedance, activate the Ludicrous+ mode, where the car will then give you a final warning to tell you that you will increase the wear on it’s components, with two options. Selecting “No, I want my Mommy” deactivates the Ludicrous+ setting, but tapping “Bring it on!” starts the battery heating sequence. According to a video by Top Gear, heating took about 10 minutes.

A real-world test took place in that same video between the P100D and a Porsche 911 R. The Tesla, with 760 horsepower and a one-speed gearbox sits above the manual Porsche’s 500 horsepower. From a 0-60 perspective, the Tesla and the Porsche are no match, but to take the test one step further, Top Gear put the two cars against each other up to 150 miles per hour.

In the first run, the Model S came out on top, but the Porsche was looking as if it was going to catch up. One more test was to be completed, but the Tesla’s battery had gotten too hot and needed cooling, while the 911 R stood waiting. In the second test, the Porsche was able to meet the Tesla at 135 and then pass it.

Just this year, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile has also announced the introduction of the Electric GT Championship, pitting race-ready Teslas against each other on circuits around the world. This is not the first ever Electric racing series, as the FIA Formula E Championship has been racing since 2014, but it is one of the first electric series to use modified road cars, coming shortly after the Jaguar I-Pace support series.

While the 0-60 time is strong, it doesn’t quite stack up at higher speed. For most users, that isn’t a problem, as the Tesla Model S is intended to be an electric alternative for buyers of luxury cars, capable of cross-town driving and, in many places, more efficient travel. Until there are updates to local infrastructure, any Tesla will still be a rare sight in or around Oxford, as the lack of chargers around town and on campus does hold Tesla owners back locally.

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