Oct1Event–The “Ride-Along” Test Drive

Oct1Event–The “Ride-Along” Test Drive

This Oct1Event thread focuses on the ride-along test drive related to the October 1-2 Model S event. Here are a few examples of relevant areas of discussion for this thread:

  • General impressions of the car in motion
  • Handling characteristics
  • Performance characteristics
  • Noise levels inside the car in motion
  • Spaciousness, real seating capacity
  • Images and video links of the ride-along

Note that other Oct1Event threads address the general impressions, the Model S exterior and Interior, and the formal Tesla presentation. If you have comments on those topics, please post them in the appropriate Oct1Event thread. If you’ve created your own thread or site or blog or on-line photo album, please provide a link.

All of us who couldn’t attend thank you for filling us in!

Volker.Berlin | October 1, 2011

Can someone please check if the steering wheel controls and the touch screen really are the only controls on the Model S' dashboard? From the interior image on the new Features page, that's the impression I get.

And when you get to talk to the driver, can you do me a favor and verify that you actually use the touch screen to flick on lights, or to apply the parking brake?

Which functions are covered by the steering wheel controls? Do they look familiar, i.e., will they be intuitive to someone who has driven recent models from Audi, BMW, Mercedes?

VolkerP | October 1, 2011

To operate direction indicators, you tap vehicle general > lighting > indicators > left or right on the touch screen. It's that simple and convenient. :-)

tnawara | October 1, 2011

I posted a similar response in the Touchscreen thread, but I'm sure you'll be able to control turn/direction indicators via the steering wheel stalk.

wtrask4 | October 1, 2011

Pretty sweet test ride... Slalom coarse, follow buy a sharp corner, into a stright away. The car had a great punch to it we hit 74-mph before breaking to slow down. Felt like the driver was holding back though... Wish he would have floored it! Nearly roadster fast... Very interested in the Sport version getting 0-60 in sub 4.5sec!!!

jomo25 | October 1, 2011

@tnawara: I think VolkerP was being sarcastic :)

Brian H | October 2, 2011

Why did it break? Wasn't the driver able to brake before it broke?

Volker.Berlin | October 2, 2011

Brian H, I think I MIGHT have read that joke before. It's getting boring... Given that the Tesla site is awfully slow (never has been fast, but it's getting worse), I frequently feel not only bored but frustrated when I open a thread only to discover one of your "jokes". I already tend to not click on threads that report "Brian H" as the last poster... Which is kind of sad b/c some of your comments are really worth reading.

(I just thought I'd give you a glimpse of feedback. I won't insist or start flame wars.)

Timo | October 2, 2011

Brian; Marking your post as inappropriate, because now it is well worth that.

Volker.Berlin | October 2, 2011

Timo, why not let that post stay as it is. Actually I like it. One very concise post that says it all. He wants to be remembered like that. ;-)

Brian H | October 2, 2011

Did you get any idea how many cars were being used? And how fast the line moved (minutes between rides)?

I was thinking that for that amount of time (7-8 hrs) there would have to be a few spare drivers for food and bathroom breaks; quite a cute little logistical and scheduling problem! Heh.

toto_48313 | October 2, 2011

Thanks Lotto for your feedback!

Volker.Berlin | October 2, 2011

Here's an ok-quality video of a 4-minute test drive including a very quick walk-through through the main touch screen functions:

Volker.Berlin | October 2, 2011

Another video of a test drive, shorter, but with more talking about how it feels to drive the Model S:

wtrask4 | October 2, 2011

I saw 3 cars, White, Black, Red.

Not sure if the rotated out for cars with the same painting.

At 5pm the car already had ~150 miles on it after the "Friends & Family" or VIP event.

We rode in the white one and the rear seatbelt my wife said wasn't working for her. The door handles were new to people so the exit from the car people seemed to need reminding... Else they were wanting more and not wanting to get out like myself.

wtrask4 | October 2, 2011

Silent Test Ride... all you hear is the wind and the road!

Very Cool!

Model S Beta Ride Event from Lotto Pro on Vimeo.

wtrask4 | October 2, 2011

Silent Test Ride... all you hear is the wind and the road!

Very Cool!

Model S Beta Ride Event from Lotto Pro on Vimeo.

Crow | October 3, 2011

The most impressive thing about the test ride for me was how well it handled the slalom. No body roll at all. Perfectly flat. My driver didn't really gun it on the straight section but I noticed, as I stood in line, other drivers did. Even though my guy seemed to hold back, it still put you back in your seat.

I thought the interior was gorgeous. Very sleek and elegant. Great fit and finish. I loved the banana leaf. Not so crazy about the other trim package designs but that's just personal taste. No glare on the touchscreen from the glass roof. I would like the touch screen to be a little bit more gracefully integrated into the design but it's not like it jumps out at you like a GM, as another person described. I'm nitpicking.

There has been some concern in several forum threads as to leg and headroom. I am 6'4" and there was more than enough room in the car for me. I had several inches of headroom to spare and the legroom front and back was ample. Better than any sedan I've seen since my dad's '72 Caddy.

As to the noise level, it was really quiet and tight. Our driver did open the roof for the acceleration section. When I have driven a Roadster, I notice a tiny, little whine when you jump on it. It sounds like a mosquito in the car. I didn't notice it in the S, but he had the roof open.

This is an impressive car that delivered as advertised, recognizing that it was only a 4 minute test ride. The only scary thing for me is, can they actually pull this off? It just seems to good to be true.

mwu | October 3, 2011

I have driven plenty of autocrosses (if you're not familiar, check out SCCA's site on solo (autocross)). They usually have at least one slalom in autocross tracks set up in a similar fashion to the one at the Oct 1 event.

I have recorded video of myself running an autox course, and it seemed much slower than what it was like to drive -- probably because you don't get the inner ear inertial cues for acceleration you feel when riding.

The videos look like they were taking the slalom pretty timidly compared to what the car could do (I'm sure they would not want to scare passengers). There are multiple levels of squeal you get from tires which create different sounds while cornering. They go through various sounds before you actually begin sliding the car with an actual loss of traction. Since they didn't seem to squeal at all in the drives (again, probably to not scare passengers), I am positive that the car can perform much higher. Obviously they are not pushing through the slalom as fast as they can, but I find it difficult to get a feel for how quick it was watching the videos.

I have ridden in cars that can do 0-60 as fast as the Model S -- From those who got a relatively agressive slalom and a relatively agressive straight accel in the car, can you comment on how the G's from the cornering in the slalom compared to the G's from the acceleration?

gjunky | October 3, 2011

Here is a link to a quick video. Not the best quality. It was shot from the rear left seat with a little handheld camera and the windows open...

Better than nothing I figured:

Volker.Berlin | October 3, 2011

Kroneal, regarding leg room and head room: Are the head rests adjustable? Or do they actually fit passengers that have a height like yours? You do not want to actually rest your head on the head rest, of course, but it is an important safety feature which only works if it is up high enough behind your skull.

Brian H | October 3, 2011

I'm curious about cornering; is there any "canting" (leaning into the corner, like a motorcycle) with the advanced shock/ride system? Otherwise, I'd assume the g-force sensation would be pretty much straight sideways for occupants.

Christy | October 3, 2011

One of the passengers in the car on our test ride made a comment about g-force sensation. Listen..

Brian H | October 3, 2011

Yeah, I heard that about the 2:10 mark, but that's straight-ahead. I was wondering about the cornering.

cablechewer | October 3, 2011

I stayed late enough I got to do the ride-along twice.

The first time there were three of us in the back seat. None of us were quite as slim as we should be and all had camera bags so it was a tight fit. I was behind the driver so I couldn't see as much as I hoped.
At that point there were a lot of people in line. All three betas were running and the cars left pretty much the instant the doors closed. Nevertheless I found it more impressive than the Roadster because the center of gravity is so much lower. The passengers moved more than the car.

The second drive was less rushed. We got to ask more questions and I got a look at the dash. I have some minor misgivings about the screen and the center console (or should I say lac thereof?), but the screen didn't appear to be bright enough to be distracting. I also noticed as a passenger I could accurately read the guages on the dash (something you can't do easily with analog/phiscial needles).

My biggest disappointment was that there weren't any stationary cars to sit in and explore - just the three betas doing the rides. Apparently even the cars doing the rides only finished getting fitted out on Friday and they were delivered to the factory as part of the event prep only about 20 hours before the parking lot was opened to the public.

One of the staff did tell me that they are hoping to have a beta at every store that customers can sit in by the end of the year. Once they get the stamping dyes from the manufacturer in Japan they can start up their full manufacturing process in their own factory. Then they can crank out 50-60 betas for various types of testing and decide exactly how many to allocate to their stores.

One thing I noticed immediately is that the staff helping people in and out of the betas never used the exterior handles. I asked if the handles were working on all the cars, and I was assured they are. The staff just didn't want to have to wipe additional fingerprints from the cars. I should have asked for a quick demo, but I was very tired by that point and couldn't think of a way to ask that didn't accuse the fellow of lying to me.

Crow | October 3, 2011

Volker, I didn't notice if the headrests were too low. They looked normal for my height.

jackhub | October 4, 2011

Apparently the press had its day on Monday. The CBS read out of the event says we rode in beta 1s. Five were built by hand in Detroit. The beta 2's, according to CBS will be made in the Fremont factory. Fifty of them will be built beginning this month. They will be used for further testing but will also be used to fine tune the production line and train the employees.


jmatson | October 5, 2011

I really enjoyed the ride and was impressed by the car. We went around 5:30. It was like a Nascar pit stop--there was a pit crew wiping down the exterior and getting us in as quick as possible. None of us had time to fasten our seatbelts. As quick as I could get my foot in someone shut the door and we were off.

The acceleration and cornering were impressive. The giant screen caught my attention from the back seat, but I did not have time to look at the interior in detail. I am 6 ft. 4 in. and fit fine behind the driver.

Discoducky | October 6, 2011

Did anyone happen to notice heat coming from the wheels or battery during the ride? I did not, but did put my hand on the rear wheel when I got in to see since they were braking hard after the speed runs. Also, I put my hand on the floor in the back to see if the floor felt warm and it did not. I'm not saying I thought it would but had to check nevertheless.

johnnybananas | October 6, 2011

Thank you all for giving this input. I'm so damn close to reserving one of close...

BTW, anyone have an idea as to why I can't create a thread? Is there a posting threshold or something?

gjunky | October 7, 2011

@jimbakker666: Maybe because you are not (yet) a reservation holder :)

mwu | October 7, 2011

I created a thread and I'm not a reservation holder (although I believe I've gotten the approval from the wife to make one at the end of the year dependent on the bonus I get -- I just hope that doesn't push out when I receive my S too far... I guess it'd allow me to put a larger down-payment on it, though). Your thread creation issues may have to do with a post threshold or account age or something as you had suspected -- not sure.

jackhub | October 7, 2011

I don't believe you need to be a reservation holder, but you do need to register on the site.

Trnsl8r | October 7, 2011

@ cablechewer: I talked to an employee after the ride who confirmed that the exterior handles weren't working reliably and they weren't taking chances... (I'll skip my regular rant on these #"€! handles.)

Denis Vincent | October 7, 2011

Jim , reserve now otherwise you may never get one! Attended the Oct. 2nd event, over the top! My son and I went for three "joy" rides....incredible performance( coming from a guy that drives an S model Audi and once a owned a Porsche 930 Turbo). Depending on who was driving and who was riding, the experiences we had were very different.....our last ride was a home run," Mario" just booted it through the slalom course (he asked that we put our seat belts on), and gunned it down the straight away! No rock or roll, unbelievably level, even over the manhole cover which they apparently and purposely positioned in the slalom course to demonstrate the ride stability. The undercarriage which is made up of the battery, looks like a table top. the engine is not much larger then a differential and the suspension is very cleverly designed to be integrated into the mid upper section of the chassis. Nothing short of BRILLIANT! The entire event and venue was done to the 9'S and I fully expect that the cars they deliver will be no different....we are witnessing the birth of a whole new era in technology and innovation and I am happy to be a part of it!

Nicu | October 8, 2011

@ Denis Vincent

If you are so hot about it, you should also buy some TSLA stock. If they do good (in the real economy), there is no way that will go down or stay level for long. Good luck and thanks for your passionate comment !

BYT | October 8, 2011

I own TSLA stock! :)

johnnybananas | October 9, 2011

lol @ 'have to be a reservation holder to create thread'

Thanks all, thread creation issue seems to be related to the computer I was on from work. I can create now.

MWU, my wife was saying the same thing about my year-end bonus being used, except that I could realistically just drop the $5k for a reservation now. I'm just really tight with my cash and don't want to commit to taking such a big step. Truth be told, the car would be a primary driver for my wife since she's moving into real estate sales. I figure it'll nearly be a cost savings over our Accord given the MPG, plus she'll get an HOV sticker here in CA.

Not to mention, potential clients might call her to get a ride in the cool new car that pretty much nobody else will have.

Yessir Nicu, I own a couple hundred shares of stock too. If those first production models roll out to rave reviews, I might be able to sell off a hundred to help pay for the car ;)

Denis Vincent | October 9, 2011

@Nicu Thanks for the recommendation, already have....In fact, I"ve been discussing with members of the Tesla team an opportunity for Tesla that might present itself if it were properly "Orchestrated"; and that would be to entwine applied shares($value at the time of transaction) towards the purchase and\or reservation of a Tesla vehicle. If you do the math, to date Tesla has taken in well over $50million in deposits which represents over $500million in committed business! Now that Tesla would once again own\control the shares they "bought back", they could do follow-on public offerings at considerably higher valuations, with NO additional dilution! I believe that the demand for Tesla vehicles will be far outstrip they're ability to produce them for many years to come...if not forever. Now that Tesla has reinvented the automobile, I think it is incumbent upon them to reinvent the management of their Stock Profile....I have called this, "entwinning", everybody wins, especially Tesla! (There is more to the concept then this, but this the " jest" of it.)

Nicu | October 9, 2011

I'm not sure they are allowed to use that money for a buyback. And even so, if they do, they have to state that in a SEC filling. Hedge funds would crush them when they would want to make profits because they would know Tesla needs the money at a specific time. Even companies that have 100x Tesla's market value (and tens of billions is cash with no debt) do not dare to give hedge funds such an easy target.

About 20% of outstanding shares (and more than 40% of the float) is short. Meaning that there are 120% of stock owned by investors and -20% owned by shorts. This is somewhat an explosive situation and at some point there will be a violent event one way or another (theoretically this could just deflate slowly, but markets are irrational and not reasonable). I tried to analyze that here about a month ago

Brian H | October 10, 2011

A "jest" is a joke. A "gist" is the main substance or point.

As for the short squeeze, it basically means that at the crux point prices are going to move violently up or down, no? But shorts mainly function as price supports, since they are "guaranteed buys" at settlement date(s).

Veddy innerestin'!

Nicu | October 10, 2011

If there is a short squeeze, the price should go violently up and then slowly come back to "normal" levels. But there is a risk that bears short it to death, weak hands shake and sell in panic mode and shorts cover at a very low price (thus a nice profit for them). I think the second scenario is not so probable because more than 90% of shares are held by insiders and institutions. That said, there is no guarantee that there will be a short squeeze at all (I guesstimate this probability at 2-5% - still quite a rare event). They may cover slowly and take moderate losses as good news (hopefully) will continue to come from Tesla. It will be quite interesting to watch. updates twice a month the short interest in stocks and data for the end of September should be available this week here

On the left column, one can check who owns and trades shares among insiders and institutions (with various delays in the data).

I wrote the Seeking Alpha article just so that those who are already invested in TSLA could understand what happens in the case of a short squeeze (and take advantage of it). Given the low probability of the event, I do not think it's a good idea to get in just for that. One of my favorite quotes is one of Louis Pasteur: "Chance favors the prepared mind."

Denis Vincent | October 10, 2011

Thanks Brian for the correct spelling of the word I did indeed intend to use in this context...Nicu, what was implied by thread is that share holders would be given an opportunity to apply the value of shares they own towards the reservation\purchase of a Tesla S, Tesla receiving the shares in return for the value of that transaction. Anyway, I know this is not the ideal forum for this discussion, I do very much appreciate your insights and feedback!

Nicu | October 11, 2011

As a young company, Tesla is slowed down only by resources (mainly cash, but also qualified employees and slow partners - that's one of the reasons they will build almost anything in the S themselves). So, if the share price goes up significantly, they should issue more shares (the board already approve that) in an opportunistic manner. Should there be a really nice short squeeze, for example, they should offer bears as many TSLA shares at $100+ as they are able to swallow. Such an extraordinary event could in one magic moment bring the BlueStar to market 1-2 years sooner. Note that dilution of shares is not a bad thing for shareholders, as they would have lots of cash to back the price up, reducing the odds of total failure to negligible levels.