my dad writes to Car and Driver

my dad writes to Car and Driver

Brian, take it easy on this one!
My dad is very excited about his new car, we still talked about it for hours when I went to visit him last week. He was annoyed at the incorrect or biased reports in magazines and newspapers, and felt he should write to Car and Driver! Here is a slightly edited version of his letter, whether they publish it or not he does not care, but I thought I should share it here, since he took the effort to write it.

After I read your June issue, I think I should write to tell you my view of electric vehicles. I felt obliged to write this letter due to several incorrect news articles on hybrid and fully electrical vehicles.

I just had my 91st birthday few days ago; I was a professor of Automobile Engineering in college about 45 years ago in Taiwan. I'm also a reader of car magazines including Car and Driver. In my whole life I was very lucky to have touched or owned many cars from different manufactures. My first driving lesson was in a Ford Model T sedan, when I was in school in China back in 1941. My first car was an English made Bond mini three wheels car. My very newest car is a Tesla Model S 60 kwh, a real electric car, which replaced my 2001 Mercedes S55 AMG with 56,000 miles. In between I had many different cars, French Renault 600, German Ford Taunus 1500 & 2000, Jaguar sedan, Nissan, Maserati, Lamborghini Gallardo and several Mercedes S class cars. I give you the above information to show you I am qualified to say something about cars.

Last year my daughter drove her new Tesla Model S to my home in Arcadia from Santa Cruz. Like everybody I was very excited to see a new car, especially a new model of pure electric car, not a gasoline or diesel engine car with a big battery powered hybrid. I test drove this car, and went to the website to find more information about constructions, safety and operations. All information told me this is a real electric vehicle, it has none of the problems often heard about EV’s such as short driving distance, longer charging time, short battery life and etc. Finally I asked an electrician to add a new 220V power outlet for charging in my garage for my daughter and myself, because I decided to place an order of a 60kwh Model S to replace my S55 AMG. (My Tesla model S was delivered to me on Feb. 20.)

I did not buy a new car because of those sales ads. Tesla did not even advertise. I compared and made sure the new car is beautiful, better in construction, handling and safety and also is something new and interesting. These are things worth spending more money on for me. My family activity circle is within 100 miles from my home, and I use a car mostly for short distances with many stops. Any gasoline engine is not very good for this kind of use, lots of stops means lots of starting and stopping of engine, under normal engine temperature may have carbon deposit in cylinders, frequent starting motor means using more battery power. My activity circle can easily be accommodated with Tesla 60 kwh 210 miles daily drive. And my charge system can easily fully charge my car for next day’s 210 miles use. When I drove my Mercedes to visit some distant friends, I always have my tank full, and never risk not knowing where the next gas station is. When I bought my new 1981 Maserati Qutroporte I did my test drive of 140 mph speed in Death Valley not on LA freeway. I knew it is foolish to drive my 60kwh Tesla to a place over 200 miles away in the evening with no idea of charging station location. I feel very happy to be able to carry five people to Redondo Beach for dinner not using jump seats at third row. I always have my car fully charged when not in use. So my Tesla does not cost me any gas for 700 miles of use. With the Tesla, there is no engine, transmission, propelling shaft repair or maintenance. The electric power batteries are totally enclosed under the body frame, low gravity means more stability and stronger body frame. Battery power is through invertor, induction motor and differential to individual drive shaft to wheels, almost no dead weight in the moving parts. I like that Tesla engineers using a 17 inch computer touch screen to replace the instrument panel which have not changed in so many years of car design. This makes you feel an America new car generation is coming. When you open the frunk (front trunk) and rear trunk, the only thing you can do is to add windshield wiper water and check tire pressure, because the factory warranty is 8 years and 125,000 miles, it leaves me with nothing to worry.

I think every car has their best way of use, some people need four-wheel drive, some have big family, some need high speed, some like a more sporty car, someone like luxury, someone like brand name, someone like low price car. But it is definitely true that Tesla has overcome those old electric cars' problems, short mileages, long charging time, and with a beautiful body design. I guess some car makers are already doing research work to catch up. Not far away EVs will occupy a big market in sedans and small trucks. (Chinese big Electrical Buses are coming) But do not forget any new inventions will displace some old one, market changes gradually. In this case with electric vehicles, definitely the producers of engines, transmissions and related parts manufactures and their supporters will not easily retreat. I remember hearing long time ago some gasoline saving inventions were bought up and simply put away in a safe to prevent their use. That is why we have so many low MPG cars on the road which produce smog. Tomorrow someone will use different methods to work against the wide use of Electric Vehicles. But no one can put the genie back in the bottle, EV’s are here.

Brian H | 9 May 2013

Wonderful, I've been waiting to hear from your dad. More driving experiences and responses would be appreciated, too. Encourage him to write down his opinions and reactions! Especially given the "depth" of his experience.

Captain_Zap | 9 May 2013

Love it.
Thank you for sharing, portia.

portia | 9 May 2013

thanks guys! he said he hasn't been wanting to drive his Mercedes since he got the Tesla!

Robert22 | 9 May 2013

Sounds familiar. I gave my parents my S-class (my dad is 83) when I took delivery of MS. They're coming to visit this weekend. Mom says he wants to "take the new car for another drive". If he wants to swap with me I'm in trouble!

ian | 10 May 2013

Wow. That's just awesome. Thanks for sharing portia!

I too look forward to reading more impressions from him.

Brian H | 10 May 2013

Driving the MS is therapeutic. He needs it more than you.

bradslee | 10 May 2013

A manifestation of the best automobile on earth by a gentleman who has driven from Model T to Model S.

GettingOldFast | 10 May 2013

Hi Portia. Does he live in the Hugo Reid area and drive a black Model S? Mine is silver and I live near the arboretum. When my wife told people that I got a Tesla, they asked her if it's a black one. There aren't many around here, so I had to ask!

celtrog | 10 May 2013

what a great piece...
please have him submit to some auto mags...
worthy of publication

BYT | 10 May 2013

Thank you for sharing, I enjoyed reading it... :)

younghov22 | 10 May 2013

Great to hear. I respect his experience with regards to cars and I will definitely be purchasing one soon. Thanks again!

info | 10 May 2013

Portia, et al.: I think your dad hit all of the important points and most all of everything else. His letter generates the "feeling" that we all have. It's a feeling that we are willing to take a step into the future. I'm not saying I'm like Columbus, Lewis and Clark or Neil Armstrong, but I am and you all are doing something that a lot of our friends are unwilling to do right now. They will.

I have to be on the East Coast for the next week and I haven't seen a Tesla since I got here last Saturday. In So. Cal. I see them daily now and sometimes multiple sightings. I've been without my car for a week now and I know the meaning of post partum depression. I can't wait to get back. I'm driving a very nice car here but having to wait for the acceleration caused me to think there was something wrong with the transmission. The brakes had to be applied hard. All normal ICE stuff.

And best of all Portia, it's nice to know there is someone on this forum who is older than me. (You're dad, not you!) I wish I had a dad like him and a daughter like you.

GROC288 | 10 May 2013

Well said...

acguo | 10 May 2013

Portia, great article by your father! Please convey my appreciation and respect. I was born in Taiwan and grew up in California, and has been fascinated by cars since childhood. Sometimes I wish I remained an engineer instead of becoming a radiologist so I can be a part of developing something great like the Tesla model S.

What is truly exciting about the Model S, for me, is that it appeals not only to the car nuts and the green brigade, but also to just the average person who is not that interested about cars in general. Neither my father nor my wife are car enthusiasts, but they both LOVE the Tesla! After one test drive, my boss, I mean wife, gave me the go ahead to buy it. It costs almost 3 times as much as the most expensive car we have ever purchased before.

I have had mine since 3/24, and have enjoyed both driving it and giving test rides to friends ever since. If Tesla manages to come out with a sub-40k car that drives as well, it will completely change the paradigm in the auto industry.

I wish you and your father good health and many enjoyable years of driving the Model S!

s_curve | 10 May 2013

C&D is a regular read for me each month too. I hope to see your Dad's letter in print in the next issue.

NKYTA | 10 May 2013

@portia You've got a hip dad! Thanks for sharing.

lolachampcar | 10 May 2013

is this Portia Isasacson?

If so, Bill Hart says hey!

portia | 11 May 2013

no, remember we are Chinese, My dad has a silver one! He said he hasn't seen any Teslas on the road. He is north of Foothill.
Thanks to all, I will convey the comments back to him, I am sure he would get a kick out of hearing from people on the forum.

olanmills | 13 May 2013

Nice letter, but if they do publish it, I imagine it would only be a small part due to its length.

Doug H | 13 May 2013

My dad is 90. He lives in Detroit. I grew up working in his auto repair shop. I learned body work, painting, and later engine work.

When I told him I planned to by an electric car (I should take delivery of my Model S in early June), he said that he would like for me to drive it up to Detroit from Atlanta and let him see it and drive it.

I am one of 14 children. We bought our parents a Lexus about 8 years ago. He still drives it to see his older brother who is 94 and lives about 10 miles away. They were partners in the auto repair shop. My father was "bodyman" and my uncle was the "mechanic". Though my father retired 20 years ago. My uncle just closed the shop last year.

My father is just as excited as I am to see and experience this new automotive technology. I can't wait to take him for a spin. It's time for him to get a new car anyway.

negarholger | 14 May 2013

Doug H - I can relate to that. My dad is not around anymore, but he would be all over my car. Make the trip...

Brian H | 14 May 2013

pix, YouTube, detailed posts ... please keep us in & up on this, sounds super.