Closing in quickly now on my first 1,000 miles behind the wheel, my Tesla Grin has not faded a bit. As I've said elsewhere, I couldn't be more impressed with the overall experience of purchasing and owning a Model S. A few observations:
Be an Extrovert: Even in an area that is rife with Teslas, I've been a bit shocked at the amount of positive attention the car attracts. For me, it's a bit embarrassing and time consuming. But there is the satisfying Schadenfreude of leaving exotic car owners steaming at the valet, as bystanders clamor around your car.
Restrained Luxury: The Model S, to me, recalls the great days of German cars. I remember clearly the simple, practical and well-crafted the interior of my father's MB 280. At the time, it was strikingly different from the leather sofa version of luxury offered by the American land yachts. It's been painful to watch the great German cars descent into the doo-dadery demanded by world markets, overflowing with useless technology, weird buttons and interior clutter. The Model S interior is soothing in its simple, clean take on luxury.
Easy to Love: In the midst of the Broder-NYT meltdown, I ran in to Elon at a film event. It was late in the evening, at the end of what must have been a harrowing day for him. We spent a few minutes chatting about the car and an encounter I had with a baboon (seriously). His boundless enthusiasm for his product and work, even so late at night and on a crappy day, instantly made me a real fan of his car.
A Full Tank: There seem to be a lot of niggles and complaints on the forum, but none dim the joy of having a full "tank" every morning. No more ICE range anxiety, discovering in the morning that, after a commute and the prior night's social rounds, there may not be enough gas left for the day's commute. A quick fill up? Sure, try that during rush hour in LA.
Tech Package: I feel like a teenager in a Japanese tuner Suzuki. And I love it. There are convenience lights everywhere. I have no idea what some of them are intended to do, but they look so cool. Sorry.
Navigation: Here's where the Tesla could really improve. The basics are all there, with a giant overview map and a turn-by-turn that sits conveniently within your filed of vision. Real-time route optimization in LA is not an option, it's an absolute necessity. Without it, one traffic misjudgment can turn a 40-minute commute into two hours. Unfortunately, I still need to rely on my Tom Tom for iOS. The potential here, though, is fascinating. Imagine that you enter a destination and then your Model S lays out an optimal route based on traffic conditions, elevation changes, speed, current consumption, location and amperage of available charging stations, etc. Probably not that hard to do and it could represent the death knell of Brodering (make the car smarter than the driver).
More Status Updates: Tesla has the opportunity to use technology to bring reservation holders even closer to the brand. How many times did I hit the reload on my browser to see if My Tesla changed? Why not break the process up into more steps that are automatically updated? Maybe even give reservation holders a peek at their car at key points in the production along the way. The Cabbage Patch effect is very powerful; what better way to bind buyers to your product?
Scaring Myself: During the boom years in the Valley, it seemed that hardly a week passed without seeing one supercar or another turned into scrap metal in the hills above Palo Alto. The Model S so effortlessly invites you to stupid speeds, I expect that many will join the constellation of Sand Hill scrap cars, too. I've given myself a couple of good scares (and a big smile).