Day One: Some cautions

Day One: Some cautions

The first full day workout in the new Model S is not all about testing zero-to-sixty acceleration. There is also deceleration to become accustomed to.

There is some hazard of getting rear-ended when suddenly slowing in traffic when all you do Is to take your foot off the accelerator to coast a little. Teslas do not coast. Stay out of heavy traffic until you master the art of slowing down.

Nor does the Tesla electric motor have the time delay of an ICE and gearbox and driveshaft. Much of that feeling of enormous power available to your foot on the Tesla's pedal merely comes from instant response rather than a hesitation. Driving an ICE, you only get near-instant response from a very powerful engine, floored. That's your standard of comparison. The combination of this, together with the near silence of even hill climbing, is what reminds some of "It's like warp drive!"

Your standards will change as you get used to the pedal responsiveness, both it's downs and ups. But your spouse may feel a little carsick because of your jerky driving.

Practice by yourself until you can drive a Tesla as smoothly as a chauffeur. (Now you see what prompted me to write this.)

wcalvin | 05. juli 2013

Writing from the perspective of one week since taking delivery of my 85-techpkg-air-pano-19"wheels, there are some things I will forget unless I write about them soon.

1. Unlocking the passenger door from the drivers' seat when there is no button next to the window switches. (Put it in Park.)
2. Locking the doors when stopped for a light and there are nontrivial pedestrians standing nearby. (Unless you have the tech pkg auto door lock feature turned on, it's a matter of hitting Controls and then finding the correct door Lock button.) My wife complains that she wants a door lock on the passenger side.
3. Drive into a parking garage and suddenly the big screen is a bright distraction as you watch for pedestrians and obstacles. (I've tried the day-night-auto brightness settings. I've considered a black web page that could be deployed when nearing the garage entry. But I conclude that there really needs to be a top row button to instantly darken most of the screen, and in a corner with an 'X' so you can feel where to touch without looking away from the drivers' main task.)

kidjay | 05. juli 2013

I'm more worried about people starring at the car as I drive by them and they take their eyes of the road! But agreed with you on being in traffic and the brake lights just easing off the accelerator!

wcalvin | 05. juli 2013

The all-black web page is now at

and my PDF slideshow for the 17" Tesla touchscreen or 4" smartphone ("The Recent Resurgence of the Electric Car") is at

cfOH | 05. juli 2013

I remember having this same experience on my second test drive (first time in a Performance). I was looking back over my left shoulder to make sure I had room to merge. I did, so my foot hit the floor as my head swung around to face front. I drive a pretty quick car, but I'm used to the turbo lag to give me that half-second delay between seeing that I have room and actually needing to be looking forward. NOT SO IN A P85! By the time I actually had my head turned back around (what is that...maybe half a second??), I was rocketing towards a truck that had been pretty far ahead of me. That was mildly terrifying and a great example of how truly instantaneous acceleration can change the driving experience.

Colasec | 05. juli 2013

@wcalvin - nice slideshow. That's a great handout for inquisitive family members. I bet you'll like my CA vanity plates: EVLUTIN. :)

wcalvin | 05. juli 2013

Darwinian evolution is usually just making things more and more complex by add-ons. Sort of the way ICE got electrics tacked on to make a hybrid, then bigger battery and such to make a plug-in hybrid. You never see a redesign that backs up or simplifies things, not in nature and, so far, not in automotive engineering.

But Tesla has done just that, while making it look and feel like a Lexus-Audi-MB-BMW rather than the other EVs. To someone who studies Darwinian principles used in brain circuitry (see my book HOW BRAINS THINK in a dozen translations), seeing a complete rethink in the disguise of a luxury sedan is really exciting. That's why I put together that talk, not because cars are one of my enthusiasms.

RedShift | 06. juli 2013

Great PDF.

Nowadays, when strangers ask me how do I like my car ( which is practically everyday) I just tell them: " we have been doing it wrong for the past 100 years, electric is what we should have been doing instead.".
I used to add, 'sorry if I sound arrogant', I don't do that anymore.

Electric is the future, and we are part of the paradigm shift.

wcalvin | 06. juli 2013

Thanks! I shall borrow your phrase.

Colasec | 06. juli 2013

>>You never see a redesign that backs up or simplifies things, not in nature.

It depends on your definition of "redesign". One could certainly argue that marine mammals have undergone a simplifying redesign, at least in terms of limbs and skeletal structure. Or similarly snakes vs. lizards, eels vs. other bony fish, etc.

Many animals that live in caves have lost their skin pigmentation and eyes.

Even us apes have lost things like tails and body hair.


A marine mammal is a good analogy for the Model S. On the outside, it looks awfully like a fish (or a pliosaur), but it's completely different on the inside. The Model S looks like a sedan, but its internal systems are all different.

deuce77 | 06. juli 2013

After one week driving my Model S (all the options except the child seats) I think the accelerator-lift deceleration due to the regenerative braking presents a significant risk of getting rear-ended. Actual application of the brakes is seldom required except for the last several feet of a complete stop and, as a result, the brake lights never come on, even though the car is slowing rapidly. Tesla should address this in their software. I have been told they have considered an option for brake lights during slowing due to rapid regenerative braking.

Bighorn | 06. juli 2013

It's been widely reported that the brake lights come on with regenerative braking over a certain deceleration.

Alex K | 06. juli 2013

@deuce77 | JULY 6, 2013: […] the brake lights never come on, even though the car is slowing rapidly.

The brake lights do come on when slowing rapidly during regen induced deceleration. If yours don't, then you should have Tesla look at your car. The car has an acceleration sensor and when the car decelerates at a certain rate, the brake lights come on.

A quick way to verify the brake lights coming on is to display the car pictogram (Press the Tesla T logo at the top middle of your 17" display). When the brake lights come on, the brake lights in the pictogram come on too. You can try this when stationary with the brake pedal first to confirm how it looks on the display.

hfcolvin | 07. juli 2013

An easier way to check your brake lights is just to turn on your rear view camera while driving at night.

Fred O | 07. juli 2013

Thank you for the pdf. Very nice.