05
May
09

Me, watching you, watching you.

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Some media events are less about the product and more about the people.  Case in point, the Tesla Model S event I attended last week ( yes, I’ve been blog-lazy, let’s carry on). Not particularly knowing what to expect, I grabbed the ever stalwart V to join me to see just how much Model S we’d be privy to. Car and open bar. I’m there.

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50% of why I attend these things.

Held at the IAC building, The model S was indeed the centerpiece of the event, accompanied with a fully electric Smart ForTwo and the tenacious Roadster.

Tesla CEO and avid NY Times reader Elon Musk gathered everyone around to discuss details and plans for the Model S as well as what to expect as far as a Tesla presence in NYC.  Comparable to a Mercedes E-class in size, the Model S features a “skateboard” layout, meaning the Li-Ion battery lies in the floor of the car between both axles, with the motor in the back. The Model S will seat 7: two in front, three in the back, and “child seating” in the far rear, to, presumably, stow pesky children out of sight and reach.

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Elon dropped the mythical 45 minute charge number for the Model S, as well as the $50,000 price tag, which as the fine print states includes a $7,500 tax credit and is for the 150 mile range model, not the full 300 mile range. A 0-60 time is expected to be in the 5’s with a top speed of 130 mph. Carbon footprint was mentioned, environmental impact and such, and my attention predictably wavered.

The Tesla Motors showroom that is planned for Manhattan will be uniquely located within a functioning art gallery, which sounds interesting. I hope to see how that works in practice.

Impressions: One, the name “Model S” could go. I’ve written and corrected “S-class” multiple times in this article alone. It’s secret production name was “WhiteStar”, why couldn’t it have remained so? More automobiles would do well to be named like a Finnish metal band.

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The front apes the Maserati GranTurismo a bit, and the rear hints of Jaguar (which whiffs of Aston). The combination works well enough. It’s not stunningly gorgeous, but it’s far from hideous.

Crossing the street and heading over to Pier 60, we had the opportunity to ride shotgun in a rapid zip up and down the car park. It seems to retain the torque the Roadster provides, and our vantage got us a peek at button-less center console, an LCD touch screen that manages A/C, radio and google maps. This corresponds to the fully LCD gauges for the driver.

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"Black Star" by radiohead? was that a clue?

It was just around midnight when we made our way back to the Building, and most had cleared out, having had their ride in the Model S, but Letterman was coming on, thus so was Elon, so we stuck around to watch Musk…watch Musk. The screens across the walls of the venue, which had been showing glamor shots and B-roll of the Model S, turned to the show, and the music was dropped as the broadcast begun.

Elon’s monotone interview lucid tones seemed to hypnotize Letterman, who bestowed Musk with heaps of praise, along with laying piles of disdain on the Chevy Volt, hydrogen fuel technology, and the US car makers in general. Dave Letterman, team player as always.

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As we slipped out, the interview watching left me with a bitter taste in my mouth since I was then reminded of all the “Me vs. You” garbage that I personally had been guilty of, and at great effort been conscientious to change. The elitism, the smug, all happily not shoved down my throat or hardly encountered at the event, all displayed on broadcast television.  Jay Leno again comes out as the better, more informed man (on Hydrogen, on US carmakers, and even on Tesla). Some people just want to be fashionably superior to everyone.

It gets really old, really quick.

-Alex K-

Check out the Model S site for more info here.

And feel free to watch the Letterman segment here. (UPDATE: video removed by user. try scouring youtube or google.)

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