April 30, 2009

Stunning Tesla Model S Sedan: When a silent test drive can speak volumes

Thanks to good friend and fellow green car enthusiast, David Brussin, CEO of inherently green Monetate, I attended a great party last night, superbly hosted by New York mega-agency IAC, where the guest of honor was a stunning new emissions-free car, the all-electric Tesla Model S Sedan.

While David chatted with Tesla CEO Elon Musk, I had a chance to discuss the Tesla S design challenges with Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausenon. He said that in many ways the challenge was to avoid being too audacious, given the freedom afforded by an electric power train (like the absence of a large engine up front and a large fuel tank in the rear). The role of this sedan is to get mainstream consumers excited about an all-electric vehicle without coming across as far out.

In my opinion von Holzhausenon has succeeded on all fronts with this design. It would be a head-turner if it was a regular petroleum-powered car. As an electric it will turn even more heads, even though people won't hear it coming, or going.

Later in the evening we hooked up with Green Car Reports Editor-in-Chief John Voelcker and went for a test drive in the sedan. A very short test drive, but enough to leave a lasting impression, of amazing acceleration--accomplished in almost complete silence--and of terrific cabin space design. John has a more detailed write-up here.

BTW, during my chat with von Holzhausenon I was gratified to hear him acknowledge Coventry's continuing role as a source of automotive design and engineering talent. An excellent evening all round.

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