“Watch carefully because everything happens really, really fast. The chase. The desert. The shack. The girl! The roadblock. The end.” – From the movie Vanishing Point about a car driver named Kowalski who delivers hot rods in record time but, always manages to run into trouble with the highway cops. I wonder why? And then again, who needs a hot rod delivery service?
February 21, 2021
Today Ride Time: 1 hour
Total Distance: Unknown
Total Charging Time: 10 minutes. Just back right up to the charging station. The side cameras and the rear camera make backing up a no brainer for most any driver. Touch the hidden charge compartment that magically opens, plug her in and get back in your air conditioned Tesla. When done, pull and replace. The bill? Your account automatically gets debited at the end of the month.
This morning I drove a 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, to a scheduled test ride of a 2021 Tesla Model 3. Spoiler alert! Do not do the same as I, you will fall in love with the simplicity of driving again. At the Corona Target store parking lot there is a charging station; and by that charging station I show up, at the appointed place and time. Yes, there is no Tesla new or used car dealership. The charging station at the Corona Target store today serves as one. I arrive, park and walk right up to a dark blue Tesla 3. The door magically unlocks itself and I make myself comfortable while the A/C starts to cool the car down. It’s late February in SoCal but, its near eighty degrees outside. There are no vent gauges to adjust. The entire front part of the dash is blowing air and you don’t hear any sort of engine operating. Next I watch a couple of YouTube videos on how to operate the Tesla. Like for example, how to turn the Tesla on/off, place it in gear, navigate, adjust the mirrors, etc.
Yes, it’s a very intuitive car however, earlier I was driving a Jeep, a vehicle designed in the 1940’s. I love my jeep, but, at freeway speeds it always feels like I’m just always a steering change away from disaster. One needs to concentrate on the road and one’s driving, or it’s easy to plow into the guy one lane over. One last comment and I’ll get back to the Tesla. The Jeep at 80 mph feels like one is pushing a windscreen while driving. There is really no aerodynamic design built into my jeep, unlike most all new cars built today that are all now wind tested.
Unlike most other cars or trucks the Tesla has a minimalistic approach to it’s driving gauges. Gone are any dash instrumentations that evolved after the speedometer. Who needs gauges like radiator temperature or even a fuel gauge? All the bells and whistles appear to be gone but, are they? Perhaps the most commanding presence besides the steering wheel is the massive computer like screen at your three o’clock position. It has, and probably does, everything that your smart phone, loaded up with every conceivable app does. This screen is where the car transmits all the information to you. You in turn transmit all your requirements to the car by way of a push screen or by using two cleverly placed roller balls on the steering wheel. So far, so simple. As humans we love to quantify things. That’s how we process information. Let us not forget. We are still in a Covid year and I’m about to test ride a brand new Tesla 3 without so much as coming into contact with a human.
In 1854, Thoreau identifies four necessities of life; food, shelter, clothing and fuel. In the 70’s my sixteen year old friend Ernie and I identify two: Cars and girls. Ernie, one day drives up to my home in a Plymouth Roadrunner. A car made to go beep, beep every time he honks the horn. Seems that the more he honked that horn the more we loved the car. If you never spent time in your childhood watching Saturday morning cartoons, i.e. Wile E. Coyote chasing after The Road Runner, running away from ACME explosives – then you missed a great cartoon. The Road Runner by the way goes beep, beep.
My favorite sound of all time was the “aoogha” sound of the Model T and the Model A. And no, I’m not that old to have seen these two models on the road. Who knew that by adding a unique sound to a car it would take on a whole new personality. The Road Runner horn to me is similar to what Tesla has done with the entire center console of its cars. Today, we don’t have many drive-ins but, who needs one when you can even watch a Netflix movie on the Tesla display screen. You and your four passengers can easily enjoy the movie; all that is missing is a popcorn popper.
I loved this car! The moment I adjusted my seat, set my mirrors, touched the navigation screen to a programmed country route and some Highway 15 freeway, I literally flew out of that parking lot. The Tesla is incredibly quiet – remember, I was earlier driving a Jeep. The steering reminds me of Pole Position go-kart racing in nearby Corona. And for those like me, who can walk and chew gum at the same time, I was able to turn on the music, change the genre, adjust the volume and drive. Remember those little roller balls on the steering wheel I mentioned earlier. Apparently you can assign them to do various things. The left scroll wheel controlled my music while driving but, the right one appeared to do nothing.
The car Vietnam War hero Kowalski drove in the film is a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T, with a 440 cubic inch V8.