Going Electric – How a Convinced Petrolhead Became a Tesla Fanatic

While electric cars have always been present in the auto industry, and were even quite popular for a spell during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that most consumers were oblivious to their existence until fairly recently. Now, speaking as middle-aged car enthusiast who’s weathered his fair share of trends and styles over the years, I too viewed electric cars with apprehension right from the start. Sure, saving the environment is important, but riding a toy car that had to be plugged in every couple of hours just wasn't feasible. Despite their good intentions, I just couldn’t see people, much less petrolheads, warming up to something that impractical.

So imagine my surprise when I got the opportunity to take the new Tesla Model X out for a spin. I was up-to-speed with what Elon Musk and his merry band of revolutionary acolytes were trying to do, from digging underground tunnels to his improbable quest to conquer Mars, but it was his company’s foray into electric cars that got me most curious. Simply put, over the course of a few short years, Tesla Motors seemingly went from a small boutique company to a powerhouse enterprise with a dedicated fan base of customers from all over the world.

Setting aside my deep-seated skepticism, I decided to approach the experience with an open-mind. My co-pilot was my 21-year-old son Spencer, who knows more about gadgets at his age than his old man ever did. Right from the get-go, the car wowed us by opening its doors automatically. The Model X is known for its double-hinged falcon doors, which add a touch of slightly cheesy class to the proceedings. As for the rest of the car, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed with its remarkably sleek design and beautiful interior.

Feeling like a king already, I decided to kick things into high gear right from the start. Our model was a P90D, which can go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds with the Ludicrous Speed mode activated, enough to give you a serious head start if you ever feel like engaging in some friendly stoplight racing. Still, despite having a 250-mile range and all-wheel drive, the car never felt any less than smooth in my control, even when I tried going for some nifty drift moves in an empty parking lot. What's more, its onboard computer was fairly easy to follow, thereby allowing my tech-savvy son to look away from the screen and enjoy the view every once in a while.

Once I’d grown a bit more comfortable with this beast, I decided to try out the famed Autopilot option. Like most people, I too am reticent when it comes to the self-driving cars that will supposedly rule the streets in the future. Frankly, the mere thought of ceding control to some HAL 9000-like android is enough to give me the heebie-jeebies. But Tesla’s semi-autonomous drive mode did somewhat assuage my fears by letting me maintain some semblance of control while it handled most of the grunt work. It certainly helps that the car boasts one of the most responsive steering wheels I’ve ever laid hands on, no matter what kind of steering heft you decide to opt for.

Before I reach my final conclusion, I think it’s worth saying a word about price as well. Currently, the cheapest versions of the Tesla X retail for around $75,000, which is still way more than the average car enthusiast can afford. But Musk is currently working on the Tesla 3, a car that will be available for an estimated $35,000 while still maintaining many of the excellent features listed above. At that kind of price tag, you can expect many people like myself to finally take the plunge and embrace electric cars without fear or repentance.

At this point, it’s clear that electric cars are here to stay. Like it or not, we do have a duty towards the environment, and transportation is well known as one of the main culprits behind global warming. None of that would be enough, though, if it weren’t for innovative companies like Tesla that make environmentally-friendly vehicles that people actually want to drive. The sheer fact that you can buy attractive cars now, cars that are also energy-efficient and relatively affordable, should be enough to convince anyone to jump on the electric car bandwagon. Take it from this old petrolhead: the times are changing, and it’s no use clinging to the past. Not when you’re cruising down the highway in a gorgeous Tesla that makes most other cars feel like a distant memory.

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