I picked up my car at the factory and took a tour. What a fun experience for myself and 3 companions. We had a tour with I think 10 folks and a great guide.
When you drive up to the entrance there are several gates listed but no number 5 as is listed on their web page. But the missing gate number 5 is the main gate listed between gate 4 and gate 6. Upon entering the Main Gate, there is a sign that says you are entering a US Free Trade Zone. Neither the guard nor the employees knew what this sign meant. One of the oddest things is they have an archaic sign in station for visitors that is cumbersome and silly unlike everything else Tesla does.
The tour itself was fabulous. We were not allowed to take photos. It lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes. Our group had a lot of questions. The guide avoided answering questions such as “How many cars are you building now?”, “How are the batteries put inside the steel frame?” and “What is the base operating system of the touch screen?” Look to the images on below to get some serious hints on the third question.
A lot of employees on bicycles and scooters as the place is gigantic. The factory still has a lot of items left over from the NUMI days, and Tesla has made use of a lot of things that were left behind.
We all loved watching the robots, which are the German Kuku brand. Tesla still has a lot of employees doing manual assembly work putting in the wires into the frame and other tasks. Some of these tasks cannot be automated. Most employees seemed super serious and intense about their job. The employees were mostly male, although there were definitely more than a few female ones, and mostly on the younger side of the scale.
Interesting facts learned during the tour:
1. The Palo Alto development location will continue to exist. Rumors that everyone is moving to Fremont is not true.
2. Green and Brown are rare colors.
3. The battery weighs the same for 60KW and 85KW. Dead cells are put into the 60KW battery in order to keep the weight the same. This odd feature is to avoid performing two sets of crash tests.
4. The window glass except for the panoramic roof are tinted green. The green is not visible to the naked eye when installed in a single thickness on the car. In the factory they are stacked up in a line, and they are very green.
The car delivery was very nice in our own little bay.
With four of us, we went over all the detailing and mostly found bits of dirt or wax and one tiny spot on the side of the car. The spot is very hard to see or photograph even with my SLR but the delivery specialist did put it down for the service guys to fix. The car had quite a bit of dust and wax. A little better of a final cleanup would have been appreciated.
Also when I turned it on the Air Suspension rose up. He said this would not happen again and was an anomaly. The car had only 11 miles on the odometer.
They unfortunately did not deliver my Roadster to Model S adapter for charging! So I have to charge with 110 until it arrives. I also have no idea of an estimated arrival time, and do not have a designated contact to ask. I think this process needs improvement.
I would also have appreciated an email confirmation when Tesla received my money via wire transfer.
First Impressions Driving the Model S
1. It is super comfortable for four people.
2. The car is super quiet. With the windows rolled up we could not hear the nearby 880 freeway.
3. The sound system is wonderful. I was singing all the way home. Occasionally the bluetooth connection broke up for a few seconds. I think the overall experience is great particularly since the car is so quiet. I did get the upgraded system and do not regret the dollars.
4. The car is very quick to accelerate. As a Roadster owner, I did notice that the first second feels slower than the Roadster both with my non-performance and the performance during the test drive. My companions thought I was a little nuts, but I could definitely feel the difference. I suspect difference is mostly due to the huge difference in weight and the feel of the car. The Model S feels like I am almost mid air even with sport suspension on. Not in the same way as cars of yesteryear where you were on a pillow that floated around a bit, but almost mid-air. With the Roadster, you feel every nook and cranny and get more noise feedback from the environment. You definitely hear the inverter squeal when flooring it on the Model S. I feel like I am in my little happy bubble.
I did save the 10K on getting a performance model though. I just couldn’t justify this cost for the performance version for a one second experience. If that were the only important criteria, I should keep the Roadster. I found with the Roadster during regular driving, there were so few times where you could accelerate from a dead stop to beyond 40mph due to other cars around.
5. I also noticed a large difference in the feel of regenerative braking versus the Roadster. With the Roadster, you feel like the car immediately stops. Due to the weight of the Model S, this feeling is diminished.
6. The road to my house has a 17% grade for about 1/4 of a mile, which is very difficult to ride a bike up. The car accelerated up like a dream. On the downhill, the behavior seems tuned quite different than the Roadster, and I have not been able to quantify it yet.
7. I went on a few winding roads and love the way it handles with the 21″ wheels.
8. I did try the AM radio. It had some static but was stronger than the Roadster AM signal, which I reported many issues with on this blog. I did try to use the internet streaming version, but I was not successful due to the problems in the first two pictures in this post.
9. I still have new car smell on the exterior. My garage smells different!
10. So far I really like the climate control. I drove for a bit on a sunny 58 degree Fahrenheit day with the panoramic roof open and the heater on to get just a bit of sun. The cabin stayed warm, and the sun felt good for ten minutes even on the freeway.
11. I spent some time talking to folks already about the car. I was visiting a friend at a hospital 30 miles away from home, and asked them to point me to the visitor entrance. Once I spoke to them, they asked me a few questions about the car.
12. The navigation worked as advertised. I didn’t really need it but decided to play with it. It does give me a very odd way to leave my street and get out on the main road via two other streets that no other navigation package has done: my Roadster, my former Mercedes, my Highlander, Mapquest nor Google.
Gratuitous photo of the car going to its new home.
As I mentioned before, they did not deliver my adapter, and my laundry room is in the center of the house, so I am on 110 for a while. I will need to keep the car plugged in at all times in order to keep a good charge.