When Tesla first began, I wasn’t a fan to say the least. Having borderline Yugo build quality & with some of the interior materials used, to put it mildly, being utter trash. If we’re totally honest, literal indoor/outdoor carpet, peeling dash materials and dripping glue everywhere don’t inspire confidence in build quality. The ones I saw at CES stunned me with build ineptitude. Fast forward to today and things have changed, in a good way. They rely on Mercedes Benz now for much of the car and it shows. From a personal connection to MB over decades, I can tell you those folks know a thing about quality. If you drive a MB, you’ll be able to pick out the parts at a glance.

Today I drove another new Tesla (the 3 performance model) and there wasn’t a single rattle or squeak and although the carpet definitely isn’t MB quality, it’s better than the Home-Depot outdoor patio stuff they used earlier. The car felt more solid than my current Cadillac (more on that later.) The power was hugely addictive, and despite being capable of humbling Ferraris and Lambos at a stoplight with ease, it can be so mild that it acts like a grandmothers’ grocery-getter. The interior is “California-chic” which means an almost Japanese-esc vibe of austerity. Just a big tablet in the center and an odd control here and there … Sometimes good, sometimes annoying, like when you just want to open the glovebox … Do I really need to go though a menu?

The Musk-mandated electromagnetic regenerative braking does take a bit of practice to keep it from throwing anyone not wearing a seatbelt, through the windshield if you jerk your foot off the gas quickly. Setting aside the antiseptic-styled interior and the regenerative braking, it drives like any other car you’ve ever driven. But the power … OMG, the power. You don’t have to slam your foot down to pass as ALL the torque it has, is always available instantly. No production car, of any price or marque, is as instantly powerful as this … period.

I must admit I love the prospect of never visiting a gas station again, and filling the batteries to max capacity of over 300 miles for only about seven bucks. In comparison, my Shelby (which could only out-accelerate the Tesla when equipped with slicks at a race track) would require 47 gallons of premium gas and four cans of octane booster at $15 a pop, to get a total range of about 40 miles … now that’s real range anxiety. This is assuming I could get it to go in a straight line as it’s as happy going in circles if you blink … So tech comes to the auto geek world with a vengeance using essentially the same 18650 lithium battery cells I have in flashlights. Doing a kilowatt to horsepower/torque conversion, after testing by independent source, we’re talking about a verified 523HP and 707ft/lbs … that’s a leather wrapped, air-conditioned dog-hauler that will literally suck the headlights, even driving backwards, out of a new Corvette with your grandmother driving.

I could literally pen a tome about the experience of driving one … But one thing is clearly obvious, the future is electric. I’ve gone from a harsh critic to true believer … for whatever perceived problems electric autos may have, as nothing is totally perfect, Musk has shown the world what the future will be, just like Steve Jobs. I know there’s no such thing as man-made climate change, oil shortages or any other chicken-little rant that can be made to stop the use of petroleum unless we prefer the Dark Ages again, but when a particular tech is better, it simply is … Laconically put, I’m having a hard time seeing any future for gas/diesel transportation for personal transportation in just a few years. I’m waxing romantically even now for the passing of what powered America for over a century, but as I’ve stated in a previous post, you can’t stop progress.

Because of this drive I took today, tomorrow, the Cadillac goes away, making it probably the final new, petroleum-powered car, I’ll ever purchase again. Who would have thought that 20 years ago? When I drove the legendary GM EV-1 in the late 90’s I could see the potential despite the typical, unrelenting GM problems … In five to ten years, today will be the “good ‘ol days”, when it comes to driving using gasoline. Get nostalgic now, for tech waits for no one …

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