/ Motoring

Will Teslas revolutionise electric cars?

Tesla Model S

Can you guess what Norway’s best-selling new car was last month? The top slot went to an electric car designed and built in California – the Tesla Model S. Are Teslas the future?

Nearly 1,500 Tesla Model S luxury cars were sold in Norway last month.

That may sound like small fry compared with the likes of the Ford Fiesta – more than 4,400 were sold in the UK in February 2014. But Norway’s new car market is smaller overall, and yet electric cars account for around one in every 10 new car registrations. That’s more than 21,000 electric cars shuttling silently around Norwegian cities, compared with one in every 100 or less in the UK.

Why are electric cars so popular in Norway? It’s not just because those Nordic types are more environmentally aware than us Brits, it’s also because EVs can use bus lanes and benefit from a raft of tax incentives. They are exempt from VAT and high rates of purchase tax (unlike conventional cars which are prohibitively expensive after tax), qualify for free road tax, road and ferry tolls and parking fees, cost less to insure and can be charged up for free from thousands of points.

The Tesla Model S

Why the Tesla? Because it takes the driving experience to a far higher level than the EVs that came before it. Range anxiety is eradicated for most people by the 200-plus mile range between charges, and its handling and performance are up there with the best German luxury motors.

Forget milk-float levels of acceleration, this car feels much more like a jet fighter as it streaks past 60mph in as little as 4.2 seconds. And it’s the first EV I’ve driven where I’ve actually forgotten there’s an electric motor providing the power. Watch our first drive of the Tesla Model S in this video:

http://youtu.be/dSNdYroallY

However, there’s one thing the Tesla hasn’t overcome on behalf of UK drivers yet – the limited number of public charging points outside of major cities. For those who can install their own charging point at home or work, this is unlikely to be a problem. But for the others, it means careful planning is required ahead of any long journeys. And I suspect that’ll raise a few doubts among potential UK buyers.

Do you think the Tesla Model S is a game changer? Could it convince you to go electric?

Comments
Profile photo of wavechange
Member

High performance drains batteries, so this sort of vehicle does little to help promote electric cars in my view.

Electric city cars are the way to go, and would be particularly attractive to families that run two cars.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Presumably Norway benefits from hydro-electricity. I wonder how we feel about providing electric cars with free fuel – derived from gas and coal and provided by our much-maligned energy companies? Exchangeable fully-charged batteries seem the best way to make electric cars useful to those who want a sole car for general use – until we find better batteries, or fuel cells are a sensible option. Otherwise they will remain local transport; useful in towns to keep pollution levels down, and charged overnight to use surplus electricity capacity.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Using solar panels on the garage roof to help top up the batteries of an electric city car would be a step in the right direction, as well as using surplus electricity overnight.

Profile photo of rarrar
Member

I agree with wavechange that an electric car as a 2nd car is attractive for city or urban families.
Lease the batteries and provide massive incentives to kick start their use and acceptance.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Might be better to give incentives to use public transport in cities and urban areas to reduce our dependency on personal transport, and to reduce congestion?

Profile photo of Guy_Chapman
Member

Sorry, no. The limiting factor on electric cars is always recharge time.

Plug-in hybrids have much more potential. In particular, with modern electronics you can make a 3 or 4 cylinder petrol engine as smooth as a straight 6 using motors coupled to the flywheel.

I learned my lesson with bicycle lighting. Rechargeables, all very nice, but they go dark at the wrong moment. These days all my commuting bikes have hub dynamos. If you have to plan your journeys in advance, the utility of a vehicle is severely curtailed.

It’s a pity, they are nice. Maybe they will surprise me and slap a fuel cell in there, and actually break the mould.