If you’re regularly commuting to Sydney or Melbourne, you’re stuck for an unusual last-minute gift, or organising cars for a wedding or formal, you’re going to want to read this…
How much would you pay to get behind the wheel of one of the most widely admired and technologically advanced vehicles in the world?
How does $349 sound?
That’s the offer from Eveeh Cars, a new business that’s recently been established in the nation’s capital, which allows you to hire the futuristic Tesla Model S for a few hours, a day, a few days or longer.
Eveeh (pronounced ‘E-V’, as in, electric vehicle – geddit?) is the brainchild of Slava Kozlovskii, an engineer from St Petersburg who studied at the University of Technology in Sydney.
Slava created his Australian-first business because he’s intrigued by the concept of a driverless future, he’s concerned for the environmental impact of motor vehicles, and he’s interested in the role clean(er) technology can play in reducing our horrific road carnage.
And he’s chosen to centre his operations on Canberra mainly because of the ACT Government’s forward-thinking approach to electric vehicles.
Our location also positions us well for a Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne route, which is where Eveeh is concentrating its efforts at the moment.
Slava kindly loaned his stunning black Model S 70 to The RiotACT for an afternoon, so we could check out the convenience and feasibility of a round trip to Sydney and back.
First thing you need to know is that driving a Tesla is not like driving any other kind of car – and it’s incredibly cool.
Start with the ‘key’, which is shaped like a small, stylised version of the vehicle. People who appreciate good design will love the clever simplicity of this: click on the roof to lock and unlock the car; press on the bonnet to open the bonnet; press on the boot to open the (you guessed it … ) boot. Such beautiful logic!
Most people who see our Tesla for the first time remark that it’s bigger than they expected. A full five-seat sedan, it also benefits from the storage space you gain when you don’t have to make room for an engine. Think clever compartmentalised storage, a huge boot, plus a whole ‘nother storage trunk (or ‘frunk’ as they like to call it) in the front.
The spacey feel of the interior cabin is also helped by the dashboard design. Forget all those fiddly dials and switches that you’re used to, and imagine replacing them with one big touchscreen. That’s the future of motor vehicle interiors, and that’s the Tesla reality today.
The lack of engine also means lack of engine noise, though you definitely hear enough road and tyre noise to remember you’re actually driving.
The most likely noise you’ll hear though, is a surprised gasp and a ‘woooo!’ from your passengers once you put the Tesla’s incredibly slingshot acceleration into practice. I could go on about it, but the fact is – like me – you really will have to experience it for yourself to believe how remarkable it is. WHOOSH.
Too much time spent taking workmates around the block meant that we not only had time to travel just to Goulburn and back, but throw in a few photo stops along the way, and we got to experience a little ‘range anxiety’ as well, as our battery monitor had us on 4% on arrival.
Notably, the Tesla is smart enough to actively manage its own power consumption. About half way along our trip, it started shifting into a lower power mode to make sure we reached our destination (this included advising a lower speed and not allowing us to use the Autopilot, for example).
Charge points are popping up all over the place – in public space and at many hotels, for example – and Tesla has them mapped into its on-board navigation, so they’re easy to find. It was only our own cheekiness that put us at risk of an unscheduled highway pit stop.
To take our near-empty battery up to around 80% took about 50 minutes. The charge cable locks in place when you lock the vehicle, so as weird as it may seem, you can do what we did and walk away to have a meal somewhere while your car is charging (hello, Paragon Cafe!)
And yes, you can charge from your home power points as well, but expect it to take a good 8-10 hours or so.
The Tesla is comfortable and fun to drive around town, but it definitely excels on the highway, making for a very comfortable and enjoyable road trip.
Of course, the Tesla is most famed for some of its quirky features, and if you’re feeling brave, you can try out the aforementioned (and rather infamous) Autopilot feature.
Flick the wand on the left side of the steering wheel and you’ll switch on Adaptive Cruise Control – this is regular cruise control improved by the use of the forward camera and radar, and will keep you a safe distance from the car in front, automatically slowing down or even stopping as necessary.
Flick it twice, and you’ll be in full Autopilot mode that has the addition of auto-steering, which uses the camera to sense lines on the road and automatically keep you on track.
Keep in mind that Tesla knows just as well as you do, that the law says you have to keep your hands on the wheel. Leave them off for too long and you’ll get a flashing visual reminder. Ignore it, and the subtle flash becomes a more urgent beeping. Keep ignoring it, and your car will assume you’re either a total goose who shouldn’t be behind the wheel, or you’ve lost consciousness. Either way, it’ll slow down, pull over and switch on the hazard lights for you.
Fun and games aside, the big surprise for me was just how useful the autopilot really was. You can feel a little more confident in turning (some of) your attention to changing the music, checking progress on the GPS, or chatting with your passengers, without feeling as compromised while your hands rest gently on the wheel. Again, ideal for travelling with work mates when you need to talk shop.
Overall, it’s great to see the ACT Government’s approach to renewable energy actually translating to new and innovative businesses being set up in the Canberra region.
Given our ongoing focus, and the presence of several useful local charge points, it seems a no-brainer that ACT public servants and businesspeople would look first to hiring an electric vehicle for those relatively short commutes, before defaulting to flying (and all the fuss of navigating security and managing luggage that it entails.)
And if doing so gives you the chance to enjoy the thrill of driving a $140K Tesla, then it’s a win-win in my books.
What do you think? Would you forgo the speed of a flight for a drive to Sydney in a Tesla? Is this an option you can see your employer or company taking up?
Photography by Samuel Broomy, @samuelbroombyphotographer on Instagram or www.samuelbroomby.com