Jonathon Savill takes to the road to test drive the Tesla – the electric car with serious green credentials…
There are roughly 526,000 vegans in Britain, according to The Vegan Society. Marks and Spencer has just introduced two vegan sandwiches and stocks several vegan or veggie magazines. Also, vegan options are now becoming more prevalent on restaurant menus and there are more options in supermarkets, too. But did you know, you can now buy a vegan car? (Since the time of writing, Tesla have announced they will only offer vegan leather interiors in their cars, and customers can request that the steering wheel is also made from the same material).
American car manufacturer Tesla offers a vegan car option as part of its range. This is in part thanks to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) who pointed out that: “Tesla could reduce its carbon footprint by using only vegan leather. Turning animal skins into leather requires 130 different chemicals, including cyanide, and people who work in and live near tanneries suffer from exposure to these toxic chemicals. Leather production also squanders valuable natural resources, including up to 15,000 gallons of water per ton of hides, and produces massive amounts of the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change”. PETA are now a shareholder in Tesla.
Thom Monk owns a vegan Tesla S. He says: “The textile seats have a high-quality faux-leather trim, which people are often surprised by, and the steering wheel has thick, very luxurious faux-leather with excellent stitching”. And there’s more –each old Tesla becomes a new Tesla with every software update. Thom explains, “One month after collection I had a software update giving me auto-steering and auto-park, which I have used extensively. It has transformed my motorway driving, and I love having a car that just gets better with age”.
Tesla cars are electric, and not hybrid, or battery and motor. And just as a carnivore cannot imagine how great vegan food can be, until you’ve driven a Tesla you will have no idea how amazing they are. First, they are very quick. The top spec Tesla Model S reaches 0-60mph in around 2.8 seconds. The acceleration remains astounding all the way up to a speed of 155.3 mph for some models. They are smooth to drive and very safe, with an autopilot mode adding extra protection against any rogue moves.
But there is another trick that this car has. Some people may talk about the holistic benefit of an electric vehicle, but sometimes it’s the practical things that can be equally as exciting. And, seeing as I can also be quite shallow I have no problem being impressed by this feature…With this vehicle, if someone parks too close to your car, you can place the car keys on it and use your phone to back the vehicle out of the space. How great!
The people at Tesla are very polite and after I’d done this trick about thirty times at the showroom, the nice PR person suggested that we could actually go for a test drive.
This is a supercar that everybody should know about. And it comes with so many benefits. Producing a medium-sized new car costing £24,000 may generate more than 17 tonnes of CO2 – almost as much as three years’ worth of gas and electricity in the typical UK home. So bizarrely it’s better to drive a Bentley for twenty years than buy a small car every five years. The team at Tesla guarantee their batteries for eight years so you’re making the environment a little bit safer from the start. And on the subject of the environment, you can rest assured that you’re driving around only emitting water, more or less, from the exhaust.
However, at this point, the cynics will tell you there is an environmental cost to generating electricity. And they would, of course, be right. Except that Tesla owner Mark Maurice has fixed that problem with a solar car-port that charges his car. He says, “While we were waiting for the Model S to be built I had time to consider the best home for the new car and how I could even further minimise its carbon footprint. The conclusion was that a Solar PV-Carport would be the best solution”.
Journalists like myself are often lucky enough to travel the world eating and drinking food and having great experiences. To namedrop, I once interviewed Darcy Bussell, the famous British ballerina. She was smart, graceful, charming and intelligent. Meeting her was definitely one of the high points of my life. But, the point is, if I had to sum up the Tesla and create a slogan for it, it would have to be ‘Tesla – as good as Darcy Bussell’…
About the author
Journalist Jonathon Savill has been all around the world (including the geographic North Pole). But despite his travels, he still can’t find any vegan sandwiches that he likes… www.jonsav.com.