Published on April 12th, 2016 | by Zachary Shahan


The Drive of Shame

April 12th, 2016 by  

While I was in Los Angeles to attend the Tesla Model 3 unveiling (exclusive video here and exclusive pics here), meet with top execs at BYD headquarters, chat with executives from Schneider Electric and Evercharge in VIP suites at Formula E (videos coming), interview Faraday Future VP of R&D Nick Sampson (video coming), and more, CleanTechnica chief EV examiner and long-term Model S reviewer Kyle Field was doing the insane amount of driving we had to sit through in the City of Angels (he was more equipped for it since he lives in the area and it’s his beauty in grey — “midnight silver metallic” if you bother to look up the official color).

However, on my last full day in California, we were up in Ventura (where Kyle lives) and took a drive over to Santa Barbara to meet with another reader/writer, Don Baumhefner, a new Tesla Model X owner who is going to do a long-term review of the X for CleanTechnica and let Kyle and me poke around and even drive(!) his Model X 90D.

Tesla Model S Kyle

Image by Kyle Field of Kyle’s Tesla Model S and a couple more.


Unfortunately, I spent much of the week joking that Kyle was on the verge of getting a ticket from all the “boosting” he was doing on the roads of California, and within ~5 minutes of getting behind the wheel of the S, my words came back to bite me in the wallet — with bonus bites coming for the points on my driver’s license. Yep, I got busted doing a quick boost or two on the highway between Ventura and Santa Barbara.

It was actually right after I got on the highway, and we don’t need to go into details about it all, but the ironic thing is that I joked a mere seconds before getting the sign to pull over that I would end up getting the ticket since I had been harassing Kyle for days.

Anyway, none of that is really a story worth telling (except perhaps to help others to be more cautious and not get into such trouble!). What I was inspired to write a little bit about is what Kyle called the “drive of shame.” Indeed… sticking the Model S on cruise control right after you get behind the wheel, with your right foot aching to use the power in the pedal right next to it, is not particularly fun. In fact, I felt like it was torturous.

Elon Musk apparently created not just the best sedan ever mass produced, but also a cruel torture device. The car is constantly calling to be launched, boosted, or whatever you want to call it. It is made for that. The acceleration and fast cruising is so completely smooth, and there is so much power in the car, that it is a struggle to keep the car down to ~105 km/h (65 mph) on a broad road. While waiting on the drive all week, that had to have been one of my least favorite drives ever. That car feels like it’s going slow when driving such a speed on such a road!

Slumped down, right foot twitching, contemplating the likely cost of the ticket and boost in my eventual insurance payments (which I don’t have now but anticipate having if the US Department of State ever moves forward with the immigrant visa application for my wife), and occasionally glancing at the black Mustang behind me that looked like an antiquated noise machine (but also seemed to be engaged in a painfully slow/legal drive), I suffered through the drive of shame — don’t put yourself in that boat!

If only every country had an Autobahn for Teslas….

(For the record, though, hanging out with Kyle was such a blast that even this scenario turned into a healthy dosing of laughs and intellectual exploration — as you may have gathered from the article.)

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Neel

    Autobahn!!! all the way!!!!!

  • halslater

    I think Elon must have had the same problem since the first piece of autopilot software was a speed limit sign reader.

    • Brooks Bridges

      Do you know that for sure? Some GPS’s display speed limit – I don’t think they read signs – think it’s part of the map data unit is using. A guess on my part.

      Annoying to me that google GPS on my iPhone doesn’t display speed and speed limit. When you pull onto a new road it often doesn’t show speed limit for several miles.

      • they use the camera to read the signs, probably can use the GPS too but didn’t do that at first

  • Brooks Bridges

    Part of it is just a good handling car. I drove on Taconic Pkwy once in the 80’s in a sloppy American car and even below the speed limit felt like I was on the edge. A year or two later in my Saab 900 at 5am on a Sat morning I did over 85 and felt perfectly safe (speedometer pegged at 85, following two other cars). Same feeling driving a rented Peugeot in France when I got tired of being passed at 85 mph and speeded up – totally serene – wife never noticed. At those speeds it’s 99% wind and tire noise.

    • Lou Gage

      To my knowledge no part of the Taconic State Parkway is posted at 85 MPH. However, it is a good road once you are in the Dutchess County area. South is way too congested and filled with New Yorkers. Did 80 or so back in 87 in a Nisan Stanza ICE. Lou Gage

      • Brooks Bridges

        I was in upper part, Sat morn early, no traffic. NOT something I did or do routinely. But felt safe and secure – other car, not – at far lower speeds.

  • I was test driving a Model X last month, looked down and noticed that the speedometer was displaying 3 digits. Oopsy. It’s way too easy to do this in a Tesla. But then if you look at your kWh usage at those speeds, that will slow you right the heck down.

  • Omega Centauri

    Yet another EV driving caution. They can really take off, and feel won’t tell you when its time to ease off. Got to keep one eye on the speedometer when “boosting”. This is true even in a Leaf.

  • Ivor O’Connor

    Really is insane they have speed limits on such nice open areas.

    • Freddy D

      Well Ventura to Santa Barbara is quite congested, unfortunately.

      Now, get into the deserts or rural Nevada and you have a different story!

      • Kyle Field

        It was a beautiful morning and felt quite free and uncongested compared to the LA traffic we’d been stuck in for the days prior.

        • Bob_Wallace

          “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a beautiful morning. A great day to be out on the road and write some tickets. Let’s get some units set up along I-5 right where traffic thins out. Keep a watch out for Teslas. The dopes driving them like to boost ’em up and they’re too busy looking at their speedo to pick you clocking them from behind.”

          “OK, time to get to work and bring home the bacon.”

          “Be safe out there….”

      • Ivor O’Connor

        I haven’t been up there for awhile. I’ll have to go visit and check it out.

  • Freddy D

    Yeah, that area is hardly an unrestricted autobahn. One aspect of EVs is that, at least this driver, feels compelled to dispatch the full horsepower often because it’s silent, time saving, and fun. Did I say silent? In ICE cars, one rarely dispatches the full horsepower because of the noise and the sensation that one will break something or cause an expensive repair. Let alone consuming expensive fuel. Can’t say I’ve been in a tesla, but I’d probably be pretty lead footed in that.

    Did your travels take you up to the desert to see any of that 7.4 GW of solar now in California’s grid? Some near Lancaster where BYD factory is.

    Will be super interested to hear about BYD, faraday , etc. so much tesla news lately, but there are other interesting things going on.

    • Kyle Field

      We had BYD Lancaster on the list as a maybe but ended up spending time with them at their LA Headquarters and at the Formula E event which were easier to fit into the schedule. We interviewed Faraday and do have quite a few other solid stories but as you shared…Tesla has been blowing the lid off the industry lately…

      • Freddy D

        And the tesla news keeps coming with the awesome looking Model S refresh!

  • Mike333

    That’s why I’ll not be buying a ‘P’.
    The right tool for the job.
    If you’re not running at Watkins Glen every weekend…

  • Semantics

    Funny, I’ve heard of boosting illicit drugs/steroids, boosting cars as in stealing them, boosting kids to elevate their toosh at the dinner table, but this is the first I’ve heard boosting relative to accelerating a car.

    • Ha. It’s the term Kyle & his kids use — not sure if it stems from video games, Formula E, or something else, but Formula E seems likely. It quickly seemed natural to me and I actually forgot for a bit that it wasn’t widely used. 😀

  • Marion Meads

    Ha ha ha! Thanks for balancing California’s budget!

    • 😛 😀

      • Ivor O’Connor

        I think everybody gets tickets on that stretch.

  • alexy

    Audubon indeed…what an ironic typo

    • lol 😀
      And I was just on the Autobahn 2 days ago 😀

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