Our local Tesla Shuttle arm in Poland has been operating for over a year. One of our co-founders, Tomek Gać, has also had a Nissan LEAF for years and he recently test drove the new Nissan LEAF and the Jaguar I-PACE. We decided to have a long chat about our experiences with the Tesla Model S, some of our experiences with Tesla Shuttle (which is now in operation in Europe and the USA), how the new Nissan LEAF & Jaguar I-PACE compare to Tesla vehicles, and how adequate they may be for “average people” — not just EV fanatics.
Enjoy the discussion via the YouTube video below, on SoundCloud or iTunes, or on Facebook. I’m also dropping some summary notes underneath the article — but don’t take those as an excuse to skip the video or audio recordings, which say so much more.
¤ It has been harder than we expected to get masses of people to start using city-to-city Tesla shuttle services. Basically, it has been harder than expected to get people thinking about and using “Transportation as a Service” (TaaS). That said, even Uber is still a very minor player in the services areas where we launched. Additionally, part of the appeal should be cost savings (especially when you include time savings), but that can be hard to convey to potential customers when you are using expensive Tesla vehicles.
¤ That said, we are now moving into markets in the US — starting with Florida — where people are much more accustomed to using TaaS, there are many more Teslas on the streets, and the Model 3 has been hitting the ground, so we’ll see how business rolls in coming months and years.
¤ On longer trips where we need to Supercharge for 15 minutes or so, that hasn’t been an issue for customers. They understand that the car doesn’t drive forever and they seemingly appreciate the bathroom + coffee break.
¤ Tomek’s experience with the I-PACE led him to conclude that the car can quite easily go 250 km (155 miles) in summer weather in Central Europe. In winter, he suspects that may be 200 km, or at the worst down to 150 km. Of course, he hasn’t tested the car at that time, but he has several years of experience with the Nissan LEAF and now also with the Tesla Model S. (This does not take into account his skills with extreme drafting, which he needs to rely on less and less anyway thanks to GreenWay’s rapid expansion.)
¤ The I-PACE, despite what some have said, is not really a competitor to the Model X. It’s a smaller, lighter car than the Model X. It’s not quite to the level of the Model X, and may be more of a competitor to the eventual Tesla Model Y. However, Tomek was impressed with the car and indicated that he sees it as 80–90% of a Tesla in terms of the things you really want from a premium electric vehicle. In other words, it’s no surprise there are tens of thousands of people waiting for the car — and even if that’s not the hundreds of thousands waiting for a Model 3 or a Model Y, that’s a significant step forward from a conventional automaker.
In comparison to a Tesla, more specifically, the I-PACE just doesn’t quite have that acceleration of a Tesla, the suspension is perhaps “a bit to high” as Tomek put it. A friend of ours with a Tesla rental company in Wrocław, Poland, or drives a Model X for normal use was apparently even more critical of the I-PACE. Jacek relayed his comments, but I’ll leave them just for the video since they are a bit sharp, I like Tomek’s perspective that the I-PACE is a solid offering but maybe still just 80–90% of a Tesla, and this other driver may have been more hyberbolic than fair in a casual conversation — but that is the kind of thing you get on the street talking about such things.
New Nissan LEAF
¤ For normal use, the new Nissan LEAF is likely all that many people need — for both their city driving as well as city-to-city trips in the general region or country. It could easily be a family’s first electric car and not provide much of a challenge compared to what they are used to. Actually, with home charging, it could even be significantly more convenient. Even on a longer city-to-city trip, Tomek noted that he just had to stop at a fast charger for 11 minutes.
¤ That said, the battery used in the 2018 LEAF is still not quite satisfactory in Tomek’s eyes. Without a bit more range and thermal management, it’s not what he has long been patiently waiting for in order to upgrade from his LEAF. He notes that — even with a Tesla — he has been eagerly waiting for the next-generation LEAF that we expect will be unveiled for 2019.
¤ In the 2013 LEAF he has, 100 km (62 miles) was more or less what you could get out of the car. In the 2017 LEAF (33 kWh battery), that rose to 150 km (93 miles) without much effort on the part of the driver, and he expects the current LEAF offers 200 km (124 miles) of range even in winter in Europe.