I flew out of Tampa airport recently. To travel to Tampa from Sarasota, we chose zero-emissions transport. It was the longest experience I’ve had in a Tesla Model 3. Booking a shuttle service to the airport, I was not thinking futuristic travel. I was thinking of the time, convenience, and zero emissions. Yet, it seemed to feel the most futuristic of all my experiences in Tesla vehicles. (It was my second time in the back seat of the Model 3, and I’ve spent many times in the back seat of a Tesla Model S.)
In fact, it was a rather Dr. Who–like experience. (But modern.) Before, I rode in the back seat of a Model 3 alone for a short trip, but I was focused on what my drivers were doing in the front. This back seat ride was shared with a companion and a more candid passenger experience. The space in the back seat was immeasurable at times, so open, a feeling of the infinite, as with Dr. Who’s TARDIS, which is actually infinite in size on the inside despite being small on the outside.
Of course, beginning a journey to an unknown destination also adds the feeling of limitless exploration. The minimalism of the Model 3 opened the imagination further. Of course, the clouds overhead did as well.
And after all the decades I have driven myself or others to the airport, I’ve grown to dislike the drive more and more, as it stopped being quiet and gave over to increasingly congested traffic flows that stopped too many times or even stood still for an hour or more in extreme cases. The drive became more of a nuisance each time.
What a change that day’s stunningly beautiful clouds and the blue sky melting into the white seats was, and the smooth and silent ride. Traffic was still busier than my bygone days — but a gentle and open-sky composure in the back seat of the Tesla Model 3 provided a sense of separation from the highway I have not experienced before. Like all 100% electric vehicles, there is simply no way to explain the benefits of a clean electric powertrain — one has to experience the difference. You have to experience the smooth ride and silence that make gas cars seem like noisy tractors by comparison.
Of course, the driver had a bit to do with the kinder highway experience. He was similar to his minimalistic Zen Model 3 — composed, soft-spoken, and an interesting conversationalist. I’m sure he would have simply put on any music of our choice if we preferred to not talk, but the light conversation was nice.
The thing that really struck me was how roomy the back seat of the Model 3 felt with my daughter and I both sitting with large backpacks as well. Our large suitcases fit in the trunk and frunk.
Both Mira and I easily get car sick — which to our relief simply did not happen. The ride was gentle and the driver with his computer co-autopilot was seamless even in busy traffic.
Mira and I both remarked that it seemed like the shortest drive to the airport that we ever experienced.
The sky that is the roof of the Model 3 liberates one’s sense of being, no longer confining you to a car but making you feel as though you are floating along on a magic carpet.
We arrived early for our pick-up, and the Tesla Model 3 Shuttle also arrived early for our pick-up, which was appreciated. Door-to-door with no need to find our airline terminal was the most convenient travel experience imaginable. We do like to travel as pedestrian, train, and metro travelers, but we appreciated that this was more luxurious that some parts of our journeys.
It’s nice to have variety. The nicest feature was knowing that our travel an hour and a half to the airport left a light footprint. I have grandchildren and choose to spare the air that comes in and out of their lungs. Certainly, my own lungs as well. Steve remarked that when the Model 3 comes down in price, car rental companies will offer fleets of Teslas to rent. That will be a fine day for sure. Who would not choose a smoother, cooler, quieter, more agile car — with no need for gas?
Before our Tesla Shuttle experience, on the first leg of this trip, I rented a cool little Fiat. Unfortunately, they did not offer an electric version of the Fiat 500 at the car rental place. So, in 5 days, I spent more on fuel than I did in all 3 years of driving a Nissan Leaf. I also was shocked by the driving experience. I enjoyed Fiats before leasing the Leaf, but how dangerous the vehicles seemed after my driving habits got used to the responsiveness of the Leaf! It took me a few days of “Wheeeww, that was close!” to realize I simply could not move instantly into the flow of traffic, as I was so used to doing in the 100% electric Leaf. My timing was off. My reactions had to be moderated greatly for safe driving.
If only the rental agency offered a Fiat 500e.
Thank you to Stephen and Tesla Shuttle. Stay tuned for the next leg of our journey, when I talk emission controls, politics, and EV infrastructure — or lack thereof — in parts of Central America. (And Google Maps, hiring local mountain folks to help move boulders and a stuck car through a stream and out of a horse path.)