When it comes to driving fast, I cut my teeth on a 1997 Pontiac Trans Am. It had 305 horsepower before I started tinkering with the intake, exhaust, mass air flow sensor and a few other goodies. Thanks to the exhaust work, that car trained my body to associate speed with the loud scream of its LS1 V8 engine.
Unfortunately, the cops also liked the exhaust because they could hear me coming from
a mile several miles away. The exhaust and the screams it emitted were unfortunately louder than I was cautious at the tender age of 21, resulting in a steady stream of pricey tickets and points on my license. Logic caught up with me one day and after many years of tinkering under the hood and fun behind the wheel with the Trans Am, I traded it in for a 2003 Ford Focus, of all things. After all, who could get a ticket in that tiny car?
Several decades and a handful of more economically-minded vehicles later, I find myself behind the wheel of a car that begs me to slam the pedal to the ground again, the Tesla Model 3. The crazy part is that this car keeps getting faster and faster as Tesla continues to refine the performance of the motor and battery system with each software update. Tesla pushed an update starting March 15th that added 15 miles of range to the car and made it 5% faster. That’s nuts.
That new update had me thinking about performance all over again. A 5% increase isn’t going to change your life at the track, but it raised the question of performance to the front of my mind. It made me realize that one of the things that I love, and many people love, about the Model 3 is that very same silent acceleration. At the touch of the pedal, the car lurches forward, threatening to leave its passengers behind as it throws them back into their seats.
What I realized was that, with internal combustion cars, they call attention to themselves when they take off. There’s an internal adrenaline rush from the speed, but also another from the loud noise they emit. As they lurch off the line, their exhaust proclaims loudly that “I’m going really, really fast right now.”
Tesla has flipped that whole game on its head. There is a new paradigm that sounds like the future. Well, it was the future I was told about in cartoons, where cars flew by and robots did our dirty work so we could enjoy more leisurely pursuits. Tesla’s vehicles stealthily lift off from the line as they boost forward into the future, at increasingly more rapid rates of acceleration. The new Tesla Roaster 2.0 goes 0–60 mph in 1.9 seconds. That will not only take your breath away, it threatens to pull your consciousness from your grasp as your body and brain struggle to come to grips with what is really happening.
Silent is beautiful. Silent is fast. Silent is more fun. Driving an EV around that’s packing instant fun at the touch of a pedal is transformative. No longer do drivers need to call attention to themselves if they just want to have a little fun, and that’s a game changer. I’ve found myself blasting off the line from a few of the intersections in town that afford a long enough runway afterwards to safely glide back down to earth.
Freeway onramps are also a favorite, as they are designed to give drivers sufficient room to get up to speed. Not enough room to get up to freeway speed? Well, that’s even better, actually. Now, I have to punch the pedal. It’s not me, it’s the road. Did I have a choice?
Driving our silent ICE killer, aka the Tesla Model 3, has made driving fast fun again. Not calling attention to cops also makes it a little more affordable, though I doubt this factor will make it into Paul Fosse’s Model 3 Total Cost of Ownership calculations or Vijay Govindan’s case for trading in the family minivan for a Model 3 as a way to save money (article coming soon). I’m ticket-free so far, and let’s hope that the trend continues.
If you do plan to drive fast in your electric vehicle, or any vehicle for that matter, please do so in safe environments. Always obey locally posted speed limits. And be sure to wear your seatbelt. If you really want to live, put the safety of the vehicle you drive at the top of your must-have list for your next (or last) vehicle purchase.
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