Questions Electric: Teslas and turning points

Say, by way of example, the gasoline-powered car becomes so rare that its own infrastructure withers. Gas channels grow rare, fuel and insurance exorbitantly priced. Can we discuss the internal-combustion engine and individual driving like we talk about guns? (Either backed as necessary liberty, by an organization such as the NRA, or reviled as harmful societal flotsam.)
The Tesla is not perfect, but it is undeniably a landmark. Assuming, of course, that Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, can meet demand before the following carmaker builds something greater. Also assuming he can continue to keep his company from falling to a steaming pile of unprofit and technical-service bulletins. (TSB: a postproduction quality update recommended by the manufacturer. At press time, the 3’s TSB list was… telling)

Teslas and turning points 1
In the conclusion of my second day with all the Tesla, somewhere in West Los Angeles, I found myself at a stoplight behind a first-generation Mazdaspeed 3. Another sticker sat beneath that you, in a serif-heavy font. It read Blow Me. Forced-induction sex joke!) The car was running affluent enough to odor.
The novelist Warren Ellis formerly noticed that the future sneaks up on us, in the fringes of everyday life. I like online. Like the Tesla Model 3: a cheap electric sedan that resembles neither doofy novelty nor commuter penalty box, with actual battery range. Ignore emotion and manufacturer hype, and the Tesla looks like the equally priced Chevrolet Bolt. But automobile buyers scarcely discount emotion or hype. The Model 3 resembles a stylish, adult device. Over half a million people put down a deposit to buy one. The Bolt resembles a cartoon beaver that ate a lot of doughnuts, and it isn’t exactly flying off lots. I’m told the Chevy drives nicely, but to paraphrase Coco Chanel, it is a lot easier to sell instead of it would be to market Good Lord, Helen, Why Did You Wear That?

Teslas and turning points 2
One school of thought holds that the automobile as we know it will go the way of horses, a leisure thing kept in parks that are specialized. In 2018, most individuals can’t manage a horse. How rich will you have to be to really go quickly and make loud noises?
Perhaps this really is the thing with all the Model 3. Even with problems of company and quality, the car is enough of a solved question to make you look at the calendar. It is a lens into a world where cars like it take over. It seems real, and it makes you feel sheepish for a want, however modest, to continue to the old.
The Mazda left the line with a fruity bark. I had been reminded of a couple of old girlfriends, and how those relationships felt since they approached their respective ends. That hazy sense of a ticking clock. Where two parties understand they’d harm the other in the long run, but letting go isn’t easy, because the great bits of their connection were so good.
That last one thrills me perhaps a little too much. The world of tomorrow, shipped to you today! Or maybe just tomorrow’s coffee, if you’re feeling like giving Jeff Bezos one more detail of your personal life in exchange for not waiting another sleep for more teeth-staining water. Funny how the brain can dismiss the logical from the face of desire.

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I tried a Model 3 recently, in L.A. My car was independently owned, leased for an examination. It had a few assembly niggles and was thus a much better representation of real life Teslas than some pampered media loaner. An untrimmed door seal, together with loose rubber flashing close to the window. Funky panel gaps. But the car was still impressive. On a fun-to-drive scale, somewhere between a Civic Si and a classic 3-series. I was reminded of a Sixties Mini, in terms of democratization of a form factor. And thoughts around which others .
You know, that cliche we trot out for whatever amazing and tech-related–mind-blowing presents, apparently before schedule. The telephone-supercomputer that lives in everybody’s pocket. Or Google’s self-driving-car arm, Waymo, recently announced a deal to put up to 20,000 autonomous Jaguars on the road by 2020, for people ride-hailing. (I don’t know what is more amazing–that goal, or the simple fact that, in 2018, it seems just half insane.) Or even just that recent moment one evening after dinner, when my coffee grinder broke. I broke open my laptop, and two hours afterwards, Amazon Prime’d dropped a brand new one at my doorway.

Teslas and turning points 3
So many questions, though, if you are of a particular bent. Very good EVs prompt this material, since they operate like regular automobiles, no excuses or caveats. Your mind moves out of the singular merchandise to the situational long tail.
I drove a practical electric vehicle almost a decade back. Years after, the silence remains the strangest part. EVs are almost noiseless in traffic, which means you listen and concentrate on what you hear. Which is the collective grumble of thousands of dirty little explosions, exhausting beneath neighboring bumpers. If you possess an ounce of logic, then you believe, Hell, what do? Digging up large bits of this planet just to burn them? Pipes pumping stinko gases into the air? Who thought this insanity was sustainable? Of course it should come to an end. However much we enjoy it.

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