It’s a tricky one: do you design alternative-fuel cars to look whacky and space-age and pioneering, or do you go the other way, and reassure customers that they’re buying a practical useable car, by making it duller than dullsville? Tesla have trod a canny middle path, with an exterior that is extremely sober, and which has now done away with the artificial grille at the front, after customers decided a plastic part would look better and shout the car’s electric credentials from the front.
Inside, however, you still have the wonderful, huge, iPad-style control panel dominating the cabin. The design has stood the test of time so far, and you can switch between climate, the huge map, entertainment and the state of vehicle charge quite happily. There is still the touch button to slide the sunroof open and shut, which my boys loved.
The best development for the Model S in the last couple of years, however, has to be the satnav, which has now done some joined-up thinking with the state of charge. Thus, if you are in London and put your destination as Liverpool, for example, the car will tell you how many miles it is, how much charge you need to get there, whether you will make it or not, and, if not, which supercharger you should stop at on the way up. It will also tell you how much charge you will need to put in when you stop, and convert that into the amount of time you will need to spend at the supercharger. And that is as good an example as I’ve seen of car companies responding to customer feedback. It also more or less mitigates range anxiety, one of the biggest barriers to purchases of electric cars.