Electric cars have been growing on American consumers since the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan LEAF were introduced to the U.S. auto market in late 2010. However, while over 96,000 EVs were sold last year, total U.S. auto sales typically exceed one million vehicles each month. It will take a few more years before EVs are considered mainstream, and batteries with longer range, better public charging infrastructure, and lower vehicle prices are often discussed as means to get them there. In addition, though, consumers need to understand what EVs are like to drive and how they “feel”.
Enter the test drive. Sure it can be a way for teenagers to have some fun and drive cars they cannot afford (alongside oft-disgruntled salespeople). However, it is also a crucial step before making one of the largest purchases of one’s life and can greatly help introduce drivers to EVs. Getting consumers behind the wheels of EVs is critical to helping them feel comfortable with a new technology by understanding that they are easy to drive, perform well, and offer the same amenities expected from other cars.
Just recently, I had the privilege of test driving a Tesla Model S. Although I have driven EVs owned by friends and available to test out at auto shows, it was my first time actually going for a real test drive in an EV, and the experience was great. The appointment was incredibly easy to set up, Tesla’s sales people were very friendly and informative both before and during the test drive, and actually driving the car was plenty of fun.
Many media outlets have raved about Model S. For example, Consumer Reports just ranked it this year’s “Best Overall Car”, and it was Motor Trend’s latest “Car of the Year”. Therefore, there is plenty of description on how it accelerates, handles, and rides, so I will not reiterate all the details. However, I will shine some light on the process of the test drive itself.
As mentioned, the test drive was incredibly easy to set up. After popping into the Tesla store at Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, NY, I simply approached a Tesla product specialist and requested a test drive. After one or two minutes of providing basic contact information and confirming that I was at least 25 years of age, the appointment was set up for the following weekend. That weekend, I simply showed up to the store at my assigned time, and immediately, a product specialist showed me to one of their Model S sedans that was available to drive. After a quick tutorial of the car’s beautiful center console touchscreen and about 30 minutes of quiet, zero-emissions driving, I had enjoyed a fulfilling and thorough introduction to the Model S.
After my experience, it became clear that test driving an EV gives great exposure to these vehicles and a comprehensive understanding of how they are similar to all others and how they differ. While I cannot speak to the experiences offered by other automakers just yet, I can confirm that Tesla’s hassle-free, no pressure style is a winner. In New York, the start-up EV manufacturer has five stores located in Garden City, Manhattan, Mount Kisco, Syosset, and Westchester, and its website provides all of their locations. For anyone interested in what it is like to drive the Tesla Model S (or just a quiet, zero-emissions EV in general), I strongly recommend stopping by the nearest Tesla store and taking one of their highly-acclaimed cars for a spin. You can also set up a drive online.