What a gas: Tesla owners reveal what revs their engines

Having recently pre-sold nearly 200,000 of its Model 3 s, Tesla Motors appears to riding along brilliantly.

"That car is so damn smart," says comedian Jo Koy, who performs Oct. 29 in San Diego at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay. "I can wake up in the morning, press 'Summon,' and the car will start, open the garage door and back itself out."

Tesla's AutoPilot system tracks other cars, road signs and conditions. AutoPark takes over parallel-parking tasks. These cars are constantly being revised, adding new bits of high-tech wizardry, and they can be recharged, at no charge, at Tesla stations across the country.

To say Tesla has been sparking interest (which they do sans sparkplugs) would be an understatement. Meet some folks who are plugged into the latest automotive trend.

 

JO KOY

Resides: Los Angeles
Company: Self-employed
Position: Stand-up comedian

PacificSD: What are you driving these days?
JO KOY: I'm one of those guys who every year had to have a new car. The G-Wagen from Mercedes, the Mercedes S550 before that. But the minute the Tesla came out, and I saw it on the road, I had to have that.

Which one?
The S was my first one, two years ago. The X, I just got that about three months ago, and my life really improved.

How so?
There's no gas. And it's just a smarter car. It's a faster car; it's the fastest car on the road. It's bigger, it's got six seats and it's the best looking car I've ever seen.
And it has AutoPilot. My favorite feature, especially when you live in L.A. with the bumper-to-bumper traffic. It's basically like a chauffeur. I love it.

Still, that must freak out some folks.
The craziest comment I get is that the car will crash, or whatever. The only person who will crash the car is the person behind the wheel. You still have to pay attention; you still have to steer. Even when you take your hands off the wheel, you get a message: put your hands back on the wheel.

You never take your hands off the wheel?
AutoPilot is best on the open road. When you're on the open highway, it's like catching a train to Vegas - and I'm sitting there eating a taco.

TARA KELLY

Resides: La Jolla
Company: Sullivan Solar Power
Position: Director of community development

PacificSD: Why were you interested in Tesla?
TARA KELLY: At work, I drove the all-electric Nissan Leaf and Toyota RAV4 for the past five years, which was great from an environmental standpoint, but I did experience range anxiety. Tesla cars interest me because they are all electric with great range, plus they look sharp and drive very smoothly.

Which model are you buying?
For my birthday, my boyfriend put down a deposit for me for the Model 3. I do not consider myself a car person and have never been impressed with any particular cars before I saw the Tesla Model S, but it was out of my price range. I was excited to see the Tesla Model 3 on the market since not only do the Tesla vehicles have great range, they also look very sleek, and the Model 3 is affordable.

How long is the wait for a Tesla 3?
We put down a deposit in April 2016 and should know in the coming months when in 2017 the Model 3 will be available.

Sounds like you're anxious to get your car.
I am looking forward to driving on sunshine and reducing my carbon footprint. I will charge at Sullivan Solar Power, where we have solar on our building and an EV charging station provided by the company, so I won't be consuming dirty fossil fuels to power my car.

MICHAEL KOH

Resides: Santaluz
Company: Koh Investments
Position: Founder and CEO

PacificSD: What interested you in this car?
MICHAEL KOH: I've never been a big car guy but I'm a huge technology lover, so that's what got me into it - I love the technology of the car. Also, I bought my first one in 2013, when gas prices were high.

What was it like being an early adopter?
You are kind of a guinea pig, a beta tester in some ways. In three years, I had to take it in 10 times. Once, I had to get the drivetrain replaced.

Sounds frustrating.
This is the future. It's this new amazing technology - and without early adopters like us willing to put up with this stuff, it would probably never get off the ground.

What's so amazing about this car?
There are no gears at all; it's instant acceleration. You would think, because it's green, it would be kind of wimpy. You don't think of the power, but when I got my car, it was faster than a Porsche.

What's your range?
On a full charge, about 260 miles. I can almost go to L.A. and back. If I need to recharge, I have Google Maps right there on the screen, and it tells where all the Tesla chargers are - and I can charge there free.

KIPP GSTETTENBAUER

Resides: Bay Park
Company: Voit Real Estate Services
Position: Senior vice president

PacificSD: Which Tesla do you own?
KIPP GSTETTENBAUER: The self-driving new 2017 model, the Tesla X.

What's your favorite feature?
If I have a history of leaving at 6:30 in the morning, at 6:29 the garage door opens, and the car backs itself out 15 feet into my driveway. I get in and take off and, as I am leaving, it closes the garage boor.

How smart is this car?
My car has a 30-foot sonar bubble which is always sending out updates, so it steers me around problems. The car reads the traffic reports and knows when I need to go in another direction. It knows when there are potholes on the street and alerts me to that.

The X starts at about $81,000. That's a lot of money.
I took a test drive in April and then I hemmed and hawed. I had never bought anything like this in my life.

Any regrets?
I got this car the first week of July and couldn't be happier. It's the coolest thing.

IVAN FARBER

Resides: Valley Center
Company: DynamiCard, Inc.
Position: Founder and CEO

PacificSD: Yours is a two-Tesla family?
IVAN FARBER: We have an X and an S. The S is the P85D model with Insane mode for super acceleration. My wife has the X, with the doors that open like gull wings.

Who has the better car?
I don't think there's any question - she does. They call the X an SUV, but it's really more like a sports car.

Your favorite road trip now?
With the acceleration on the Tesla, it's fun to drive around town. We live in Valley Center, so you have all these curvy roads. And I like the back way to Palm Springs.

About that acceleration ...
You'll hear owners talking about that. When you have 100-percent torque and zero rpms and you don't have any gears, the acceleration actually makes you light-headed.

VALORIE FARBER

Resides: Valley Center
Company: A New Dawn Arising: Vibrational Restoration & Alignment
Position: Owner

PacificSD: Is your car really the better one?
VALORIE FARBER: [Laughs.] Yeah. The kids agree, too. (The Farbers have an 11-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son.) It's just so cool. It's super comfortable and it drives like a sports car, so you get that sports-car thrill and the comfort of an SUV - and the wow factor with those falcon-wing doors.

What did you drive before the Tesla X?
I had an Infiniti QX56, the big, big SUV.

How was that?
Super nice, a great car.

How does your Tesla compare?
It's faster, it handles better, and I love that it is zero emissions and I can charge it off the solar system of my house.

TESLA JOLTS MARKET FOR ELECTRIC CARS

The world of electric and hybrid cars was abuzz last spring when Tesla announced that it had pre-sold 200,000 of its affordably priced Model 3 sedans. Here's the 411 on Tesla's lineup of cars:

Model 3
MSRP: $35,000
EPA: TBD
It's eco-friendly, and it's affordable. Win-win!

Model S
MSRP: $71,200-$109,200
EPA: 89 city/98 highway (MPGe)
With a 315-mile range, you can drive to your heart's content, guilt-free.

Model X
MSRP: $81,200-$116,700
EPA: 89 city/90 highway (MPGe)
Tesla's version of a sport-utility vehicle is green and fast.

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