We managed to get our hands on a Tesla. That’s right, 24 hours and the freedom to roam wherever we wanted in a Tesla Model 3 (Dual Motor). What to do then?
We thought we would test how useful and practical this, the smallest and most affordable of the range, was for surfers.
Disclaimer: We got absolutely no pleasure from this task, we would not mix business with pleasure like that, no sir, not us.
First – The How
A motor-show, yes, a place people go to look at cars (something that could not really interest me less) was taking place in my local town. The difference, and what piqued my interest, was that it was an EV (Electric Vehicle) car show. My son is super into cars, so we went.
Doing the dad thing, I pretended to know what I was talking about, walking around looking at a plethora of makes and models. It was a huge event, you could test drive and sit in many of what would be the cars of the future. The idea of EV cars is something that does (now) interest me. After much mooching and leaflet taking we decided to leave. On the way back to our old fossil fuel guzzling dinosaur of a car, we passed a Tesla stand. We stopped to admire the sweeping lines of one of the cars and got talking to a guy called Joao. His company ‘Watts on Wheels’ actually rented Teslas. For an affordable price. Light Bulb. I asked him about testing one for our mag. The deal was struck, we would have a Tesla Model 3 for 24 hrs… Excited much?
As the Model 3 cruised silently towards I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. The black model 3 was… beautiful. But was it practical, focus, James… focus.
One of the most pleasant humans on the face of the earth called Paulo gave us an hour’s introduction into the features, charging, range and a snippet into the gadgets that came as standard. I was to say the least, impressed. Not sold on the idea but impressed.
Rumours vs Reality of a Tesla
I have seen countless videos and read many articles about the ‘entry level’ Tesla. Some good, some okay and some damning. As with a lot of press these days I have taken it all with a pinch of salt. Now I would get to see for myself what the truth of the matter was.
General look and feel – This was mind blowing, the only physical buttons on the car are the hazard lights located by the rear view mirror, the indicator stalk and the drive mode selector. Everything else is controlled via the huge ‘tablet like’ display that was extremely intuitive and I do mean everything.
The car was solid, finish excellent, diving position perfect. There was so much storage space due to the lack of a gearbox and clumsy combustion engine. Everywhere you looked there was more space to store things. A boot (trunk) in the rear, one in the front and a further space below the rear boot. I could go on but have to remind myself that this is not a car website but a surfing one.
Practicality for Surfing
What is the most important thing to know when buying or renting a car from a surfer’s perspective?
I asked around in the office and the almost unanimous reply was the speed. No, wait the acceleration. No, sorry, I mean the size, what’s the maximum length surfboard and how many surfboards can you get inside? For this we would need some help, so we made a beeline (not going fast or testing the acceleration) for our friendly neighbourhood surfboard factory. Fatum Surfboards in Peniche, Portugal.
Gero – the owner and shaper at Fatum is a car man and a gadget man and was, it is fair to say, excited about having a look feel, and spin in what could be the future. They have around 70-80 stock boards in the showroom at any one time and Gero made them available to us to test all angles of fitting boards inside.
Nic, our editor, met me at the factory and we embarked upon the task at hand.
Maximum Length Surfboard
- With the rear seats down but the passenger seat in normal position. 6’6” Fatum Super Seven.
- With the board protruding into the driving compartment while still being able to see out of all mirrors and having a human in the passenger seat. 8’0” Fatum Buffer.
Maximum number of boards
With the rear seats down but the passenger seat in normal position. Four boards. From 6’6” and below.
With an 8’0 protruding into the front means the remaining boards would have to be at and angle reducing the maximum next size of the remaining three boards to 6’0”.
How about the Key?
Was the key waterproof? As far as I could tell is was a no. The ‘key’ itself is a card the size and weight if a ATM bank card. You swipe it near the door and the car opens and powers up. You place it inbetween the front seats, putting your foot on the brake and the vehicle is ready to go. There is no noise which is a bit weird. The key uses NFC (Near Field Communication) to work. I was not about to dunk this in water to test it out as I only had one.
You can purchase a kind of flat water-poof wallet for these types of things, that would be the best bet.
According to Paulo, you can buy roof racks from third party manufacturers for the Model 3 and they are no more expensive than for normal cars. You don’t have to purchase a special Tesla set.
Due to the way the windows work in the Tesla I would say that these are a no-no. Every time you open a door, the window automatically opens a bit to service a lip in the roof and door seal. I think getting some soft racks to fit would be difficult.
Charging your Devices?
Our phones and others of such ilk take very little to charge compared to the massive amount of energy that is need and stored to propel the car. It would be like taking a litre of water out of a small lake. Charge away without a care.
Storing Wet Stuff
There is so much room, many different compartments. The front boot (trunk) would be the ideal place, with enough room for two 5mm full suits, it would keep the smelly wetsuit smell out of the cabin. That’s a win, you just have remember that's the suits are there.
One of the coolest things, was ‘Sentry Mode’ in this car. With six cameras mounted around the car, all you have to do is activate the mode before you leave the car. If anyone comes within two hundred feet of the vehicle, the cameras will record and transmit directly to Tesla, a ‘Sentry mode activation’ picture will appear on the man screen to tell the potential thief that they are being recorded. A pretty cool deterrent that might stop all but the most stupid car thief keeping your stuff safe while you are in the water. Win.
Range (charging and how far you can go on one charge)
This was and is by far the hardest thing to get you head around. When you buy a Model 3 you get FREE access and charges from all Tesla Super Charger stations. To understand this properly you need to know the three ways you can charge the car.
Our car said it would do 485km on one charge
Tesla Supercharger – 150 kw – We ran our battery down to 20% and it charged back up to 81% in 25 mins. Enough time to grab a coffee. It was insanely quick and when you see you are back up to 420km range in 20 mins, the implications of what’s possible really start to manifest themselves.
Three phase – 11kw – This looks a lot like the euro plug you get in some campsites and to which you can plug your camper or caravan into. You can have these installed in your home. (not sure how long this would take, we did not test this)
Normal plug outlet – 3kw – It just plugs into your normal household plug socket. Takes about 24 hours to charge fully.
So, now you know that, if you live anywhere near a Super Charger, you are quids in. Free power for ever. That’s free motoring. No more fuel costs.
That’s not all. I wanted to know if I could get from Lisbon (Portugal) to Paris (France). I typed Paris in as a destination. Within 30 seconds I was presented with a route that took me via 5-6 recharge points, it detailed the time I would spend at each one. most of them around 25 mins. (enough time for a coffee and toilet) and the facilities at the station. It was that simple. And I could get there for errr... for free.
Once I started thinking about what this meant, I tried a few other destinations with similar results. This was a game-changer. My mind started to wander, into another head-space and future reality where people would look to buy houses in a nice area, with good schools and facilities and I had to ask the question, would it matter if a Supercharger station nearby? The answer is a yes. A car that dictates house price! Like I said, game-changer.
Time to wrap this beast of a review up. I know that most of you are waiting for me say something about the acceleration or the speed. Unfortunately as we are a ‘grown up’ magazine and not in any way childish we did not get a chance to test the ‘literally mind-blowing’ acceleration. It did not have a chance to shock us to the core and we would definitely not break any road and speed laws buy testing such things. No way, not at all.
I can not report to you that by putting my foot to the floor made my balls fizz, eyes water and struggle to comprehend how this was possible. If I had got the chance to do this I might well say that it was the most fun I have ever had in a car. But as we didn’t , I can’t, because it’s not relevant to the surfer.
My very short, sharp conclusion is that these cars are the future, for everyone, and you should get one. All of you. Now.