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Testing out the Tesla S on the busy streets of Berlin

Last week I was quick to joke about the connotations learning and driving can conjure up ahead of our Automotive team’s trip to Berlin. It turns out that some of their driving theory came in handy as they took the Tesla S for a spin through the busy streets of Berlin. Here’s Key Account Director Sean Nugent to tell you more…

The first few minutes of driving an unfamiliar car on the opposite side of the road are always a bit of a nervous experience. Add to that driving through Berlin at rush hour and it’s certainly a test of concentration, navigating through the traffic and speeding bicycles. If that wasn’t enough, try setting off in a brand new Tesla S; a fully electric luxury sedan. The strange sensation of no engine noise at all and a cockpit quite unlike any other car I’ve ever driven.

Most modern premium segment cars are pretty quiet inside, but this takes it to another level, no revving engine, no gear change just loads of silent power. I had planned to test the acceleration by putting my foot to the floor setting off from the traffic lights, but feeling the fighter jet like G-force (0-60 speed for the Model S around 4.2 seconds) I soon chickened out and found myself with my foot on the brake. Glancing in the mirror I noticed a slight look of panic on my passengers face; Gareth (Jones, Learning Consultant at LEO Learning) really has placed a lot of trust in me to let me drive. This has way more power than anything I’ve ever driven.

The interior is very comfortable and plush. The most noticeable thing is the central touch screen console, leaving only two physical buttons on the whole dash. This screen gives you all the controls, cameras, maps and full infotainment.

The Tesla SI won’t go into the full technical specs of the Tesla S, but I was reassured to find out that a full charge could give you over 300km. Interestingly the drive technology is based on an AC motor patented by Nikolai Tesla in 1888 ( yes really). By the end of 2014, Tesla will have completed a major European network of superchargers, which will give a full charge in the time it takes to have a sandwich and a coffee. What’s more the charge is free (for now), so that’s a pretty compelling case against what’s known in the industry for electric vehicles as “range anxiety”.

As interesting as the product itself is the sales and distribution model. Recognising that the 100 year old model of a franchised dealer network would inherit all of the challenges that brings, Tesla took a very conscious decision to adopt a different approach – and undertaking direct sales and distribution themselves. This is something that fits with our experience of looking at behaviours of sales staff in dealerships when faced with the challenges of selling EVs. Undoubtedly, other manufacturers will adopt some of Tesla’s business models, particularly in terms of e- commerce. This will create some major training challenges with significant change programmes to enable organisations to adapt and prepare for the future. We at LEO Learning are already well prepared for this with our knowledge of the sector and our innovative use of learning technology.

For the second half of my test drive I had the pleasure of being a passenger in the back seat, having handed driving duties over to Gareth. As he bravely undertakes a U- turn across a busy Kurfürstenstraße, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the only U- turn that Tesla will be making. I’m sure that we’ll be seeing a lot more of these on our roads over the next few years. Tesla’s next move will be to produce lower cost affordable cars with higher volume production, starting with the Tesla Model X. The development in what we can do from within our cars has really started to move over the last few years. At LEO Learning we are excited about a future, with technology playing an ever increasingly important role in the automotive world.