Obituary: Combustion Engine

The level of our fascination with automobiles is commendable and has escalated since their advent. The first car run on steam mesmerised and astonished the world and was considered revolutionary. The introduction of Internal Combustion Engine has completely revolutionised the automobile industry and we haven’t looked back since. Better, faster and more luxurious rides are all the rave. The shear variety and options available to us today boggles the mind: Sedans, Hatchbacks, Coupe, Saloon, and SUVs to name just a few. The classification of these cars doesn’t end there. The type of fuel used is another basis for classification of the marvellous machines. Given the deleterious effect that fossil fuels have on the environment, there is a beckoning for alternate and equivalent forms of fuel systems i.e. Hybrid and Electric. Enter billionaire, powerful CEO, inventor and philanthropist, no not Tony Stark the Iron Man, Elon Musk and Tesla Motors.

Fans of the classic gas guzzlers we suggest you continue reading at your own peril. Tesla Motors, the battery powered brainchild of Elon Musk, Martin Eberhard, Marc Tarpenning, JB Straubel and Ian Wright, has produced some of the most advanced and aesthetic cars the world has ever seen. The cars rolling off of Tesla’s conveyor belt address a niche market. The alternate hybrid options include the infamous Toyota Prius, Honda CR-Z, and Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, none of which seem to hold a candle to Tesla’s products at an environmental and technological stand-point. While hybrids are more readily available and offer a solution from the predicament faced by using fossil fuels on a limited basis, the electric vehicles in Tesla’s arsenal circumvents the problem altogether. Powered by a more than capable Lithium Ion battery the Model S offers a maximum range of 337 miles on fully charged battery. The Model S maybe nimble and agile but Tesla’s SUV the Model X claims to be the safest, fastest and most capable SUV produced. The Model X comes with a 100 kWh and provides 289 miles of range. The engineers at Tesla Motors have certainly done their part in providing opportunity for long eco-friendly drives.

The streets of Palo Alto and probably the rest of the world will soon be an audience for the new variant Tesla Motors has launched, the Model 3. Packed with state-of-the-art features and technology all three models proudly check off most if not all safety requirements and measures to make them that much safer on the road. A low centre of gravity due to the position of the drive chain and battery, collision avoidance systems, automatic emergency braking, ABS are some of the measures taken by the manufacturers to ensure safety. If all those features failed to persuade you into falling in love with the Tesla then accessories such as a 17 inch touchscreen and display with day and night modes, high definition backup camera and advance navigation system among others, might strongly appeal to the tech savvy customer demographic. Tesla Motors, even with all the innovation and novelty in their products, are thoughtful enough to additionally offer Medical grade HEPA air filtration system that removes bacteria, pollen, viruses and pollution from the cabin.

Image1However what really sets the Tesla apart and on a class of its own is the instrument cluster and the control systems. The panoramic glass roof, climate control, media system are just some of the features the can be controlled by touch or swipe via the touchscreen controls. Seamless integration of the digital instrument cluster steering wheel controls makes it more than just a car. On the touch of a screen and flick of a lever and you would be good to let the car do all the driving. Over-The-Air upgradable control and navigation systems is an added advantage and saves many a trip to the shop for such trivialities. Internet of Things (IoT) has allowed the Tesla’s customer to just park their cars at homes and receive upgrades for their vehicles. Piling on to a never ending list of features the Model S and X sport the smartest of cruise control features which let the driver, or should we say controller, set and vehicle speed, the distance between cars and not worry about driving in to the car in front. An array of sensors and camera track the car’s movement and maintain lane and speed accelerating and decelerating as needed. Autopilot features, voice commands and the expansive maps for navigation are taken care of by the on board control systems. As new technologies become available they roll out through over-the-air system updates.

The CEO and the board of Directors seem to undoubtedly trust their engineers by offering a warranty up to 8 years on battery and drive unit and an additional general warranty of up to 4 years, allowing them to show some hubris. Tesla Motors claims that at an average of 21 miles per gallon at $ 2.70 per gallon a Tesla Model S would save over 50% of the fuel cost and a 100% of the cost to the environment. Although the battery technology saves a ton on the fuel, recharging batteries seems like an obvious and imminent hassle. Availability of recharging stations is one of the major drawback of the Tesla along with glaring shortcoming of the time that it takes to fully recharge the batteries. Tesla Motors at the forefront of research in this technology could remedy the situation with their “Supercharger” concept which take only a fraction of the time, albeit longer than topping off a tank of gas. However with a cornucopia of features, Tesla is all set for those long road trips we never seem to be able to make time for.