Tesla still turns heads.
In test driving the innovator’s new Model S 70D, we encountered strangers who were so floored by the sleek, silent and all-electric sedan that they flagged us down.
“That baby is sweet,” one driver says -- unprovoked.
Side note: I guess I did bring on attention in repeatedly, yet lawfully, flooring the accelerator to feel the car’s incredible acceleration.
“You’re going to get a ticket today,” quipped photographer Larry Towe – his head pressed into the seat like a scene from Top Gun.
On the surface, the $75,000 Model S 70D looks just like its predecessor. But Tesla says the new variant offers well-heeled buyers a huge step forward.
"What's exciting about this vehicle is how many different features you get standard on the Model S," said Tesla’s Alexis Georgeson. “This is truly the best value of any Tesla that we've ever announced.”
70D Advances include: a dual motor, all-wheel drive, and a longer range on a single charge (240 miles).
New, Internet-enabled Teslas also come equipped with a bevy of computerized controls that, like your smart phone, can be updated wirelessly.
Perhaps the most impressive improvement, however, is free access to the company’s growing network of ‘superchargers,’ which are essentially gas stations for electric vehicles. Tesla boasts 200 of them in North America. Georgeson noted a map that shows strategically-placed locations that allow coast-to-coast drives for free.
“It's free, forever," Georgeson added.
Georgeson then employed the promise of huge gas savings to help make the heartbreaking $75,000 sticker price easier to justify.
“It is very fair to look at this as a $55,000 car when you factor in [tax] incentives, gas savings, and the super low cost of ownership," she explained.
55-grand is still too expensive for most consumers’ budgets. But Georgeson says help is two years away. She says Tesla is currently at work on a less expensive all-electric sedan called Model 3. Deliveries should begin in 2017.
"At the $35,000 price point that will be accessible to the masses," she told FOX 13.
She’s probably right. According to the Associated Press the average price paid for a new car is $31,252 – making zero gas Model 3 a mere $3,748 premium. Tesla is confident that Model 3 will be a blockbuster.
"That is going to be the car that we set out to build from the beginning when this company was founded," Georgeson stated.