The future of driving

Washington resident cruises home in new Tesla

Richard Bordwell shows the Tesla Model 3 electric car he bought over the summer.
Richard Bordwell shows the Tesla Model 3 electric car he bought over the summer.

When Washington attorney Richard Bordwell drove his new car home from California, he did not use one drop of gas for the trip. He did have to stop and plug the car in a few times.

Rolling through the streets of Washington in his new Tesla Model 3 electric car is an experience Bordwell has quickly gotten used to. The electric vehicle makes no sound when moving and any road bumps felt by the driver are simulated. The only controls on the dash are on a notebook mounted to the center. There is no speedometer. Many of the amenities are controlled by the owner’s cellphone. Overall electric cars are much less expensive to keep than standard internal combustion engine vehicles, due to not having to purchase gasoline and much fewer repair costs, as electric motors have few moving parts. Bordwell commented that the Tesla had cost a bit more than a normal car to buy.

“Rotating the tires is the big maintenance item,” he said. “It has a fair number of electronic things. Some of them are present in more recent version of cars. It has an adaptive cruise control. That means if you are set to a speed and the car in front of you is going slower than that, the car slows down automatically; it can adjust to how close it follows the car in front of you.”

Tesla is the first electrically powered production vehicle. Bordwell’s vehicle operates on a lithium ion battery and has a range of about 300 miles per charge. The model 3 rolled out on July 7, 2017.

Bordwell explained Teslas are widespread in California. When visiting his daughter and son-in-law in California, he got the chance to drive their Tesla Model X. When they bought that car they signed up for the Model 3. Bordwell said his car at the time was getting old and he wanted a new car. He also said there was a $7,500 rebate on the Tesla.

After driving the Model X, Bordwell worked out a deal to get his daughter’s reservation transferred to him. In early June he went out to the Tesla factory in California to pick up the Model 3. It was the first new car he had bought since 1972.

Like many people who think of electric cars, Bordwell’s first thought when driving a Tesla was how fast it would go. Previous electric cars have had a reputation for topping out at 40 mph. That concern was quickly eliminated as the Tesla’s footfeed is very sensitive. In driving his car home, Bordwell accidentally, while driving through the desert, found out it can go from 0 to 70 in only a few seconds. Bordwell explained an electric engine has only two states — on and off. The constant torque of the engine provides fast acceleration.

“It is easier to speed than in a normal car because it is so much quieter,” he said.

When at home, Bordwell keeps the engine charged with an extended 220 v outlet that he wired in from his laundry room. About 30 miles of drive time are added with every hour it is charged. The concern about recharging the engine while on a cross-country trip also was quickly eliminated, as Tesla has set up a series of supercharging stations throughout the country, each well inside of 300 miles of each other. These stations can put a full charge into the engine in 90 minutes. The closest to Washington are in West Des Moines and Coralville. Tesla superchargers are only used by Tesla vehicles. For the 2,000 mile trip back to Washington from California, he said the cost for electricity was $75.

“It is really fun to drive,” he said. “I find myself using the cruise control more so the speed won’t creep up on me. It is so much quieter and smoother and it handles very well. It is the future of driving.”

Bordwell commented that other car companies like Porsche and Audi are working on their own version of electric cars.