Bruce Richter drives the 2010 Tesla Roadster SportEnlarge Photo
A few weeks ago, High Gear Media welcomed our newest writer to the fold--Bruce Richter, who won a Tesla Roadster test drive by writing about his personal experience with cars. This week we're bringing you two stories from Bruce--his own Tesla road test, and later this week, a one-on-one interview with Tesla design chief Franz von Holzhausen. Think you'd like to be the next Bruce Richter? Sign up to write about cars for High Gear Media, and stay tuned--our next big contest is coming soon.
For those who may not remember (or weren't around), Saturn launched their brand in 1985 with the theme line--"A different kind of car company, a different kind of car."
Fast forward, Saturn is all but gone. And a very different different kind of car and company is present and accounted for in Menlo Park, Calif. It's one that I got to see, smell and taste first-hand on my Tesla tour, interview, and Roadster test drive.
And I can tell you, it's a car company that's practicing it instead of preaching it, starting with their Menlo Park combo showroom/assembly facility. Which is not to be confused with assembly plant. There's nothing plant about it. This factory is more of a clean room - a room Tesla wants to share, again demonstrating their new model of car company.
In fact, the Tesla facility feels more like an Apple Store than a car showroom. No patent leather loafers here. Instead, you'll find leather sofas, coffee table, Wi-Fi, and a wall of glass that looks out into the assembly area.
As Ricardo Reyes, Tesla's VP of Communications confirmed, it's like walking into a restaurant with an open kitchen for all to see. Which may explain why the facility is now a stop for one of the Silicon Valley tour buses!
With the glass wall as his backdrop, Tesla Design Director Franz von Holzhausen spend an hour with me talking about the future Tesla Model S sedan, Tesla's inherent qualities of surprise and delight, his background, and how he's applying that to the clean sheet of paper hes been handed at Tesla. (I'll have more on Franz in an upcoming article.)
Then, after what felt like minutes with him, I was informed that it was time.
The weather reports leading up to my Tesla Roadster test drive gave me plenty to obsess about: monsoon, mudslides, flooding, but no pestilence or locusts. When we arrived that morning, a MINI parked out in the street was up to its floorboards in water. But by the end of the tour and interview, the rain had slowed and I no longer cared what it was doing outside. Let me at it.
And by it, I mean the tiny, low-slung, just released Roadster Sport, complete with 18% more power, ten-way adjustable shocks, carbon trim, solid black rims, and then some.
Just the stuff to kick up the nasty factor.