October 17, 2017
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Electric Evolution

Tesla Motors is changing the automotive industry
Atop the Third Street parking garage, Neil Chapman leans on his Tesla Model S, overlooking the city.

Attorney Neil Chapman says it is one of the best investments he ever made. Scott Mohler, owner of Mohler Technology, Inc. in Boonville, Indiana, calls it the perfect experience. Both have driven many sports cars but neither believes anything beats a Tesla.

Tesla Motors, Inc., founded in 2003 in San Carlos, California, is a company that designs and manufactures electric cars and other battery products. The cars require no gas and run on lithium-ion 18650 batteries, which usually are found in laptops. Mohler, a Newburgh, Indiana, resident, says he was sold after test-driving the vehicle, and Chapman says he also was quickly convinced.

“I like to be an early adopter,” says Chapman, who compares purchasing a Tesla to picking an iPad, where buyers focus on the design, color, and battery size. “The Tesla appealed to me on many levels. It’s an elegant solution to the problem of gas power. I look at it and see nothing but advantages.”

The Model S, which both Chapman and Mohler drive, contains more than 7,000 batteries in the floor of the vehicle. The battery’s range is 270 miles when completely charged, the most of any electric car. The Model X, an SUV, was released in July, and Tesla currently is developing the Model 3.

Chapman hired an electrician to install a 220-volt charger in his garage at his Newburgh home that puts 30 miles-worth of electricity into the car every hour; from empty, it can be fully charged overnight.

Tesla also operates the Supercharger network, a series of nearly 500 stations where drivers can charge their cars for free on long-distance trips. A half-hour using a Supercharger can provide 170 miles of range. The closest locations are Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Nashville, but many stations will be added in the next couple years, including one in Newburgh.

The cars are purchased online, and they can be picked up in certain cities or delivered right to buyers’ homes. Chapman, who is on his second Model S, says he has seen about a dozen Teslas in the Evansville area and hopes that number increases, but he realizes there are restrictions.

“Number one, people know they’re expensive,” says Chapman. Teslas start at about $60,000 and can cost more than $100,000 with upgrades. “The biggest limitation of electric cars is the price. Tesla is working day and night to change that (the Model 3 is rumored to be around $30,000). And number two, it’s fear of the unknown — where to charge it.”

Another aspect Teslas have in their advantage is safety. The placement of the batteries gives the car a low center of gravity, making rollover unlikely. There also is no engine, leaving a large crumple zone to absorb more energy. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Model S a five-star rating in every category.

“I have never seen an advertisement for Tesla, which is amazing,” says Mohler. “As far as the quality and experience of the car, the Tesla, by far, is the best car I’ve ever driven.”

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