Why no one wants the Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

It’s ugly.

From the perspective of a Denver dweller, where Porsche SUVs are as common as hamburgers, the Tesla Model X is a fairly rare sight.

They got the proportions wrong. It’s like a beautiful Model S that was injected with way too much Play Doh.

The strange “Falcon Wing” doors are way too complicated (and apparently a bit trouble-prone).

Sorry, I’ll pass. (But starting at about $95,000, I don’t have much choice in the matter.)


Photo courtesy of Tesla.

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4x4 vs 2wd

quote about 4x4 vehicles

This quote, “Is there a 4WD in the range? Ask yourself if you really need it. You probably don’t” is from Top Gear magazine.

Top Gear is more than a popular British TV show — it started as a magazine and expanded into television, garnering a far wider audience than the magazine could ever hope for.

Back to the quote — you would never read that in an American magazine, but it makes sense in a British context because:

  1. It rarely snows in the parts of England where people actually live.
  2. Fuel economy is a smaller deal in the States, since fuel is (currently) so cheap.
  3. To an American, owning a front-wheel drive crossover or SUV is like drinking decaffeinated coffee.
  4. Because of these two reasons, 2WD crossovers and SUVs are very hard to sell — think of selling bags of ice to Eskimos. So if you buy one new, you are dooming yourself to a larger loss of money when it comes time to sell it on the used market.

Having said all that, if you are in the market for a new car and don’t live in a place that gets a ton of snow, I would urge you to consider a car that is front-wheel drive.

I live in a suburb of Denver and have never owned a 4WD vehicle. We get an average of 57 inches of snow a year. In my 20 years of commuting here, I have only gotten stuck in snow about two times.

We bought a set of snow tires and wheels for one of our cars and even take it up to ski. We’ve never gotten stuck.

I’m not condemning anyone who has a 4WD or AWD vehicle. They’re great. I’m just asking you to consider a car if you are in the market for a different vehicle. And if you like off-roading, you can rent a Jeep.

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The price of individuality

rear view of a Jeep with giant wheels

$3,700.

Or more.

That figure is what this Jeep owner paid to have gigantic wheels and tires. He (or she) sits head and shoulders above many of the teeming masses below.

Besides the added financial cost, they pay the price for this privilege in several other ways:

  1. Reduced fuel economy
  2. Increased road noise
  3. Reduced number of off-road trails that can be accessed, due to the massive width
  4. Reduced top speed
  5. Increased opportunities to end up head-over-heels, due to a much higher center of gravity
  6. Greatly reduced visibility out the rear-view mirror
  7. Inaccurate speed readings from the speedometer
  8. Scaring drivers that are faint of heart

Is it worth the extra cost? I’m sure the owner thinks so.

My take? Buy a large bumper sticker that expresses your individuality.

My vehicle? No added exterior content. No bumper stickers. (I express my individuality in other ways — like by writing this.)

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You can’t force it

Lincoln Continental print ad

Lincoln bought the emperor’s new clothes.

This ad appeared in the February 2017 Fast Company magazine (in a very high-priced spot — the inside front cover). Lincoln paid a massive amount of money for the ad series, shot by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz.

Agency Hudson Rouge made out like a bandit.

But Lincoln did not think about their real audience. Showing a 20-something person behind the wheel of a $60,000-ish luxury car, newly-minted from a marque typically bought by people above 60, will not make 20-something people want to buy one. Nor will it make 60-year olds who want to be 20-something want to buy one.

No matter how much the critics like the car.

Yes, it would have been appropriate for Lincoln to push the envelope in their marketing — but not so far.

Maybe they should have put kids under 10 behind the wheel — that audience will need to buy cars, eventually.

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Conventional wisdom need not apply

alfa romeo quadrifoglio

Many of us are still trying to figure out how Mr. Trump won. Whether or not you like him and what he represents — or the Democratic party and what they represent — one thing is certain — we do not know what tomorrow brings.

Alfa Romeo is trying to make inroads onto our roads. The Giulia Quadrifoglio is a beautiful high-performance four-door sedan. Car critics are praising it from their rooftops.

But American has largely abandoned the four-door sedan. As you know, crossovers (suburbia-biased SUVs) have taken over.

Conventional wisdom from car manufacturers dictates introducing a flagship top-of-the-line vehicle to generate excitement in America about other vehicles they have to offer.

I would like to respectfully disagree with that wisdom.

They should have launched an affordable but exciting small crossover. They will sell a crossover — the Stelvio. But it is priced in a similar range as the Quadrifoglio (more than $70,000) — out of the range of most Americans.

Start at the bottom and work your way up. It worked for Mr. Trump.


Photo courtesy of Alfa Romeo UK — and used without permission. (If you live in the UK, go out and buy a Quadrifoglio now, and they will be happy.)

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Not porpoises but cows

Bentley Continental convertible

Gray accent leather on the doors and the top of the instrument panel is called Porpoise, but, like other hides, it comes from land animals and not sea creatures” — from a Car and Driver article about the Bentley Continental GT V-8 S.

Why is it that the thought of someone killing porpoises for our use is more repellant than the thought of someone killing cows for our use?

Flipper.

When I was a kid, Flipper was a TV show about a friendly sea creature that came to the rescue of different people every week. Think Lassie in the sea.

I don’t know of any TV shows about friendly cows.

The quote about Bentley’s choice of an upholstery name made me think of the whole veganism culture and philosophies — one end of the animal rights spectrum. Porpoise killers might be the other end of the spectrum.

And then I thought of my friend who is a cattle rancher in Oklahoma. She loves her cows more than just about anybody I know. And yet she sells them to be slaughtered.

I don’t know how to reconcile all these things.


  • The photo is courtesy of the Bentley website and is used without permission.
  • If there are any modern TV shows starring animals, I wouldn’t know them, since I watch very little mainstream TV.
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Once the finest

Duesenberg car

Deusenberg was the finest car made. But the car’s manufacturer folded in 1937, due to the Great Depression and a lack of demand for luxury automobiles. (See the full story.)

When you compare this beautiful Deusenberg with the modern Tesla P100D, there is a vast chasm. Both have four wheels and both will get you from Point A to Point B — but the Tesla is faster, more efficient, quieter, roomier — and even self-driving.

We have come a long way in eighty years.

The reason for this little story is to remind me — and you — that there is always room for improvement. What we think is the very finest will soon be superseded by something else that represents a massive leap in functionality and illustrates a whole new form of beauty.

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Appreciating the esoteric

Honda Fit and Jazz - hatchback badging

I love spotting the shiny bits — the things that pass most people by — the details.

(And that’s why I love hanging out with, living with and working with those who see the big picture. Contrast is healthy for our souls.)

In Fort Collins a few weeks ago, I spotted the back of this Honda. You’ll note it says “Fit” on the left and “Jazz” on the right.

In America, the smallest Honda is the Fit. It’s called the Jazz in the rest of the world. The owner of this car appreciated that fact enough to find a badge from both places.

I love it!!

(And I love Fits. We have one.)

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Come on, invent that

window-gap

New windows for an old building… sometimes that doesn’t work.

Seeing this gap reminded me of reading a great phrase someone really smart once said: “no one puts new wine into old wineskins.”

And that made me think of the gaps that are all over Colorado’s roads. The extreme heat and cold we experience — and the water that seeps underneath our road beds — cause all manner of cracks and holes to appear — and gradually become larger and larger.

Road repair budgets are not what they used to be, so car repair bills related to tires and wheels are becoming commonplace.

Why can’t a smart engineer-type invent an inexpensive elastic road surface that will expand and contract with the changes in weather and precipitation? This surface would need to provide a uniform surface — as in, very smooth.

Know anyone up for the challenge?

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Faster than a speeding locomotive

Paul behind the wheel of a Tesla P90D

The acceleration was breathtaking. The amenities were amazing.

I’d say I want one, but it’s so far out of the realm of possibility that I’ll just say it was a lot of fun.

Our test drive was totally free. Mark set up the appointment to take a Tesla P90D for a spin. He drove out, I drove back. His son Zach spent the whole time sporting an ear-to-ear grin. Our salesman Drew completely understood that we wanted to go fast and have fun.

We tried out the auto-pilot mode — the car drove all by itself. Parking with no assistance was effortless.

Little features like the dashboard’s real-time speed limit sign display were captivating. Design inside and out reminded me of the perfection of many Apple products — like door handles that disappear after you’re in the car.

Back to that acceleration — the salesman claimed that only two cars are faster — the Bugatti Veyron ($1,500,000) and the Porsche 918 ($850,000). For a mere $145,000, the Tesla P90D is a steal. We drove the whole way using the Ludicrous Mode. The first time Mark mashed the pedal to the floor, my sunglasses flew off my head into the back of the car.

Tesla run on pure electric power — at least as pure as the source of that electricity (which isn’t very clean when coming from a coal-fired power plant). Electric motors have much smoother power delivery than any gas or diesel engine can provide. From 0–60, it was one smooth rush.

I’ve never tried cocaine, but this is the automotive equivalent. The acceleration was completely addictive.

Yee-hah!!

Photo by Zach.

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