Today is Earth Day.
You and I might celebrate by taking a quicker shower, or finally buying a compact fluorescent light bulb.
Robin Tauck will drive her brand-new Tesla in New York City’s 1st Earth Day road rally.
Robin gets excited about a lot of things, like international travel. (Her family’s company, Tauck World Discovery, is a global leader in inspirational, innovative touring.)
National parks. (She has helped renovate treasures like Mesa Verde, and been praised by presidents for it.)
And the Tesla Roadster.
Hers is the 1265th produced. There is at least 1 other in Westport; perhaps 8 or 10 throughout Connecticut.
The Roadster is the 1st all-electric vehicle in the US. It goes far beyond gas/electric hybrids like the Chevy Volt.
The Volt travels 25 to 50 miles on a lithium-ion battery. The Tesla gets 275.
Welcome to tomorrow — on display now in Robin’s garage. That’s where she keeps her battery cords.
One plugs into a regular 110-volt outlet. A fully depleted battery takes 24 hours to charge.
A 220-volt hookup (dryer type plug) gets 40 miles for each hour of charging. “It’s like charging your cell phone,” Robin says. “And the battery is strong enough to power your entire home.”
Her work with the World Travel and Tourism Council first opened her eyes to the incredible damage carbon dioxide emissions inflict on the world. (The organization, of which she is a leader, is helping the global travel industry reduce emissions, and encourages sustainability plans.)
Robin — who travels 120 days a year, and contributes carbon offset miles to worthy programs — had long rented Priuses wherever they’re available. (She spends lots of time in California; nearly all rental agencies have them there.)
But then Robin — who has a home in the San Francisco Bay Area, and studied at Stanford — got an up-close look at Teslas, which are far better known in California than here.
The Wilkes Bashford store in Palo Alto — owned by Westport’s Mitchell clothing family — sits across the street from Tesla‘s world headquarters. The company was founded in 2003 by Silicon Valley engineers. It took 5 years to produce its 1st car — the hand-built, carbon fiber Roadster. There are now 1,500 of them, in 30 countries.
They look very cool. Hidden inside, a large (recyclable, after its 10-year life) battery sits above a watermelon-sized motor.
Robin test drove a Roadster. So did her husband, Pete Romano.
They went all around Palo Alto. “You’ll come back with the ‘Tesla grin,'” a company executive predicted.
“It’s fast, responsive — and totally silent,” Robin says. “It accelerates extremely fast — 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds — and slows quickly too. It’s very nimble, and takes quick turns.
“It’s the most exciting drive I’ve ever had.”
Though a tight fit for Pete — “he’s 6-3, a big guy,” she says — he loved it too.
The Roadster goes out of production next year. It will be replaced by a roomier, mass-produced Model S that gets (depending on the battery pack selected) 160, 230 or 300 miles per charge. It can be recharged in just 45 minutes.
Robin knows all the questions about electric vehicles. What if I run out of juice? Where can I get it serviced?
She called Roadster owners in the tri-state area. “It gets 275 miles on a full battery charge,” she says. “Who drives 285 miles in a day?
“You can charge it in any garage. And almost every hotel and garage has a 110-volt outlet.” Owners, she says, tell each other the “best places” to charge.
Servicing, she says, takes place once a year: “basically for tires.” With no oil or gas to worry about — and few of the traditional under-the-hood components to fail — maintenance is almost an afterthought.
Robin is a fun person, and Tesla is a fun company. They know their customers by name, and seek out events like today’s Earth Day rally in New York. Two dozen or so Teslas will join other CO2-friendly vehicles in a loop around Manhattan.
Then it’s back to Westport with her Roadster. Robin says the Gaults may put a charging station in their new Saugatuck development; she’s heard talk there might be one at the train station too and at several town buildings.
She hopes to show the Roadster at next month’s Eco-Fest at the Levitt Pavilion, and possibly join other electric car drivers in the Memorial Day parade.
You can’t miss it. It’s sharp-looking, and Tesla calls it “glacier blue.”
Though a better description might be “Robin’s-egg blue.”