Tuesday, May 10, 2016

#2 - The Test Drive

Okay, having made the decision not to buy a Porsche, or a replacement for my aging little convertible, I got on the Tesla website and booked a test drive.  Of course, I told them I wanted to drive the P85D with Insane mode.  Why not? 

The salesperson suggested a route along a nearby highway then up to the local ski area so the car would be able to show off its power and torque on the uphill as well as the regenerative braking on the way down.  Okay.  Who's going argue with that, let's go.  So up the mountain we went. 

Once we were off the highway, the road proceeds through a series of hairpin bends like switchbacks all the way up.  Not unfamiliar with this road, I was looking forward to it and as we came out of the first hairpin I opened up the throttle letting the car pull us out of the corner with surprising acceleration.  But as the car chewed up the road and we hit 80mph it stopped accelerating, even when I put the pedal right to the floor.  I turned to the salesperson in the passenger seat with a look like "WTF?  Is something wrong?".  Confused at first he then realized what it was and said "Ah, Valet Mode.  The car is in Valet Mode".

I'm like "What the hell is Valet Mode?".  Turns out it is a handy little feature that does a variety of things like lock out the glove box and front trunk, block the navigation system (specifically your Home location) and, of course, limits the car to 80mph.  Personally, I think this is a brilliant feature but remain skeptical that a Valet needs 80mph to park my car.

Anyway, now we are moving up the hill at a pace that feels like we are crawling since we are no longer accelerating.  Time to look around the cabin and take in some of the interior features I guess.  But just then, as we come over a rise in the road - BAM!  A speed trap.  Seriously?  At 3pm on a Wed afternoon with no one else on the road?  Brutal.

We pull over and the kind police officer asks for all my information which I provide to him once I tell him we are on a test drive and that I don't own the car.  The faint hope that our test drive status would result in just a warning faded completely when the policeman arrived back to inform me of the damage. 

At 80mph I was subject to a $378 fine because I was 40mph over the posted speed limit.  40mph over?  Weren't we just on a highway?  Apparently not.  And to rub salt in the wound, this route is popular with cyclists who blast down the hill on the same road.  Every one of them is exceeding the speed limit, but none are getting tickets.  I'm sure I can see them smirking as they buzz by at 70mph+.

Now, that was bad but it was not over.  After dropping that little bomb, the police officer pulls down his Eric Estrada sunglasses and proceeds to explain that at 40mph over the speed limit there is a mandatory 7-day impounding of the vehicle.  "So you two" he explains "need to get out of the car right now.  The flatbed is on its way to take the car."  WHAT?!

So there we were.  Two sad dopes, standing by the side of the road watching the car we were just driving - and which is still in perfect working order - be loaded onto a flatbed for a journey to who knows where.  Meanwhile, the salesperson is apologizing profusely.  I look at him puzzled.  "You know I was driving, right?  This is not your fault" I explain.

He sheepishly calls his boss down at the Tesla store to explain the situation and ask for another car to come pick us up.  Needless to say, I did not do the driving on the way down.

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