They say time-travel is impossible.
I know, I know, “Star Trek”, “Men in Black”... I mean, for real!
But time is a relative thing. And, as Robert Lamm wrote and the band Chicago sang, “Does anybody really know what time it is?”
Well, the opening of the Tesla Gallery in New York caused a ripple in time.
Over two-dozen East Coast Tesla Roadster owners met in New York City on a sunny Sunday in October. Some came almost 180 miles, ostensibly to take a drive, enjoy like company, and some free food.
We got that and so much more!
On this quiet Sunday morning, I picked up my cousin’s son in front of the Chrysler building. With little traffic on Lexington Avenue, the seemingly diminutive Roadster, framed in the giant arches of the building, foreshadowed the day’s events.
We arrived at the new Tesla facility in Chelsea, joined by several other Tesla enthusiasts. We compared serial numbers, options, and colors.
And did we have colors! The Roadsters arrived two or three at a time. Within thirty minutes we had a rich palette of Roadsters lining the otherwise deserted street.
It was getting exciting.
We received maps and instructions to follow two well-marked lead Roadsters, and off we sped.
Any local New Yorker can tell you that a Sunday in the city is surreal. Spaces designed to accommodate millions during a busy weekday lay empty. Traffic lights change from green to yellow to red, but no cars pass. Walk signs direct imaginary pedestrians. We snaked our way through the serpentine streets of lower Manhattan and used the West Side Highway to reach Columbia University.
As two-dozen performance sports cars “roared” up West Side Highway, one could not help but notice the absence of noise. Of course, it wasn’t absolutely silent, but the traditional roar of an internal combustion engine was replaced by more natural and aerodynamic sounds. My cousins’ son, Frank, commented on his ability “to hear the sound of the city as we drove around.”
Those of you familiar with West Side Highway realize it is but a shadow of its former self. Contending with a dearth of markers and multitude of traffic lights, our group found several creative paths to our destination. We arrived at the tree-lined, quiet campus in twos and threes.
We parked on both sides of the street to enjoy the scenery and welcome the arrival of our new-found friends.
Passersby constantly asked about the Roadster and the future of electric cars.
Driving a Tesla instantly makes you an ambassador for the electric car industry and the future of automobile travel! Tesla owners know that owning a Tesla is a transformational event in a lifetime. The owner is expected to know all sorts of details about the Roadster AND all other plug-in hybrid choices. How you drive your Roadster affects opinions of who Roadster buyers are and what type of individuals they might be. Onlookers with probing questions anticipate fluent and insightful answers from the owner – the questions typically cover the future, mileage, KWH, energy types and storage, and even software!
At owner events, the magic hits you. When Roadsters fill your view and you can’t find a tail pipe to save your life, you get the overwhelming feeling you are driving the future.
It’s the realization that this is our future!
The same trees and streets will be here ten or twenty years from now and these cars will fit right in.
Driving south past New York’s beautiful Central Park, the feeling persists. This is the future where we all drive electric cars and where the electric grid is capable of transporting electricity with greater capacity and efficiency; a future where only a few Historic Vehicles (HVs?), with special permits, noisily emit hydrocarbons as they move through the grid of streets.
Driving HVs will need to be well-planned to ensure a fuel supply from sparsely available petroleum. Gas will only be available by special permit at stations that ration fuel for collectors and hobbyists. Electricity is available for a slight surcharge on the parking meter and is supplied inductively to our cars.
Back in the moment, I realize that we are some of the fortunate few who get to live in the future that Tesla, led by Elon Musk, has infused in our cars.
Thanks to Tesla New York for coordinating the First Annual New York Tesla Rally, providing great food and getting the local owners together. Even though the Northeast is still covered in snow, I know all of you fellow Roadster owners can’t wait for a Spring drive!