Last Thursday we had a great opportunity to arrange an interview with one lucky Tesla Model S electric car driver, Chris Heerius.
Chris is Managing Director at Jaga, a worldwide class company producing heating readiator solutions for large buldings.
Besides the enthusiastic description of the Tesla Model S driving experience, this interview delivers a message about lifestyle focused on sustainability and environmental quality improvement, which are indeed among the fundamental principles upon which iaiaGi project is developing.
It’s indeed interesting to underline how Chris’s lifestyle is greatly focused on sustainability: not only for his personal everyday choices, but also for Jaga’s heating solutions being designed upon energy saving, sustainable technologies and environmental preservation.
This interview is not at all meant to be an advertising for the Tesla Model S: rather, it’s a real life testimony about how changing into electric vehicles and into completely innovative concept of driving can really make a change to life and help you thinking about sustainablity not as a deprivation, but rather as an enrichment.
Now let’s go through the inteview and get a glimpse of an enthusiatsic electric driving experience.
Q: Which version of Tesla Model S are you driving?
Chris: At the moment there are three models: 60, 85 and P85. I drive the 85 model.
Q: Since when?
Chris: I am driving it for four months now, from the beginning of December 2014, as a company car.
Q: Do you have other cars at the moment?
Chris: Yes, I have a SAAB 900 of 1985. I bought it for my wife, but of course also for myself. We bought it from Italy!
Q: What car were you driving before and for how long have you been driving it?
Chris: Our company cars are changed every 3-4 years. Before I was driving a BMW 520d and then a Land Rover Discovery.
Q: What did you think about electric vehicles before driving the Model S?
Chris: I was a little bit scared about the range of electric cars. With other electric cars that were available, you only could drive 40-50 kilometers and then you have to switch to the gasoline engine.
So I wasn’t so happy with the electric cars that were on the market a that moment.
When the Tesla came with a larger reach, almost like 300 km with a full load, I thought “well, that’s good for me”, since I do not drive more than 300 Km per day, normally less.
I’m always into new cars, I really love cars, I was really looking for what’s on the market, but before the Tesla there weren’t really good electric cars.
Q: What are the most positive changes in your Tesla driving experience, with respect to the previous cars you drove?
Chris: First of all is a very fast car, that’s what I love most. It’s as fast as a Ferrari, almost, it gets to 100 Km/h in 4-5 seconds, the acceleration is fabulous.
It is also a very silent car, that I like also, when you drive you don’t hear anything since there is no motor inside.
What I like also is the advanced technology in it. You have that large computer screen in the middle, every 2 weeks you get software updates downloaded from the factory in S.Francisco right into your car.
It has a GPS that is linked with Google Maps and you always get the updates. The GPS is also used to look for parking and you have software parking assistance.
Q: Any negative change? Anything that may be improved?
Chris: Well, I drove a BMW before and with a BMW you have possibility to choose the extras. For example you have several seats to choose from – leather, non-leather, 20 colors, sport or regular seats.
With Tesla you only have one type of seat. It’s a good seat but is not as comfortable as in the BMW.
So is all about options, colors to choose from… Nevertheless is a complete car, so it is not that I miss anything.
I hope that Tesla comes in the future with more options.
Q: Has anything changed in your everyday life by driving a Model S, with respect to a gasoline propelled car?
Chris: The main thing is that I am more aware of the schedule of the next day. I really have to know where I am going the next day and if I have to go to a SuperCharger.
Every night I come home I charge the car so that in the morning I have a full load. I haven’t any problem yet and I do not think I will come to problems, but it’s more like: “Ok, what’s my schedule? Where I’ll get electricity if necessary?”
Because if you need gasoline, every 10 kilometers you have a gas station. You can get electricity in a lot of public spaces as well, but you need time to recharge, so you really have to schedule your reload.
Q: How much time does it take to reload?
Chris: You have several options. I have a charger at home and a charger at work, and both can load 50 kilometers in 1 hour.
During the night at home is not a problem, I get a full load in the morning: if you have the battery completely empty, it takes 6-7 hours to recharge fully.
My work is 20 Km from my house so I do not need to reload at work.
But if I have to drive more than 300 Km, then I need to go to a Tesla SuperCharger. In the Netherlands we have 5 SuperChargers, and they are less than 200 Km from each other, so you always have a SuperCharger nearby.
A SuperCharger loads very fast: it will charge 300 Km in 1 hour. If you are really empty then you need 1 hour to drive another 300 Km.
But in the last couple of months I’ve only done this twice, I don’t go abroad that often.
If I should go to Italy, for example to Milan, as you don’t have a lot of SuperChargers yet, then I really would have to schedule my trip and I would need to stop and take some time to reload.
Q: By the way, we have SuperCharger station here in Modena, it was established in November last year…
Chris: It’s very smart of Tesla: in the heart of Italian car industry! They want to make a point. For the next one they should put one downtown Torino, close to the FIAT factory…
Q: How would you feel if now you should forced to get back to a gasoline vehicle?
Chris: I would rather not go back. I am so happy… If you offer me a Ferrari, then maybe… However, Tesla is very fast, is a clean car. I do not want to go back.
Q: Does the fact that you are driving a low environmental impact vehicle make you reflect while you are driving? What does it make you think?
Chris: Yes, sure. It’s the same as my food: I really take care of it. I don’t go often to the supermarket, I get my eggs, my meat directly at the farm.
I am selling energy efficient and sustainable heating equipments. I am really concerned about the environment and about being sustainable, not only with my car but with many other things.
And I try to teach my children as well. It’s very important.
Of course that also includes to drive electric but, you know, I’m also into nice cars, I love nice cars, and I think Tesla is the only option because otherwise you have to drive… well, I don’t want to be impolite: most of the electric cars, they don’t look nice!
Sometimes it seems that electric cars are meant to be sustainable but they have to be ugly. The good thing about Tesla is that they are good for the environment but they are very nice and very fast. That’s important: the combination.
Q: Are there any benefits or bonuses in the Netherlands for those driving electric vehicles like you?
Chris: Yes. Actually the Government in the Netherlands is very helpful in terms of giving some tax benefits. If you compare driving a Mercedes E or an Audi A6 or a BMW 5xx, I mean, executive cars, the monthly cost of ownership is lower with a Tesla.
And you do not pay any road-tax, completely free, while with a BMW you have to pay around 100 EUR each month. (In the Netherlands roads are paid on a monthly fee based on the car you have, not by toll roads as in Italy).
There is also a tax rebate at the end of the year, so it is subsidized by the Government.
And I heard that in Norway there are even more tax rebates, so the Tesla is more popular in Norway than in the Netherlands.
Q: Have you observed any cost savings about maintenance?
Chris: Yes. It hardly needs any maintenance because there is no motor inside! What you can do in the Netherlands with Tesla is that you pay an initial fee and then maintenance is included for 4 years.
They come and pick your car from home and they bring it to the nearest maintenance station once a year.
Tesla give you a warranty on the car and on the batteries which are the most important thing for this car, for 6 years and 100,000 Km maximum per year, so in total Tesla gives you 600.000 Km of warranty on the car. And that’s all. You only have to control small things like brakes or wipers, but there are no liquids in the car, no oil, there’s nothing in, so there’s not much maintenance.
Q: Have you ever feared to get stranded on the road with dead batteries? If not, how do you manage that?
Chris: Only at the beginning, when I just had the car.
At that time I had to drive to Belgium, then I was a little bit insecure because you do not know the car fairly well and then you think “Ok, how far can I go?”.
But, not really, because it is very well indicated how much kilometers you can still drive.
If you drive a regular car, like a BMW, you have the same but is not so precise and that’s because you can get gasoline every 20-30 Km.
So at the beginning I was a little bit afraid because I didn’t know how accurate the indication is with Tesla.
But indeed it is very accurate, so I do not have fear anymore.
Q: Has it ever happened?
Chris: Never, and I am not afraid at all. Because what Tesla does is that, when they put new SuperChargers (and they do it all the time) and you have the GPS, they put it in the software update in the car. And you have an app in the car that indicates how far the next SuperCharger is.
So they really help you to feel secure.
I am only afraid when my wife comes home at night, if she puts the charger on or not because, you know, one can make mistakes…
Q: And it is very interesting, as you said before, that you charge the car in terms of “Kilometers”, so it is a completely different way to measure the refuelling of your car.
Chris: That’s correct! Normally when you take gasoline it’s 40 or 60 liters, but I never watch how many kilowatts I charge, I only see how many kilometers I loaded.
Q: Have you ever had the problem of unavailable car during recharging? if not, how do you manage that?
Chris: No, I have never had such problems, it’s a very trustful car.
Once I had a nail in the tire, I got an indication on the screen that something was wrong with the tire pressure. I could still drive to home however.
I called Tesla, because the car does not have a spare tire, and they said “No problem, we come to your home within 20 minutes and we change your tire”.
So it’s a great service. And you have support 24 hours a day. If you don’t know exactly how to operate something, you can call them day and night and they will help you.
Because there is a lot of electronics and a lot of high-tech, they can guide you and they can remotely control your car: if you are stuck with anything, they can take over the control.
Q: If you were to purchase a car of this class for your own, would you choose the Model S?
Chris: Well yes. It’s quite an expensive car… with the tax rebates it’s less expensive but if you have to drive it privately is not a cheap car. But, yes, I would like to purchase this car.
Q: Any funny story happened to you about the Model S?
Chris: Two weeks ago my son was driving me to Eindhoven and he had to drop me off because I had to take my parent’s car back home, and then he drove with the Tesla to a friend of his.
Then I realised I had the Tesla keys in my pocket. I phoned my son to tell him not to turn off the car because if you do so you cannot restart again without keys.
He said:”Well, I have switched the car off”, and he wasn’t at home. So I said “Well, I have to come to you…”
But then I phoned to Tesla and I said that I do not want to drive with the keys where my son is: is there any other possibility?
They said:” You have an app on your phone and you can start the car with that app!”
So I phoned my son and I said “I cannot come to you, you have to stay there…” and then all of a sudden I started the car and I said “Hey, the car is running again…”, and he said “How is that possible??”.
With that app from Tesla you can honk your horn or you can flash the lights to scare people. I do not do it anymore, but at the beginnig that was nice, it drags the attention of people, they go to the car and say “What is this kind of car?”
We are very grateful to Chris Heerius for this interview, because in each answer we perceive a completely new experience that one cannot imagine until you get driving an electric car. And a car like Tesla Model S.