We’ve thought a lot about the Tesla in the abstract ‘do the numbers stack up’ kind of a way. We’ve watched way too many YouTube videos (from the crazy truck hack to drag racing and range testing). But as for actually sitting inside one?
Is it really everything it’s cracked up to be? With electric cars a bit thin on the ground, I had an odd experience a couple of weeks ago. Two in one day.
Not only did I have an invite to a Tesla showroom to finally see a Model 3 from the inside, but there was new Aston Martin Rapide E concept car on display at an event I attended. And who wouldn’t want to have a quick sit behind the wheel in the circumstances?
And sure, it looked pretty cool from the outside with its swept back curves and long low front end. But here’s the thing. The Tesla looks and feels as though the future is here and parking itself firmly on your lawn. There’s an absence of clutter but a mass of function. One simple screen tells you where you’re going, when you need to charge, where the chargers are and how long it will take. It’ll also set your car to dog mode (air con on with the screen serving as a handy note to let people know that little K9 is being kept at a suitably comfortable temperature).
The Aston? They have made an electric super car with an as yet to be disclosed but no doubt Aston-worthy price tag which has less range than both the £40k Model 3 and its Porsche e supercar rival, the Taycan. Sure the Aston looks very nice inside. But it looks and feels like a car that’s still clinging to a past which is really and truly over.
As Aston shares slide following their much touted flotation, you have to wonder whether this is symptomatic of ‘what has gone wrong’.
Back in the day, there was a romance to the Aston brand. The handmade supercar - brilliant but also with equal measures of charm and grit.
“I liked that feeling, there might have been a bolt missing somewhere. Pushing engines across from one building to another in the rain.”
The new stuff? Not quite the same. Neither single minded engineering excellence nor the tiny but never quite absent peril of the hand built, lurking at the edge of your consciousness.
To make a clothing analogy, if you are a couture brand you sell a small number of expensive but unique things each with its own story. If you dilute that uniqueness with a ready to wear range you can sell more - but then you’re just doing what Primark does (but in a fancier wrapper) and eventually it rubs off. You lose the magic of the couture but you’re not necessarily best placed to do the mass production.
Sure, electric cars are going to be hard to get right for the new supercar era. Wrapping in nostalgia and heritage. Creating a story. There’s probably someone in a shed somewhere doing something amazing that would blow our minds. At the moment, it’s not Aston.
Equally, I wondered what James Bond would make of it. 007 gets all the gadgets and a mighty range. Wouldn’t he be better off in a Porsche? Or even, dare I say it, a Tesla?
Bringing out a not-quite-supercar electric vehicle is symptomatic of the trouble for those Aston shares. We’re seeing vehicles that are neither as advanced as the Taycan (or even the Tesla) and without the uniqueness of previous Astons. Stuck in the middle.
Electric cars are going to shake up the industry in so many ways - it’s going to be a rollercoaster ride for some.
By Beate Kubitz at 9 Aug 2019, 00:00 AM