February 2010
« Dec   Mar »


Driving a Tesla

Unique vehicles abound at JPL

Unique vehicles abound at JPL

I saw this car parked in front of my building at JPL last week

I saw this car parked in front of my building at JPL last week

checking out the Tesla's trunk

Checking out the Tesla's trunk

Back at work after my 20 minute Tesla drive

Back at work after my 20 minute Tesla drive

Nikola Tesla's laboratory, circa 1900

Nikola Tesla's laboratory, circa 1900

My favorite sign at JPL is this Rover Xing sign.

It is not unusual to see robotic vehicles on the roads around the laboratory, especially during the weeks surrounding our annual open house when a dozen or more rovers, robots and spacecraft are out on public display.

One recent morning, I noticed a unique vehicle parked next to my building. It was a Tesla Roadster! I stopped and took a photo of it – it is such a gorgeous car! Then, of course, I tweeted it, and put the picture on Facebook.

On my lunch hour I went back out and looked at it, and noticed the license plate holder said “My Other EV is on Mars!”

Toward the end of the day, I overheard a group of colleagues talking about the Tesla, and I joined them. A minute later the Tesla’s owner walked up and asked me if I wanted a ride! When she drives the Tesla to work, she becomes an Electric Vehicle EVangelist and offers half-hour rides around Pasadena. She has a long waiting list, but had a cancellation, and offered me the 5 p.m. time-slot. It’s her way to spread the EVangelism and make more people aware of electric vehicles. :-)

Within a few minutes I was stowing my purse in the trunk of this gorgeous car! Then after a few rules (pay for your own tickets, don’t crash, etc.) I was handed the keys! I opened the driver’s door and stepped down in the drivers seat. Wow, this car is just my size!

I aligned the side mirrors by rolling down the window and manually adjusting them. I familiarized myself with the blind spots, adjusted the seat and put the key in the ignition.The roadster came silently to life. I shifted from neutral to drive, checked for traffic behind me, pressed the throttle pedal and drove the Tesla down JPL’s Mariner Road, out the security gate and onto the 210 or Foothill Freeway.

My friend encouraged me to accelerate, and I obeyed instantly! In seconds I was cruising at 60 MPH, changing lanes while caressing the three-spoke steering wheel, pedal to the metal, and watching all the ordinary cars turn green with envy.

I couldn’t help but think of the car’s namesake, Nikola Tesla, whose inventions include the induction motor and alternating-current power transmission. The Tesla Roadster was unveiled just days after the 150th anniversary of his birth in 2006. If he were alive today, I think he’d enjoy a test drive with me in and around NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory!

Soon, it was time to return the car so another lucky driver could share my experience, and join the cadre of Tesla EVangelists!

I drove back through the gates, parked the car, shifted back into neutral, set the brake,and turned over the keys, but not before I got a picture of my first and maybe my last Tesla test drive.

1 comment to Driving a Tesla

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>