By Kevin Coughlin
Brett Cohen did not have to ponder long when asked what made his electric Tesla Model X superior to gasoline-power cars.
“Almost everything about it is better,” said the accountant from Short Hills. “The technology is unbelievable. I haven’t been to a gas station in three or four years. This has no tail pipe with fumes that my kids could be breathing. It’s so fast off the line.”
Cohen’s fire-engine red Tesla, with its gull-wing doors and seating for seven, was a big attraction at Saturday’s National Drive Electric Week exhibition, presented by the Electric Auto Association’s New Jersey chapter and Sustainable Morristown in the parking lot of the Presbyterian Parish House on South Street in Morristown.
Slideshow photos by Bill Lescohier and Kevin Coughlin
This was the event’s third year in Morristown, and about 40 electric vehicles took part, said Chris Neff of the Electric Auto Association.
A 1917 Detroit Electric buggy returned, at 25 mph. There were shiny Nissan Leafs (Leaves?), along with a Smart ED (that’s Electric Drive, not a form of … Dysfunction), an electric motorcycle that has visited every state in the Lower 48, and an assortment of electric Beemers, including Cohen’s second car, the BMWi3.
Cohen bought his Tesla X about four months ago. It boasts a remote control feature, so he can summon the car up or down his driveway.
The navigation system tells him where to find charging stations during trips. He gets around 250 miles per charge. His only problem so far: Forgetting once to recharge the car battery overnight. A morning trip to the Poconos was delayed for an hour as a result, he said.
One of his favorite features, hands-down, is the hands-free Autopilot system. This crash-avoidance technology has come under intense scrutiny since a Florida motorist was killed in May, when his Tesla S drove beneath a tractor trailer that the system failed to recognize.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk says an upgrade to this semi-autonomous driving system will rely more on radar than on cameras, and will limit hands-free driving to reduce risks of this type of accident.
Autopilot is a great stress-reliever in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Cohen said.
“I’m absolutely convinced that it will save lives and avoid accidents as compared to not using it,” he said, comparing Autopilot to cruise control, not “autonomous” driving. “You can not expect to use it and take your eyes off the road.”
Cohen said he loves relaxing and letting the car “do all the hard work” in stop-and-go situations. He also likes it for highway driving at night, “when it’s hard for humans to see the lines in the road and any obstacles that might be in the way…the car is able to detect them well in advance, and respond accordingly.”
He said it’s hard relinquishing the steering wheel at first. “But once you do, you quickly realize how amazing and truly beneficial it really is.”
Cohen’s model cost about $100,000. Some incentives softened that blow a bit. Cohen received a $7,500 federal tax credit for purchasing the electric vehicle. And the 7 percent New Jersey sales tax was waived.
No waiting at the DMV, either. No emissions means no inspections.