Taking a spin in a Tesla Model S

Sigurd Magnusson stands next to the Tesla Model S, one of the world's fastest electric cars.
Eleanor Wenman

Sigurd Magnusson stands next to the Tesla Model S, one of the world's fastest electric cars.

"Put your head against the headrest."

It's a weird request to make of your front-seat passenger, but I do it, bracing myself against the seat.

The car takes off.


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I'm glad of the warning.

I'm sitting in the front seat of a Tesla Model S, one of the world's fastest electric cars. Top speed - 250kmh. Driver Sigurd Magnusson is taking me for a spin in the Hutt Valley and we've just gone from nought to 100kmh in 2.8 seconds.

It's a lot of g-force and a lot of acceleration.

But the fun's not over yet. Magnusson has something else to show me.

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"You just pull this lever twice," he says. He demonstrates, flicking a lever where your indicator would normally be and takes his hands off the wheel, holding them up.


The car swerves slightly, corrects itself and just like that, we're driving down State Highway 2 at 100kmh, hands free.

If he wanted to, Magnusson could be browsing the web or sipping a cup of coffee. Considering this is my first time in a driverless car, I'm rather glad he doesn't. Instead, he flicks the indicator on and the car detects the lines on the road and smoothly makes a lane change by itself.

Before I know it, Magnusson takes back the wheel and we've swung round, heading back to Lower Hutt. My notepad lies almost forgotten on the seat next to me.

"That was incredible!" I say.

For what a Tesla is worth, it should be. This particular model sells for $110,000. Admittedly, most electric cars don't have the power or features of the Tesla. But they don't cost the same either.

Magnusson doesn't own the Tesla. He's babysitting it for a few days for Charge Net NZ, using it as part of a drive to promote electric cars in New Zealand.

While we were cruising down the highway, still hands free, Magnusson explained electric car use in New Zealand was on the rise.

"We've gone from under 1000 [electric] cars [in New Zealand] to over 2500 in the past 12 months."

It's easy to see why. Charging stations are popping up all over the country and electric cars are cheap to run, costing the equivalent of 30c a litre.

Along with a selection of other cars, the Tesla Model S will be at the Petone Fair next weekend, giving people the chance to see what electric cars can do.

 - Stuff

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