They show you a feature by which you can go to the “settings menu” on the dashboard of your Tesla and change the power to “Ludicrous.” This is a reference to the Mel Brooks movie Spaceballs in which Rick Moranis insists on taking his spaceship to “Ludicrous Speed,” and to reinforce the reference, the Tesla screen fills up with the same hyperspace animation used in the movie. The screen then warns you that “Ludicrous” can accelerate wear on the gearbox, the motor and the battery, followed by a screen that says “Do you want to continue?” while giving you two options:
“No, I want my mommy.”
“Yes, bring it on.”
Then, and only then, you can go zero to sixty in 2.4 seconds.
It’s not exactly the Bugatti Veyron. When you ask the Bugatti guy Does this car kick ass?, he says “This car kicks more ass than Vin Diesel’s last seven movies.”
So who is the Tesla designed for? Apparently it’s designed for wealthy sociology professors who like to hit the indie theaters on the weekend and binge-watch seasons of Doctor Who with their vegetarian wives. The evidence:
A built-in sketchpad for bored passengers is a standard feature.
The car makes nerdy jokes.
Solar roof tiles.
The Autopilot feature, which was used yesterday to total a police car in Laguna Beach, can take over the throttle, brakes, and steering, plus make lane changes on its own when you hit the turn signal. (Of course nobody ever accidentally hits the turn indicator, so that’s totally safe.) The driver, or non-driver, in Laguna Beach was probably watching the Autopilot directions, which include a skit from Saturday Night Live and an icon making your vehicle look like a Mars rover on the GPS screen.
Standard apps include Slacker, Tunein, and podcasts normally patronized by people who shape their lives around TED Talks.
The car connects to your phone so that, wherever you are in the world, you can check the power level and the temperature inside the car. Sort of like an infant monitor.
The car comes with a web browser—yes, that’s what I said—but you can’t watch videos on it. That would be unsafe. Reading fine-print articles about the new panda enclosure at the Shanghai Zoo, on the other hand, will definitely enhance your ride and keep you occupied when you top out on the Autobahn at 155 miles per hour.
All of this hilarity makes the Tesla experience similar to driving an iPhone—all together now, WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS, WEEEEEEEEE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!
But I’ve got news for all you planet-saving drivers. The average American has a carbon footprint of 20 metric tons of greenhouse gases per year. The two main sources of Bad Stuff are a) motor vehicles, and b) homes that run on anything except solar (and even solar is not entirely footprint-free). If you a) never drive a car, and b) don’t live in a house, your carbon footprint in America is down to 8.5 tons, which is more than double the average of every other person in the world, since the global average is 4 tons. In other words, a homeless American is still responsible for 8.5, you can’t go any lower than that.
If you truly want to do your part for ecology, you can a) take the bus, and b) get rid of your refrigerator, which is the most power-hungry thing in your house. If you read the analysts reports on why the $35,000 Tesla is supposedly going to make the company into an international powerhouse, it says one of the main factors is huge tax credits and rebates for people who go electric.
Where everything costs three times what it should because of terrifying tax rates.
And where they love Spaceballs and the cowbell sketch on Saturday Night Live.
The future, my friends, obviously runs through Oslo. Who knew?