Tesla software upgrade

Meet the silent car that uses no petrol and drives itself

THERE'S only silence when this car kicks into gear.

"It's the sound of the future,'' owner Vas Srinivasan says as he guides the Tesla S electric vehicle out into the Nicklin Way traffic.

The orthodontist paid about $120,000 for the car, one of only 25 which will be covered in its Signature red hue.

It is charged by two solar powered stations at his home and Parreara practice which have delivered 20,000 kilometres motoring already without a dollar spent on fuel.

Vas was the first to register a Tesla in Queensland. There are now 50, the 11 held by Sunshine Coast owners making this region the highest per capita purchaser of the futuristic vehicle in Australia.

GALLERY: Tesla - the car that drives itself

Tesla owner Vas Srinivasan has just installed new software upgrade to his Tesla that allows him to drive virtually hands free. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily
Tesla owner Vas Srinivasan has just installed new software upgrade to his Tesla that allows him to drive virtually hands free. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily Patrick Woods

Those numbers are about to increase significantly.

In March next year a cheaper version, priced between $40,000 and $45,000, will be released to the market opening the way for middle income earners to access the technology.

"I grew up in India where I lived with smoke haze, pollution and so many people," Vas explained.

"When I found this concept - hybrids make only a small improvement (on emissions) - and it has a 500km range it was a no brainer."

We head south, a bus ahead of us and cars beside and behind.

Vas's hands are off the steering wheel, his feet nowhere near the brake.

Tesla owner Vas Srinivasan has just installed new software upgrade to his Tesla that allows him to drive virtually hands free. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily
Tesla owner Vas Srinivasan has just installed new software upgrade to his Tesla that allows him to drive virtually hands free. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily Patrick Woods

The tail lights of the bus flash as it comes to a halt at a traffic light and the Tesla, guided by a new-age auto pilot software package, safely comes to a stop behind it.

Sensors read the conditions including road signs feeding data into the control system and sharing via wi-fi with other Tesla owners.

A simple flick of a lever is the only signal the vehicle needs to drive itself.

As speed limits change the car adjusts accordingly. It will change lanes if the indicator is flicked but only if it is safe to do so

The large screen optical display delivers traffic data in real time indicating where bottlenecks are occurring. Request any song by simply asking and the software searches the net using a Telstra 3G sim card in the car.

We turn off the busy main road and find some space.

Vas hits the accelerator and I'm driven back hard into my seat as we reach 60kph in the blink of an eye before the vehicle slows itself for a fast approaching roundabout.

The Tesla S can go from standing still to 100kph in just 4.1 seconds.

Tesla owner Vas Srinivasan has just installed new software upgrade to his Tesla that allows him to drive virtually hands free. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily
Tesla owner Vas Srinivasan has just installed new software upgrade to his Tesla that allows him to drive virtually hands free. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily Patrick Woods

Power comes from an electric motor the size of a six-pack of beer that sits between the rear wheels.

There is storage space at the front of the car and a large rear boot.

The new P90D has two modes - "Ludicrous" which does nought to 100 in three seconds and "Insane" that covers the ground in 3.6 seconds.

Vas, like many of his fellow Tesla owners, has become an advocate for the new technology and what it means for the future.

The in-demand orthodontist has taken time from his busy practice to show off the car and had to step on a plane later in the day to fly to Hong Kong to deliver lectures there, then in Singapore, India and Indonesia.

He's tried without success to encourage both the Sunshine Coast and Fraser Coast mayors to consider putting in rapid charging infrastructure, not to satisfy the needs of a few rich owners but to give an example of their region's forward-thinking mindset.

Elon Musk, the owner and technological innovation driver behind Tesla, has used the $15,000 profit per vehicle he makes on world-wide sales to fund research and development of the cheaper version of the vehicle which is about to hit the market.

He is in a way the Henry Ford of his time.

"Every child I see in my practice knows more about Tesla than their parents," Vas said.

"It's an ultra-speed super car that is so good for the environment.

"It will change the way people drive."



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