Do Electric Vehicles Have a Soul? (Part 2)

Tesla Answers the Question  – Do Electric Vehicles Have a Soul?

(Part 2 of a 2-part series)

The Tour – After reading the article mentioned in Part 1 of this series, I had a new appreciation for electric vehicles “with a soul.” When I was telling a friend about the article and the various specs of the vehicle, my enthusiasm was obvious. As luck would have it, that friend just happened to be making a Tesla purchase and invited me to come along for a factory tour…so what was I going to say, “No?”

The Tesla plant is located in the industrial area of Fremont, California between Interstates 880 and 680, about a 30-minute ride from the San Jose airport. The facility was formerly known as New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI), a joint venture between General Motors and Toyota. The NUMMI plant ceased operations on April 1, 2010, ending the Toyota-GM joint venture when the manufacturing plant saw its last Toyota Corolla roll off the assembly line. Tesla bought the factory in 2010 for $42 million. They are currently using less than 25% of the building’s capacity.

The factory doubles as a super-charging station, so as we waited there was a steady stream of owners to talk with during the visit. All the owners seem very pleased with the product.

There were no cameras allowed on the tour, so here’s a video from the Tesla website and below are a few pictures of me and the showroom.

The tour itself was pretty impressive; huge metal stamping machines punched out body parts that are then assembled by robots. There were a lot of software programmer types around who were responsible for keeping the assembly line moving, and also the software integration between the car and large touchscreen computer located on the dash of each car.


 And here are a few fun facts I learned on my tour:

  • The cars have a driving range of up to 300 miles and can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 5.6 seconds
  • The 17″ center dash touch-screen display controlled everything about the car and gave the overall impression of complete integration between computer and car
  • Vehicle Delivery person claimed the only fluid needing maintenance is windshield washer fluid
  • Car’s total underside has 7,000 Panasonic NCR18650 lithium ion batteries, each about the size and shape of a standard consumer AA battery. The batteries are wired in series
  • No transmission means no driveshaft hump
  • Under the hood, there was a window washer reservoir, otherwise it was completely empty
  • In the trunk, there is charging cable storage, otherwise completely empty
  • The motor is inline with the back axel and hidden under the back seat
  • 3-phase AC induction motor, single speed reduction gear transmission produces 410 bhp @ 5000-6700 rpm, and 443 lb-ft tourque @ 0-5100 rpm
  • Tesla produced 22,000 S models in 2013

I was lucky enough to get a ride back to the airport in a shiny new S model. The magazine article I read was right on when it stated: “…the gut-rearranging torque drew gleeful screams of ‘OHHH YEAAAAAAAAAAH’ out of every single person that sat in the cabin…”

For more information, visit the Tesla forum at:

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About the Author

Brian Warfield

Brian Warfield is a Senior Product Manager for the Mitchell 1 SocialCRM product line. He has been in the automotive software business for over 20 years and has earned a degree in Marketing from the University of Cincinnati Business College.