So, a week ago I got interviewed for a New York Times article…

It was an unexpected honor to find myself featured in an article in last week’s New York Times.  When I was being interviewed for the article, I did not expect to be featured, but felt the need to represent my opinions as both an owner, EV advocate, and investor in Tesla. There is a fear among some early Tesla fans that the media will give us the “Broder” treatment.  I won’t be re-hashing the controversy here, but I feel that it would be foolish to approach this without considering this years old controversy.

I’m glad to confirm that the New York Times coverage was fair and all quotes attributed to me are accurate.  However, I did spend a lot more time with the writer and the nuances of my conversation with him, didn’t show.

I’ve excerpted the portion where Neal Boudette covered my comments:

Among the skeptics are some of Tesla’s biggest fans.

Take Dennis Pascual, a tech industry consultant in Long Beach, Calif., and owner of two Teslas — a Model S sedan and a two-seat Roadster, the first car Tesla put on the road. He is such a fan, in fact, that he has put down deposits to buy two Model 3 compacts once Tesla starts making the car later this year.

He also owns some Tesla stock, but is not about to buy more.

“It’s a little pricey for me to jump back in,” he said, speaking by phone from his Model S. “Right now, I think we’re in a hold.”

Moreover, he worries about Tesla’s ability to carry out the bold expansion plans it has for this year and next. Tesla’s high-profile chief executive, Elon Musk, has said the company expects to begin production this summer on its first mass-market offering, the Model 3, ramping up to 5,000 cars a month by the end of the year and driving output to several hundred thousand cars over the course of 2018.

“They really need to deliver, and that has me concerned,” Mr. Pascual said, who has worked at start-up companies and has years of experience in the technology business. “I’m bullish long term, but yes, I’m worried. I’m always worried about companies executing.”

Part of where the nuances didn’t show is my discussion with him that indicated my willingness to trade options on Tesla at the current levels, and that though this is different from additional ownership in the stock, still shows my bullishness.  So, the quotes make me look less bullish, but that’s also a function of the impressive rise in recent months.

The last quote attributed to me about being worried about companies executing is verbatim.  It’s also how I tend to balance ANY company that I invest or work for.  At the end of the day, it’s always the execution that I worry about.  Whether it’s Tesla or any other company that I am rooting for.  Missing expectations have a nasty way of biting folks in the … rear end..

It’s not everyday that I find myself in a prestigious newspaper like the New York Times, so I did what anyone would do and we went around town to buy several copies of the actual hard-copy of the paper.

IMG_20170418_112732 In preparation for the article, I spent a couple of hours taking pictures with Andrew Cullen and I am sure that he had a lot of great shots with my smile on it.  The best shot from Andrew was in the original link to the online version of the article that featured me in the Model S looking out.  This was what accompanied the first round of the article when it went online on April 11, 2017. IMG_1449.JPG

I had a smile and looked happy in that one.

However, later photos replaced that for the print and online versions on April 12, 2017.  Andrew did a great job taking photos and I have to thank him for being patient with me.  In keeping with the tone of the article, the photo editors of the paper picked some shots that made it look like I was worried.  I was far from worried, I did have the sun in my eyes for these next shots that were selected for the article, so let’s just chalk that up to great editing.

IMG_20170418_112743 Those that know me well, know that this particular pose and introspection is not how I usually am.  So, it’s rather humorous for people to see me with such a “serious” look. Andrew Cullen for the New York Times (April 12, 2017) IMG_20170418_112820

Either way, I was pleasantly surprised to make it onto the New York Times.  My mother is a huge fan of theirs and I’m sure it thrilled her to no end and a week after its publication, I thoroughly enjoyed the attention it has gathered with family and friends.

My favorite story came from my de-facto aunt and uncle (some of my mom’s closest friends) in New York City who reached out to my mother to convey their surprise at having my picture in the paper during their breakfast ritual.  Paraphrasing my uncle to my aunt, “you would never guess who made it to the front page of the New York Times…”  Beats the heck out of being on the wall in the Post Office. 😜

Five Years of EV Ownership

February 23 is a special day for me. It’s the day that we took delivery of our first EV in 2012. This means that five years ago, today, I joined the rEVolution and picked up my BMW Active E from Long Beach BMW.

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I didn’t even have Level 2 charging installed in the garage on that day and had to plug in the car on 110V.

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In fact, it wasn’t until several weeks have passed until I got our Level 2 charger installed under a grant that covered the charger, but not the installation. It’s a 30A J1772 charger from Chargepoint (CT-500) that is still going strong today (I use this for the Model S predominantly). It’s lost it’s networked feature as the modem in the device is no longer supported.

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What this also means is that February 23 is also a bittersweet day for me as well… As that same Active E was taken from me quite unceremoniously on this same day in 2014.

Time does heal old wounds and I don’t pout when I say Active E anymore.

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Then again, we did add the Roadster and Model S to our garage as we wait for our Model 3 and whatEVer else will take our EV future.

It helps that I can borrow the Roadster when my wife feels generous in letting me use it.

These next two pictures are from when we first picked the Roadster up…

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and how it looks a week ago.

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Here’s the Model S when we picked it up at the Tesla Factory

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at its first Level 2 charge on our delivery weekend first roadtrip (in Sonoma for this shot).

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And this recent shot when I was using the CHAdeMO charger near the Fountain Valley Supercharger from almost two weeks ago.

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And a little nostalgia for those few months that we had more EVs than drivers in 2013-2014.

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That was all three cars scheduled to charge at various times throughout the night on their own chargers.

Unfortunately, didn’t have a better shot of all three cars… Here’s a classic shot of the Model S and Roadster on the Model S first day home.

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In fact, for the past five years since we picked up the Active E  With all three cars (and various loaners and the few EV rentals we’ve done), we’ve added approximately 204,000 electric miles vs. 24,000 gasoline miles (both our own use, and when we lend our lone ICE car to visitors, as well as our use of ICE rental cars).   What’s funny is how much fanfare I had when I first hit 100,000 electric miles, and 200,000 went by and I didn’t even pay attention to it.

I’ve documented the challenges that we’ve had with all three cars and they’ve all pretty much “behaved.” In fact our Model S just replaced its first 12V battery earlier this week. We’ve actually just replaced all four tires on the Model S a few weeks prior (still around 69,000 miles on the Model S).

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To be fair, we did replace ONE of the four tires about 30,000 miles or so ago for a tire failure from driving over a road hazard. But the wear was pretty even, and we replaced all four tires when the tread was around 4/32 for two of the tires, and kept the other two (at 5/32) as “back-up”. The tires are “special order” and I would hate to have a failure and not have a pair ready to swap out (at the same tread.)

I guess what’s really special with driving EV is how “normal” it is for us now.  In the beginning everything felt like it was going to be a challenge.  How we managed to get 54,321 miles in the Active E in the two years that we had it depended a lot on available Level 2 charging.  The infrastructure was there and we planned our trips so that we can recover miles when we got to our destinations.  With the Roadster, we didn’t need to plan as much.  We often had enough range to get back home.  Now with the Model S, it’s even more interesting.  We went Here, There, and EVerywhere as well as the Long Way Round to the Gigafactory Party.  But the fact of the matter is, we picked up the Model S at the Fremont Factory.  Went to Sonoma for wine and then back down to Southern California in November 2013, without much planning.  That’s what EV ownership should be like.  Pick up and go.

Are we there yet?  To me, I’m there.  But to the rest of the world, perhaps we’re getting there.  It’s been a great 5 years and 200,000 miles of EV driving, and I’m looking for more and more EV adventures.  Stay with us and see where electricity will take us.

Second impression of the Lucid Air, and a Test Ride (and video.)

On Saturday morning, I drove to meet the Lucid Air at Cars and Coffee Aliso Viejo. It was a great first impression. I had a good feel for the car, but I was really looking forward to the day after that Cars and Coffee because I was lucky enough to score an invite to one of two Test Ride EVents that Lucid had scheduled last weekend.

The first one was later on Saturday evening at the Petersen Automotive Museum and the second was at a private residence in Newport Beach. Since my wife and I were occupied on Saturday evening, we made plans to join Lucid on Sunday afternoon.

My original invite to the event was as a “plus one” for another friend who was invited as well. We had made plans to carpool down to the event, so I asked if my wife can join us as well, and he was cool to pick us both up.  It was a treat, because he was planning on taking his Model X to the event, and I’ve had limited time riding in any Model X.

So, we met at our house and he drove us down to the event.

Seeing those banners at the side of the road meant that we’ve landed at the right place.

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To call the place that Lucid was using for this party a “house” is like calling the Model S a “golf cart.”  Apparently the home was being sold for $55 Million dollars.  (supposedly at a loss as I overheard something to the effect of $150 Million for the purchase price.)  This figure is unconfirmed, whereas the $55 Million price was the ask for the listing.

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The walk down the driveway was long enough that Lucid provided golf carts to shuttle us from the entrance down to the house.

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It was such an opulent setting for a party, I felt like I was vying for a “rose” at the end of the party 😜.

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To the left of the house was where a large screen was set up for the presentation. But before the presentation, we get to explore and mingle.

First stop was to talk motors with David, the Director for Powertrain.  He spent some time explaining the 400 HP front and 600 HP rear motors.  The initial motor that they were developing  is doing something with the magnets that were “normal” and the subsequent motors were going to be doing something else with the magnets that would make them even more powerful.  If I had been more technical, I would have remembered what he said.  Unfortunately, that was several days ago, and I’m sure that I’ll hear about it again before the cars are released.  He was also showing off how small these motors were, even though they were pretty powerful.

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This next shot shows the gears that drive the wheels and makes the car go!

 

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After talking motors with David, we headed through the house to the back porch where Lucid had set up some virtual mockups of the interior and a Virtual Reality (VR) of the ride experience.

 

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To the right of the patio was a mock up of the driver cluster and infotainment cluster.

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Having seen the actual prototype the day before, it was laid out sans steering wheel.

 

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There were several interior trim samples.  The packages were named after some of the ritzier cities in California (Santa Monica, Tahoe, etc.)

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There was also a virtual reality experience. I tend to get dizzy with those, so I skipped it.

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There was also some cheese and fruit setting in the back, but I was there for car stuff, so I skipped those.

We were given a fair warning that the presentation was to start, so we headed back to the front and where the screen was.

I decided to take a panoramic of the front driveway.

 

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And then another panoramic from the front back to the house.

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Then the presentation started.  We were taken on the Lucid journey by three members of Lucid’s management team.

First up was Zak Edson, Director of Marketing.

 

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Followed by Derek Jenkins, Vice President of Design.

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Then finally by Peter Rawlinson, Chief Technology Officer.  He had this funny slide explaining Horse Power and describing the shrinking size of HP from the first horse to ICE engines to the Lucid Motor.

 

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This slide shows where the LIDAR (4 of them) and cameras are that will enable the Air to get to autonomy when that is offered.

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And rather than use a drop-cloth to do the reveal of the Lucid Air to this crowd (as they had done at the Petersen Museum event the night before).  Lucid actually drove the Show Prototype down the driveway to the crowd below   IMG_0940

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It’s a nice looking design in front.  I don’t really like the rear exterior of the car, but it still looked great.

In discussing the Show Prototype with several of the other Lucid Design members, I found out that these 22″ tires are special ones that are for the show car, but probably won’t make the production car.

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Apparently, Pirelli had these laying around, but not producing them.  Still looks great, but knowing how much tires cost and how often they’re replaced on aggressively driven EVs, I would opt for a more sensible sized wheel and tire combination.

So, after a full day of waiting.  I finally got to actually go in and experience the interior of the Show Prototype…  Especially the rear passenger seats in the Executive Seating package.

 

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As I previously mentioned, the trim packages are named after “ritzy” California cities…  The Show Prototype is named after Santa Cruz.   (No San Quentins or Alcatraz Islands here. 😜)

 

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Here is your author fully reclining in the executive seats of the Show Prototype taking a selfie.  It’s like being in a business class seat.  Not fully lay flat, but pretty darn comfortable.

 

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The Lucid Executive Seat controls are a touch panel in the center, shared by both passengers.

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Which means it would be easy to program other functions to it.

Here is my seatmate on the left adjusting his seats…

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The view of the front from the back seats.

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A dedicated vent for air…  I like that.  Don’t have to share.  Just wonder how strong it is.

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A great shot of someone else in the back seat with the leg support extended.

 

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After lounging in the back, it was my turn in the front seat of the Show Prototype without having to sit awkwardly to avoid getting dirt in it because of the damp weather from Saturday.

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The infotainment screen in the middle.

 

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Some cool looking diagnostics…

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Lots of range left.

 

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The footwell is pretty standard, though looks like some loose wires to the left.

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Nice touchscreen to the right to dynamically change the driving style of the car. This menu is a little less accessible on the Model S (under current releases.)

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And the functionality, as with many touch screens can be changed.

 

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Back to the infotainment…

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Love the fact that the creep can be turned on and off.  (I prefer to drive with it off.)  It also looks like they’re using air suspension.

 

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Obviously a mock up on the Show Prototype…

 

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We’re in Newport Beach, CA, not the Bay Area.

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Lots of configurable options on the displays… Not sure how many are actually implemented.

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Error codes?
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After checking out the car, I went to stand in line for the test rides.

But while waiting, they opened the front trunk (they were not using the “frunk” nomenclature), so my wife held our place in line and I ran over to take some pictures of the front trunk.

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That’s a deep front trunk.

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We then jumped back in line for Prototype 2… Apparently there were some issues with Prototype 4 from the previous evening, so we’re down to one prototype for the drive events.
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If you remember from the article on Cars and Coffee, Prototype 2 had the bench seating and Prototype 4 had the prototype executive seating.

After a little wait, we got to ride in the car…

I’m in the rear passenger side seat and here I am getting my iPhone ready to take photos.

 

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My better half shot this video…

Some stills from me.

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When we got back, we hung out with some friends and soaked up more of the atmosphere…

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Had to take the “car in the background” shot…  It’s a beautiful, sunny Southern California day, so have to look good while hanging out in the sun.

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A few more car shots…

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The Lucid Air looked great yesterday, but it looks even better with more light.

While we were chatting with friends.  Someone finally managed to get the trunk opened, and I ran over to take some pictures of that.

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That grey floor cover can be removed.

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So, I guess the drawback is hauling space in the executive seat option. The Model S does a better job of that.

And with that, we bid adieu to our friends.

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We took the golf cart back to valet and said farewell to the awesome house that the party was held at.

 

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While we were waiting for the valet to bring our friend’s Model X up… Prototype 2 passed us again…

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The sun was setting over the Pacific Ocean as we headed back home.

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Overall, I would say that if we decided to go for the executive seat option, Lucid has made a car that I would prefer to have someone else drive me around in than drive myself in.  The power at 40% is great, but I’m all about the range.

Additionally, the Lucid folks recognize that they have to get a deal done for DC Fast charging and I’m rooting that Tesla works with them to let them into the Supercharger network.  Otherwise, it’s a longer climb for Lucid to get there.

First Impressions of the Lucid Air

This weekend, Lucid Motors brought its EV, the Lucid Air to Southern California to show off its prototype vehicle.

My first indication of this trip to Southern California was via twitter.

I was on a trip to Miami when the initial tweet went out and I figured to set up a meetup for the Tesla Owners Club of Orange County membership to attend one of the public “unveils” of this interesting new EV.  The club membership have many owners who are proponents of EVs in general as is evidenced by our early “reveal” of the Chevy Bolt EV a few months ago.

I was unsure whether or not I would be able to attend the event as my flight from Miami was scheduled to arrive around midnight on Friday evening and the Cars and Coffee in Aliso Viejo was scheduled at 7am on Saturday morning.  Things looked even worse when it turned out that our flight was subject to a gate hold for over an hour and I didn’t get home until 1am this morning.

But, we’re talking about a new EV, and as many long-time readers know, I’m sort of an EV nut.  So…

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This was especially early for me because between my announcement of the club meetup earlier in the week and the EVent this morning at Cars and Coffee Aliso Viejo, I got two invites from friends to join them for the “invitation” Lucid event for actual test rides. So, this first impression is solely for the Aliso Viejo Cars and Coffee and I will probably have a second write-up and pictures from the more up-close and experiential EVent that I decided to join tomorrow

Well, Lucid first showed up with two Alpha Prototypes.  Around 7:10 AM, these two wrapped cars drove by while I was speaking with a few folks.

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Here are some closer shots of the wrapped prototypes.

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These early prototypes were not luxurious by any means, but provide a good idea of what sort of trim and style of seating that the Lucid Air will have.

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The car (that has the number 2 on it) has the bench seating in the back.  And the other car (the one with the number 4 on it) has a mock-up of an “executive” seating type of set-up (for China, and livery services perhaps.)  Additionally, the 2 car has a solid roof, whereas the one with number 4 has a panoramic (like the Model X, Model 3, or the new Model S fixed glass) roof.

Here is the seating for the “4” car.

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Here’s the glass roof on the “4” car.

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Here I am seated in the back of prototype “4” car.

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The view from the back seat.

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Lucid brought their “show” car out much later and it made for a dramatic entrance.

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Here’s the back of the car…

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Peaking into the Show Prototype, we can see that Lucid opted to kit it out with the Executive Seating.

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I took some pictures when others were able to grab a seat in the show car. The interior trim looks good.

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Here’s another shot of the Executive Seating in the back.

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There’s a little touchscreen between the two seats for some controls. I didn’t see that up close, but it’s pretty cool.

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On the Show Prototype, Lucid opted to kit it with some cool things.

First, the tires and wheels are huge for a sedan. I think these are 22″ tires.

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The front of the car is pretty sleek.

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There is a LIDAR and camera in the very front to help the car in its autonomous functions.

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And the High Lumen LED lights look interesting on the Show Prototype.

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If you look at the front hood of the car, there seems to be two dark vents above the lights, and I was told that this provides a “vent” for the heat generated by the front lights of the car.

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We never got to see the Trunk or Frunk or the charging port for the Show Prototype. Actually, specific to the Show Prototype, the charging port is not accessible, (it’s in the Frunk for the Show Prototype.) On 2 and 4, it is actually a front charging door by the driver side. Lucid has not decided what to do for DC Fast Charging yet, and they are still considering technology for the released vehicle.

Here’s the front seat of the Show Prototype.

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Looking at the back from the front seat.

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I got to sit in the front seat… And that was pretty cool.

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The cockpit looks great with this prototype’s finish.

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The three screens are filled with very useful information.

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Here’s the wood trim on the door controls.

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The show prototype had the same glass roof as the “4” prototype.

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So, all in… It’s a great looking car. Unfortunately, this venue didn’t have test rides in the car, and we’re off to the second of two Southern California ride events this weekend and another post will follow with my impressions of being chauffeured in one of these cars.  So, stay tuned as I will write about my further impressions from the events tomorrow.

Click here for the Test Ride and Second Impression of the Lucid Air. 

Tesla Weekend Social 2017, a visit to Paramus, NJ

A week ago, January 21, 2017, my wife and I were on a trip to New York and planned to visit my cousin and the new addition to his family in Randolph, NJ for the day.  This is one of my cousins who had kindly housed us both heading to Maine and back from Maine during our Here, There, EVerywhere cross-country trip of 2015.   We were staying in Manhattan the night before and had some time before we were scheduled to see them on January 21st, so it was a welcome surprise when we received an invite to the first Tesla Weekend Social of 2017. We wanted to see what has changed since the first social that we attended last year.

We received the following email on the 14th of January.

TESLA
Weekend Social
Please join us for a Weekend Social New Year celebration at your nearest Tesla location.

Kick off 2017 alongside fellow owners, enthusiasts and Tesla staff. Family and friends are also welcome. Seasonal refreshments will be provided.

To attend an upcoming event near you, please RSVP below. We look forward to celebrating with you

After some challenges obtaining a confirmation (apparently there were some back-end issues that was communicated to us and eventually fixed,) we were able to get a confirmation to be added to the attendee list at the Paramus, NJ Sales, Service, Delivery Center and Supercharger location.  Since our family commitments were not until the afternoon, we decided to head over to Paramus, NJ to attend the first Tesla Social of the year and to spend a few hours with some New Jersey Tesla folks.

To provide ourselves with the most flexibility for this visit, we rented a car from Hertz.  Unfortunately, unlike our experience renting with Hertz’s On-Demand 24×7 product from a few years ago, there are no longer any electric vehicles in Hertz New York locations (nor is the 24×7 product being offered in the USA.)  So, we had to rely on driving an ICE vehicle for this trip, a Ford Focus.

We arrived at the location about 15 minutes before the scheduled 10:00 am program and secured a spot near the front of the store.  Here is a photograph of the area by the entrance of the store that we parked our rental car in.  We were originally parked right beside the HUGE ICE SUV on the right of the photograph.

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Upon exiting our rental, one of the employees requested my keys to move the vehicle to the back of the store. It’s a rental and I had some items in the car that I didn’t feel comfortable to be in a section that I can’t see the car in, so I asked if he needed to move it, that he move it somewhere closer. He decided to move it to the other side of the parking lot, away from the entrance and across the superchargers at the location.

This location was not nearly as convenient as the customer parking spot that I originally used, but I figured there must be a reason why he needed to move my rental.  However, as you can see from the first photograph, this was a strange request as our original parking spot was right beside a large ICE SUV and another ICE vehicle.

We checked in and signed into the paper sign-in sheet that the store had placed at the entrance.  Here is the walkway to the entrance and the sign in is to the left of the photo.

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Directly ahead of the entrance is your typical Tesla Service Center entrance reception desk. (This is not normally situated in a Tesla Store). Remember, Paramus is a combination Sales, Service, Deliver Center and Supercharger location.

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For the event, the store personnel provided coffee, bagels and other breakfast items along the credenza under the apparel, beside the Design Studio wall.

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I walked around the area to get my bearings and took a peek at the Delivery Center part of the store and saw an X and an S awaiting their new owners.  It seems that the New Jersey folks were not one of the stores that cover the vehicles in some sort of drop-cloth as I’ve seen in other Delivery Centers.

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Not being used to weather, we originally walked in with our winter travel coats and realized that there was no place to keep our jackets.  Rather than wear our jackets the whole time, I decided to return them to the car.  I had to look for the employee who took our rental key to get access to the rental car and place our jackets in there. Once I located that employee, who is nameless, not to protect the guilty, but because he never took the time to introduce himself to me. I found the car tucked in between several inventory Model S that they have on the lot, and not by any customer vehicles.

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The rental car was nicely surrounded by Teslas, but I did not ever notice any other customers vehicles being collected in the same manner as our rental car.

It appears that we were particularly targeted for this as when I walked by my original parking spot.  Another monstrous ICE SUV was parked there and not another Tesla or anything related to the event.  I was a little miffed at this considering the fact that all other customers were able to park in the customer section and our little rental car was summarily moved.  Either way, that’s a section of improvement for Tesla Paramus.  Either valet park all cars, or leave them be.

This particular event at Paramus seemed to be more casual than the other Tesla Social events that we have attended in the past. There did not seem to be an agenda and we spent a long time talking to the Tesla employees and fellow owners before we were brought into the lounge for the group discussion portion of the event.

Prior to being brought into the lounge for the group discussion, we spent a lot of time with two members of the staff who were very attentive and we wanted to commend them. Monica and Joey (didn’t catch last names). Monica moved to Paramus, NJ from Pasadena, CA and Joey who just started a few weeks ago.  They were very eager and helpful.  Monica has been with Tesla for a while and we discussed her move to New Jersey from California as well as my wife’s Roadster and Joey, as a new employee, was effectively being trained by us as long-time owners of Tesla.

Don’t get me wrong, I can spend HOURS talking Tesla with people, it’s just strange to invite a group of owners without seeming to have a plan for their time.

We waited until about 10:45 am before the program started.  However, program might be a generous word for this event.  It seems that it was meant to be very free-flow and I suspect that an agenda and some structure could have helped make the event better. The format was very open and thus had a hard time maintaining a flow.  There were many owners there.

 

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Topics ranged all over the place and it was interesting to hear information that was directly contradictory to advice that I have received in Southern California regarding tire rotations and the like from Tesla Service personnel in New Jersey. Perhaps the difference can be attributed to the difference in climate and weather between the states.  In hearing from those involved at the location, it seems that folks around New Jersey have to go through a lot more tires than I do in Southern California.  I didn’t want to be the cause of ire from other owners, so I politely kept this information to myself.

Another subject that was brought up was regarding the $0.40 per minute supercharger idle fee that was recently enacted by Tesla.  It seems that these concerns are quite universal and the discussion around this was interesting.

After the group discussion wrapped up, a few of the New Jersey owners joined us in conversation as they were intrigued by visitors from California attending their session.  It seems that there is currently not an official Tesla Owners club for the New Jersey area and I spent some time explaining how the Orange County, CA club operates versus its other brethren in other parts of the world.  Several of the New Jersey owners seemed interested in forming one for their area and I handed out club cards for them to reach out for more information.

We also discussed Roadster ownership versus Model S as well as our visit to their state from our trip cross-country and how relatively easy and enjoyable that trip had been.

In the end, it was just as advertised, it was a Tesla Social, but one without an agenda.  I felt that an opportunity was missed in that this was the first social after some drastic changes in ownership for those that take delivery of a Tesla after the removal of the included supercharging for the life of the vehicle policy was replaced with the new pay as you go system.  Additionally, it’s been a few days since the release of the Tesla Model S and Model X 100D top range versions of those vehicles and it would have been good to have been provided some sort of presentation on those.  Alas, this was not the plan for the day.

We spent some time with yet another early Model S owner discussing growing pains and we took our leave so that we can head out to visit my cousin and his family.  We said our farewell to the two Tesla staff members, Monica and Joey, who provided such good company and service and left for the day.  These two counterbalanced the unnamed employee who saw it fit to move our Ford Focus rental while leaving all other vehicles unmolested.

Civil disturbance and Tesla supercharging…

A few months ago, around Thanksgiving Holiday, there have been numerous reports of the Barstow Tesla Supercharger being vandalized and a key route between Nevada and California being taken offline. Our friends at Teslarati (and photo credits to Tony Williams) had great coverage of the event. That event shows the challenge of the current configuration of the Supercharger network and the need for those that travel the long distance supercharger routes to be aware of their options to charge.

Last weekend, January 7, 2017. I found myself running low on charge while visiting family.

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We were 40 miles from home and 39 miles of range left for the car. The family members we were visiting were close to the Tesla Supercharger at the Westfield at Culver City.  I figured to make a pit-stop over there to top up while my better half took care of family commitments.  Rather than risk driving out of charge, I figured to go ahead and top-up.  Besides, January is often a slow month at the mall.

The Culver City Supercharger has a mix of back in and head-in charging stations.  I took one of the stalls that head in as it was not paired with anyone and wanted to get as quick a charge rate as possible.

My plan was to charge to full as it was a slow day.  Besides, I had my iPad on me and took the time to catch up on things while I charged.   I figured that when the station fills up, I can move.  If someone else pulled up and needed to use a stall, I can leave at that time. The entire time I was at the center, the usage was unusually low for this location. I chalked this up to a slow January evening.  With the after holiday sales going on, I decided to head over to the recently opened Starbucks across the parking lot from the supercharger to see if they had any clearance items left.

So, I put my iPad down, stepped out, and looked behind me.

Well, it seems that the mall was unusually empty and I started to take pictures as I saw police vehicles and people mulling about.

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The news was here too, and I thought that was strange.

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There were people standing outside what looks to be a closed mall entrance.

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And there were three more police vehicles parked with no officers in them, nor were their lights flashing.

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I turned the corner to get toward the Starbucks and noticed ANOTHER police vehicle with lights flashing this time.  However, no sign of any officers directing traffic or anything.

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At this side of the mall, the entrance was definitely closed.

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I decided to speak to some of the people and received a wide range of conjecture of what was happening.  Some of their reports ranged from minor things to really serious things that I figured to head back to my car.

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On the way back, I contacted a friend of mine who advised me that the local Culver City news was reporting that there were teenagers in the parking structure about a football field away from the superchargers were causing mayhem and vandalizing parked cars.  He wasn’t sure how accurate the reports were, but that behavior seems to target people IN the parking lot and not at the mall itself.

Needless to say, that motivated me to leave. Prior to departing, however, I made the other owners at the superchargers aware of the reports that I heard and let them make their own decision to stay or to leave.

The reports were finally written and I am linking to the article published in the Culver City News.  I’m glad that these troublemakers didn’t get anywhere close to the superchargers.

This event brings me back to wonder about supercharging and the need to have backup charging sites identified.  In the case of the Culver City Supercharger, it is very close to the original Los Angeles Supercharger at the Hawthorne Design Center or the Redondo Beach Supercharger.

(map screenshot from Teslarati.com)

LAX area superchargers

Granted, we could have plugged in at 120V at the house that we were visiting, but that is cumbersome and events like what happened last week are rare.  I’m just glad that the event was really a “non” event for us, but it could just as easily have been a challenge and one really needs to be more aware of options in charging.  A good part of this blame really is my own, but I assumed that I would have sufficient charge.  The other thing I suppose I should have done more is to take my head off the iPad when I am sitting in my car and charging.  When I have company when I am charging, I spend my time conversing with my traveling companions, but when I am charging at a location by myself, then it’s not a guarantee that I won’t get engrossed in what I am doing.  So, a word of caution, and just something else to learn from.

My experiences at the Faraday Future FF91 Unveil

A few weeks ago, I got an invite from Faraday Future to join them for the unveiling of the FF91.  The event was going to be at Las Vegas on January 3rd and I excitedly accepted the invitation.

Though much of the content that I have written on this site are Tesla or BMW focused (historically), I have always been a fan of electric vehicle technology and felt that anything to progress the cause further is well worth supporting.

Because, we’re based in Southern California, and Las Vegas is only a few hundred miles away, we took the opportunity to drive to the event. As with other events, we were presented with the choice between self and valet parking. Having waited for extended periods for the valet at Tesla events, I figured to take the self parking option.

I guess there was going to be some media at the event.

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And our car had a nice background to it in the self parking lot that Faraday Future provided for us.

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The thing with the self parking option, is it was on the BACK SIDE of the pavilion that Faraday was using for its reveal.

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And we had to walk down between two pavilions in the dark to get to the entrance.

While walking toward the entrance, we spotted what looked like the FF car before the reveal, I tried to sneak a picture of it, alas my flash went off and ruined the shot.

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The next set of doors that we were able to peak into had some of the AV folks, but no car.

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After a very long walk in the cold, Las Vegas evening, we were rewarded with the entrance to the tent.

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The self parking lot was a little bit of a walk from the front and as a result, it took us at least 15 minutes to get to the party.

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It was the first time to see the skateboard for the Variable Platform Architecture (VPA) that Faraday told us about last year.

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Though, I must admit, it does not look very VARIABLE in the configuration at the party.

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The skateboard looks like a solid piece that isn’t really going to be the modular design pitched last year. Furthermore, this skateboard looks handbuilt.

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It was nice to see the adequate seating provided at the event and the holding reception area was well attended.

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We queued up for the entrance to ensure that we got good seats. And Faraday’s first invites were for the members of the broadcast and video media to get themselves set up to get their feeds in.

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When the doors opened, depending on the color of the wristband issued to guests, seating areas were provided.

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We got silver seating, so we ended up in Section 3.

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However, the three roped off sections in front of us were made available to us to move to just before the start of the event, so we were able to occupy the second row from the front of this section.

The first of many speakers started.

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I have one hand taking pictures and the other on Twitter… And Chelsea decides to scoop FF with this tweet at the beginning of the presentation.

I found out later that evening that she apparently saw the car getting staged around the corner from the entrance of the event, just where she was dropped off by her ride, and decided to take a quick snap.

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The drama and staging was long and grandiose. And I hope that next time they show the car MUCH sooner.

Four speakers long, and I think my favorite demonstration was the self-parking one.

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But that’s because I’m all about range and not necessarily speed.

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I don’t really enjoy the whole “new species” thing when talking about cars. Perhaps it’s watching the Terminator too much and being exposed to the whole Skynet thing.

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Driverless valet’s other great invention, saving valet parking charges and tips.

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This demonstration was the first official view of the car.

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Here’s a video of the car using Driverless Valet:

I liked the fact that in this demonstration the car backed into the spot. Because, if you look at how I parked in the beginning of this article, I tend to do the same thing.

However, I snicker at the snark from EW Niedermeyer on twitter.

The next part of the presentation was cool in that we finally get to see the car up front. However, the view was too short for any value to be derived from these timed drag races in front of an audience.

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I do love the range though.

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I forgot to take a picture of the first car, but here’s the Ferrari.

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The Model X.

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and finally the FF91.

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Rather than provide stills…

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I did shoot a couple of videos…

The first is the initial launch.

The second is the return from that launch

and the third is the launch by the FF/Dragon Racing Formula E Driver

And then they talked design.

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And they pulled their special guest, YT Jia, what happened next was covered in the news, and all I can say is that it was painful to watch while in the audience and even more painful to hear the excuses.

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Faraday’s primary investor, YT Jia, spoke to the crowd and was undeterred by the failure of the car to perform its self parking task. And kudos for him to continue his speech after that uncomfortable episode.

Eventually, the car did drive itself to the middle of the stage and the media were provided close up access to the car. Not an invitation to sit in it or anything, but definitely a chance to see it closer.

I didn’t have a media pass. However, I do have friends in the media, and one of them lent me his pass so that I could take closer shots of the vehicle.

Here’s a picture of the throng of media covering the event and had access to see the vehicle up close.

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On the way to the car, spotted some of the principal Faraday Future speakers being interviewed.

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Finally, close up pictures of the FF91.

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While I was checking out the car, I noticed a familiar sight. Alex Roy, Canonball Driver extraordinaire and editor for The Drive.

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It was around this location of the car that we heard some strange pumping noises. Alex Roy went live on Periscope or FB to try to gather some conversation on what this noise could be. Some of the more skeptical journalists around me thought that it sounded like a diesel. Being married to a Tesla Roadster owner, and as an EV advocate, I proposed that it sounded more like a battery cooling system. It was loud enough to hear in person, but difficult to record, so I gave up trying to record the sound. There was a lot of ambient noise and I decided it wasn’t worth trying to record that.

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I think the noise from the vehicle must have been coming from one of these vents.

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We left the vehicle and proceeded to go to the reception area to see if we can catch up with a few EV friends.

On the way to the reception area, we caught up with a contact at FF and I was able to get a ballpark for prices for the FF91. I was told that $150k to start with lower pricing to be close to $90k after the initial $150k price points. It’s a number that looks realistic with volume, so I hope that they use that VPA platform to build something smaller and less expensive.

    So, what about the car?

I’m intrigued with the interior and infotainment system that they are touting. It would have been good to let us sit in and experience that, if it was truly available. Perhaps at the next reveal.

I like the really long range, but as I’ve often discussed with others, I sometimes have to make stops before I need to charge for “bio” reasons.
During the presentation they bragged about the 200 KW charging system that sounds like a PROPRIETARY charging system. Considering that CCS is already discussing 350 kW and Elon’s latest tweets take aim at beating that 350 kW charging, by the time FF91 is released, 200 kW would have been surpassed. Additionally, who has a charging network built to handle that speed? Perhaps the recent announcement of 400 kW charging stations from Chargepoint would partner with Faraday Future and handle the charging for this. However, that network will need to be built and available after delivery. As it is currently, networks are either the proprietary Tesla Supercharger or some electric corridors that are using CHAdeMO and CCS at a maximum of 50 kW if not 25 kW in some parts.

I really think that FF should have demonstrated the VPA with multiple vehicles rather than just one. If you’re going to tout your ability to have multiple sizes quickly, execute on that.

As for the FF91 itself, the car they showed had four seats. It’s a HUGE car and I would expect there to be at least five, if not seven seats. I thought that the car was going to be a crossover, and thus a competitor to the Model X, not another Model S competitor. At the prices that they are charging for the vehicle, I’d like to see more. The Model X is out, but it’s the only one of its class. By going after the Model S, others have already targeted that vehicle. I think that it was a missed opportunity from FF. By configuring the vehicle with only four seats, it seems that the target market for FF isn’t the United States, but China. It looks like the sort of car that one is chauffeured around in, and not one that an owner drives his or herself in.

I had hoped that there would have been an opportunity to ride in several of the vehicles that were shown at the reveal. Tesla does that at their vehicle reveals, whether the Model 3, the dual motor reveal, and so forth. And I had half-expected FF to do that. Apparently, others got to get a ride in the vehicle several days later.

Either way, it was a good trip. I’m always glad to see future EV choices. The aesthetics were to “space age” for us and we’re probably going to wait for their next vehicle to see if we can be tempted.