Similarly, I’ve been behind the curve on electric cars, mainly because the first one I drove was an i-MiEV, Mitsubishi’s attempt to convince the world that the future would be a horrible and dull place in which to commute.
Even when I drove a couple of good EVs – Nissan’s Leaf and Renault’s tres chic Zoe – I just couldn’t warm to the idea of silent running.
It’s like a really nice, calming video of water cascading over pebbles, with the sound off. Or sport without the commentary.
As a result, I never bought into the whole Tesla idea. Then it started winning awards from robust American journalists, yet I still figured it wouldn’t be my cup of tequila, like sporty SUVs.
And then Byron called. The highly excitable Mr Mathioudakis, who’s into cars the way rabbits are into breeding, was still in the effervescent glow of COTY testing, babbling at me non-stop about the Tesla in particular. Then I spoke to Butler, who went all doe-eyed over its levels of mid-corner grip and acceleration.
A week later I was sliding into a Model S P85+ for the first time. As I suspected, the geek-boy part of my brain was in raptures. The giant touchscreen is so fabulous that when I got home I couldn’t even make eye contact with my iPad.
I loved the fact that the car remembers where you’ve used the air suspension to get over a difficult driveway, and automatically raises the nose the next time you approach that address.
Then there’s the feel and the look of the whole package, which is just… cool. If Apple had gotten in first, it might have built something like the Tesla.
Best of all was the way it drove, which was so astonishing I barely thought about the lack of engine noise. The Model S has the kind of ceaseless thrust only big torque-monster engines used to have, only it’s better, because it doesn’t have to change gear.
I should have known I’d love this car because I’m a big fan of its creator, the slightly bonkers billionaire Elon Musk – also of Paypal and SpaceX fame – who often seems to know the future before it happens.
Which is why we should all be a bit alarmed, because Musk is extremely concerned about the rise of artificial intelligence, and not just the kind that will no doubt soon roll out in his cars. If you’ve seen any of the Terminator films, you know he’s thinking self-awareness, Armageddon, hurty robots.
“I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence,” Musk warns. “If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon.”
Yes, he does sound batty, but superbrain Stephen Hawking agrees, saying AI “could spell the end of the human race”.
Even Ashton Kutcher is interested in AI, apparently. Whoever he is.
ELON Musk loves cars, so much so he bought a McLaren F1 when he was fl ush with cash from the sale of PayPal.
He wrote it off, spinning it “through the air like a discus” while showing off to a friend.
It was uninsured.
The South African-born 43-year-old Californian is also good for a quote, claiming that his Tesla would “crush a Porsche” on a race track, and pointing out that now really is a good time to live in history: “Life sucked in the old days.
People knew very little, and you were likely to die at a young age of some horrible disease. You'd probably have no teeth by now.”