Fall River Electric is no stranger to supplying power to countless homes across the valley.
Now via their EV test drive program, Fall River is adding horsepower to their energy mix.
Ted Austin, marketing and public relations manager talked about how this program started its engine.
“We’re in the business of selling electricity, and we recognize that electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular,” said Austin. “They’re obviously not as popular around here as they are in other areas, but we think that will change, so it’s important to be on the forefront of that. We are the energy experts so we can’t really be experts on electric vehicles if we don’t know anything about them.”
Fall River’s board of directors subsequently purchased a 2021 Tesla Model 3, and now uses it to show customers what electric vehicles can bring to the table.
The nearest Tesla dealerships are in Boise and Salt Lake City.
“We decided to purchase a Tesla simply because right now it is the top of the line in terms of what’s available,” said Austin.
Fall River has had staff drive the vehicle to get them familiar with the vehicle so that they can inform potential buyers about making the switch to electric.
“We also let any and all of the staff members drive the car so that we had some knowledge of how it operates and what it’s like because it’s certainly different from a gas-powered vehicle,” said Austin.
Different in this case is a word that needs some more context. So I hopped in myself and took Fall River’s Model 3 for a spin to see just how not normal this car is.
It is very, very not normal.
From the second you sit behind the wheel the changes are massive. Gone is the traditional cluster of gauges behind the steering wheel, replaced with a clean dash akin to what you see on the passenger side.
There is just one massive screen between the driver and passenger side of the dash, with everything you need to drive the car shown on the display. Navigation, speed, entertainment… It all is shown here.
The interior is then truly a mix of modern and futuristic, close enough to what you’d find in forward-thinking, minimalist concept cars from years past but not too far removed from the well-rounded sedan interiors of the late 2010s.
If you like gizmos and buttons and gadgets, the only place you’ll find them is in the display, on the steering wheel, or on the inside of the door (and that’s just to open them or control the windows).
The display is primarily a touch screen, with a scroller and arrows provided on the steering wheel so you don’t have to take your hands off.
The levers on each side of the wheel are your indicator lever and a small shifter for the automatic transmission… if you can even call it a transmission.
Similar to an electric golf cart, Tesla’s vehicles are all one speed, meaning there is no march through a gearbox. Just set the vehicle in drive, and cruise on up to speed.
Before we get to that speed, the braking is what really sets this vehicle apart from other driving experiences.
There is usually no need to press the brake pedal, as when the lack of accelerator input cuts power the wheels seem to induce a feeling of friction braking. This is evident when sitting at a stop sign, as you won’t need to hold the brake pedal to keep the car still.
Driving around town the car feels unassuming, happy to go from home to grocery and back again without a care in the world. There will be no noise and no wasted acceleration, which after driving a regular vehicle, honestly makes it feel a little dull at low speeds.
It makes me understand why Tesla is a leader in the pursuit of autonomous driving. It feels at times like you’re controlling a road-going computer rather than driving a car. A bit impersonal, yes, but efficient... doubly so.
The second you mash the accelerator, however, everything in the last two paragraphs might as well be thrown out the window. The acceleration is so beyond stunning that I can easily admit to never having driven a faster and quicker vehicle.
With 500 horsepower, electric drive, and very few moving parts, the Model 3 shoots to 60 like a bullet out of a high-powered rifle.
With an extraordinarily low center of gravity, the weight picky drivers might notice around town seems to simply fall off the car at high speed.
That low center of gravity, via the floor-mounted batteries, also makes the twists and turns that much more fun. While the car’s steering does have a slightly heavy weight to it, average drivers will not notice the difference and enjoy the maneuverability all the same.
The only question mark then is range, which inevitably fluctuates depending on the season.
During the coldest colds, the range has been known to shrink considerably, but there is also an effect during the warmest days when the batteries are hot and the AC is bumpin’.
Why should these words matter to you though? As long as you are a Fall River Electric customer, and interested in getting an EV, you can find out for yourself.
Fall River will be happy to provide you with a test drive, different resources about EVs, and the knowledge they have gained from driving the car themselves.
“It’s been a learning experience for us but we can then translate that information to our members,” said Austin. “If they are considering buying an EV they’ll have information that we can share with them.”
Interested parties can make arrangements for a test drive by calling the FRE offices, stopping by at a local test drive event, or by checking out the savings they could see via Fall River’s website and their electric vehicle savings calculator.