The family happened to be in the Kanto area last weekend, so we paid a visit to the service center in Yokohama. It looks great, both from the outside and the inside.
I saw my first Superchargers in the metallic flesh on this visit. The cables are 2 to 3 times the thickness of the HPWC at my house, but they are not unwieldy. The car above is painted silver, the first time I have seen that color on an actual car. I understand Tesla may be doing away with this silver, but I think it looks great.
When Mr. Shimizu stopped by our house on his tour through Kyushu, he told me to let the staff know when we were coming and they might be able to pick us up at the train station. One of the service heads came to get us in this red P85+. It is similar to mine, but has the silver wheels and tan leather interior. The silver wheels stand out more than the gray ones I have and match up with the chrome trim and door handles. It all boils down to personal preferences.
I have seen many photos and videos of the Model S chassis, but this one is the first I have seen in person. Some 95%+ of the car chassis and body is made of aluminum, the rest is steel. Here you can see some of the steel and its purpose. that bar of steel in the front is for protection. I also learned that the bar is open on both ends, exposed to the elements. Some rust may come out eventually, but it can just be wiped off. Perhaps a couple of plastic caps or some other solution will be used in the future.
It is impossible to say that any one component is the main feature of a Model S because there are so many innovations packed into each car. However, one of the brilliant parts of the car is the battery pack. Model Ss with 85kW of battery have 7,104 laptop computer-sized batteries carefully arrayed below the floor of the car. Because the battery pack is so heavy, Model S has a very low center of gravity and handles like a sports car. Nestled between the batteries is a proprietary system designed to optimally charge, cool, and heat the batteries and power the car. The battery may be charged by DC chargers, like Superchargers or CHAdeMO, or AC, like the HPWC at my home, J1772 as a destination charger, or even a 100V or 200V outlet. In the case of AC, the car's on-board chargers will convert the AC power into DC for charging.
While an ICE (internal combustion engine) creating 470 hp is normally quite large, an electric motor can be quite compact. At the back of this display chassis (and my car) you can see the motor and an inverter. The inverter converts the DC from the battery into the AC that the motor requires. The space used by these two components takes up very little space. The same goes for the placement of the battery. This design allows for the massive storage we get in Model S. In the photo above, you can also see the rear parts of the optional air suspension that gives those who order air such a smooth ride.
To the left of the chassis and a showroom car (not shown in this post) are examples of paint colors, interior colors and materials, and wheel options. Because everyone has one's own idea of how a car should look, I recommend that one think carefully and choose one's own favorites. I see lots of people asking on the forums about what they should order, but the only people who can truly answer are the ones making the order.
There is a very comfortable lounge area at the service center, with drinks, snacks and comfortable chairs. Behind the sign above is the actual service area. Let's take a look inside...
The service area itself was much bigger than I had imagined. Most of the bays were full of new cars being prepped for delivery. The staff was friendly and didn't seem bothered by several eyes checking out the space and the cars. The area was brightly lit by both natural and artificial light. I did notice that the floor was covered with the same paint that is on my garage floor and is peeling off just like in my garage. Insert sad face emoji...
I quickly noticed that about 60% of the cars were white, a bit above the Japanese average of 50%. I'm told that white has a much better resale value in Japan, and Tesla's pearl white made the short list of my possible choices. I learned on my trip that not many multicoat red Model S have been sold in Japan, but that is fine with me. I would rather own my favorite color, and a rare one at that.
Not only had I never seen a Supercharger, but I had never seen a Roadster either. The day I visited, there were two Roadsters! What tiny cars they are; I had no idea they were so small. I had a workout getting in and out of the dark one above. They have 70 kW of battery, which is in the trunk space. The center of gravity is much higher than a Model S, so driving one seems to be quite a challenge. I was told to think mid- or rear-engine Porsche for the driving dynamic.
That was about it for the visit to the service center. I did buy a couple of touch up paint sticks to take car of rock dings from the highway, and another one I did myself. Insert another sad face emoji. We ended up spending a couple of hours at the service center and were treated like royalty. Thank you, Tesla Japan service team. We had a great time.