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Telsa owner sold on the all-electric cars

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Christmas commercials flicker across our television screens, showing a luxury car with a giant bow on its hood or roof parked in a snowy driveway of a posh neighborhood.

But if you’re like most people, there isn’t going to be a shiny new car — luxury or otherwise — parked in the drive Tuesday morning.

But on the remote chance someone’s been very, very good, and a car made the Christmas list, Dan St. John recommends Santa bring them a Tesla — an American-made, all-electric, high-performance automobile manufactured in California.

“Mid-life crisis presents,” not Christmas presents is how St. John described his decision to purchase two of the electric cars.

Pointing to a small, red, two-seater roadster, he said, “I’ve been eyeing this one at the auto show for a couple of years, and I finally went up . in 2009 and took a test drive, mainly to see if I could fit in the thing. It’s a little bit of a tight fit . getting in and out.”

But that test drive was all the convincing he needed to pull the trigger.

“This one I bought for the performance,” he said of the roadster. “The electric was kind of a novelty thing, but it was mainly because it is bat-out-of-hell fast. Fun car. The electric was almost an afterthought.

“Once you’ve driven one, it’s hard to go back to paying for gas and all the downsides of a gas vehicle,” he told the Journal & Courier (http://on.jconline.com/U6Bqsc ).

Everywhere he drives, the roadster is a conversation starter.

“You can’t go anywhere without somebody stopping you and talking to you about the car,” he said.

“They actually have a term for it: Tesla time. You factor that into the time you’re going somewhere to talk to people,” he said. “Most people in Indiana, they either know everything about it or they know never heard of them. There’s no middle ground.

“Their customers sell all of their cars for them. They don’t advertise. They probably don’t need to.”

His roadster arrived in early 2010, and six months later, St. John put a deposit down on his second Tesla, the Model S, a stylish, high-performance sedan. It arrived in September, two years after making the deposit.

“The second one, maybe I’ve uncovered my inner Ed Begley Jr.,” he joked, invoking the name of the Hollywood actor and green activist.

Tesla automobiles are a little like dining at a fancy restaurant where prices are omitted from the menus. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

St. John shied away from specifics, but he noted that the Model S, Tesla’s first original car, has a base price of $49,900 and it goes up from there. He sheepishly said the roadster, which has a Lotus-designed body and frame, was probably double the price of the Model S.

Shanna Hendricks, communicaton manager with Tesla Motors, said six Model S automobiles have been delivered to Indiana.

Lately, the internal-combustion-engine crowd has seemed giddy as gasoline prices dipped to around $3 a gallon, but St. John pays only slightly more than that for a full charge and nearly 300 miles of road time.

“I actually took our company car to Chicago last weekend and had to buy gas. I thought, I’m standing here five minutes at this pump. Then it’s like $70,” St. John said, bluntly expressing his anger over the inconvenience of gassing up. “It bugs me the hell out of me to buy gas now.”

More sfgate.com

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