Maybe you are curious about driving a Tesla, but are not quite ready to plunk down the cash for one. You could have signed up for the Model 3 waiting list, but last time you checked, your car may not arrive until 2022. So what is an electric car maven and Tesla fan to do?
Tesloop offers a happy medium: inter-city travel between cities in California. Think of this as a limousine service meets a ridesharing app like Uber or Lyft, complete with a concierge to make your ride even more enjoyable. Organic juices and snacks are also available on all of these trips. And in a nod to the Instagram and Snapchat generation, the company is quick to realize that its passengers can be its best marketers: Rides are equipped with Wi-Fi and device chargers so users can easily document or snap their trips.
For now Tesloop, which is not affiliated with Tesla Motors, only operates in Southern California -- though it's optimized routes enough to offer seat sales on occasion. For a while, the service offered rides to Las Vegas, but that route has been temporarily discontinued. The company suggested San Francisco and Santa Barbara as locations, which at first threw me off. When I tried to book a trip between my town and the Bay Area or Los Angeles, I kept receiving an apologetic message saying that was not possible – I should not have been surprised, as Paul McCartney makes more appearances in Fresno than Teslas, but finally, I figured out the locations, and played around with the scheduler.
Let’s say you’re moored somewhere around Palm Springs and you wish to escape the desert for a day at the beach in Santa Monica. Planning a trip on Tesloop is similar to booking a seat on a flight, only with less pages to go through and far fewer disclosures that none of us read anyway. I found out that if I want to go to Santa Monica this coming Sunday, there are two pick-up times from a Panera Bread location at Palm Desert, at 7:45 and 10:16 a.m. The trip to a Starbucks on Venice Boulevard takes about two hours and 20 minutes, give or take the unpredictable Southland traffic and other horrors that could occur on Interstate 10. Yes, the locations at which you must meet your Tesla/Tesloop pilot seem random; but the company says much of its trips progress on autopilot, and the goal is to move people along highways as quickly as possible.
If you are content sitting all the way back in one of the rear folding seats of a Model S, that trip from the desert to the sea will set you back $69. Should you insist on riding shotgun or in the more comfortable middle passenger seats, that seat will cost another $10 – which is not bad for two hours of entertainment or if you really want to impress that date. The company asks that you show up about 10 minutes ahead of time so that the Tesla concierge and pilot (driver) can get you sorted before your trip.
Tesloop says its mission covers many bases. First, the company vows to “make the travel experience great again,” a term that may need some tweaking considering the demographics lured to this service. Then again, considering the recent shenanigans at United Airlines, the company has a point.
Tesloop’s founders also want to show that zero-carbon travel has its perks. To that end, the company aims to expand its services to just about anywhere along Tesla’s supercharger network over the next two years.
Tesloop sees the largest opportunity in circumventing regional jets that fly between cities less than 250 miles apart. As any weary business traveler knows, the hassle of airport security, long waits in a tiny airport and scant legroom in a puddle jumper lose any appeal rather quickly. Tesloop, however, believes it can groom a market share along these routes. And the company is spot on, when considering the time consumed driving to and from airports and waiting in airport terminal lines.
And finally, noting that the average Tesla is only operated 5 to 10 percent of the time, Tesloop wants to maximize the amount of time these cars are schlepping people on the roads. In the company’s estimation, a Tesla can be driven 16 hours a day, charged six hours daily and in turn could drive up to 30,000 miles a month. Such logic was behind the carsharing sites of yesterday like RelayRides, before Uber and Lyft rendered those services obsolete.
My gut reaction to Tesloop’s vow to keep cars on the road as much as possible was, “whoa, these cars can only last so long before they finally peter out.” But the company notes that the combination of Tesla’s car warranties, along with their superior driving performance, makes its business plan a watertight one.
In any event, for those of us who salivate at the thought of a Tesla but are not financially or intellectually ready to commit, reserving a Tesloop trip for a weekend drive (or even working as a Tesloop pilot) could be yet another step to the dream -- and it may also help Tesla's popularity surge even more and even grow the electric vehicle segment at large.
Image credit: Tesloop/Instagram
Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.