The high-tech automaker’s electric vehicles are very different from other cars on the road. The foundation of that difference is that all Teslas — the Model S sport sedan, the Model X crossover and the upcoming Model 3 family sedan — have been designed and engineered to be electric vehicles from the start. The Tesla difference is that all the technology, power and environmental friendliness, and a few things other carmakers do not offer, come in one package.

Here’s what makes Teslas special.

1.  Design

Tesla designers started with a clean slate and they were able to develop the cars around their electric powertrain and battery.  But because the designers didn’t have to provide space for a conventional engine, which typically results in a larger, wind-resisting front end, they were able to design a vehicle that is very aerodynamic.  That results in faster acceleration time and, more importantly, longer travel distance between battery charges.

2. Powertrain System

Teslas use electric motors that have two moving parts and single-speed “transmissions” that have no gears. Tesla's powertrain system is virtually maintenance-free and because it is controlled by electronics, many adjustments and even repairs can be made through computer software settings. The mere fact that it is a battery-electric vehicle makes a Tesla different from 99 percent of the cars sold in the U.S. today

3. Energy Storage

The engine bay is normally where most other electric carmakers put many of the electronic controls. But Tesla integrated all that into the parts of the car you can’t see. That left room under the “hood” for a storage compartment.  And because all Telsas are electric powered, there’s no fuel tank. There is a very large battery pack, which contains the energy storage cells as well as a cooling system and some electronic controls.  All that is packaged into a flat box under the passenger compartment.

4.  Instrument Panel

Most cars have lots of knobs, switches and buttons. Tesla puts almost everything onto a large, center display screen that provides clear, easy-to-use, on-screen touch controls. The only buttons are for the glove box release and the hazard lights. The speedometer and energy systems information are digitally projected onto a driver-facing display.

5.  Wireless Updates

Unlike any other carmaker, Tesla regularly provides computer software updates for its cars and delivers them wirelessly at the driver’s convenience. Most are free and bring improved functionality to the cars. On the other hand, other carmakers require a visit to the dealership or a service center.


Launch the slide show above to see more pics of the Tesla models.