Living in Austria, you learn that Alpine vistas can be gorgeous from the train, but due to all the tunnels, sometimes it can also mean you miss some of the most impressive views that are easier to see from the road or certainly when hiking. Every year, Metropole ventures down to Alpbach, a little town in Tyrol, to meet with world leaders, great academic minds and opinion leaders of today and tomorrow.

Liberty and Security on the Road

Making our way to the European Forum Alpbach in late August, we were ready to engage in intense political economic and technological discussions about the future of Europe and how technologies like 5G and various forms of Artificial Intelligence (AI) would be changing our daily lives. The theme this year was Liberty and Security.

As one of the safest cars on the market and having the best driver-assistance system or “Autopilot,” I felt that both my security and my liberty would be in great hands in a Tesla Model 3. Besides it simply being a cool car, there are a few reasons why we chose to test the US automaker’s newest ride on our trip into the Alps:

 

1. Driving the car is a dream. While electric cars don’t have the vroom vroom and rear-end-massaging purr of a combustion engine, acceleration in an electric car, particularly a Tesla, is noiseless and the sensation is incredible! The Model 3 we had can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.3 seconds. Even the standard version of the Model 3 – Tesla’s slowest car – reached 100 km/h in just 5.6 seconds. The windshield transitions to the roof of the car in one seamless piece of glass, so the views are breathtaking.

 

2. There’s nothing like using new technology to get hyped up to talk about the future. The car has a minimalist cockpit, with a generous console between the two front seats and while there aren’t as many settings as the Model S or Model X, there is plenty to play with. Whooshing down the highway on autopilot (with both hands on the wheel, mind you), listening to the Freakonomics podcast got us suitably hyped for the intense days of inspiration and debate to come.

 

3. Lastly, and certainly not least, it was an attempt at reducing the carbon footprint for the trip. Members of Fridays for Future were staging a creative protest in Alpbach that day. All year in 2019, Greta Thunberg and various other activists have brought much more attention to the ways we can make good choices for the environment.  Choosing to drive a Tesla at least detracted from the emissions created getting guests to the Forum.

 

EVs for all

This was not our first time driving to the mountains with a Tesla and we were thrilled to find that there have been vast improvements with charging time. In past years, the charging contributed significantly to the travel time, with two 45-minute breaks to arrive with any juice left. The distance from Vienna to Alpbach is around 450 kilometers and we only needed to charge it once for 25 minutes.

There are great strides being made in the realm of Electric Vehicles (EVs) and finally, the rest of the auto market seems to be catching up with the frontrunner. In 2019, five car manufacturers introduced EVs that can deliver more than 320 km of range. By the end of 2020, car companies plan to introduce eight more. Compare that with last year, when there were only 14 EVs on the market, and just four could reliably take you more than 320 km on a full battery charge.

 

Tesla Model 3 Alpbach
Photo: Jolly Schwarz

Cost and Emissions

When we arrived in Alpbach, a tech journalist named Markus approached me immediately and asked about the car. “I’ve just been researching e-mobility and I think cars are finally gonna become more affordable.” That was certainly Tesla’s intention with the Model 3.

“In the past years it’s seemed like there were two kinds of electric cars,” Markus said. “Less expensive ones with short-range and less comfort and space, and super expensive ones with more range but also a luxury price tag.” Today, Tesla’s Model 3  standard costs just over €46,000 and there are other EVs on the market going for as little as €30,000.

Markus is not the only one that’s happy about the changes in the market. The wider availability of EVs means lower emissions. The power source for the charging is still a big factor, so countries with coal intensive energy generation don’t make as big of a step towards reaching the targets of the Paris agreements.

 

Tesla Model 3 Alpbach
Photo: Jolly Schwarz

What will 2020 bring?

Next year’s forum will be on the topic of Fundamentals. The Forum explains, “Certain fundamentals that once appeared secure are now manifestly under threat, and not just in politics.” The teaser also outlines two tasks, the first one being “to test particular convictions and certainties (fundamentals) of the scientific, economic and political elite that are now often left unquestioned.”

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