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Top Gear on ice: Tesla Model S vs... an elk

Scandinavians love a Tesla. Handy they stand up to well to elk impacts, then...

Published: 06 Apr 2018

There is, it has to be said, something utterly serene about piloting a Tesla P100D through the glowing gloom of a Scandinavian sunset. A bonfire sunset left crystal-sharp through the frigid, unpolluted air. The soft snicker of studded tyres, and the soothing hum of 750bhp of electrical power. Power proven on the ice lake, where the biggest-output Tesla laid waste to… pretty much everything in a straight line: perfectly metered torque, an endless delivery. You look ahead, at the frozen forest edges, and know that you aren’t – at least locally – responsible for flamethrowing the snowy bits off the postcard with a massive ICE engine. Oh, the irony of the acronym.

Words: Tom Ford
Images: Rowan Horncastle

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This feature originally appeared in the March 'Winter Games' issue of Top Gear magazine.

Teslas – and EVs in general – are a common sight, too. Nearby Norway, where we picked up the P100D, has, up to this point, expressed in law extremely pro-EV legislation, with bus-lane privileges, free public charging (made possible by generous domestic hydroelectric power generation of 97 per cent), and a significant disposing of the usual 25 per cent tax surcharge on new vehicles. It has the highest per-capita usage of EVs in the world, proper EV infrastructure, and the governmental support to use it. Which means EVs are common, even in such a hostile-to-lithium-ion cold environment.

Serene, then? Yes, right up until a giant elk comes barrelling out of the forest and puts its head through the driver’s window at 25mph. Yeah, it happened. Now, I’m not sure it had anything to do with the giant deer-elephant hybrid being startled as much as the fact that it didn’t hear me coming, but it came galloping out of the forest at quite a pace, with a gait that consisted mostly of knees. I braked and jinked right, but with not very much room to manoeuvre (right-hand-side driving here), I couldn’t farm out enough space for a miss. Hoofed HGV jinks but cannot stop, and impacts the driver’s door, neatly detonating the driver’s window – complete with wing mirror – into my face. Obviously, being the fauna equivalent of a medium-sized tank, the elk spun off its feet, stood straight back up and left without even leaving insurance details. I stopped and sat like a lemon, wondering why my bottom teeth were loose (wing mirror), and wondering what the flip just happened.

What happened, friends, was a lesson: even though you think you’re doing your best for the planet, the plants and the animals of this world, just don’t expect them to appreciate it. And no matter how fast your Tesla, it can’t outrun an angry elk.  

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