If you don’t have a car, there is no easy way to get around Los Angeles and California. I learnt this from my recent trip to LA and Palm Springs. At home I drive all the time, so a holiday for me includes NOT driving.
Unlike New York, London or Paris, LA does not have an established public transport system. Sure there is one light rail line and plenty of buses, but it is easy to see why Uber took hold in this city. Instead of hoping for a Taxi or waiting for a bus, you can open your phone and hail a car in seconds. Trying to get from LA to Palm Springs is another challenge altogether.
Hollywood to Palm Springs is just over 100 miles, fine if you have a car, not so fine if you don’t. The options include flying, via Philadelphia or taking a train that stops halfway and pours you onto a bus. You can hire a chauffeur who will happily drive you out there, but the cost will include his trip home, which starts to get expensive. I had been trying to find a solution to drive us from the Chateau Marmont in LA to the JW Marriott in Palm Springs. After many late nights trying to find a solution for me and the family, I stumbled upon a new idea. The Tesloop.
Tesloop is a relatively new business. Their model is simple. They have scheduled routes out to Palm Springs and other destinations, you book the number of seats you need and pay per one way journey. The best bit of this deal is you ride in a brand new Tesla.
Like many Middle Aged men, The Tesla has replaced the Porsche or Ferrari as the next dream car, so a trip in one only added to the luxury holiday experience.
Our Chariot for the drive was a new Model X. About the same size as a Range Rover, this five door car is famous for having ‘Back to the Future’ style doors.
We met our driver at a charging station down in Culver City and loaded up the bags. With just three of us and the driver, we had plenty of space for bags and passengers and soon we were heading down the I10 out of Los Angeles.
As it was our first ride we got an introductory video chat from Stephanie who took us through the car features and the complimentary extras in the car (free snacks, pillows!) as Mike drove. We then settled in for a luxurious two hour ride.
Inside, the car was jam packed with technology. The central console where you’d expect the clock, stereo and assorted sweet wrappers is replaced with a large ‘monitor’ like two ipads stuck vertically together which included the GPS for navigation. The Digital Radio was controlled from the steering wheel and dashboard with great sound quality. Mike had on a mix radio which was perfectly cool for our journey.
We tested autopilot on the open road, speeding up and slowing down in line with traffic but not much more than that. Despite seeing the latest news of self driving cars, these current models won’t change lanes or pop out and get you a burger.
With a range of around 300 miles, there was plenty of juice to get us out to Palm Desert without stopping. We stopped for coffee and a freshen up but it did feel odd to rock up at a gas station and not need fuel. (I got a new Foursquare sticker though!)
When I began the search for a solution to our LA to Palm Springs trip, I worried that it wouldn’t be safe, fun or cost effective. With Tesloop we got all three! In fact it was so good, we booked to go back to LA a week later in a different car and a different driver.
There is talk of Tesloop opening more routes up to San Francisco and out to Las Vegas. I can’t wait to ride again!