For our inaugural issue of Bluedot Living, we’re kicking off a series of stories featuring Islanders and their electric vehicles to give readers a taste of what kind of EVs are out there, how people like them, and if they might be right for you. The series is called “Cruising with Currier,” and in each case I’ll take a ride with an EV owner, and we’ll talk cars and whatever else pops into our heads.
As for my credentials, I have none other than I’m curious. I’m not a “car guy”; I drive a 2004 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck with a broken taillight. But hopefully I’ll ask the kind of questions that will give you a better-informed idea of what’s going on in the ever-changing world of electric vehicles. And for my first cruise, I’ll be driving along with Hasoni Pratts.
Hasoni is a political and policy strategist; she’s a founding member and treasurer of Higher Heights for America, which helps Black women get elected to public office. She was also the national director of engagement for Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign.
She and her husband and their two children live in Brooklyn and Oak Bluffs, but when the pandemic started in March 2020, they moved to Oak Bluffs full-time, or at least until the COVID lifts.
The car we’ll be driving in is Hasoni’s 2021 Tesla Model X Plaid, which she just got in December. Much has been said about the Model X, but if I could put it in experiential terms, it was like riding in a space capsule. The bucket seats seem to embrace you, the oversize windshield stretches back forever, and you’re surrounded by screens.
The engineering, the performance, and the innovation are all off the charts with the Model X, but what also comes through, loud and clear, is that Elon Musk loves to have fun — and has a very quirky sense of humor.
I agreed to meet Hasoni at the Bend in the Road Beach parking lot in Edgartown, and from there we’d go for a ride. As I rounded the corner on Beach Road, I saw a sleek white SUV with its gullwing (Tesla calls them Falcon Wing) doors open and reaching up to the sky, and I knew I’d come to the right place.
Laurie David, who is an advisor to Bluedot Living, suggested I talk to her friend Hasoni, saying she loves talking about her new car. Hasoni indeed did love talking about her car — she proved to be funny, informative, and a damn good driver.
I asked Hasoni how she happened to get the Tesla Model X Plaid. She said the primary reason was that “we want to get off fossil fuels, we want our kids to inherit a better Earth. We do a good job of recycling, and composting and having an electric vehicle is an extension of our lifestyle.”
The Pratts started off with a 2017 Prius V, which is a hybrid, but they wanted to get a totally electric car. They shopped around for a couple of years, and decided on a Tesla because they were American-made, and no one could match their technology and engineering. She said that the technology had been significantly upgraded for the 2021 model so she looked at her husband and said, “Let’s do it!”
I did a little research on the Model X Plaid, and it showed Elon Musk at his most innovative and unconventional. The Model X is offered in two Models, Ludicrous and Plaid, which struck me as odd names for cars, to say the least.
Musk is a huge fan of the 1980s parody of Star Wars called Spaceballs, starring Mel Brooks. In the movie, the Ludicrous Mode enabled the spacecraft to go faster than the speed of light. And the Plaid mode went even faster. Hasoni and I chuckled at the fact that the guy putting together a Mars launch takes his inspiration from Spaceballs.
I asked Hasoni about the much-acclaimed acceleration of the Model X, and she pulled over on a deserted stretch of road to show me a screen on the console that gave four options: Chill, Sport, Ludicrous, and Ludicrous +. Hasoni pressed the Ludicrous + button, and the screen read, “Are you sure you want to press the limits?” and Hasoni said, “OK, hold on,” and hit the gas. For my part, I screamed like a small child. “Sweet Jesus, Hasoni!” I believe were my exact words.
She pulled over and said, “It’s like you’re in a rocket ship, it goes from 0 to 60 in about two and a half seconds. The funny thing is I don’t even like that feeling of exhilaration. I don’t like roller coasters.”
When I asked Hasoni what her favorite feature of the car was, she said, “Karaoke” (Tesla spells it “Caraoke.”) Having two children, 10 and 11 years old, Hasoni said, the car has an amazing selection of games and apps, and the kids especially love the Caraoke. “When we’re home, my son will go out and sit in the car and play games and watch videos. It also only took him a day to discover the Whoopie Cushion Mode,” Hasoni said. “It makes a sound like a fart when you sit in the seat. Oh, he loved that.”
I looked at Hasoni and laughed, and said, “Why would Musk make a car that farts?”
“Boys will be boys,” Hasoni said.
As it turns out, there are some pretty amazing features on Model X that are right out of science fiction.
The car has a Summons Mode that lets you retrieve your car. “It’s sort of like that show Knight Rider,” Hasoni said, “where someone says, ‘Kitt, come to me,’ and the car will come. Let’s say I’m at Target, I have an app that calls the car, and it drives over by itself to pick me up.”
Sentry Mode uses the car’s external cameras to detect potential threats. If someone tries to break in, Sentry Mode will notify the user, sound the car alarm, and in a nice Elon Musk–like twist, it will play the car’s audio system at the maximum volume, presumably to drive the thief insane.
The Model X has a self-parking feature using proximity sensors, which other manufacturers are now offering, but it also comes with a full-auto-drive function, which Hasoni’s husband Michael sometimes uses on the highway but Hasoni stays away from. “I’m not even comfortable with cruise control,” she says.
Space prohibits me from getting into all the other features of the Model X, but Hasoni says, “Even the way you buy the car is different. It’s all done online. You go to a website and build the car, and set up a delivery destination — there doesn’t have to be any human interaction — and there’s no haggling, which I love.”
Hasoni hasn’t been able to calculate exactly how long the car can go on a charge, but the Tesla catalogue claims that the Model X Plaid can get about 340 miles per charge. Almost enough to get from here to New York and back. “It really depends on how fast you drive,” Hasoni said.
It’s a little early to figure out the real economies of the Tesla X, the tradeoff between the cost of gas and electricity — the Pratts have only had the car for a few months. “But one thing’s for sure,” Hasoni said, “I don’t miss going to the gas station.”
So now let’s cut to the chase. “If you don’t mind me asking,” I said, “but how much does a car like this cost, Hasoni?”
“It was over $100,000,” she said.
“Not everyone can afford that,” I said. “Is it worth it?”
“First of all, it makes us feel good about not polluting the air. And coming from a financial background, I feel like we’re actually getting a return on our investment. Other cars decrease in value and cost more as they get older. I feel Tesla holds onto its value, and we get software upgrades every year that introduce all-new features to the car. I feel like we’re getting a return on our car.”
Whether it’s for the Autopilot feature, the Ludicrous Mode, the Caraoke or the Whoopie Cushion Mode — “We all love this car,” Hasoni said; “we’ll be hanging on to it for quite a while.”