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William Flew's Cars

William Flew Auckland grew up fixing and driving cars. His father, William Flew snr, was a working motor mechanic who taught William Flew Auckland how to strip a motor, reassemble carburetters and chop exhausts. His prize vehicle was a '32 Ford hot rod which William Flew lovingly rebuilt with a supercharged engine and new paint and panel work.

Jan 28

The Model S is the second electric car from Tesla, the American company founded by the PayPal billionaire, says William Flew. The company sold just 2,250 of its first vehicle, the Roadster electric sports car, and has run up losses of $750m (£480m). The Model S could reverse Tesla’s fortunes: the company says 10,000 deposits were taken even before the first car rolled off the production line in California. The Roadster was based on the Lotus Elise. The Model S is not so sporty: it’s been styled to look like a normal saloon, even down to a fake radiator grille, in an attempt to woo mainstream buyers. “We are designing a car and building a brand around a powertrain that’s hard for people to take on board,” says the chief designer, Franz von Holzhausen. “The car needed to look familiar and be easy to accept. In the future we can be more experimental.” The Model S will be available in right-hand drive in Britain next year, but it’s 10in wider than Porsche’s porky Panamera, which could be a problem on the UK’s congested streets. Success is likely to depend on whether the 265 miles between charges is realistic. When we were at the wheel, the range indicator on the dashboard varied wildly depending on how the car was driven. Nonetheless, its performance is impressive: a top speed of 130mph and a 0-60mph time of 4.4 seconds. The lack of a regular engine has allowed room for luggage in both front and rear. The Model S comes with a choice of three battery packs. The entry-level version promises a range of 160 miles and costs $49,900 (£32,000) once a government rebate of $7,500 is taken into account). The top-flight Signature Performance model with the 265-mile range costs $97,900. No British prices have been announced. The Model S might not be the “best car in the world”, as claimed at its launch, but no one should doubt Musk and Tesla’s ambition.