Forget about Tesla’s cars for a minute — about the self-driving taxis or semis or whatever else Tesla CEO Elon Musk is currently hyped about on Twitter. This story is about the virtue of being boring, a perhaps underappreciated thing in our day and age. This is a story about not changing your life and how much better that can make it. That’s what Tesla is selling in terms of renewable energy: your life, but with fewer fossil fuels. Your house, powered by solar.
I wanted to know what that would be like in reality. That’s how I find myself in an Australian mansion powered by Tesla’s solar panels and Powerpack battery, driving a Model X. I can tell you firsthand that renewable energy isn’t exciting. That’s what makes it so compelling.
On the drive to the mansion, signs warn me to be careful of wildlife, complete with a portrait of what I am guessing is a wombat. A representative from Tesla picked me up at the nearest airport to Byron Bay and sat next to me while I figured out how to drive on the left. (Lane tracking helped.) When I arrive, I count the bedrooms. There are five, decorated with a minimum of personality. The master bedroom is entirely white and approximately the size of my last studio apartment. Besides the walk-in closet and king-size bed, there’s also an enormous sunken tub that looks out at what I am told is called the hinterland. Among my neighbors in the hinterland are some manner of Hemsworth brothers.
The tub is big enough that there’s a bench you can sit on. So, naturally, I run a bath and then slide into it to watch the sunset. Here I am, at the very first Tesla Destination in Australia, a home just outside Byron Bay, a surfer / hippie town that’s been overrun by rich people, possibly as a result of Hemsworthiness. The point of a Tesla Destination, as I understand it, is that it’s a place with a charger for your electric car. In my case, this is a Tesla Model X, an SUV that Musk has described as a “Fabergé egg.”
Tesla Destinations are mostly hospitality industry locations in the US; the mansion where I am staying is rented out by an Australian company for groups. It can sleep 10, according to the hospitality company, and “starts” (?) at $1,670 AUD a night. It — this has to be said — has about the same aesthetic as a porn mansion: largely empty, echoey, vaguely “high end,” and with a pervading sense that no one actually lives here.