It’s rumoured to weigh 10 tons, is eighteen feet long, and is powered by a 6.5 litre diesel engine normally found in heavy duty vehicles like dump trucks and school busses. It also manages just 8 mpg and has a top speed of just 60 miles per hour. Despite this, The Beast remains one of the most sophisticated vehicles in the world today. And its job is unenviable: keep the President of the United State of America safe.
Yesterday, we learned (via NBC) that the U.S. Secret Service has begun the process of ordering a replacement presidential limousine, one which will enter service in time for the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States in January 2017.
With environmental concerns forefront to the minds of the current administration — and the usual stipulation that the next Presidential ride be made by a U.S. automaker — it got us thinking. Would it be possible for Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] to provide the world’s first electric presidential limousine?
We’ve put our thinking hats on and combined it with some very rough maths to try and show how it could be plausible, if Tesla felt so inclined.
From the ground up
While it may look like a limousine-variant of a regular Cadillac production car, the current Presidential Limousine bears little resemblance mechanically to any other vehicle in the world. Its suspension, drivetrain and fuel system are beefed up to take the strain of carrying around the ten tons of metal, bulletproof glass and bomb-proof plating that encases everything from the doors to the fuel tank. Its wheels are specially designed to operate with run-flat tires, while its trunk holds everything from firefighting equipment to oxygen tanks, firearms and a plentiful supply of presidentially-compatible blood.
In fact, every inch is specially-designed to keep its occupants safe from everything from a terrorist attack to a chemical weapon strike and of course, a lone gunman.
For California-based Tesla Motors, building The Beast’s replacement would represent a massive engineering task. Unlike its Model S Sedan and soon-to-be-released Model X Crossover SUV, any Presidential limo project would require its own dedicated production area, away from the standard production line.
Like previous automakers commissioned to build a presidential limousine, staff would have to be thoroughly vetted and given full security clearance. They’d also have to demonstrate their prowess in both engineering and fabrication, since any Presidential limousine would require a custom-built chassis and frame capable of supporting the immense weight of all of that armour plating.
It’s worth remembering of course too, that Tesla prides itself on vehicular safety, once famously celebrating the fact that test equipment designed to examine the car’s roof strength broke before the roof did.
Power, power, power
Weighing in at around 4,600 pounds, the Tesla Model S isn’t exactly light, yet it can propel the Model S from 0-62 mph in sports-car beating times. With 317 foot pounds of torque from its 310 kilowatt electric motor, it isn’t low on power either.
But moving a 4,600 pound car versus a ten ton car is like comparing pushing a bicycle versus a fully laden wheelbarrow.
Any Tesla-made Presidential Limousine would have to be powered by more than one electric motor, possibly multiple motors connected to each axle for efficiency. Not only would a dual — or perhaps quad– motor setup give a future Presidential Limousine far more sure-footed road-handling capabilities, but we’d guess it would be far quicker off the mark than the current 15 seconds it takes The Beast to lumber to its top-speed of 60 mph.
As for battery packs? Like a fuel tank, a Tesla-made battery pack would need protecting from the outside world with a strong armour plate. But unlike the production-spec Tesla Model S, a Presidential Tesla Limousine wouldn’t need several hundred miles of range.
That’s because in general, Presidential Limousines carry out short-range trips, like taking the President from Air Force One or Marine One to meetings and public engagements. We don’t know for sure, but we’d guess a range of 150 miles per charge — two thirds of the Model S P85’s real-world range — would be sufficient.
One of the reason’s President Obama’s current limousine is powered by diesel instead of gasoline is because diesel is available world-wide. Unlike gasoline engines, which normally require a particular grade of fuel, most diesel engines will run on any grade of diesel oil.
When it comes to electricity, the same is true. It doesn’t matter where the electricity comes from, be it a solar panel array, a gasoline generator, or perhaps even a Tesla-built supercharger integrated into the specially-designed transport plane used to move the Presidential fleet, an electric Presidential limo would charge wherever power was available.
With its massive touch-screen display and fully integrated telecommunications capabilities Tesla’s Model S already showcases how a Tesla Limousine could easily provide everything the White House needs to keep the President connected and monitored on the move.
Naturally, any Presidential limousine would need its own private telecommunications in order to keep the President safe. Given Tesla’s prowess however, we don’t think it would be too much of a headache to implement a Secret Service-approved communications system.
Then of course, there’s the high-tech elements Tesla includes in its cars — like fully adjustable suspension. That, we’d guess, would put pay to any future incidents involving a ten-ton Presidential limo and a curb.
Naturally, we’ve had a bit of fun here at Transport Evolved with this particular story, but we genuinely do think Tesla, an all-american company, would make an excellent choice for the next Presidential limo.
Electric power, as we all know, is quiet, refined and powerful. It’s environmentally friendly, and of course, would be the biggest coup for Tesla in its history so far. And as we all know, President Obama loves electric cars and has promised to buy a Chevy Volt when he leaves office.
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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