Hawke's Bay is now home to perhaps the most affordable Tesla in the world and its owner didn't even plan on having it.

Shawn Elliot is the proud owner of the first Tesla Model 3 in Hawke's Bay and one of 10 in the country, but originally it was meant to be his brother's.

"My brother put his name on the list when it was first announced a couple of years ago and then when it came up that he could get it he didn't have any use for it so he wondered if I wanted it," Elliot said.

"I didn't really know much about it but I'm quite into my cars and technology and did a little read up on it and decided to take it."


He's only had it for just over a week but he says he doesn't see himself ever going back to petrol.

"The drive is so smooth and I'm quite into all the technology stuff and this thing has all the features and toys to play with."

The Tesla Model 3 is the cheapest model Tesla has to offer with it starting at US$35,000 ($55,606) and the company itself one of the most recognisable electric car manufacturers in the world.

But even with an electric motor that doesn't mean any drop off in power or stamina with it going from 0-100km/h in 3.4 seconds, a battery life when full of 620km and a top speed of 261km/h.

"It was quite surprising how much power it has because the engine isn't changing gears meaning it accelerates much faster which means it really takes off," Elliot said.

Shawn's son Tait Elliot, 9, plays one of the many arcade style games available on the dashboard touchscreen. Photo / Warren Buckland
Shawn's son Tait Elliot, 9, plays one of the many arcade style games available on the dashboard touchscreen. Photo / Warren Buckland

The car itself doesn't have your usual dashboard or interior car features with everything running off a 15-inch touch screen which activates everything from the car's following distance, its autopilot system and even being able to make whoopee cushion sounds under any seat in the car.

"When you have the car in autopilot it drives for you and does so by reading the markings on the road, but it works better on highways.

"It's a bit hairy doing it especially letting it go around the corners which will take a while to get used to."


With the car practically a computer on wheels it seems that the younger generation knows most about it with Elliot's 9-year-old son Tait being able to work most of the features.

"He could probably drive it better than me, whenever my wife has used the car he can activate most of the features in it without thinking twice," Elliot said.

He says that cars have come a long way from when he was a kid, with him now being able to practically start his car just using his phone.

"It's incredible to see what we have nowadays when I was Tait's age the most modern and eye-catching thing was the old Ford Escort van," Elliot joked.

My experience behind the wheel.

Before my ride behind the Tesla Model 3 I didn't really think much of the electric car. I had heard horror stories of batteries dying within a year of ownership and costing thousands of dollars to fix.

I thought US$35,000 would be better spent on something that has a little more muscle and a little more grunt, but after sitting in that driver's seat I have to say it was one of the smoothest and quietest drives I have ever had.

When Elliot offered me the driver's seat I was a little worried taking his brand new Tesla for a spin but that all changed when I was behind the wheel.

Taking off down SH51 the car moved so quietly and so swiftly that before you know it you start to creep over 100km/h with some ease and to be honest I didn't even use the brake pedal once.

And before people start to think I was on some joy ride in a stranger's brand new car the truth is the brake pedal seems practically obsolete because as soon as you release the accelerator the car self-brakes and stops almost as quickly as using the brake pedal.

As I went to park up after my cruise I honestly thought to myself this is the future of the motor industry, having a car that you can charge in a matter of hours at home and practically drives itself.

I thought I would be 60 before I could have a nap on the way to work while the car drove itself - but that time may be sooner than we think.