Getting a Charge Out of Tesla

‘I haven’t visited a gas station in eight years’

By Matt Bell

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Photography by Grant Hindsley

September 7, 2022

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2022 issue of Seattle Magazine.

Seattle soccer and EV cars both had a big year in 2009. One man had the vision for both: Adrian Hanauer. The Seattle Sounders’ FC initial season was in 2009, the same year Tesla Motors launched its first car, the Roadster, which kicked off the EV car market as we know it today. As many people know, Hanauer is majority owner of the Sounders, and is also one of the very first people in Seattle who took delivery of a Tesla Roadster, a now iconic and collectable EV he still owns today. The success of soccer in Seattle has been nothing short of massive, with two MLS Cups and a Champions League Title in 2022. Tesla hasn’t done too badly, either.

What drove you to buy this car and be one of the first? I was just fascinated with the idea of participating early on, on what I assume would be a movement toward electric vehicles. I thought it was an amazing looking car, obviously built on the Lotus chassis. It also just seemed like the right thing to do from an environmental standpoint.

What was the process? Back then there wasn’t a dealership to visit so I went to the website, put a credit card in and for $10,000 made a deposit. I ordered it completely online, picked the color and all the features. I never even drove one, which now that I say it sounds pretty crazy. It took over a year to deliver the car after I ordered it.

What was the first car you ever drove: It’s embarrassing because I was a Mercer Island kid so I drove an old Mercedes 300 diesel before I started borrowing my brother’s cooler car, an orange VW Bug. He will never let me forget the time when I parked it, apparently illegally, and it got towed. I didn’t deal with it for a long time and when I went to get it the tow yard had already sold it at auction. As you might imagine, my brother has never let me live that down and still reminds me I owe him $800 for the car.

What do you daily drive today? I have driven the same car daily for the last eight years, a Tesla Model S.

What is your favorite feature of the Model S? That I haven’t visited a gas station in eight years. The other thing is these cars get software upgrades. While it’s sitting in the garage you wake up one morning and there’s a new feature on your car. Coming from my last car, which was a Range Rover, that was pretty earth shattering.

Have you ever had any issues with your Tesla, like running out of power? Zero, never. The only issue was when I thought it was stolen. At my office parking garage, they valet the cars and one day I went down to get mine and it was gone. I was able to track it on my iPhone and I saw that it was coming back toward the office. I’m like, OK. That would be weird for someone to steal it and then drive it back to me. Turns out, another person in the building had the same car and told a co-worker they could use it to run an errand. The valet then gave them the wrong key.

What is it like to drive a classic Tesla Roadster? The acceleration when you drive an EV is ridiculous. When you combine that with the super lightweight Lotus chassis, which is only a few inches off the ground, it feels like this car is going 300 miles an hour. Merging on to on the freeway is really easy when you’ve got that much power and kick. I also enjoy other people trying to figure out what it is every time I park it. When I get back to it, somebody is staring at it or taking photos of it. Younger people have never seen one before so they tend to ask what is it or wonder why I put Tesla stickers on a different car. Mostly I am glad I was lucky enough and crazy enough to buy one sight unseen. I will never sell it.

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