A Tesla Test Drive to CERN

GG Zurich
GG Zurich posted on January 11, 2016

genie in a bagAfter our amazing time with the Maserati Ghibli in Neuchatel last summer, we’d been itching for our next road trip – we just couldn’t decide which car, where to go and whom to take with us . . .

It all came together when we were invited to an apero at the Tesla showroom in Zurich. We mentioned our interest, met with a few people and viola, we had been promised a Model S for a few days. We didn’t dare ask the color, but kept our fingers crossed for the Midnight Silver Metallic.
Thinking about Tesla (the company was named after Nikola Tesla, the inventor of the AC induction motor), and its uniqueness got us thinking about technology and science and that led us to . . . CERN.

Though we can’t say we really understand Physics, we are curious and it is a world-renowned institution nearly in our backyard. So it was settled, we grabbed the nearest handsome man (interested in Physics, in case we had questions), our Genie in a Bag (our new favorite accessory when heading out for a few days – it’s a backpack, it’s a purse, it’s a clutch!) and headed south towards Geneva.


The Tesla Model S

The Model S is Tesla’s second foray into the world of electric cars. The first, the Roadster, was launched in 2008 to much fanfare and skepticism but the car and company made believers out of everyone by selling out and creating plans for further, more advanced models. The Model S, the world’s first premium electric sedan came onto the market in 2012 and they have sold so well, it’s hard to get your hands on one.

The first thing you’ll notice about the car is how silent it is. You’ll wonder whether or not it’s running. This is of course because of the fact that it doesn’t have a traditional engine, but an electric one – with only one moving part: the rotor. Open the trunk, where the engine lies, and you’ll see none of the hundreds of grease-covered parts you’re used to seeing (and if you’re like us, being mostly puzzled by). Something about the lack of parts is unnerving but also refreshing – how can this thing really go from 0 to 60 mph in five seconds?

This car is a real beauty. We had the opportunity to check it out in detail as Herr Bottoni showed us all the ins and outs. And it’s a good thing he did. There are so many bells and whistles on this machine we were happy we’d had our coffee and could focus.

Road Trip: The Ride

When you have the key in your pocket and stand next to the car, the door handles, which are usually flush, pop out. When you walk away and look back, you realize just how sleek the car looks without those pesky handles sticking out.

The dashboard display screen is huge (17 “) and takes some getting used to, but once you set it up with your own preferences and make sure you know where the Supercharging stations are along your route, you don’t even need that hot guy in the passenger seat for anything other than eye candy.

Being like kids in a candy shop, we wanted to see what the different performance buttons did on the screen. We found out very quickly that the INSANE button is just that. You hit it and accelerate as though you were trying to break all land speed records. That’s a bit of an exaggeration – it’s certainly not enough to give you whip lash, but enough to make you giggle and want to do it again.

If you’ve never had an electric car, you might be concerned about what happens when the electricity goes away. Well, lucky for you, Tesla has, of course, thought of that too. You can have a charging station at home and merely plug it in over night and be ready to go, or you can charge on the go at one of the many Supercharging stations around Switzerland. You can replenish ½ the battery in as little as 20 minutes. And think of the money you’ll save on gas! Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, claims that most owners will save $10,000 in gas over five years. Which would fund a nice little shopping spree.

Road Trip: CERN

The trip to CERN, which is quite close to Geneva, was a dream. Somehow this car makes you feel like you are in your grandmother’s Cadillac and a sexy sports car at the same time. It’s gorgeous. It’s comfortable. You really feel like you’re riding in style. Other than having to keep our eyes on the changing speed limits (why, oh why, dearest Switzerland, must you not let us enjoy our fast cars on the highway?), the trip flew by with my DJ side kick cranking out seat-dancing worthy tunes.

We’ve always wanted to go to CERN and took this opportunity to ask a favor of our neighbors, Dr. Ben Kilminster and Dr. Florencia Canelli, a married couple who both work at CERN in addition to teaching at University of Zurich. Ben rearranged his schedule to give us a private tour. We got to poke around the campus, check out a cool exhibit and see some of the relics of the lab arranged in an artful-sciency graveyard outside.

















CERN (the acronym for the French “Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire”), the laboratory, was founded in 1954 and sits right on the Swiss and French border.

The main area of research here is particle physics, the study of the basic elements of matter and the forces acting among them. Make sense? Not so much to us either, but a tour of the exhibit and more chatting over dinner helped us move from asking questions like, “How do you know particles exist if you can’t see them?” (which apparently is not as dumb a question as it seems), to “Why is the discovery of the Higgs boson (a particle discovered at CERN in 2012) important?” (The answer being, from what we understood, that it somehow proves how particles gain mass. We’re still confused but more interested and may even go back to learn more!)

If you’re interested too – and you should be – you can schedule a tour with a group or even on your own. Take your daughters! We talk to Florencia about this all the time -We need more women in the sciences!

Yes, please! 1 Midnight Silver Metallic

While we were sad to give back our Tesla, it had to be done. After a close call, battery-wise (we like to live dangerously) we found a Supercharging station (with 26 km left in the battery) which was located at the Best Western Porte Sud De Genève.

We expected to have to wait and then drive to find lunch, but lucky for us, there is a great little restaurant in the hotel that serves delicious Steak Frites. We finished our espressos, walked back out into the rainy afternoon and found our friend fully charged and ready to take us back to Zurich.

If this is the future of driving, we’re on board. Green living in style. Now go take one out for a spin. The model X is coming out this year and in just a few months, you could be turning heads while you help save the planet.



Kristen VermilyeaContributed by: Zuri Girl Kristen Vermilyea, an American actor, filmmaker, writer and artist who has lived in Zurich for nearly 6 years. She hosts the Zurich Film Festival TV show and is a social media and film consultant.  When not watching and writing about film, she keeps busy attempting to learn to play new instruments as her four year old daughter has insisted they start a band.



Article sponsors: Tesla, Genie in a Bag, CERN, Benci Brothers


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