Feel the Power: Brooklynites Gather for a Tesla Test Drive

Despite a bumpy road for the company, young professionals turned out in Red Hook to take the sleek machines for a spin

Inside the showroom, visitors examined the sought-after Model 3. A refundable deposit of $1,000 will put your name on the waiting list (Photos by Graison Dangor)

Behind the wheel of Tesla Model S, Abbie Cheng, a real-estate broker from Brooklyn’s Borough Park, was given permission to gun it.

Let’s not say how many miles per hour the 28-year-old was able to hit on her test drive of the electric sedan, which is capable of going from zero to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds.

Suffice to say it was faster than the Vespa she rode to the Tesla showroom in Red Hook. Fast enough to make a reporter in the car shoot backwards as his internal organs remained, for a moment, in the same place.

“It’s so comfy,” said Cheng, and “so fast.”


Tesla opened the sleek showroom in 2016 in a former workshop that rebuilt diesel engines for cargo ships

Cheng, who works for TerraCRG, the real-estate group based in Prospect Heights, was one of more than 50 professionals who attended the networking event last night, which was hosted by Young BK Professionals, part of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

As guests mingled over hor d’oeuvres, they could sign up to test drive or just gape at the glass roofs and 17-inch touchscreen console of the Model S sedan (starting at $77,800, before possible tax credits), or stand under the falcon-wing doors of the Model X SUV (starting at $82,800).  


Real-estate broker Abbie Cheng was excited about her test drive. “It’s the coolest car in the world,” she said

For Tesla, it was a chance to show off its high-end vehicles to Brooklynites who may not have heard much positive about the brand lately. The company posted a $785 million loss in the first quarter and is behind schedule on its production of its Model 3. The model is advertised at a starting price of $35,000, though in May CEO Elon Musk tweeted that Tesla cannot sell the model at such a low price until production increases. To reach its Model 3 production goal of 5,000 cars a week, Tesla has reportedly built an assembly inside a tent at its Fremont, Calif., manufacturing plant.

Tesla’s reputation has also been dinged by reports in the last year of sexual harassment, unsafe working conditions, and wasteful manufacturing


Marketing expert Nicole McGarrell is “not a car person,” she said, but found a lot to like after her test drive of the Model X SUV

Last night in Red Hook, though, the focus was all on the cars (and snacks). Not everyone attending was sold on the brand yet, but a test drive did make a potential convert in Nicole McGarrell, who owns Sunny Day Marketing, an agency in Brooklyn that works with nonprofits and small businesses.

“No, I’m not a car person,” answered McGarrell, who’s on the BK Young Professionals committee at the Chamber. She had heard of Tesla, she said, but “I never really understood what the big deal was.”



After a spin around the neighborhood, McGarrell understood. She liked that the car rode smoothly even along the bumpy back streets of Red Hook. She was impressed that it had a HEPA filter to purify air coming in. And of course, she also liked how fast it accelerated.

McGarrell isn’t in the market for a car right now. But someday–once her business takes off even more, she said–“I would definitely consider getting a Tesla.”

Graison Dangor is a reporting intern at The Bridge and a student at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. His reporting has appeared in outlets including Al Jazeera and the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Originally from Minnesota, he doesn’t understand why New Yorkers wear heavy coats when it isn’t cold outside