Built during the Qing Dynasty, about 1777 as the private residence of Heshan who had an extremely rapid rise up the Civil Service ladder. He had acquired great wealth, as well as many enemies. When the Qing Emperor Qianlong (1736 – 1796) died his successor Jiaqing (1796-1820) had Heshan executed. The residence passed along to other hands and during the reign of Emperor Xianfeng (1851-1862) ownership was transferred to Prince Gong.
we were invited to be lead through the Castle by a fengshui scholar who was to
describe the design of the space as it followed fengshui principles. Alas, our fengshui scholar only spoke Chinese
and my understanding of his discussion was limited.
accompanied by three bilingual speakers, Chinese/English and none could really
supply me with a comprehensive translation, since the language was
described in the barest detail is that fengshui is the study of creating a
space which can take advantage, or even harness the natural forces, qi, of the universe.
we have is some lovely photos and a nice walk in the lovely gardens.
In Beijing, the land of conspicuous consumerism, I was introduced to the Tesla-X. The prominent tri-star of the M-B, Benzes if you need prompting, is understood as symbol of having made it, the thunderbird logo “T” of Tesla is rare. The cachet of owning and displaying this auto will achieve the silent envy of those munchkins measuring. In a nation where the gold interlocking CC’s of fake Chanel are a very weak signal of success, and the tri star of the Benz has become more common the “T” is still a rarity and not yet copied. As a potential measure of my host’s attempt to disprove their class conscious symbol, the car was in a non-descript, KGB, black. Suitable to prove they were not attempting a conspicuous display of wealth. I am not convinced, but then, I tend to be a skeptic about good intentions. Still, consider that the “X” of the name refers to excess.
concept, an electric car in our age of climate change concerns has great
merit. Elon Musk deserves much credit
for the bravado and energy to challenge the automobile establishment with a new
vision. I can even excuse the Tesla-X as
an effective marketing tool and business model.
The “X” makes a statement. The
challenge of making a statement is that not everyone agrees. For me, the “X” misses the point of a car,
but then, fortunately for Musk, I am not the target audience of the “X”.
not enter the car as an auto critic, but I am a bit of a car guy and realized
after a few minutes that the drive needed some commentary. At home, I have an SUV, a two year old Honda
Pilot, the latest of decades of owning SUV’s. The choice of SUV has always been practical; “Schlepping.”
Kids, household goods, sporting gear, etc.
It was my daily driver too.
The car I entered was wonderfully
appointed. It was clearly luxury. Soft leather seats, as soft as a baby’s
behind, as my Mom would say. Two color
upholstery, beige and black. I didn’t notice
the stiffness, some reviews do complain, but I was comfortable in the back
row. Oh yes, I didn’t get a chance to
drive the car, because, as was befitting my host, they have a full time driver who
had control of the keys and would not relinquish them. Honestly, even if I were allowed, driving in
Beijing is not a challenge I would accept.
Summed up succinctly, the only rule is that no one follows rules. It is mass chaos. Autos follow some rules, but motor scooters,
bicycles and other motorized vehicles ride in all directions, even on the
The “X” has a large amount of glass
to help the driver see all around as scooters come at him from the front, rear
and sides. The front window rises nearly
1/3 up the roof. Structures are designed
with glass to take advantage of the sun’s heating. Alas, in Beijing in April, not the hottest
month, the car heated up from the sun, like a greenhouse. Cooling down with a little A/C would be
great, but that does limit the range, which I read is nearly 300 miles. So we fiddled with the windows to cool the
car down. I am not sure when during the
heat of the summer, the driver would put on the A/C?
The designers of the “X” did
themselves well with the interior. Some
reviews complained about poor fit, which I didn’t notice. I was overwhelmed by the gentle relaxed
curves, the chrome trim and recessed handles in the interior. In the daylight, it did take a minute to
locate the door handles to exit the car.
Smack in the middle of the dash is
a display larger than my laptop. The
specs say 17 inches, but it seems bigger.
A bit contradictory to have this overwhelming display far below
sightlines to distract be the driver from the road. Yet, it is large and has bragging
rights. With all that display space,
road maps are quite readable, street are separated, and if given time the
driver can trace the route with his finger.
Save, attention should be on the road.
If only the passenger could tilt the screen away from the driver and
Finally, and most luxurious are the
rear passenger “gull wing doors.” These
are such an iconic element from an earlier 50’s MB, they deserve
attention. Save for their total
impracticality. As the attendant
approached the car to open the door, our driver warned him away, since as the
doors open from the bottom up, he would have been knocked off his feet. Then when they close, sensors alert if people
are near and they do not close.
For me Tesla “X” for excessive
design is not extraordinary. For those
interested in a statement rather than a practical car, the “X” may be for
them. The car specs, 0-60 in 3 seconds
or so, is impressive. For my city
bound, Beijing host, there is no time during any 24 hours where they could find
enough lonely road to accelerate.
So, the next day we were off to the
adjacent province, a long highway ride and a few days away from Beijing. As they pulled up, I noticed a familiar
tri-star, a MB 500 SUV. A conventional
gas powered car, with a range and capacity for long distance schlepping
The “X” designers have created the status
symbol for the future. Completing with
the newly created SUV’s of the ultra, high end brands, the “X” stands as the
electric, non-polluting futuristic vehicle.
With great flair for design, it is one step ahead for the conspicuous
consumer who can flaunt it’s excess without care of cost.
Unfortunately, there is the well documented virtually inextinguishable fires caused by Tesla’s lithium batteries. Accelerated by accidents, or even igniting in a parking lot, the batteries burn so hot that the best option is to allow them to just burn themselves out. Up in unextinguishable flames, a fitting ending to a car designed for excess.