Earlier in March, a group of Elders in the Oneida Indian Nation’s Elders Program visited with Tesla at Turning Stone to learn more about Tesla’s fleet of electric vehicles, its new partnership with the Nation and to take some for a test spin around the resort. It was a special program organized by Elders Activities Leader Tammy Patterson (Wolf Clan) and Kathy Willard, a former Elders Program Manager who now works at Tesla as an Operations Advisor.

Tesla’s partnership with the Oneida Indian Nation allows easier access for people living in upstate New York to purchase a Tesla electric vehicle. Currently, a state law restricts Tesla’s ability to sell directly to consumers. With a new showroom opening on Nation lands, more than 6 million New York residents will have a more convenient, central location to pick up their electric vehicle.

To get this program started, the folks at Tesla gave an overview of the types of vehicles available and addressed some of the more common misconceptions of electric vehicles such as a reduced range per charge, a lack of acceleration and long charge times. It was an eye-opener for many!

Getting the basic rundown helped with understanding how the Tesla fleet differs from traditional gas-powered vehicles and some of the quirks that might come as a surprise.

The one aspect of driving the Tesla that took some getting used to was the braking system. Outside of emergency stopping, all you needed to do is let off the gas which automatically engages the brakes. It’s a technology that’s similar to many new electric golf carts. But after just a few minutes, everyone said it was easy to figure out.

“I loved all of the technology – the screen and the controls on the steering wheel,” Gloria Kopp (Turtle Clan) said. “The only thing to learn is that taking your foot off the accelerator is going to make you stop as if you’re braking, but I loved it.”

By increasing access to EV direct-to-consumer sales, services and charging throughout the region, the Oneida Indian Nation is continuing its dedication to conservation and sustainability within its ancestral homelands. The Nation and Tesla are already working closely together to expand Upstate New York’s EV charging infrastructure to support the region’s EV drivers as demand continues to grow.

“I thought they had a nice smooth drive,” Tammy said recapping the event. “They’re a lot of fun with all of the electronics…there’s a small learning curve, but I thought they were awesome.”

Tesla is also partnering with the Nation to install more than 120 Level 2 chargers across the Oneida homelands, including 12 each at the Mary C. Winder Community Center, the Ray Elm Children & Elders Center, the Nation’s administrative offices as well as chargers dedicated to tribal residences.