Tesla Roadster Goes Into Production
As the first of the new, super-fast, zero emission Tesla Roadster comes off the production line, hopes rise for the future of the electric car. But just how good is this vehicle? Company chairman and founder of Paypal, Elon Musk, seems to be quite pleased to replace his old McLaren F1 with the first ever Tesla.
I have to admit to holding a great deal of excitement about the Tesla Roadster for quite some time now. The idea of having the best of both worlds (power, style and speed along with amazing fuel economy and zero localised emissions) seems like something out of a Utopian dream (or at least, my dream). 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds and 135mpg just shouldn't be possible in the real world, should it? I do, therefore, feel the need to sober my thoughts somewhat and try to be a bit more realistic.
They don't plan to release these vehicles in Europe until around 2010, so I won't have the chance to judge this car for myself for quite a while. Until then, we can take on board the words of the car's first owner: company chairman Elon Musk.
Reviewed by its First Owner
Speaking on his blog on the Tesla Motor's website, Elon Musk is full of enthusiasm for his new car. Having pioneered the online payment system Paypal, funded a private space company SpaceX and funded a solar power company SolarCity, he is well used to getting ambitious projects off the ground. You could, therefore, forgive him if his attitude towards the Tesla Roadster were to be a little uninspired. However, his enthusiasm is clear, preferring the Tesla to his McLaren F1, telling us how it outperforms the McLaren on the highway.
"It's pretty awesome", he said. "It has about 380Nm of torque. It has really good acceleration all round. Car and Driver (magazine) said it had the highest 30 to 70mph acceleration of any car they had tested and we're doing some upgrades that will actually make that even better. So, at passing speed there's nothing that beats the Tesla Roadster; it's just awesome."
"This is the lowest cost all carbon-fibre car in the world by a pretty good margin. What makes the Tesla more fun than a gasoline super-car, and I should know as I used to own a McLaren F1, is that this has got a better response than a McLaren F1.
"The most we've ever gotten (out of the battery) is 267 miles driving around the (San Francisco) Bay Area. More typically, you'd get about 220 or thereabouts. It depends how fast and how hard you drive. It's got an economy mode and a high performance mode, so you can maximise (the range) if you're in economy mode, but a reasonable expectation would be to get a little over 200 miles with the air-conditioning, headlights and radio on."
Speed and Efficiency
"We electronically limit the top speed; the top speed is about 130mph. We could make it go faster but the car is designed for acceleration, handling and efficiency. If we really optimised it for top speed then we'd have to do all sorts of things that would reduce the efficiency of the car. And, there's really no point. How often do you ever go faster than 130mph?! This car is intended to be a killer car for every day use plus something that is way more efficient that any hybrid. This is an EPA-rated equivalent of about 130mpg, which is about twice the energy efficiency of a (Toyota) Prius."
The Sound of an Electric Motor
"The motor goes to 14,000 rpm. It sounds like a jet-turbine at high speed, which is a kind of a cool sound. We have motors in the lab that have gone over 20,000 rpm, which is really exciting for the future of the roadster and going to an ultra-high performance sports car down the road, although that's not the really the goal of Tesla. The goal of Tesla is to help drive forward the electric car revolution and make electric cars more accessible over time."
Future Tesla Models
"We've been working on a Sedan for a while. It's a four door, five passenger luxury sports Sedan, like a mid-range Jaguar, BMW or Mercedes and about half the price of the Roadster ($50,000). It will probably have a 5.5 second 0-60 mph time. There are only a few Sedans that are quicker than that."
"Model 3 will be a more affordable car, which will cost more like a BMW 3-series, or maybe even less. If we could get it below $30,000, that would be awesome. We're really trying to move to mass-marketability as soon as possible."
Watch the Tesla Roadster in Action
Elon Musk takes you for a spin in his brand new roadster and gives you his thoughts on the car along the way in this video on the Tesla Motors website: Read his blog and watch the video here.