Tesla Roadster

In the realm of electric cars—actually, in the realm of automotive transportation—the Tesla Roadster is a quantum leap forward, combining the breathtaking beauty of a classic roadster with advanced technology to make her agile and responsive, green and efficient… and tons more fun than any previous vehicle of its kind, along with a number of well-established sports cars as well.
tesla roadster
photo by Thomas Doerfer

by Ross Bonander

Specs

  • Type: 100% fully electric (BEV)
  • Class: Sports car
  • Manufacturer: Tesla Motors
  • Propulsion system: 3-phase, 4-pole electric motor, 248hp peak (185kW)
  • Top Speed: 125 mph
  • Zero-to-60: under 4 seconds
  • MPG: 135 mpg
  • Vehicle range: 220 miles
  • Fuel(s): Electricity
  • Battery system: Lithium-ion pack (recharge 3.5 hours)
  • Tailpipe emissions: None

The Manufacturer Says…

"The Tesla Roadster … is six times as efficient and produces one-tenth the pollution, all while achieving the same performance and acceleration," compared to other sports cars.

The Critics Say...

"The Tesla … is the first car that means we as sports car aficionados can see beyond the end of the internal combustion engine." – Jay Leno, reviewing for Times Online.

photo by P. Swint

What We Like

The body. From virtually any angle, this is a hot, dynamic-looking sports car.

The cockpit. It is streamlined to offer only the necessities without added clutter.

The motor. Its motor consists of one moving part—the rotor. Compare this to the moving parts in a four-cylinder engine (over 100).

The performance. 0-60 in under 4 seconds using a 2-speed manual transmission without a clutch pedal, reaching an eletrically limited top speed of 125 mph.

The battery system. Almost 7,000 lithium-ion batteries, coupled with Tesla software, are fully charged in four hours and provide, in sum, a 245 mil driving range. Regenerative braking technology extends the charge, and the trunk can feature a mobile-charging kit that allows recharging from any standard electrical outlet. Furthermore, Tesla has partnered with an installer of solar panels, allowing owners to use solar energy to charge not only their home, but by extension, their Roadster as well. The result is a 100% emissions-free vehicle that uses only renewable energy.

What We Don’t Like

The $100,000 price tag. If you can afford it, cost-benefit analyses don’t matter. If you really can’t, you’re better off financially in buying a variety of other vehicles, including a number of hybrids.

The servicing plan. The manufacturer does not recommend you bring the car anywhere but to one of their stores for any servicing needs. In other words, owners don’t have a choice and there’s no competition, meaning owners must pay what Tesla charges. Whether outside serving will be covered by the warranty is at present unknown.

Conclusion

There’s no getting around the fact that the Roadster is priced well beyond the budget of the average consumer. Yet new and exciting technologies like this are typically first introduced to wealthier clientele, largely because these innovations require hundreds of millions of dollars and years to develop. They aren’t likely to roll off the assembly line in reach of the average joe.

The Roadster itself is unlikely to change the face of the automotive industry, but what it signifies may be more important: if Tesla succeeds with the Roadster, they can more confidently move ahead with plans to develop two vehicles aimed for smaller budgets. Numerous other fledgling car companies have turned up dead because they can not afford to stay afloat in such a supremely costly, slow-paced business as this one, loaded with so many regulations. But if Tesla can fully deliver the Roadster, and if the Roadster delivers on its many promises, Tesla stands a fighting chance to alter the entire industry.

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