It is a wee bit pricey though. Too bad GM killed the EV-1 way back when
Long-awaited electric sports car rolls out
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- It's safe to say Jeremy Snyder gets a
charge out of the two-seat Tesla Roadster whenever he pulls one off the
lot, and not because it's equipped with an all-electric engine.
As he pulled one of the sleek new automobiles down a side street
Thursday and put the pedal to the metal, its lithium-ion battery-powered
engine didn't give off sparks. It just emitted a powerful hum, like a
much quieter version of a jet taking off.
"Accelerate pretty good?" asked Snyder, head of client services for
Tesla, who knew the answer.
"I call it a turbine sound," he said of the sound. "Because it's an
electric motor, it's got 100 percent torque all the time. So it just
pulls you like when you're taking off in an airplane."
After several years of development, the Roadster -- with sleek lines
like a Ferrari or Porsche and a sticker price of $109,000 -- moves from
the drawing boards to the market next week when Tesla's first store
opens. It's near the University of California, Los Angeles, in the
city's tony Westwood neighborhood, where Beverly Hills, Brentwood and
Hollywood practically intersect.
"Because it's Hollywood and glamorous, this is the flagship store,"
The next store is to open in a couple months near Tesla's headquarters
in the Silicon Valley city of San Carlos, where the car was developed
with venture capital of more than $40 million from such investors as
Google Inc. founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. More stores are planned
for Chicago, New York and other cities by early next year.
Although a fully loaded model can set a buyer back as much as $124,000,
that's still cheap compared with a high-end Ferrari. And its 6,831-cell
lithium-ion battery pack gives off no emissions.
The car goes from 0 to 60 mph in just under four seconds and tops out at
125 mph. It goes 225 miles on one charge and can be fully recharged in
3½ hours, which Tesla officials say should allow most people to drive it
to work and back and recharge it at night like a cell phone.
Driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco, however, would require
stopping in, say, Fresno and plugging its adapter cord into a motel room
Some critics have expressed concerns about the durability and safety of
the lithium-ion battery, which weighs about 1,000 pounds, more than a
third of the entire weight of the 2,700-pound Roadster, whose body is
made up of carbon fiber materials. Tesla officials respond that the car
has passed all required safety tests. They say the battery should last
for about 100,000 miles of driving.
The company, formed in 2003, is named for inventor Nikola Tesla, a
pioneer in the field of electricity. The people buying its cars so far,
said national sales manager Doreen Allen, are celebrities, early
adopters, wealthy people and environmentalists.
Tesla officials say Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, actors George Clooney
and Kelsey Grammer and musicians Will.i.am and Flea have ordered Roadsters.
It will be a while before anyone can walk in and drive a Tesla home off
a lot, however.
"Delivery is running about 15 months," Allen said, adding that the
company was surprised by the demand.
Tesla began taking orders last year for the 600 Roadsters it planned to
produce in 2008 and had sold all of them by October, Allen said. The
first ones began rolling off the production line six weeks ago, and
Allen said all of the 2008 models should be delivered to their owners by
March. The first ones should begin going out the door this month.
Meanwhile, orders are being taken for 2009 models, with plans calling
for production of about 1,500 cars.
Eventually Tesla also plans to produce cheaper family vehicles.
"There's a model in the works right now, a five-passenger sedan that
will be styled comparable to the roadster but a lot roomier to
accommodate families, and that is slated for 2010," Snyder said.