Tesla Motors has introduced a new and revolutionary vehicle to the electric automobile arena in the shape of the Tesla Roadster, the ultimate in efficient, emission free travel with a sports car look and feel. This is no ordinary car and is set to put down a marker in the worldwide sports car market that everyone else will have to follow in order to stay with the company. So what exactly is the Tesla Roadster and what does it have to offer?
Those who have read our earlier article on the GM EV1 will be well aware of the controversy surrounding this particular vehicle with suggestions that GM had attempted to kill the electric car market at a very early stage. However, Tesla Motors was founded in July 2003 specifically for the production of battery-powered electric vehicles which the company believes is the way ahead for the future and could potentially become a multi-billion dollar market.
The company has attracted significant investment from some of the best business brains the in world including Elon Musk, the co-founder of PayPal, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page together with former eBay president Jeff Skoll and an array of other names from the venture capital industry. This, more than anything else, is the reason why the Tesla Roadster in particular has caught the eye of electric car enthusiasts around the world.
What can the Tesla Roadster do?
The vehicle itself is said to be able to travel nearly 250 miles on a single battery charge and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds. However, the two main statistics which stand out head and shoulders above anything else are the fact that the vehicle can do the equivalent of 120 miles to the gallon and has an efficiency rating of 92% overall.
The history of the Tesla Roadster
This particular vehicle was first introduced to the public on 19 July 2006 at a specially arranged invitation only presentation in Santa Monica, California. As history shows, the vehicle was well received by those in attendance and has gone on to prove one of the bestselling and most sought after electric cars on the market.
The vehicle itself is centred round a chassis design acquired from Lotus Cars and expanded and improved by the Tesla engineers. Interestingly, the body panels for the Tesla Roadster are made from a moulded carbon fibre composite which ensures the vehicle itself is as tough as possible while being as light as possible. This makes it one of the least expensive cars ever produced and due to the weight of the chassis this moulds itself perfectly to the electric car market where literally every pound can make a difference in performance.
The electric engine
The General Motors EV1, as we have discussed in one of our earlier post, was the most high-profile electric car to date but one which is shrouded in controversy. However, even though all versions of the EV1 were brought back in-house and destroyed, Tesla Motors licensed the AC Propulsion EV Power System which was central to the GM EV1. So while the original General Motors electric car is no more, the technology used to produce the vehicle is still in existence today and forms a central part of the Tesla Roadster.
Production of the Tesla Roadster
The vehicle itself is assembled at the Lotus factory in Hethel, England in a joint production venture with Lotus. Initially the vehicle was due to hit the main market in October 2007 although this was delayed until the first quarter of 2008. As a consequence, the first vehicle was delivered to Tesla Motors on 1 February 2008.
When the first vehicle rolled off the production line the company began to produce to order from 17 March 2008. The rest of the timeline is as follows:
Only six months after the production began the company had delivered 27 pre-ordered vehicles to customers, developed a new improved transmission system and increased production numbers.
After producing and selling 27 vehicles between March 2008 and September 2008, November 2008 was something of a breakthrough with 70 vehicles in existence by the end of the month. Improvements to the production line, technology and growing demand in the market place saw significant interest in the vehicle.
This was something of a milestone for the company when it delivers its 100th Tesla Roadster with a price tag approaching $100,000 per vehicle.
Between December 2008 and February 2009 an additional 100 vehicles were produced taking the total in existence to 200.
Significant improvements in manufacturing techniques, increased promotion and ultimately increasing demand from the marketplace saw an additional 120 Tesla Roadsters produced over a 2 1/2 week period.
May 2009 saw the first major setback for the Tesla Roadster with the company been forced to recall 345 vehicles (all of the vehicles in existence) because of a fault on the production line which left a number of bolts loose. This was not an issue with Tesla itself but an issue with the production line, which ultimately forced Lotus to recall a number of its own vehicles as well.
However, despite the recall of 345 vehicles, which saw technicians from Tesla visit the home address of customers to make the necessary adjustments, by the end of May 2009 the company had sold its 500th Tesla Roadster.
While some people believed that investment into the electric car industry was very risky back in 2003, especially after the demise of the GM EV1 and the controversy which followed, they were proved wrong. Tesla Motors is the brainchild of determined engineers and has the investment backing of some of the best business brains in the world. The fact that the Tesla Roadster is able to do approaching 250 miles on one single charge and can power from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds puts the vehicle head and shoulders above anything else on the market.
It seems that where many have failed, Tesla Motors and the Tesla Roadster is set to succeed with many expecting the Tesla Roadster to be only the first in a long line of electric sports cars from a company with a reputation which is getting more impressive by the day.