Originally published March 23 2007
Review: Tesla Motors pioneers all-electric performance sports car
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor
(NaturalNews) Just when you thought the electric car had been killed, Tesla Motors (www.teslamotors.com) has made its presence known as a newborn to the automobile market and as a provocative car company that develops and manufactures electric cars with a driving experience optimized for performance and handling. So far, the response has been strong with all eyes on the company's new Tesla Roadster.
Nothing seems to have prevented Tesla Motors from finding business success since the company was launched. The initial production run of the Tesla Roaster sold out in four months, and current reservations for the 2008 model year are on a first-come, first-served basis. Demand right now is high, considering that the company is doing such a small initial production run of the model, with an anticipated delivery date in Fall 2007.
Producing only one-tenth of the pollution of a normal gasoline-powered car, the new Tesla Roadster is six times as energy efficient as the best sports car and produces zero tailpipe emissions. Best of all, it gets the equivalent in energy of 135 miles to the gallon and goes from 0 to 60 mph in four seconds flat. Lotus Engineering, the acknowledged worldwide leader in the assembly of sports cars, developed the Tesla Roadster in their design studio and supplied the initial chassis, which was significantly modified later by Tesla Motors engineers.
While most electric cars prior to the Tesla Roadster could only go a maximum of 60 miles per charge, this model is more than just a commuter car and easily achieves 250 miles per charge. The instruments inside the car even indicate to the driver how many miles can be driven before it needs to be recharged. The dashboard tells you the correct time, tire pressure and even the fastest acceleration for the day. Still, until more cities and towns provide recharging outlets on the road, or at least near major districts of the city, this is not a car than can easily be driven cross-country.
The high energy density, lithium-ion batteries that power the Roadster use the same technology as laptops, cell phones and many other portable electronics. When the battery is fully charged, the Tesla Roadster stores the energy equivalent of about eight liters of gasoline - a very small amount of energy needed for a car that performs so extraordinarily. There is no internal combustion engine, only the battery unit that can be recharged easily from an electric power grid such as a standard plug-in wall outlet.
And the best thing about charging the battery is that there is never a need to worry about waiting for the battery pack to be fully discharged before recharging it, since the car can be charged for as long as you like whenever you have access to power. There are three ways to charge the vehicle. First, it has a built-in battery charging system that can basically plug into any electrical outlet. Also, the car will be shipped with a Home Charging Station that will need to be installed in your garage by a qualified electrician. This seems like it will be the quickest way to charge the battery, since the company suggests it will only take about 3.5 hours to complete.
One of the best things about using electricity to power your automobile is that this currency of energy can be generated from any source, including renewable energy sources like solar, wind, wave and hydro. If everyone owned a car like this one, Americans could very likely reduce our country's addiction to foreign oil and assist in reducing the problem of global warming. Soon to be on the road, it would seem that these are among the most environmentally friendly vehicles available.
The Tesla Roadster can be recharged using solar energy; with installation for this option provided at the customer's home by SolarCity, a partner of Tesla Motors. SolarCity (www.solarcity.com) is a provider of solar energy systems, delivering power to homes and businesses. This solar technology comes with a comprehensive suite of services: from design and installation through ongoing system monitoring.
Safety and performance are not lost with the Tesla RoadsterThe Battery Safety Monitor responds to an emergency involving the condition of the car battery - in this case, by automatically disconnecting the battery pack from the vehicle and shutting down power to the car and to all electric cables in the car. It also is programmed to prevent overcharging in much the same way. The four-channel ABS system offers shorter stopping distances that give you full steering control with no lockup, and the side beams are positioned to provide extra safety to the exact area where you sit. With driver/passenger airbags and rollover protection, the Roadster would appear to be a safe car, but we are not currently aware of any safety crash testing results, and there aren't enough units on the road to get a full picture of real-world collision results.
Each battery has an approximate life of 100,000 miles, after which you will see gradual drops in performance. These batteries are classified as non-hazardous waste, safe for disposal in the normal municipal waste system. Tesla Motors says that reuse is a key part of its philosophy and has a goal to include the cost of recycling into the purchase price of each car. The tires are even recyclable when they are no longer of any use.
Because the Tesla Roadster produces no direct emissions, the emissions test is never needed. Since it meets all of the necessary Department of Transportation requirements for insurance and registration, it is ready to drive off the lot immediately, just like nearly any other car.
The Tesla Roadster seems to have impressive technological advances. For example, the car has no physical starter key. It has no ignition. It's virtually theft-proof. To start the car, you enter your PIN into the console, but without it, the car will not move, which makes hot-wiring no longer possible. Also, the car has no visible door handles - a discrete touch pad located in the car releases the latches electrically. The car also can be locked and unlocked using a remote key to control the VMS (Vehicle Management System), the car's main computer.
The company is so confident about the performance and longevity of its product that the first service done on the car is not expected to be required until after the first 100,000 miles. Aside from that, the only possible early service that should be needed is tire and brake inspection.
Limited service availability and high price tag could be obstacles for potential buyersHowever, something that is not all that impressive: There will only be Tesla Motors Customer Care Centers in their five key markets (Northern California, Southern California, Chicago, New York and Florida), although more centers may be available in other cities sometime in the future. For now, those who live outside these available markets may still purchase a car, but the bill will include an $8,000 out-of-service area premium to cover the costs of transportation and servicing.
Tesla Motors recommends to the customer that all service be done through one of these centers. For customers who live within 60 miles of a Tesla care center, Tesla Motors will offer free pick-up and drop-off service. Even then, it seems very likely you will be without your car a much longer time than if you were able to simply take it into a regular local mechanic. If the electronic car trend catches on more, maybe mechanics will start to learn this new technology as well and integrate this level of servicing into their businesses - making it possible for electronic cars to be worked on by anyone.
Another imposing fact to consider: The cost of a 2008 Roadster will most likely be shockingly high, and it seems obvious that most people in this country will be unable to afford such a price tag - just less than $101,000 (fully loaded). Even a standard model without many of the extra features (including two-tone premium interior and a touch-screen navigation system with voice guidance) is still incredibly expensive at just less than $93,000. The price is comparable to most high-performance sports cars with similar features and capability.
Tesla Motors sets the performance bar high with an eye toward luxuryIt seems the Tesla Motors has developed an idea - to create its first car model as a high-performance vehicle. This seems to be done in order to develop the "performance DNA" from which they can create other electric vehicles in the future. However, the only way the price tag is going down anytime soon is if more people develop an interest in electric cars and are willing to purchase them. This will create an efficient system of supply and demand for electric cars, more e-cars will be manufactured, and competition may arise from other e-car companies that join the movement to switch from gas to electricity.
Included with the Tesla Roadster are all of the basic features, like air-conditioning and power locks, as well as two heated sports seats with inflatable lumbar support, a leather-trimmed interior, and a Homelink universal transmitter that is compatible with garage, gate and home lighting/home security systems. The use of animal products in the leather-trimmed interior, however, makes you wonder if Tesla Motors has thought hard enough about the impact of cattle ranching on the environment. You can't really call a car "green" if it's made with leather.
The stereo system is made by Blaupunkt and comes with a single-disc CD player (a bit disappointing that it does not include a multi-disk player) and MP3 playback. An attached Apple dock connector also allows you to connect your iPod to the stereo. This not only charges the iPod but also gives you basic control over it using the controls on your stereo.
All cars can be customized with added features (on top of a great number of standard features already), making the Tesla Roadster live up to its name as a luxury vehicle. These include Bluetooth cellular phone integration, XM Satellite Radio, a touch-screen navigation system with voice guidance and a seven-speaker premium sound system tuned for the Tesla Roadster cockpit.
By the way, I have no financial relationship whatsoever with Tesla Motors. I am not affiliated with the company in any way, nor do I get paid by the company to review its products or write these articles. This is my own personal opinion about an environmentally friendly product that comes from a company I highly recommend. If you are a distributor with Tesla Motors, feel free to copy and use this article as an educational guide. You may print it, email it or post it to anyone as long as you include the URL (web address) of this article and give proper credit to the author.
So, is the Tesla Roadster a smart buy? The short answer would seem to be yes, but only if you could afford it. Luckily, more electric vehicle options are springing up, which may soon drive competition and provide a wider array of affordable alternatives. I would hope we all want to eventually live in a society that is no longer dependent on foreign oil, a society that is able to provide basic transportation needs with its own sources of power. Do we want to continue polluting our world and destroying our environment through the burning of fossil fuels? Driving an electric car helps eliminates such destructive dynamics, and the Tesla Roadster seems to be taking us all in the right direction.
Let's hope Toyota is paying attention, too, and is working on its own all-electric vehicle that we can all afford.
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