Got a spare $100,000?

Categories: Eco-nerd, Science, and Toys.

Ben brought to my attention a new breed of electic car that Tesla Motors is producing. The vehicles themselves are styled and manufactured by Lotus.

The first car out the gate is the “Tesla Roadster” — a two seater with a trunk that can be described only as “vestigial.” It’s a soft-top convertable with a hard top option. So it’s an electic sports car? Yep. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise: the Japanese have been outperfoming gas-powered cars using electric prototypes for years. (According to Wired, Tesla Motors has other cars in the works as well).

This car is as different from the electric cars of yesteryear — most of which were glorified golf carts — as is possible. With a 200 kW powertrain (that’s almost 270 horsepower for you luddites), it can go from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in 4 seconds. It has a top speed somewhere north of 130 miles per hour. Under normal driving conditions, it can go 250 miles on a single charge. And while previous electric cars required exotic charging stations, this one has an optional “travel charger” that allows you to plug it into a normal wall outlet. (It does come with an exotic charging station that you install at your house that charges it up more quickly — empty to full in 3 1/2 hours).

And, for Ben’s sake, I’ll point out that the iPod dock comes standard.

At $100,000, I’m not quite putting in my down payment yet — but it’s really promising that someone can make a batch of these (1,000 for the 2007 year model) for a price that’s almost on par with gasoline cars in the same class. At this price, the first batch (limited edition) of 100 sold out — prepaid — within two weeks. They’re taking orders for the second batch right now.


  1. ben

    While I agree this is really cool, I’m not sure it is fair to compare it’s performance to a Porsche 911 Carrera S which has a top speed considerably higher than “around 130 MPH”. I’m really curious to hear how the Tesla performs on a track in general, not just the 0-60 times. The involvement of Lotus is promising.

  2. Adam

    To Ben’s comment: it really depends on what you’re optimizing towards. I looked for something in the Porsche line up that had similar accelleration. Ben is more of a sports car fan than I, so I’ll largely defer to his opinion; however, it is my experience that driving torque-y cars is more exciting than driving powerful cars. Once you’re going fast, 100 mph feels a lot like 145 mph (and I’ve not been faster than 145 in a ground vehicle, so I can’t speak to 180 mph, but I extrapolate that it can’t be much different). On the other hand, a one-second difference in 0-60 times is something you can easily feel when you’re driving or even riding.

    In the final equasion, though, my choice of comparison was again based on Ben: the 911 Carrera S is the only model Porsche shows in yellow on the web site, and Ben really likes yellow.

  3. ben

    I’m rather amazed that you considered 145 to be about the same as 100. Under what conditions did you experience 145? Bullet trains do not count.

    In a passenger car, to me the difference is more along the lines of “100–that’s kind of fun” exciting to “145 — wow!” ” exciting. I admit that was in a vehicle considerably less capable than a 911 S. I can only extrapolate to 180, but I would assume it to be along the lines of “OMG OMG we’re going to die!” exciting. Now, I admit that for _street_ driving, top speed doesn’t mean that much unless you don’t mind going to jail. But a sport car is supposed to be about more than just street driving.

    Remind me to show you how exciting a Miata (not much torque _or_ horsepower) can be under the right conditions — even when it’s not yellow.

  4. ben

    By the way, don’t get me wrong with these comments. If I had a spare $100K laying around for a car, I would be in the queue for one of these in a heartbeat.

  5. Adam

    145 was in a Z-80 between College Station and Houston. And I’m comparing it to about 110 in a 1978 Toyota longbed pickup between Houston and San Antonio (oddly enough, the truck had a little bit of throttle left — but I had to slow down because the CRX I was travelling with couldn’t keep up). I could just be that both situations pushed me up into the “OMG OMG we’re going to die!” range…

    I’ll take you up on the stupid Miata tricks when we get a chance sometime. 🙂

  6. Adam

    If I had a spare $100K laying around for a car, I would be in the queue for one of these in a heartbeat.

    Perhaps it’s time to start considering a company car.

  7. ben

    BTW, what sort of vehicle is a Z-80? Maybe a 280Z or a Camaro Z28? Unless Zilog made cars I didn’t know about.

  8. Adam

    It was a really fast CPU, yep.

    Brain-o on that one — pulled out the wrong name. Nissan 280ZX.