We (the employees of the Cambridge, MA Greentech Media office) finally got our hands on the Tesla Roadster. Previously tested by Michael Kanellos, we were lucky enough to score a drive in the new Roadster 2.5. While I won’t rehash Michael’s road test, or report what all the other automotive journalists have already written, I will tell you why driving a Tesla is a completely unique and special experience and why they are not the logistical nightmare some have made them out to be. See also The Tesla Factory Tour.
The Tesla Roadster is not just sports-car fast; it’s supercar fast. With a 3.7-second 0-60 mph time that rivals Ferraris and Lamborghinis costing hundreds of thousands of dollars more, full-bore acceleration in this car is downright violent. Mash the accelerator (no gas pedal here) and you are instantly pinned to the seatback. Unlike standard internal combustion engines, there is no wait for the revs to climb into the power band. Throttle response is instant and linear, and without the hassle of gears to change, 50-60-70mph comes up on the speedometer before you even have time to think, ‘What’s the speed limit again?’
The sound of the Roadster is very addictive. The whir of the engine as it climbs past 10,000RPM is so unique that the producers of the latest Batman films amplified it many times over and used it as the sound of the new Batmobile. As the pitch of the watermelon-sized engine and speed of the car rise in sync, you begin to wonder when you’ll enter a time warp back to 1985.
Is the Tesla practical? If you don’t have any kids or animals to transport, commute fewer than 250 miles a day, only need to carry golf-bag sized cargo in the back (conveniently sized, no?), and have $110,000 to spend on daily driver, then this is the car for you! In all seriousness, however, this car is not meant to be practical -- it’s meant to showcase the possible capabilities of electric vehicles. For some customers, it just so happens to be usable on a day-to-day basis.
To aid in the regular use of the Roadster, it can be ordered with a charge kit that will connect it to everything from a hamster on a wheel to a socket for a washing machine. Should you need to charge it on the go, the purchase of a car also comes with a concierge service that will direct customers to the best place to juice up within the vehicle’s remaining range. The hamster hook-up will have a much longer charge time than household appliance connections, but when the car is about to die there’s really no time to be picky. With a range north of 200 miles, however, the car stores more than enough electricity to get owners from Boston to Cape Cod or from San Francisco to Napa Valley, trips potential Tesla owners probably take with frequency. Once there, they can plug in at their weekend abode.
The Tesla Roadster has not turned the automotive industry on its head, but since it was introduced in 2008, it has raised many eyebrows and impressed those lucky enough to drive it. With the less-expensive and more usable Model S on the way, and other automakers (Nissan, Ford) and hi-tech leaders (Siemens) aggressively pushing into the EV segment, the Roadster has proven that an EV is capable of almost everything its internal-combustion counterparts are and hopefully has paved the way for other electric vehicles across the entirety of the automotive spectrum.