When it was announced less than two years ago, many thought the Tesla Roadster was a hoax, or at best a vaporware concept that wouldn’t go anywhere. Thankfully, those skeptics have been proven wrong, with the Tesla in full production and the first lot sold out already.
But what is it about the Tesla that makes it so unusual? Not only is it fully electric, making it one of the most green cars you can drive, it’s also incredibly well made. Reviews from those who’ve driven it are almost universally positive.
It’s power conscious, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have power; indeed, the car goes 0 to 60 in less than four seconds, corners like a dream, and can get up to 221 miles on a charge.
It looks amazing, too. The car was designed by a group who’d previously worked on the latest generation Lotuses. This isn’t a Honda Element, this is a car you’d want to be seen in.
Making a Difference
The Tesla is being lauded as the first in what many are hoping is a long line of all-electric cars, vehicles one step beyond the hybrid concept.
There are problems with the Tesla, though. Despite its popularity, critics point out a few flaws in the auto, such as the fact that it requires a non-portable charging station. Unless a gas station-like network of them rolls out across the country, you’re looking at about a range of about 100 miles from your house. The car doesn’t have a back-up mechanism at all, so if you run out of juice away from home, you’re looking at a pricey tow.
Many find the almost $100k price tag too high as well, thinking a vehicle for only the rich won’t do enough to spark the revolution it’s expected too, which is a fair argument.
Still, personal computers were very pricey when they came out, and within two decades they’re now so common place we have debates on how to dispose of them.
Many of the designs being incorporated into the car — the one-speed transmission, carbon-fiber body, super-effecient headlights — can be reduced in cost for consumer models. Indeed, there’s rumor of a consumer version to debut sometime in 2010 that is expected to sell for half the price.
Competition from Chevy
GM has chosen 2010 as the time to debut its all-electric, the Volt. The Volt uses similar technology as the Tesla, relying on Lithium-Ion batteries for its power, and like the Tesla it’s a slick-looking, fast sportscar.
Unlike the Tesla, the Volt has a take-along power pack that plugs into any standard 110 volt wall outlet, meaning you can drive it pretty much anywhere. It doesn’t have the speed of the Tesla, but it should be far more affordable, likely coming in at between $30k and $40k.
What remains to be seen is if these are vanguards of a new generation of all electric cars or if they’re just good ideas that don’t have a market. We’re hoping for the previous, as the idea of going fast appeals to us, but not at $4 a gallon.