The Tesla Roadster combines the performance of a high-end sports car — it can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, according to the automaker — with the environmental-friendliness of an all-electric drivetrain that emits zero emissions.
Built in limited numbers, the Roadster can travel nearly 250 miles on a charge, and its lithium-ion battery pack can recharge in 3.5 hours. Tesla announced a Sport version of the Roadster in January 2009 that will feature quicker acceleration and an adjustable suspension. Competitors include the Porsche 911 and Audi R8.
The Roadster is about the size of a Lotus Elise, and Lotus builds the Roadster's chassis for Tesla. The Roadster has its own styling, but because the proportions of the cars are similar it still brings to mind the Elise. The Roadster's body is made of carbon fiber.
The Roadster has a finned hood, and the electric drivetrain is in the rear of the car. LED taillights are standard, and the Tesla comes with a removable soft-top (a carbon fiber hardtop is optional). Forged alloy wheels measure 16 inches in front and 17 inches in back.
The Roadster's cabin has a minimalist design, and the air conditioning controls are atop a bar separating the driver's space from the passenger's. The Roadster has standard heated leather seats, but cloth seats are also available, as is premium leather upholstery, which is offered in a wide variety of color combinations.
Standard features include a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a CD stereo with iPod connectivity, and cruise control. The optional Electronics Group includes Bluetooth cell phone connectivity, a navigation radio, Sirius Satellite Radio and a subwoofer.
Under the Hood
The rear-wheel-drive Roadster is powered by an air-cooled electric motor that makes 248 horsepower and 280 pounds-feet of torque. Peak torque is available from 0 rpm, which is a boon for acceleration. The electric motor drives the wheels through a fixed gear, and the motor can function as a generator when decelerating to help recharge the battery pack. The Roadster's top speed is 125 mph.
The electric motor is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack made up of 6,831 cells. The battery pack weighs nearly 1,000 pounds, and Tesla says it should last for five years or 100,000 miles. The current cost for a replacement battery is $12,000.
Tesla's home charging station can charge the battery in 3.5 hours, or less if there's still some power left in it. A plug for recharging the Roadster from a regular 120-volt outlet is a $600 option.
Standard features include all-disc antilock brakes, traction control and a tire pressure monitoring system. To keep curious parking attendants from testing the Roadster's abilities, the car has a "valet mode" that limits how fast and how far it can travel.