Vehicle Overview

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. A Sport version features quicker acceleration and an adjustable suspension. Competitors to the Roadster include the Porsche 911 and Audi R8.

New for 2011
Tesla does not use model years and instead dubs the latest version the Roadster 2.5. Changes include a new front design with diffusing vents and a rear diffuser. An Infotainment Group with a 7-inch touch-screen navigation system, Bluetooth, 400-watt stereo, HD and Sirius radio and a backup camera is a new option. New seats have more supportive bolsters and a new lumbar support.

The Roadster is about the size of a Lotus Elise, and Lotus builds the Roadster's chassis for Tesla. The Roadster has unique 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. Exterior features include:

  • Finned hood, LED taillights
  • Drivetrain mounted in the rear
  • Removable soft-top
  • Optional carbon fiber hardtop
  • 16-inch front wheels, 17-inch rear wheels
  • Sport model has dark-finished wheels, unique badging

The Roadster's cabin has a minimalist design, though revisions for 2010 made it more conventional. The air-conditioning controls were moved to a more conventional location below the stereo system. Instead of a gearshift lever, the transmission has Park, Neutral, Drive and Reverse buttons in the center console. Interior features include:

  • Standard heated leather seats
  • Optional microfiber cloth seats
  • Optional full leather interior
  • Optional navigation system
  • Optional Infotainment Group with backup camera
  • Standard iPod-compatible CD stereo
  • Optional navigation system

Under the Hood
The rear-wheel-drive Roadster is powered by an air-cooled electric motor that makes 288 horsepower and 273 pounds-feet of torque in base Roadster versions and 295 pounds-feet of torque in Sport versions. Peak torque is available from zero 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 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. Mechanical features include:

  • Roadster Sport makes 288 hp and 295 pounds-feet of torque
  • Zero to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds (Roadster) or 3.7 seconds (Roadster Sport)
  • Rear-wheel drive
  • Home charging station can charge battery in 3.5 hours
  • Optional plug for recharging Roadster from regular 120-volt outlet
  • Up to 245-mile range on a full charge

Side airbags and stability control are not available. Standard safety features include:

  • All-disc antilock brakes
  • Traction control
  • Dual front airbags