Bold School: In Depth With the Tesla Roadster
Mention electric vehicles in a conversation and you’re sure to get some strong reactions. Depending on who you’re talking to, you may hear terms ranging from “economical” and “eco-friendly” to “crap” and “hippie-mobile.” But one word that’s almost never used to describe battery-powered cars is “sexy.” That’s quickly changing, however, thanks to the amazing machines being built by Tesla Motors of Silicon Valley. The best known of their models is the Roadster, which is as far from being boring as Keira Knightly is from being obese. Tesla built and sold more than 2,400 Roadsters between 2008 and 2012. It’s fitted with a 248 HP motor and can go from 0-60 in 3.7 seconds, putting it in the same class acceleration-wise as the Dodge Viper SRT10. Top speed is around 125 MPH, and the Roadster can go as far as 244 miles on a single charge, with recharge time being about 3.5 hours. That’s pretty good for a car with no gas tank.
The Roadster was the first electric vehicle to use lithium-ion batteries, which hold 6 times as much charge per unit of weight as traditional lead-acid cells. That’s the secret behind its revolutionary performance. The technology is light years ahead of anything else the battery industry has come out with, though it has its share of flaws. The drawback most people have heard of is the risk of lithium-ion cells bursting into flames, though in reality the odds of this happening are around 1 in 300,000. The batteries also are known for going bad after 2 or 3 years, though Tesla guarantees the power packs in its new Model S for 8 years. Speaking of the Model S, it’s the successor to the famed Roadster, which Tesla ceased to build last year. The biggest barrier to owning a Model S is the sticker price, which hovers around $95,000.00. Economical? Not quite. But Tesla deserves credit for taking the automobile in new directions. How much fruit their efforts will ultimately bear is anyone’s guess at this point. PHOTOS: See more of the Tesla Roadster