Tesla Motors unveiled their uber-chic Roadster, a supercharged electric vehicle that looks, feels and drives like many other high-end sports cars Wednesday night. The main difference is the noise. Powered by a 3-phase, 4-pole AC induction motor, the Roadster can go 130 mph and does 0-60 in about 4 seconds, all completely silent.
Tonight was the grand unveiling of the Roadster in a decorated airport hanger in Santa Monica, CA. I don't ride in many sports cars, and I certainly have never been in one that zips across an airport's tarmac without so much as a whisper. But tonight I got a quick ride in the Roadster and all I could hear from the passenger's seat (not even Gov. Schwarzenegger, who flew in for a brief look at the car, was allowed to drive it) was wind noise. And myself saying "Wow" under my breath.
The car is low to the ground, and smooth in all possible ways. But this vehicle isn't just a sports car. It's also a green car. There are zero tailpipe emissions. There isn't even a tailpipe. Tesla Motors is working to provide purchasers with a photovoltaic panel that will turn the driving experience into an actual net producer of energy, according to Tesla Motors chairman Elon Musk.
Tonight's unveiling was also an invitation to purchase the Roadster when it is released in mid-2007 (for about $80,000-$120,000). The company is offering the first 100 Tesla Roadsters as Signature models. Musk said that the people who buy the Signature cars will not only be getting an incredible sports car, but will be helping to pay the R&D costs for future Tesla Motor vehicles. And that's what tonight was really about: the future. Gadget, an L.A.-based mechanic who converts ICE cars to EV and was seen in the movie "Who Killed The Electric Car?", and that film's director Chris Paine, were right behind me in line for the test ride. Paine filmed the promo video for the Roadster that was projected onto the walls. Earlier in the evening, Tesla Motors CEO Martin Eberhard said that, "An electric sports car was the way to fundamentally change the way we drive in the USA." Gadget and Paine agreed