2011 Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5.
I went to the future a few days ago. That's what I felt. I didn't expect it, and I approached my visit as just another test drive, but while at Tesla, I experienced for myself what has been covered endlessly since the company began just a few years ago in 2003.
Stylistically, I never cared for the aesthetics of this Lotus, and from the beginning, I always thought that Tesla had vastly improved on the looks alone.
Naturally, the looks is not the story here. It's the technology and what it represents. Not just a new segment or a new attitude, but a real chance at change.
This change is not easy or simple and has countless struggles from a complete global delivery aspect.
First, it has to overcome the past. It has to erase the very horrible attempts of what has happened in the industry in recent memory. Despite the fact that electric vehicles were quite common in the early 1900s (an almost forgotten fact), most of the mistakes in taking this segment seriously happened in the last few decades.
Then there are the very real limitations of the technology and infrastructure.
Add to that, trying to start a new car company in today's business climate - the first since the 1956 Ford IPO (not that it has ever been easy) and you've got a substantial uphill battle.
During my visit on a very cold day to the new Tesla dealership in Chicago, located on Grand, we had an opportunity to speak with Dustin Krause, but before we sat down to chat, we took one of their fourth generation Roadster 2.5s out for a spin.
This one was pretty loaded, with carbon fibre everywhere. The top was off, but before leaving we had to put in on. It was simply too cold and windy.
This two-seater is not practical or excessively loaded with the typical goodies found in other vehicles, but it doesn't pretend to be. While you have to "slide" in to get seated, once you're in, it feel extremely familiar and comfortable.
The first thing you notice is the silence. Being new to it, it takes you a few seconds to realize that the car is actually on. All you do is push the "D" button to your right, and off you go. And I mean GO.
It was unlike any other car I've been in. The power is astonishing, and the torque is instant, at any speed. Up to 295 lbs-ft of torque and 288 horsepower are produced as the car smoothly accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. The 3.7 second zero to sixty specs on this vehicle is not a sufficient way to realize what this means. You simply have to try it. Otherwise, it is just a number. A very good number, and despite that few vehicles can boast this, a detail nevertheless.
It's like wining a trillion dollars. You know that is a big number, but do you really know what that means in practical matters?
Would I buy this car? No. I would not. Because I can not. It's not cheap. It starts from $101,500 after (Federal Tax Credit), and there was a completely loaded one on the floor (the green one in the video below) that stickered at $185,000. but I would if I could.
While I often embrace new technologies and new products, I am not the target, simply because of the entry fee. But the doors that this venture has opened, for the industry and itself is something that will surely effect what I and everyone else who is interested in this segment.
Their upcoming Model S is the car that will expand Tesla's reach into the marketplace in a very big way, with it's up to 300-mile range and 45-minute QuickCharge capability. It will be here in 2012 and it looks great.
Tesla purchased the former NUMMI factory that closed in April 2010 last May and it is where it will build the Model S and future Tesla vehicles. The Tesla Factory is the only auto assembly plant in California, and the first facility dedicated exclusively to the mass production of electric vehicles.
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