The Tesla Electric Car --- Blazing a Trail

*** UPDATE: Good news! Word is that Tesla are developing an affordable Tesla electric car, which can be mass-produced. Codenamed the 'Whitestar', this Tesla will be designed from scratch, instead of using the Lotus frame, which is carbon-fiber and has to be expensively hand-assembled.

Okay, so owning one may be wishful thinking, but I reckon we could all enjoy reading about the sweetest electric car of all---the Tesla Roadster.

Tessie is the Lamborghini of electric cars---nifty, compact, very cool and very expensive…….

So, whether you're thinking of buying, or just dreaming like moi, here's the low-down on the next edition Tesla….

The Tesla manufacturers are now taking reservations for their 2009 limited release Signature Edition Tesla Roadster. This Tessie costs $109,000 a pop, or for Europeans, €99,000 plus VAT(now that doesn't seem like a very fair currency exchange rate to me…think I'll take it up with Tesla on your behalf. I'll keep you posted!)

And for those who won't make the rich list for 2009, the waiting list is also open for 2010!

Someone who didn't have to go on a waiting list was Jay Leno, who checked out the Tesla electric car at his garage in California. Here's what Jay had to say about it, chatting to Elon Musk from Tesla.

"The thing that fascinates me is that you've eliminated all the negatives of the electric car…'ve managed to make essentially a true sports car…. if this is the future I'm not that worried!"

Jay test-drove the Tesla electric car and loved the power and speed, but found it "eerily quiet" at first. But good ol' Jay had a solution for loud-car addicts, who like to hear the sound of those revs…

"You could get a CD of car noises like a Ferrari, so when you pull up to the lights you've got all the noises…"

He's such a kid behind the wheel!

Now I wonder why I didn't get my courtesy Tesla to test drive for you, my dear readers. I guess it must have gotten lost in the post. Ah well, I'll just have to dream on!

So, for all you speedsters, here's the low-down on the Roadster. Tessie will take-off from 0-60 in 3.6 seconds. And it can reach a top speed of 125 miles per hour, or 185 KW for Europeans. No clutch to bother with, or revving up like you're Michael Schumacher. Just put your foot on the gas---oops the electricity, and you've got instant, amazing acceleration.

With the Tesla electric car, you get 100% torque 100% of the time, whether taking off, slowing down, climbing a hill, or whatever.

Regarding energy, the Tesla electric car only produces 10% of the pollution of comparable gas sports cars and is six times more fuel efficient. It has regenerative engine braking installed, which repowers the battery, as you brake.

The Roadster is super-lightweight, only 115 pounds which makes for super energy-efficiency. The running cost is estimated at 1-2 cents a mile, depending on the electricity rate you use.

It has four built-in safety features designed to avoid collision---extra-grip tires, anti-lock braking, side-bar protection and airbags. The Tesla was safety tested at Arvidsjaur, in Sweden, just south of the Arctic Circle, which has some of the most extreme driving conditions in the world. The video of these tests is like an action thriller. Do not try at home!

The charging process is neat and easy and safe. The plug-in connector only becomes live when it is correctly positioned to the car socket.

The Tesla runs on Li-ion batteries (Lithium ion). These are tried and tested batteries, but designing a large enough version for a car required special safety technology which was tricky.

Tesla have now come up with their own solution---a specially-designed battery pack system for the Li-ion batteries. If one unit in the pack becomes dysfunctional, the rest keep on working, because they are all self-contained. Even in the case of overheating and fire, each unit is isolated.

A full recharge only takes three and a half hours. That's for a completely dead battery. Top-up charges would take only an hour or two, depending on how much power you need to top-up. With these Tesla batteries, you can top-up before the battery has fully discharged, unlike some other EV batteries.

The Tesla battery-life is estimated at about 100,000 miles. And an extra bonus that I like, is that these batteries are classified as non-hazardous waste. But you can and should still recycle them because they have valuable components that can be reused. Recycling companies will be able to process them and might even pay you for them.

But the most amazing thing about the Tesla battery pack is that it can carry you 220 miles without a recharge! The Tesla's so expensive, they could afford to do lots of R&D on this. But now we know it's possible, can you other manufacturers get your skates on please and give us long range on cheaper cars?

blue tesla

Maintenance of the Tesla electric car should be pretty simple, with only a single moving part in the motor. There are two forward gears, plus reverse. (Being a sports car, this is for fine-tuning, as either gear works fine for most normal driving.) There's no clutch. There's no oil, except a little for the transmission. The car's sub-systems are electronic and integrated into a single master-system, which make it more reliable.

Here is the Tesla Validation prototype making an entrance at the Cleantech Conference last year. This photo was snapped by Steve Jurvetson.

tesla model

I don't know who took this next pic though, because Steve is in the cockpit this time....ah! doesn't he look happy!

Here's what he said about the experience afterwards,

"As a builder of rockets, I liken the experience to Surfing on a Rocket, a theme song I recently discovered by AIR."

Yes, he does build rockets and he has the photos to prove it!

More on the Tesla roadster here

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They're clean! They're green!
They're the wonderful electric car machines!