Edmunds.com 2010 Tesla Roadster Overview
The 2009 Tesla Roadster is now for sale, and customers on the waiting list for this instant collector’s item are starting to get the keys to their sporty little roadster. By now, you’ve probably heard of Tesla — the startup electric car company brought to you by Silicon Valley rather than Detroit. And you might have heard rumblings that its Lotus Elise-based Roadster has been far from problem-free, with the most notable being a failed two-speed transmission that had to be replaced (including in those vehicles already sold) by this year’s one-speed automatic. The company itself has had issues, from fired executives to shuttered dealerships. The future remains questionable for the Tesla Roadster, but for now, it remains an intriguing choice for wealthy, green-minded car buyers in search of a little fun.
Here are the important things to know. The Tesla Roadster is an all-electric car with a range of 227 miles under judicious driving (although as a sports car, that could be difficult to accomplish). Using Tesla’s High Power Connector recharging device, it takes 3.5 hours to refill the lithium-ion batteries from near-empty. With only 2,750 pounds to lug about, the 240-horsepower electric motor provides a rush of seamless power, bringing the Roadster up to 60 mph in about 4 seconds. Plus, it does it with the eerie quietness of a Prius in all-electric mode.
Aside from going fast, the Tesla’s Lotus-based chassis allows it to be one of the finest-handling automobiles you can buy. Thanks to the aft positioning of the electric motor and battery pack, the Roadster’s weight distribution is even more rear-biased than the Elise’s — 35 percent front/65 percent rear, compared to 39/61 for the Lotus. The manual steering that is a pain at low parking speeds nevertheless contributes to excellent steering feel and control.
And then there are the environmental benefits. The Tesla Roadster produces no emissions on its own, though electricity produced by coal- or natural-gas-fired power plants obviously has associated emissions. Because of the Roadster’s highly efficient nature, however, Tesla claims the associated carbon dioxide emissions would only be about a third of those for a popular hybrid car. Although if you have enough cash to buy a Tesla, why not make like Ed Begley and pony up for one of those home solar panel systems, too?
The 2009 Tesla Roadster has undeniable appeal, but there are some major drawbacks. Chiefly, its lofty asking price makes it attainable for only the most deep-pocketed buyers. And for them, the tiny spartan interior may not seem to befit a $100,000 car, not to mention the manual steering and the awkward entry and exit. The electric battery range should also be an issue since it makes road trips a near impossibility. However, every new technological road has to start somewhere, and with GM’s EV1 long since forgotten/killed, the Tesla Roadster could very well become known as the electric car that really started it all. Or it’ll be an interesting footnote in the history of the automobile, 2000-2050. Either way, it could be fun to have one in your multicar garage.
Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The 2009 Tesla Roadster is a two-seat roadster with a targa-style removable soft top. Only one trim level is available. Standard features includes 16-inch front and 17-inch rear alloy wheels, the High Power Connector for a 3.5-hour charge, cruise control, leather upholstery, heated seats, a leather Momo sport steering wheel, power windows and locks, air-conditioning, a universal garage opener and a CD player stereo with an iPod interface. Options include a body-colored carbon fiber hardtop, upgraded leather upholstery, microfiber cloth upholstery, Bluetooth and a seven-speaker upgraded sound system with navigation and satellite radio.
Powertrains and Performance:
The 2009 Tesla Roadster is equipped with a 375-volt AC-induction air-cooled electric motor that produces 240 hp and 276 pound-feet of torque. As is the case with all electric vehicles, that torque is immediately available. A single-speed automatic is the lone transmission. Tesla estimates the Roadster will go from zero to 60 mph in just under 4 seconds. It reaches an electronically limited 125 mph. Based on the EPA’s combined city/highway cycle, the Tesla Roadster should travel about 244 miles before needing a recharge, which takes 3.5 hours using Tesla’s High Power Connector. Just as with a gasoline-powered car, this range will obviously drop the more vigorously you drive.
Standard safety features on the 2009 Tesla Roadster include antilock brakes and traction control. Notably, side airbags are unavailable.
Interior Design and Special Features:
Like the Lotus Elise on which it is based, the tiny 2009 Tesla Roadster features a rather spartan interior. The heated seats and Momo steering wheel are trimmed in leather, but otherwise don’t expect the sort of luxury normally associated with a car costing $100,000. However, the Roadster does differ from the Elise in its modified transmission tunnel that hosts the exclusive automatic shifter, along with the LCD information readout for battery charge, range and optional navigation.
The seats are supportive but confining and the footwells are extraordinarily narrow, though at least there’s no clutch to worry about. As with the Elise, taller drivers could find the circus act required to get into the tiny, cramped Roadster — particularly with the removable roof in place — to be more trouble than gas-free travel is worth.
You’d think an electric car would have electric power steering, but you’d be wrong. Instead, the Tesla Roadster goes with an unpowered rack. It’s not fun at parking lot speeds, but it’s a treat around corners. Despite the Tesla’s slightly softened suspension settings, this is one of the best-handling (and stiffest-riding) cars on the market. The real story, though, is the eerily muted thrust from the electric motor. Tire noise is more audible than the subdued whine from the electronics tucked behind your left shoulder, yet the Roadster’s acceleration is breathtaking, especially from a standing start with all that torque on tap. It’s fast, but the very opposite of furious.
Copyright Edmunds.com, Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
It appears hot Romanian model Catrinel Menghia and Charlie Sheen were effective at publicizing Fiat’s hot hatch. Chrysler can’t keep up with all the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth orders, and the automaker has informed dealers that orders for the 500 Abarth for the 2012 model year are currently not being accepted.
Those who place an order now for the scorpion-badged Abarth will be forced to wait until next fall to slip behind the wheel of next year’s model, which won’t begin to ship until next fall. Customers who put their deposits down as early as March will also have to wait until the 2013 batch arrives in September.
By the time the Abarth started trickling into Fiat showrooms in April, The Detroit News reports the company already had more than 1000 cash deposits from customers. The automaker originally planned to build about 1000 vehicles at the company’s factory in Toluca, Mexico, but after receiving a flurry of orders, the automaker bumped up production to the factory’s maximum output of 3000 units a year.
Thanks in part to a small dealer network, Fiat sales didn’t hit the initial target of moving 50,000 cars by the end of 2011, selling only 19,769. The picture appears to be improving, however, as 16,702 Fiat 500s have already been sold through May 2012.
As for the Tesla Model S, the automaker tells us no more reservations are being taken on the Signature model — which has a claimed 300-mile range. The top trim of the Model S which has a claimed 300-mile range. The top trim of the Model S is expected to earn an EPA range rating of 265 miles, and is limited to 1000 units.
Source: The Detroit News, Tesla
Tesla is ready to help out those owners who feel that their Roadsters aren’t new and shiny enough. According to a new report, the electric car maker will be giving owners a credit when they trade in a Roadster for a new Model S.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Tesla has created a buyback program for current Roadster owners who are looking to move into a new Model S. Tesla’s program works just as any other trade-in deal would work, and has been created to help simplify the process for Model S/Roadster customers, according to Tesla representative Christina Ra. Since some Model S variants are actually priced well below the Roadster, it is possible for an owner to receive more on a trade than the cost of the new car. “In that case, we’d write you a check,” Tom vonReichbauer, Tesla’s director of finance, told the Chronicle.
Pricing for the Model S hatchback starts at $57,400 for the 40 kWh battery, steps up to $67,400 for the 60 kWh car, and $77,400 for the 85 kWh model (all prices are before any government tax rebates). The EPA has already rated the 85-kWh Model S at 89 MPGe and a range of 265 miles. Currently, the only Model S versions being built are the top-spec Signature Performance models that use the 85-kWh battery; an upgraded interior, suspension, and wheels; and the exclusivity of being just one of 1000 units built. Once all the Signature models are built, the automaker will begin to produce the Model S and Model S Performance versions.
Having a cache of Roadsters will also help Tesla, the Chronicle points out. Having another vehicle to sell alongside the Model S until the Model X crossover debuts will help the automaker keep retail sales going. It’s expected that a Roadster would be resold for anywhere around $73,000 to $94,000 depending on age and mileage of the car.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
The Zero Race, an appropriately named zero-emissions race designed to raise awareness about environmentally friendly vehicles, started its 18,000-mile, 80-day journey in Switzerland earlier this week.
Zero Race began in Geneva, Switzerland, and the competitors — four small teams that specially designed their electric vehicles — will make their way through Berlin to Shanghai, China. After their trip to the Far East, they’ll resume the race in Vancouver, Canada, and then on to Cancun, Mexico, in time for the World Climate Change Conference that starts November 29.
Over the course of the next few months, the competitors will cover more than 18,000 miles and travel for more than 80 days. All four of the competing vehicles are powered by electricity acquired from renewable resources, such as wind or the sun. Each vehicle can achieve a minimum speed of 55 mph and travel 155 miles between charges. In this fashion, the teams will travel the world without the vehicles ever emitting a pollutant from exhaust or from an electrical source. However, as the vehicles need to be shipped across several oceans, the event won’t be completely emissions-free.
Although called a race, time is anything but the determining factor in who wins. The competitors are scored on their reliability during the race, energy efficiency, safety, performance, and design popularity as scored by spectators along the way. At the end of the race, the competitor with the highest score wins.
“Such a clean technology initiative underscores the importance of individual efforts in building a green, low-carbon future for the world,” said United Nations Environment Program executive director Achim Steiner.
The race reflects growing interest in low-emissions vehicles. This interest, along with government incentives and regulations, has pushed automotive manufacturers to investigate hybrid and electric vehicles, such as the upcoming Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf. The small, startup automaker Tesla only builds electric vehicles, such as its Roadster and planned Model S sedan.
Head over to Zero Race’s Web site to view the competitors’ progress as they make their way around the world and look for the race to end at the World Climate Change Conference in November.
Source: Zero Race, Bloomberg
Civil War Admiral David Farragut has famously been credited with saying, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” when he was presented with a challenging path ahead during the Battle of Mobile Bay. Specifically, the path was full of torpedoes. The Admiral has some “move forward!” ideological company in one Elon Musk.
While the torpedoes are only figurative at Tesla’s Fremont plant, Musk has pushed Tesla Motors to double its weekly output of the Model S all-electric luxury sedan over the last three months and is now approaching full capacity of 400 vehicles a week – 20,000 a year – Automotive News says.
With more cars out on the road, Tesla’s over-the-air software update system is proving its worth. This system allows for important software changes – which allow the driver to turn on a “creep” mode, for example – to take place without drivers spending time in a Tesla service center. In November, Motor Trend named the Model S its 2012 Car of the Year.
In the third quarter of 2012, Tesla lost $110.8 million on $50.1 million in revenue. With production humming along, Tesla should finally be able to realize its first quarterly profit this year, Musk told Automotive News. Of course, Musk didn’t say which quarter.
By Danny King
We’ll let Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk write the lede on this one: “Mass. judge denies auto dealers’ demand to kill our little Tesla store,” Musk said in a tweet on Tuesday. “Yay, justice prevails.”
Indeed, a Massachusetts judge has denied a request among auto dealers to restrict the electric-vehicle maker from operating its own retail stores, according to Automotive Week reports. The ruling appears to be a departure of sorts from the “church and state” set-up of vehicle makers and dealers, in which the auto companies are required to grant franchises instead of selling the vehicles themselves.
In this case, Tesla, so far, is cleared to open a retail store outside of Boston. The Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, which sued Tesla last month, may appeal the decision, while the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) declined to comment. NADA said late last month that it was looking to meet with Tesla executives to re-think the idea of opening company-owned retail stores, and added that it would provide legal support for dealer groups that decided to take action against Tesla.
Ever the non-traditionalist, Musk has long argued that a franchised dealer would likely lack the knowledge necessary to provide expertise on the EVs.
Related GalleryTesla Model S: Quick Spin
By Danny King
Tesla has been making news lately with changes designed to make the process of buying and maintaining a Model S as easy as possible, and now the company says it has completely paid off its Department of Energy loan nine years early. The company had nine more years to repay the loan.
Tesla wired $451.8 million to fully repay the loan with interest, and in a release the automaker says it is the only American car company to have fully repaid the government. Then again, Tesla currently only offers one vehicle, the lauded Model S. The larger and delayed Model X is set to arrive next year.
UPDATE: Tesla isn’t actually the only American automaker to pay back government loans. Chrysler points out that, about two years ago, it paid back government loans to the U.S. and Canadian governments in full. For another perspective on this issue, read this Forbes blog.
So far, Tesla has worked with Mercedes and Toyota, and offered the all-electric Lotus-based Roadster, a car the company says had a 30-percent gross margin. More recently, we’ve heard about the Model S’ improved financing terms as well as a resale guarantee and a lenient warranty update. Next week, Tesla will reveal details on a revised supercharger system. Company co-founder Elon Musk hinted at the announcement on Twitter, saying there may soon be a way to recharge a Model S throughout the country faster than you can fill a gas tank.
The Department of Energy loan fit into the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program of which Fisker was also a part. On the original $451.8 million loan, Bloomberg notes that taxpayers will make at least $12 million from the deal. Paying off the loan early was made possible thanks to the roughly $1 billion raised in last week’s new common stock and convertible senior note offerings.
While reaching truly stable financial ground is still anything but a certainty for Tesla, it appears the company is on the right track.
Source: Tesla, Bloomberg
By Zach Gale
In an effort to improve consumer awareness of electric vehicles’ capability and range, Tesla Motors is kicking off its Oz Goes Electric Tour to bring the Tesla Roadster to electric vehicle enthusiasts along Australia’s eastern coast. The Roadster will travel a total distance of 3000 kilometers (1864 miles). The tour launched March 16 at the Sofitel Hotel in Melbourne.
Officials from the Victorian provincial government and Department of Transportation were present at the event, with the tour being part of the local government’s electric vehicle trial and EV awareness campaign.
The tour will cover Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, and feature test drive events and public displays of the Tesla Roadster along the route.
The Tesla Roadster also holds the record for distance driven on a single charge in a production electric vehicle, which was broken driving 501 kilometers (310.6 miles) in Australia. You can follow the tour here.
Although the Tesla Model S scored a near-perfect 99 out of 100 in Consumer Reports latest test, the product testing outlet won’t list the electric luxury car on its recommended list.
“Another concern is investing in a new car and startup company with no track record for reliability or resale value, and a skimpy (although growing) service network,” says Consumer Reports in its full review. “So, yes, despite its stratospheric road-test score, we can’t recommend the Model S until we have sufficient reliability data.”
Basically, CR is saying that despite car being great, it is still dangerous to be an early adopter, especially when it comes to EV tech from a startup company
SEE ALSO: Tesla Model S Rated 99 out of 100 by Consumer Reports
Despite the words of caution, the rest of the the review is spent effusively praising the car. “Slipping behind the wheel of the Tesla Model S is like crossing into a promising zero-emissions future,” says the review. The Model S is “brimming with innovation, delivers world-class performance, and is interwoven throughout with impressive attention to detail.”
Discuss this story at Tesla-Buzz.com
[Source: Consumer Reports via Hybrid Cars]
Tesla Motors recently completed its summer cross country road trip, from San Francisco to the Big Apple, in its Model S electric sedan. While that is slow going for most electric vehicles, the Model S can drive up to 300 miles on a full charge, depending on options. It can go even further under some driving patterns – using the 2-cycle EPA testing method with 55 percent city driving and 45 percent highway, the high-end Model S with an 85-kWh battery pack was able to go 320 miles on a full charge. “With this kind of range and a full charge, this sedan is unstoppable!” the company says in a new video of the Model S in NYC you can watch below.
Eventually, there will be more of the Tesla Supercharger fast chargers stations to make a cross-country trip even easier. As Tesla CEO Elon Musk said, the 30-minute Supercharger experience can be a good fit for passengers to stop and take a break, get a bite to eat before getting back on the highway for three more hours of driving. We are still early in the Supercharger deployment process (i.e., none of the stations are active yet, even if a half-dozen are already installed), so Model S drivers moving from San Francisco to NYC today will need to access a map of public charging stations and be ready for serious downtime during charging sessions.
What’s next? Tesla says it will continue the Model S journey worldwide offering “the world a chance to see, drive and experience the car of the 21st Century.” Somehow, we assume more videos of the car in interesting locations will be involved.
By Jon LeSage