Lotus Elise Electric - Tesla Roadster

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Lotus Elise Electric - Tesla Roadster

Neural Blog, 20th July 2006

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The carbon-fiber-bodied Tesla Roadster was designed by and jointly developed with Lotus. Final assembly will be at the Lotus facility in Hethel, England, although Tesla...

Tesla Roadster: Lotus Helps Create Sporty 135 MPG Electric Car

SAN CARLOS, Calif. In a partnership with Lotus Cars, a Silicon Valley startup firm called Tesla Motors hopes to rock the automotive world with a pure-electric, high-performance two-seater called the Roadster.

Tesla lifted the veil of semi-secrecy surrounding the car on Thursday.

The carbon-fiber-bodied Tesla Roadster was designed by and jointly developed with Lotus. Final assembly will be at the Lotus facility in Hethel, England, although Tesla said it will maintain an R&D center at its headquarters here in Northern California.

The car is fitted with a lithium-ion battery pack and a 185kW (248 horsepower) electric motor driving the rear wheels through a clutchless two-speed automatic transmission. The chassis, jointly engineered by Lotus and Tesla, is made of bonded extruded aluminum, with double wishbones at all four corners.

Tesla, whose corporate motto is "Burn Rubber, Not Gasoline," is making some extravagant claims for the Roadster, not the least of which is that the two-seater is "more than twice as efficient as the best hybrid car on the road."

The company says the Tesla Roadster can jet from zero to 60 mph in about 4 seconds supercar territory and achieves the equivalent of 135 mpg. Top speed is estimated at more than 130 mph. More significantly, Tesla claims the car can run up to 250 miles on a charge a huge leap over earlier electrics such as General Motors' EV1.

The Roadster comes with a soft top; a body-color hardtop is an extra-cost option. Tesla plans to install a charging station in each owner's garage, but the company will offer an optional portable charging unit so the car basically can plug into any 110V or 220V outlet. A full charge takes as little as three and a half hours.

Environmentalists, take note: Tesla, through its technology partners, also plans to offer a "solar option" that includes installation of solar panels throughout your home to help charge the Roadster while at rest.

Tesla estimates the life of the battery pack at around 100,000 miles.

Music lovers, especially iPod owners, will appreciate one small feature: A direct plug-in to the car's audio system, using Apple's dock connector, permits the iPod to recharge and enables the owner to use the vehicle's audio controls.

Tesla says it soon will begin accepting deposits on orders. The company says it expects to launch a nationwide city-by-city tour in early 2007. The first deliveries, to customers in California, are targeted for summer 2007, with New York and Miami next in line for fall 2007.

The company says it is setting up customer-care centers in five major markets Northern California, Southern California, New York, Florida and Chicago and will charge an extra $10,000 fee for customers who live outside those areas. Tesla says it will not sell the Roadster to people who live outside the continental U.S.

The Tesla Roadster will be on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles through July 23 before heading to Pebble Beach for the Tour d'Elegance August 17-20.

For more information, see the Tesla Motors Web site.

What this means to you: Who wouldn't want the best of both worlds an environmentally friendly "driver's car, optimized for performance and handling, beautiful in every detail," according to the manufacturer. Now let's see if it flies.

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