The Tesla Roadster is the only electric car that can currently make it into the sports car section of the Green Car Guide. This tells you straight away that it is very special indeed. In order to realise its dreams, Tesla went to Lotus to help to design and build the base for the roadster so despite the company being very young there is real expertise here.
The Roadster is recognisable as a Lotus Elise which it is based on. However Tesla claims that it shares less than 7% of its parts with the Elise and carries out final assembly and powertrain installation in California. Some key differences are the bespoke carbon fibre bodywork, reworked rear suspension and slight increase in size.
In order to achieve the ground-breaking performance Telsa has used advanced batteries. Lithium ion may be common place in phones and laptops but in cars they remain cutting edge technology. Thanks to these batteries the roadster has a 244 mile range on the American EPA test cycle and Tesla claim they will last around 100,000 miles.
One of the great advantages of an electric performance car is that electric motors produce maximum torque from 0 rpm. In this case that means 276 lbs/ft between 0 and 4,500 rpm. The motor will then keep spinning strongly to 14,000 rpm with peak power of 248 bhp between 4,500 and 8,500 rpm. This instant access to torque makes the Roadster very quick. It’s also massively efficient but there are some drawbacks. It’s very expensive, the extra weight dulls the handling and upsets the ride and recharging from a standard socket takes all night. But this is a glimpse into the future. The already useable range will increase, costs and weight will come down. Electric cars can now compete on performance, how long before they can compete on price?