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The Tesla Roadster - Electric Car

tpetpe Posts: 2,342
The Tesla Roadster will be unveiled tomorrow. It is an all electric vehicle (EV) that can go 0-60 mph in 4 seconds. It has a range of 250 miles on a single charge and the electricity cost will be less than 2 cents per mile. Oh yeah, it will cost around $100k. The company, Tesla Motors, will start taking orders tomorrow and hopes to begin delivery by mid 2007.

IMO, this is a very significant vehicle, far more than the niche status its limited production will indicate. The manufacturer hopes to sell around 4,000 in the next few years. Not even a blip on the radar when it comes to total US car sales but that's not the point. It will be a high profile vehicle that will generate a lot of buzz. Primarily it will dispell the misconception of EVs being nothing but glorified golf carts. I think the other most notable feature about this car is its battery pack. Compared to GM's EV1 of 5 years ago the batteries weigh 20% less, have 3 times more energy storage and can re-charge in half the time. Pretty rapid advancement in a fairly short period. Why again are we wasting time with hydrogen fuel cells?

Take a look at the management and board of directors before you dismiss this endeavour as "pie in the sky" from a bunch of fringe whackos.


  • a glorified golf cart :P :D

    seriously though, batteries are not the solution. Its like running from a ghost (oil) and stumbling over the coffin (batteries).

    Use of batteries and pure electricity in automobiles brings its own very large set of problems, one of which would be the disposal of said batteries from x million of cars once they arent good anymore.
  • john500john500 Posts: 409
    Nice find.

    It will be interesting to see if Tesla can repeatedly live up to the numbers listed (ie 250 miles per charge). Electric vehicles are a great idea if the power plants in a country are non-hydrocarbon based (ie hydroelectric, nuclear, wind). Otherwise, one is simply transferring pollution from one location to another (although even this may be beneficial in reducing smog).
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I understand the argument of transferring pollution from the tailpipe to the smokestack as not being a solution.

    From the oil dependence perspective it is a solution, or partial solution. We have dirty domestic coal that can be used instead of dirty imported oil.

    From a forward looking perspective we (US) have the potential to produce abundant domestic, green, clean electricity. The average homeowner has far more solar energy hitting his property than he will ever need to use. Within 10 years many experts believe that electricity generated through photovoltaic cells will be cost competitive with grid electricity. At this point, for those that choose to take advantage, no more need for gas stations. This will be the mother of all disruptive technologies. I can't wait.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    The materials used to make modern batteries aren't toxic to the environment.
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    "Within 10 years many experts believe that electricity generated through photovoltaic cells will be cost competitive with grid electricity."

    I seem to remember essentially that same statement in a Popular Science article circa 1978.....
  • SylviaSylvia Posts: 1,636
    Part of the reason some have shunned electric cars (besides availability) is their looks and the performance. For sports car enthusiast who wants performance couldn't have it in an electric or even hybrid car - until today.

    Meet the Tesla Roadster.

    Here's how it works, performance numbers, and of course Tesla Roadster pictures

    They also do a nice job of spelling out environmental impacts, etc. in the more section of their web site.

    Let's not just talk about this car - let's celebrate it!
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    In 1978 the cost per watt of solar energy was $20. Today it is around $3. It would be lower except for the fact that there is a global silicon shortage due primarily to the rapidly growing demand for photovoltaic cells. During this same period the maximum attained efficiency of a PV cell has doubled from 15% to 30%.

    Maybe I am misinterpretting your post but it sounds like you believe the promise of solar energy will always be something in the future. While the PS prediction of 1978 didn't come to fruition the fact is we have come a long way since then. Advancements are currently happening at a rapid pace fueled largely by nanotechnology breakthroughs and thin film manufacturing processes. My estimate of 10 years for cost competitiveness is probably conservative. More like 5 years.
  • john500john500 Posts: 409
    Will Edmunds be getting one of these cars to test?

    I'm curious about how fun a sports car can be with an automatic transmission. Based upon the comments, a clutch appears to be unnecessary due to the immediate torque output. What about the sound? Will it be a high whiny sound like a Honda CBR motorcycle, no sound, tire roll sound? Will there be an ozone smell at hard launches from arcing of the electric motor?
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    From the people who've been lucky enough to drive in this vehicle the report is that it is very silent. The founder of the company made a comment that if this is a problem for some then they can figure out a way to blast ICE noises through the sound system.

    As fast as this car is reported to be I hope the company spends some of its efforts trying to make it faster. The electric motor has performance capabilities that an ICE will never be able to touch. I don't think that is even debatable. I would like to see The Tesla Roadster be the ultimate performance machine, hands down. People currently driving Ferraris and Lamborghinis are making the statement that they are rich and they can afford to spend extravagantly for top performance. The statement they will now be making is that they couldn't get a Tesla.

    Unfortunately I can't quite afford the Tesla Roadster but nonetheless I don't think that I've ever been this enthused about a vehicle. I wish it wasn't almost a year off before actual owners take delivery.

    There's one other thing that I wish. I wish I could invest in this company. Unfortunately they state on their website that they aren't interested in investors. That's got to tell you something.
  • crimsonacrimsona Posts: 153
    It's a good thing to target the sport market rather than the mainstream. Instead of building a $80,000 EV and needing to sell it at 30k to mass consumers, build a 90k EV and sell it to enthusiasts for 120k.

    Looking like an Elise doesn't hurt either
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    You're absolutely right.

    Tesla Motor's website has a blog going on and the number of people providing input is impressive. I'd say that 95% of the respondents are totally onboard with what this company is doing. There's a small group that makes comments like, "it needs to be a four door for people with kids", "it needs to be in the $25k price range", etc.. Are people really that stupid? Maybe this is the group that GM and Ford has been listening to.
  • john500john500 Posts: 409
    I think those comments are reasonable from a long-range program perspective. Hopefully, Tesla will make enough profit off of their initial vehicles to fuel the development of more practical and cheaper vehicles. There was a little blurb about Tesla Motors at the end of the movie "Who Killed the Electric Vehicle?" The movie detailed the scrapping of the GM EV-1 program. There was some irritating twitty marketing lady that was layed off from GM that kept referring to the cars as if they were her kids. However, other than that, it was a pretty good documentary and indicted all of the guilty parties as opposed to condemning guilt to one entity as most simpletons do. One lesson that Tesla will have to learn is to get a very powerful ally in their corner. Their biggest enemy will likely be some paid off politician who will enact some law restricting electric vehicle sales.
  • john500john500 Posts: 409
    Some links showing an electric car spanking a Ferrari and a Porsche. Evidently, the Aerial Atom builder was an early employee of Tesla.
  • prm1prm1 Posts: 4
    To be fair, the sales rep referred to the cars as her kids because the process to get one was as hard (and as much paperwork!) as an adoption, GM provided so few cars for lease that the sales reps developed a personal relationship with all of their customers, and both she and her customers loved the car. I know because my parents got an EV-1 from the woman in the film, and thought she was wonderful to deal with. They were very unhappy they couldn't extend their lease and they were one of the parties that wrote a check to GM to buy the last EV1s along with absolving GM of all responsibility for future support. They were hopeful because Ford sold some of their EV Rangers off lease to avoid the publicity that GM got. GM didn't care and spent the money to crush them rather than take two million for them.

    BTW, Tesla was somewhat of a stealth program and caught people off guard. They aren't the only ones. There will be more. Mitsubishi has some interesting cars in the works, and has moved up their timetable form 2010 to 2008. Search on Mitsubishi MIEV, it's pretty cool. Altair Nanotechnologies has made some very intriguing claims with their Li-ion batteries, and has signed an agreement to provide batteries for a fleet pickup truck being developed by Phoenix Motorcars. Wrightspeed. Tzero. The EV is gaining momentum, and Detroit is insignificant.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    The EV is gaining momentum, and Detroit is insignificant

    I agree. I just hope that gas prices remain high so that this momentum keeps building.

    I also agree that Detroit is insignificant and getting more so every year. I believe that Tesla Motors will make money for its investors. The fact that a few entrepreneurs with zero experience in auto manufacturing can do something that the major manufacturers couldn't speaks volumes. Or maybe they could have but deliberately chose not to.

    I was on another thread expressing my opinion that EVs are the future. A common response was that the executives at Toyota and Honda have clearly demonstrated themselves to possess a savvy business sense. If there was money to be made manufacturing and selling EVs these people would be the first to realize it. We'll see. Like you said, Detroit is insignificant and the fact that they aren't pursuing EVs kind of validates the idea in a backhand way.
  • shalwechatshalwechat Posts: 25
    The batteries can be legally disposed of in a landfill. The responsible Tesla ower would have em recycled. A significant %age of the battery can be recycled. There are many hybrids out there with over 200,000 miles using an older technology batteries. I believe the batteries on the Tesla Roadster batteries will last at lest 250,000 miles.
  • prm1prm1 Posts: 4
    I'm also amused at the push for hydrogen. The fact that GM is taking out full page ads showing some future hydrogen car next to a Shell hydrogen pump is a pretty clear sign it is a sham. They are both scrambling to maintain the status quo. Shell would desperately love for you to still have to go to them for fuel, and would hate anything you can plugin at home. GM can keep selling ICE that runs with hydrogen, and not change too much. They both know that hydrogen is 10-15 years off (and billions of dollars for infrastructure), and the advancements in batteries and nano-capacitors over that time will make hydrogen a dead issue.
  • john500john500 Posts: 409
    Hydrogen is a sham. It basically adds a layer of inefficiency (i.e. the fuel cell and the mess related to hydrogen) to the vehicle, relative to the electric vehicle. However, a large amount of energy infrastructure must be created from non-hydrocarbon based fuels to make electric vehicles beneficial from a greenhouse gas perspective. Electric vehicles and hybrids are the most promising technologies. In fact, used responsibly, gasoline is a reasonably viable technology (ie small diesels and gas powered engines can get > 50 mpg if the vehicle weight is kept < 1500 lbs).

    Although not directly stated, I inferred from the movie that specific members from the state level of government were the primary contributors to burying the EV1. Clearly, "big oil" is not completely innocent, however, their role seemed to be reasonably minor compared to the egos at GM and state and federal politics. Presumably, the loss of gasoline taxation revenue was the motivating factor. I assume this tax money is already spent up to 2050.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Honda has leased a few hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (Civics) so that they can obtain real world test data and feedback. These cars cost something like 1 million dollars each. Tesla has plans to introduce a more mainstream EV in the next 2 years. It will 4 door sedan. I've heard it will be in the $50k price range.

    Clearly neither of these cars will have mass appeal at the present time given their price tag. The rational is that with advancements in technology and economies of scale the prices will come down. Let's say the price needs to be around $25k in order for either of these cars to be mainstream vehicles. So the fuel cell vehicle needs to go from $1,000,000 to $25,000 and the EV needs to get from $50,000 to $25,000. And this doesn't take into account the massive infrastructure that will need to be built to support fuel cell vehicles.

    It really seems like a no-brainer when it comes to which path should be taken. Its like having to go from California to Arizona and wondering whether you should head east or west. Both directions will eventually get you there but one is considerably shorter.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    While some people will look at the Tesla Roadster's $80k price tag and conclude it's not a relevant vehicle I totally disagree. The fact is that it is currently very expensive to incorporate this technology into a vehicle so you have to go after the high-end market. It would be financially impossible to make a $16k Toyota Corolla EV. I think the next step will be the upscale SUV market. Vehicles like the Lincoln Navigator, Cadillac Escalade, Lexus LS470, etc.. You're now talking about a market willing to pay $60k for a vehicle. That opens up a lot of possibilities for the manufacturer. EVs are a technology that will eventually trickle down to the mainstream but need to start with the affluent.
  • prm2000prm2000 Posts: 17
    I think it depends on who is doing the manufacturing. For an upstart like Tesla, I think starting at the high end and working through high end SUVs and sedans makes sense. If one of the established automakers decides to take the leap, then they can shoot for a much lower priced market, because they will have manufacturing efficiencies in their favor.

    Currently I am most intrigued with Mitsubishi. They are ideal in some ways, because they are a major auto manufacturer, but have had some image problems and have lost market share. They are in need of an image boost and they need to take chances, but they still have the manufacturing capability of a large automaker.

    They originally were to come out with all electric cars in 2010, but supposedly have moved it up to 2008. They are doing what you suggest (an electric motor for each wheel) and they are doing the hybrid the right way (gas generator and an all electric drive unit) I will be interested in when they come out and what the price point will be.

    One criticism I have heard (which was in theory against the MIEV, not actually haven driven one) is that putting a motor on each wheel adds to much unsprung weight and will kill the handling characteristics. - _coverage/mitsubishi_ct_miev_concept.html
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I think you're right about Mitsubishi potentially seizing a golden opportunity.

    When I first heard about the Tesla I speculated that it must have 4 motors. They had published the total hp (248) so I was curious what four 62 hp electric motors would weigh. In reality the rear motors would probably be more powerful then the front. There is a company, UQM Technologies, that makes electric motors for vehicles. Their 100 hp motor weights 89 pounds. So to use 4 of these would be quite a bit of weight but can you imagine a 400 hp AWD vehicle that probably had 800 ft-lbs of torque!!
  • prm2000prm2000 Posts: 17
    "There is a company, UQM Technologies..."

    There is a company in Ojai, Phoenix Motorcars, that is quietly putting together a fleet pickup truck using a UQM propulsion system and Altair Nanotechnolgies new Li-Ion battery. I will be curious to see what they come out with (and when).
  • SylviaSylvia Posts: 1,636
    Topic is about the Tesla Roadster - thanks!
  • 37453745 Posts: 152
    We are after all talking about the batteries that power the Tesla and how they will be charged and the implications thereof. Why is this not relevant? Never mind, I'll just go away.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    It's very relevant, which is why Tesla Motors mentions it on their website and many of their press releases. A discussion involving the pros and cons of EVs or a particular EV has to involve where this electricity comes from. Just like discussing the pros and cons of SUVs will always involve their lack of fuel efficiency.

    The founder of Tesla Motors is a self proclaimed car guy that wanted a performance vehicle that he didn't need to feel guilty about driving. The philosophy behind this car has as much to do with its environmental impact as it does its performance. When discussing the Tesla Roadster the two are inseparable. Now if we want to create a more specific thread that precludes discussing this vehicles environmental impact the question would be, why?
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    I think that what Sylvia is saying is that this topic should be more specific to the TESLA ROADSTER, and not just about EV issues in general.

    She isn't talking about a more specific thread to NOT talk about the environmental aspects of EV's; that thread already exists (THIS ONE). Perhaps what she means is a MORE GENERAL thead about all aspects of EV's (including all the side track issues I brought up regarding the cleanliness of the electic power generation).

    The problem is, I'm not aware of any particular GENERAL topic regarding EVs. Is there one?

    "Just like discussing the pros and cons of SUVs will always involve their lack of fuel efficiency."

    Yes. Which is why there are GENERAL topics involving the pros and cons of SUVs. And the topic involving the Chevy Tahoe IN PARTICULAR would not be the place to start harping about the lack of fuel efficiency of SUVs in general.

    She's right. Discussing the general topic of electric production is NOT relevant to a topic specific to the Tesla.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    The most significant aspect of the Tesla Roadster is that it is an EV. There are other vehicles out there that can do 0-60 in four seconds so what makes the Tesla so unique? Maybe because it is electric. Its primary importance is that it will be a high profile showcase for what EVs are capable of; it will never be mainstream. To not discuss it in these broader terms is somewhat missing the whole point.

    Maybe there does need to be a separate thread for EVs in general. I guess that was my fault since I started this thread and didn't make it clear why I considered this vehicle so worth discussing.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,748
    Yep, let's start up a new discussion on EV's in general and see how things progress so we can keep this one focused on the Tesla.

    To begin with, I'll move some of the more general EV posts to the new Electric Vehicle Pros & Cons discussion. Then we'll see how things develop. If we need to come up with more discussions for specific EV issues, we can do that! ;)

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  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Tesla Motors just announced that they have sold out their signature series of Tesla Roadsters. This series represents the first 100 cars manufactured. The buyers paid $100k for this exclusivity and the car won't be delivered until the middle of next year. I think this says a lot about the enthusiasm surrounding this vehicle.
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