| Test Drive Proves Future
of Driving Has Arrived
By Fred Delkin
American technology is very much alive and well. That became apparent when we met the Tesla roadster, the planet's only totally-electric car able to challenge or surpass the performance of any existing gasoline-powered vehicle. And this is achieved with a low-slung, very racy-looking production model capable of reaching 0-60 mph in under 4 seconds and sans a gear box. One's right foot need only tap the pedal and the Tesla's acceleration pastes you oh-so quietly into your seat.
This is no gas/electric hybrid seeking environmental approval. It produces no fumes and travels well over 200 miles with an overnight electric charge from a plug-in 120-volt household outlet.
The 288 horsepower air-cooled electric motor relies upon a bank of lithium-ion batteries, similar to those powering a laptop computer. It has heated seats with inflatable lumbar support, a touch screen information display, able to alert the driver when the drive charge is low; electric air conditioning & heater, cruise control, power windows & door locks, and, of course, a leather-wrapped steering wheel. There's a tire pressure interior monitoring system. Brakes are 4-wheel disc. The body is of hand-crafted carbon fiber and a beauty to behold. Delivery of the "S" will begin in2012.
A group of Silicon Valley high tech engineers created this automotive break-through and found the financing to manufacture in quantity. This will be facilitated by Tesla's purchase of the former Toyota plant in Fremont CA that produced Corolla and Tacoma vehicles and is capable of churning out half a million cars in a year. This new site will concentrate upon producing the Model S Tesla, a 4-door sedan that goes 0-60 in 5.6 seconds, has a top speed of 130 mph and a 300-mile range per charge. This roomy model will hold 5 adults and 2 children in contrast to the roadster. The base price of the S is a modest $49,999, while the roadster has a sticker price of $109,000.
Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia are new 2010 sales target markets.
The Fremont site is near Tesla's Palo Alto headquarters and next door to Silicon Valley. It is an ideal facility to spur Tesla's growth. The roadster has been delivered to over 1,000 customers to date in North America,Europe and Asia. Tesla has not established the usual retail dealerships, but seeks sales through its own "stores", with the Pacific Northwest currently served by a Seattle store. There are stores based in the San Diego area, Los Angeles and the Bay Area, as well as Colorado, Chicago, Toronto, Florida, D.C., New York and Boston Stores are the base for a "service ranger" mobile unit that will come to a buyer's home. Europe has several stores serving England, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Benelux and Scandinavia. A store has just opened in Japan.
Another word about lithium...it's becoming a very invest-able resource as the interest in electric vehicles expands. Lithium-powered batteries are state-of-the art and Ford, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen have sewn-up lithium ore deposits in Alberta, Nevada and Australia pursuant to intents to produce a generation of all-electric-powered conveyances. Seems that Henry Ford's launch of the common man into a car in every garage is about to be recast in the renewal of the electric tin lizzies Henry made obsolete at the start of the 20th century. Tesla is pointing the way to say goodbye to fossil fuels and hello to a new age of automotion!
© 2010 Oregon Magazine
Update November 15, 2012
Editor's note: Motor Trend
names the Tesla Model S as Car of the Year (COY) for 2013, the first
vehicle to be so honored without an internal combustion engine.
It's manufactured in Freemont, California, although it uses a fair
share of imported parts, especially for its battery power; however,
it's essentially All-American. Its existence is due in part to
the tax subsidies granted it, and the government loans it claims will
be paid back, eventually. At any rate, it's an impressive car,
and can be argued it's a breakthrough product. We will see,
because the proof will be in its routine use by ordinary owners, where
its design and engineering will be tested for durability and
reliability. If it fails there, it could become a beautiful
dud. Lots of questions about its efficacy, and whether or not the
company can expand its product line to less expensive vehicles, but for
now it has great promise. This car must be a success for Tesla to
survive. Click to see Motor Trend's article.