There has been lots of talk around electric cars, for years and years, and Tesla Motors knows this. I knew a guy when I lived in Key West who had 2 or 3 little 2-seater electric cars from the 70s that he used to get around. And two days ago I was in DC having dinner with a consultant from Georgia who lives in a town (not just a little golf course community) that has hundreds of miles of golf cart paths for residents to get around to the store and school and work in golf carts. The cart paths are only for bikes, pedestrians, and golf carts — and they are entirely separate from the roads (for safety reasons) and give you a very secluded, tree-lined experience to get around your day. You can run 20-mile loops on these cart paths, through tunnels and over bridges, and never have to run alongside a noisy & dangerous road. For years I’ve felt that Park City could connect the Rail Trail to its Redstone and white barn paths to make a similar huge belt loop around the greater Park City area.
But as idealistic as those sorts of communities sound, it isn’t realistic that we change where we live and how our communities are designed just so that we can use low-impact transportation. Even using a Prius doesn’t seem all that exciting, though it is practical. Enter the Tesla Roadster. It is a gorgeous 2-seater roadster run 100% on electric power. Not only that, it has so much torque that it can go 0-60mph in less than 4 seconds! It’s also built in concert with Lotus, so you know it has a good pedigree.
And here’s the best part: it claims a range of almost 250 miles on a single 16-hour charge. Of course, as you see in the attached clip from Top Gear, that may not be a perfect representation of battery life under extreme driving conditions. The guys at Top Gear said it only lasted about 50 miles when driven hard, and then they had mechanical issues driving the backup car while the first car was re-charging.
One cool thing is that you can charge the car from any wall plug if you want — meaning it costs just a couple cents per mile to re-fuel. No more trips to the gas station — except to pick up a soda and some beef jerky, of course. Now, you may say that that isn’t really low-impact on the environment because most of us use electricity from coal-fired power plants. That’s because many locations have laws that require the energy companies to default to the lowest-cost source for all customers. But I know that in the state of Utah anyone can request that the Rocky Mountain Power Company supply their household only with electricity generated from renewable sources such as wind, solar, and hydro — which are all quite plentiful in the state. So it only costs an extra 12 bucks or so per month to go 100% green for your household power.
Of course, it costs much more than that for the Tesla Roadster. The Tesla’s price tag runs a little over $100,000USD and has a waiting list. I’m sure the price will come down, as mentioned on the Top Gear clip, when early adopters have purchased several and the unit cost of production comes down with economies of scale. But in the meantime, assuming you don’t live in a golf cart friendly community and you want to have a ripping fast sports car without the impact of oil consumption, the Tesla Roadster just may be your brand of luxury.
Next electric car to drool over: The Tesla Model S, due out in 2011, that reportedly seats 5+ passengers and looks like an Aston Martin. And with a price tag under $50k USD. Sick!