Have You Driven an All-Electric Tesla Car Yet?

by Don Elliott on December 27, 2011

To be honest, I haven’t driven the all-electric Tesla car yet. However, there is a reason for that! You won’t find a Tesla at your local auto auction or car dealer. By mid-year 2011, Tesla had only delivered 1,840 Tesla Roadsters. These Tesla cars were spread over 30 countries. With an average driving range of just 245 miles before recharging, not many of these all-electric cars have strayed too far away from home.

Tesla Motors is the brainchild of PayPal founder Elon Musk. Musk’s dream was to commercialize a zero-emission production built vehicle. Tesla cars are the first to use lithium-ion battery cells. Using the new measure of fuel efficiency, cost per mile, the Tesla costs only $.02 per mile versus $.25 per file for a comparable gas powered vehicle.

Tesla has had two models in their production pipeline. Tesla’s first car is the Tesla Roadster, introduced as a prototype in 2006. The original roadster carried a base price of $109,000. The Roadster Sport was released in January 2009 boasting higher performance and a bigger price tag—$128,000. The all-electric cars use a Tesla patented single speed gearbox that provides consistent torque throughout acceleration, going from 0-60 in 3.7 seconds. Like many exotic sports cars, the Roadster Sport is built with a hand-built resin-bonded monocoque chassis, making the car very lightweight.

Tesla reports that the Tesla Roadster and Sport were never designed to be big volume cars. Production ended on the Tesla Roadster and Sport this fall so the company can gear up for larger production of the new Model S electric sedan.

Maybe we’ll get a chance to drive the Model S. First year production is expected to be 20,000 units. Actually, Tesla is not real hung up on production schedules, so the first production could be 2012 or 2013 model year cars. A dozen company-owned dealerships are open and accepting $5,000 deposits for the $49,900 base priced Model S, after the U.S. Federal Tax credit. To get wider driving ranges, buyers will have to step up to larger battery packs, pushing the purchase price up to approximately $73,000.

The Model S won’t be as quick as the Tesla Roadster, but will still beat out many competitors with a 0-60 time of just 4.5 seconds with the optional larger battery package. The sedan provides seating for 5 adults and a couple of kids with the rear-facing third row of seats.

The design of the Model S is impressive. Exterior styling will turn heads as it rolls quietly down the street. On the inside, a 17-inch IPad-style touch screen provides navigation, radio, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity. As is customary of electric cars, this car is reported to be sound studio quiet on the inside. Extra insulation in the wheel wells reduces road noise. Without the need for an engine, the Model S has storage space in both the trunk and under the hood. There is also no tailpipe, a missing feature that provides a nostalgic glimpse into the future of the cars we’ll drive.

Actually, we’ll only drive them if we can find them. To drive a Tesla all-electric car, most of us will have to wait a while until the Tesla 2012 Model S is released.


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