Long live the electric car! The Tesla Roadster launches
We know Who Killed the Electric Car; now we also know who revived it: Tesla Motors. The California-based company is named after late 19th and early 20th century engineer Nikola Tesla--the master of AC power, among other electrical feats. The Tesla Roadster, which will be seeing consumer launch later this year, has recently been making a splash amongst car enthusiasts and environmental champions alike. Will Tesla be the first among many to plug (haha) the market with these gas-free alternatives? Or will those in power wield it again to quash the electric car movement once and for all? If early returns are any indication, we may be dealing with something of a revolution: the Tesla Roadster already has "hundreds" of cars on reserve for 2008, despite the cost of each auto soaring above the $100 000 mark.
Slide into the thinly padded driver’s seat of the Tesla and it looks and feels very familiar. That’s not surprising since the car’s chassis and many interior bits are shared with Lotus. But twist the key and things get strange. Of course my brain knows this is an electric car but I still wait for a starter to crank over a highly stressed internal combustion sports car engine. It doesn’t happen. It’s all quiet until a small dash light illuminates and tells you its “on” and a faint “click” from behind my head says it’s ready to go. Weird.
As a gearhead, tech enthusiast, and former Silicon Valley resident, I'd already heard the buzz about the $100k electric sports car built on a Lotus Elise chassis. But it was the first time I'd seen the car in person, and I wasn't the only one who was staring. Those cars, parked in the lush grass near the Lodge, were stealing the show from much more powerful automotive heavyweights. Sure, the cars looked good. But could the company last? I'd seen too many dot-com sob stories in the 1990s to believe in fairytales.
The tyre-smoking chase scene culminates in one of the biggest crashes in cinema history, a fact that Matt Damon might have reservations about. In real life, Damon anguishes over the damage automobiles are doing to the planet, even when they are driven sedately.
“I drive a Toyota Prius and I have one of the Lexus hybrids,” he says. “Next year I’m getting a Tesla Roadster, which I’m very, very excited about. It’s an electric car, gets about 250 miles to the charge and is fast as hell! I can’t wait to get it. Driving a green car is one of the ways we can all do a little more, so I’m trying to do that.”
I can tell you, even from my brief spin in this dog-eared prototype, the Tesla Roadster delivers on its promise, which might be summarized as "stupid fun for smart people." I think the Latin translation of same should appear on the company crest.