Tesla Motors Update

We fell in love with Tesla Motors back in the spring of 2006, in our post “Silicon Valley – The New Detroit? “, because when we reported on their announcement of the Tesla Roadster, a 100% electric car, it felt like this time somebody was really going to do it. Ever since the demise of the EV-1, a car that many people thought deserved a niche – we’ve been waiting for the next round in the inevitable conversion of the car to an electronic device.

Later in July 2006, when Tesla released the performance specs on the design for their Tesla Roadster, in our report “The Next Generation Car,” we made one mistake. We said “But if the EV-1 was a brilliant piece of engineering, ahead of its time, kind of like the first combat jet ever produced, the German ME-262, then the Tesla Roadster is kind of like America‚Äôs 2006 top-of-the-line F-18 Hornet.”

That is wrong. That is incorrect. The Tesla Roadster is not a top-of-the line F-18 Hornet. It is a supercruising hypersonic F-22 Raptor. My apologies.

Last week Tesla released not the performance specifications of their design, but the performance results of real driving tests using validation prototypes. In addition to road tests with professional drivers, they have been releasing the car to customers to drive around as they please and comment. Here are some key specifications for the Tesla Roadster, as announced in July 2006 when the car was a still just a design, and as released last week after extensive road testing:

Range – design, 250 miles, result from prototype, 252 (city) and 236 (freeway).

Zero-to-sixty – design, under 4.0 seconds, result from prototype, under 4.0 seconds.

Top speed – design, 135 mph, result from prototype, electronically limited to 125 mph. The EV-1, similarly limited, had an actual top speed of 185…

It looks like Tesla’s new CEO, Michael E. Marks, is making his mark. He’s announced a slight pull-back in Tesla’s projected production schedule, but still believes they will manufacture over 600 cars in 2008, possibly more. He has also announced the opening of two service centers, one on the San Francisco peninsula, and one in Los Angeles.

Despite these pullbacks, Tesla is still way in front of the pack. It is a huge, huge leap from being a kit company or an engineering concept company, or even a company with one or two prototypes, to where Tesla has gotten. When their production line starts putting out two cars a day, a lot of their hardest work will be done. The mold will be cast. The automotive world will change – and Tesla is knocking at that door.

Categorized | Cars, Engineering, Transportation
4 Responses to “Tesla Motors Update”
  1. TJ says:

    Much has been made of the Tesla’s high price tag. The performance numbers recently released rank the car at about the level of the Porsche 911 GT3, which runs about $20,000 more. Add in the much lower cost per mile, lack of pollution, and I think we have a winner!

  2. Bryan says:

    I must humorously disagree with both the initial comparison and subsequent correction when the Tesla Roadster was compared to advanced fighter aircraft. In my opinion, the Tesla Roadster and similar efforts are best compared to the very earliest attempts by those who were seeking man powered flight in the late 1800′s/early 1900′s.

    The Tesla Roadster itself might be compared to the Wright Flyer–which was taken to numerous exhibitions, flown before many and became quite popular during the first decade of the Twentieth Century. This interest quickly faded as more and more useful aircraft were built. In fact, most will agree that the British developed Sopwith Camel–which took its maiden flight just thirteen years after the Wright’s first successful flight at Kitty Hawk (almost to the day)–is the best remembered “early performance aircraft” of significant notoriety.

    Why did the US have to purchase planes from the British and French during WW I if our country invented manned flight in the first place? Because we became entangled in a political, academic and legal debate over who flew first: The Wrights or Sam Langly??? While this debate drug on and on over the years, both our friends and enemies were busy improving our invention.

    I mentioned this to say humanity hasn’t even begun to take advantage of current and developing technologies! We are far distant from attaining the level of efficiency that could be achieved it is nearly is nearly laughable.

    Mr. Musk is creative, has good business savvy, ideas and really knows how to speak to the investors well. However, he lacks somewhat in his knowledge of advanced materials, what technologies are being developed and how to protect his investor’s dollars from a case of “sudden technological obsolescence.”

    Don’t be surprised if the Telsa Roadster and other similar vehicles are rendered completely obsolete and undesirable within the next few by technologies orders of magnitude more efficient.

  3. Ed says:

    Very well Bryan – you got me. How ’bout the ME 262? Can that be compared with the Tesla? Aviation buffs have reminded me that despite it being the first operational jet fighter, it had a very short range and engines that were too hot for the metal Germany could produce at the time…

    I guess the bottom line to me is that Tesla appears to be still on track to deliver the first production all electric car since the EV-1, if not since the very early electric models 100 years ago. For that I’m still cheering for them. But I agree with you that technologies are coming that may make the technology used on the Tesla obsolete within years, not decades.

  1. Tesla Roadster the Next Generation Sports Car…

    This is the greatest car ever. Can you imagine to ride all day with the pleasure of Porsche GT3, and to pay about $10 for this. It is just amazing!!!…

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