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’s 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.