Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5

by admin on 25 November 2010

The final word

Apart from the price (which is high, granted, but not unexpected) what's not to like about the Roadster?  Tesla set out to create something radical which would satisfy their intention of building a pure electric plug-in as well as exciting the traditional car buyer (and car press) with something sporty.  It's not difficult to see why previous electric cars have failed (apart from too-early battery tech), they were just plain boring.  To break through electric cars need to be better than their internal combustion engine rivals, not simply derivatives with similar (or worse) performance, they need to offer something other than the 'eco friendly' argument, Tesla knew this.

They started with a proven chassis (a healthy nod to British automotive engineering), tweaked it and then built a complete power train (batteries, power management, motor, gearbox) from scratch.  In parallel they were also fighting the establishment developing their car brand (something almost unheard-of and incredibly difficult to achieve).

The beautiful simplicity of the electric drive means almost zero maintenance, much less fluids (some lubricants are required), far fewer parts and much less to go wrong.  Yes the battery is the biggest, heaviest thing in the car, but Tesla could only work with current lithium-ion technology, and that (and charge times) are the next big development area for electric vehicles.

So what's wrong with the Roadster?  The only niggles we had were the fact that the car has two LCD screens, the most important of which is quite small and tucked away out of your line of sight (something Tesla will resolve in the Model S) and the other - despite its near silent running at slow speeds the Roadster does suffer from quite a bit of wind noise at highway speeds and the occasional interior creak over rough ground.

There are plenty of traditional petrol-heads who are happy to deride the Roadster, scorning its charging times and hefty rear-end, however most of these people have yet to experience it.  As a passenger or driver they would be instantly converted with the first press of the accelerator, the constant smooth torque hit and stealth-like silence.

The Roadster feels way ahead of its time yet still conforms to our expectations of a sports car; powerful acceleration, direct steering, a sorted chassis and great looks.  For a startup company in the auto industry it's an amazing achievement and is something which has sent clear shockwaves, so much so that we're now seeing more and more big makers revealing their electric plans, and that is something that is good for all of us.