Electric Cars are nothing new.  They have been around since the early 1900s.  Early gas-powered cars had a mechanical crank to start the engine.  Many drivers broke their wrists when trying to start their engines.  Electric cars did not need a hand crank to start.  For this reason, electric cars were popular among women.  Many men saw electric cars as chick cars and ignored them.  When the gas engine gained an electric starter, electric cars lost.   Now with high gas prices and people becoming more aware of the environment, automotive companies have started developing electric cars.

In 2008, Tesla Motors came out with the Tesla Roadster.  It is an electric car based on the Lotus Elise.  I first saw this car at Cars in Coffee in Houston in December of 2010.  It looks exactly like the car it is based on.  There were Lotus Elises there and   When it drove past me, it made no sounds.  Since an electric car has no exhaust of combustion, it makes no sounds when moving.  I saw it again at the January edition of Cars and Coffee.  I met the guy who owned this car and he enjoyed driving it.  I think the Tesla Roadster is a great start for the electric car renaissance.

The Tesla Roadster is powered by 6,831 lithium ion batteries and a three-phase, four-pole electric motor that generates 248 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque.  Because it is an electric car, it reaches its maximum torque instantly. Tesla went with a one speed transmission.  A two speed transmission was tested for the car, but it constantly broke.  It goes from 0 to 60 mph is 3.9, which is quicker than the Elise it is based on.  It is electronically limited to 125 mph.  Under normal driving conditions, it can go over 240 miles on one charge.  Using a 240V outlet, the batteries recharge in 3.5 hours.  The cost for a Tesla Roadster starts at $109,000.

Top Gear and Motorweek reviewed the car and both reviews can be seen on Youtube.  Jay Leno featured a Tesla Roadster on his website, www.jaylenosgarage.com.  It was also featured in “Big Ideas for a Small Planet” as an alternative to gas powered vehicle.

Final thoughts:  It is a great electric car.  It gets better mileage on one charge than some carts get on one tank of gas.  It is quick of the line and can go faster than a Toyota Prius, Honda Insight, and a Chevrolet Volt.  With the added weight from the battery, it lost the handling that the Lotus Elise is known for.  But the electric car still has room to improve and will only get better as battery technology improves.  But with a selling price over $100,000, you must have a place to plug the car in or you are wasting your money.


Photo taken from a camera phone

Originally posted on February 27, 2011 in the TGWTG blog section

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