Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tesla hits the road

This week Innovation Beat went for a test ride in the all-electric sports car Tesla Roadster that went into full-scale production a week ago.

The silver-gray car is one of 27 prototypes being built prior to production. It accelerated promptly from 0 to 60 mph in several seconds as we entered highway 101 near Tesla’s headquarters in San Carlos.

Tesla assembles the car at a leisurely one-a-week pace at its production site in Hethel, England. The goal is to speed up assembly to 30 cars per week in a couple of weeks, reaching a total output of 600 vehicles for the 2008 calendar year.

The cars are shipped from England to Tesla’s headquarters in San Carlos, California, where the battery pack, transmission and motor are installed. First deliveries are expected in April, with the very first car going to Tesla’s co-founder Martin Eberhard. His car is to be painted dark gray with orange stripes.

Some eye-catching paint is probably a good idea, since the car itself does not generate attention by making loud noice. Compared to a roaring muscle car like the Mustang Shelby, a ride with the Tesla feels like a stroll on the beach in Half Moon Bay – the wind is the only sound you hear.

About 900 people have placed deposits for the $100,000 car. Tesla hopes to increase yearly production to 1,800 cars in 2009.

The 27 prototype vehicles are just made for test purposes. If you expected they would sell as discounted product samples, I am sorry to disappoint you. Another video of the test ride might cheer you up:

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