Monday, August 10, 2009

Tesla Drive

I spent the afternoon hanging out at an ex-coworker's house in Laguna Beach. She invited me over for a play-date but mostly we just ended up eating lunch. After lunch, her husband (also an ex-coworker but in engineering instead of finance) took me out for a ride in their new Tesla Roadster. In case anyone has not heard of Tesla Motors, they build an all electric car. The first model is a 2-seater that does 0-60 in about 4 seconds and cost just a bit over $100k.

Since they live in Laguna Beach, we went for a drive up the coast to Newport Beach. It feels like a sports car but eerily quiet since it's all electric. Other than all that environmental stuff, the best thing about an electric motor is instant torque at all RPM's. He floored the "gas" pedal several times and the acceleration is awesome. Along the ride, I saw a few Ferrari's and an Aston-Martin but nobody wanted to race. I think the only thing that can beat the Tesla is probably a motorcycle.

I'm not sure what the top speed is but there is only one gear in the transmission (they had problems with a two-speed) and the engines revs to about 13k RPM. Obviously it's not a very practical car but if you're in the market for a sports car, the prices are comparable to a gasoline powered car with similar performance. The big downside currently is the ~250 mile range but once electric cars are more popular, you should see more recharge stations. Still, trips to Vegas are probably out of the question until battery technology improves... not sure if you want to stop every 250 miles for a 3-hour recharge.

Oh, you also probably need a house before buying an electric car. Not only would you want to park a $100k car inside the garage, an apartment complex wouldn't let you install a 70 amp 240VAC charging system on its property. :(

The car is very low and a bit difficult to get in and out. However, I've sat in a Mazda Miata and a Honda S2000 and the Tesla is not much smaller.

PCH South near El Morro Beach. I stuck my hand over the windshield to take the picture and it still looks (and is) very close to the ground.

Recharging after our ride. They had to install a 240V charging system; a 120V system will take 30 hours to recharge the car.

Front view... no license plate! :) It had very low profile Yokohama Advan tires so the ride is pretty stiff but not unexpected for a sports car.

It was a pretty fun ride. BTW, our CEO has the same car in red but he hasn't offered me a ride yet.

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