Tesla: Oh-So Quick and Even Carbon-Free

This is a discussion on Tesla: Oh-So Quick and Even Carbon-Free within the Car Talk forums, part of the The Pub category; Oh-So Quick and Even Carbon-Free Daniel Acker/Bloomberg ZOOMY Roadster Sport is based on Lotus Elise. More Photos By JERRY GARRETT New York Times: Published: ...

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    Tesla: Oh-So Quick and Even Carbon-Free

    Oh-So Quick and Even Carbon-Free

    Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

    ZOOMY Roadster Sport is based on Lotus Elise.

    More Photos


    New York Times:
    Published: February 4, 2010


    Slide Show
    2010 Tesla Roadster Sport

    A FEW blocks from the Tesla Motors dealership here is one of California’s public charging stations for electric vehicles. But the Tesla Roadster, just the sort of car that planners had in mind when the statewide network was conceived, cannot be charged there.
    “It’s an inductive charging system,” Jeremy Snyder, general manager of the Tesla showroom, said of the facility. Translation: the inductive connector is not compatible with the Roadster, whose conductive system uses a plug with metal contacts to carry the electricity that recharges the battery.

    Dang. Another government program that didn’t quite work as planned.
    Not to worry, the Roadster has a built-in battery charger, so all it needs is power from a readily available source like a standard household outlet. This gives owners flexibility as to when and where they recharge their cars.

    Using the standard charging connector (15 amp capacity) plugged into a typical 120-volt outlet, the Roadster needs an hour of recharging for every five miles of driving. If you drive it 40 miles — the typical daily use, according to research by the General Motors engineers developing the 2011 Chevrolet Volt — you can replenish the battery pack in eight hours. If you top off overnight at off-peak electricity rates, the Roadster is cheaply and fully charged by morning.

    If you drive far enough to deplete the Roadster’s battery pack, it can take up to 36 hours to recharge it using 120-volt household current, at a cost of about $5, according to Tesla. Refueling is quicker when a high-voltage circuit, typically used for appliances like electric clothes dryers, is available.

    “Most owners tell us they use a 220-volt circuit,” a Tesla spokeswoman, Rachel Konrad, said.

    Tesla sells a 40-amp universal mobile connector (about six hours for a recharge) for $1,500. A 70-amp connector, which will charge the battery from empty in less than four hours, goes for $1,950.
    “As many as 20 percent of our owners actually have installed solar recharging systems,” Mr. Snyder said. “One owner has even come up with a calculation of the fuel economy on sunshine.”

    The Roadster’s range on a full charge is 244 miles in the E.P.A.’s combined city-highway calculation, which precludes it from being a long-haul road-trip car. I inquired about driving it the 280 or so miles from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
    “That is outside of its range,” Ms. Konrad said.

    Because the Roadster’s electronic controls are programmed to slow the car as its battery pack gets closer to its minimum charge level, owners are unlikely to drive the car until its last bit of juice is drained. One Roadster, however, did travel more than 300 miles on a single charge during last year’s Global Green Challenge in Australia.
    But hypermilers, a breed of specialists who take pride in going the extra mile, usually get their best results at very low speeds. “If you’re willing to drive it around at 10 miles per hour, you might be able to go 500 miles with it,” Ms. Konrad said.
    Because I had only a day with a bright orange two-seater, not the week I would normally take to evaluate a car, I had no chance, and little desire, to challenge that statement. More important, my one-day trial gave me no opportunity to test the total range or check Tesla’s claims for recharge times.

    Even my abbreviated drive took nearly two years to arrange; it often seemed as if Tesla was dodging me. Earlier test-drive offers from the company, contingent on having a chaperone ride along, were declined.

    The Roadster has turned into a celebrity since it became available a year and a half ago, and the 2010 model is more refined than the original. Tesla has addressed many of the most serious complaints it received about the first Roadsters: crude interiors, annoying controls, anemic air-conditioning, squeaks and rattles, awful seats, a clattering ride and less range and power than many early adopters were hoping for.

    Last summer, Tesla introduced an upgraded model, the Roadster Sport, with a price inflated by $19,500 over the base Roadster’s $110,950 window sticker. I must admit that the Roadster Sport, even at the price level of an Aston Martin, far exceeded my wary expectations. Is the age of the electric car at last dawning? It would seem so.
    The ride was still harsh in the Sport I tested, but the adjustable suspension with sport and comfort settings was a mild improvement over the original. With its Lotus-derived wishbone suspension and low center of gravity — not to mention the 992-pound lithium-ion battery pack over its rear wheels — the car hugged the road like a go-kart.

    All Roadsters use an air-cooled A.C. induction motor rated at 215 kilowatts — the equivalent of 288 horsepower — but the Sport gets a boost to 295 pound-feet of torque from the Roadster’s 273. The automatic transmission has a single speed. Tesla says that accelerating to 60 m.p.h. in this 2,723-pound dart takes 3.7 seconds; the top speed is electronically limited to 125 m.p.h.

    The Sport also includes forged wheels and ultrahigh-performance tires that provide a level of grip you’d need a racetrack to fully exploit. Brembo brakes will effectively stop the car, but the immediate regenerative braking when taking your foot off the accelerator is more than enough to whoa it down (to about three m.p.h.). The car can be driven at least 90 percent of the time with just your right foot.

    In the E.P.A. test cycle of 55 percent city driving and 45 percent highway, the Roadster delivered 244 miles on a “tankful” of juice; selecting among the Tesla’s preprogrammed driving modes can extend or shorten that range. The federal mileage rating on my test car was 29 kilowatt hours per 100 miles in town and slightly higher consumption of 32 on the highway.

    With the electronic controls in their default driving mode, it didn’t seem to matter how hard I hammered the accelerator pedal — up hills or down, in hard cornering or jackrabbit starts — the projected range stayed the same on the cockpit gauges. There is also a performance mode, but my favorite, valet mode, is known inside the company as Ferris Bueller Mode, which means a would-be joyrider won’t get far before the vehicle shuts off.

    Though many improvements have been made, the cockpit still feels chintzy — even with the addition of carbon fiber bits. Additional options like upgraded electronics and “executive leather” seats (still uncomfortable) pushed the as-tested price of my test car to $155,850. One could reasonably ask whether it makes sense to pay that much for a vehicle based on a $50,000 Lotus Elise.

    The price is offset somewhat by federal tax credits of $7,500 (subject to the buyer’s income) ; some states also exempt E.V.’s from sales tax and offer further rebates. In any case, the Tesla Roadster is one exotic sports car that doesn’t come with a gas guzzler tax added on.

    Tesla still seems to be struggling to meet its annual production target of 1,000 cars. But customers who have taken delivery seem to have an almost cultlike devotion to the cars, if owners’ blogs are an indication. (The biggest owner complaints nowadays: dirty windshields. Why? If you never have to go to a gas station, your windshield doesn’t get cleaned.)

    After all the missed deadlines to get the Roadster to this point, a degree of caution may be warranted on promises for the next Tesla, the Model S sedan. Due by 2012, the Model S is supposed to cost less than half as much as the base Roadster.
    Give Tesla Motors its due; despite many setbacks along the way, it ultimately delivered the Roadster — though the car ended up over budget and far behind schedule, and many executives left the company under unhappy circumstances.

    Still, the Roadster Sport works pretty much as promised. And, as such, Tesla is worthy of a measure of acclaim as an automotive pioneer.
    Last edited by invalid_character; 02-16-2010 at 08:13 PM.
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    LOL I thought this was a Fermi post

    You got me...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neuromancer View Post
    LOL I thought this was a Fermi post

    You got me...

    you know you spend too much time at the computer when ....
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    gotta love it....
    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

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