Test driving a Tesla Roadster

Lyle of GM-Volt.com wrote a detailed review of his test drive of a $109,000 Tesla Roadster.
200902261629The car was fascinatingly quiet at slow speeds though at high velocities wind noise was very audible due to the removable top. The car was entirely made of hand-crafted ultralight carbon fiber, which made closing the hood and trunk a little challenging as they had nearly no weight. With the massive 53 kwh battery pack in its center, the car weighed in just under 2700 pounds including the battery pack.

After about two hours of driving fun I arrived back at my house with 16 miles of estimated range and 25 miles of EPA range. There was no way I was getting back to the city to drop the car off! And there was the three-headed, or should I say three-pronged monster that I’d only heard of, staring me right in the face…Range Anxiety!

Fortunately my doctor friend and co-pilot had a friend with an arc-welder in his garage. And so too, as it need be, a 220V 50 amp power outlet. After a few unanswered calls we finally got a hold of him and drove to his house. At this point my little range gauge told me "power reduced" and “battery almost empty.”

The small trunk of the Tesla, which at best could hold a small bag of golf clubs, held a potpourri of chargers and adapters. We finally found a male plug that would fit in our friend’s outlet, but this required some reattaching of it to the copper wiring.

Finally the plug went into the wall. We opened the door of the Tesla which of course wasn’t a gas tank but a unique four pronged charge port. The other end of the charger slid in twisted and locked. Some clicking and whirring sound were heard along with an eerie flashing green light, and then those most comforting of words popped up on the cars screen…charging.

Test driving a Tesla Roadster


  1. I did not read the whole article, only the bb excerpt, but it gave me the same feeling as when I was a freshly licensed kid at age 16. The feeling of “Am I going to make it to my destination? I only put $1.27 in the gas tank…”

    As cool as the Tesla idea is, I don’t really want to feel that as an adult.

  2. I’m sure that the first internal combustion engine drivers felt the same way before there were gas stations at every off-ramp. I mean, you can graze your mule team like anywhere!

  3. If GM goes under, it’s going to be a while before it’s developed tech gets to anyone’s production line.

  4. I actually saw one of these on the road yesterday on Wilshire in LA. At a stoplight.

    And that ends my exciting test view of a Tesla.

  5. @enochrewt
    *facepalm* Read the rest of the article before commenting won’t you? The car was shipped with a mostly empty battery.

    On another note, the Tesla? Want.

  6. Though Teslas themselves have decent range, this is why I’ve always preferred the idea of an easily removable battery pack that could be exchanged at gas stations/Walmarts (for a small service fee, of course).
    I really hope someone adopts this idea, so people have less range anxiety/grid building anxiety.

  7. @ #7: The problem with this idea is that then you start needing to have 4-5 batteries per car (so that there’s always a fresh one at any station), and so you’re producing 4-5 times as many batteries as you would otherwise be. Since the big environmental question of these cars, if they become widely adopted, is the impact of battery creation, I think this would not be desired.

  8. #8, Samsam:

    Why would you need 4-5x the number of cars’ worth of batteries?

    When someone pulls up, they get their batteries switched. The old set then goes in the station to be recharged and used by the next guy. You’d need a large cache to ensure there would be some ready, but you wouldn’t need *that* many.

  9. I hear that Tesla is going out of business(but will obviously be bought). Testdrive ’em while you can.

  10. If they just worked off normal plugs, they’d be a lot easier to recharge. Needing special power sources, and then dozens of adapters, to find anywhere to refuel the thing… of course that’s the kiss of death.

  11. sooo, its heavier than Elise, more expensive, slower, company going out of business, test filmed by a guy who never drove Elise (or any sport car).

    Looks like Top Gear Tesla test was real after all. They drove Tesla like a sport car on a track and it died after 55 miles. Tesla claims 244 miles range, this dude drove like my mum and got half of that on cars LCD. Its totally probable Top Gear got 55 miles, 1/4 of the Tesla claim, and 1/2 of what dude driving like my mum got.

    oh, and im sure Tesla guys were thrilled watching how he hacked charging cable on his own :) I wonder if you can blow up battery pack by trying to charge it with arc welder :D now that would be youtube clip Id like to see ;)

  12. Topgear on the Tesla:

    According to Clarkson it takes 16hrs to recharge – Tak, that’s a lot of cycling (in fact, you’d be better off just cycling to wherever you were trying to get).

  13. The problem only occurred due to a mistake. They didn’t have the 110V charger with them. Only the 220V charger. When you do buy the car, it will come with the charger that matches your local electrical supply.

    He mentioned the car draws 50A when charging. Well, no household socket is going to provide that much power. Maybe it’ll be modified to accept lower power in exchange for longer charge times.

    An electric car can be charged at any place with electricity supply. I believe those places are somewhat more numerous than places selling petrol. He could have charged the battery at his own home, if not for the wrong charger. If you’re outside, you could ask friends of friends (like he did), or beg/pay strangers to use the outlets in their homes.

    If electric cars are common, and they have very short ranges, I can see people turning their homes/offices into electric-stations. You pay them to let you charge your cars from their home’s power supply. Something like what’s already being done for mobile phones in parts of Africa. I can also see parking lots offering this add-on service.

    You wouldn’t want to exchange your battery because you might get back an older one (batteries

  14. Better Place Electric Car Concept

    These guys have signed a big contract with an Australian Bank as well as a Power Company to start installing electric car infrastructure in Australia over the next few years with aims to be ready for the first major EV car models to hit the market around 2012.

    Basically there seems to be a few concepts.

    1 -Swap and Go charging stations (really don’t understand why you would need 5 times more batteries than cars, these would only be used for long trips)
    2 – Parking spots in the city with charging cables that plug in (I guess you sort of pay for the power at the same time you pay for the parking)
    3 – Workplaces and homes fitted with permanent charging stations (that use a mobile phone style ‘credit’ system

    I can’t see any reason why this couldn’t be implemented in most major cities quite quickly. If only for city driver ‘2nd cars’.

  15. I can predict the future, and, in the future, people will show up in hardware stores looking for a “Tesla Adapter” for their 15A 110V outlets.

    They already do this on a regular basis for electric dryers.

  16. What an amazingly negative excerpt for a marvellous new sports gadget. I like this bit:

    With the gusto of ten decades of oil burning cars behind me I slammed that accelerator down.
    One word describes the result…unworldly.

    The little race car literally exploded though space with a mid-tone throaty electrical whine that sounded more like a spaceship than any car I’d ever heard.

    The profound acceleration pinned me back into the seat and made me want to yell like you would on a rollercoaster. Surely I had the Tesla grin.

  17. I’m so happy that we taxpayers are on the hook for $30+ billion (and counting) to keep a $109,000 electric sports car in development.

    I can’t wait to see the return on that investment!

  18. #2 Yes you did have the risk of running low on gas. But with those cars you could re-fill it in a few minutes rather then 16 hours.

    This is why the first electric cars had a swappable battery pack. Ah, but that was back in the day when practicality didn’t ride in the back and was strictly forbidden to touch the radio.

  19. @#18: A huge number of automotive technologies began on race cars or high end sports cars. The R&D done for cars like this will directly translate to the econoboxes we’ll be driving 15 years from now.

    Of course, this thing is a toy that isn’t even practical as a sports car. Heavy, low top speed, too little range for a day of hot laps at the track. Fun commuter for the ultra-rich though, I guess.

  20. Based on my electric rates the car used 22KwH of electricity (220V * 50Amps * 2 Hours / 1000) and at 0.08 cents it was $1.76. Far less than the gas would have been. On the other hand the $109K price tag is a little much for back and forth to work.

  21. The R&D done for cars like this will directly translate to the econoboxes we’ll be driving 15 years from now.

    Which is great when it’s, say, a race team owner’s nickel funding the R&D. In the case of the Volt, taxpayers are (mostly involuntarily) keeping a very poorly run business afloat with little (if you’re naive or an optimist) to nothing (if you’re neither) to look forward to in return.

  22. NoahPoah, you have so many things wrong.

    Tesla is not getting $30 billion.

    The Chevy Volt is not a Tesla.

    The Chevy Volt is not a $109,000 sports car.

    The $30 billion is not all going towards Chevy Volt development.

  23. He mentioned the car draws 50A when charging

    220 volts at 50 amps? Holy crap.

    that’s 11 thousand watts of power.

    With the massive 53 kwh battery pack

    The thing takes at least 5 hours to recharge then.

    I have only one thing to say to that:

  24. Oh, Rosz, Top Gear themselves admitted that they never actually ran the car out of juice. They “calculated” that it would run out of juice in 55 miles on the track. They showed the Tesla being pushed into the building while saying that – turns out that was showmanship and it was not out of juice.

    Keep in mind also that Top Gear got 17.2mpg out of a Prius on their track. So a car’s range and efficiency are not usefully tested on a race track – at least not by Top Gear.

    Relying on them for actual car knowledge is folly. They’re purely for entertainment.

  25. ‘m so happy that we taxpayers are on the hook for $30+ billion (and counting) to keep a $109,000 electric sports car in development. I can’t wait to see the return on that investment!

    I’m not sure on the specifics on any Government subsidies on this car. However this is not an investment in the financial sense. At least not in the sense that anyone expects to see this car making any money back on this investment.

    This would be an investment in Technology. In the same way that NASA is. No one expects NASA to make money. However the budget given to them and many other companies to develop technology is hugely responsible for many pieces of technology that we each use every day.

    That computer you’re typing on. Developed because of Government subsidies when early computers cost absurd amounts to develop and gained next to no return on the investment. Think any private company was going to make that sort of investment without a subsidy?

  26. #28 posted by Takuan:

    ummm, wouldn’t electric golf carts fill 90 % of urban commuter needs?

    The question should be “would an electric golf cart fill all the needs of 90% of urban commuters?” Sadly, the answer is no. We’ve spent the last century building our infrastructure around the automobile and now we’re paying the price.

    I should note that I take transit to work on a daily basis and use a scooter for many errands around town, so I’m definitely in favor of reducing the number of automobiles on the road. But it ain’t gonna happen overnight. Convincing someone to change how they fill up their car is a heck of a lot easier than convincing them to change their entire lifestyle.

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