hardware: Tesla electric car

Tesla Motors

We've had a look at a few fairly exotic cars and with most of them you'd have to mumble about doing your bit in other ways or take the extreme view that what you were doing was your own business, and if you were taking the whole oil output of a sheikdom to run your car, so what!!

For more socially integrated people, perhaps we can suggest the all-electric Tesla - swoopy 2 door, 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 secs, 220 mile range, top speed 120 mph. Recharge time 3 1/2 hours.

It's California designed. Basic body building is done at Lotus Cars in England and then the rest is put together in CA. Cries that the Tesla is just an electric Lotus meet with an indignant response that mentions a handful of Lotus parts plus the whole engineering effort of Tesla Motors.

There's a showroom in LA and a newly opened place in Menlo Park, not far from the Silicon Valley epicenter of Palo Alto. Shops in NYC, Chicago, and Miami are following.

What's it like to drive? We don't know as there isn't one anywhere near us but we can imagine some of it. As full torque is available at any engine speed, prodding the go pedal will make it disappear like a scalded cat. The "old" 2 speed gearbox is being replaced by a 1 speed so nothing to worry about there. We wonder what it will be like trying to balance the car on the throttle in high speed corners, and braking feel will be interesting as well.

As far as looks go, most people will find it better than OK within it's genre while others might think that an opportunity was missed for some "out of the box" thinking. Tesla's new aquisition of Mazda design chief, Franz von Holzhausen, suggests that the future might keep to much the same track they're on now.

Right now, there's a button on the website saying something like 'Be the first one in Europe to own a Tesla' and the shorter distances between centers there suggests that could be quite a nice idea. As well as that you'd miss having to pay the likes of London's congestion charge.

The bad news? It's not meant to be a people's car - at $109,000 it is expensive!

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We asked Tesla Motors a few questions as well ...

We imagine there's already some lore building up about recharging the Tesla on the road. For example, do you know of any favored hotel/motels or other places where things can be fixed up in an easy manner?

There are actually many hotels that are going to or have already installed EV charging stations in their garages. If you purchase an EV you may just have to be a little more selective of where you are staying and check with the hotels, before you book, to see if they have the ability to charge the car.

There are rumours that Tesla is thinking about new models: Are there any plans for the like of a hot hatch or a hot sedan of some kind?

In regards to a new model, we are currently designing a 4-door, 5 passenger sedan which we are calling our Model S.

For Europe, or more precisely the autobahns of Germany, a top speed of 120mph might be a bit low. Most manufacturers there seem to be limiting their cars to 150mph and some owners are bypassing that. Is the Tesla capable of greater top speeds without too much trouble? ... and without killing the range? Reading the powertrain 1.5 update makes this seem a little tricky.

Obviously the faster you go and the more pressure you put on the accelerator affects performance and the distance you can go on a single charge. However, we do not believe that this will be a major concern.

We are not directly trying to compete with such vehicles that focus primarily on speed. Our car is quick and we do not recommend passing the top speed we have set, as it might damage the battery pack.

As your order books continue to swell there must be a temptation to expand your manufacturing capability. Are you thinking about that?

We are also in the process of moving our manufacturing plant from Hethel (Ed. - Lotus factory) to California.

Technical Data

Tesla Roadster Technical Data
Type designation 	3-phase, 4-pole electric motor
Max net power 	185kW
Max rpm 	13,000
Efficiency 	90% average, 80% at peak power
Torque 	see torque curve chart
Type: 2 speed electrically actuated manual transmission with final drive; constant mesh gears and inertia lock key type synchromesh
Gear	Ratio	Overall
First	4.20 : 1	14.3 : 1
Second	2.17 : 1	7.4 : 1
Final Drive	3.41 : 1	
Reverse	reverse direction of motor
Front Suspension 	Type: independent; upper and lower wishbone; co-axial coil spring/telescopic damper unit; anti-roll bar
Rear Suspension 	Type: independent; upper and lower wishbone; co-axial coil spring/telescopic damper
Type: Cross-drilled 300 mm front and 310 mm rear discs with curved vane ventilation; AP Racing Two piston Aluminum fixed front calipers; Brembo Single piston sliding rear calipers
Operation: Vacuum pump driven Servo assisted with 4 wheel ABS system
Type 	Forged Light alloy
Size - front 	6.0J x 16
Size - rear 	7.5J x 17
Type 	Yokohama Neova AD07 LTS
Size - front 	175/55 R16
Size - rear 	225/45 R17
Overall length (in. / mm) 	155.4 / 3946
Overall width - incl. mirrors (in. / mm) 	73.7 / 1873
Overall height (at curb weight) (in. / mm) 	44.4 / 1127
Wheelbase (in. / mm) 	92.6 / 2352
Track - front (in. / mm) 	57.6 / 1464
Track - rear (in. / mm) 	59.0 / 1499
Curb weight 	Around 2690 pounds (subject to complete safety and durability testing)
Leg Room (in./mm) 	42.0 / 1067
Front Head Room (in./mm) 	36.7 / 932
Front Shoulder Room (in./mm) 	26.0 / 660
Standard Interior features 	

   1. Heated sport seats with inflatable lumbar support
   2. Three-spoke leather-wrapped sport steering wheel
   3. Smooth leather seats and trim in black, dark gray, light gray, or beige
   4. Blaupunkt stereo sound system with single-disc CD player, iPod interface, and MP3 playback
   5. Cruise Control
   6. Homelink universal transmitter to operate compatible garage, gate, and home lighting/home security systems
   7. Power windows and locks
   8. Air conditioning
   9. Single retractable cup holder

Standard Exterior Features 	

   1. Double-insulated black soft top
   2. Proprietary halogen low- and high-beam headlamp assemblies
   3. LED tail lights
   4. Forged uni-directional seven-spoke wheels in silver finish: 16" front, 17" rear
   5. Locking wheel lugs
   6. Tire Inflator/sealant
   7. Cold weather ESS heater for cold weather charging to -20 degrees Celsius
   8. Home-based charging system with integral safety features for 3.5 hour full re-charge

Standard Safety and Security Features

   1. Four-sensor, four-channel Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS)
   2. Traction control
   3. Tire pressure monitoring system
   4. Front and rear crumple zones
   5. Driver and passenger front airbags
   6. Rigid occupant safety cell
   7. Side impact door beams
   8. Seatbelt pretensioners
   9. Integrated headrests
  10. Vehicle theft-deterrent and engine immobilizer system
  11. PIN for security in operating the vehicle
  12. Valet mode to restrict speed, acceleration, and distance

Factory-installed options and accessories 	

   1. Premium leather seats available in nine colors with embroidered Tesla Motors logo
   2. Microfiber, non-leather seats in black
   3. Bluetooth cellular phone integration
   4. Satellite radio with 170 channels of digital sound
   5. Seven-speaker premium sound system tuned for Tesla Roadster cockpit
   6. Touch-screen navigation system with voice guidance
   7. Matching body-colored carbon fiber hardtop with full headliner
   8. Metallic and premium paint
   9. Tesla Motors custom floor mats
  10. Mobile charging system
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