By Deborah Gage
Posting in Cities
Tesla is marketing the car with meat.
I couldn't test this feature because we were confined to city streets where the speed limit was 35 mph, but the rest of the drive went mostly as planned. The car handles well, looks good -- other drivers defer to red convertibles, I found -- and was extremely quiet, except for the times when I braked to stop and the brakes squeaked.
My Tesla handler said the squeaking occurs because brakes aren't used much in an all-electric car -- when you take your foot off the accelerator the car slows immediately, so you don't need brakes as often. (I'd never driven an electric car, and this feature did feel odd). He said the squeaking would go away for awhile if I ran the car up to 60 mph and then slammed on the brakes, but I didn't have the courage to try that.
Tesla appears to be working hard to sell this car -- this test drive was a promotion done with a high-end men's clothing store called Hlaska, which served hors d'oeuvres made almost entirely of meat. There were little pancakes drizzled with maple syrup and topped with big chunks of bacon, and little sandwiches stuffed with rare roast beef, all meant to appeal to the young Silicon Valley males that Tesla sees as its customers now.
Was it organic pork and beef? Who knows. Given the price of the car (about $100,000), the number of cars Tesla has sold (about 1,200), and the losses Tesla has racked up (over $260 million so far, with more to come, according to an SEC filing), the potential environmental impact of the hors d'oeurvres is probably not at the top of Tesla's list of worries.
There are still so many unknowns with electric cars, and with Tesla. You have to be "proactive" about finding charging stations when you drive, another Tesla handler told me -- RV parks are good, and sometimes hotels will accommodate you.
Still, Tesla's management is convinced that all-electric -- as opposed to hybrid, like the Chevy Volt -- is the way to go, the handlers said, even though the battery that allows the Roadster to go over 200 miles on a single charge is so big that it takes up one-third of the car's weight.
Tesla's Model S, which is supposed to carry five people and cost half as much as the Roadster, is due out in a couple of years -- Tesla just accepted an investment from Toyota and will build the Model S in the now shuttered Toyota-GM plant across San Francisco Bay from its headquarters.
It'll be very interesting to see if Tesla, which filed in January to go public, can make it as a company. I bet (hope) that the U.S. government, which has loaned Tesla over $450 million, is watching too.
UPDATE: Guys, I got 10 minutes with the car on a busy street. Tesla has offered another test drive -- we're working on scheduling it.
To SymbioticDesign, driving the Roadster in traffic was no different than driving my 2006 Honda, except that a) the car slowed immediately when I took my foot off the accelerator, which means you don't brake as much; b) the brakes, when I did use them, squeaked; and c) there's no motor noise (obviously). Steering, acceleration, maneuverability all seemed the same.
May 24, 2010
Thank you very much Gharris1586, for delivering the article I came here to see. A well written review with wonderful details. I felt like I was sitting in it myself when you mentioned hearing nothing but the sound of the wind and of the clock (nice touch in noting it)! Thanks for taking the time to share such a (currently) rare experience as the one you had in not only getting to actually drive the Tesla, but to fully open it up and see what it could really do, the way anyone really would, also. Minor typos aside, very well described.
Yes, posting about things you have no business posting about. Talk about seriously in need of a clue?!? "But to me, as a former manager of a manufacturer of automobiles this is nothing but pure greed gone wrong. This economy does not support a mass buy of a $100,000 vehicle." These are NOT mass produced cars. How much do you think it would cost Ford to make the Focus if it only made 2000 of them? You argument essentially says there should be no Ferraris, Lotuses, Porsches, or Lamborghinis. While this might score you populist, proletarian style points, it is rather silly. As for your clear misunderstanding of market economics, clearly some sections of the economy DO support the car. Being that they are individually made, your categorization of this as a "mass buy" shows you just don't understand what is being discussed. They are not a mass market vehicle, so what is your point? "If Tesla has to sell their cars for that price, then why bother to make them? Who will buy them? Look around and tell me. I'll listen. Will you?. " Several thousand people, clearly. Will I? No. So? One day I would not be at all surprised if I bought a car that was produced as a direct result of the technological development made possible by Tesla. "But show me a $30,000 Tesla car and I'll buy one. But not a penny more." And how the hell do you think they get to the point of being able to release a car at that price point. You may have been a manager of a car manufacturer, but you clearly have no clue about what goes into the design and yes, manufacture of a new class of automobile. Again, how much to manufacture a Focus, at 3000 units? Huh? As to greed, the MSR of the vehicle is irrelevant All that matters id the profit margin, which you have no idea about. Besides which, your own statements contradict you, as well as the facts. "No wonder they are losing money. Who the hell do they think will buy a $100,000 thousand car when most people can't even afford a cheap GM or Ford gas guzzler." This is a capitalist economy. If the vehicle is priced that way out of greed, how do you reconcile that with the fact that they are losing money? What is it that you are claiming they are greedy for? Failure? "Make an affordable car that the masses can afford to buy and you will make billions, like Ford and GM did in the early days of auto manufacturing." Could your ignorance of the automotive industry be MORE evident?!? 1) How do you propose they do that? Huh? 2) Ford and GM were able to do so, because OTHER companies that pioneered the early work in the internal combustion engine blazed the trail, and charged their customers for the privilege of following in their footsteps. Without these earlier companies, charging MANY times what Ford and GM eventually were able to charge, there would have BEEN no Ford or GM. "Tesla himself died a poor man." So? It is not like he would not have jumped at the chance to be involved at the Tesla of today. FTR, Tesla was poor because he chose to do so. In spite of lucrative offers, he chose to live on his modest pension from the government of Yugoslavia, and to continue his own research. In addition, his worsening OCD contributed to his inability to make significant income. "You dishonor his memory and his accomplishments by making a $100,000 car bearing his name." Do you even know ANYTHING about Tesla?!? If the car had been priced at $333,333 he would have LOVED it. Do you know why? "Get a clue, idiots!" Indeed. Take your own advice!
The subject is that you "test-drove" a Tesla. It was quite except for the brakes squeaking. And although you press on about other crap, I never get a sense that you really ever drove the car. No idea what you thought about it, how it handled, drove, accelerated, anything. You really didn't drive it, you were allowed behind the wheel on a busy street and apparently didn't have the where with all to find a decent place to attempt any kind of a road test. Even so, you could tell us how well behaved, or not, it was in traffic. Nothing. You never address the subject at all.
@DeusExMachina Posting about about subjects I have no business posting about? My friend, you are seriously in need of a clue. If you live at a level where $100,000 is not a big deal for the purchase of a vehicle, then I apologize to you. You are obviously a very wealthy person and out of my league . But to me, as a former manager of a manufacturer of automobiles this is nothing but pure greed gone wrong. This economy does not support a mass buy of a $100,000 vehicle. If Tesla has to sell their cars for that price, then why bother to make them? Who will buy them? Look around and tell me. I'll listen. Will you?. But show me a $30,000 Tesla car and I'll buy one. But not a penny more.
@micrahard You have a lot of bile and venom, and are quick to question other's intelligence, for someone with a consistent track record of posting about subjects you have no business posting about.
Well, if I refinanced my paid-for house, and sold all my existing vehicles and did a garage sell for all my belongings, I could possibly afford a down payment for the Tesla. My problem then: I don't have a home anymore to plug my car into. No wonder they are losing money. Who the hell do they think will buy a $100,000 thousand car when most people can't even afford a cheap GM or Ford gas guzzler. Get a clue, idiots! Make an affordable car that the masses can afford to buy and you will make billions, like Ford and GM did in the early days of auto manufacturing . Don't make a car only the rich can afford. The few rich folks who buy a Tesla aren't going to save us from air pollution. GET A CLUE!!! Tesla himself died a poor man. You dishonor his memory and his accomplishments by making a $100,000 car bearing his name. Shame on you!!!
There's no question that this is a cool care; certainly a vehicle that is completely contrary to what we've historically considered as totally battery-powered vehicles, like golf carts. However, as it is, this car has extremely limited appeal outside of the "more money than what they know what to do with" category of consumer. Even if priced at a more affordable level, say $30k, it would still only appeal to those interested in a 2nd or 3rd car as a local commuter or runabout. It will never be considered as a "primary" vehicle. The $100,000 price tag just further limits it to the category of expensive toy.
I drove one of these last year, the owner of the company I work for bought one and tossed me the keys. I had it up to 90 without it so much as breaking a sweat. Quiet isn't the word - Ninja spooky comes close. 90mph without a motor sound and the only audible thing is the wind and the tick of the analogue clock (nice touch) is a bit disturbing but absolutely exhilarating! I didn't notice any brake noise at all. The fit and finish of the car itself is excellent, befitting any high end performance vehicle. The interior is a very close fit to the body and it was a bit difficult getting in and out of the carbon fiber Lotus body - but who cares! There's about a 6 - 8 inch ledge from the bottom of the door to the floor of the car. You can actually get stuck in it if you don't pivot out just right. I guess if I were a woman I wouldn't wear a short skirt in the car - or I'd practice getting in and out without revealing any secrets. The car handles incredibly well however you do have to get used to having no power steering - power steering / electric car = mismatch. I had the fortune to have a infrequently traveled divided highway out back of the corporate offices and my travel benefactor said "When you get out there - punch it!" if it wasn't 0 - 60 in 3.8 sec it was damn close. Floor the accelerator and hang on this car, for being all electric is a rocket ship. Of course, 200 miles on one charge; if you live in the Burbs, you'll be hooking this thing up every night and you have to have a 220 put into your garage to feed the current. Not a lot of room for taking anything but a laptop and an overnight bag for 2 and that's just fine. It took me a day and a half to get the smile off my face.
There is a down loadable spreadsheet at http://bit.ly/auHe4d that allows you to model the energy consumption of a vehicle. For a relatively normal drive from San Francisco to LA at 75 mph on Interstate 5, the Tesla requires several times the energy as a Prius, while needing to be recharged 6 times. Is this usable high performance?
Testers did not allow the car to leave city streets. The test-drive was a high-end marketing event, hence the meat. Hlaska does say they manufacture their products locally -- in Burlingame, California.
People don't buy this car to go 35 MPH. Why wasn't it tested on a track or open highway? Ben Koshkin
Please have someone test drive a car who cares about the experience, NOT about organic snacks. Main info about the experience is noisy brakes, WOW, now I know all I need to know about Deborah, not the car.
Ok, so where's the review of the car? The quality of articles here at smartplanet just keeps going further downhill.
Imagine What Would Happen... Imagine what would happen if we invested as much in new, promising ideas, technology and people (Education/Students) as we waste (bailouts) on old worn out ones...
@robert_m_77009: You can close the blogger's bio window by clicking the "X" in the top right corner, and you can also move it around just like a desktop window by dragging the blue title bar.
That reading was a waste of my time. Please don't publish articles like this again. Where were you a year ago? Why did you even waste your own time confined to city streets and focused on meat?
I wish the page had been better set up as the little drop down tab with the writer's info blocked important info on the scant details given in the article. An all electric car, to my mind, makes a lot of sense.