Just when it looked like it was set to lay down the performance standards by which all other full-electric cars would be judged, the The factory will shut down production of the high-end electric sports car after only 2,500 production models since its first sale to customers in 2008. By all other standards, the Roadster was the technological high point by which all other full-electrics were attempting to reach. Like all good things though, the Roadster must also come to an end. Here’s a look at some of the good it leaves behind, some of the bad that led to its detractors, and some of the ugly that led to its demise.has disappeared.
Unlike current electric cars currently being sold to consumers, the Roadster had a total distance per charge of 245 miles, on average. In October of 2009, it set the distance record for a full-electric car on a single charge at 311 miles. The power and efficiency of its lithium-ion battery pack is phenomenal compared to full-electric models like the Nissan Leaf (138 miles on a single charge in peak driving conditions, dropping to 62 miles in inclement stop-and-go traffic) and the Mitsubishi i MiEV (72 miles on a single charge in peak driving conditions). This technology goes a long way toward advancing the options for alternative fuel vehicles. Fortunately, Tesla will continue developing battery packs and chargers, and they are currently working with Toyota on the production of the next generationEV.
Not only was the Roadster remarkably efficient in distance, its performance may have been its most impressive feature. Most electric vehicles, even hybrid electrics, take a little more time to get up to speed than your standard internal-combustion-engine-driven vehicle. The Roadster could accelerate to 60 mph in just under four seconds. That’s impressive for early model muscle cars, let alone a vehicle that runs on the same thing that powers your light bulbs.
One of the biggest selling points for the Roadster was its styling. It didn’t have the look like twelve clowns were about to come running out of the hatch that some electric models have exhibited. It had exactly what it boasted: a sports car’s styling. The fact that it maintained a sports car’s performance, even if only for a little while, was impressive. So impressive that it won Time Magazine’s Best Transportation Invention in 2006, before it was even offered to consumers, and then won it again in 2008.
Despite its record for distance, the Roadster’s total distance on a single charge dropped sufficiently if it was driven hard. For owners who wanted to get the most out of the sporty driving experience it had to offer, the total distance available dropped below 200 miles. Losing this much power is the normal case with electric cars, but at the Roadster’s price tag it’s a little harder to swallow than one costing 1/5th the price. Since added weight only brought that distance number down even further, storage space was at a minimum as well, and so was comfort for bigger drivers and passengers.
It could have something to do with the six-figure price tag which came along with it, but that’s just a shot in the dark. As with most products that go the way of the do-do, the Roadster’s price tag was the major cause of its extinction. At $109,000, it was a tad out of your Average Joe’s price range. At that price it should not only have a distance range of 300 miles, but it should also have the ability to teleport you, and maybe fix you a sandwich for the trip. If that wasn’t bad enough, options on the open-top two-seater were limited and raised the price even further. Adding insult to injury is the fact that Tesla was not including the recharging cord in the base price – that was extra.
So, for the 99.9% of drivers left out there who will never get the opportunity to drive the Tesla Roadster, hopefully the silver lining will ease your suffering. Tesla is now moving further into the development and production of the Model S. This is another full electric that will come equipped with all of the Tesla technology that made the Roadster great, but it will come in a four-door version and have a base price closer to $57,400. Still not cheap, but moving in the right direction. Performance in the Model S, however, won’t be what the Roadster’s was, and that leaves many green-car drivers wondering just what might have been.