Tesla Roadster: Lightning In A Bottle
The year was 2006. The car industry was in a developmental phase from old to new cars, with many car makers trying out various things to meet ends, innovate the car industry and satisfy the consumer base. This was also a year when cars powered by alternate sources such as hybrids or electric were still in early phases, with the likes of the Toyota Prius, Honda Insight and a few other obscure hybrid cars filling up the fledgling niche category of alternate-power source cars.
It was also in 2006 when the brand known as Tesla would come out of the world introducing an innovative new invention in one, quirky looking package.
The Tesla Roadster.
It was revealed to a selected party of only 350 people at a hangar at Santa Monica Airport, Santa Monica, California on July 19. Few months later, it was officially unveiled to everyone during the San Francisco International Auto Show on November 18-24, where soon afterwards the first one was commissioned unto Tesla chairman Elon Musk on 2008 followed by 500 models made from mid 2008 to 2009.
Unlike the mainstream successor Tesla Model S, the Tesla Roadster, being the electric automaker’s first try on an official automobile is by no means some feeble, prototype-ish “first attempt” mini car.
Powered by an electric motor that can net up to 288 horsepower mated to a traditional one-speed direct drive gearbox, put together in a mid-engine rear wheel drive layout and a platform based off the Lotus Elise, the little Tesla is no pushover.
The nimble body, instant power from the electric motor and a sporty Lotus derived platform meant that the car could hit 0 to 60 in an incredulous 3.9 seconds, 3.7 if its the Roadster Sport model thanks to something called the “AC induction motor”, an electronically limited top speed of 125mph, and a drag coefficient of 0.35. For the Roadster S model, with an enhanced electric motor, it out-accelerates or accelerates as fast as the Nissan GT-R, Ferrari F430, Lamborghini Murcielago 40th Anniversary, and the Mercedes Benz SLS AMG (take note that the Tesla Roadster was made from 2008 to 2012, the SLS AMG was introduced in 2010) as some examples. It also had an impressive range from 224 to 231 miles before running on empty.
It should be noted, however, that the Roadster was never really designed to be a purpose built performance car, but, much like the similar BMW i8 that came years after it, rather, an exciting way to test out a platform for a new kind of car. Both didn’t have high top speed records, but they did have rapid acceleration. Both are also very refined and quiet inside and out, with a luxurious interior full of advanced car tech ahead of its time, and both had next-generation level styling.
In a way, the BMW i8 is a bit like the Tesla Roadster in spirit, as both are premium roadsters that run on electric motors which are sold at rather very expensive prices, the only difference between the two being size, brand origin and how the i8 has an extra petrol motor on its back.
Inside the Tesla is a tech savvy person’s play thing. You have a plethora of screens, fancy buttons and a set of driver aids that makes the driving experience of the Roadster a unique one for it’s time. While its not as advanced as technology seen in many cars today, you have to acknowledge that such a unique car had similarly unique properties that made it such an amusing thing to own and drive.
The tiny Tesla was a massive hit among automotive journalists, with almost all of them praising the quintessential goodness of the rapidly quick, beautiful, economic and high tech roadster. Even Jeremy Clarkson was hugely impressed by it, even claiming that it was “Biblically quick” when driving against the Lotus Elise from where the car was based from, though cornering was said to be the least spectacular element of the car.
Nevertheless, it managed to net several car awards that stands as a testament on what innovation and the power of electric motors can do.
But like many amazing cars, the Tesla eventually died out due to minimal production, the cost of making these and the price tag of the Roadsters themselves. The Tesla Roadster in its base form costs about $109,000 dollars, and, as an experimental platform, only 2,450 cars were made and shipped world wide, with only 50 RHD examples hand built and based in the UK.
Finally in 2012, the last Roadster was sold, and production of the little Tesla was finished, ushering in the revolutionary Tesla Model S that has eventually come to be recognized as one of the greatest cars made in the 21st Century.
Thanks to the Roadster, it is what allowed Tesla to reach publicity and funding to develop the now highly sought out for car known as the Model S, which, like the little sports car before it, like fate, has been given heaps of positive reception for it’s advanced E-car technology, and now it stands as the benchmark of future electric cars of all categories. Also, news confirms that a replacement for the Roadster is on the way by 2019, and we’d all be pleased to see how much it would be improved thanks to today’s technology.
Well played, Tesla. Well played, Elon Musk. That little lightning in the bottle known as the Roadster is the one that became the forerunner of the electric saloon that has now cemented itself into automotive history as the car that would define a century, and be a legacy icon in the years to come.
Thank you for reading this all the way! I hope to provide more content for you all in the future.
This article may come out as lackluster because it has been a bit muddled with some laziness, so I do apologize if anything seems wrong! I shall edit any misinformation in case the more sharp-eyed of you can notice any possible errors.
Thug Bird, out.