Goodbye Tesla Roadster the electric car that could

4 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Goodbye Tesla Roadster the electric car that could отключены

Electric Car Pariss Electric Roadster

Goodbye Tesla Roadster: the electric car that could

It has been a model credited with completely rebranding the image of the electric car, now it is all over for the Tesla Roadster as its maker prepares to end production and move onto pastures new. With its blistering performance, Tom Stewart gets behind the wheel of Tesla’s milk-float image-busting electric car for a chance to say goodbye to car truly worthy of the word ‘icon’.

Observers of the electric car scene will know that, after three-and-half years, production of the Lotus-based Tesla Roadster is soon to end.

As of mid/late next year Tesla’s only offering will be new Model S saloon, and, if all goes according to plan, that will be followed a year or so later by the Model X SUV. There’s also talk of a Tesla cabrio and a van, but assuming the Paulo Alto maker does rustle-up a next-generation Roadster model, it probably won’t happen until at least 2014.

With the Roadster’s time almost up, and never having even sat in a Tesla, an invitation to drive one in Switzerland was not to be refused.

How so? About a year ago, ex F1 driver Erik Comas launched his Green Cars Challenge company in Switzerland with the ambition of ‘promoting zero-emission, high-speed fun on some of the world’s most scenic roads’. To this end it would lease Tesla Roadsters for corporate events and road rallies. (In 2010 a Roadster driven by Comas was the first electric vehicle to win the three-day, 1,000km Monte Carlo Alternative Energy Rally, and the first EV to win any FIA-sanctioned competition.)

Tesla Stronghold

With Tesla having recently delivered its 100th car in Switzerland, the country has the highest per capita Tesla ownership of any country.

According to Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Ownership Experience, George Blankenship, That Switzerland has embraced the Roadster makes complete sense. Swiss consumers are thought leaders who seek cutting edge technology as well as environmentally-responsible solutions.

What Mr Blankenship might also have mentioned is that the affluent Swiss are generally better placed than most to afford a small sports car costing from ?87,945. So, perhaps it’s no coincidence that five of Comas’ Roadsters now reside in the undergound car park of Geneva’s highly exclusive La Reserve hotel and are available for rent.

Unfortunately, the weather for my drive was miserable with very low cloud and constant rain, which put me off heading for the nearby Jura Mountains.

So instead, and starting on a 90 per cent charge, I took the coast road from Geneva along the shores of the Lake Leman via Lausanne to Montreux at the far end of the lake, pottered around there for about 20 mins, headed back to Geneva on the motorway at a decent but not a criminal pace, and then trundled around Geneva for another 20 minutes or so.

I didn’t take note of my exact mileage — consider wrists slapped — but having only stamped the throttle to the floor about three or four times, and then only briefly, I arrived back at the hotel on reduced power with an indicated 17 miles left after 140 miles or thereabouts.

Although a Roadster has managed a record-breaking 311 miles on a single charge (at the heady average of 25mph), Tesla’s claim of 211 miles — based on the European EV combined cycle — seems to me to be optimistic by about 38 miles.

Compared with all other production electric cars that’s good, the best in fact, at least until the arrival of the 300-mile Model S, but the Roadster’s range obviously falls massively short of any internal combustion-engined production car. Although its 6,831-cell lithium-ion pack is cheap to recharge (about ?3-?5), it takes at least 3.5 hours with the 240v/70amp. 2,300 (plus fitting) high-power wall connector.

Worthy performance

Electric Car Pariss Electric Roadster

I’m not about to embark on a full road test report, especially for a car that’s already been reviewed to within an inch of its life, but here are some thoughts and impressions:

It’s quick; exceptionally, neck-jerking quick, and I certainly wouldn’t dispute Tesla’s 3.7secs to 60 claim. And its thrust is so immediate and positive that your passenger will certainly appreciate a verbal warning before you call on all of its 288bhp and 295lb/ft (from 0-5,100rpm). At motorway speeds its punch is less violent, but still worthy of a ?90k performance car.

With no power assistance the Roadster’s steering requires muscle at parking speeds, but once on the move it’s pure joy — it feels direct and connected in a way that eludes all power-assisted systems. Almost needless to say, it corners fast and flat, and grips tenaciously, even in the wet. The ride is firm but tolerable, and in normal driving you’ll rarely need the brakes as the energy regeneration system slows the car quite effectively.

The cabin is small and a little cramped, but apart from cheapo steering column stalks (from an old Ford parts bin), it’s equipped and finished to a high standard. The satnav function of the optional Alpine infotainment system is far from intuitive — the air turned blue during my drive more than a few times — but at least I didn’t get lost. The reversing camera is handy as rear-view vision is restricted for those without a 180? swivelling neck.

The smaller touchscreen in the centre console displays range (as does a smaller display beneath the combined speedo and rev counter) and allows you to switch driving modes, but can also show power, torque, g-force, and will even remind you how much petrol you would have used.

Greens, geeks and loners

To summarise, Tesla’s philosophy is admirable, its engineering impressive and the driving experience fabulous. But of the 100 now sold in Switzerland, and the 2,000 worldwide, almost all will have gone to wealthy greens, geeks and loners.

Loners? Well unless you trailer the car to and from the circuit you can forget doing track days, and that long weekend run to Le Mans in the company of chums with Lotuses, Caterhams, Boxsters or 458s because, unless you live in the Portsmouth area, the Tesla might not make it there. And if it did then you’d need to be sure you could make use of your ?1,150 mobile charging kit upon arrival.

So, for most of us, the electric sports car, terrific though this one is, is ‘work in progress’.

Electric Car Pariss Electric Roadster
Electric Car Pariss Electric Roadster
Electric Car Pariss Electric Roadster

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