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Frontal crash test.  (Source: Tesla Motors)

Side crash test.  (Source: Tesla Motors)

Aftermatch of rear crash test.  (Source: Tesla Motors)

  (Source: Tesla Motors)
Tesla Motors' highly anticipated Roadster comes closer to fruition

Tesla Motors' Roadster has been in development for quite some time now, but it appears that there is finally light at the end of the tunnel for the project team.

Malcolm Powell, Tesla Motors' Vice President of Vehicle Integration, announced yesterday that The Tesla Roadster has passed all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and is legal for sale in all 50 states.

"Thanks to great design, structural analysis, build quality and well run test management, we have successfully completed the entire suite of dynamic impact testing to meet both FMVSS and, as importantly, our own very strenuous internal performance targets," said Powell. "This is a great achievement for Tesla; it takes us another (major) step closer to our final goal and is another demonstration that EVs are as real as any other vehicle on the road."

The Tesla Roadster performed admirably in front, rear and side crash tests. "I always find it interesting when people say, 'Isn't it dangerous carrying all those batteries around?' Well I don’t know about you, but I’d rather carry a load of relatively inert battery cells than 10 gallons of highly volatile, flammable liquid," added Powell. "I will not comment on how other companies design their vehicles but at Tesla, we have paid great attention to the integrity of the design for crash management."

In addition, the vehicle passed basic rear view mirror, lighting and windshield defogging/defrosting tests.

Production of the $100,000 roadster will begin on March 17 although the first models to roll off the assembly line will come equipped with "temporary" transmissions.

Tesla claims that the temporary transmissions are of a design that has been road tested more than 100,000 miles, so owners shouldn't be too concerned about reliability or safety. Performance, however, does take a nose dive -- the first production models will only accelerate 0-60 in 5.7 seconds instead of 4 seconds as previously promised.

The temporary transmissions will be replaced with production-level hardware at Tesla Motors’ expense when it is available.

The Tesla Roadster is loosely based on the aluminum-intensive Lotus Elise and features an electric motor powered by 6,381 lithium-ion cells. The projected range for the two-seater is just over 200 miles.

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This is nice but...
By nvalhalla on 1/25/2008 8:02:41 AM , Rating: 5
I like the idea here, but it's useless to me. I want an electric car that gets 0-60 in 10 secs, tops out at 90MPH, travels 300 mi per charge, and costs $20,000-25,000. That would pay for itself in fuel savings. I don't want performance, I want affordability. Hopefully the "early adopters" will provide the revenue necessary for Tesla to ramp up production on cheaper cars.

RE: This is nice but...
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 1/25/2008 8:29:40 AM , Rating: 5
The maxim in battery design is, "High Speed, Long Range, Low Cost: Choose any two." I think they chose High Speed and (relatively) long range for the speeds, and forgot about cost. Now, if you drive this more slowly, then you would get better range. Just because this will go fast, doesn't mean you have to violate traffic laws everywhere you go.

The prices will come down, but rich, early adopters are needed to get them down to where the rest of us can afford them. I remember when a little flip cell phone cost more than US$800.00, now they are given away with the plan. The first guy I saw with one was a rich, early adopter. Let them have their fun.

RE: This is nice but...
By Screwballl on 1/25/08, Rating: -1
RE: This is nice but...
By TimberJon on 1/25/2008 11:27:57 AM , Rating: 1
I wonder if the system couldnt disengage gear while its moving forward and you let off the accelerator. If some kind of unpowered unidirectional magnetic system could take over at each wheel or axle, it could put more potential energy towards keeping the car moving forward while in neutral. It would be nice to get a few more % worth of range out of the thing. But then.. the extra weight of a magnetic system would probably offset the gain.. darn.

RE: This is nice but...
By Screwballl on 1/25/2008 11:49:24 AM , Rating: 2
Thats when they integrate some magnetic system in the nations interstates (US) so that with each yellow and white stripe has magnetic properties to double the range of the electric vehicles.. and since it can be embedded into the road, it should only add a few dollars per mile. In colder states, if the plows pull up one or two it shouldn't affect performance at all (or very minimally). In warmer states like the deep south, they use these 1/4" tall reflector things sticking up in almost all roads and interstates which could serve the same purpose.

RE: This is nice but...
By derwin on 1/25/2008 12:16:41 PM , Rating: 2
that would accomplish the same thing as forced magnetic braking over each line. I don't think any drivers would appreciate that.

Like my HS physics teacher used to say "energy don't grow on trees... er, well, sorta, infact, I guess you almost could say that it does... but you get the point..."

RE: This is nice but...
By mattclary on 1/25/2008 1:29:02 PM , Rating: 2
Unidirectional magnet system??? You mean like a perpetual motion machine?

RE: This is nice but...
By Eckstein on 1/25/2008 11:46:37 AM , Rating: 2
You are wrong.
The aerodynamic drag increases quadratic with velocity.
And the earth rotates around the sun.

Da kommt mir ein Spruch Einsteins in den Sinn...

RE: This is nice but...
By rcc on 1/25/2008 12:04:53 PM , Rating: 2
Power draw from the batteries is the same at 40mph than it is at 100mph...

I understand what you are trying to say, but it's not quite right. There is greater wind resistance (and other lesser factors) at 100 mph than at 40, so drain would be higher.

But the real killer in battery life is how quickly (and often) you go from 0-60.

RE: This is nice but...
By masher2 (blog) on 1/25/2008 12:07:24 PM , Rating: 2
> "200 miles is 200 miles, regardless of if you are doing 100mph or 40mph, the range is pretty much the same "

As a previous poster points out, this is incorrect. The curve should be a little flatter than that of an IC engine, but still heavily influenced by speed and, even more so, acceleration patterns.

I'm sure a jackrabbit driver could drop the published 200 mile range down to 50 miles or so, simply by driving the vehicle hard.

RE: This is nice but...
By Screwballl on 1/25/2008 12:44:30 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe in a SUV with a flat front but this is a highly aerodynamic vehicle that should see very little drag at any speed under 100mph (not accounting for cross winds or headwinds). We are talking 190 miles at 100mph or 210 miles at 40mph.
The IC engine is reliant on aerodynamics, constant RPMs, smaller vehicle/engine size and/or mediocre speeds to achieve better gas efficiency. If you are not moving/idling, it uses gas and power that affects gas mileage. With battery power, aerodynamics is the only real factor. If you are not moving then only the electrical components are using power (radio, A/C, heater). Even if you do that 0-60 in 6 seconds repeatedly, you should still see close to 200 miles since the drain is the same whether you're doing it in 6 seconds or 20 seconds.

Now the long term storage capacity of the battery may be reduced with long term "hot rodding" but if the transmission is only rated for around 100K miles then that should give out long before the battery capacity becomes an issue. Plus as Tesla may be replacing the transmission, they may also come up with a battery upgrade a few years down the line that will be replaced for free (or small fee) at that time as well.

RE: This is nice but...
By masher2 (blog) on 1/25/2008 12:58:45 PM , Rating: 2
> "but this is a highly aerodynamic vehicle "

First of all, it doesn't look "highly aerodynamic" to me. The sports car look isn't as efficient as it appears. A Lamborghini Countach, for instance, isn't much more aerodynamic than a Hummer H2...and both are far worse than a simple Toyota Camry.

Second of all, you forget one simple fact. At cruising speed, *all* the energy expended is due to drag (aerodynamic, road, and drivetrain). All these are either linear or quadratic functions of velocity....but at high velocities, quadratic terms dominate, no matter what the drag coefficient is.

RE: This is nice but...
By peldor on 1/25/2008 9:27:41 AM , Rating: 3
It's not $25k but Tesla's next project will be a more more affordable ($50k-65k) sedan.

RE: This is nice but...
By MrBlastman on 1/25/2008 9:45:53 AM , Rating: 5
Honestly we NEED a performance electric car like this for several reasons:

a. Performance Cars drive the cutting edge of technology creating innovation and new ideas that might not have been thought of trying to create something average for everyday use. Disagree? Look at how many good technologies were the result of aircraft development in WW2/Vietnam etc., or for that matter other vehicles/equipment.

b. They create INTEREST. Like it or not, this car has people talking about Electric cars in a positive note.

c. Not only do they create general interest, but they create desire - for people beyond the eco-lovers. How many of you want to see less SUV's on the road? I sure as heck do, I'm tired of them. A performance electric like this will get your Bubba Ray talking about Watts and Amperes like a measure of horsepower far faster than your average Prius.

d. With interest comes a lower aversion to purchasing an electric. This could ultimately lead to further acceptance of them as an alternative.

Weather you want to spend 90k or not, the Tesla is a good thing for electric cars. I can only dream of the day I take one out on the Autocross course vs. high-powered, gas burning Porsche's, Corvettes, Camaro's, BMW's, Miatas, WRX/STI's, EVO's etc. and spank them with an electric :)

I think this is part of why electrics have failed so far to create wide acceptance - the percieved image of wussification by going to an electric. America is full of lead-pants filled people who think size matters, bling is good and a Hemi rules all. It is a sad world but we need things like this to get their minds looking elsewhere.

RE: This is nice but...
By Spuke on 1/25/08, Rating: -1
RE: This is nice but...
By MrBlastman on 1/25/2008 10:32:39 AM , Rating: 2
I would think that instead of weight being the cause of the 0-60 in 5.7 vs. 4.0 increase is not weight but more has to do with battery capacity and other electrical issues.

They more than likely had to cut back a bit to get the thing to market now rather than later to generate an income stream. Hopefully it sells initially so they are able to get us to the 4.0 number in production - there was a Motortrend or C&D article stating the model they rode in made it 0-60 in 4 seconds.

You're right about skill though - Auto-X and Track times are 80% skill, 20% car. I've seen plenty a driver in a nice Z06 go skidding off the course because they did not know how to drive it :) However, you get two equal drivers, one in a Saturn the other in a Elise, I'd be willing to bet the driver in the Elise will come out on top.

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