Tesla Motors made news late last year when a number of its Michigan employees discovered they were to be laid off through a posting on a business site in which company representatives discussed the closing of their plant and release of its employees. While the end of the year brought bad news, 2008 was still a good year in Tesla for some respects as it saw production of its Roadster vehicle begin in March.
A leaner, more consolidated Tesla Motors greeted the press at the North American International Auto Show this week. The company had big news, announcing a new vehicle, the Tesla Roadster Sport.
The Roadster Sport melds the environmental performance of an all-electric, zero on-car emissions vehicle with the on-road performance of a high-end sports car, and achieves impressive results. The Roadster Sport can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 3.7 seconds, two tenths of a second faster than the standard Roadster.
In order to speed up the Sport, Tesla created a hand-wound stator and increased winding density for lower resistance and higher peak torque. The stator is the stationary coil in an electric motor in which the rotor, attached to the drive shaft spins. The Roadster Sport also adds Yokohama’s Ultra High Performance tires, and an improved tunable suspension with adjustable dampers and anti-roll bars.
In the U.S. the Roadster Sport will have a base model price of $128,500, and it will also sell in Europe where it will retail for €112,000 (excluding VAT).
Michael van der Sande, Tesla’s senior vice president of global sales, service and marketing touted the Roadster Sports performance, stating, "This car can beat nearly anything in its price class – yet it is twice as efficient as compact hybrid sedans. If you refuse to compromise on performance or the environment, the Roadster Sport is your only option."
CEO, Chairman and Product Architect Elon Musk lauds, "The Roadster Sport embodies Tesla’s spirit of continuous improvement. The Roadster has been a great success, but no one at this company remains satisfied with the status quo."
The Roadster Sport uses Tesla Motors' patented powertrain. It seats two passengers and production is planned to begin in 2011.
Tesla Motors says that it has shipped 150 Roadsters, thus far, and that 1,100 people are still on a waiting list. However, the wait may be a fortunate one, as waiting customers now have the option of upgrading to a Roadster Sport.
The Roadster and Roadster Sport will go head to head next year with GM's Chevy Volt, which will debut at a much lower price point (around $40,000 before tax credit).
quote: if you want to see the Tesla "perform" or perhaps a different perspective on the Tesla, watch BBC's Top Gear. They will also explain why battery electric cars are currently not a viable alternative.