By on January 30, 2008

ess500.jpgSome people think TTAC has been/is being overly critical of the Tesla Roadster, particularly when it comes to their claims for driving range and recharge time. We're not the only ones expressing concern. Autobloggreen's ace scribe Sam Abuelsamid reports their experience with the range while test driving the roadster:

Driven sedately, the Tesla Roadster very likely could achieve somewhere around 220 miles or more. Perhaps even as much 250 miles in city driving with lots of regenerative braking. The problem is that this little demon doesn't really want to be driven in that manner… [Based on the readings on the charge indicator gauge] the range with the driving I did [is] somewhere between 105 and 120 miles…. According to some of the print magazine reviews, they got significantly less. Autoweek only managed 93 miles… For now, drivers of the Roadster will have to choose, exceptional performance or exceptional range, but probably not both.

So there you have it. It's a sports car you can drive like a sports car for about 100 miles, or a sports car you can drive like a Prius for about 200 miles. Either way, it's a sports car that no one will be driving until after March 17. That is, if they can get it to the airport on time.

Correction:  Under the headline "Tesla Roadster Misses Production Date," TTAC stated that the date when the first production Tesla Roadster was scheduled to be released to a customer had changed to March 26. Our report was based on information posted on another site. Darryl Siry from Tesla contacted us and insisted that the production date has not changed; it's still March 17. We look forward to seeing a California-registered, fully-functional Tesla Roadster in a private customer's hands on that date. As stated previously, if so, we will discontinue the Tesla Birth Watch. 

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26 Comments on “Tesla Birth Watch 30: No Road Trips for Now...”

  • avatar

    My daily commute is 60 miles round trip… that would still give me 30 miles of needless fun without recharging! Most American familys these days have 2 or more cars… just have to keep one burning dinos for those visits to grandma.

  • avatar

    So how is this different from a gasoline powered car?

    For now, drivers of the Roadster will have to choose, exceptional performance or exceptional range, but probably not both.

  • avatar


    I can drive my car to the beach. A Tesla owner will have to stop at Charlotte and stay overnight to charge up.

  • avatar

    Wow 100-150 mile range and then long recharge is going to severly limit this cars sales after the initial buyout. Especially when the stories of owners cars running out of juice leaving them stuck start to surface.

  • avatar

    I’d happily buy a pure-electric car with a range of 150 miles that required an overnight recharge.

    Not at $100,000, though.

    Electric cars aren’t good for road trips, but we already knew that.

  • avatar

    But does it go 150 or whatever miles no matter how long it takes to make the trip? If I’m sitting in LA traffic for a couple hours with the ac blasted trying to make it over the hills for a spirited drive will I make it home?

  • avatar

    Jee whiz, an electric car uses more battery power when driving and accelerating quickly? I’ve known that since I was 8, from playing with remote control toys. In fact, I ditched the electric R/C cars for a gas one! How hilarious is that?

    guyincognito – I bet the A/C consumes a huge amount of battery power, as well as the heater. Your answer then, would be NO. In fact, I bet towing companies would absolutely love it if electric cars went mainstream.

  • avatar

    Exactly what the doctor prescribed – a small car with a 100+ mile range. With my commute (10 miles each way) it would be perfect. In fact it would be perfect for EVERY single person’s commute that I know. One friend has a 45 min commute each way and a car with 125 mile range would still do the job.

    It’s about time for people to have the OPTION to buy some clever small electric cars. Not all of us need or want large or thirsty cars.

    I’ll take a sporty compact please…

    Chris in TN
    Various VWs and a Honda
    Daydreaming about Euro-compacts and electrics

  • avatar

    An electric car wouldn’t be for everyone but do most of us really want a car thats ideal for every single person? That sounds like creepy socialist talk to me. In our great capitalist society I look forward to the tech to be ready for the common man to decide if its what he/she wants. Most of the anti electric arguements are “what about when this happens once in a blue moon” which is sorta like saying what happens when you run out of gas. GMs concept of a small gas generator onboard for emergency charging would answer most of the concerns I’m reading about here.

  • avatar

    Given their likely production capacity, I don’t see the range to be a problem. There are likely enough buyers who don’t need or want the range.

    The problem is that it shows the company has been full of it. The real question is: “What else is going to be up to promise?”

    It’s tough enough to live with all the broken promises that come from people you thought were trustorthy. Why would you want to go buy from people you already have to suspect?

  • avatar

    Actually being as how most of the buyers that I’ve heard about reside in LA and would be faced with considerable traffic as well as heat in order to get to anywhere enjoyment of a Telsa would be possible I don’t think my scenario is all that unlikely. If you’ve only got an hour and half of spirited drive time you would have to have a well planned route/schedule to avoid being stranded in LA. There is a reason Tesla publicized and shot for the 220 mile (300 mile originally) range and 3 hour charge time.

  • avatar

    It’s rather surprising that you have so many people that are so willing to sacrifice so much in terms of convienence and practicality (even for a sports car) when it comes to trying to make this car a reality.

    No matter how you slice it, a vehicle that has an operating range of less than 100 miles is beyond substandard. It allows no room for error in traffic delays, detours, or the occasional errand you might run on the way home.

    I can’t even call it a weekend warrior toy. Compared to other dedicated sports cars that you could have, you’re not getting a lot of bang for your buck in this case.

  • avatar

    guyincognito opined:
    If I’m sitting in LA traffic for a couple hours with the ac blasted trying to make it over the hills for a spirited drive will I make it home?

    Steve_K responded:
    I bet the A/C consumes a huge amount of battery power, as well as the heater. Your answer then, would be NO.

    That is correct. In my Prius, I can drive for about .5 to 1.5 miles purely on electric power before the computer starts the gas engine. The average is something like 3-quarters of a mile.

    That’s at about 40 MPH on a flat road, with no wind, temperate weather, and no AC usage.

    With AC, I can’t go nearly as far.

    I love the XM Comedy channel. Often, I listen to a comedian or two before I get out of the car. For what it’s worth, here’s my experience with my Prius:

    Background: The Prius has an electric AC, powered by it’s own little electric motor. The Prius AC compressor is NOT belted to the internal combustion engine’s crankshaft. This allows the AC to be used while the gas engine is off (sitting at a traffic light, waiting for a train, etc). To me, it is one of the most appealing things about the Prius’ design.

    When sitting in a parking lot listening to XM radio with the headlights and AC on, my State of Charge (SOC) will drop from 75 or 80% to about 45% within 5 minutes or so, at which time the gas engine will turn on.

    With headlights alone, I can last about 10 minutes.

    With no AC and no headlights, and with the computer screen also switched off, the car may go 20 to 30 minutes or more before SOC drops low enough to require gasoline usage.

    So yes, sitting in traffic with the headlights and AC on will markedly reduce your available SOC, possibly making you (very) late for supper…

  • avatar

    A solar-panel roof should be standard in ANY EV. I mean seriously, as you guys have said, getting stuck in traffic with the AC on is going to absolutely MURDER this battery for anyone putting their car where their money is and ponying up for this thing. I don’t think anyone with a Tesla will do that, but it makes MUCH more sense.

    Plus, it would extend range in general; some weather/geographical circumstances may help more than others. But at least if the battery died during the day, you could park until oh, I don’t know, the next evening, get some juice in it, and try to make it home.

  • avatar

    More likely, I see a new generation of “Road Ranger” coming up.

    These guys will drive big generator-trucks, and for a nominal charge, will charge up a stranded motorist’s battery.

    Kind of like the AAA Road Service of tomorrow. Of course, these trucks will need to be… er.. “Dino-powered.” There’s no other way.

    Unless we’re going to start installing “emergency docking stations” all along the interstates and city side-streets.

  • avatar

    Unless we’re going to start installing “emergency docking stations” all along the interstates and city side-streets.

    That’s exactly what Project Better Place, the Renault/NEC EV effort in Israel is plans to have, service stations to swap out a dead pack and replace it with a fresh one.. Israel is a much smaller place than, say, California; perhaps PBP has the right idea, but wait a few years.

  • avatar

    No matter how you slice it, a vehicle that has an operating range of less than 100 miles is beyond substandard.
    Yes, and Tesla’s founder agrees with you.

    Could I handle a range of 100 miles? I could, but I wouldn’t want to. At 150 miles, I’m probably okay, but I can’t do long errands in the middle of the work day. At 200 miles, I stop worrying.

    You could come up with some tragic circumstance in which 200 miles isn’t enough. I guess people who fall for that FUD are the ones who get 4×4 cars for commuting, “in case I get caught in a blizzard!”

  • avatar

    The Volt will (supposedly) have a 50-mile battery-only range. And the battery in that will cost $5000.

    You’re not going to get a battery exchange program going for a $5000 piece of car hardware. Just the labor and insurance on that exchange is a nightmare.

    A rise in either plug-in hybrid or pure electric vehicle will cause lots of workplaces to offer electric plugs during the day. No one wants to rely on needing those plugs, however.

  • avatar

    I'm amazed that TTAC would state that we have missed our production start date by linking to a personal blog of a guy who claims that Tesla is part of a bush administration conspiracy. Do you have any journalistic integrity? And you wonder why I questioned TTAC's objectivity.

  • avatar

    “A solar-panel roof should be standard in ANY EV.”

    Solar panel technology is not tough enough to withstand automotive environments and be a consistant supplier of power for the life of the vehicle. The technology is not there.

  • avatar

    Would anyone even want to commute 150 miles every day in a Tesla after the thrill ad worn off? Is there anyone who owns a Lotus Elise that doesn’t also have a second (or third or fourth) car and probably also a light-truck or two? The Tesla is not basic transportation. People with $100,000 toys have enough money to own and maintain multiple vehicles and use each one as appropriate to their needs that day.

  • avatar

    FROM THE LINK TO THE ALLEGED TESLA LINK TO BUSH ADMIN: We also reported on the company’s close, longtime ties to the Bush Administration, including big time Republicans Arnold Schwarzenegger and Condoleeza Rice being given rides in the car,

    Siry’s got a point. Giving Condoleeza a ride is hardly evidence of a link to the bush admin. I got a ride, too. And Ted Kennedy nephew-in-law Ahnold Schwarzennegger is not exactly part of the Bush admin, and he is the governor of the state wherein the motor company in question resides. Now, maybe they did actually report on some real ties to the bush admin, but they didn’t provide any link to their own reporting.

  • avatar

    ” There are likely enough buyers who don’t need or want the range.”

    I highly doubt the size of the market for this thing. They are talking about Dodge Viper (in it’s heyday) sales volumes for a car which about as impractical as a Viper is. I can see them selling a few hundred to people who want to show off, but after that the market will get very, very thin.

    Considering that Tesla is using an existing chassis and body and is buying most of their components from existing suppliers using existing technologies one really must wonder what is so special about the whole effort.

    Maybe when the first incentives come out on the Tesla it will be a free Segway scooter instead of cash on the hood.

  • avatar

    I think a lot of Americans will realize that for day to day driving you don’t need more than a 200 mile range. Heck it only takes 10 miles to get to work. Most enthusiasts drivers don’t drive more than 100 miles when they drive the back roads.

    Then, Tesla drivers are also going to notice that it is nice not to have to go to the gas station to refuel. Plugging in the Tesla will be like plugging in your cell phone to charge. And best of all, after flogging there Roaster for 100 miles in the country, drivers will grin when they know that they only spent $3 on the electricity not $20.

  • avatar

    I’m not going to worry about $50 worth of gas if I can afford a nearly $100K car… GRIN!

    I do however agree that the range argument is dumb. People will either stay close to home (same county) or they will trailer their car to the resort/tourist area they want to ride around in with their Tesla just like alot of the motorcyclists do when they take their motorcycles to the beach or the mountains. Trailer it up, leave the truck at the hotel, ride the backroads, come back to the hotel.

    I am anxious to see this car collectively soak up some miles b/c it will help drive the EV technology forward.

    I have heard so many comments over the past decade that EVs will NEVER work for a laundry list of reasons. They DO work right now if a person is realistic about what they want to do with an EV. For starters a person has to leave behind that one vehicle that does everything mindset that some folks use to justify driving a 6K lb vehicle for trips big and small (mostly small) or a 8-9 passenger vehicle when they generally need space for 3-4 people.

    If Tesla manages to create an EV or even a plug-in hybrid equivalent to the Rabbit/Corolla/Civic/Focus/Cobalt with even a 50 mile EV range and a small ICE to keep the batteries charged for $25K I’d buy one. 50 miles represents several days of commuting for me and 1 round trip for my wife.

    If that car could reach production then with the march of technology within a decade I think we’d see range improve many magnitudes just like computers have gotten SO much better in 20 years, just like Linux has gotten so much better in the past few years, just like cellphones and other small devices have gotten SO much better too.

    We can DO anything. All it takes is a real need and some capital. I don’t necessarily think that what GM is doing with the Volt is really trying hard. I think they are hoping we’ll lose interest and go back to buying their SUVs and trucks. I think other automakers are either taking a “wait and see” approach or ignoring the issue completely.

  • avatar

    Oh, and FWIW I think some of us could make arrangements with our employers to charge while we are at work. I think at some point in the future there could be employers who would offer this as a perk.

    A solar cell on the roof of these EVs wouldn’t be enough to make much difference in 8 hours BUT a whole line of carport style covered parking spaces covered with solar cells could make a real difference for the cars parked underneath. First you’re car is cooler in the summer, second your windows might be almost snow free in the winter, and thirdly your battery would be 100% charged for the drive home.

    With our enregy consumption style as it stands in 2008 an EV is going to require a few compromises. With some investment and creative problem solving we can be oil import free if we truly want to.

    Frankly I would have rather Bush spent the billions and billions of dollars on infrastructure for EVs than on the twin wars we have been fighting for – how many years???

    Funny – no, sad – how we’ll put up with a friggin’ war – deaths, families torn apart for months or years at a time, fatherless/motherless children, the pollution all that war equipment creates, etc etc but we won’t alter the way we consume what and how we consume here at home to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, to reduce the pollution we create, and to leave a better USA for our children – hell, a better WORLD for our children.

    I won’t be buying a Tesla as it’s pricetag is beyond my grasp and I need a small car with at least a backseat (VW Cabrio at minimum which is what I drive) but I applaud their efforts. I know it is likely as much about making lots of money as anything else but they may give our world the first real EV of the 21st century. Toyota did it with the RAV4-EV and quit. GM did it with the EV1 and then gave a list of reasons that it can’t work while they were crushing cars people were begging to buy no strings attached.

    GO TESLA! GO!!! (anxiously awaiting an EV I can afford while considering building my own)

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