Tesla Roadster (2008)

Tesla Roadster
Roadster 2.5 windmills trimmed.jpg
Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5
ManufacturerTesla, Inc.
Also calledCode name: DarkStar[1]
AssemblyHethel, UK
Menlo Park, California, U.S.
Body and chassis
Body style2-door roadster
LayoutRear mid-motor, rear-wheel drive
RelatedLotus Elise
Lotus Exige
Tesla Model S
Electric motor3-phase 4-pole AC induction motor
  • 1.5 185 kW (248 hp), 270 N⋅m (200 lb⋅ft) *2.0, 2.5 215 kW (288 hp), 380 N⋅m (280 lb⋅ft) *2.5 Sport 215 kW (288 hp), 400 N⋅m (295 lb⋅ft)
TransmissionSingle speed BorgWarner fixed gear (8.27:1 ratio)
Battery53 kWh (190 MJ) lithium-ion at the pack level: 117 Wh/kg and 370 Wh/L) CAC (Capacity) approx. 160 Ah when new
Electric range393 km (244 mi) using EPA combined cycle
Plug-in chargingProprietary inlet, 16.8 kW (70 A 240 V) with HPWC outlet[5] and with the SAE J1772-2009 adapter,[6] adapters for domestic AC sockets
Wheelbase2,352 mm (92.6 in)
Length3,946 mm (155.4 in)
Width1,873 mm (73.7 in)
Height1,127 mm (44.4 in)
Curb weight1,305 kg (2,877 lb)
SuccessorTesla Roadster (2020)

The Tesla Roadster is a battery electric vehicle (BEV) sports car, based on the Lotus Elise chassis, that was produced by the electric car firm Tesla Motors (now Tesla, Inc.) in California from 2008 to 2012. The Roadster was the first highway legal serial production all-electric car to use lithium-ion battery cells and the first production all-electric car to travel more than 320 kilometres (200 mi) per charge.[7] It is also the first production car to be launched into orbit, carried by a Falcon Heavy rocket in a test flight on February 6, 2018.

Tesla sold about 2,450 Roadsters in over 30 countries,[8][9][10] and most of the last Roadsters were sold in Europe and Asia during the fourth quarter of 2012.[11] Tesla produced right-hand-drive Roadsters from early 2010.[12] The Roadster qualified for government incentives in several nations.[13][14]

The world distance record of 501 km (311 mi) for a production electric car on a single charge was set by a Roadster on October 27, 2009, during the Global Green Challenge in outback Australia, in which it averaged a speed of 40 km/h (25 mph).[15][16] In March 2010, a Tesla Roadster became the first electric vehicle to win the Monte Carlo Alternative Energy Rally and the first to win any Federation Internationale de l'Automobile-sanctioned championship when a Roadster driven by former Formula One driver Érik Comas beat 96 competitors for range, efficiency and performance in the three-day, nearly 1,000-kilometre (620 mi) challenge.[17]

According to the U.S. EPA, the Roadster can travel 393 kilometres (244 mi) on a single charge[18] of its lithium-ion battery pack, and can accelerate from 0 to 97 km/h (0 to 60 mph) in 3.7 or 3.9 seconds depending on the model. It has a top speed of 201 km/h (125 mph). The Roadster's efficiency, as of September 2008, was reported as 120 MPGe (2.0 L/100 km). It uses 135 Wh/km (21.7 kW·h/100 mi, 13.5 kW·h/100 km or 490 kJ/km) battery-to-wheel, and has an efficiency of 88% on average.[19]


Prototypes of the car were officially revealed to the public on July 19, 2006, in Santa Monica, California, at a 350-person invitation-only event held in Barker Hangar at Santa Monica Airport.[20]

The San Francisco International Auto Show, held on November 18–26, 2006, was the Tesla Roadster's first auto show.

It was featured in Time in December 2006 as the recipient of the magazine's "Best Inventions 2006—Transportation Invention" award.[21] The first "Signature One Hundred" set of fully equipped Roadsters sold out in less than three weeks, the second hundred sold out by October 2007 and general production began on March 17, 2008.

The first Tesla Roadster was delivered in February 2008 to Tesla co-founder, chairman and product architect Elon Musk. The company produced 500 similar vehicles through June 2009. In July 2009, Tesla began production of its 2010 model-year Roadster—the first major product upgrade.[22] Simultaneously, Tesla began producing the Roadster Sport, the first derivative of Tesla's proprietary, patented powertrain. The car accelerates from 0 to 97 km/h (0 to 60 mph) in 3.7 seconds, compared to 3.9 seconds for the standard Roadster. Changes for the 2010 model-year cars included:[23]

  • An upgraded interior and push-button gear selector, including "executive interior" of exposed carbon fiber and premium leather, and clear-coat carbon fiber body accents.
  • Locking, push-button glove box wrapped in leather.
  • A centrally mounted video display screen to monitor real-time data, including estimated range, power regenerated, and the number of barrels of oil saved. This screen is visible to the driver and passenger.
  • Adjustable, custom-tuned suspension. The shock absorbers' response and anti-sway bars are manually adjustable.
  • More powerful and immediate heating, ventilation and air-conditioning.
  • More efficient motor and hand-wound stator. The increase in efficiency allows the motor to deliver higher peak power.
  • A suite of sound-deadening measures to dramatically reduce noise, vibration and harshness. For instance, engineers added pellets to a member of the chassis side rail. These pellets expand by 50 times original volume during the adhesive heating cycle to eliminate rattles.

All of these features, except for the motor were available either as standard or as add-on option for the non-sport model.

Beginning mid-March 2010, Tesla, in an effort to show off the practicality of its electric cars, sent one of its Roadsters around the world. Starting at the Geneva auto show, the Roadster completed its journey upon its arrival in Paris on September 28, 2010.[24]

In July 2010, Tesla introduced the "Roadster 2.5", the latest update of the Roadster.[25] New features in Roadster 2.5 include:

  • A new look, which included a new front fascia with diffusing vents, and rear diffuser reflecting the future of Tesla design
  • Directional forged wheels available in both silver and black
  • New seats with improved comfort, larger more supportive bolsters and a new lumbar support system
  • Power control hardware that enables spirited driving in exceptionally hot climates
  • An optional 7" touchscreen display with back-up camera
  • Improved interior sound reduction including new front fender liner material to make the cabin quieter

At the time, the US$112,000 Roadster was the most expensive single prize ever offered, though not won, on The Price Is Right, in a playing of Golden Road on April 22, 2010 for Earth Day.[26]

A Roadster was used as a promotional tool for a wind power electricity company in 2012.[27][28]

Tesla produced the Roadster until January 2012, when its supply of Lotus gliders ran out, as its contract with Lotus Cars for 2,500 gliders expired at the end of 2011.[9][29][30][31] Tesla stopped taking orders for the Roadster in the U.S. market in August 2011.[32][33] The next generation will not be based on the Lotus gliders but instead on a shortened version of the architecture developed for the Tesla Model S.[34][35] Featuring new options and enhanced components, the 2012 Tesla Roadster was sold in limited numbers only in Europe, Asia, and Australia. Tesla's U.S. exemption for not having special two-stage passenger airbags expired for cars made after the end of 2011 so the last Roadsters could not be sold in the American market.[36][37] Also a total of 15 Final Edition Roadsters were produced to close the manufacturing cycle of Tesla's first electric car.[38] As of June 2012 the Roadster remained on sale in Europe and Asia[9][29] and as of December 2012, inventories were not yet depleted.[11][needs update]

Tesla announced an optional upgrade to current Roadsters, the Roadster 3.0 in December 2014. It will have a new battery pack from LG Chem,[39] with capacity increased by 50% to 70 kWh (250 MJ), a new aero kit designed to reduce drag, and new tires with lower rolling resistance.[40][41]

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