Would you buy one of these?

September 29th, 2008

 

Have you heard of Tesla Motors? If not, you will. And soon.

Tesla is a new kind of car company. Their Roadster is capable of going from 0-60 in a staggering 3.9 seconds. Its peak torque is reached between 0 and 14,000 RPMs.

All this performance and torque comes from an engine the size of a watermelon. Some supercars have four exhaust pipes. The Tesla has zero.

By now you may have guessed that the Tesla Roadster is an electric vehicle. But this is no golf cart, friends. It offers a range of over 200 miles per charge, and the only oil it uses is in the single-speed transmission.

The car of the future? It seems so. But there are some questions to answer before we get all gaga and announce our independence from foreign oil.

First of all is the price of entry: a lofty $109K. Still, for the cutting-edge technology, environmental sustainability, and all-out performance this car offers, that’s not bad.

Even better is Tesla’s recently announced plan to offer a five-passenger luxury sedan for about $60K.

So far we’ve got performance, real-world driving range, zero emissions, and a reasonable price. What about maintenance?

Here’s where we run into a problem. Tesla Motors’ headquarters is in California, and anyone living within 100 miles of their service area is covered by the full 3-year, 36,000-mile warranty. For customers living outside that service area, the warranty still applies, but they are responsible for all costs associated with transporting their car to the factory.

The good news here is that Tesla is opening stores and service centers in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Miami, and Seattle.

Next question: How long will the batteries last? Will you spend $109,000 on a car, only to have to buy new batteries for it after 3 or 4 years? That’s a question that remains unanswered and should remain a large variable in the long-term viability of these cars.

Is Tesla Motors the car company of the future? What questions would you have before parking a Tesla in your garage?

- tgriffith

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