Saturday, March 8, 2008

Catching up with the Tesla Roadster

Software developments often end with a product that is delivered late and has fewer features and functionality than originally planned. Well, the Tesla Roadster--founded by Silicon Valley techies--seems to share these unwelcome similarities. The delivery date for the car has slipped (now March 17). And the first production vehicles will ship with a "temporary" one-speed transmission that can be swapped out in the future for the two-speed transmission that was originally planned.

For all the Tesla-bashing, however, it's exciting to think that the company may be at the forefront of--and accelerating the arrival of--a new chapter in transportation history. I don't think it's a stretch to say that Tesla's founders want to change the way people think about driving (a high-performance, electric-powered sports car), give them an relatively environmentally-friendly alternative to gas-fueled vehicles, and blunt the negative effects of global warming and the world's dependence on oil. While the Tesla Roadster may not be the "greenest" vehicle to hit the market (new models are flown to the US from England, where they are produced; there are questions about the production, useful life, and disposal of the batteries; the $100,000 Roadster will never be a "mainstream" car), this just may be the beginning of a world in which electric-powered vehicles are a realistic alternative for a majority of drivers. And that's exciting.

To catch up with some of the recent developments at Tesla, I scanned Autoblog for some interesting articles.

Tesla co-founder Elon Musk took delivery of the first production Tesla in February. Follow the link for an article and some (not too exciting) video of the Roadster on the pavement.

Wish you could test drive the Tesla? Autoblog did. There's some more extensive video at this link, along with a video (scroll down, second video) that let's you experience the sound--or lack thereof--the Roadster makes as it cruises along.

Despite still working toward full-capacity production and delivery of its Roadster, Tesla is already working on its Whitestar sedan and a mass-market vehicle, currently dubbed Bluestar. The Whitestar sedan will probably fall in the $50,000 to $70,000 price range, and is expected to be available in 2009, with a functional prototype by year-end 2008. Tesla may partner with another firm to produce and market Bluestar, which seems to still be in early concept stages.

Finally, talk of a Tesla IPO has begun. Co-founder Elon Musk says that profitability might be reached by 2009, and an IPO could come within the next two years.

Thanks again to Autoblog for all the posts. And if you didn't get enough of Tesla here, just go to Autoblog and search on "Tesla". There's a lot more there.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Man, you really have to hope that Tesla does this right. They have a great-looking car and a great idea. Done correctly, they could really get people's attention and help to push the market for electric cars.

Of course, they'll have to not only nail the roadster, but get that first sedan done right as well. The roadster will get attention, but it will take a useful sedan to really make enough sales to have an impact and get the attention of the big boys in the industry.