In the nascent days of the electrical age, Nikola Tesla got turned on by Alternating Current while Edison called Direct Current his bitch. Whatever, today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Tesla rocks it AC/DC, but will its price shock you?
In a decidedly revisionist outcome, yesterday's SBC Comanche ended up with a medicine-manly 67% Nice Price win. That was despite its appendix-like vestigial clutch pedal that strangely dangled below the dash, limp and impotent. There's noting limp on today's potent challenger, and it has plenty of dash, as long as you're not too concerned about taking it far from home.
New automotive manufacturing start-ups are as rare as good looking meth addicts, but Palo Alto CA-based Tesla Motors seems to have grabbed the gold ring and the world's attention - at least for the moment. Tesla takes its name from the Serbian inventor, Nikola Tesla, and uses a direct descendant of his original AC motor to power its smooth as a suppository Roadster. This 2008 Tesla hasn't strayed far from the family farmhouse, being offered up just a few miles down the road, by a dealer in Santa Cruz. If you've ever been to Santa Cruz you know cars aren't the only thing they deal there, wink-wink. Still, you don't have to be high to appreciate the fact that the Tesla is not only one of the first electric cars with a realistic range, but also one of the fastest. Zero to sixty takes a spark under 4 seconds, and the car will take you and a single passenger all the way up to a 125-mph top end. Not only that but all of it takes place with just the humming bird-like whine of a 13,000-rpm electric motor and your own ecstatic moans of smug contentment as audible accompaniment.
Of course, should you attempt to exercise either the sinus-draining acceleration or the quiet as a queen's queef top speed with any regularity your claimed 244-mile range will quickly be cut to the end of your driveway. That'd be a problem if you run out of juice away from home or one of those handy recharging stations that are popping up like. . . well, yeah, I'm not seeing many of them either. And how weird would it be, after years of ICE-powered transportation, to glide silently by every gas station knowing that they no longer have anything there for you, save for a microwave burrito and a Big Gulp?
Should you find a charging station, or if the distance of your daily commute falls within the Tesla's single-charge range then you'll be in-like Flynn. That is, unless you you need to go out again in a hurry, like say when your 9-months pregnant wife's water breaks. That would be a situation where having an alternate form of transportation might make sense because while the Roadster's wafer-thin leather buckets are good looking, they, and the carbon fiber center console between them, would make a very uncomfortable road-side delivery table. The side rails of the Lotus-engineered Tesla are so tall and wide that should you actually have a pregnant wife, you'd never get her out of the car once she'd dropped her butt over the side. Other than that, the Roadster's interior is like Elise Plus, sharing the dash and trim with the little Lotus. This electric blue sportster comes with an interior that's a mix of black and new catcher's mitt brown, a snazzy combination unless it's your poop we're talking about. The major gauges are a 15,000-rpm tach and optimistic 150-mph speedo, and in the tach an electronic display shows you battery life with an icon that's exactly like the one on your cell phone. That's likely because the Tesla runs on Lithium Ion batteries, just like most cell phones. The 18650 form factor DC batteries are each about the size of an AA and the Roadster uses 6,500 of them. That gives a nominal 53 kilowatt hours of electric energy stored, comparable to approximately 8 litres of gas, according to Tesla. You can plug the Roadster into your house and, like Edison and Tesla rolling in the hay, your house AC current is converted to DC for the rechargeable batteries to soak up, and then back to AC to juice the induction motor, which can then make sexy time with the single-speed gearbox.
All those batteries add weight, and in fact the whole pack, which sits immediately behind the driver and passenger seats, tips the scales at a rotund 900-lbs. That's like driving a Lotus Elise with the world's fattest man along for the ride, the only difference being that he'd always want to stop for microwave burritos and Big Gulps, while the batteries just want to dim your house's lights for a few hours.
Regardless of the inequities that riding the wave of a new paradigm may present, the Tesla remains the most viable option for those who want to cross garage asphyxiation off their list of potential suicide options. Not only that, but should something go wrong, Tesla will actually pick up the phone when you call them to complain. Try that with the guy from whom you bought those electric Le Car plans out of the back of Popular Mechanics magazine.
As a matter of fact, this '08 is still under factory warranty. That makes it seem like you're getting the best of both worlds; it is - at only 1,904 miles - for all intents and purposes new, but at the same time you've dodged the depreciation bullet that buyers of new cars typically get JFK'd with. That means this 2-year old Tesla - at $79,900 - is offered at an over 30% discount from new.
But is that deprecated enough? At over $100K each new, regular folk weren't exactly beating a path to Elon Musk's door, even though celebs like Brad Pitt and Chili Pepper Anthony Kiedis did. They probably needed the tax write-off, and I don't think Kiedis even has a license, but with the price coming down (this car was $81,900 last week!) do you think it's time to join the celebrity parade in your own Tesla? Or, does that price mean you'd rather lick a plug??
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