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Tesla Roadster (2007) scooped

Published: 15 March 2007

The Tesla Roadster. We’ve seen this before, but what is it again?

Tesla is Silicon Valley start-up company pioneering this radical electric sports car, the Tesla Roadster. It’s entirely battery-powered, and the motor delivers the equivalent of 248bhp – enough to whirr from zero to 60mph in just 4.0sec, and on to over 130mph. Very quietly. Not bad at all for a sporty milk float. First deliveries are pencilled for this autumn, costing £48,000.

What’s it doing in Norfolk?

These exclusive shots capture the Roadster being thrashed near Lotus’s Hethel HQ, where the car will be built. Small surprise, since the Tesla is based heavily on the Elise chassis and bodywork. As if you couldn't tell from the facsimile looks... Whether the handling will be up to Lotus’s standards remains to be seen, but the suspension is being tweaked to cope with the heft of the battery packs; it should still be pretty sharp with wishbones on each corner and a bonded aluminium chassis.

A sporty electric car. Sounds hard to believe

It may be, but if the Roadster lives up to expectation, then it should deliver the best of both worlds. Tesla says that the Roadster will deliver the equivalent of about 135mpg and run for up to 250 miles on one charge. Those are staggering figures, even more so for something that will keep pace with a 911. The electric motor is driven by a unique two-speed gearbox with an electric shift. There’s no clutch pedal to concern yourself with and the car won’t stall if you’re in the wrong gear. And the Roadster isn’t the only Tesla on the drawing board; the company’s next model is an electric 5-series rival. Don’t be surprised by the innovative thinking at work here – the company is funded by the people behind PayPal and Google, among other high-tech industrialists involved.

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