The Tesla Roadster was designed to be built in small series. It was intentionally aimed at the fast sports car segment, where Tesla Motors expected to find more readily customers willing to pay for a car with exceptional performance characteristics whilst contributing towards the considerable development costs. It is crash tested and fulfills regulatory safety requirements. Production ended 2012. The Roadster represented the first step in Tesla Motors business plan. With more than 100 Roadsters on the road, Switzerland had (Sept 2011) the highest “Tesla Roadster Density” per head of population of all markets this roadster has entered: technically and commercially a successful product that has set new standards.
Driving the car is a very special experience that is not easily described. The absence of gear changes and a practically flat torque curve produce a sensation that is very different to what we are accustomed to. Handling is smooth, be it at slow speeds in tight places or on winding mountain roads. Recuperation sets in progressively when slowing down via the “gas pedal”. In combination with a very precise and well matched steering, the car feels exceptionally controllable and safe, particularly on winding roads. It feels made for alpine passes.
I would characterize the Roadster with 3 distinct personalities:
- It is an unusual fun sports car that is at the same time an attractive easy to drive, smooth and very economical commuter.
- It was the primary test-platform for Teslas technology
- It is a "proof of concept" with wide ranging implications for the future of the transport sector.
The Roadsters accumulated over 50 million Km of practical experience under real driving conditions in more than 31 countries. They provided, as planned, the essential practical experience for the evolution of the technical base for Tesla's Model S, successfully introduced in 2012.
In February 2012 also a second car, based on the same platform as the Model S, has been presented. A smaller car, the “Model 3” is to follow about 2017.
The first Model S were delivered to customers in the US in June 22 2012:
During January 2013 Model S production had reached the then targeted Volume of about 400 cars per week and deliveries to customers in Europe started in August 2013. A major achievement for a newcomer to the car industry.
Test reports are almost universally very positive. As an example you might wish to read this from Road and Track.
In May 2013 Consumer Reports published a very positive account of their experience with Model S, adding fuel to the very steep rise of Tesla share prices accompanying the 2013 Q1 report.
Shortly after this favourable report Tesla won in August 2013 for its Model S also the best crash test rating of any car ever tested by the NHTSA.
Subsequent to the quarterly report, Tesla raised further capital (about 1billion US$) and paid back its energy department loan from 2010 in full and 9 years earlier than the terms of the loan would have called for. Tesla Motors is again adequately financed for the medium term and a first tranche for the planned development of new models is secured.
In the interview below, shown on August 20 2013 on Dutch Television, Elon Musk further details the current situation and some of his principal philosophies and aims.
Also in the interview below views and plans are explained, particularly in relation to the role of the electrical utility industries and the overall energy supply scene:
Development is continuing apace. The latest versions of the model S are available with exceptional performance characteristics:
"The Model S P100D with Ludicrous mode is the third fastest accelerating production car ever produced, with a 0-60 mph time of 2.5* seconds. However, both the LaFerrari and the Porsche 918 Spyder were limited run, million dollar vehicles and cannot be bought new. While those cars are small two seaters with very little luggage space, the pure electric, all-wheel drive Model S P100D has four doors, seats up to 5 adults plus 2 children and has exceptional cargo capacity.
The 100 kWh battery also increases range substantially to an estimated 315 miles on the EPA cycle and 613 km on the EU cycle, making it the first to go beyond 300 miles and the longest range production electric vehicle by far.”
An up-to-date and very informative study and analysis of Teslas success in the car market has been written by Dean E. Dauger (2016). It is thoroughly referenced with many useful links.