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July 6th, 2010

Tesla: Come on and take a free ride . . . or not

Published on July 6th, 2010 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

[flash http://ceramics.org/ceramictechtoday/wp-content/video/tesla.flv mode=1 f={image=/ceramictechtoday/wp-content/video/tesla.jpg}]

Last Friday I was working out of South Boston, and after being cooped up in a hotel room most of the day I decided to head over to Cambridge on my road bicycle. After traveling only about four blocks in Southie and while waiting at a stop light, I felt the wind of something ghostly whir roll up next to me. Looking to my left and down, I saw a little car occupied by two guys with enormous grins.

Then I noticed the word “Tesla” on the back end. No wonder they were smiling.

“How are liking it?” I dumbly asked.

“Unbelievable. Our first ride!” the one in the passenger seat responded.

Thinking about Tesla’s new IPO, I followed up with, “Would you invest in the company?”

“Maybe,” he replied, “if I had any money left over after buying this.”

Then he asked me, “Want to take a drive? Company reps are giving free test rides down at the Barking Crab and that’s what we’re doing. Ha – we don’t own this baby. Follow us.”

As if I really could follow a four-wheel rocket that does 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds. But I shouted, “Love to!” as the light turned green and they sped off.

Luckily, the BC was just a few blocks down the street. So, I clicked back into my pedals and biked toward my Tesla Mecca. Sure enough, two of Tesla sales staff had staked out some territory in the parking lot near the restaurant’s side entrance. Yes, they were offering rides and a small line of prospective drivers were waiting their turn and getting the low-pressure spiel from the Tesla crew. I locked my bike to a fence and as I got in line, another duo squealed out of the lot.

While we were waiting, the Tesla folks explained that the $125,000 car was Roadster Sport model available in 13 colors. They ran down the basics about the speed, interior (gorgeous, velvety hand-stitched leather), battery pack (6100+ Li-ion cells), range (240+ miles), tunable suspension and electrical requirements (220 volt, 50 amp is okay but they recommend 70 amp service). They said Tesla had opened a sales office in Boston and their worldwide goal was to sell 1000 of the Roadsters per year.

When asked about construction, one of the sales people mentioned that the car was about “7 percent” Lotus, but I think that is wrong (or I misunderstood the question). My understanding is that Lotus makes the entire Roadster chassis but only a small percentage of the Tesla parts are used on true Lotus vehicles.

The two guys whom I first saw in the car were still standing around and talking about the experience. The one who had been driving confessed to having fully tested the 0-60 mph claim and compared the “amazing” experience to a ride he had once been given in a military jet. His passenger said he missed the typical throaty roar that one would get from punching the accelerator of a gas-powered sports car entering a freeway, but he made sure I understood that he thought he’d have no problem whatsoever getting used to the swooshing sound of Roadster Sport.

Using my iPhone, I shot the above video (sorry, no audio) of one group of testers returning and another group taking off.

There is a sad ending to this story. While waiting for my turn, one of the sales staff heard the clip-clop of my bicycle shoes and asked to see the soles. One look at the knobby bottoms, and he said, “No way.”

“How about if I just wear my socks?” I pleaded.

He arched an eyebrow, handed me his business card and, just before he twirled away, said, “Call me next week when you are ready to take a serious a test ride.”

“But, but  . . . I’ll be in Columbus next week!”

He never glanced back.

For more CTT stories on Tesla, see:

Toyota, Tesla team to build all electric cars

 


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One Response to Tesla: Come on and take a free ride . . . or not

  1. Martin munday says:

    I can hardly wait! I have a circuit that will extend the range to 500+ miles.

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