The Tesla Roadster's drivetrain is different from almost any car that's come before. It consists of only three major parts: a motor, a controller and a battery pack. The base motor makes 185 kW, which is equivalent to 248 hp in a gasoline-powered engine. The Sport model makes 215 kW, or 288 hp.
The Roadster uses lithium-ion batteries similar to the ones that power a cell phone, only there's 7,000 of them. The pack can be fully charged at a 220-volt outlet in under four hours, and can run a maximum of 200 miles on one charge. The range of an electric car however, depends on how it's driven. Tooling around town at 40 mph will put maximum range near the upper end of that 200 miles. But slamming the throttle to test the Tesla's acceleration, or attempt to reach the Tesla's maximum speed of 125 mph is going to shorten the range considerably.
The Roadster was built with performance in mind, though. The company realized that if a car was going to cost just over $100,000, it was going to have to have more going for it than stellar green credentials. It can do 0-60 in under 5 seconds, thanks to the electric drive that generates nearly all its torque available all the time. The base Roadster is capable of a strong 275 lb-ft of torque, while the Roadster Sport can make 295 lb-ft.
Adding to is sporty silhouette is Roadster's open top. The standard black roof is fabric, but a body-color or carbon-fiber hard top can be had as well. It's also got LED tail lights, plus 16-inch wheels in front and 17-inch wheels in the rear.
The interior is worthy of the price tag as well, with standard heated leather seats. A premium microfiber fabric is available for anyone concerned with animal welfare. At the top end, the interior can be fitted with custom leather seats and accent panels, plus carbon-fiber touches throughout the cabin.
Standard safety features include anti-lock brakes, traction control, tire pressure monitoring and front airbags. A touch screen displays vehicle information in the dash, and air conditioning is standard. Options for the Roadster include an upgraded stereo with navigation and Bluetooth, forged wheels and a custom-tuned suspension.
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