Get off my lawn.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

This just in! An electric car for heterosexuals

Tesla Motors today unveiled the Tesla Roadster. It runs on several thousand Lithium-Ion batteries, has a 2-speed gearbox, and goes from 0-60 in 4 seconds.

Several things differentiate this car from the typical electric car.

First and foremost is its appearance. Most electric cars look like something designed by a bored boatbuilder. This one looks sleek, like a cross between a Saleen S7 and a Lotus Elise.

Another kind of important thing is its range and charge time. Most electric cars have something like a 90-mile range, and take 12 hours to charge up. These specs are known in the industry as "laughable". The Tesla's range is a more-respectable 250 miles, with a 3.5-hour charge time. That's a lot better. Tesla achieves this by using lithium-ion batteries instead of lead-acid or ni-cad or alkaline batteries.

It has a nice interior. It has a heater. It uses regenerative braking. It has traction control. It also has a computer that detects when you've driven it off into a lake, into the side of a building, or other undesirable situations, and disconnects the battery so it won't blow up.

What I don't know is how well it handles. Electric cars are usually pretty heavy. I don't know about this one. I hope they were able to keep its weight somewhere below that of the typical electric forklift.

I don't like some things: The name, for example. "Tesla". Good brand names typically don't draw attention to low-level technical details, or to the nature of a product. It makes them seem too much like a pun. In this case, "Tesla" refers to Nicolai Tesla, the Serbian guy who invented alternating current and argued with Thomas Edison. It's supposed to make people think of electrical things, apparently. Thus "Tesla" is a dumb name for a car in much the same way that "Metallica" is a dumb name for a band. (Come to think of it, "Tesla" is a dumb name for a band too, but probably not as dumb as a car named "Metallica".) They should have called it the "Shock-n-Awe 9000".

Another thing I wouldn't like about this car is the fact that it's completely silent. Most people (me included) expect a car that looks like this to bark and snarl as it goes along. This one probably goes "zzzzzzzzzzzz" or "mmmmmmmmm", which is likely to throw people off. How thrilling can it be to get in a car like this, nail the throttle and hear nothing as your head is being torn from its mounts? Not very, if you ask me. Perhaps they could include a set of loudspeakers on the back and play a loop of a big v12 really loudly through them, at least until people get used to the idea of a silent car.

Anyway, I like it. It's cool looking, it was designed and manufactured by a Silicon Valley startup, and it seems to have given the whole electric vehicle industry a kick in the bottom.

So, if you have $80K to spend on a car, don't mind a $7000/month electric bill, and aren't bothered by a car that sounds like the fan on the bottom of a laptop, you should go get one.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home