Tesla Motors has thrown open the doors of its London showroom – the firm’s first outlet outside of North America. Tesla_roadster_sport Tesla unveiled the Roadster Sport (above) during the opening of its London showroom During the opening of its Kensington showroom, the company announced that it has already secured a dozen UK …
Well, there were plenty of passengers willing to pay the premium price for flying Concord to New York to save a few hours off the journey time, so I can see no reason why there shouldn't be a queue of people paying an extra £13,000 to save two tenths of a second each time they need to accelerate to 60 mph.
Pseudo-greenness and the power of celebrity
I've held a long term belief that I cheerfully hypothesis to anyone who'll listen, that you only need to look at the cost of something to get a measure of how green that something is when it reaches you.
This assumes a few things - subsidies are removed, and high-price marketing is accounted for. High-price marketing is my term for the use of high prices to create desire and a sense of exclusivity - it's why high-end cosmetics cost three times as much as mainstream ones in spite of being almost exactly the same. But we can assume that Tesla, at the moment, receive no subsidies and they're not indulging in high-price marketing. We also have to assume regulatory parity - it's cheaper to dump toxins in a river than reprocess them into something nicer, for instance, so a Chinese maker will always be cheaper than a Swiss one, for example.
So that would suggest that by the point it's reached your door, for various reasons, the environmental cost is perhaps as much as 4x what a normal Lotus Elise would be. And I'm probably not far off being correct. Given that small, uncomfortable sports cars are rarely much more than a toy for sunny days and track days and that the milage of most ten year old Elises is rarely over 40k then you can see that a Tesla will never ever make its money back.
At best, the Tesla is simply a gateway car - one that proves that electric cars don't have to be tedious, dangerous and make you look ridiculous. Perhaps that's its real purpose, and there's enough rich, gullible people willing to buy them in order to pretend they're cutting edge greens. Perhaps.
Incidentally, I've tried applying my 'the price is green' theory in a few areas and it holds up quite well:
1. I can go to Spain and back in a plane for roughly the same cost as London and back (from Liverpool) - yet the trains are, I believe, subsidised. This suggests that providing a full and complete train service costs more than a plane. No surprise, all a plane needs is a strip of concrete at each end and almost zero infrastructure in comparison to a train.
2. out of season fruit is ferociously expensive compared to in-season fruit. Why? Because heated greenhoused or flying fruit all the way across the world is expensive and polluting. ie, out of season fruit isn't exactly green (ahem.)
3. other stuff. Er, you know...
"The sport can reach 60mph in 3.5 seconds"
So can my '70 Mercury Cougar ... granted, I've done some suspension work and a few engine mods ... but I'll bet you the cost difference that I can build a '65 Ford Fairlane that'll go faster, handle better, have a lower TCO, and a smaller RealLife(tm) long-term "carbon footprint" than the Tesla.
It'll also seat 5 comfortably, and have a usable trunk ("boot" for you Brits).
 People are idiots ... They dream about toys without any understanding of physics.
£87K / £100K is out of my range but it's not an unreasonable price for something which does 0-60 in 3.7 / 3.6.
Tesla has I think hit the right market. Enough interest amongst those people who do have the cash to spare to make it viable, and enough 'envy' of "I wish I could afford one" to put the fact it's an electric vehicle as a secondary issue or a one-upmanship add-on; "And it runs on leccy, don't you know".
Killing the idea that leccy vehicles are converted milkfloats and don't have the style, grace, speed and advantages of cars running on deceased dinosaurs was always going to be the hard battle. Skoda was turned from 'a joke' into a credible range and Tesla are doing the same for leccy vehicles. More Wow than Vista.
Good luck to them. I'd willingly take one on for a year long test drive if they offer :-)
"And I'm probably not far off being correct."
@ David Coveney
"And I'm probably not far off being correct."
Nothing like a bit of unsubstantiated intellectual arrogance to brighten up a Monday lunchtime.
Your train/plane analogy may have a point about the cost of proving services (and believe me, planes are heavily subsidised through tax breaks), but it says nothing about their relative greenness.
And yes, of course the Tesla Roadster is a "gateway car". Go and have a look at what else they are planning.
"but I'll bet you the cost difference that I can build a '65 Ford Fairlane that'll go faster, handle better"
Merkins and handleing...Dont make me...
So, just like Micro$oft...
...and the rest of the US software industry, Te$la are under the impression that $1 = 1 pound ???
(although the way the pound's heading, that could be true fairly soon!)
Never mind, I'll take 2
How far will the batteries get you if you rag it then? This is a sports car after all.
Tesla themselves reckon it'll do 220 miles but that would driving like a little old lady (http://www.teslamotors.com/performance/perf_specs.php). If I drove my old Saxo VTR like an old lady it would do 44mpg (on a long run - sticking to 70mph on the motorway). If I drove it like a 17yr old it would do 28mpg. So if you apply that factor to the quoted range you get 140 miles... and then you have to charge it overnight.
This factor seems to be consistent - my girlfriends Evo VIII 260 was quoted at 26 but a real world figure for a driver pressing on was 17.5mpg. That gives a Tesla range of 143 miles
Not bad for a first attempt but still a long way from being a pratical proposition.
If I had that sort of cash knocking about I'd have a Nissan GTR instead.