The Tesla Roadster was ahead of its time when launched, but will that make this rare sports car become the first sought-after electric car?
When the original Tesla Roadster arrived on the scene back in 2008 it caused quite a stir. Previously electric cars were for eco-warriors or far too compromised to be of interest to those used to combustion.
Battery technology might be the future, but at the beginning of the new millennium people weren't interested. Why should they when the only electric options were a G-Wiz or a few other glorified mobility scooters by unknown brands.
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The Tesla Roadster burst onto the scene as the first electric car that you might actually want to own. Based on a Lotus Elise chassis, this battery-powered sports car ticked some traditional petrolhead boxes. Sport models could crack 0-60mph in just 3.7 seconds (3.9 for regular cars) and it was the first production electric car to do 125mph. Lotus is famed for engineering chassis to please keen drivers, so Tesla got them to help develop the car. Battery weight was still an issue, but ultimately it had a grippy yet playful setup.
It looked the part, too. Its low wide stance was typical for the sports car breed and its removable fabric roof appealed to those living in sunny California. From a distance it retains the familiar proportions of an Elise, but the wheelbase was lengthened by two inches and its carbon composite body panels are unique. Parts commonality between the Tesla Roadster and a Lotus Elise stands at just 6%.
Driven sensibly the Roadster could cover around 150 miles in the real world before needing to be plugged in, or less than 75 miles if driven hard.
Will the Tesla Roadster become a collectable? Considering that only 2450 were built globally and it can lay claim to being the first widely available electric sports car, its chances are good. There are still a few question marks hanging over ageing batteries and how they will stand up to the test of time, but late low mileage UK cars have been changing hands for only a little less than their original retail price.
Right now you’ll struggle to find one on the used market meaning that people may soon be willing to pay a premium for the little electric car. There is an all-new Tesla Roaster due out in 2020 with an claimed 0-60mph time of just 1.9 seconds — the new car will likely reignite interest in the original.