How It Works

The Tesla Roadster

The Tesla Roadster looks similar to a Lotus Elise, which is no surprise because the Norfolk company was closely involved with the development of the electric sports car and assembles it for the American parent company.

Tesla Motors is currently the world’s only company selling production electric supercars. Lotus’ involvement means that the car is endowed with the sort of superb handling we’ve come to expect from the legacy of Colin Chapman, while the high-tech lithium-ion batteries ensure swift charging and lively performance, and are said to last up to 100,000 miles.

The car uses a single, mid-mounted AC induction motor that drives the rear wheels via a single-speed gearbox – it doesn’t need a range of gear ratios, as the motor can generate maximum power over a range of revs.

It may hot be cheap at over £80,000 but the Tesla has set the benchmark for electric vehicles.

The Statistics

Length: 3.95m

Width: 1.85m

Height: 1.13m

Kerb weight: 1,238kg

Drive: Mid-mounted AC induction air-cooled motor with single-speed fixed gear transmission.

Peak power: 288bhp

Torque: 400Nm

Safety: Anti-lock brakes, traction control, airbags

Top Speed: 126mph (limited)

0-60mph: 3.7seconds

Battery: Microprocessor-controlled lithium-ion battery with 6,831 individual cells.

Charging time: 3.5 hours

Range: 244 miles

Prototype/production: In production, sold in USA and UK




  • Nigel Watson

    Wonder what Top Gear thinks about it? Something ‘Mexican’ I assume.

  • We had the opportunity to test drive a Tesla in a few months back. The acceleration of this car is amazing, with 0-60 in 3.7 seconds, which is achievable nearly every time. The car looks fantastic and drives like a real sports car.

    The Tesla which we drove was collected from the West Midlands in the UK and then charged up on the ferry and taken back to Amsterdam. The Tesla is to be used as part of a group to promote electric cars in Holland.

    We have used electric cars on an everyday basis since 2006 including the G-Wiz, Mitsubishi i MiEV and TATA Vista Indica EV. None of them compares to the performance and handling of the Tesla.