2009 Electric Tesla Roadster - The Electric Tesla Acid Test

Brian Konoske

TUESDAY: Amperage Galore 100 miles, 35 kWh
The future also tripped my circuit breaker. It's my fault for not turning off the air compressor that shares the circuit, but at least the car's battery was 80 percent charged when it happened. The incident makes me think about how much juice is stored in the Tesla's 992-pound lithium-ion battery pack: 53 kWh, enough to power my home for five days. Or a laptop for four months. Or a BlackBerry for 606 years.

The absurdity of that last figure locks up my brain like an overloaded PC during the drive to a dynamometer shop forty miles away. But a glance at the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro sitting there wakes me up: I'm here to put the big pony car and the little roadster on the rollers. Why a Camaro? Check out the sidebar and dyno chart.

WEDNESDAY: Racing-Range Anxiety 181 miles, 60 kWh
It's a new day, and I have a full battery. I drive thirty miles south to pick up photographer Brian Konoske, who clearly regrets selling his Lotus Elise the second he lays eyes on the Tesla. I do a few donuts to cheer him up, and then we drive fifty-five miles north to Infineon Raceway, where we enter the Tesla in Wednesday Night Drags.

Surrounded by hissing, wheezing, flatulent, last-century technology, the roadster from the future stands out like a vegan food stand at a Texas barbecue. Our practice runs are cut short when a car dumps the oily contents of its engine on the drag strip. Of course, that could never happen with a Tesla. No rods will come flying through the sides of this car's block - it doesn't have one. After the delay, I manage a total of three runs down the strip - and even get to do a big, smoky, and eerily silent burnout. The Tesla's fastest time was 13.56 seconds at 93.92 mph, with a 30-mph headwind.

That isn't nearly quick enough to beat the 1933 Ford in the next lane, so I'm sent packing. The battery has about a quarter of its charge left, and I don't know if we'll make it home. But I have a confession to make: I cheated. I was so afraid that I'd kill the battery at the track that I had a friend standing by with a Toyota Tundra and a flatbed trailer.

Running out of juice would have been not only inconvenient but embarrassing, too, because I skipped out of the Tesla dealership before being told how to unlock a reserve ten percent battery capacity in case of emergency. But the fact remains that even though I'm driving the Roadster with utter disregard for conserving power, its battery has enough juice to travel 140 miles a day, or more than 50,000 miles per year. And not too many people are masochistic enough to drive that much, especially in a tiny sports car.

We make it back with only thirteen miles of range remaining and in reduced-power mode. Range anxiety is for the weak, I decide.

Killroy1999
Good article, but the dyno results are grossly misleading and there are no caveats in the text warning the readers. By showing these dyno results, Automobile has mislead the reader into thinking that the Tesla is faster to 55 MPH, but the V6 Camaro is faster past 55MPH. Well physics and gear shift time is a biatch and the Camaro is 1057 lb heavier and has 29 % larger drag area. The results are that the Camaro is 2.2 seconds slower to 60 mph and 0.8 succeeds slower in the mile. Try and be more careful about technical information, Automobile.
Edward A. Sanchez
Jason. Very cool. I grew up in the Bay Area. I would LOVE a Roadster, but the pricetag is a bit much for me. However, I am interested in the Model S. If it can deliver on all its promises for about half the price of the Roadster, it may well be finding a spot in my garage in the not-too-distant future.

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