The Final Shock 499 miles, 185 kWh
It isn't until I get home and start crunching numbers that I realize that the Tesla wins the Coolest Car I've Ever Driven award. Why? Despite the flat-out sprints, the drag racing, the donuts, the top-speed runs, and dicing through traffic like there's a jet pack strapped to the trunk, Pacific Gas and Electric - which generated power for the Tesla - released into the atmosphere the same amount of carbon dioxide as would a gasoline-powered car getting 99 mpg.
And the Roadster didn't break. It didn't smoke, lock up, freeze, or experience flux-capacitor failure. Over the past ten decades, no company has been able to reinvent the car - not General Motors with the EV1, not Toyota with the Prius. And now, a bunch of dudes from Silicon Valley have created an electric car that really works - as both an environmental fix and a speed fix.
Yes, it's small and impractical, but that's because it's a sports car. But as a real car, it actually works better than the Lotus Elise. If an alien landed on our planet tomorrow, examined how we drove on a daily basis, and had to pick between the Lotus and the Tesla, the extraterrestrial would pick the Tesla, even though, at a base price of $103,450 (after a $7500 government rebate), it costs some $56,000 more. It's faster, quieter, and more luxurious.
Forget about driving cross-country: when was the last time you did that in a two-seat sports car? Forget about top speed: when was the last time you drove at triple-digit velocities? The Tesla fits the way - and the speeds at which - we actually drive. And this is coming from a man obsessed with the perfect double-clutch downshift, a man who loves the smell of partially burned fuel, a man who lives for the sound of a flat six at 8000 rpm.
Sure, I'd want to keep my gasoline-burning, piston-powered cars for fun. But if saving the environment means driving a Tesla every day, I'm fine with that. In fact, I'd love nothing more.