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From Today Online
Electrifying pace and grace
The world's first electric sports car, the Tesla Roadster, has speed, style and even a conscience
by Paul Gilfeather 04:45 AM Jul 24, 2011
IF I close my eyes, I could be soaring silently through the sky in a jet plane.
In actual fact, I'm only sitting about 30 cm off the ground, inside the fastest, flashiest green car on the planet.
The Tesla Roadster roared into Singapore this week, carrying with it all of the style and swagger you'd expect from a supercar worth over S$500,000 (including COE). The long-awaited arrival of the Lotus-designed Tesla in South-east Asia is significant for a number of reasons, not least because of the technological and political advances it represents.
Long championed by Hollywood tree huggers like Cameron Diaz, George Clooney and Brad Pitt, the electric car has become a bit of a must-have item among those who like to mix cash and conscience. As a result, some within the motor industry have been running scared and we've seen a slew of public relations campaigns in an attempt to keep electric cars in the slow lane.
The Tesla, with its halo and high performance, lays waste to the claims that it can't compete with the combustion engine once and for all. Quite simply, this 100-per-cent electric revolution on wheels is a game-changer.
I was lucky enough to be given a test drive in the car which has become a beacon of hope for all those who hope for the day when electric vehicles replace completely those with traditional engines. I'm no motoring expert but, having recently sampled the delights of a 1983 Ferrari Mondial, I had something to compare the Tesla to. It was as quiet as the Ferrari was loud. Both very quick, but the Tesla more spaceship than car.
I understand that, up until now, those who worship traditional sports cars have resisted the electric alternative because it could not compete in terms of performance ... that is quite simply no longer the case. In terms of acceleration, the torque from the Tesla's electric engine is instant, which is why it can go from 0-97 kmh in just 3.7 seconds. This statistic would impress even the most vehemently opposed critic, as would the car's top speed of 200 kmh and its engine that puts out the equivalent of 288 horsepower.
But it is the force of acceleration which stays with me after I step out of the two-seater. Tesla Roadster? They should have called it the Tesla Rocket. When test driver Terence puts his foot to the floor, the G-Force kicks in and my heart is in my mouth. It was similar to the feeling you get as you slip over the edge of a roller-coaster's long drop.
Otherwise, the car is extremely quiet and smooth. The interior is stylish but simple. The engine is completely state-of-the-art Silicon Valley and, as you would expect, there are zero carbon emissions.
Also, there are no gear changes. Not even automatically, and this adds to the serenity of the drive. You feel like you are travelling in a machine from the future. The Tesla makes the traditional car feel very old-fashioned.
Singapore firm FSG - Fast, Sexy & Green - is selling the car here as well as being committed to other environmental projects. And they say the cost of producing environmentally-sound technology is falling at a tremendous pace. That means that although the Roadster, with its humongous price tag, might be too expensive for some, we are only a few years away from cheaper alternatives.
FSG has a special Government licence to convert older cars which would otherwise be scrapped. So far, the company has converted a Porsche 911, a BMW 5-Series and a van used by Sentosa maintenance staff. It currently has in stock around 20 right-hand drive Roadsters available and there is expected to be huge interest.
While electric engineering failed to match traditional motor cars, it was never going to be able to compete. The Tesla Roadster, I believe, changes all that and more. Also the fact that you can travel around 400 km before having to think about recharging the battery is a huge breakthrough. You don't even have to find a public plug-in point. With the Tesla, you simply remove the battery pack and attach it to the charger at home overnight, just like a mobile phone.
Electric cars are now competing in the big league and what's more, they make their traditional cousins feel almost vintage-like. Those who have long pioneered electric cars in Singapore - like Professor Ian Gibson and his wonderfully-talented students at NUS' engineering department - have been battling to have their voices heard for some time.
The arrival of the Tesla will thrill those who love supercars, but who also feel obligated to help save the planet. It will also revitalise the electric car revolution which has been slowly building here through the great work of Professor Gibson and others.
Last month, Singapore launched its long-awaited national test-bed for electric vehicles, to gauge the feasibility of adopting the technology on a large scale. And maybe with the Tesla, we have seen another significant milestone in the journey towards 2050 - the year when, according to internationally-acclaimed architect Steffen Lehmann, Singapore has the potential to become the first city in the world to allow only electric vehicles on its roads.
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Here in Dallas Tx. we finally have two charging stations downtown, you can hook up your car go run errands, eat, shop, whatever and come back to a full charge. Not sure if there is any car dealerships that sell electric cars but what the heck it's a small step into the future, still waiting on the Jetsons era been waiting since I was a kid.
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