Tesla Motors is an automobile manufacturer specializing in high performance electric vehicles, headquartered in San Jose, California. Founded in 2003 by engineers Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, the upstart company is currently under the direction of CEO Ze’ev Drori, a 30-year veteran of the high-tech industry who took over operations in November 2007 from interim CEO Michael Parks. Parks replaced Eberhard, who reportedly transitioned to an “advisory” role with the company before departing altogether in late 2007 amid controversy over production delays and rumors of disagreements with Chairman Elon Musk.
The Tesla Roadster is now out of production but can be found on the used car market. The Model S electric sport sedan is currently the only production vehicle offered by the company.
Based on the Lotus Elise sports car, much of the assembly for the Tesla Roadster takes place at the Lotus Elise factory in Hethel, England. The cars are then shipped to Tesla’s facility in Menlo Park, California for final assembly. The Roadster is a true electric vehicle; it uses no on-board internal combustion engine for hybrid propulsion or charging the individual 6831 Li-Ion cells that comprise the battery pack. Using a factory-supplied high power charging cable, the company advertises recharge times of 3.5 hours for a completely depleted battery pack. Operating range is approximately 230 miles, with reported supercar performance figures of 0-60 in the four-second range and a top speed of 130 miles per hour. The car uses a standard independent suspension and disc brake setup and comes equipped with typical power equipment found in modern passenger vehicles.
The Roadster suffered numerous production delays, most of which centered on the durability and performance capabilities of the vehicle’s two-speed transmission. Abbreviated production of Tesla Roadsters finally began in spring 2008 with the questionable transmission, despite reports from the company that the current gearbox prevents the vehicle from attaining previously published performance figures for performance and range. A new single-speed fixed gear transmission from Borg-Warner is under production, with assurances from Tesla Motors that the new transmission will meet all performance expectations and promises to upgrade all existing two-speed transmission models free of charge.