• Jan 29th 2008 at 6:16PM
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Click on the Tesla Roadster for a high-res gallery

As much as I love driving the Tesla Roadster, it's far from perfect. I discussed most of the flaws during the big review. However, there is one very important topic that I left out, range. When Tesla publicly launched the Roadster in mid-2006 the big number was the 250 mile range claim. Over the past nine months the range number has fluctuated several times from a low of just over 200 miles to about 240 with the current average falling in at 220 miles for the city/highway combined cycles. The problem is that all those numbers are based on the EPA test cycles. Those cycles are set up for all vehicles to follow and generally don't include any wide open acceleration.

Therein lies the rub. Driven sedately, the Tesla Roadster very likely could achieve somewhere around 220 miles or more. Perhaps even as much 250 miles in city driving with lots of regenerative braking. The problem is that this little demon doesn't really want to be driven in that manner. It begs to be flung from curve to curve. It wants to be thrashed. During our drive, we accumulated somewhere between 80 and 90 miles based on plotting the route on Google maps. Unfortunately I forgot to check the mileage at the beginning. When we left San Carlos the car had a full charge. Update: I got a clarification from Aaron Platshon at Tesla about the indicator gauge. The gauge actually reads miles to discharge rather than percentage charge. So that would put the range with the driving I did at somewhere between 105 and 120 miles. Once the indicator gets to zero, there is actually an emergency reserve that consists of about a 15% charge on the battery. Depending on your driving, that could take you another 15-30 miles. However, it's not recomended to do that very often as such deep discharges are bad for battery durability. When we returned it was at about 22 percent which would put the range in the ballpark of 120 miles. The weather and road conditions didn't permit really exploring the limits of the Roadster's performance envelope. According to some of the print magazine reviews, they got significantly less. Autoweek only managed 93 miles. For now, drivers of the Roadster will have to choose, exceptional performance or exceptional range, but probably not both. Eventually that will surely change, but not today.


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  • 20 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Previously, the second gear could be used as an "economy" gear, because it would always give you better miles per electron than first gear. Now, regardless of the final gear ratio, there is only one gear, and there is enough power to drain the batteries plenty quick if the driver doesn't show some discretion. Not a big problem really, the one speed is still a fine solution.

      I really like the idea of the quick charge, but only if the range remains well over 150 miles. For my 150 mile trip to the beach, I don't want to have to stop and recharge, even if it only takes 10 minutes. Most likely, there wouldn't be any quick chargers along the way for many years to come, so that just wouldn't work at all.

      Otherwise, the charging time is completely irrelevant; the thing charges at night while I'm sleeping.
      • 7 Years Ago
      @Sam Abuelsamid
      Hawaii had been testing their Hyundai SantaFe (the older generation) EV models with 10min fast charge for 100 mile range. It is using different chemistry than the tesla, but if the tesla can handle it, it can concievably charge in 25 minutes for around 100 miles of spirited driving. There isn't much infrastructure yet for this though, but it could be a possible direction for future EVs. It's still not as good as a gasoline refilling, but 25 minutes is much better than 3 hours. Then again, if there really is serious racing, then a battery swap would probably be even faster, but not really practical for any other use.
      New battery tech may help improve energy density in the future, but I don't see many ways to help the charging speed except by upping the voltage and current.
      I guess the charging speed limitation pretty much kills any chance of an EV race car, except for maybe using battery swaps, or having very short races. In normal driving, I don't see the charging speed as being that bad of a limitation except for those living in apartments and the like (but that could be changed quite easily by adding powerports) and except for really long drives, but I guess that's what range extenders and PHEVs are for.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I don't think too many people will be concerned the lower mileage. My guess is that a lot of owners wouldn't use this as a daily driver. It's a fun car. One to drive when going to a fancy restaurant, theater, to the golf course, with your significant other on Valentines day, etc. 200 miles, 100 miles, should be plenty.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Seriously, who cares? They'll have a working production model out with minor changes, meeting a plus or minus projected goals of the specs.

      If anyone has to worry about all the details or how much the mileage is or is not, then it's PROBABLY not the car for you. I'm just excited to see history being made since no start-up auto company has been successful in the past 80 years or more.

      I just can't wait to see what the white star is going to look like.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Sam, Darryl Siry has stated in the Tesla owners forum that the single speed production transmission will not be the same ratio as second gear in the current xtrac transmission.
      • 7 Years Ago
      My stock S2000 (2.0L 4cyl) lasted for 90 miles before needing a fillup after 2 hours of *really* hard driving. Normal range is 250miles. Getting 100+ miles on an EV with hard driving is amazing!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Perhaps I'm missing something here, but how can "driving with lots of regenerative braking" give you more miles per charge than driving sedately? On a flat road you'll always get less back in regeneration than you output in the first place.
      • 7 Years Ago
      When he explained the corrected range estimate, Drori said that "we feel the real world numbers are a better reflection of what you might see in day-to-day use."

      Okay. So let's look at those "real world numbers," as reported by Andrew Simpson in the "Touch" blog of the company's website.

      They are: 267 (best-case scenario), 230, 227, 222, 213, 209, 203, 186, and 165 (worst-case scenario). When I calculate those figures, I come up with an average range of... 216 miles, i.e., 5 miles lower than the second EPA test.

      It therefore looks like the anecdotal reports actually substantiate the latest laboratory results, so that's probably what one should really count on for "day-to-day use" --despite what Drori stated.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Rob, You're absolutely right. However the difference is that you can refill the tank of an STi in just a few minutes. With the Roadster you'll have several hours of downtime until the fun can resume.
      • 7 Years Ago
      BlackBird, The single gear that will be in the final production models will have the same ratio as the second gear in the two speed box.
      • 7 Years Ago
      YMMV
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