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Tell me you wouldn't have tried the same thing?

I found myself in Los Angeles for a quick visit late last week and realized I wasn't too far from the brand new Tesla Motors store. Having read about the opening night gala event and curious about the chic new sales space, I wanted to go check it out. Trouble was, I wasn't close enough to walk, didn't have a car, and have heard too many bad things about LA's public transportation system to see if it was a feasible option for me. Luckily, I met up with Shannon Arvizu (TriplePundit) and she offered to drive the two of us down to the store to take a look at what they've got on display. Didn't take me long to say, "yes." I mean, even if there are have been problems with the development of the car and we're hearing rumblings about ego conflicts among some of the well-knowns who are involved, someone still needs to go and bring back a collection of photos for faithful readers, right? Right.

We headed down to Santa Monica Boulevard and found the well-designed store wedged between a Starbucks and the ING building. There are two Roadsters in the showroom, one in dark blue and the other is the silver VP10 (Validation Prototype 10) that Sam got to take for a test drive back in January. None of the cars in the store are for sale, as they're not the production versions, but that didn't stop a good half dozen customers from wandering in and making serious inquiries about being place on th waiting list in the hour or so that we were there. Between the two cars in the showroom sits a counter and barstools, the perfect place for store employees to talk to potential customers. A coffee bar and some Tesla swag are nearby in case you need either a jolt of caffeine or a fancy Tesla cap. Offices (doors open) and two wonderfully-decorated bathrooms round out the front of the shop.

The back half of the store features a garage bay with room for a three cars. This garage is incredibly clean today, and one thing we can count on is that the cement floor will never stained by a leaky oil pan (well, unless future models do come with the option of a range-extending ICE). The opposing wall houses a quick charger. But what really caught our eyes was a metallic blue Roadster aimed square at a garage door, looking like it wanted to go out. Read on after the jump to find out what happened next.





We made a call and asked a few questions. Not too much later, Tesla's Tom O'Leary smiled as he handed us the key to that metallic blue Roadster (it's VP16) and told us to have fun - but to remember to bring it back in one piece. This is a million-dollar prototype we're talking about, here.

It's been a year and a half since I first sat in a Roadster, but this was the only time I've had the chance to enter the left side of the vehicle. Shannon and I didn't have a plan (other than to not get into an accident) so we just went up and down the area streets. We weren't about to head into the mountains with the car, but you can check out our earlier post for the in-depth review of driving the Roadster. I'll just repeat that these things are simply too much fun to drive, even if you never get to go more than 35 mph. As for the size issue, the Roadster fit me about as well as a car can; it was just getting in and out that felt unusual to someone who doesn't sit in sports cars very often. During our drive, we happened upon an electric vehicle charging station and stopped for a little photo shoot. Sure, the connectors are all wrong, but for our pictures little details like that didn't matter. As Shannon drove back, I attempted to capture photos of people who were curious about what we were driving. The only picture that came out half-way decently is this one:



As you can see, it's thumbs up all the way. I got the feeling Shannon was pretty jacked about the whole experience, but she'll have her own take on driving the Roadster posted - with video, possibly - soon. (UPDATE: Shannon's post is here, video embedded below)

Speaking of soon, our drive was over far too quickly. We were riding around with the top down, and LA's May gray sky did threaten us a bit. Still, as I stepped out of VP16, I saw a little MP3 attachment cable that I hadn't noticed upon getting in. Guess that means I have an excuse for another drive. I need to test a Roadster out with some of my favorite tunes. You'd do the same, right?



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  • 21 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Sorry this isn't related to this post but none of the ABG bloggers' e-mail addresses are available. This is meant for Sebastian:

      In the interest of "fair and balanced" (and not in the Fox News meaning of the term) reporting, Wired News is reporting that John McCain will outline some of his environmental plans tomorrow, despite the environment not being on the majority of voters' minds.

      Even if you disagree with McCain you have to like that at least he sees global climate change and the environment as important enough issues to dedicate focus to them even though most voters don't seem to care. That's taking a political chance with very little likely pay-back.

      http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/05/mccain-surrogat.html
      • 7 Years Ago
      @Mark, the reason Tesla markets to rich people is because the battery cells alone for the Roadster cost at least $20,000. That's not including assembly and testing of the battery pack. It takes a lot of expensive batteries to move a 3,000 lb car.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Lol overall i guess you had a fun day
      • 7 Years Ago
      TTAC was unhappy that you guys just showed up and were given an unsupervised test drive.

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/tesla-birth-watch-46-autobloggreen-hearts-roadster-bathroom/
      • 7 Years Ago
      So their whole money making plan was to open an electric car themed Starbucks? Seems to be working.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Shouldn't VP 16 be equipped with drivetrain 1.5 (increased power!)

      In fact, on this Tesla Motors blog:

      http://www.teslamotors.com/blog3/?p=76

      the editor says, "We need to update the site - all cars will be 300hp+ and 400 newton meters torque. - ed."
      • 7 Years Ago
      they market to the top 1% because as a new startup company, they do not have the means to produce them on the levels of a large company. This car will allow them to make back some money without producing in volume and if that works they could aim their next car a bigger market.
      • 7 Years Ago
      So I guess the oil spots left on my driveway by my Friend's Tango are my imagination then?

      Rotating parts need to be lubed, even if the vehicle doesn't run on gas.
      • 7 Years Ago
      @Mark
      They won't be making any profit and will be barely keeping afloat or bankrupt if they started by marketing to the mass market; I think we have discussed this before. Just look at GM, even they are already saying they will likely not make a profit on the Volt until quite late in the game and the car's already $35k. I just don't think Tesla has the capability to compete with big automakers even if EVs are as cheap to make as gasoline cars are. They need the early margins to be big to keep the company afloat and repay investors. After all, this whole thing is funded by investors and investors want a return.

      And remember Tesla's aim is to make real, fully crash tested cars, not quadricycles or NEVs, and, so far, the only truely affordable EVs that are also real cars (but even those are city cars) are being introduced by large manufacturers like mitsubishi and subaru, with ample support of the Japanese government.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'm pretty sure the lithium batteries don't have any heavy metals in them. What's so toxic about the batteries?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Great article. I love the pics. I can't wait till electric cars like this come down in price.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Mark here is an explanation of why they started at the upper end sports car.
      http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/08/tesla_motors_ev.php
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