• Dec 15th 2008 at 12:10PM
  • 31
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"Say goodbye to dial-up and say hello to broad band motoring!" That's the assessment of of Top Gear's chief wordsmith, Jeremy Clarkson, after testing the Tesla Roadster last night on Top Gear. Clarkson pitted the electric Roadster against the car which provided its chassis DNA on the TG test track and unsurprisingly came away with a startlingly different result from when he tested the G-Wiz. The extra torque of the version 1.5 drivetrain means it left the Lotus Elise in the dust, although the 1,000 lb battery pack in the middle took it's toll when going around corners. And then there is the issue of range. We all know about Tesla's claims of a 230+ mile range. That, of course, is based on the EPA driving cycle which comes nowhere near to taking advantage of the Roadster's full dynamic range. Our own estimate from our first drive last January is more like half the official number. Top Gear's range on the track? well let's just say it was considerably less than that. The TG crew actually had two examples on hand which proved helpful when Clarkson discovered the thermal limits of the Roadster's motor and brake issues with one car. When they finally handed the car over to the Stig he managed to match the lap time of the Porsche 911 GT3 under similarly damp track conditions. Wanna see it? Click and scroll down.

[Source: YouTube]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why choose between Hydrogen and plug-in electric? Just have a battery powered electric car, with a hydrogen fuel cell Range Extender. Take the Clarity and put a battery in it for everyday use, and a hydrogen fuel cell for longer trips. It already has the electric motor. All it needs is a battery and regen brakes.

      Sure, it's going to take a few years for the technology to catch up, but it is a great target concept. It will take a while for it to be cheap enough for everyone to own, but it is solid science.

      Install wind and/or solar power at your home to balance your electricity consumption for plugging in the battery, and for the separation and compression of the hydrogen, and you are at net-zero energy consumption. And zero harmful emissions while having unlimited range from quick refills.

      Recharge the battery overnight for use on typical daily commutes, and refill the hydrogen fuel cell every few hundred miles just when doing road trips. It plays to the strong points of both technologies, while re-using the same electric motor for both energy sources.

      (by the way, I didn't think this up myself. I'm stealing the idea from a major car maker)
        • 6 Years Ago
        The per mile fuel cost of electricity is a fraction of the per mile cost of H2 fuel, so you'd want to use cheap electricity whenever possible.

        But the big snag is that H2 storage tanks cost more than a big LiIon battery pack, and that H2 fuel cell costs a half million and doesn't last as long as the battery does.

        Unless a long series of major breakthroughs occur, H2 will not be economically competitive.
        • 6 Years Ago
        i agree 100%, but that would add MUCH more weight...
      • 6 Years Ago
      Their puff piece on hydrogen was just silly. The amount of energy needed to create hydrogen wastes about 2/3 of the electricity. It is far more efficient to just store that electricity directly in a battery and use to to efficiently turn the wheels.

      Nobody has figured out how to build hydrogen fuel cell vehicles at less than $500,000 each, even if it were scaled up to mass production.

      Then there is the problem with transporting hydrogen. You cannot just put it in a tanker and truck it around like gasoline and diesel. The number of issues to be resolved for hydrogen are huge. It was crazy for TopGear to ignore the obvious problems.

      Pure electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids, like the GM Volt or Hymotion Prius, are clearly the direction the automakers are going. The infrastructure is already in place to deliver electricity to every home, parking garage and parking lot. The advantages for EVs and PHEVs are simply huge.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I regularly watch Top Gear & accept it for what it is - an auto based show that is entertaining but not the holy grail of auto reviews. Jeremy is a past middle aged adolescent that is still enjoying himself & his antics but I wouldn't take his opinions to heart. As far as I'm concerned the Tesla shows what is possible & where future EV's could be headed performance wise. As for reliability I doubt you could get a high performance ICE race car to perform at it's limit without rebuilding component systems which is exactly what happens no matter which form of Racing you are involved in. As for cross country driving an EV - Why? Use them where they operate best in & at city speeds where distances needed are well within their capabilities & use the gasoline based vehicles where they operate best - at continual highway speeds.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I felt they really showed Teslas in a bad light. Batteries toast in 50 miles, then 16 hours to recharge. Brake problems, overheated motor. Harping about where the electricity comes form.

      Then the show the Hydrogen car like it is manna from heaven.

      Yes they do look like a bit clueless on this one. The Clarity does have batteries. The hydrogen will eventually be produced from electricity at much lower efficiency than running a BEV. There is no hydrogen infrastructure.

      The best thing I have seen recently was the big study that looked at a variety of energy solutions for transportation.

      The winner was wind powered BEVs.
        • 6 Years Ago
        They didn't show Tesla in a bad light. They showed Tesla as it is -- completely incompetent. They've spent hundreds of millions of dollars to transplant an electric drivetrain from a third party vendor into a Lotus chassis and it still doesn't work.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I agree that hydrogen powered fuel cells are completely impractical at this time and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I have no problem with a critical look at Tesla, but in the same show they snow us completely with the Hydrogen car.

        The Tesla is targeted as a rich persons play car for ~$100K.

        The Clarity is supposed to by a Sedan for the masses, but it cost 5 times as much as the Tesla and is only available on lease in a small area where there is a hydrogen station.

        • 6 Years Ago
        They showed they are oil industry monkeys. Who produces this show?

      • 6 Years Ago
      This test was well done, maybe they push too hard but they showed realistically the strengths acceleration and the flaws, breaking, range, handling, long recharge time, pricy, not beautiful.
      IT's a question of tastes. a political car to show that petrol car are shit but by having a different shit car then petrol. All in all i will say like some that hydrogen is the best alternative to sh*tty actual cars and trucks and planes and ships and trains and electricity producing machinery.
      • 6 Years Ago
      They can run a gas car out of gas and break stuff on that track just the same :-)
      • 6 Years Ago
      Watched this on Sunday night, all in all a fairly predictable piece from Top gear these days. It was nice to see Clarkson's face when he experienced the Tesla's relentless torque.. he was obviously shocked.
      As previously said, i too was disappointed by May's California report, he must have got a fat package stuffed with $100 bills surely? "Honda saving the world, abundant Hydrogen, etc, etc.. what bullsh*t.
      But hey, why let mere facts get in the way of entertainment for the poorly informed masses.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm sorry guys, I didn't see this as a knock on tesla specifically (and I've actually had the opportunity to see one in person), I saw it on a knock on all cars that are 100% electric.

      The truth is, that while 100% EV have been around since the car was invented, the ICE was easy, and fuel was available, and no one considered that CO2 would be harmful, so people forgot about electricity. Now we're back. So eventhough the idea has been around for as long as cars, the technology is being 'rediscovered' and will take a while for cars like this to come around.

      The original designer of Tesla had said that his car was (in addition to a car that anyone with 100k can buy) a car that will usher in a new age, and show people that it can be done.

      I'll eventually have a 100% EV, as will a good majority of the people who will be driving in 10 or 15 years, but tomorrow of even 5 years? probably not.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Isn't the Tesla a sports car? Why shouldn't they drive it as they would any other sports car?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think the real point here, is that Clarkson's review is making the case more and more for the RE-EV model.

      After all, if the Tesla was a RE-EV, how many of Clarkson's criticism would still of stood?

      Of course, it appears that Tesla is mistakenly taken the pure EV route.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I love the Tesla Roadster! Wish to see it on Europe soon...

      • 6 Years Ago
      Without seeing this TG show, I do watch it on a regular basis. I have to say from the comments though, it seems people want owners of the TESLA to drive it like a 90 year old Grandma. It was not designed to be a boring car. If real world sport driving gives this car a lot of trouble then it is more of an experimental toy. It is not something I would want to drive from Stockholm to the Swiss Alps. I'll stick with a proven Porsche 911 at this stage of development.

      Based on the above, it stands to reason the comments by Clarkson were valid. EV at this point should be tiny little cars made for tiny roads in tiny villages to get tiny little groceries on a daily basis. Hybrids with batteries are much more practical for the masses who need reliable transport on a daily basis. The BYD's F3DM is the game changer in this arena.

      Hydrogen, CNG and Propane is still a better fuel for the future masses due to the inherent way these gases provide reliable range a quick way to filler up when you need to go further.

      Batteries are fun, but I highly doubt it will be the blessed Messiah Autobloggreen and fans say it will.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Who said it was "messiah"? It is just a very good potential solution to the problems of conventional petrol engines.
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