One of the most common beliefs about the Tesla Roadster is that it's an electric Lotus Elise. The reality is that the Roadster is a descendant of the Elise but, as Darryl Siry so forcefully documents on the Tesla blog, it's a very different car. The Tesla used the Elise as a starting point because it's one of the lightest and best-handling sports cars in the world. The chassis of the Elise is made up of bonded aluminum extrusions and the basic design makes it relatively easy to modify for different applications. For an electric car with a nearly 1,000lb battery pack, minimizing the rest of the mass of the car was critical. By the time the electric powertrain and battey were added, few of the mechanical bits of the Elise were left. When I visited Tesla in January to drive the car they told me that about 15 percent of the Elise components were carried over with the rest being modified or all-new (mostly the latter). According to Darryl the number is actually be seven percent by part count. Regardless of the actual number, the fact is that this is a very different car although it does retain some of the character of the Elise, only a lot quieter. In spite of some "luxury" upgrades, this is still a pretty bare bones and hardcore sports car. Other than the Elise/ Exige, you won't find a much more direct driving experience in a full bodied road legal car anywhere. It's not an electric Elise, but the heritage is there and nothing to be ashamed of.
[Source: Tesla Motors]