As we mentioned last week, the first batch of a dozen Tesla Roadster has left the California coast on a ship headed to Japan. These are the first of 20 Signature Series Roadster Sport models for the Japanese market. The first Japanese customers should be taking delivery of their Roadsters early in May.

Japan is the first Asian market that Tesla has entered and, given expected Roadster volumes, the company won't be making much more of a dent than other American automakers before it. On the other hand, every market that Tesla can get into increases its potential sales volumes. Tesla has now delivered over 1,000 Roadsters in North America and Europe and customers have accumulated some 4 million miles on the cars.

Sales seem to have been hit hard by a combination of the recession and previously aspiring customers realizing the practical limitations of a very small two-seat sports car. The originally hoped for sales of up to 2,000 Roadsters a year has been scaled back to a total production run of only a little over 2,000 cars by the time the first-gen Roadster is discontinued in early 2012.

[Source: Tesla Motors]


Tesla Announces Japan Will be First Destination in Asia

Roadsters set sail for from California to Yokohama

Port Hueneme, CA -- Responding to growing demand, Tesla Motors the Silicon Valley-based automaker of the world's fastest highway-capable electric vehicle today shipped a dozen Japan Signature Series Roadsters from Port Hueneme, California. The well-appointed right-hand drive Roadsters will arrive in Yokohama in early May for delivery to select customers throughout Japan.

The hand-built, carbon fiber electric Roadster accelerates from 0-100 km in 3.7 seconds. In January, Tesla announced a partnership with Panasonic to accelerate the development of next generation EV cells.

"With its combination of high-level car enthusiasts and interest and appreciation of cutting edge technology, Japan is a natural market for the Roadster," said Tesla CEO Elon Musk. "The Tesla Roadster is a no-compromise (dakyo no nai) vehicle that makes no sacrifices on performance, design, or engineering."

The national government of Japan is currently pushing a full-scale electric vehicle roll-out and is working with regions around the country to install power outlets for charging. Japan also offers perks for energy-efficient vehicles including zero or lower taxes and green subsidies. It hopes to reduce carbon emissions 25% by 2020.

Faster than nearly any other supercar yet twice as energy efficient as a hybrid, the Tesla Roadster is the only car that delivers guilt-free supercar performance with zero tailpipe emissions and a carbon footprint dramatically lower than any comparable car. The Roadster can travel more than 380km per charge. It can be fully or partially recharged by solar or wind power.

The Roadster requires less routine maintenance than conventional cars. It does not need regular oil changes or exhaust system work. Roadsters have no spark plugs, pistons, hoses, belts or clutches to replace.

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