By the time the ball drops in Times Square this New Year's Eve, chances are there will be more Chevrolet Volts on the road than Tesla Roadsters. Motor Trend Editor in Chief Angus MacKenzie writes in a new editorial that during the Tesla IPO road-show last June, CEO Elon Musk called his company a "technology velociraptor." However, it took five full years from the formation of Tesla to start delivering the first few dozen crippled Roadsters. It then took nearly another year after that to reach maximum production speed. Similarly, the Model S has slipped from a mid-2009 delivery date to at least 2012. Tesla was able to quickly whip up a new package for its off-the-shelf lithium-ion cells for the Smart ED and then bang out a couple of mule vehicles for Toyota to test. However, actually building real customer cars is a very different matter.

Meanwhile General Motors has gotten endless grief from electric vehicle advocates about how long it has taken to get the Volt to market. The Volt is a vastly more complex and technologically sophisticated vehicle than either the Roadster or Model S and yet when the first production examples are delivered to customers in November or December of this year, it will have been less than four years to get from barely mobile styling buck to showroom readiness.

Tesla absolutely deserves a lot of credit for showing that it's possible to build a zero-emissions high-performance sports car with a very respectable range and inspiring the rest of the industry to take another look at battery electric vehicles. But, as MacKenzie says, the Volt – and possibly the Nissan Leaf – will likely have a much more lasting impact.

[Source: Motor Trend]

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