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Friday, August 22, 2008

The Electric Sports Car That Does 125mph in Complete Silence

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:12 AM on 21st August 2008

It looks just like a normal sports car, has a top speed of 125mph and acceleration of 0-60 in 3.9 seconds.

But the British-built Tesla Roadster, which goes on sale today, has one major advantage - you'll never need to fill it up.

The virtually silent car is powered by an 185kw electric motor and a stack of batteries in its boot. However, this is no G-Wiz - it really does perform like a sports car.

Tesla, the US company behind the £92,000 vehicle, says it already has orders for 1,100 in America and is increasing production at the Lotus Engineering plant in Norfolk.

Enlarge telsa

Roaring silence: The Tesla can accelerate from 0-60 in 3.9 seconds

George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and Arnold Schwarzenegger are all believed to have reserved one.

Only 250 will go on sale in Europe initially, with delivery early next year.

"We believe the people who will buy this car will also be looking at an Aston Martin, a Porsche or a Ferrari," said Darryl Siry of Tesla.

"This is a real sports car, and we want to find those people who not only want that performance, but who also care about the environment."

The car takes three hours to charge up and has a range of 220 miles on each charge.

The company is working on a larger, four-door family version, and is developing a more affordable vehicle with an unnamed major manufacturer.

Unlike other makers of electric vehicles, Tesla has refused to add artificial noise.

Enlarge  'Tesla Roadster'

Red roar: The Tesla has a virtually noiseless engine

"There is something amazing about being able to hear what is going on around you," said Mr Siry. However, Londoners we showed the car to had reservations.

"It looks impressive, but for that amount of money I'd want people to know I was coming," said 22-year-old student Freddie Ridge, from Kingston.

"It might cause problems as pedestrians won't hear it."

Driving it is an odd experience. It looks very similar to the Lotus Elise - unsurprisingly, given that it is built by Lotus Engineering.

However, switch it on, and, well, nothing happens. It took a few glances toward Tesla's staff to confirm it was running. Pull away (there's no clutch, and it drives exactly like an automatic), and there's the slightest whirr from behind you, but that's it.

In central London, with tourists and commuters rushing around, no one could hear the car coming.

On several occasions I had to slam on the (thankfully very good) brakes as pedestrians walked straight in front, and cyclists were also oblivious. The Tesla caused a stir pulling up silently at lights.

However, find a bit of open road and the Tesla shows its performance. Acceleration is breathtaking, and the lack of noise or gear changes makes it even more exhilarating.

The steering is sharp and precise, and the suspension - which in the final version will be easily adjustable - is very stiff, as you'd expect.

At £92,000, this isn't a mass-market car. However, in the not too distant future, this is exactly the kind of car we'll all be driving - just a much cheaper version.