You say ‘electric car’ to most people in the UK, and the majority will think of the frustration of following a slow milk float in traffic. Certainly the milk float has contributed to the opinion that electric vehicles are generally pretty slow – indeed the production options for electric cars in the UK such as the G-Wiz, are really only viable as city cars – with top speeds of 40-50mph – quite apart from concerns over their safety in a crash. As a result, the environmental options for a car in the UK usually focus on hybrid cars such as the Toyota Prius or the competing Honda Civic Hybrid, both of which pair an electric motor with a regular petrol engine.
However, once you look in a bit more detail, you realise that in terms of performance, an electric motor has way more torque than a conventional engine – the problem with electric cars has always been the trade off between the weight of the batteries needed, against the range, against the performance, and in general range wins out resulting in slow moving electric vehicles. But it doesn’t have to be like that.
Over in Silicon Valley, it’s not just computer companies getting the attention. Over there is a company called Tesla Motors that is trying to disprove the ‘slow electric car’ moniker, with a British built electric roadster. The look will be fairly familiar – especially when you bear in mind that Lotus were involved with the design, and assemble the car in their factory in Hethel.
If you want to see one in action, Robert Scoble got a ride in the first production model, driven by Tesla Motors chairman Elon Musk. Needless to say he got the whole thing on video, and covers a lot of technical details about the car – this is the one to watch to find out how fast it goes, how cheap it is to run, what the range is and of course how much the thing actually costs.
What you don’t get with that of course is much of a view of the car in action. To get that, you need to watch a video recorded at the same time by Jason Calacanis as he struggles to keep up in a Corvette. The camerawork on the Calacanis video is a lot more wobbly – but there are some moments when you can quite literally see the Tesla roadster disappearing into the distance despite Calacanis having his foot to the floor trying to keep pace!