Tesla Roadster

Tesla sold about 2,450 Roadsters in over 30 countries, and most of the last Roadsters were sold in Europe and Asia during the fourth quarter of 2012. Tesla produced right-hand-drive Roadsters from early 2010. The Roadster qualified for government incentives in several nations. The Tesla Roadster is a battery electric vehicle (BEV) sports car, based on the Lotus Elise chassis, that was produced by the electric car firm Tesla Motors (now Tesla, Inc.) in California from 2008 to 2012. The Roadster was the first highway legal serial production all-electric car to use lithium-ion battery cells and the first production all-electric car to travel more than 320 kilometres (200 mi) per charge. It is also the first production car to be launched into orbit, carried by a Falcon Heavy rocket in a test flight on February 6, 2018.

The world distance record of 501 km (311 mi) for a production electric car on a single charge was set by a Roadster on October 27, 2009, during the Global Green Challenge in outback Australia, in which it averaged a speed of 40 km/h (25 mph). In March 2010, a Tesla Roadster became the first electric vehicle to win the Monte Carlo Alternative Energy Rally and the first to win any Federation Internationale de l’Automobile-sanctioned championship when a Roadster driven by former Formula One driver Érik Comas beat 96 competitors for range, efficiency and performance in the three-day, nearly 1,000-kilometre (620 mi) challenge.

According to the U.S. EPA, the Roadster can travel 393 kilometres (244 mi) on a single charge of its lithium-ion battery pack, and can accelerate from 0 to 97 km/h (0 to 60 mph) in 3.7 or 3.9 seconds depending on the model. It has a top speed of 201 km/h (125 mph). The Roadster’s efficiency, as of September 2008, was reported as 120 MPGe (2.0 L/100 km). It uses 135 Wh/km (21.7 kW·h/100 mi, 13.5 kW·h/100 km or 490 kJ/km) battery-to-wheel, and has an efficiency of 88% on average.


Prototypes of the car were officially revealed to the public on July 19, 2006, in Santa Monica, California, at a 350-person invitation-only event held in Barker Hangar at Santa Monica Airport.

The San Francisco International Auto Show, held on November 18–26, 2006, was the Tesla Roadster’s first auto show.

It was featured in Time in December 2006 as the recipient of the magazine’s “Best Inventions 2006—Transportation Invention” award. The first “Signature One Hundred” set of fully equipped Roadsters sold out in less than three weeks, the second hundred sold out by October 2007 and general production began on March 17, 2008.

The first Tesla Roadster was delivered in February 2008 to Tesla co-founder, chairman and product architect Elon Musk. The company produced 500 similar vehicles through June 2009. In July 2009, Tesla began production of its 2010 model-year Roadster—the first major product upgrade. Simultaneously, Tesla began producing the Roadster Sport, the first derivative of Tesla’s proprietary, patented powertrain. The car accelerates from 0 to 97 km/h (0 to 60 mph) in 3.7 seconds, compared to 3.9 seconds for the standard Roadster. Changes for the 2010 model-year cars included:

  • An upgraded interior and push-button gear selector, including “executive interior” of exposed carbon fiber and premium leather, and clear-coat carbon fiber body accents.
  • Locking, push-button glove box wrapped in leather.
  • A centrally mounted video display screen to monitor real-time data, including estimated range, power regenerated, and the number of barrels of oil saved. This screen is visible to the driver and passenger.
  • Adjustable, custom-tuned suspension. The shock absorbers’ response and anti-sway bars are manually adjustable.
  • More powerful and immediate heating, ventilation and air-conditioning.
  • More efficient motor and hand-wound stator. The increase in efficiency allows the motor to deliver higher peak power.
  • A suite of sound-deadening measures to dramatically reduce noise, vibration and harshness. For instance, engineers added pellets to a member of the chassis side rail. These pellets expand by 50 times original volume during the adhesive heating cycle to eliminate rattles.

All of these features, except for the motor were available either as standard or as add-on option for the non-sport model.

Beginning mid-March 2010, Tesla, in an effort to show off the practicality of its electric cars, sent one of its Roadsters around the world. Starting at the Geneva auto show, the Roadster completed its journey upon its arrival in Paris on September 28, 2010.

In July 2010, Tesla introduced the “Roadster 2.5”, the latest update of the Roadster. New features in Roadster 2.5 include:

  • A new look, which included a new front fascia with diffusing vents, and rear diffuser reflecting the future of Tesla design
  • Directional forged wheels available in both silver and black
  • New seats with improved comfort, larger more supportive bolsters and a new lumbar support system
  • Power control hardware that enables spirited driving in exceptionally hot climates
  • An optional 7″ touchscreen display with back-up camera
  • Improved interior sound reduction including new front fender liner material to make the cabin quieter

At the time, the US$112,000 Roadster was the most expensive single prize ever offered, though not won, on The Price Is Right, in a playing of Golden Road on April 22, 2010 for Earth Day.

A Roadster was used as a promotional tool for a wind power electricity company in 2012.

Tesla produced the Roadster until January 2012, when its supply of Lotus gliders ran out, as its contract with Lotus Cars for 2,500 gliders expired at the end of 2011. Tesla stopped taking orders for the Roadster in the U.S. market in August 2011. The next generation will not be based on the Lotus gliders but instead on a shortened version of the architecture developed for the Tesla Model S. Featuring new options and enhanced components, the 2012 Tesla Roadster was sold in limited numbers only in Europe, Asia, and Australia. Tesla’s U.S. exemption for not having special two-stage passenger airbags expired for cars made after the end of 2011 so the last Roadsters could not be sold in the American market. Also a total of 15 Final Edition Roadsters were produced to close the manufacturing cycle of Tesla’s first electric car. As of June 2012 the Roadster remained on sale in Europe and Asia and as of December 2012, inventories were not yet depleted.

Tesla announced an optional upgrade to current Roadsters, the Roadster 3.0 in December 2014. It will have a new battery pack from LG Chem, with capacity increased by 50% to 70 kWh (250 MJ), a new aero kit designed to reduce drag, and new tires with lower rolling resistance.

Design & Development:

The Roadster was developed by Tesla to mass-produce AC Propulsion’s tzero concept car. After Martin Eberhard sold NuvoMedia to TV Guide, he wanted a sports car with high mileage, but could not find one. His battery experience with the Rocket eBook inspired him to develop an electric car. The production idea was conceived by Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning who incorporated Tesla Motors in Delaware on July 1, 2003, to pursue the idea commercially. South African-born entrepreneur Elon Musk took an active role within the company starting in 2004, including investing US$7.5 million, overseeing Roadster product design from the beginning, and greatly expanding Tesla’s long-term strategic sales goals by using the sports car to fund development of mainstream vehicles. Musk became Tesla’s Chairman of the Board in April 2004 and had helped recruit JB Straubel as chief technology officer in March 2004. Musk received the Global Green 2006 product design award for the design of the Tesla Roadster, presented by Mikhail Gorbachev, and he received the 2007 Index Design award for the design of the Tesla Roadster.

Tesla Roadster (France)

Tzero – The proof of concept Tesla

Before Tesla had developed the Roadster’s proprietary powertrain, they borrowed an AC Propulsion Tzero vehicle as a test mule and converted from lead acid AGM batteries to lithium ion cells which substantially increased the range, reduced weight, and boosted 0-60 performance. Tesla then licensed AC Propulsion’s EV power system design and reductive charging patent which covers integration of the charging electronics with the inverter, thus reducing mass, complexity, and cost. However, Tesla was dissatisfied with how the motor and transmission worked in the chassis.Tesla then designed and built its own power electronics, motor, and other drivetrain components that incorporated this licensed technology from AC Propulsion. Given the extensive redevelopment of the vehicle, Tesla Motors no longer licenses any proprietary technology from AC Propulsion. The Roadster’s powertrain is unique.

11 July 2005, Tesla and British sports car maker Lotus entered an agreement about products and services based on the Lotus Elise, where Lotus provided advice on designing and developing a vehicle as well as producing partly assembled vehicles, and amended in 2009, helped with basic chassis development. The Roadster has a parts overlap of roughly 6% with the Lotus Elise, a 2-inch-longer wheelbase, and a slightly stiffer chassis according to Eberhard. Tesla’s designers chose to construct the body panels using resin transfer molded carbon fiber composite to minimize weight; this choice makes the Roadster one of the least expensive cars with an entirely carbon fiber skin.Several prototypes of the Tesla Roadster were produced from 2004 through 2007. Initial studies were done in two “test mule” vehicles based on Lotus Elises equipped with all-electric drive systems. Ten engineering prototypes (EP1 through EP10) which led to many minor changes were then built and tested in late 2006 and early 2007. Tesla then produced at least 26 validation prototypes which were delivered beginning in March 2007, These final revisions were endurance and crash tested in preparation for series production.

In August 2007, Martin Eberhard was replaced by an interim CEO, Michael Marks. Marks accepted the temporary position while a recruitment was undertaken. In December 2007, Ze’ev Drori became the CEO and president of Tesla. In October 2008, Musk succeeded Drori as CEO. Drori became vice chairman and left the company in December. In January 2008, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it would grant a waiver of the advanced air bag rule noting that the Tesla Roadster already includes standard air bags; similar waivers have been granted to many other small volume manufacturers as well, including Lotus, Ferrari, and Bugatti. Tesla delivered its first production car in February 2008 to Musk.

Tesla announced in early August 2009 that Roadster sales had resulted in overall corporate profitability for the month of July 2009, earning US$1 million on revenue of US$20 million.

Tesla, which signed a production contract with Group Lotus in 2007 to produce “gliders” (complete cars minus electric powertrain) for the Roadster, announced in early 2010 that Roadster production would continue until early 2012. Starting one year prior to the end of the contract, Tesla put a hiatus on new orders to allow time for tooling changes at Lotus’s assembly plant in the UK.


Interior of Roadster 2.5 from July 2010

Tesla’s cumulative production of the Roadster reached 1,000 cars in January 2010. The Roadster is considered an American car though many carry a Vehicle Identification Number beginning with the letter “S” which is the designation for the United Kingdom. Some however carry a number starting with “5” appropriate to the US. Parts were sourced from around the world. The body panels came from French supplier Sotira. These were sent from France to Hethel, U.K., where Tesla contracted with Lotus to build the Roadster’s unique chassis.The Roadster shares roughly 6% of its components with the Lotus Elise; shared components include the windshield, air bags, some tires, some dashboard parts, and suspension components. The Roadster’s single-speed gearbox was made in Detroit to Tesla’s specifications by Auburn Hills, Michigan-based supplier BorgWarner. Brakes and airbags were made by Siemens in Germany, and some crash testing was conducted at Siemens as well.

For Roadsters bound for customers in North America, the chassis was then sent to Menlo Park, California, for final assembly. For Roadsters bound for customers in Europe or elsewhere outside of North America, the chassis was sent to a facility at Wymondham near Hethel, for final assembly. At these final assembly locations, Tesla employees installed the entire powertrain, which consisted of the battery pack, power electronics module, gearbox and motor. Tesla also performed rigorous “pre-delivery inspection” on every car before customers took ownership.

Tesla ordered 2,500 gliders from Lotus, which ended supplies in December 2011 when their contract expired. Tesla ended production of the Roadster in January 2012.

Track Timeline:

Subsequent to completion of production car number one at Hethel, the company announced problems with transmission reliability. The development transmission, with first gear enabled to accelerate 0 to 97 km/h (0 to 60 mph) in 4 seconds, was reported to have a life expectancy of as low as only a few thousand miles. Tesla’s first two transmission suppliers were unable to produce transmissions, in quantity, that could withstand the gear-shift requirements of the high torque, high rpm electric motor. In December 2007, Tesla announced plans to ship the initial Roadsters with the transmissions locked into second gear to provide 0 to 97 km/h (0 to 60 mph) acceleration in 5.7 seconds. The first production car was not delivered with this interim solution; P1 has both transmission gears enabled. According to the plan, the initial transmissions were to be swapped out under warranty when the finalized transmission, power electronics module (PEM), and cooling system became available. The EPA range of the car was also restated downward from 394 to 356 km (245 to 221 mi). The downward revision was attributed to an error in equipment calibration at the laboratory that conducted the original test.

  • During the first two months of production, Tesla produced a total of three Roadsters (P3/VINF002, P4/VINF004, and P5/VINF005). Production car # 1 (P1) and P2 were built prior to the start of regular series production, which began March 17, 2008.
  • By September 10, 2008, Tesla had delivered 27 of the cars to customers. It was also reported that a newer, better transmission had been developed and that production of the car was hoped to reach 20 per week by December 2008, and 40 per week by March 2009. Over the next 20 days, however, only three more cars had been delivered to customers which brought the total to 30 as of September 30, 2008.
  • By November 19, 2008, more than 70 of the cars had been delivered to customers.
  • By December 9, 2008, the 100th car had been delivered.
  • By February 11, 2009, 200 Roadsters had been produced.
  • By April 2, 2009, 320 Roadsters had been delivered.
  • In May 2009, Tesla issued a safety recall for all 345 of its Roadsters that were manufactured before April 22, 2009. Tesla sent technicians to customers’ homes to tighten the rear, inner hub flange bolts. Tesla told customers that without this adjustment, the driver could lose control of the car and crash. The problem originated at the Lotus assembly line that builds the Roadster and Lotus also recalled some of its own vehicles. Tesla reminded customers that millions of cars are recalled every year.
  • By the end of May 2009, the 500th Roadster had been delivered.
  • Tesla made its first profit ever in July 2009, when it shipped 109 vehicles, the most in a single month at that time.
  • By September 15, 2009, 700 Roadsters had been delivered.
  • Tesla announced on January 13, 2010, that it had produced its 1,000th Roadster. The company had delivered vehicles to customers in 43 states and 21 countries worldwide. In 2009 Tesla began taking orders from customers in Canada, and Canadian deliveries began in February 2010.
  • In January 2010, Tesla began producing its first right-hand-drive Roadsters for the UK and Ireland. The 2010 model-year right-hand-drive Roadster included a suite of unique noise-reduction materials and an upgraded sound system. The Roadster started at £86,950 and cost about 1.5p per mile.
  • On 29 January 2010, in a Form S-1 filing of its preliminary prospectus with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company stated that it would halt production of the Roadster in 2011 and replace it with a new model which would not be introduced until 2013 at the earliest: “…we do not plan to sell our current generation Tesla Roadster after 2011 due to planned tooling changes at a supplier for the Tesla Roadster, and we do not currently plan to begin selling our next-generation Tesla Roadster until at least one year after the launch of the Model S, which is not expected to be in production until 2012…” The Model S was released in June 2012.
  • On 16 March 2010, Tesla announced that it had “negotiated agreements with key suppliers that will increase total Roadster production by 40 percent and extend sales into 2012”, also indicating that it would expand into the Asian and Australian markets by 2011.
  • On 2 December 2010, Tesla had delivered more than 1,400 Roadsters.
  • On 28 September 2011, Tesla delivered its 100th Roadster in Switzerland.
  • Production ended in January 2012 and was no longer available for sale the U.S. after December 2011.
  • More than 2,418 units were sold worldwide through September 2012. The remaining cars were available for sale only in Europe and Asia. Most of the remaining Roadsters were sold during the fourth quarter of 2012.
  • In 2015, it was announced that a successor to the Roadster would debut in 2019.
  • In 2016, Tesla began selling a battery upgrade from 53 to 80 kWh (190 to 290 MJ).
  • In 2017, it was announced that a successor to the Roadster would debut in 2020.

Special final edition:

Tesla produced a special edition of 15 Final Edition Roadsters to close the production cycle of the electric car. The 15 special-edition cars were sold in each of the three sales regions, North America, Europe and Asia, and five units were allocated to each. The Final Edition Roadster did not have any performance modifications, but featured sporting atomic red paint, a duo of dark silver stripes on its hood and rear clamshell, and exclusive anthracite aluminum wheels.



                                                                                                     Tesla Roadster with hood and trunk open

The Roadster is powered by a 3-phase, 4-pole, induction electric motor with a maximum output power of 185 kW (248 hp). Its maximum torque of 200 lb⋅ft (270 N⋅m) is immediately available and remains constant from 0 to 6,000 rpm; nearly instantaneous torque is a characteristic of electric motors and offers one of the biggest performance differences from internal combustion engines. The motor is air-cooled and does not need a liquid cooling system.

The Sport model introduced during the Jan 2009 Detroit Auto Show includes a motor with a higher density, hand-wound stator that produces a maximum of 288 hp (215 kW). Both motors are designed for rotational speeds of up to 14,000 rpm, and the regular motor delivers a typical efficiency of 88% or 90%; 80% at peak power. It weighs less than 70 pounds (32 kg).


Starting in September 2008 Tesla selected Borg Warner to manufacture gearboxes and began equipping all Roadsters with a single speed, fixed gear gearbox (8.2752:1) with an electrically actuated parking pawl mechanism and a mechanical lubrication pump.

The company previously worked with several companies, including XTrac and Magna International, to find the right automatic transmission, but a two-gear solution proved to be too challenging. This led to substantial delays in production. At the “Town Hall Meeting” with owners in December 2007, Tesla announced plans to ship the initial 2008 Roadsters with their interim Magna two-speed direct shift manual transmissions locked into second gear, limiting the performance of the car to less than what was originally stated (0 to 97 km/h (0 to 60 mph) in 5.7 seconds instead of the announced 4.0 seconds). Tesla also announced it would upgrade those transmissions under warranty when the final transmission became available. At the “Town Hall Meeting” with owners on January 30, 2008, Tesla Motors described the planned transmission upgrade as a single-speed gearbox with a drive ratio of 8.27:1 combined with improved electronics and motor cooling that retain the acceleration from 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) in under 4 seconds and an improved motor limit of 14,000 rpm to retain the 201 km/h (125 mph) top speed. The upgraded system also improved the maximum torque from 270 to 380 N⋅m (200 to 280 lb⋅ft) and improves the Roadster’s quarter mile times.

Gear selector:

In the interior the gear selector is similar to a push-button automatic with buttons labeled P, R, N and D while some earlier models have a gear lever similar to that in cars with manual transmission.


The Roadster’s 0 to 97 km/h (0 to 60 mph) acceleration time is 3.9 seconds for the Standard model and 3.7 seconds for the 2010 V2.5 Sport, which MotorTrend confirmed in the first independent, instrumented testing the Sport. The magazine also recorded a 0-to-14-mile (0.00 to 0.40 km) time of 12.6 seconds at 165.1 km/h (102.6 mph). Tesla said the top speed is electronically limited to 201 km/h (125 mph). Tesla claims it has a weight of 1,305 kg (2,877 lb), a drag coefficient of Cd=0.35–0.36 and a rolling resistance of Crr=0.011.

Tesla began delivering the higher performance version of the Roadster in July 2009. The Roadster Sport has adjustable dampers and a new hand-wound motor, capable of 0 to 97 km/h (0 to 60 mph) in 3.7 seconds. Scotty Pollacheck, a high-performance driver for Killacycle, drove a 2010 Tesla Roadster Sport at the Wayland Invitational Drag Race in Portland, Oregon, in July 2009. He did a quarter-mile (~400 m) in dry conditions in 12.643 seconds, setting a new record in the National Electric Drag Racing Association among the SP/A3 class of vehicles. The EPA combined range (specifying distance traveled between charges) measured in February 2008 for early production Roadsters was 372 km (231 mi) city, 360 km (224 mi) highway, and 365 km (227 mi) combined (city/highway). In August 2008, additional testing with the newer Powertrain 1.5 resulted in an EPA combined range of 393 km (244 mi). The vehicle set a new distance record when it completed the 388-kilometre (241 mi) Rallye Monte Carlo d’Energies Alternatives with 58 km (36 mi) left on the charge, A Roadster drove around the world (although flying as cargo over oceans) in 2012, and repeated it in 80 days with other electric cars in 2016. Simon Hackett and Emilis Prelgauskas broke the distance record for an electric vehicle, driving 501 km (311 mi) from Alice Springs to Marla, South Australia, in Simon’s Tesla Roadster. The car had about 4.8 km (3.0 mi) of range left when the drive was completed

Battery system:

An electrical plug of the Tesla Roadster Sport
The rear side of a Tesla Roadster battery pack
The charging screen of a Tesla Roadster Sport 
Tesla refers to the Roadster’s battery pack as the Energy Storage System or ESS. The 450 kg (992 lb) ESS contains 6,831 lithium ion cells arranged into 11 “sheets” connected in series; each sheet contains 9 “bricks” connected in series; each “brick” contains 69 cells connected in parallel (11S 9S 69P). The cells are of the 18650 form factor commonly found in laptop batteries. Sources disagree on the exact type of Li-Ion cells—GreenCar says lithium cobalt oxide (LiCo), while researchers at DTU/INESC Porto state lithium manganese oxide (LMO). LiCo has higher reaction energy during thermal runaway than LMO.

The pack is designed to prevent catastrophic cell failures from propagating to adjacent cells (thermal runaway), even when the cooling system is off. Coolant is pumped continuously through the ESS both when the car is running and when the car is turned off if the pack retains more than a 90% charge. The coolant pump draws 146 watts. The cooling and battery management system keeps the temperatures and voltages within specific limits.

Charging unit – A full recharge to 53 kWh (190 MJ) requires about 3½ hours using the High Power Connector which supplies 70-amp, 240-volt electricity. Tesla said in February 2009 that the ESS had expected life span of seven years/160,000 km (100,000 mi), and began selling pre-purchase battery replacements for about one third of the battery’s price today, with the replacement to be delivered after seven years. Tesla says the ESS retains 70% capacity after five years and 80,000 km (50,000 mi) of driving, assuming 16,000 km (10,000 mi) driven each year. A July 2013 study found that after 160,000 km (100,000 mi), Roadster batteries still had 80%–85% capacity and the only significant factor is mileage (not temperature). Tesla announced plans to sell the battery system and possibly others through its Tesla Energy Group division. The TH!NK plans were put on hold by interim CEO Michael Marks in September 2007. TH!NK now obtains its lithium-ion batteries from Enerdel.


The Roadster uses a proprietary charging connector, although Tesla sells a mobile adapter that enables recharging with an SAE J1772-2009 connector. The vehicle can be recharged using:

  • A wall-mounted 208–240 V, 70 A maximum current Home Connector. This appears to be an OEM version of the TS-70 charging station from ClipperCreek.
  • A portable 120–240 V, 40 A maximum current Universal Mobile Connector cable that can plug into a NEMA 14–50 receptacle and other 240 V receptacles using adapters.
  • A portable 120 V, 15 A maximum current Spare Mobile Connector cable that plugs into a standard North American domestic socket.

Charging times vary depending on the ESS’s state-of-charge, the available voltage, and the available circuit breaker amp rating (current). In a best case scenario using a 240 V charger on a 90 A circuit breaker, Tesla documents a recharging rate of 90 km (56 mi) of range for each hour charging; a complete recharge from empty would require just under four hours. The slowest charging rate using a 120 V outlet on a 15 A circuit breaker would add 8.0 km (5 mi) of range for each hour charging; a complete recharge from empty would require 48 hours.

Technical data:

Tesla Roadster Tesla Roadster (“P1”) 1.5 Standard Tesla Roadster 2.0 Tesla Roadster 2.5 base Tesla Roadster 2.5 Sport Tesla Roadster R80 (3.0) upgrade
Introduced 2006 2007 2009 2010 2010 2014
Transmission 2 forward speeds + reverse (by reversing the motor)

  • 1st gear: 4.20:1
  • 2nd gear: 2.17:1Reverse by reversing the motor (speed electronically limited)
  • Final drive: 3.41:1
Single speed BorgWarner fixed gear (8.27:1 ratio)
Power 185 kW (248 hp) 185 kW (248 hp) 215 kW (288 hp) 215 kW (288 hp) 215 kW (288 hp) 215 kW (288 hp)
Torque 240 N⋅m (180 lb⋅ft) 370 N⋅m (273 lb⋅ft) 380 N⋅m (280 lb⋅ft) 380 N⋅m (280 lb⋅ft) 400 N⋅m (295 lb⋅ft) 380 or 400 N⋅m (280 or 295 lb⋅ft)
Battery 53kWh 53kWh 53kWh 53kWh 53kWh 80kWh
Range 320 to 400 km (200 to 250 mi) 372 km (231 mi) 393 km (244 mi) 393 km (244 mi) 393 km (244 mi) 640 km (400 mi)
Cd 0.36 0.36 0.36 0.36 0.36 0.31
0–100 km/h(62 mph) around four seconds5.7 seconds (limited due to durability) 4.0 sec 3.9 sec 3.9 sec 3.7 sec 3.7 sec
Curb weight (kg) / (lb)All fluids, 50% fuel 1,305 kg (2,877 lb) 1,237 kg (2,727 lb) 1,237 kg (2,727 lb) 1,237 kg (2,727 lb) 1,237 kg (2,727 lb)
Top speed over 130 mph 201 km/h (125 mph) 201 km/h (125 mph) 201 km/h (125 mph) 201 km/h (125 mph) 201 km/h (125 mph)
Base price  $80,000-$120,000 $98,950 $109,000 $110,950 $128,500 Car+ $29,000

Energy efficiency:

In June 2006, Tesla reported the Roadster’s battery-to-wheel efficiency as 110 W·h/km (17.7 kW·h/100 mi) on an unspecified driving cycle—either a constant 97 km/h (60 mph)) or SAE J1634 test—and stated a charging efficiency of 86% for an overall plug-to-wheel efficiency of 128 W·h/km (20.5 kW·h/100 mi).

Evolution of the Roadster’s plug-to-wheel efficiency (smaller values indicate better efficiency), In March 2007, Tesla reported the Roadster’s efficiency on the EPA highway cycle as “135 mpg [U.S.] equivalent, per the conversion rate used by the EPA” or 133 W·h/km (21.5 kW·h/100 mi) battery-to-wheel and 155 W·h/km (24.9 kW·h/100 mi) plug-to-wheel. The official U.S. window sticker of the 2009 Tesla Roadster showed an EPA rated energy consumption of 32 kW-hrs/100 mi in city and 33 kW-hrs/100 mi on the highway, equivalent to 105 mpg city and 102 mpg highway. The EPA rating for on board energy efficiency for electric vehicles before 2010 was expressed as kilowatt-hour per 100 miles (kW-hrs/100 mi). Since November 2010, with the introduction of the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt, EPA began using a new metric, miles per gallon gasoline equivalent (MPGe). The Roadster was never officially rated by the EPA in MPGe.


In August 2007, Tesla dynamometer testing of a validation prototype on the EPA combined cycle yielded a range of 356 km (221 mi) using 149 W·h/km (23.9 kW·h/100 mi) battery-to-wheel and 209 Wh/km (33.6 kW·h/100 mi) plug-to-wheel. In February 2008, Tesla reported improved plug-to-wheel efficiency after testing a validation prototype car at an EPA-certified location. Those tests yielded a range of 350 km (220 mi) and a plug-to-wheel efficiency of 199 W/km (32.1 kW·h /100 mi) or 256 mpggeIn August 2008, Tesla reported on testing with the new, single-speed gearbox and upgraded electronics of powertrain 1.5 which yielded an EPA range of 393 km (244 mi) and an EPA combined cycle, plug-to-wheel efficiency of 174 W·h/km, 630 kJ/km (28 kW·h/100 mi).

Roadster being tested through a driving cycle at Argonne National Laboratory’s two-wheel dynamometer. These tests helped researchers develop test procedures to evaluate fuel efficiency in electric vehicles in 2010. In 2007, the Roadster’s battery-to-wheel motor efficiency was reported as 88% to 90% on average and 80% at peak power. For comparison, internal combustion engines have a tank-to-wheel efficiency of about 15%.[158] Taking a more complete picture including the cost of energy drawn from its source, Tesla reports that their technology, assuming electricity generated from natural gas-burning power plants, has a high well-to-wheel efficiency of 1.14 km per mega joule, compared to 0.202 km/MJ for gasoline-powered sports cars, 0.478 km/MJ for gasoline-powered commuter cars, 0.556 km/MJ for hybrid cars, and 0.348 km/MJ for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.


Petroleum-equivalent efficiency:

A number comparable to the typical Monroney sticker’s “pump-to-wheel” fuel efficiency can be calculated based on regulations from the DOE and its energy content for a U.S. gallon of gasoline of 33,705 ​Whgal (also called the Lower Heating Value (LHV) of gasoline):

For CAFE regulatory purposes, the DOE’s full petroleum-equivalency equation combines the primary energy efficiencies of the USA electric grid and the well-to-pump path with a “fuel content factor” that quantifies the value of conservation, scarcity of fuels, and energy security in the USA. This combination yields a factor of 82,049 ​Whgal in the above equation and a regulatory fuel efficiency of 293 mpgge.   

Tesla Roadster 2.5 charging from a conventional outlet Recharging with electricity from the average US grid, the factor changes to 12,307 ​WhgalUS to remove the “fuel content factor” = ​10.15 and the above equation yields a full-cycle energy-equivalency of 44.0 mpgge full-cycle. For full-cycle comparisons, the sticker or “pump-to-wheel” value from a gasoline-fueled vehicle must be multiplied by the fuel’s “well-to-pump” efficiency; the DOE regulation specifies a “well-to-pump” efficiency of 83% for gasoline. The Prius’s sticker 46 mpg‑US (5.1 L/100 km; 55 mpg‑imp), for example, converts to a full-cycle energy-equivalent of 38.2 mpg full cycle.


Recharging with electricity generated by newer, 58% efficiency CCGT power plants, changes the factor to 21,763 ​Whgal in the above equation and yields a fuel efficiency of 77.7 mpgge.

Recharging with non-fossil fuel electricity sources such as hydroelectric, solar power, wind or nuclear, the petroleum equivalent efficiency can be even higher as fossil fuel is not directly used in refueling.


Whereas vehicles with internal combustion engines require more frequent service for oil changes and routine maintenance on engine components and other related systems, Tesla’s website recommends the owner bring the vehicle in for service “once a year or every 12,000 miles”. For other concerns with vehicles, Tesla created a “mobile service unit” that dispatches company-trained technicians to customers’ homes or offices in case the owner is experiencing problems. Tesla charges the customer according to the distance the service unit needs to travel: one US dollar per mile roundtrip with a 100-dollar minimum. Technicians drive company vans equipped with numerous tools and testing equipment to do “in the field” repairs, enhancements and software upgrades. Tesla debuted this “house call” approach in the spring of 2009, when the company announced a recall due to a manufacturing problem in the Lotus assembly plant, which also affected the Lotus Elise and other models from the British sports car maker.

The first Tesla service center, in Los Angeles, California, was opened on Santa Monica Boulevard on May 1, 2008. Tesla publicly opened their second showroom and service area in Menlo Park, California on July 22, 2008. The Menlo Park location is also the final assembly area for Tesla Roadsters. Tesla also operates service centers in New York City, Miami, Chicago, and Seattle.

In 2007, Tesla announced plans to build additional service centers over the following few years to support sales of its next vehicle, the Model S sports sedan. This included an additional 15 service centers in United States major metropolitan locations. Possible locations for sales and service locations in Europe were announced in a letter to customers in May 2008.

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