About TeslaTesla, born in 2003, is one of the newest car builders in the United States--and perhaps one of the most audacious, thanks to its main focus of building a viable all-electric sports car.
Many doubted the company could even start producing electric sports cars that would work in the real world, with decent performance and a good range, but the Tesla Roadster started production in 2006 and more than 1,500 vehicles have been sold since then. The base price for the car is $109,000.
Tesla claims that it costs 2 cents per mile to operate the car, while it costs about 25 cents per mile to drive a conventional gasoline-powered sports car.
The Tesla Roadster, which has a Lotus-built carbon-fiber body that strongly resembles a Lotus Elise, is now its fourth generation,... View more with significant upgrades in July 2009 and July 2010. The Roadster is the first production vehicle to use lithium-ion battery cells and the first production electric car with a range that is greater than 200 miles for each charge.
Tesla's founders were Martin Eberhard, Marc Tarpenning, J.B. Straubel, Ian Wright and Elon Musk. Musk is the company chairman and CEO. Tesla has been able to attract millions in private investment and more than $400 million in loans from the U.S. Department of Energy program that was created to help U.S. companies develop and build vehicles that reduce dependence on foreign oil imports.
Tesla, which is based in Palo Alto, CA, is more than a sports car company on the pointy edge of electric power. A company goal is to make increasing numbers of electric vehicles--and different kinds of electric cars--available to the marketplace.
Tesla sells parts and components--including complete powertrains--to other automakers in an effort to build momentum for electric-powered vehicles. Tesla is currently building components to help Mercedes-Benz create electric versions of their A-Class cars. And the company is also working with Daimler AG to create an electric version of the Smart car--and with Toyota to create an electric version of RAV4 sport utility vehicle.
Tesla also plans to roll out an electric sedan, called the Model S, in 2012. This car, with a base price of about $57,400, will seat five passengers and has a 0-60 mph time of less than 6 seconds. Customers will choose from cars that go 160, 230 or 300 miles between charges.The Model S is designed to compete with the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class cars.Tesla also plans to build electric-powered utility vans and a cabriolet on the Model S platform.
Tesla's factory is located in the former GM plant in Fremont, CA. Tesla will partner with Toyota to build the Model S and an electric-powered RAV4 at the plant--with production starting in 2012. Tesla also recently announced a partnership with Panasonic to develop nickel-based lithium-ion battery cells for electric vehicles.
So, less than 10 years down the road, Tesla is now on the leading edge of electric vehicle production and technology. World oil prices continue to rise, and that will only make Tesla's cars and technology attractive to a growing market for electric-powered cars. View less
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