The Tesla Roadster linked up to a charging point in the middle of Amsterdam in September was, we thought, a glimpse of something quite quaint. A trendy urbanite – rich, obviously – was indulging a futuristic eco-lifestyle to the nth possible degree. The Roadster costs £102,000.
Just three months later though, the news that the company’s new ‘Model S’ has driven 423 miles on a single charge has us thinking seriously about electric cars for the first time.
Ok, we should wait for the Guiness Book of Records’ confirmation. Even the man involved admits he drove at 25mph for seventeen hours. But US magazine Motor Trend covering 234 miles in five hours continuous driving confirms Model S does have real-world stamina. The makers claim 300 miles at 55mph.
The big revelation though was that it completed the course for a third of the cost of the BMW 528i chase car.
Bear in mind that a quarter of the budget for our 2,200 mile round trip to Denmark and Sweden went on fuel, and that included a couple of five star hotels.
Maximising the range means you won’t take advantage of the car’s 0-60 in 3.9secs. And a top speed of 130mph doesn’t really cut it on autobahns these days. But the lack of an internal combustion engine means it has two boots (the electric motor is between the rear wheels). You won’t have to worry about low emission zones, while the luxury spec and full length glass roof makes it ideal for a glamorous, four up transcontinental ‘gour(met) tour’.
Apart from range, the other sensitivity with electric cars is where to charge them. They can actually use any socket but since you won’t want to dangle a wire out of the hotel window it’s reassuring to see there’s a growing network of public charging points across Europe (interestingly the UK has by far the most).
The first super-fast charging points – 30 minutes equals three hours motorway driving – will open over here next year (how great if the ferry operators offered on-board charging).
Tesla itself is looking increasingly like a goer too. It made its first profit last month, there’s a massive waiting list for Model S and it just got its first software upgrade, delivered over the internet. It can be serviced at your house.
It goes on sale in the UK in the middle of 2013 – priced £50-80,000 (UK prices possibly announced next week). That’s expensive, but consider the fuel (and tax) saving. The more miles you do the cheaper it gets. You can order one now (£40,000 deposit for the top spec model…). The company will open a final assembly and distribution centre in Tilburg, south west Netherlands next month.
The 200 odd mile range is not quite there for totally carefree continental motoring just yet, but already it would comfortably get you from London to Brussels or, at a push, Paris.