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Globe Trotting Tesla Tragically Crashes 600 Miles Short Of Finish


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Back in July, we told you about Frenchman Rafael de Mestre, and his Verne-inspired attempt to travel around the world in just 80 days in his all-electric Tesla Roadster

Using some clever social media, and a few video cameras to boot, de Mestre has live blogged his trip in detail, giving us the highs and lows of a global expedition in a super-sexy sports car. 

On Sunday, however, just 600 miles short of the finish line, de Mestre’s attempt to beat fellow Frenchmen Xavier Degon and Antonin Guy’s own electric car circumnavigation of the world came to an abrupt halt. 

While passing through Germany, de Mestre’s all-black Tesla, nick-named KIT, rear-ended a Toyota hatchback and Mercedes SUV after failing to stop in time on a busy stretch of road.

Luckily, de Mestre escaped from his car unharmed, as did all of the other drivers involved in the accident. 

At the present time, the cause of the accident has not been disclosed, but de Mestre, posting on the trip’s Facebook page on Sunday said it all. 

“noooooooooooo!!!!,” he wrote. “game over! +++ I’m Fine!!!”

Initially, things looked bleak, with most of his Tesla’s front bodywork smashed and lying on the blacktop after the accident. 

But early this morning, de Mestre gave at least some hope of finishing his trek: Tesla was already working on his car.

Rafael de Mestre's Crashed Tesla Roadster (via Facebook)

Rafael de Mestre’s Crashed Tesla Roadster (via Facebook)

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“Tesla is repairing KIT with 5 technicians in parallel!,” he excitedly proclaimed online.

Rather than end his trip early as first feared, it looks as if de Mestre may just beat his fellow Frenchman — driving a 2012 Citroen C-Zero (Mitsubishi i) — across the finish line. 

That’s as long as Tesla can repair his car in short order, of course.

As for the accident itself? 

De Mestre captured it all via an on-board camera, and posted this short, but terrifying video of the accident online, calling it “The black day of the race.”

We’re glad to hear that no-one was injured, and wish de Mestre the best of luck with the remaining 600 miles of his trip. 

And of course, we’d like to remind everyone of one simple fact. 

As we’re sure de Mestre was, Always. Wear. Your. Seatbelt.

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By Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield

Got A Tesla Roadster And Want A Model S? Tesla Will Buy It Back

2011 Tesla Roadster 2.5

2011 Tesla Roadster 2.5

Pretend for a moment that you’re one of the fortunate folks who purchased a new Tesla Roadster while it was still in production. You’re satisfied with the car, but now all anyone wants to talk about is the swanky new Tesla Model S. What’s an early adopter to do?

You could, or course, trade in that Roadster for another vehicle from a different manufacturer. Some dealers might balk at the idea, since the all-electric Tesla is a very different car than the kind in which most of them traffic. And of course, those dealers wouldn’t be able to sell you the Model S, because only Tesla can do that. (For now.)

Thankfully, there’s now another option for EV enthusiasts: Tesla has launched a buyback program, allowing Roadster owners to trade in their pricey two-seaters for the more practical Model S.

Tesla intends to re-sell the Roadsters for prices ranging between about $70,000 and $90,000, depending on vehicle condition. What Tesla hasn’t said is how much it’s willing to give Roadster owners for their trade-ins.

Roadsters initially cost north of $100,000 but the 60 kwh version of the Model S starts much lower, at $62,400. So, it’s conceivable that Roadster owners could drive off with a brand-new ride and some dough for the difference.

That said, we have a hunch that most Roadster types would opt for the Model S Performance, which has a significantly higher $87,400 starting price — meaning that Tesla might not have to write many refund checks. 

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By Richard Read

Detroit Electric SP:01 – The New Tesla Roadster?

2013 Detroit Electric SP:01

HI-RES GALLERY: 2013 Detroit Electric SP:01

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    • 2013 Detroit Electric SP:01

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The Detroit Electric SP:01 you see above was teased last month, but readers will note its similarity to the British Lotus Elise sports car–albeit one with electric power.

This is not, it has to be said, an original idea. The Tesla Roadster of a few years past also used a Lotus Elise chassis, albeit with carbon-fiber bodywork and a unique redesign. The PG Elektrus was similar. As was the Nemesis. And several others besides.

There’s a good reason for it of course–the Elise’s aluminum chassis provides electric automakers with a light, strong, adaptable platform. But what separates Detroit Electric’s version from the rest?

It’s certainly as fast as the rest–0-62 mph takes only 3.7 seconds, and it’ll reach 155 mph with a long enough straight.

That’s partly down to its light-weight bodywork–carbon fiber, like several of the others–and partly to a 150 kW (201 horsepower) electric motor, developing 166 pounds-feet of torque in the usual low-down manner.

Unusually, Detroit Electric says the SP:01 features four gear ratios, making it one of a small band of electric cars to use a manual transmission. The company does say that gearshifts won’t be frequent however, owing to the motor’s strong torque.

37 kWh of battery capacity supplies the car with nearly 190 miles of range, though this figure was attained in European testing–so expect the EPA figures to be lower. A full charge using the company’s home charging unit takes 4.3 hours.

The SP:01′s technology is newer than its looks suggest. In addition to what Detroit Electric calls a ‘SAMI’–Smartphone Application Managed Infotainment system–the car also features bi-directional charging and discharging. What this means is that the cool blue sports car can be used much like the Mitsubishi i-MiEV House: supplying power back-up for your home. If it’s plugged-in during an outage the car will contact you via SAMI and the GSM network and let you send power the other way, keeping your home on-line.

The price of all this performance and technology is $135,000–more expensive than the Roadster was–with a three-year, 30,000-mile warranty. Buyers can also opt for a five-year, 50,000-mile extension for the battery warranty.

Old name, revived

Its place of birth makes the SP:01 special too. You might have heard the name Detroit Electric used in context with vintage electric vehicles (such as this 1914 example) and as the name suggests, the company is based in Motor City itself, at the Fisher Building in downtown Detroit.

The actual car is to be produced in Wayne County, Michigan, and only 999 examples will be built–before being shipped to buyers worldwide.

The Michigan site actually has capacity for 2,500 vehicles a year, so if the SP:01 is successful it shouldn’t be the last vehicle emerging from the factory’s gates. With added emphasis on the “if”–Detroit Electric in its current guise is still a startup, and as such carries all the associated risks.

We’ve been here before, as evidence of those difficulties–including Detroit Electric’s $25,000 electric sedan project in 2009 that never got off the ground, and a seemingly forgotten deal with Chinese automaker Dongfeng.

The company expects to create 180 manufacturing and sales-related jobs over the next year. IIf all goes well, production is set to begin August 2013.

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By Antony Ingram

Tesla Roadster Owners Get Third-Party Charging Adaptor, CAN Finally Charge

Tesla Roadster To J-1772 Adaptor

Tesla Roadster To J-1772 Adaptor

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It officially ended production last year, but the iconic Tesla Roadster is still being developed and tweaked thanks to a few enterprising Tesla owners and fans. 

The latest must-have for any Tesla Roadster? A small adaptor that allows Tesla Roadster owners to charge their cars at any public J-1772 charging station, despite having a car with a mechanically incompatible charging socket.

Called The CAN, the tiny adaptor has been developed by Henry Sharp, a Tesla Roadster owner from Vermont. 

About the size of a soda drinks can, one side plugs into the proprietary charging socket on the Tesla Roadster, while the other offers a J-1772 inlet that can be used with any Level 2 charging station. 

Luckily, while the Tesla Roadster’s charge port is a physically incompatible with J-1772 charging stations, it is electrically compatible, reducing the adaptor’s complexity.

Tesla Roadster To J-1772 Adaptor

Tesla Roadster To J-1772 Adaptor

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To ensure no-one steals the tiny 6.6-inch long adaptor, Sharp has designed it with a small hole that allows the user to lock the adaptor onto their car. 

At $695, it isn’t exactly cheap, but the third-party device is cheaper than Tesla’s own, much larger,  J-1772 mobile connector by $75. 

Because the Tesla Roadster has such a small trunk however, the new lockable adaptor has already gained itself a significant fan base among Tesla owners unwilling to lug the $750, 4-foot official adaptor from Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] around just so they can charge. 

With other third-party add-on solutions like the Open Vehicle Monitoring System, Tesla enthusiasts continue to ensure that the Tesla Roadster remains up-to-date with electric car technology. 

It also makes the Tesla Roadster one of the most frequently modified electric cars on the market today. 

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By Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield

Want A Tesla Roadster? Buy George Clooney’s Old Car

2008 tesla roadster motorauthority 020

2008 tesla roadster motorauthority 020

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The Tesla Roadster is no longer on sale, and with attention on the recently-launched Model S, the upcoming Model X crossover and a rumored BMW 3-Series-sized Tesla sedan, it may be some time before the company produces another sports car.

That means you’re limited to used vehicles, and what better model to go for than a little-used example previously owned by Hollywood superstar George Clooney?

Where many celebrities own a token Toyota Prius, Clooney went the whole hog and bought a Tesla Roadster–a 2008 “Signature 100″ model, to be precise.

Inside Line reports that the car, with only 1,700 miles on the odometer–no doubt thanks to George’s busy schedule–will cross the auction block on August 19, during the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

It’s expected to fetch $100,000-$125,000, but rather than filling Clooney’s coffers the money will go towards the Satellite Sentinel Project, an organization that helps prevent wars in southern Sudan by monitoring the borders between north and south Sudan.

“This is an incredible opportunity to purchase a modern collector car with all the right elements: one-owner, celebrity provenance; historical significance; limited-edition rarity and philanthropic ties”, said David Gooding, president and founder of Gooding & Company auctioneers, who will sell the car.

The Obsidian Black Metallic Roadster is number 0008 from the run of 100 special editions, and features a two-tone leather interior.

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By Antony Ingram

Want To Trade Your Tesla Roadster In For A 2012 Model S? Now You Can

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

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If you’ve ever purchased a car, the chances are you’ll be familiar with the concept of trade-ins: giving the dealer your old car– and the equity contained within it–as a down-payment on a newer model.

Now electric automaker Tesla Motors is offering a similar trade-in deal for owners of its first electric car: the Tesla Roadster. 

Sell Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA} your old two-seat roadster, and it will give you a substantial discount on a brand new 2012 Tesla Model S. 

Traditionally, although trade-in deals offer car buyers a convenient way to get rid of their old car, trade-in values are much less than private sale prices. 

After trade in, unless your old car is still relatively new or in demand, the dealer then sells your car on for profit at a used car auction. 

From there, it makes its way to a used car lot. 

At face value, Tesla’s trade-in deal seems to operate like any other, but there’s a few twists which make it very different. 

First, there’s no dealer. Tesla customers ordering a 2012 Model S can opt to sell their car back to Tesla. 

Thanks to extensive service records and remote diagnostics, Tesla can accurately value a traded-in Roadster before it even arrives. 

And rather than go onto a used car lot, Tesla is planning to sell traded-in Roadsters at its stores, ensuring used Tesla customers get the same level of service it offers it new car customers. 

Second, thanks to a limited production run of around 2,600 cars, Tesla Roadsters have kept their value. 

2011 Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5

2011 Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5

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According to The San Francisco Chronicle, Tesla expects a 4-year-old Tesla Roadster with 31,000 miles to sell for around $73,300. 

Even assuming a lower trade-in value, Tesla Roadster owners with cars in good condition could end up buying a brand-new top-spec Model S–which costs upwards of $100,000, depending on options– for less than $30,000.

In order to do that, they will have to trade their old Roadster in, of course. 

With the base level Model S costing $57,400 before incentives, and a good-condition 2010 Roadster selling for much more, some owners may find that Tesla has to cut them a check for the difference. 

Third, because Tesla still offers upgrade packages for Roadster owners, allowing them to upgrade a 1.5 or 2.0 Roadster to the same specification as the last Roadster to roll off the production line, almost any age Tesla can be given a new lease of life. 

This means that instead of waiting for the right spec Tesla Roadster to come along, those looking to buy a used Tesla can simply ask the automaker to upgrade their car to the right specifications. 

Finally, by starting a trade-in program for its iconic Roadster, Tesla gets an extra model of car to sell alongside the 2012 Model S. 

And of course, for those who couldn’t afford the Tesla Roadster first time around, there’s just a slim chance that maybe, just maybe, they can grab a used one at a more sensible price.

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By Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield