Monday, March 26, 2012

Car Candy: The Tesla Roadster

We were walking around the other day, enjoying Back Bay's blooming trees, when we were suddenly riveted by an unusual car, sitting at a traffic light. It was a glacier-blue Tesla Roadster, a completely electric sports car. I'd never seen one. Small wonder: there are only about 2,100 Roadsters in the world.

It was beautiful. But its looks weren't the most amazing thing about it. When the light changed and it accelerated, it barely made a sound — just a soft hum. Imagine a sports car that quietly glides instead of growling or purring. It moved with stealth, understatement, and zero emissions instead of metaphorically beating its chest and suggesting that its engine noise is in direct proportion to the driver's testosterone level. Or whatever.

On the basis of that alone, the Roadster has to be one of the most sophisticated sports cars ever. I know that Priuses and other electric cars are quiet, too, but they are also invariably dorky to look at. Show me the George Clooney of electric cars instead of the George Costanza, and I'll start paying attention.

I didn't have time to snap a photo, so I went to the Tesla website and "designed" a similar one, so you'll see what first caught my attention:

The top was up so we couldn't see who was driving.

Tesla Roadsters have a base price around $109,000. 
That's a bargain compared to these sports cars
Or a Bentley or Rolls. And you won't be buying gas.

But you can't buy a new Roadster in the US these days;
they are only available in Europe, Asia, and Australia. 
Bummer: I know you had your wallet out. 
This won't break MY heart; I don't even have a license!

Teslas aren't sold at a dealership. There are 21 Tesla stores worldwide, modeled on Apple Stores. In fact, the stores were designed by George Blankenship, Apple's former "retail guru." There's no store in New England; the nearest is in Manhattan (figures). Rather than being out on a suburban auto mile, they are in fancy downtown shopping areas, to attract the Frette-and-Ferragamo set. 

Although they aren't making more Roadsters for the American market, Tesla makes a Model S sedan, which looks comparatively nondescript, and will soon be offering a Model X, more of a (dull) minivan. Only the Roadster is eye candy for design as well as rarity, at least to me. But the company mission is to make increasingly affordable all-electric cars. The pricing for the Model S Sedan starts around $50,000. (Remember, you never pay for gas and you'll get tax breaks, too.)

If you're curious about how the Roadster performs, you can find plenty of reviews online. It goes from 0 to 60 in about 3.7 seconds; you can experience this via YouTube.  As you will hear, it sounds more like a luxury vacuum cleaner than a sporty car, at least in films. We barely heard a thing from the Real Thing.

Seeing the occasional very cool car is one of the perks of living among the acutely overprivileged. (I'm trying to think of other perks... glimpses of local sports stars and fancy landscaping are all that come to mind.) We have more than our share of one-percenters and multi-multi-million-dollar housing here — although that doesn't mean we don't also have struggling studio dwellers and students with rusting, 1995 Eagle Talons occupying the free resident parking spots alongside the BMWs and Audis. Thank god.

At least this particular rich man's toy is ostensibly "noble," being environmentally correct. And as quiet as a cat.


  1. Sometimes they do test rides from in front of the Mandarin Hotel. You'll often see one there.

  2. That is very dangerous news.... thanks!


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