It may not sound many, certainly in terms of volume car manufacturers, but it is quite a milestone for Tesla to have just delivered its 500th Tesla Roadster to a customer in New York. It must be making Elon Musk smile.
In truth, much as we’ve criticised the Tesla and its drawbacks, it is a pioneering car. It is really the only electric car that can perform properly outside an urban environment. It has great performance, a decent top speed and reasonable range. Sure, it’s not cheap (it will be over £100,000 when it arrives in the UK this Summer), but it is an original – no doubt.
But the headline price on the Tesla Roadster is not the be-all and end-all. It’s the running costs. This 500th Tesla has been delivered in New York, where there are big incentives for ‘Zero Emission’ vehicles (of course, they’re only zero emission at the point of delivery – not in reality). No sales tax; no luxury car tax; no usage taxes and they can use multi-occupancy lanes on the road even if they have a single occupant.
And actual running costs are pretty meagre (at least until Governments start to tax electricity for vehicle use as they do petrol and diesel). In the US it costs around $4 for a full charge, which takes around 3.5 hours. And for the new owner of the 500th Tesla – Martin Tuchman – it will probably be even less. He is planning on recharging his Tesla using solar power which he helped install in his home town of Kingston, New Jersey.
But the big step for Tesla is its Tesla Model S Saloon car, which is supposed to come in at half the price of the Tesla Roadster. But there are big doubts about its viability at that price – even if Mercedes now owns 10% of Tesla, giving the company some much needed credibility and ‘Big Company’ kudos.
Tesla will be opening a showroom in the UK this year, and deliveries of the Tesla Roadster in Europe start this Summer.