The company has shipped 100 of these cars. Now they get reviewed. The news isn’t good.




  1. Deep-Thought says:

    One have to know, Top Gear takes no prisoners.

    They complain about the slow charging time from a 14Amp socket, willingly ignoring the fact that no sane person would do this anyway. That’s just a compatibility fallback.
    You would use a heavy duty multiphase power socket for that. Which charges much faster, and you don’t always need to fully charge the thing anyway.

    And they say electricity comes from dirty power plants too. Ignoring that large scale electricity production is much more efficient then burning fuel in a small car engine. And the exhaust gases can be cleaned in just a different scale than on a car engine.
    And it keeps cities smog free.

    Ok, if the thing brakes down while filming that’s pretty much a death sentence for a car on Top Gear.

    PS: They ignore the fact that hydrogen for the much praised Honda FCX Clarity needs energy to be produced too. And the clarity is not for sale yet, the tesla is.

  2. JCincy says:

    # 40 Mister Mustard said,
    ‘If you want to drive the thing like Danica Patrick, Indy car driver and Go Daddy Girl, you may suffer “overheating and reduced power”.’

    I thought that was one of the main selling points of the car… you can drive it like a race car and feel warm in fuzzy inside because you are not blowing smoke out a tail pipe.

  3. JCincy says:

    #42 Rachel Konrad Senior Communications Manager Tesla Motors Inc. said,

    “The “brake failure” Clarkson mentions was solely a blown fuse; a service technician replaced the Roadster’s pump and it was back up and running immediately.”

    I find no comfort in this statement. Wrapping the $110K Telsa Roadster around a telephone pole, because the car blew a fuse doesn’t sound like a safe ride to me. Egads!

    And if the problem was a ‘blown fuse’, why did the service tech replace a pump?

  4. JCincy says:

    # 61 Deep-Thought said,
    “They complain about the slow charging time from a 14Amp socket, willingly ignoring the fact that no sane person would do this anyway.”

    So if I drive the Tesla to my Father-in-law’s house 120 miles away, is he supposed to have a “heavy duty multiphase power socket” just waiting for me to plug into?

  5. bobbo says:

    And if the problem was a ‘blown fuse’, why did the service tech replace a pump? /// You think corruption is only on Wallstreet? You’ve never gone to a reputable service shop? They are all crooks–about 40% of the time.

  6. brian t says:

    It’s not surprising that the Top Gear guys broke the Tesla. They break lots of things. Jeremy (Clarkson) even managed to damage his own neck this year, pulling serious lateral Gs in a Nissan GT-R in Japan.

    Hydrogen in to an internal combustion engine, which weighs hundreds of lbs and offers ~30% energy efficiency? I don’t think so. The fuel cell is a gargantuan improvement over those specs.

  7. JCincy says:

    # 25 bobbo said,

    #22 Been a while since I’ve seen such a hodgepodge of mismatched concepts/terminology.

    So you believe there is not energy lost in the transmission of electricity over the power grid?

    You believe adding say 50,000 electric cars to the power grid on the west coast will have no detrimental impact on service?

    You believe rechargeable batteries are remarkably efficient and show no break down in efficiency over several months of heavy use?

    You believe rechargeable batteries require no special handling to dispose of them properly?

    Fascinating and yet disturbing.

  8. bobbo says:

    67 JCincy–are you one of the characters on Hero with a superpower? I think you can slow down time and cause gaps in causation loops? But since you appear sincere:

    1. So you believe there is not energy lost in the transmission of electricity over the power grid? /// Of course there is power loss, all part of the cost. Its indeed “the cost” that makes comparisons of different energy sources comparable. The whole reason we use “Tesla’s AC Power” instead of Edisons DC Power is this transmission cost. Likewise, there are cost, uniformly HIGHER COSTS, for all other forms of energy with hydro-electric being the cheapest for lifetime cost including production, transmission, safety, cleanup. Maybe you could rephrase your concern to make it relevant?

    You believe adding say 50,000 electric cars to the power grid on the west coast will have no detrimental impact on service? /// Electrical Service??? In most cases, there is unused power going to waste at night, so if rechargeables are charged at night, the impact on the electrical power grid is negligible during start up of this new transportation mode. In the future, that will change, hence the discussion about plugins to the grid and related issues. Have you read NOTHING in this area of technology?????

    You believe rechargeable batteries are remarkably efficient and show no break down in efficiency over several months of heavy use? /// Everything breaks. Focus on total costs–everything included.

    You believe rechargeable batteries require no special handling to dispose of them properly? /// All waste has to be disposed of properly. The point of battery tech is to recycle them totally. Your evident lack of basic tech knowledge, if not a joke, is tedious. Even the threads on this blog over the months have touched on most if not all of the relevant issues.

    Fascinating and yet disturbing. //// We agree except for the fascinating part. Make google your friend.

  9. Mister Mustard says:

    #62 – JCincy

    >>I thought that was one of the main selling
    >>points of the car… you can drive it like a
    >>race car and feel warm in fuzzy inside
    >>because you are not blowing smoke out a tail
    >>pipe.

    Right. And just like the Indy 500 cars require frequent pit stops with their <2mpg fuel efficiency, you may require frequent pit stops if you drive the Roadster in the same manner. You’re still better off in the long run.

  10. RTaylor says:

    Any money would best be spent on research. There is no way a small company selling a few hundred autos cobbled together from existing parts and technology can make a difference. It takes years and trillions of dollars to break new ground in physics and chemistry required to make a viable fully electric automobile. Few people have the money to spend on a toy like this. The promised GM Volt should be a more viable car, but for all we know that could end up at a giant corporate going out of business sale.

  11. brendal says:

    Now with Obama soon to be in office, we’ll all be taking the bus anyway.

  12. Mister Mustard says:

    #71 – Brenda Lee

    You’ve been taking the bus right along (and not to be green), so it won’t make much difference to you.

  13. Bored Duck says:

    For a good time, check out the “Energy Density” article over at Wikipedia. They have a list of materials/fuels and the joules per kilogram of each one. This might properly be called “Energy Density 101″.

    For all you high performance auto enthusiasts out there waiting expectantly for a battery powered dragster, compare the E.D. of lithium/ion to gasoline. Gasoline 46.4; LI battery 0.72 max.

    But, I for one just can’t wait for the antimatter ‘battery’….89,876,000,000 MJ/Kg!
    I’d settle for just a golf cart that could run on that.

  14. Airmon says:

    Re: Tesla range on the track.

    Last night I watched a Top Gear off the DVR, from BBC America. They were testing the Mitsubishi Evo 10 vs. Subaru WRX ( STi, I think ) and Jeremy noted that the Evo managed just 48 miles around their track before it ran out of gas.

    I used to live in Key West, FL. I drove an electric car for several years, one with 30 miles of range on an island that’s 2 miles by 4 miles. Full charge took 9-10 hours. I often used it for service calls ( computer tech ) and my boss let me plug it in at work.

    I let it charge while I slept at night and always had plenty of juice to get around. If I needed a longer range for trips up the Overseas Highway, I just rented a car.

  15. Michael says:

    Seems moot, (a) If it works every manuf with years of experience building and selling cars will use the tech, so a company based purely on the idea of using laptop batteries to power a car is pretty much going to fail in the long term anyway. [And no, don't think patents unless you consider all the patents that car manufs have on everything cars have]

    (b) the show basically pointed out that Honda’s Hydrogen Cell car they featured was far more practical.

  16. Michael says:

    Seems moot, (a) If it works every manuf with years of experience building and selling cars will use the tech, so a company based purely on the idea of using laptop batteries to power a car is pretty much going to fail in the long term anyway. [And no, don't think patents unless you consider all the patents that car manufs have on everything cars have]

    (b) the show basically pointed out that Honda’s Hydrogen Cell car they featured was far more practical…

  17. Britcoder says:

    #40
    “I am also unclear as to why Clarkson said it took 16 hours to recharge the Roadster without qualifying that statement at all. The vast majority of people who have taken delivery of their Roadsters (and there are more than 100 of them now) have much faster systems that recharge from dead to full in as little as 3.5 hours.”

    The statement was perfectly qualified. Clarkson said that the charging time from a standard 13amp plug was 16 hours, which is the normal domestic high capacity plug in Britain. This plug can only handle about 3kW. The next step up in domestic supplies is getting a direct wire to the fusebox and that will give a supply of about 7 -8 kW with 9kW at a push. This would bring down the charging time to something manageable but you would have to get a qualified electrician to install that to be legal in Britain.

    A three-phase system, which could provide enough juice, can cost anything from between 3000 to 72000 GBP depending on location and may not even be available to you at any price.

  18. Pete says:

    For reference the Ferarri 599 managed 1.7 miles on a gallon of fuel (Top Gear, series 11, episode 1), and has a 23 gallon tank (wikipedia), so does 39 miles flat out on the track. The winner of that challenge was the Audi R8 (5mile/gallon) which with a 16 gallon tank would take you 80 miles.

    By those standards the 55 miles of the tesla is perfectly reasonable.

  19. Gulfie says:

    Guys, guys… Top Gear has been an entertainment show for several years. The only things you should treat as facts are the lap times for the cars and stars – everything else is entertainment, pure and simple, by three guys who are complete petrolheads. To get the Tesla on at all was something, can’t wait to see what they do with the Lightning.

    Compared to the flames that Jeremy Clarkson in particular gives to any car that fails to meet his expectations, the review was on the whole positive – yes really. Many of the sports cars they test break down, and JC’s Ford GT was alleged never to have completed a journey he started.

    I wouldn’t buy a Tesla though – did you see the body roll around the corners? Need to get that battery weight lower down! If it looks like a sports car, it needs to handle like one. At least for us Europeans. Maybe you guys are just too used to soft springs and cars the size of a small whale… ;-)

  20. Greg66 says:

    The Tesla just doesn’t deliver. It looks like a sports car, and has straight line sports car performance, but through the corners it was rolling like a tall ship in a crosswind. It produced a good time on the track despite its handling, not because of it (and mainly because of its straight line speed).

    But crucially, the recharge time is the death blow. It means you can’t use it for any significant distance driving; in fact, it means that it’s only really suitable for short journeys during the day with an overnight charge. And if you want an electric around-town runabout, why on earth would you go for a two seater pseudo-sports car? The comparisons with how quickly a petrol care can be run to dry on their track are irrelevant; a petrol car can be refuelled in 5 minutes.

  21. Mister Mustard says:

    #79 – Greg66

    Oh poo. So this bleeding-edge technology hasn’t worked out all the bugs that gasoline-powered cars have been working on since Karl Benz first built his Patent Motorwagon in 1885.

    This thing is Version 1.0. If you want to be The Grooviest Kid On The Block, and have a lot of extra money burning a hole in your pocket, you’ll get one. Just like the iPhone. If you want something that will replace the Dodge minivan or the Humper, you’ll wait until Version 2.0 or later. Just like the iPhone.

    Someday they’ll get that thing off the shitty AT&T network, work out the “features” with MMS messaging, etc., and then it will be a Phone For The Rest Of Us.

  22. Paddy-O says:

    # 80 Mister Mustard said, “So this bleeding-edge technology hasn’t worked out all the bugs that gasoline-powered cars have been working on since Karl Benz first built his Patent Motorwagon in 1885.”

    No. It hasn’t worked out the bugs since 1842, when Thomas Davenport and Robert Davidson were producing electric cars…

  23. Mister Mustard says:

    #81 – Paddy-RAMBO

    >>No. It hasn’t worked out the bugs since 1842

    It must suck to be a luddite, RAMBO.

    After the muffler was invented, virtually no work was done on electric cars. Why bother, when the Saudi teat let people like you fill up your high-capacity minivans and Humpers with cheap fuel. And the enviromaniacs weren’t out in force for 150 years, so there was no pressure on that front.

    Now that gasoline-powered SuperCars are rapidly attaining the social status of s stinky cigar, work begins anew on the electric car, and all you dinosaurs can do is bitch and moan that the technology isn’t perfect yet.

    Pfffft.

  24. Paddy-O says:

    # 82 Mister Mustard said, “After the muffler was invented, virtually no work was done on electric cars.”

    Right, and work stopped on rubber band powered cars at that time too. It is because it is a technology that isn’t well suited for that application…

    Must suck to be ignorant of the physical sciences…

  25. Greg66 says:

    #80 – Mister Mustard

    Yeah, you really don’t get the death blow point, do you? In 1885 it took a few minutes to refill the fuel tank of a car and get it moving again. That was Car version 1.0. Try doing a long journey in any electric car. Hell,write postcards to your destination on the way because they’ll get there first.

    Until electric cars can be recharged or otherwise refueled in 5 minutes, they will remain curios.

    Your rambling about iPhones is irrelevant and misconceived. An iPhone refuels no slower than its competitors.

  26. #84 – Greg66

    Sure I get it. It doesn’t charge fast enough, and doesn’t go far enough on a charge. Big woop. All barriers fall to technology, eventually. Although I suppose if you want to drive cross-country at 170mph, The electric nature of the car will always be a big problem.

    As to the iPhone, it may charge as quickly as a real cell phone, but once the battery dies and you have to bring it back to the shop to be replaced (at great cost), then it becomes relevant again. And you can’t do MMS messaging, something that has been available on regular cell phones for years. Just like the electric car, it’s a technology that hasn’t had the bugs worked out of it yet.

    I’m not buying either an iPhone OR an electric car this year, but maybe in the future, when they’ve taken care of the problems.

  27. Angilion says:

    At £90K and with the extremely high cost of replacement batteries, the Tesla simply isn’t cost-effective. It’s more expensive to run than an Elise R, even if you ignore the massive issue of taxation. EVs are tax free at the moment, but only because they are extremely rare. On a like for like comparison, the Tesla is at least twice as expensive to run and three times as expensive to buy. It’s also useless to many people in the UK, as it requires a garage (to charge it overnight).

    It’s a rich person’s toy and political statement.

    We couldn’t stand a large-scale change to EVs anyway – it would require too great an increase to electricity production.

    Charging times will remain an issue because charging an EV as conveniently as refueling an ICEV requires in the region of a megawatt supplied to the car and that’s a challenge. Assuming, of course, that the batteries could take it (Lithium titanate batteries might be able to).

    The Tesla is an interesting idea, but it’s a hugely expensive roadster with poor handling, high running costs, low top speed and low practicality – it’s not really competitive except in acceleration (which it excels at – the flat torque curve of an electric motor).

  28. baswell says:

    They also fail to mention, in the hydrogen film, that H is only the same price as petrol in the US because it is sponsored.

    Not to mention the fact that while they think “hydrogen is as easy to produce as it is to drill for oil”. That may be true, but you need a lot of energy to separate the hydrogen, and where does that come from? For all intents and purposes, unlike oil, H is not an energy source, it is an energy carrier, like a battery.

    And if you take grid power and use it to create hydrogen to put in a fuel cell to drive a car, you only get 25% efficiency. If you use grid power to charge batteries to drive your car, you get 75% efficiency.

    I am not a roadster kinda guy, but I am looking forward to their family sedan; I would really like that for around town and we’ll keep our LPG powered wagon for the few times we both go in different directions or cross-country with the family.

  29. picante_loco says:

    Looks like Top Gear fudged a little bit.

    http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2008/12/22/bbc_top_gear_tesla/