A lot of people in the automotive market are naming the Tesla company the next big thing. Tesla is an automaker unlike any other. It doesn't have a long history, and it doesn't have a ton of iconic models to its name-yet. Why, you may ask? Because Tesla was established fairly recently-in 2003, by a man that knew little about the auto industry and no experience of which he could speak. Martin Eberhard, along with Marc Tarpenning, his business partner, simply knew that his portable eBook company wasn't fulfilling the goal of what he really yearned to do- build the first high-performance electric car in the world. Frustrated that the EVs on the scene were simply not appealing to the public at large, Eberhard made up his mind to build a sporty all-electric vehicle himself.
Eberhard didn't really have the resources or experience to create a car completely from scratch, so he decided to outsource for the different materials needed. Eberhard worked diligently to secure the funds needed for investment in his new Tesla company (around $60 million) and decided on the Lotus' company's designs for inspiration. Tesla was named after Nikola Tesla, a scientist, engineer, and inventor that developed several 3-phase electric motors, such as is the Tesla Roadster's motor. The chassis of the Tesla Roadster, in fact, is based on the Lotus Elise chassis- with heavy modifications. Lotus is a UK-based company that excels in producing vehicles in small numbers, and its sharing of Lotus parts and designs really helped Eberhard jumpstart his company. All final Tesla assembly occurs at Lotus factories.
The Tesla Roadster certainly has its perks. Dubbed a BEV- battery electric vehicle- the Roadster first appeared at an invitation-only event at the Santa Monica airport in July 2006. The first Tesla Roadsters were put into production in 2008, however. This first production round led to five hundred units being made until June 2009. The month after that, Tesla premiered its 2010 model, which was also the company's first major product upgrade since its inception. At the same time, Tesla began testing its new Roadster Sport, which featured the company's own powertrain system and includes a 0.2 bump in the zero-to-sixty acceleration compared to the original model. The Roadster 2.5 appeared in July 2010, containing upgrades in looks, interior design, and technology offerings. The Roaster models only contain four working parts, as opposed to the hundreds traditional automobiles include. Tesla markets this vehicles as producing 1/3 the carbon dioxide of a "green" hybrid car, and the MSRP is around $109,000. Although Tesla has committed to producing new minivans, crossovers, and other vehicles, the Roadster is still its most popular car to-date. It competes with the 2011 Audi R8 and the Aston Martin V8 Vantage directly.
Currently, Tesla plans to get ahead of its competition with the Tesla Model S sedan, which arrives sometime in 2012. The S starts at just shy of $50k, a significant decrease from the Roadster. A $5,000 down payment is required to reserve your Model S, which you can configure on Tesla's website. This sedan will compete against such vehicles as the Audi A6, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and the BMW 5-Series.