Tesla Roadster: Efficiency, Cost, and More

The Tesla Roadster

The Tesla Roadster is a battery electric vehicle (BEV) sports car produced by the electric car firm Tesla, Inc. in California. The production of the discontinued Tesla Roadster lasted from 2008 to 2012. The Roadster set new records being the first highway legal serial production-electric car to use lithium-ion battery cells. Additionally, it is the first production all-electric car to travel more than 200 miles on a single charge. The Tesla Roadster also became the first production car to be launched into orbit, carried by a Falcon Heavy rocket in a test flight on February 6, 2018. During a press release, the CEO of Tesla, Inc. Elon Musk announced the production of the new Tesla Roadster beginning in 2020.

Production of the Tesla Roadster

The production of all Tesla vehicles has been plagued with delays and factory mishaps since the inception of the company. Investors are continually unsure about production goals being met and consumers are kept on a never-ending waiting list. Fortunately, this trend appears to be reversing, Tesla reported weeks in which they met their production goal of 5,000 units per week.

Tesla Roadster Production Timeline: 

2008:
  • Production continues slowly, resulting from a faulty transmission.
  • A total of 100 cars have been developed by years end.
2009:
  • All 345 Roadsters are recalled due to a safety recall involving loose rear inner hub flange bolts.
  • July becomes the first profitable month in Tesla Inc. history.
2010:
  • The year opens with over 1,000 Roadsters being delivered to date.
  • Tesla Roadsters are found in 43 states and 21 countries worldwide.
2012:
  • A total of 2,428 Tesla Roadsters have been sold by September.
2015:
  • Tesla announces the Roadsters successor to debut in 2019.
2016:
  • The battery size of Tesla vehicles increases from 53 kWh to 80 kWh.
2017:
  • The Roadsters debut is pushed back to 2020.

Tesla’s Master Plan for Affordable Electric Vehicles

As we all know, the initial product of Tesla Motors was a high-performance electric sports car called the Tesla Roadster. Despite the fact that Tesla’s first vehicle was an extremely expensive sports car, this not their actual target market. Their long-term goal is to build a wide range of models, including affordably priced family cars. The reason that Tesla is gunning for an affordably priced family car stems from their fundamental purpose, “to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy.”

Almost all new technology initially has high unit cost before it can be optimized, this principle also applies to electric vehicles. Tesla’s master plan started by entering the high end of the market, where customers are prepared to pay a premium. Once the company begins to turn a profit, these profits can be reinvested in the company to increase supply and decrease cost with each successive model.  

The profits from the Tesla Roadster lead to the development of the Model S which lead to the development of the Model X. The profits made from the previous three generations of Tesla Vehicles has ultimately lead to the development and production of the affordable Model 3. In other words, when someone buys the Tesla Roadster, Model S, or Model X, they are actually helping pay for the development and production of the affordable Model 3.

Simplified Master Plan:
  1. Build a sports car
  2. Use that money to build an affordable car
  3. Use that money to build an even more affordable car
  4. While doing the above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options 

The Environmental Impact of the Tesla Roadster

The environmental impact of a Tesla Roadster, or other Tesla Vehicles, must be considered in two separate aspects; manufacturing and operation. In this article, we are going to focus on the manufacturing impact when producing a Tesla vehicle.

Manufacturing of a Tesla Vehicle

Selecting Clean Electricity Sources:

Electricity is used extensively to produce both the materials used in vehicles and the assembled vehicles themselves. Although there is a huge variation in how ‘clean’ electricity grids are. China, Germany, and Michigan are all locations big on vehicle manufacturing. China also has a huge chunk of the world’s battery production and will continue to do so.

In China, coal use is down but still accounts for over 60% of electricity production, while in the USA it’s been dropping even faster, now at 30%. Germany, South Korea, and Michigan still get about 40% of their electricity from coal. 

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In comparison, the Gigafactory (where the batteries for Tesla vehicles are made) in 2020. Tesla’s goal for the Gigafactory is for it to be powered 100% by solar and clean renewable energy. A recent study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that using renewable electricity could drop production emissions by more than half.

Light-Weighting:

Many manufactures, including Tesla, have begun producing cars using more aluminium than of steel. An aluminium body can be 40% lighter than a steel body. This drop in weight allows for vehicles to be more energy efficient in both operation and transportation. To decrease weight further, Tesla’s Model S and X use aluminium exclusively in their construction. The push for longer range EVs is resulting in a push for lighter weight vehicles that use fewer materials. Less weight means less energy consumed in the manufacturing and use of the vehicle.

Longer Lasting Cars and Materials:

Electric vehicles last longer compared to conventional combustion cars today. Aluminium doesn’t rust, electric cars have far fewer moving parts, fewer disposable fluids to maintain, and the vehicles are continually updated over-the-air to ensure optimal performance. Despite all of the improvements in the manufacturing of electric cars, they eventually will wear out. Thus the importance of recycling.

Recycling:

Today, material recovery rates for steel and aluminium in vehicles is very high, at roughly 90%. Aluminium uses only 5% of the electricity for processing, compared to the processing of raw materials.

Batteries also benefit from recycling as they are composed mostly of valuable metals such as aluminum, copper, nickel, cobalt, and lithium. Tesla’s current battery recycler in Europe, Umicore, states that they can already recover 70% of the GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions that were produced during the original material extraction and refining stages. Currently, batteries are expected to last a decade or more, but their longevity is continually improving. After just one year of work, the Tesla’s battery research division achieved a doubling of battery lifespans.

In the future vehicles will be produced entirely from recycled materials using 100% renewable energy, powered by renewable energy, driving quietly down the road with zero pollution. A truly closed loop, once the materials are extracted, they can be used again and again. Unlike gasoline which is used only once.

Pros and Cons of the Tesla Model 3

Pros:

  1. It's all electric. The Tesla Model 3 has a 220-310 mile range depending on your chosen specs and there is zero petrol involved.
  2. Crazy, amazing tech. The central instrument cluster behind the steering wheel is gone. You can find the speedometer located on the horizontal 15-inch touchscreen in the top corner.
  3. You can afford one. A starting price of $35,000 rising to $44,000 for the 310-mile putting this in the price range for an increased number of potential buyers.
  4. It's a car for the masses. Now that production of Tesla cars is being ramped up to 500,000 vehicles per year from a fraction of that number we will begin to see an increasing number on the road.

Cons:

  1. There's not much to touch. If you prefer the tactile feel of buttons and dials in a car then a Tesla is not a good fit for you.
  2. Over-designed? The sweeping glass roof, which extends down over the rear seats puts you in a sort of pretty bubble. There is also only one air vent that takes care of all the climate control, you lose a little diversity for the sake of innovation.
  3. You might not be able to charge it. If you live in an apartment complex without a garage then at present you are looking at street charging or stopping at a Supercharger on your way to work. The wait might be too long. With high demand and slow production, you may be forced to wait to receive your shiny brand new Tesla Model 3.

Where to Buy the Tesla Roadster

Currently, Tesla’s can only be ordered online or at a Tesla dealership. The online ordering process is simple and straight forward. Visit tesla.com to choose your options and enter your contact information. Your Tesla will be custom built at the Tesla factory in California and delivered to the nearest service centre for pick-up. If you live more than 160 miles from the closest service centre, your vehicle can be shipped directly to your home or business. Completing your order requires your contact information and a $2,500 order payment.

Once your order is completed, your Delivery Experience Specialist will contact you to answer any questions you may have about financing, trading in your current car, installing home charging equipment, and delivery day logistics.

Conclusion

Electric vehicles are the future, with Tesla leading the charge. There are a variety of vehicles to choose from when considering to purchase your first fully electric vehicle. If you enjoy technology and love being on the cutting edge of car development, then a Tesla Vehicle may the choice for you.

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Tyler Farr
 

Tyler is an energetic nature enthusiast who is currently considering moving into a tiny house. Tyler and his wife enjoy hiking, mountain biking, camping, and doing anything in the great outdoors. He hopes that the articles he writes will help others learn how important it is to take care of the environment.

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