Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"One of the most advanced full electric vehicles available"

During the question and answer session following a presentation I made at a local high school climate change forum, one of the students commented that auto makers have to make hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles snazzier looking and less expensive if they want to get young people excited about them.

Tesla Motors seems to have scored on style but still has a way to go in terms of affordability (you can drive away in one today for $98,000). Let's hope that haven't compromised on safety. (GW)

Tesla electric sports car clears air bag hurdle

Federal agency grants waiver, citing technology and public interest

The Associated Press
Feb. 7, 2008

WASHINGTON - Tesla Motors has a green light to import its all-electric Roadster starting in March after receiving a waiver on a federal air bag standard.

Tesla, based in San Carlos, Calif., has pre-sold all of its 2008 Tesla Roadsters, a fully electric sports car that sells for $98,000. The company needed the waiver to be able to sell in the United States.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said recently it would give the company a three-year exemption from the advanced air bag rule, noting that Tesla tried to comply with the requirements and would still have standard air bags on the vehicle.

Based on information provided by the automaker, NHTSA estimates the waiver will cover 3,825 Roadsters, including 625 vehicles this year and 1,600 in each of the following two years.

NHTSA called the Roadster "one of the most advanced full electric vehicles available" and said the "public interest is served by encouraging the development of fuel-efficient and alternative-fueled vehicles."

The Roadster can do 0 to 60 mph in 4 seconds, and tailpipe emissions of gases that produce smog and greenhouse gases are zero.

The federal agency said Tesla posted operating losses of $43 million from 2003-2006 and that without the waiver, Tesla would "have to cancel its pending development of an electric-powered sedan, and would ultimately have to terminate its operations."

Tesla said in a statement last month that it had received all regulatory approvals to import the first production Roadster for sale in the United States and production would begin March 17.

Tesla has based its Roadster on the two-seat Lotus Elise sports car, which also could not comply with the advanced air bag rule and received an exemption from NHTSA in August 2006. The vehicle will be manufactured at a Lotus factory in Hethel, England, under Tesla's supervision.

Tesla also has announced plans to produce at least 10,000 all-electric, five-passenger sedans a year at a plant in Albuquerque, N.M., beginning in the fall of 2009.


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