Checking out the Tesla Roadster in Boulder, Colo.

tesla-show1editors-blog-entry3It was a picture perfect day for a test drive: Wildly blue skies with a smattering of tiny, puffy clouds, temperatures hovering in the high 70s, a light southwest breeze, and the hulking Boulder, Colo. Flatirons serving as a backdrop.

My brother, Thomas, who lives in Boulder, had called me the night before and asked me if I wanted to tag along for a test drive in a Tesla Roadster.

Sure, why not!

In fact, what we — or, really, my younger brother Thomas — ended up getting on this late May day was a test ride in a 2010 Tesla Roadster.

tesla-show-on-streetRoadster test drives, it turns out, are reserved only for those serious about purchasing a Roadster. In fact, as we strolled into the Boulder, Colo. Tesla showroom, Thomas was strongly considering becoming one of nearly 3,000 people who have put down a $5,000 deposit on a Tesla — but on a Tesla S Model (which will go for about half the price of the $100k plus Roadster), not a Roadster. And it turns out Thomas was fortunate to get a test ride in a Roadster. Due to the limited numbers of Roadsters and the large interest in the S Model, prospective Model S buyers are not typically offered a Roadster test ride.

But Thomas’ Roadster test ride paid off for Tesla. After an eight-mile Roadster trip up Boulder Canyon with Boulder Tesla Store Coordinator Erin Callan at the wheel, Thomas was convinced. He plunked down $5,000 for the rights to be one of the first drivers in America to be zooming around in the snazzy, sharp-looking zero emissions Tesla Model S.

It’s “sooo quiet!”
I didn’t get a Roadster test ride, though perhaps after Erin and Tesla Inside Salesperson Ben Kanner, who helped set up Thomas with a test ride, see this story they might offer me one — hint, hint 😉

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I didn’t get a ride because as much as I would love to own an S Model or a Roadster, both are a bit too pricey for us, at about $57,000 ($49,000 after a Federal Tax Credit) and $109,000 (about $100k after a Federal Tax Credit), respectively.

tesla-show-outsideActually, though, it was exciting enough for me to get a chance to snap pictures of the flashy, sexy Roadster — I took a lot of them, many of which accompany this column.

The Roadster is a beautiful vehicle, though, as many have already noted in the multitude of Tesla reviews that have been published in the past couple of years (the Roadster became available for purchase in 2008), it’s a little bit tight. In fact, Thomas, who pushes 6’1″, took up pretty much all available space when he posed for a photo in the driver’s seat of the metallic maroon 2010 Roadster his test ride came in.

Of course, the Roadster’s design isn’t the only thing that’s beautiful about it. It’s quiet, quiet, quiet.

In fact, Thomas’ wife Beth, who, along with Thomas’ two young children, accompanied us to the Tesla showroom on this gorgeous Memorial Day weekend Saturday, couldn’t believe it when Erin backed one of the two Roadsters in the showroom very carefully out of the small warehouse-like building that’s home to Boulder Tesla.

“It’s soooo quiet,” Beth marveled.

tesla-show-odometerI then informed her that it’s not likely to stay that way due to growing pressure to add constant artificial noises to EVs and hybrids, ostensibly out of safety concerns. In my humble view, these concerns have yet to be completely validated. Just one study with questionable methodology has been conducted to substantiate the claim that hybrids pose a greater danger to pedestrians than gas-powered cars. And not a single study has been conducted to prove that EVs pose more of a danger to pedestrians than gas cars.

“That’s too bad,” she said, when informed that future Teslas will likely have to be outfitted with constant artificial noise-making devices. She added that she thought the majority of Americans would welcome a quieter urban environment. I am certainly among these Americans, but here is not the place to riff on that. Though, as I told Beth and Thomas, SolarChargedDriving.Com has “riffed” on EVs and noise in an ongoing series of stories we have published on this topic.

Solar-charged Roadsters
In addition to being oh so quiet, the thing that’s so incredibly beautiful about the Roadster is that the electricity that powers it can be produced by a variety of energy types, including, of course, solar energy. When this happens — and there are current Roadster owners running their Teslas on sun — you’re talking not only about an incredibly sporty, well-designed, eye-catching and, of course, wonderfully quiet vehicle, you’re also talking about a car that produces absolutely no air pollution!

Yes, you can zoom around in an incredibly sporty car without producing any air pollution! Even if you don’t have a solar system at home, you can buy renewable energy from your utility. And, if you live in a place like Washington State, more than 70 percent of the electricity in your “engines” will have been produced by completely air pollution free hyrdo power.

tesla-show-plug-inSorry Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Co., can’t say you’re nearly air pollution free, can you?!

In fact, so far, more than 1,000 people in the U.S. — including 60 right here in beautiful and outdoorsy Colorado — agree there’s nothing “prettier” than a sports car that’s emissions free. That’s how many people have sprung big for a Tesla Roadster. And, according to Boulder Tesla’s Kanner, another 2,800 have put down $5,000 for the privilege of buying a Tesla S when it comes out

My brother, Thomas, who has a 2 kW solar system on his home’s roof and who plans to enlarge that system before he begins parking an S Model in his driveway, is now among them. (Note to the younger brother from the jealous — but happy — older brother: Some S Model test drives, not simply rides, are in order once it arrives in your driveway 😉

With the Tesla S Model and other EVs like the Nissan LEAF set to roll off production lines within the next year or two (word has it that the S Model might not be available until 2012), tens of thousands of others will quickly join the growing numbers of Americans to have discovered the beauties of electric driving. Together, they’ll show the rest of the world (including the recalcitrant skeptics) the beauty of a zero emissions — and potentially nearly air pollution free — electric car world.

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