Tesla Motors delivered its 700th vehicle Tuesday at the Frankfurt Motor Show, where the world’s leading electric vehicle manufacturer unveiled the production version of the Roadster Sport.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk handed the keys to an electric blue Roadster Sport to Lennart Hennig, a German law student in Bonn. Tesla has also delivered cars to customers in England, Switzerland, France, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Spain, Monaco and Sweden.
"I am a socially responsible consumer who considers the environmental impact of my purchases,” said Hennig, 24. “As soon as I saw the Tesla web site in 2006, I knew I wanted to support a company dedicated to making more and more affordable vehicles so that mainstream people could have cars with a lower carbon footprint. I plan to drive this car every day so that people can see for themselves that the future of mobility is electric.”
The 700th delivery came less than a week after Tesla opened a store in Munich (Blumenstr.17) -- its first regional sales and service center in continental Europe. Tesla opened its flagship London store in June and will open a store in Monaco later this year.
“Many of our customers are die-hard European sports car aficionados who switch to Roadsters over concern about climate change and the dangers of foreign oil addiction,” Musk said. “And some customers buy the Roadster simply because it will beat the Porsche 911 or Audi R8 off the line every time.”
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Musk and Tesla Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen unveiled the production version of the second-generation Roadster and the even higher-performance Roadster Sport supercar. The Frankfurt Motor Show also marked the European debut of the Model S, an all-electric, seven-passenger sedan that Tesla plans to begin producing in late 2011. Photos are available online.
The Roadster 2, which Tesla is building and shipping to customers now, features an array of enhancements over the first-generation car, which Tesla began producing last year. Those include a more powerful heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system, more comfortable seats and a far more luxurious dashboard and cabin. The interior is quieter than its predecessor, and the ride is forgiving over harsh surfaces -- without sacrificing handling performance.
The Roadster Sport, which Tesla is also building and shipping to customers now, is an even higher performance car that does 0 to 100 kmh in 3.7 seconds, compared to 3.9 seconds for the standard Roadster. The Sport includes a more powerful motor, custom-tuned adjustable suspension and forged wheels. A customer’s Roadster Sport sprinted the quarter-mile in 12.643 seconds in late July, setting a new record in the U.S. National Electric Drag Racing Association.
The acclaimed Roadster – which has better acceleration than a Porsche 911 or Audi R8 and is twice as energy efficient as a Toyota Prius – is the only highway-capable electric vehicle for sale in Europe or North America. It’s the first EV to travel more than 300 km per charge and the first EU- and US-certified Lithium-Ion battery electric vehicle.
The Roadster has an estimated average range of about 400 km per charge and produces zero tailpipe emissions. In April, the Roadster set another significant EV record when it traveled the entire 390-km course of the Rallye Monte Carlo d'Energies Alternatives on a single charge – from Valance, France to Monaco, through the Alps. The Roadster was the only car to finish the course – and at the end it still had 61 km left on the charge.
The Roadster qualifies for numerous tax benefits in Europe, including sales, luxury and use tax waivers in Scandinavia and exceptional incentives in Holland, making the car an unquestionable bargain compared to internal combustion engine vehicles. The relatively high cost of petrol in Europe dramatically lowers Teslas’ total cost of ownership relative to gas-guzzlers. Eventually, Tesla expects sales to be roughly split between North America and Europe.