While we wait for the ostensibly-affordable Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, Tesla is already selling an electric-powered Roadster, and while the price ($109,000) will make your nose bleed, the operating costs apparently won’t. Automobile’s West Coast editor Jason Cammisa got to play with a Tesla for 500 miles, and, per his story in the November issue, it appears he did pretty much what you’d expect with a car that does zero to sixty in something like four seconds: he drove the living whee out of it. (Of course, one drives the living whee out of slow cars as well, but perhaps for a different reason.)
The final tab: 499 miles, 185 kWh. Keep in mind, he was sticking fairly close to Tesla’s dealership in Menlo Park, California, and that meant he was paying PG&E rates, which, once you get a certain percentage beyond the designated baseline, soar into the stratosphere. Still:
The Tesla cost me $45.98 to run for 499 miles, about the same as a car that uses premium unleaded at the rate of about 33 mpg.
Which, for a car that does zero to sixty in something like four seconds, is well-nigh miraculous. California gas prices are a smidgen, maybe several smidgens, higher than they are here, but Gwendolyn’s typical 21 mpg around town at the current $2.50 price for 91 octane would run the tab to around $60 for that distance, and without all the “flat-out sprints, the drag racing, the donuts, the top-speed runs, and dicing through traffic like there’s a jet pack strapped to the trunk.”
That trunk, however, was the undoing:
I make the cardinal mistake of entering the supermarket hungry and buy just about everything in sight. I walk out with $175 worth of groceries spilling out of my shopping cart, and when I open the Tesla’s trunk lid, a guy in a Toyota Camry starts laughing at me. The Tesla’s tiny trunk is full before I’ve even made a dent in the pile of shopping bags, so the rest of the chattel winds up on the passenger seat, and I drive home with Cottonelle on my lap.
Tesla’s upcoming Model S sedan will presumably address that issue adequately.
Still, I suspect that if there’s ever a dealership out here on the prairie, they’ll sell quite a few of these beasties: at OG&E’s, um, current rates, 185 kWh would run $20 or so.