Tesla released the original Tesla Roadster in 2008
Alexandre Prévot from Nancy
In 2008, Tesla Motors, now known as Tesla, Inc., introduced the world to the first high-performance electric vehicle, the Tesla Roadster. Launched when gas-guzzling cars ruled the roads, the Roadster represented a paradigm shift in the automotive industry. Let's look back at the Roadster's origins, development, and impact on the automotive world.
Birth of a Legend — The Roadster's Timeline
In 2004, Tesla Motors was created by engineers Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning with the goal of revolutionizing the automotive industry. Elon Musk joined the company as its chairman and lead investor and is considered one of the founders of the company. The company's first project aimed to develop an electric sports car, and in 2006, the prototype of the Tesla Roadster was revealed. Production began in 2008, with the first Roadster delivered to Musk in February of that year.
The Roadster was an important milestone for Tesla because it was the company's first production vehicle. Before the Roadster, Tesla had only produced a prototype electric vehicle, which was used to generate interest and secure funding for the company.
Musk's Vision in Quotes
Musk, the 2021 Time Person of the Year, had high hopes for the Roadster. In a 2008 press release, Elon Musk stated. "The delivery of the first production Tesla Roadster marks a great historical milestone along the way to Tesla becoming one of the great car companies of the 21st century. The Roadster now in production is just the first of a series of models from Tesla, soon to be followed by our 4 door sports sedan. Eventually, Tesla Motors will offer a full line of electric vehicles, leading the way in the changeover from gasoline cars to an electric future."
In an interview with The Telegraph in 2012, Elon Musk explained, "With the Roadster, we wanted to create a product that would break the mould and convince people that an electric car could be cool, sexy, and fast."
In a 2008 interview with the New York Times, Musk said, "The goal of Tesla is to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we could have done that with the first version of the Roadster, we would have. But we can't." (Source: The New York Times, Nov. 2, 2008)
The interior of the original Roadster features two screens
During a presentation at the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco in 2008, Elon Musk stated, "I think the Roadster has had a significant catalytic impact on the industry. And the intent with the Roadster was to change the image of electric vehicles."
In a 2011 interview with Autocar, Musk talked about the Roadster's production: "The Roadster has been a great success, proving that we could make an electric car with the range and performance of a petrol sports car, but we always knew it was a stepping stone to producing more affordable, mainstream cars."
Musk also saw the Roadster as a way to pave the way for Tesla's future vehicles. But, he said, "The Roadster is not our end game; it's just the beginning. We want to use the technology we've developed for the Roadster to create more affordable electric vehicles that can be used by the masses."
The Lotus Connection — The Roadster's Foundation
The Tesla Roadster was based on the Lotus Elise, a lightweight, two-seat sports car from the British automaker Lotus. Tesla Motors collaborated with Lotus to develop the Roadster, leveraging the expertise of the established automaker. The Roadster borrowed the Elise's chassis, but its drivetrain, battery system, and body were unique to the electric vehicle. The final product was a marriage of cutting-edge electric vehicle technology and the timeless appeal of the sports car.
The Tesla Roadster has also left a mark on popular culture with its appearances in various films and television shows. For instance, the Roadster made a cameo appearance in the 2010 film "Iron Man 2," which was driven by Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr. This appearance further solidified the car's status as a symbol of cutting-edge technology and sustainable luxury. Musk also appeared briefly in the Marvel movie.
Unrivaled Performance — 0 to 60, Top Speed and Range
The 2008 Tesla Roadster boasted impressive specs for an electric vehicle at that time. Equipped with a 53 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the Roadster's max speed was 125 mph, with a range of 245 miles on a single charge.
The electric motor produced 248 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque, enabling the car to reach 0-60 mph in just 3.7 or 3.9 seconds, depending on the model. These performance figures were a testament to the capabilities of electric powertrains, showcasing that electric vehicles could be both efficient and exciting.
Original Roadster Price
When released, the Tesla Roadster carried a base price of $98,950, positioning it firmly within the luxury sports car market. Later versions sold for $120,000. Despite the high price tag, the Roadster was embraced by enthusiasts who recognized its significance in ushering in the electric vehicle era.
A Journey Beyond Earth — The Roadster in Space
In February 2018, Elon Musk's SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy rocket on its maiden voyage with a unique payload onboard: Musk's personal Tesla Roadster. The car was sent into space as a symbol of human innovation and a nod to the powerful synergy between Tesla and SpaceX.
The Roadster, with a mannequin named "Starman" in the driver's seat, and the stereo system played David Bowie's "Space Oddity" on repeat, was placed into a heliocentric orbit around the sun. The vehicle now serves as a symbol of the limitless potential of human ingenuity and the boundless ambition that has driven the advancement of electric cars and space exploration.
The Roadster's Lasting Impact
Roadster was not without its challenges, however. The first models had issues with overheating and battery life, which required Tesla to make some adjustments and updates. In addition, Tesla faced problems with the car's transmission resulting in several recalls and updates.
In 2010, Tesla announced a battery upgrade program allowing Roadster owners to upgrade their battery packs to a newer and more efficient design.
Despite these challenges, the Roadster remained a popular vehicle among Tesla enthusiasts. As a result, the company produced approximately 2,450 Roadsters between 2008 and 2012, most of which were sold in the United States.
The 2008 Tesla Roadster began a new era in the automotive industry. It shattered the prevailing perception that electric vehicles were slow and unexciting, proving that they could compete with their gasoline-powered counterparts in terms of performance and driving experience. Moreover, the Roadster laid the groundwork for Tesla's subsequent models, which have continuously pushed the boundaries of electric vehicle technology.
A New Generation of the Roadster
In 2017, Tesla unveiled a new version of the Roadster, which promises to be faster and more powerful than its predecessor. The upcoming Roadster, boasting a top speed of over 250 mph and a range of 620 miles, aims to solidify Tesla's position as a leader in electric vehicle technology.
As a result of the Roadster's success, other automakers began to take notice and invest in electric vehicle research and development. Today, almost every major automaker has an electric vehicle in their lineup, and the market continues to grow at an unprecedented pace. In addition, governments worldwide are setting ambitious targets for adopting electric vehicles, and charging infrastructure has expanded rapidly to accommodate the increasing demand.
Tesla Roadster demonstrated the potential of electric powertrains to deliver impressive performance, efficiency, and environmental benefits. The Roadster's legacy inspires new generations of electric vehicles, pushing the industry toward a cleaner, more sustainable future. Although the Roadster is no longer in production, its legacy lives on in the current generation of Tesla vehicles and the company's commitment to pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the world of electric cars.
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This week we take a look at Tesla's upcoming update, 2023.20, Tesla's improvements to Autowipers and its latest app update
Join us as we take a look back at this week's top Tesla stories. From an early look at the features included in Tesla's upcoming 2023.20 software update, to Tesla's latest app update, we dive into the top stories of the week.
An Early Look at Tesla's 2023.20 Update and Its Features
Tesla is introducing the ability to track your tire mileage in update 2023.20
Preparations are underway for Tesla's next software update, version 2023.20. Although currently in testing, this update has been drawing attention since it was first noticed last week. Considering Tesla's 2023.12 update brought numerous new features, it appears this next may be smaller. However, we now have our first look at some of the features included in Tesla's 2023.20 update.
A noteworthy improvement under the upcoming update pertains to tire service tracking. Post-update, vehicle owners can track how many miles have been driven since their last tire service.
Tesla Updates App to v4.21.5, Adds New Loot Box, Referral Rewards and References New Features
Tesla has updated its app to 4.21.5
Not a Tesla App
This week Tesla updated their iPhone app to version 4.21.5. The updated features include a new Loot Box design and a notice to Canadians using their Superchargers. Tesla also hints at several upcoming features including Boombom v2.
Tesla's Model Y With Hardware 4.0 Doesn't Include Radar: We Take a Look at Why
Tesla's Model Y with HW4 is coming without radar
As Tesla continues to redefine the automotive industry, insiders have revealed that the company's upcoming Hardware 4.0 (HW4) will not include the radar module in its Model Y vehicles, at least not initially. This marks a shift in the company's approach towards autonomous driving, relying more heavily on vision-based systems. This strategic decision builds on the recent introduction of HW4 in the luxury Model S and Model X models.
Previously, the integration of HD radar in the Model S and Model X indicated an evolution in the company's Full Self-Driving (FSD) hardware.
Tesla Reduces FSD Beta Suspension Duration With FSD Beta 11.4.2
Tesla has reduced the FSD suspension to one week with FSD Beta 11.4.2
Tesla is again modifying the Full Self Driving (FSD) Beta suspension policy. Initially, the system, which is based on a strike policy, suspended users until Tesla reset strikes globally, which ranged from about every three to nine months. The driver has up to three strikes for vehicles without a cabin camera and five for those equipped with them.
More recently Tesla changed their policy to reset FSD suspensions on an individual basis after "approximately two weeks," according to Tesla. But with the introduction of FSD Beta 11.4.2, Tesla has now reduced the suspension interval from two weeks to approximately one week.
Tesla and Ford Forge New Partnership: Ford To Incorporate Tesla Charge Port (NACS) in Future EVs
Ford will add a Tesla (NACS) port to its future EVs
In a move that attests to Elon Musk's words on fostering industry collaboration over competition, Tesla and Ford have announced a partnership to enable the latter's electric vehicles access to Tesla’s extensive Supercharger network.
Contrary to earlier speculations that Tesla's move to open its proprietary charging connector might be a futile attempt at standardization, Ford has embraced the North American Charging Standard (NACS) - Tesla's charging system. With this, Tesla’s charging plug design, known for some advantages over the current CCS standard, might start gaining traction across the North American EV sector.
Tesla Upgrades Autowipers to v4, Musk Apologizes for Poor Performance
FSD Beta 11.4.2 introduces Autowipers v4
For Tesla owners, the auto wiper system has been a contentious feature. Loved by some for its attempt at autonomous convenience yet criticized by others for its hit-or-miss performance, the system has often had trouble with extreme light conditions or misty weather. Now, Tesla has introduced v4 of their autowipers system that aims to correct past issues and enhance the user experience.
Tesla to Deliver Cars at 50% Charge, Offers 150km Free Supercharging
Tesla will now give owners a 150km Supercharger credit
Tesla has recently come up with a new way of doing things when it comes to delivering cars. The company claims this change has been made to align with some new rules in the industry. In the past, Tesla always delivered cars with a full charge. Now, they are to be delivered with only half charge.
When electric vehicles are being transported from one place to another, having them fully charged can pose a risk. Keeping the state of charge (SOC) at 50% during shipment reduces the chances of battery fires. This practice is not new. Other battery-operated devices, like e-bikes, are also shipped at a lower SOC for the same safety reasons.
Tesla Model 3 Refresh Reveal Rumors Coincide with Elon Musk's China Visit
Is Tesla getting ready to unveil the refreshed Model 3?
Tesla CEO Elon Musk's recent visit to China, his first in three years, has set the stage for widespread conjecture around the unveiling of the revamped Tesla Model 3. Dubbed Project Highland, this model refresh has been a topic of discussion for some time. Industry insiders believe Musk's significant stop at the Shanghai Gigafactory might be strategically timed to coincide with a potential sneak peek of the new Model 3 design.
Tesla Screen Size Comparison for All Tesla Models, Including Size, Resolution and Aspect Ratio
A good view of all the displays available in a Model S
Tesla is a pioneer in the automotive industry, and one of the most defining features of its vehicles is the use of large touchscreens. These screens are a central hub for most vehicle functions, including music, vehicle settings, navigation, and more. Tesla's commitment to a minimalist and user-friendly design is evident through integrating these screens, which have become iconic in electric vehicles.
Between 2012 and 2020, the Model S and Model X were equipped with vertical screens, which stood out due to their impressive size and orientation.
NHTSA closes its investigation into Tesla's 'Passenger Play' feature
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has concluded its investigation into Tesla's 'Passenger Play' feature, stating it will not pursue a recall of the scrutinized vehicles. Passenger Play allowed passengers in the vehicle to play certain games like the Sky Force Reloaded while the vehicle was in motion. Tesla was quick to respond to NHTSA's concerns and issued an update that requires the vehicle to be in park before games can be launched.
The closure of the probe comes amidst continuing concerns over the potential for driver distraction.
Investigation Ends, Still Leaves Room for Future Actions
While NHTSA's conclusion signifies a milestone in Tesla's ongoing scrutiny, it does not entirely absolve the electric vehicle maker. The administration emphasized that the end of the investigation does not mean a safety-related defect doesn't exist. Furthermore, the NHTSA's decision opens the possibility for future action if additional concerns arise.
NHTSA's apprehensions were primarily rooted in Tesla's decision to allow video games to be played on the front center touchscreen of the vehicle while in motion. Having acknowledged these concerns, Tesla voluntarily took action by disabling the 'Passenger Play' feature through an over-the-air software update soon after NHTSA launched its investigation in December 2021.
Tesla's Voluntary Disabling of Feature Commended
The administration confirmed that Tesla reported a 97% completion rate of the software update disabling 'Passenger Play', within a month of its release. The agency lauded Tesla's swift action, which showcased a responsible approach toward ensuring driver safety and mitigating distractions. This action appeared to significantly address NHTSA's concerns, as the agency cited the importance of "affirmative technology-based lockouts" as more effective than merely using labels or disclaimer screens.
Ongoing Scrutiny of Tesla's Autopilot System
Despite the conclusion of this specific probe, Tesla remains under the lens of the NHTSA, which is currently investigating Autopilot. The investigation, covering approximately 830,000 Tesla vehicles, aims to understand better human factors concerning Tesla interfaces and the dynamic driving task.
A History of Safety First
Tesla has always portrayed itself as an automaker that prioritizes safety. From advanced driver assist systems to top-tier safety ratings, the electric car manufacturer has consistently sought to revolutionize transportation safety norms. The swift action in disabling the controversial 'Passenger Play' feature further underscores the company's commitment to road safety and user well-being.
Tesla’s case serves as a potent reminder for all automakers that in-vehicle infotainment devices must balance entertainment and safety. In 2014, the NHTSA issued guidelines encouraging automakers to design in-vehicle devices so the driver can’t use them to perform inherently distracting secondary tasks while driving. As the lines between automobiles and technology blur, the importance of these guidelines will only grow.
Although the 'Passenger Play' investigation has concluded, Tesla’s journey with the NHTSA is far from over. The ongoing probe into Tesla’s Autopilot system indicates that the auto giant will remain under close watch to ensure the highest levels of safety for users and fellow road users alike.
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