In my recent CL500 update video, I made some comments regarding the forthcoming Tesla Roadster, which I will expand upon here.
From a purely personal point of view, I do not believe that an electric vehicle can replace the high-end exotics we are familiar with, such as Ferraris, Lamborghinis, McLarens and Maseratis. The primary reason for this is that the mechanical engine is literally the beating heart and soul of a car – it is the source of much of the emotion that goes with driving an exotic.
Electric vehicles may have the performance edge, but the experience of driving such a car isn’t just about performance – it is the whole sensory package of which performance is only one part.
In fact, I believe that we are coming to the end of the ‘golden age’ of performance cars that started in the 1950s. Environmental concerns have gradually worn away at the petrol-driven vehicle, starting with greater emission controls and safety equipment in the 1970s. Not that these are a bad thing, but they are one step in a long line of small but significant restrictions.
Today, we see manufacturers moving away from large, naturally aspirated engines towards smaller, turbocharged units that frequently lack the character of their predecessors. All of these changes are essentially driven by environmental pressures.
The primary reason that electric vehicles are becoming popular is because of that desire to reduce emissions and remove the dependence on fossil fuels. I completely understand that aim. However, what baffles me about the Tesla business plan is that the model line-up appears to cater only for the wealthiest buyers, with a limited and very exclusive line up that will have very little impact on emissions.
This is especially the case given the fact that Tesla receives so much in US government subsidies. Surely taxpayer dollars should be put towards lowering the cost of mass market electric vehicles in order to reduce emissions and pollution, not high performance, exclusive exotics which will only be accessible to a very few.
That said, any car that can hit 100 kmh (62 mph) in 1.9 seconds is astonishing, and it will be an incredible achievement. But I feel that a company producing such exotic vehicles should not be absorbing taxpayer dollars to do it.