As for service, "there's not much to do on these cars," notes Harrigan. At first they will probably want to see the cars every 10,000 miles or so "to make sure that customers are getting the best care possible," but eventually service will only be required every 25,000 miles. Tesla plans to set up factory-owned dealer/service centers in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco.
Demand for the car has been greater than expected. As of the writing of this article, Tesla had orders for 180 cars, the first of which will be delivered in June of 2007. It expects to build 800 cars in the first production year and then double that in the following year. Of considerable note is the fact that close to two-thirds of the car's buyers have never actually seen one up close, and none have been able to drive it, yet they have happily agreed to put down the full $100,000 advance payment.
While the car is obviously geared toward a certain market, help is on the way for those who find the Roadster's price tag a bit steep. "Five years from now, batteries of the same capacity will be about half the price. Our hope is to get the price down to where we can compete with the hybrids in the $30,000 range," says Harrigan.
Presently the company is working on a four-door sedan, available in 2009, which will be in the $50,000-$60,000 price range. After that, a smaller hatchback model will follow. Within 20-30 years, the company hopes to offer at least five cars, all of which will be EVs. "We're trying to build a company that's sustainable and that's devoted to a vision of an electric car in every garage," predicts O'Connell.
So can Tesla Motors really change the world? Probably not on its own, but it is paving the way for an automotive revolution that may just put us on that path. With global warming a reality and the end of cheap oil in sight, the Tesla Roadster is proving that electric vehicles are a viable alternative, and a desirable one at that.