Driving P1

Elon Musk, Co-Founder & CEO of Tesla Motors, February 29, 2008

On February 1, 2008 Tesla Motors handed over the keys of the first production Roadster (P1) to Elon Musk, Chairman and now a proud Roadster owner. What has life been like behind the wheel of P1? Find out from Elon himself.

It has been a blast driving my Tesla Roadster every day for the past several weeks, using it as my daily driver from Bel Air to Hawthorne. I really think this is the most fun car I've ever owned, beating out the McLaren F1 and my 2007 Porsche 911 Turbo.

Car & Driver assessed the Roadster as having the best 30 to 70 mph acceleration of any car they tested in 2007 (and possibly ever), and that's where I really notice the difference. While the 3.9 second 0 to 60 mph time is great, the passing response on the highway is mind-blowing and effortless. No need to think about downshifting and getting your rpm into the torque sweet spot -- you're always in the torque sweet spot with an electric car.

Something else I notice is that the 3.9 second 0 to 60 mph time of the Roadster actually understates its performance relative to a gasoline car with the same quoted time. The reason is that there is no clutch engagement delay with the Roadster, because there is no clutch. I did some side by side acceleration tests with a friend of mine that has a Corvette, supposedly with a similar 0 to 60 mph time as the Roadster, and it was no contest.

Another great thing about having no clutch, plus having traction control that prevents an acceleration spin out, is that you can achieve max acceleration every time with ease. Try to do that on a Viper or a Porsche Carrera GT and you'll burn out your clutch within a week and destroy your rear tires.

Handling also seems excellent, although I haven't pushed that too hard.

As far as criticisms, my biggest concern is that I don't think our seats are comfortable enough. I've asked the engineering team to work on an upgrade right away. It will be provided at no cost to any customers that receive the existing seat design before the upgrade is ready. The back curvature and side support need to be improved. We are also looking at offering custom tailored seats, matched to each customer's height, width, leg length, etc., as an optional upgrade.

Reaction from driving the car around Los Angeles has been great. It’s thumbs up wherever I go – something that never happens when I’m driving the Porsche. A big advantage of the Roadster is that I can show up to an event like Global Green or Conservation International in a hot sports car and actually get a better reaction than if I drove a Prius! The Roadster has twice the energy efficiency of that gas hog. :)