Driving the Tesla Roadster
Ben Rosen, venture capitalist and former chairman of Compaq, is one of the most influential personalities in the technology industry. Under his leadership, Compaq Computer became one of the first companies to clone IBM's PC design, enabling Compaq to become the world's largest PC maker in the 1990s.
Less well known is Ben’s history as an automotive pioneer. More than 15 years ago, Ben and his brother Harold (father of the geostationary communications satellite) started a company to build a hybrid-electric powertrain for cars. Rosen Motors hoped to dramatically improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions – without compromising on performance and style. Despite the brothers’ enthusiasm and demonstrations to major automakers, their vehicle was never commercialized.
Ben is a prolific blogger and, having recently taken ownership of his Tesla Roadster, described the “exhilarating experience” in depth. We re-posted an excerpt below and you may view the entire post here.
Two weeks ago, the evening before we were to leave our Manhattan apartment on a 10-day trip to London, we received a phone call informing us that our Tesla Roadster would arrive the next morning at our Litchfield County home. We immediately headed north. Nearly three years after ordering the car, and a year and a half after its initially promised delivery date, it arrived.It was worth waiting for.
Because of the imminent trip abroad, I only had a few hours to test drive it. And then, after returning home from London, once again I had only a short time to drive it before heading off for New Orleans for the opening of Prospect.1, the new international art biennial. So here are my initial impressions.
Before taking it on public roads, I had to make the dreaded trip to the nearest Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles office to get license plates. What a contrast that was – registering a 21st-century automobile with a 19th-century government process. Finally, after two hours tortuous waiting, I got the plates, rushed home and then started fulfilling my electric-sports-car odyssey.
The bottom line
It’s an exhilarating experience. The outstanding feature, as compared with any other car I’ve ever owned, sports cars included, is the remarkable acceleration at any speed. It springs away from a standing start. At speed, it passes other vehicles effortlessly. It is quite simply a terrestrial rocket ship.
Perhaps the other outstanding feature is one that I’m reminded of by the “curious incident of the dog that didn’t bark” (in the Sherlock Holmes mystery Silver Blaze). That feature, of course, is the Tesla’s sound, or rather, the lack of it. Curiously, there is just no sound. You would expect a high-performance sports car to make itself known, to roar, to growl. Not this one; it doesn’t even purr. It is spookily quiet (until high speed when the wind noise comes into play).
This sexy-looking car definitely draws a crowd. It’s just over 3½ feet high, seductively styled, very attractive. What’s surprising to me is how many people who encounter it actually recognize it as a Tesla. Clearly the company’s PR campaign has had an impact – e.g., 60 Minutes last month, Time Magazine this week, which in its 50 Best Inventions of 2008 feature selected the Roadster as the No. 2 invention.