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Ah, Tesla Motors…the only automaker selling only mass-produced electric vehicles in Europe or North America. Well, really, make that vehicle – Tesla currently only produces one kind of car: the Roadster (well, if you want to be picky, you could argue they produce two kinds, the Roadster and the Roadster Sport). The base model runs at about $100,000 after the government tax rebate. Not cheap, but this isn’t your granola neighbor’s electric vehicle. It’s sexy, it’s sporty, and it does zero to sixty in under four seconds. All while costing about two cents per mile to run.
Today now you, too, could be an owner of this innovative company. Well, in the form of stock, at least; Tesla just announced that it’s going public and putting $100 million in shares on the public market.
But it’s like a wise frog once said: it ain’t easy being green. Tesla hasn’t seen booming sales despite an increasingly emissions-conscious public. They plan to stop making the current version of the Roadster next year when they change suppliers and won’t restart production until 2012, when they’ll also likely introduce their next model: a sedan tentatively priced at around $50k.
So why aren’t Teslas flying off the lots? Why aren’t they commonplace cars by now? After all, the company’s been around for since mid-2003.
Maybe because the Tesla doesn’t offer much middle ground (not that it should, but as a culture, we seem to be reluctant to change. Those big trucks and SUVs are still permeating the roadways, usually inhabited by one lone driver.) It’s all electric and that might be scary for consumers. Also, Tesla began offering cars to the public in the middle of a deep recession – not exactly the right time to buy new luxury vehicles (unless you’re in charge of a major bank, of course). And Tesla prides itself on no advertising. It certainly works for Lamborghini, but the jury’s still out on Tesla.
Hopefully going public and getting over $450 million from government loans will bolster the seemingly tenuous company. After all, turning the lights off when we leave the room will only go so far. Tesla goes the extra mile. And in a sporty roadster, no less.
So I thought it might be prudent to tell you what I want to talk about. Now, I know that planning is often futile, but I’m going to try anyways.
Microcars: These are basically really, really tiny cars. Ridiculously tiny (but also ridiculously adorable). Honestly, these were more or less the first “green” vehicles – and they were popular over sixty years ago and got better gas mileage than most of the cars on the roads today. I’m going to take a look back at the stories of these cute little cars, including these microcar makers: Messerschmitt, Heinkel, Reliant, Morris, Crosley, Isetta, Velorex, Goggomobil, Corbin, Peel, and whatever else catches my eye.
Green automotive technologies: Electric, hybrid, hydrogen, water, oxygen, solar, you name it, I want to learn about it and hopefully give some coherent information about the topic.
SMV teams: Obviously, I know a lot about Milwaukee’s team (or at least more than I know about other teams. Of course, this is all relevant; I also think the main difference between two and four stroke engines is the kind of noise they make). Regardless of competitive spirit, what these teams are doing is creative, brave, and deserves credit.
Other green car challenges: From the EcoCar challenge to races held around the world, I’m going to take a look at the other stuff going in the gas mileage arena.
Consumer vehicles: This is probably worthwhile to take a gander at. After all, these super cars and water-powered vehicles might be pretty neat, but they’re not available to most of us. So we have to make do with what’s out there somehow.
Barriers we face: Oil tycoons. Massive subsidies. Central infrastructure. That jerk who killed the electric car. It might look like an uphill battle, but it’s what we got, and we gotta figure out what we need to do to keep trucking. And keep on truckin’ we will – just maybe not in our beloved F-350s.
So that’s a hopeful look at the future. Will I stick to it? I’ll try. Have a suggestion? Let me know. As with all life, when it boils down to it, this is a group effort.