Battery-Fueled Car Will Smoke You
The trick? The Tesla Roadster is powered by 6,831 rechargeable lithium-ion batteries -- the same cells that run a laptop computer. Range: 250 miles. Fuel efficiency: 1 to 2 cents per mile. Top speed: more than 130 mph. The first cars will be built at a factory in England and are slated to hit the market next summer. And Tesla Motors, Eberhard's company, is already gearing up for a four-door battery-powered sedan.
In an age when a car's electronics are worth more than its steel, it seems only natural that the tech sector would have its own car company. The question is, can Eberhard turn the digital era into horsepower, torque, and rpm?
More important, Eberhard says, the electric cars of the past -- slow, cramped, spartan -- looked like they were designed by people who thought you shouldn't be driving to begin with. Eberhard calls them "punishment cars." What he wanted to build, he told his potential investors, was a classic sports car. He wanted to have his ecofriendly ride and race it, too. Initially, the Sand Hill VCs weren't interested. Eberhard got his first bite from Elon Musk, cofounder of PayPal, who -- over the course of two years -- put in nearly $30 million of his own money and also corralled some of his wealthy entrepreneur friends to chip in. By May 2006, Tesla Motors had raised $60 million. Now Eberhard had to get the car into production.