Published on May 20th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro


Elon Musk: Tesla Roadster Would Have Been Better As An Original Design

May 20th, 2014 by  

Originally published on Gas2.


The Tesla Roadster helped Elon Musk get his foot into the electric vehicle world, but he wishes it had been an all-original design from the get-go. Turns out Tesla had to modify so much of the Lotus Elise body, that it would have been easier to just design it from the ground-up.

It was an early lesson learned for Musk and the fledgling electric automaker, which sold something like 2,450 of the $100,000 Tesla Roadster, though other automakers are still trying to cram electric drivetrains into conventional cars. The Lotus that the Roadster was based on was never meant to carry a huge battery pack or have an electric motor mounted at the rear wheels, so by the time Tesla had redesigned it, they had sunk huge amounts of money into the project.

Now Detroit Electric is trying to do the exact same thing, and other automakers are still shoehorning electric drivetrains into economy cars. Only BMW has gotten the memo it seems, designing the BMW i3 to be an electric car from the get-go. The Mercedes B-Class was also designed with an electric drivetrain in mind, though it’s still primarily a petrol-powered vehicle.

Eventually, automakers wanting to embrace electric vehicles have to design them solely as electric vehicles, using the inherent strengths of large battery packs and electric motors as an advantage, not a disadvantage. It’s not coincidence that the Tesla Model S racked up a perfect safety rating, or has become the first electric vehicle that can really be called a success. With all the lessons learned, the next Tesla Roadster (or Model R, perhaps) promises to be the complete performance package.

For all of Elon’s complaints about the Tesla Roadster though, it’s ultimately the car that got this electric automaker started. An all-original design might have been better…but it might not have been either. Considering where Tesla is today, I’d say it all worked out for the best.

Source: GigaOm

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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • Wayne Williamson

    Interesting comments given the issues with the MX(a pure design).

  • That all said, the Lotus Elise is a stunning car. High on my list of convertibles but I finally settled on a BMW Z4 for its “practicality”.

  • JamesWimberley

    Your photo or Tesla’s? I think the same (dense, low, old) wind farm is used in anti-wind rants (link). Both sides should use images reflecting current practice – harder for the anti-windies of course.

    • James Van Damme

      Old wind farm, electric car built as a modified gas car. Technology moves on. EVs will evolve away from gasser bodies as they build volume. I’d like one with 4 motors so I can drive in the snow.

  • RobS

    I think what he’s hinting at is that a future Tesla Roadster Mark 2 vehicle is likely. One of Tesla’s strengths is their skateboard design with all the mechanicals in the skateboard. This allows them to bolt a range of different bodies onto the skateboard, sedan, roadster, commercial van, sports utility etc, at significantly reduced cost then typically different models would cost another manufacturer. The Model S skateboard is probably too large for a practical roadster, however the gen 3 or “Model E” or whatever it ends up being called, sits on a smaller skateboard that may well be perfect for a ground up Roadster mark 2.

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