Set your way back machines to 2006, boys and girls, and enjoy this video reveal of the Tesla Roadster. The first thing you might notice is the poor quality of the video. Did we imagine back then that cameras would exist in a few short years that would make self driving cars possible? Heck, most of us thought Netscape was a leading tech company and was a good investment! Goes to show how much we knew, huh?
The Tesla Roadster came about because an engineer named Martin Eberhard thought electric cars would be a good way to wean the world off fossil fuels for its transportation needs. Even though the people at the head of the country have changed, that basic principle remains at the core of everything Tesla Motors does. At the unveiling, Eberhard told AutoBlog Green, “You can have a car that’s quick and you can have a car that’s electric. Having one that’s both is how you make electric cars popular.”
That statement was prescient. At the time, electric cars were little more than glorified golf karts. Eberhard knew instinctively that people love high performance vehicles. Even after he an Elon Musk had a falling out about how to move the company forward, that understanding remained at the heart of the succession of Tesla products that have made headlines — the Model S 85+, the S P85, P85D, P85D with Insane Mode, and the latest full bore nutso car from Tesla, the P90D with Ludicrous Mode.
These cars that have appeared in hundreds of YouTube videos drag racing against everything from polo ponies to race prepped Ferraris and ignited a storm of enthusiasm for electric cars. If the Tesla Model S had the same acceleration as a Chevy Malibu, Tesla would have missed out on at least 50% of the favorable publicity it has enjoyed over the years.
Tesla founders Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning are still working in the EV industry. Recently they made a major investment in Alta Motors, makers of Redshift electric motorcycles. Ian Wright now makes the world’s most efficient electric garbage trucks. He thought Musk was wrong to pursue electric automobiles when diesel trucks are such a major source of carbon pollution. Only technical chief JB Straubel remains from the original Tesla team.
It is worthwhile to look back at the Tesla Roadster, if only to mark how far the electric car industry has come in ten short years. Who would have thought the day the Roadster first appeared that Elon Musk would be talking about cars that can drive themselves cross country a decade later? The changes between then and now have been dramatic, but the core principal of Tesla Motors remains the same — to lead the world to a fossil fuel free future, regardless of what the Kook Brothers may say.