It is no secret that I have a fairly low opinion of alternative motoring efforts and Jeremy Clarkson’s thoughts on the all electric Tesla Roadster certainly should give those starry eyed Greens a pause for thought.
The fact that driven hard this car could only manage 55 miles range shows just how impracticable this technology is and the 16 hour recharge time is utterly ludicrous.
The problem is, though, that really and honestly, the US-made Tesla works only at dinner parties. Tell someone you have one and in minutes you will be having sex. But as a device for moving you and your things around, it is about as much use as a bag of muddy spinach.
Yes, it is extremely fast. It’s all out of ideas at 125mph, but the speed it gets there is quite literally electrifying. For instance, 0 to 60 takes 3.9sec. This is because a characteristic of the electric motor, apart from the fact it’s the size of a grapefruit and has only one moving part, is massive torque.
And quietness. At speed, there’s a deal of tyre roar and plenty of wind noise from the ill-fitting soft top, but at a town-centre crawl it’s silent. Eerily so. Especially as you are behind a rev counter showing numbers that have no right to be there — 15,000, for example.
Through the corners things are less rosy. To minimise rolling resistance and therefore increase range, the wheels have no toe-in or camber. This affects the handling. So too does the sheer weight of the 6,831 laptop batteries, all of which have to be constantly cooled.
But slightly wonky handling is nothing compared with this car’s big problems. First of all, it costs £90,000. This means it is three times more than the Lotus Elise, on which it is loosely based, and 90,000 times more than it is actually worth.
Yes, that cost will come down when the Hollywood elite have all bought one and the factory can get into its stride. But paying £90,000 for such a thing now indicates that you believe in goblins and fairy stories about the end of the world.
Of course, it will not be expensive to run. Filling a normal Elise with petrol costs £40. Filling a Tesla with cheap-rate electricity costs just £3.50. And that’s enough to take you — let’s be fair — somewhere between 55 and 200 miles, depending on how you drive.
But if it’s running costs you are worried about, consider this. The £60,000 or so you save by buying an Elise would buy 15,000 gallons of fuel. Enough to take you round the world 20 times.
And there’s more. Filling an Elise takes two minutes. Filling a Tesla from a normal 13-amp plug takes about 16 hours. Fit a beefier three-phase supply to your house and you could complete the process in four (Tesla now says 3½). But do not, whatever you do, imagine that you could charge your car from a domestic wind turbine. That would take about 25 days.
Now that petrol has dropped below 90 cents* per litre here I don’t intend to retire the Falcon any time soon