Nikola Would Be Proud

I have driven the future, and it’s electric. Expensive as hell, but electric.

Tesla Motors, the California electric car manufacturer, wants to crack the Las Vegas market, so they’ve stationed representative Lance Merkin in Summerlin for the winter with a Lighting Green 2010 Roadster Sport, a $129,000 two-seater that does zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds, virtually tied with a Porsche 911 Turbo.

You may wonder if the Great Recession in a city dubbed the “fourth worst economy in the world” is the right time and place to market a car priced at about the median cost of a home in the Valley nowadays. You wouldn’t if you spend even a few minutes behind the wheel of this baby.

Turning the key elicits only dashboard lights. However, silent driving is nothing new—Prius drivers have been boring us for years with monologues about their quiet cars. But no Prius ever generated this kind of rush. Give the accelerator a solid nudge and the cars around you suddenly seem mired in petroleum-burning shame while you, eco avenger, shoot ahead without a whisp of emissions. There is no mechanical commotion to associate with your velocity, only a faint whine from the watermelon-size motor in the trunk. Driving this car is highly addictive.

And fueling it would be, too. A “full tank” of electrons for the 1,000-pound battery pack will take you 245 miles, if you can stay out of the throttle and drive like a sane person, not an easy task. At the current cost of electricity in Las Vegas, that fill-up will cost you about $4.50.

For now the Tesla is a toy for the well-heeled, eco-conscious speed freak. (If that’s you, give Merkin a call at 421-2065, and he’ll hook you up.) But once they get the cost of these cars down—and Tesla is working on it—the internal combustion engine is doomed.

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