Tesla is shifting its focus to a new product, and that means the end of the line for its iconic Roadster. The automaker will stop taking orders for the $110,000 electric sports car later this summer to gear up for the release of its brand new Model S sedan.
With nearly 1,700 sales reported worldwide through the end of April, the Tesla Roadster has been a surprising success story considering its tiny two-seat cabin, limited availability and high price tag. But its performance lived up to expectations, both in terms of speed ? 0-to-60 runs take around four seconds ? and efficiency, with a fully electric powertrain capable of more than 200 miles on a single charge.
The Roadster has also satisfied leagues of celebrity buyers, from George Clooney to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, computer maker Michael Dell and even boxer George Forman, who announced the purchase of his Roadster was akin to "buying a little hope for the country."
So what's next for Tesla? In a word, volume. The automaker hopes to capitalize on the huge publicity garnered from media coverage of the Roadster when it launches the Model S sedan sometime next year. Capable of up to 300 miles on a single charge and available for just $80,000, the Model S is considerably more practical than the Roadster, a fact Tesla is counting on to drive more sales.
But just because Tesla is moving to four doors doesn't mean it's giving up on excitement. The automaker has promised the Model S will offer competitive acceleration and taut handling ? not to mention a novel seating configuration featuring a rear-facing third-row, giving the Model S seating for up to seven.
Other Tesla ventures include a recent partnership with Toyota to help produce plug-in versions of the automaker's RAV4 SUV and a deal with Daimler to provide batteries for an all-electric smart fortwo.