March 18, 2008 A very significant milestone in zero-emissions motoring has just occurred as Tesla Motors announced yesterday that its groundbreaking electric sportscar has commenced regular production. The 130mph Tesla Roadster is the first production electric car to boast genuine sports performance coupled with a 210+ mile range between battery charges, which make it both exciting and viable for the vast majority of driving purposes. The fact that it's utterly gorgeous, with hints of the Lotus Elise, doesn't hurt either. All of the 2008 models scheduled for production have already been snapped up for just under US$100,000 each - and reservations are now being taken on the 2009 model.

Tesla Motors CEO Ze'ev Drori was justifiably proud yesterday to announce that the company had obtained all regulatory approvals for the Tesla Roadster to be sold in the USA, as well as delivering the first of the production cars and commencing regular production of the 2008 Roadster in keeping with the projected timeline laid out last year.

The final delay for the Roadster's production was in finding a durable 2-speed transmission that could handle the extreme performance of the high-powered electric motor over the lifespan of the vehicle - and while this struggle continues, the 2008 fleet will roll with an interim transmission and slightly reduced performance of 5.7-second acceleration times to 60mph instead of the 3.9 seconds originally promised. Tesla has promised to retrofit all 2008-model Roadsters with the new transmission when it's available - at the company's expense - and the full performance potential will be unlocked once these units are installed.

Over 900 Roadsters have been sold or reserved already, and sales are expected to increase steadily ahead of the release of Tesla's next model, a five-seater sports sedan, in 2010. The Roadster, meanwhile, is the undisputed market leader in electric sportscar performance, providing supercar thrills with supercheap electric charging and zero emissions as far back as the electricity grid.

More information on the Tesla Roadster here.

View gallery - 4 images