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Price, fuel economy, range and depreciation

Look at this purely objectively and it’s here where things begin to get tricky for the Tesla Roadster. It is slower than the Elise SC, heavier, has a shorter range, takes longer to refuel, is vastly more expensive… you get the idea.

But we’ve said it before and it’s bears repeating: the Tesla Roadster is a classic early adopter’s car. If we all waited until prices fell on new electronic equipment (which, like consoles, phones and computers, it certainly will), they’d never fall.

The Tesla Roadster is a classic early adopter’s car

Tesla claims the range is up to 220 miles (on an American EPA combined highway/city cycle) but, as with combined fuel consumption figures, don’t expect to match it.

The range depends on how you drive it – although with the Tesla there are modes you can select while recharging and driving that can substitute range for power, and vice versa, improving the Tesla's flexibility.

Over a steady but not slow touring route of motorway and A-road, we managed more than 150 miles on a single charge. At the test track we drained the Tesla in 75 miles. Typically you’d see around 130 miles on a single charge with a mix of leisurely and spirited driving. Limiting, but far from poor considering the performance.

The batteries have an effective life of five years/100,000 miles, beyond which their performance will tail off. At the moment replacement cost is high, but by the time large numbers need replacing it’s likely to have reduced or a next-gen pack may be available.

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Besides, the actual running costs (apart from buying new batteries) should prove very low. It costs pennies to charge, there are fewer moving parts than in an internally combusted engine and, because it has no tailpipe emissions, its road tax is free and it’s exempt from the congestion charge.