KEN BURGER: Electric speedster: 0-60 in 3.7 seconds

Ken Burger looks over the totally electric Tesla Roadster after taking it for a spin.

I have seen the automotive future, and it is electric.

But first, a warning: This is not your granddaddy's golf cart. The Tesla Roadster that I took for a test-drive Friday is an all-electric speedster. And when I say speed, I'm talking 0-60 in just 3.7 seconds.


Touch the accelerator on this baby and it takes off like the starship Enterprise. It's fast. But don't just take my word for it.

"This car has instant torque," said Bobby Phipps, a Charleston attorney who was among the lucky ones who got to spin around town in this bright green sports car of the future. "It's very smooth. It accelerates very quickly. And when you let off the gas it just slows right down. You hardly have to hit the brake."

It's doable

Hitting the gas, of course, is just an expression that someday will be considered quaint once these electric cars find their way into the American mainstream.

Which could be sooner than you think.

Manufactured in California, there are already 1,600 Tesla two-seaters on the road at a cost of $109,000 apiece.

But, according to Kyle Thompson, a sales adviser with the company, a five-seat sedan will be introduced next year that will sell for about $50,000.

While that's still not cheap, consider the cost of gas today and the fact that this car can travel from here to Clemson on a single charge and be recharged overnight for about $5.

"Right now, with gas going like it is, it could work," Phipps said. "Even if you have to replace the battery in seven or eight years for about $10,000, it still could be doable."

Phipps, by the way, is 45 years old and an admitted car guy. He drives an Audi RS4, which he describes as "not real economical."

"I could see myself driving something like this when they come out with the sedan," he said. "I think they're going to be like computers. The price will just keep coming down."


For those interested in the specs, Thompson said the Roadster is fully electric, no gas, no hybrid. You just push the pedal and go.

This model has a lithium-ion battery in the back that produces 288 horsepower and can be recharged overnight on a 110 or 220 outlet.

The battery weighs about a thousand pounds and, for you motorheads, the entire drive train has only 13 moving parts. Think about that in terms of maintenance.

The motor itself weighs about 150 pounds and is the size of a watermelon.

When I took it out from downtown to the James Island connector, I was able to test its acceleration and was very impressed.

I went into this venture thinking it was a nice promotion for M.P. Demetre Jewelers on King Street and its effort to promote a new line of U-Boat watches that sell for $6,000 and up.

So this cutting-edge car fits right into the Demetre demographic.

I got to drive the car and wear the watch because it's the kind of thing newspaper columnists get to do sometimes. And, if you go to our website (, you can view a video of the test-drive and come along for the ride.

It's literally electrifying.

Reach Ken Burger at 937-5598 or on Twitter at @Ken_Burger.