In order to get its electric sports car to owners sooner, Tesla Motors plans to deliver cars with a temporary transmission that falls short of its originally promised performance.
The news was distributed to the wide world on Thursday in a blog post from Ze'ev Drori, Tesla's new president and CEO.
The post is a reprint of a letter that was sent to Tesla purchasers on December 21, as a follow-up to a town hall meeting for Tesla owners that took place on December 12. About 100 people, including those who called in, participated in the meeting, according to Drori.
The main goal is "to put the Tesla Roadster on the road as soon as possible," Drori said in the letter.
Drori's letter lays out in straightforward details the car's setbacks and how Tesla plans to deal with them. The company also posted an audio file of the town hall meeting on Tesla's Web site.
The transmission is the main source of the Tesla's delay. A durable transmission that can maintain the original claims of 0-60 mph in 4 seconds is just not ready. In the interest of getting cars into the hands of owners, the company has decided to deliver the Tesla with a transmission that enables the car to do 0-60 in 5.7 seconds. Once the company has perfected a higher performance transmission that enables the Tesla to achieve 0-60 mph in 4 seconds, it will then retrofit all the delivered cars with the new transmission at the company's expense.
Tesla also addressed questions about overstated EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) driving range figures. The independent lab that performed the EPA's tests miscalibrated one of its tools, resulting in an inflated range, according to Drori. Since then, the car has been retested and the EPA now puts the Tesla's driving range at a combined average of 221 miles per charge. Tesla, meanwhile, still stands by its "real world" driving figures of 267 miles per charge in the city and 165 miles per charge on the highway, said Drori. Tesla also plans to retest the car closer to production.
While Tesla hopes plans to be in full production by summer 2008, it expects "some number of cars to be delivered in early 2009."