Here’s a review of the new Tesla electric car — it’ll debut next year with a pricetag of around $100,000.
The author predicts the end of the traditional engine:
I’ve always marveled at how long the antique internal-combustion engine has survived. By 2006 standards, my car’s power plant is a noisy, heat-blasting, poison-spewing monster with way too many moving parts. One spin in a Tesla made me realize that the gas engine might finally be on its last legs—and not because electric cars will help wean us from Saudi oil and save us from global warming. Rather, the Tesla Roadster is a rolling demo that proves electric cars now outperform their gas-guzzling counterparts in comfort, convenience, and, best of all, speed. Electric motors differ from gasoline engines in lots of ways, but the torque curve is the most startling.
In a car with a gas engine, you press the accelerator, the engine rotates faster, and its torque output rises to reach a somewhat-flat plateau. At that point, the car accelerates smoothly as the engine spins ever faster. Eventually, the torque starts to fall off, and it’s time to drop the engine’s speed back below the sweet spot, shift up to the next gear, and start over. Why do sports cars have so many gears? To make sure the engine is revving in its maximum torque zone at just about any speed. Spin it too slow, though, and the engine stalls.
Interesting concept — no shifting gears. We’ll tell our grandkids about how we used to wait for the engine to catch up with the gas pedal.
Then they’ll ask, “What’s gas?”