Is The Tesla Roadster Just An Electrified Lotus Elise?

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Before the Model S, Model X and the hundreds of thousands pre-orders for the Model 3 made Tesla a household name, there was only a small BEV sports car called the Roadster.

The Roadster was produced between 2008 and 2012, in a period when Tesla was a Northern California start-up developing an electric car. In just eight years since their first product, Tesla has evolved into a corporate automotive and energy storage company that designs, develops, manufactures, and sells electric cars, electric vehicle powertrain components and battery products.

The company’s primary goal was to commercialize electric vehicles, starting with a sports car aimed at a specific niche, and then moving as rapidly as possible into other market segments. And Tesla’s pioneer was the Roadster, a car manufactured together with Lotus, after the electric car company signed a production contract with the British car maker to manufacture 2,400 “gliders” (vehicles without a powertrain).

Needless to say, the Roadster has some similarities with the British model, as Lotus provided advice on designing and developing the Roadster, as well as producing partly assembled vehicles, but it shares roughly only 6% of components with the Elise, since Tesla’s designers opted for body panels crafted using resin transfer molded carbon fiber composite to minimize weight.

Is that enough to make it more than an Elise with an electric powertrain? That's what Doug DeMuro set to find out in the following review, too.