Is The Tesla Roadster Just An Electrified Lotus Elise?

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.


  • Yawn

    This bloke is painful to watch. Dreadful.

    • Quinton Krautter

      Doug Demuro is awesome..

  • Andrew

    Poor quality products, rest of Tesla models are the same

    • windbourne

      ah, somebody that has never owned a tesla.

      • Jimmy Winskowski

        Or probably ever had a ride in one…

  • aaronbbrown

    It’s only difficult to get into if you don’t know how to get into a sports car, feetfirst you moron 🙂

    I hate Tesla with a burning passion, kind of like their cars that burn to the ground when they get wet.

    I’m not surprised that Tesla doesn’t support their vehicles and you have to go with aftermarket adapters in order to charge your vehicle. This is the bark of a company that does really care about the people who own there cars. All they care about is the people who buy a new one every year, that is their target demographic. Wealthy people with a lot of disposable income.

    Or their so-called autonomous driving system, that runs your kids over when you’re not looking, all on its own.

    One more time for the record F Tesla.

    • Johnny04

      The kids were on your lawn again? Those damn kids.

    • LeftLanePrius

      “All they care about is the people who buy a new one every year, that is their target demographic. Wealthy people with a lot of disposable income.”

      Can’t the same case be made towards Audi, BMW, Mercedes, and (especially) Ferrari? So far only Tesla offers the ability to visit their showrooms in malls without being pushed around by sales people.

    • windbourne

      wow. so many things wrong there.
      I am guessing that you work for an oil company doing astroturfing. Yes?

      I am impressed by Tesla in every way, shape and form.
      And as to my wife’s car, I have to admit that I love driving that when I get the chance. Best car I have ever driven for under $200,000.

    • LOL, a car company with the intention of selling cars to people?! That’s just crazy, damn you Tesla, damn you!

  • fabri99

    In defense for the little Roadster I have to say I think it was a great idea to make an electric sports car out of one of the lightest sportscar out there (and picking an MX-5 wouldn’t have been special enough). Plus, it looks absolutely gorgeous, much better than the Elise… That said, I’m not…really keen on EVs and even less on Tesla. The Roadster, being a very early Tesla, seems to still have all of those electric cars’ problems to it, so yet again, no thanks.

  • Aquaflex

    A lot of Tesla haters in here who never ever driven or own a Tesla. Once the Tesla Model 3 is released and it is shown to be epic, people will be jumping on the Tesla bandwagon. Also Tesla is rumored to be making a Sports car again…just think a p90D based engine on a carbon fiber body? Or something in the Model 3 chassis with a p90D drivetrain….hmmm

    Tesla is there to give you options.

    • windbourne

      roadster v3 is supposed to be on the model 3 frame/drive train.
      Supposedly, it will get a 0-60 in the 1.x sec range.
      and I would guess, that like all other tesla’s, it will blow the doors off anything close in competitor status.

      It would be interesting to see it have a rumble seat.

    • AndySV

      I expect the 3 will be as quick as the other models if you get the right version, that’s the great thing about electric! plus as Elon said “at Tesla we don’t make slow cars” 😀

      • Aquaflex

        I will be happy if the base model p60 model 3 does a 0 to 60 in less than 5 secs….

  • Smith

    This car was built in Hethel on the same production line as the Elise and Exige and was totally assembled by Lotus, except for the electric motor and batteries. The body was attached in Hethel as well and the gliders were shipped to USA where Tesla claimed to build them, except they were fully assembled already, except powertrain. I was at the Hethel factory when they were being produced. I guarantee there was far more that 6% of common components with the Elise, more like 60% or more.

  • Everyone has to start some somewhere. Remember the Hyundai Pony?!

  • besser_wisser

    Too many stupid haters in here ….