Tesla Starts Cranking, Slowly

Note to all those Tesla customers — Gavin Newsom, Flea, George Clooney — that have been waiting patiently for their electric sports cars: The Silicon Valley green carmaker has started “regular” production of the Roadster. Woot-woot! That means customers who managed to get in line for the 2008 model (they’re all sold out for the year) are a bit closer to bringing ‘em home.

Well, we’re not sure how close. Tesla in early February started limited production of Roadsters with interim transmissions; it delivered the first one to Tesla Chairman and Founder Elon Musk. CEO Ze’ev Drori says on Tesla’s blog that regular production means that the company will gradually ramp-up manufacturing “in a deliberate and controlled manner” to be able to produce “over 100 Roadsters per month early next year.” Update: Tesla VP Sales, Marketing & Service Darryl Siry tells us that he estimates that there will be 300 Roadsters made in the 2008 calendar year. The company declined to detail how many cars it would be making in 2008.
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Update: We had thought that the regular production Roadsters would have the final one-speed transmission instead of the interim transmission, given that was the impression we got when we interviewed Musk and Drori back in December. But Siry tells us that some number of these first regular production cars will also receive the interim transmission and then get the upgrade later on. Siry wouldn’t give a date for when the final transmission would be used, just “ASAP.”

And now that Tesla is cranking out its first car, the company is working on showing off a model of its five-passenger sports sedan — codenamed WhiteStar. They’ve already decided on the car’s real name, though they aren’t telling us yet (see some creative ideas for it here), and are shooting to get it to customers by 2010.

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