Wednesday, October 5, 2022
News The First Tesla Roadster Prototype Was Unveiled 14 Years Ago Today

The First Tesla Roadster Prototype Was Unveiled 14 Years Ago Today

Happy Birthday, Tesla Roadster

  • The original Tesla Roadster was built on a Lotus Elise chassis

  • It was unveiled by Tesla on July 19, 2006 in Santa Monica

  • It would go on to become the first Tesla production model in 2008


On July 19, 2006, a man by the name of Elon Musk unveiled an electric car prototype called the Tesla Roadster in Santa Monica, California.

Who would have known that 14 years later, Tesla would become the most profitable car company in the world. The production Tesla Roadster based on the concept shown in 2006 hit the market in 2008 and was produced until 2012.

The unveiling took place at the Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica Airport. It was a small event by Tesla’s current standards, but the Roadster quickly garnered at lot of attention. It was even featured in Time Magazine‘s Best Inventions of 2006 alongside a robot that could ride a bike and a San Diego company called Allerca that bred hypoallergenic cats.

Of all the inventions of 2006, one could argue the Tesla Roadster would go on to have to biggest impact on our daily lives. When you think about how Tesla has changed the automotive landscape today, it’s hard to imagine it all came from a small two-seater costing $100,000 US.

Tesla Roadster July 19, 2006
Original Tesla Roadster | Photo: Tesla

The production 2008 Tesla Roadster was powered by a 248-horsepower electric motor connected to a 53.0-kW battery that provided 244 miles of range (393 kilometres). It reached 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. The first production model was delivered to Elon Musk himself.

As with every Tesla model since except maybe the Cybertruck, the reaction was almost unanimously positive. Tesla sold out the first 100 Tesla Roadster units in less than a month. By the time production began in March, 2008, 200 Tesla Roadster units were pre-sold.

In 2010, Tesla set out to show that an electric vehicle could work as a daily driver. It sent a Roadster around the world, starting at the Geneva Motor Show in March of that year and finishing the trip six months later in Paris on September 28.

Interestingly, Tesla Motors inc that produced the Roadster wasn’t just the brainchild of Elon Musk. As a matter of fact, the original Tesla was founded by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning in 2003. Elon Musk came on board in 2004 with a $7.5 million US investment and oversaw the original Roadster’s development while also developing Tesla’s long-term product planning strategy.

That original investment has turned into a net worth of over $70 billion, so we’re guessing Elon would do it all over again. And that first Tesla Roadster, like it or not, changed the automotive industry forever.

Happy birthday Tesla Roadster!

Tesla Roadster July 19, 2006 Tesla Roadster July 19, 2006

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Charles Jolicoeur
Charles Jolicoeur was studying to be a CPA when he decided to drop everything and launch a car website in 2012. Don't ask. The journey has been an interesting one, but today he has co-founded and manages 8 websites including EcoloAuto.com and MotorIllustrated.com as General Manager of NetMedia360. He also sits on the board of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. Send me an email

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