Who would have thought that a South African born entrepreneur would be one of the driving forces behind the cutting edge futuristic electric car industry? Born in Pretoria in 1971, he was already a multimillionaire in his late 20s. After leaving South Africa went to his mother’s native country, Canada and later went on to study in the United States. But it was when he decided to join the Internet boom that Musk made his millions, he sold Zip2 Corporation for $307 million, and he owned 11 percent shares in a subsequent company that would become PayPal which was sold for $1.5 billion in stock. In 2003 Musk founded Tesla Motors with the aim of making cost-effective electric cars.
How they work
Electric cars use electricity instead of petroleum fuels to power them. The electricity is stored in an onboard charger that converts alternating (AC) from a wall charger to direct current (DC). Tesla vehicles have so-called Superchargers that have several chargers working together to produce up to 120 kW of power to the battery. These batteries use technology to slow the current received as they near their full charge, this means the battery cells can receive enough charge to last them until the next charge at a Supercharger Station. The process of using a Supercharger Station is as simple as pulling your vehicle up, plugging it in and allowing it to charge for thirty minutes.
In 2008 Tesla Motors released the Roadster. Running off a lithium ion battery, this sports car can go from 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds and can travel nearly 250 miles between battery charges. And proving that the electric car industry can provide a viable alternative to the more established petroleum based car industry, the Roadster has attracted investment from some major players. Two of the biggest vehicle manufacturers have bought shares and made a strategic partnership. The Initial Public Offering for Tesla was $226 million in 2010.
The Model S
Tesla’s first electric sedan can accelerate from 0-60 mph in as little as 2.8 seconds.
This car can cover 265 miles between charges and was Motor Trend magazine’s Car of the Year 2013. And if you are tired of driving, why not switch on the Autopilot capabilities for a safe and less stressful commute? This vehicle also has adaptive lighting with LED headlamps and an air filtration system that can filter pollution, allergens and bacteria, and can be set to bioweapon defense mode. With all of these capabilities, you might think this car has driven in from the future.
“The safest, fastest, and most capable sport utility vehicle in history”, this car has a 90 kWh battery that will keep it going for 257 miles. It can seat seven adults and accelerates from 0-60 mph in as little as 3.2 seconds. The battery is mounted on the floor, meaning that the front section – with no gasoline engine – can act as an impact absorbing crumple zone. This combined with cameras, radar and sonar systems that give the driver real-time feedback to help avoid collisions, and brakes that are automatically applied in an emergency situation, makes the Model X one of the safest vehicles ever made.
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