Look out for the 125mph electric car (because you won't hear it)

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

A A A

It looks as stylish as a Lotus, can outpace a Porsche 911 and is coveted by Hollywood A-listers such as Brad Pitt and George Clooney. But unlike the average super car, the Tesla Roadster is electric.

The £92,000 car, made in Britain and test-driven here for the first time this week, is being heralded as a breakthrough for the humble electric car, which has been lumbered with a reputation for being distinctly slow and unsexy in the past.

Designers of the Tesla, which has a top speed of 125mph and can accelerate from zero to 60mph in 3.9 seconds, hope it will appeal to moneyed motorists currently cruising around in Aston Martins, Porsches and Ferraris.

And motorists need not fear running out of power after a quick trip to the shops. Once a three-hour charge has been completed, the Tesla can travel up to 220 miles – enough power to cover a trip from London to Plymouth.

But though its sleek and speedy image has impressed those who have taken it for a spin, road safety campaigners fear that the Roadster's almost silent running could pose a threat to vulnerable pedestrians who may not be able to hear it coming. The blind and cyclists are thought to be particularly at risk of being caught unawares.

Drivers climbing behind the wheel of the vehicle this week said there was "the slightest whirr" when the car was running, but no other noise.

Duncan Vernon, a road safety campaigner with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: "Technology is now out there that can boost running noise of these electric cars and we would encourage its use in all new electric models.



The car in action



"There are going to be more and more electric cars of different types on our roads in years to come, so we need to be considering these issues now."

Tesla said it would not be installing technology designed to replicate the sound of a car engine in its Roadster, despite the fact that Lotus Engineering, which is building the model at its Norfolk plant, has already designed the gadget.

"The car is not completely silent when it is running as it does generate some road noise," the company's spokesman, Darryl Siry, said. "Drivers of cars such as ours have a responsibility to take care when they are driving and be aware that they do not put pedestrians at risk. I have been driving this car for two years and have never had an accident with it."

About 1,100 orders have already been received for the car in the US, but those in Europe who want one will have to act fast – only 250 are being shipped here and 60 of those have already been snapped up.

Hollywood stars such as Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Matt Damon are all itching to get their hands on one. Californian governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, once associated with the gas-guzzling Hummer, is also understood to have submitted an order.

Praise for the car has poured in since its arrival in Britain. Former F1 world champion Damon Hill was impressed by it when he test drove the car last month. Former Jamiroquai frontman Jay Kay is also a fan.

The car will feature on the BBC's Top Gear programme in the autumn, but programme insiders were staying tight-lipped about what Jeremy Clarkson would make of the world's first green super car.

Those unable to meet the £92,000 price tag may soon be able to climb behind the wheel of new models from Tesla, which said it was also working on a four-door model and a more affordable version.

By the numbers

125mph Top speed of the Tesla Roadster electric car.

220 miles Range of the Roadster after a three-hour charge.

3.9 seconds Its 0-60mph time.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Front-Office Developer (C#, .NET, Java,Artificial Intelligence)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Front-Of...

C++ Quant Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

Java/Calypso Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, J2EE, J...

SQL Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...

Day In a Page

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

‘We knew he was something special’

Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York