Tesla delivers first car to New Mexico owner

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By Roger Snodgrass

It was a different world for Robert Efroymson back in September 2006 when he plumped down a hefty advance for a Tesla electric sports car, which was then expected for delivery in early 2008.

Since then, the scientist and venture capitalist met his wife, moved to Albuquerque and had a son.

Now he has a piece of the future.

Tesla meanwhile had moved to Albuquerque to set up operations and then in the ups and downs of take off, moved back to California.

This week, Efroymson’s new car, number 141 in Tesla’s 2008-series, was delivered by truck from Menlo Park, Calif., where the power train was installed and the final assembly took place.

According to an announcement by Rachel Konrad, senior communication manager for Tesla Motors, that makes Efroymson “the first person in New Mexico to take ownership of a Tesla Roadster, the only highway-capable electric vehicle for sale in the U.S.”

(Konrad is married to Stephen Shankland, former science writer at the Monitor, whose parents, Tom and Becky Shankland, are Los Alamos residents.)

“It just makes sense to power your car with the most efficient source,” Efroymnson said by telephone Thursday, after a few quick trips around the city.  “Not only am I not burning gas, but I am hoping to become a pioneer in the future of transportation.”

He was especially thrilled by the acceleration, “full torque at zero rpm,” as he explained it.

The company described the electric engine this way: “The Tesla Roadster delivers full availability of performance every moment you are in the car, even while at a stoplight. Its peak torque begins at 0 rpm and stays powerful at 14,000 rpm.”

That means hopping fast when it wants to be, advertised at 0-60 in 3.9 seconds.

“This makes the Tesla Roadster six times as efficient as the best sports cars,” the company adds, “while producing one-tenth of the pollution.”

Efroymson said he got interested in the car when a friend who worked at a California electrical utility company told him there was a flex rate for charging the batteries at night.

“That makes an electric vehicle even more economical,” he said. “I was so excited about it I went out and placed the order.”

The Tesla is powered by 900 pounds of lithium ion batteries in a special configuration. The car is supposed to get about 244 miles between charges, but the new owner said that’s based on cruising along at a steady pace.

Recharging takes a few hours and costs about $4 for the electric juice.

Efroymson was a software engineer and attorney and now specializes in early-stage technology startups.

He has spoken in Los Alamos as chairman of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico.

Now a transportation trailblazer, he was reminded of a quotation attributed to punk science fiction writer William Gibson: “The future is already here – it is just unevenly distributed.”

The base price for 2009 Roadster is $109,000 with several thousands of dollars of additional options available.

Tesla expects to unveil its all electric, zero-emission, four-door sedan, the Model-S at the end of March, for delivery at the end of 2011.