EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - You could serve hot dogs to attract customers to your car dealership. Or you could do what Kurt Bublitz did on Friday: offer rides in a $109,000 electric car.
Bublitz's dealership, EurocarsUS, recently purchased the Tesla Roadster as a marketing tool. "We think it's kind of the wave of the future," he said.
California-based Tesla has sold more than 1000 electric cars since its two-seat sports car went on sale in 2008. But it's about to get some competition. By year's end Nissan plans to release the fully electric Leaf, a compact car priced just over $25,000 -after a $7500 federal tax credit is applied. Chevrolet is also on track for a late 2010 rollout of its plug-in hybrid Volt.
"It's like everything else," said Bublitz, "as the technology gets adopted and so on, it will become more affordable."
Tesla - which is planning a more affordable electric sedan for 2012 - boasts a range of 244 miles between charges for its roadster.
But many auto enthusiasts who can afford the Roadster are even more impressed by the Tesla's light switch-quick acceleration. The company claims zero-to-sixty times of 3.8 seconds.
"One reaction: Wow!" said John Martin, a BMW driver from Minneapolis after his test drive of the Tesla. "There's not a lot of engine noise and it's weird because it just slingshots you forward."
With a young family, Loren Sposito decided Tesla's future sedan might better fit his needs, but he couldn't help but be impressed by the Roadster, an electric car that, "doesn't have to be ugly looking."