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Sat., Oct. 4, 2008

Tesla Motors, the audacious Silicon Valley startup building eco-friendly electric supercars, is finally coming north to Seattle.

The company brought its Roadsters to Seattle for the first time last month for private events with several dozen buyers, many of whom paid huge deposits years ago to help the company get rolling and secure the earliest cars.

They’ll still have to wait months or more to take delivery of the $109,000 cars, which only began regular production in March.

Among the first Tesla buyers was Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who could receive his within a few months.

The zero-emission vehicles accelerate from zero to 60 in 3.9 seconds.

Dave Denhart, a longtime developer of Microsoft’s “Flight Simulator” game, paid a deposit in October 2006 on a Roadster he expects to receive in January.

Denhart ordered it in yellow, like the suit he wears commuting from Redmond, Wash., on an electric Vectrix motorscooter. He hopes the flamboyant color will engage people in conversation about the promise of electric cars and the need to reduce oil consumption.

There had to be some extra motivation to put down $50,000 to $75,000 on cars that were still in development and, until the Seattle store opens, will have to be serviced in California.

Tesla is one of the boldest startups in years – an entirely new car company started in 2003 with an engineering focus and a mission to change perceptions of electric cars.

Initial backing came largely from Elon Musk, the South African-born co-founder of PayPal who is also funding the SpaceX space-travel company and a solar-energy business. Other investors include the co-founders of Google and venture capitalists.

Back on Earth: Chrysler LLC last month unveiled three electric cars, one slated for production in 2010.

The so-called “production-intent” prototypes include a two-passenger Dodge sports car that rockets from zero to 60 mph in less than five seconds along with a Jeep Wrangler SUV and Chrysler Town & Country minivan.

Chrysler’s trio, like the coming Volt from General Motors, run on an electric engine that can be charged up in a standard wall outlet. The vehicles can also turn to a small gasoline-powered engine to recharge the battery to eke out more miles, if necessary.

From wire reports


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