As the original Tesla, the roadster stands as the beginning of a new car manufacturer and one of the first steps in showcasing the potential of electric vehicles as performance cars. The Tesla Roadster was actually a Lotus Elise chassis without any of the usual Lotus running gear installed. Tesla ordered around 2,500 units from Lotus of which 2,450 Roadsters were sold during it's life span of 2008 to 2012.
The battery pack at the time was a very different approach, being comprised of 6,831 lithium-ion cells arranged into 11 sheets connected in series. This was essentially thousands of laptop batteries shoved into a car. The prevailing thought was such an endeavor would result in too much weight with little performance. However the Roadster proved the skeptics wrong, demonstrating tremendous acceleration and handling characteristics.
The main goal of the Tesla Roadster was to announce to the world that electric vehicles could be fast and fun, with the intention of then building more high volume passenger cars such as the Model S, X and 3 later on. The drivetrain consisted of an electric motor driving the rear wheels through a one-speed transaxle, which was feed power from a 53 kWh battery pack.