Tesla Wins Federal Air Bag Waiver
WASHINGTON — Tesla Motors won a waiver for its all-electric Roadster today from federal regulators, who found that the California electric vehicle company could be forced out of business if it had to meet an air bag standard.
Tesla has said it plans to produce 650 Roadsters this year, powered by 6,831 lithium-ion batteries that are expected to carry the vehicle 220 miles on a charge. The company has used the two-seat Lotus Elise sports car as the basis for its $98,000 Roadster, but with substantial changes for batteries, electric motors and safety.
Lotus and other small carmakers have struggled to meet a 2006 federal rule requiring air bags that vary their deployment based on a passenger’s size. The Elise was granted an exemption from the rule in August 2006, after Tesla had decided to build the Roadster off the Elise. While Lotus will assemble the Roadster in England, Tesla had to seek its own waiver for the Roadster or be barred from selling it in the United States.
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