Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

He'll get a charge out of it

Headingley resident's birthday gift to self an all-electric Tesla Roadster

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Keith Bilous celebrated his 39th birthday in style Tuesday -- driving a $200,000 all-electric sports car into his garage.

The Headingley resident is the proud owner of the first factory-built, production all-electric vehicle (EV) to be owned in Manitoba -- a bright orange Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5.

"I've waited my whole life to own a sports car," Bilous said as he watched his new car being unloaded in front of his home in the bone-chilling cold over the lunch hour.

"It's awesome. It's amazing."

The Roadster was shipped from the Tesla Motors production facilitiy in Menlo Park, Calif., to Chicago and then shipped in a truck to Winnipeg.

Once on the ground, Bilous gave a big hug to truck driver Eladio Hernandez -- making his first visit to Canada -- and then climbed into the Tesla's tiny cabin and took the car for a spin around the block.

The only sound as Bilous drove away came from the tires as they crunched through the snow.

 

 

While Tesla Motors boasts of the car's handling abilities in the snow, the slick racing-like tires on Bilous' Roadster aren't made for snow. He almost slid his new car into the Assiniboine River when he braked for a stop as he approached Roblin Boulevard.

"I'll keep it in the garage for a few weeks until the snow is gone."

Bilous has vanity plates -- LECTRIC -- but he still has to get the car safetied and then registered before he can legally drive it on the road.

An electrician was to install the charging equipment that came in the Roadster's tiny trunk Tuesday night.

Bilous' Roadster is being seen as a beacon by electric vehicle enthusiasts in Manitoba.

"Most people think electric vehicles are ladybugs with electric engines," Dave Connell, founding chairman of the fledgling Manitoba Electric Vehicle Association, said. "The Tesla Roadster is an appealing sports car and people will see that electric vehicles are fun to drive."

Connell, who doesn't know Bilous, said the Tesla will demonstrate that EVs are viable here in Manitoba.

Bilous is CEO of his own company, ICUC Moderation Services, which moderates online content for some impressive clients including Starbucks, Chevron, Calvin Klein, Intel, CBC and The Globe and Mail.

He ordered the car late last fall. Tesla sent him a radio-controlled model of the Roadster for Christmas. He had a copy of the operating manual downloaded into his iPad and had read it through twice before the car arrived this morning. But even then, he still had a lot to learn.

Once inside the garage, Bilous gave his Roadster a closer examination. His four-year-old son Carter preferred to play with the radio-controlled model.

"This car represents goals sought and goals met," Bilous said. "It's my birthday present to myself."

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

 Positively electrifying

Headingley resident Keith Bilous celebrated his 39th birthday Tuesday with the arrival of a 2011 Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5 -- the first production all- electric vehicle (EV) in Manitoba.

 Price tag: $190,000 before taxes.

 SPECS ON KEITH'S NEW EV

 Horsepower: 288 hp, 215 kW at 4,400 to 6,000 r.p.m.

Max r.p.m.: 14,000 r.p.m.

Top speed: 201 km/h (125 m.p.h.)

Acceleration: 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds

Range: 409 kilometres

Charging time: 3.5 hours from zero to full charge on a 240 volt, 90 amp line; 10-12 hours from zero to full charge on a standard 110 volt line.

Charging costs: one cent per kilometre, based on Manitoba Hydro electrical rates.

 The motor of the Tesla is located behind the rear seats. It's about the size of a watermelon and weighs 31 kilograms.

 The car never requires an oil change. Maintenance involves the occasional firmware upgrade, which can be done from a USB stick. For more serious maintenance work, Tesla Motors flies out a technician. Tesla can monitor the vehicle wirelessly.

 The body is made of carbon-fibre panels on an aluminum frame.

The roofline height is 113 centimetres.

Seats two.

Has one cupholder.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 2, 2011 A2

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