2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011
That pack was made up of 6,831 individual "commodity" lithium-ion batteries similar to those used in mobile phones and laptop computers.
But the Roadster made converts out of many disbelievers owing to the sheer acceleration delivered by that battery to an electric motor with peak power of 185 kilowatts (248 horsepower) driving the rear wheels.
A 0-to-60-mph time of 3.9 seconds took modern electric cars out of the "golf cart" category forever. It even led members of the grumpy middle-aged automotive press to acknowledge the potential of electric performance cars.
Only 2,600 Tesla Roadsters were built, with the rolling bodies assembled by Lotus in England and then shipped to California.
The battery pack, power electronics, and traction motor were added in a large service bay behind Tesla's Menlo Park dealership, one of the more unlikely final assembly locations in the industry.
While Tesla employees, owners, supporters, and customers enjoy today's ceremonies--view the webcast here starting at 3:30 pm Pacific today--the company is likely to enter a period of growth unlike anything it's seen so far.
2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011Enlarge Photo
Expanding its network of Tesla Stores, making its target customers aware of the car, and supporting a vastly larger pool of owners and cars than it's had to deal with before, all of these challenges hold potential pitfalls for the company.
Most analysts continue to believe that Tesla Motors won't remain independent, but will be purchased by one of the dozen or so largest global automakers.
The best time for a sale may be in the two years starting today, assuming that Tesla launches the Model S smoothly, racks up sales according to plan, and rolls out its 2013 Model X crossover on schedule.
But meanwhile, it's probably appropriate for our fans and readers to congratulate the company on its achievements.
Assuming the new owners of those 2012 Tesla Model S Signature Series cars drive them smoothly out of the factory and 250 miles or more beyond, one of the world's more unlikely carmakers will have entered a new phase of its life.
Many observers, analysts, and armchair critics said the company would never get this far.
So, let us toast Tesla today--and watch to see how this next phase of the electric-car company's life plays out.
Well done, Tesla!