Watts Up?

In the Litchfield Hills, a sporty Tesla roadster speeds into view

While the leaves are taking on autumn colors, an additional red streak in Litchfield County is Kent resident Benjamin Rosen speeding by in his ultra-green, ultra-stylish Tesla all-electric roadster.

Almost 7,000 lithium-ion batteries propel the sleek two-seater’s 248 horsepower electric motor. There’s no gas to buy, no oil to change. Except for the wind noise it runs without a sound and when the power’s depleted after 225 miles, the high-performance vehicle plugs into a 220-volt line for recharging.

A technology innovator, and former chairman of Compaq Computers, Rosen and his brother proposed a hybrid electric powertrain for cars in the 1990s. When the early-adopter heard the Tesla was in the works, he signed up to be a pioneer user. Three years later, in 2008, the California-based company delivered production model number 007, a “terrestrial rocket ship” he keeps at his second home because “it’s more fun to drive in the hills of Connecticut than the streets of New York.” He says it handles beautifully but concedes (highway patrolmen take note) that it’s less the speed than the acceleration—0 to 60 mph in under four seconds—that is thrilling.

By now there are over 1,200 Teslas on the road—from Seattle and California to Florida and Chicago.  But it’s still unusual to see one, and like James Bond’s super cars, they attract attention. Rosen is thinking of printing up a card to hand out with answers to all the customary questions: Where did you get it? How does it run? Meanwhile, motorists in the Litchfield Hills are duly warned: “If you happen to see something speeding by very low, very red and very fast, it’s probably me.” 

Two For the Road

When it comes to taking his car for a spin, Ben Rosen likes his roads two ways: curvy and straight. A favorite route? “From our home, we’ll take Route 7 to Route 4 into Sharon. From Sharon, we pick up Route 41 and drive all the way to Great Barrington,” he said. “We’ll have lunch or stop at Guido’s (the gourmet grocery store), then come back on Route 7. The section along the Housatonic is a lot of fun. There are so many curving miles.” Other days, they’ll drive to Salisbury for lunch at the White Hart Inn. “We can keep an eye on the car from the porch,” he said. “It gets a lot of interest.” 

Map illustration by Sol Linero

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