ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - Swiss racecar driver and promoter Fredy Lienhard has bought a Tesla Roadster Sport that gained fame as the record-setting winner of the Monte Carlo Alternative Energy Rally.
This is the second Tesla owned by Lienhard, who has driven some of the world's fastest cars and has competed professionally since 1968.
Lienhard has competed in Formula Vee and Formula Two, as well as the American Le Mans Series, the Rolex Sports Car Series and 24 Hours of Daytona. (He was the only Swiss driver to win Daytona after Joe Siffert.)
"Tesla is the first electric car to meet my standards of good design, speed and functionality," Lienhard said. "And this particular car wrote history as the first fully electric car to win an international FIA race. Automobile racing must fully embrace environmentally clean driving -- otherwise the sport would have no long-term future."
Lienhard plans to drive his newest car -- a 2010 European Signature Edition Arctic White Roadster Sport -- at Autobau and other circuits, as well as on open roads. He will charge the car from a solar-energy garage in Romanshorn, and he plans to use the car to show that high-performance driving can also be environmentally and socially responsible.
"Because you really need to drive the Roadster in order to get the message and a clear impression of the car, we will let people drive it," Lienhard said.
Lienhard bought the Roadster Sport earlier this month, when Tesla opened its newest retail store and service center in Zurich. The store at Pelikanstrasse 10, in the heart of Switzerland's largest city, will be the base for more zero-emission Alpine road rallies, owner-appreciation parties and other events.
Tesla has already delivered about 50 Roadsters throughout Switzerland, the company's largest per-capita market.
The Roadster has zero tailpipe emissions. It consumes no petroleum and plugs into conventional sockets -- at owners' garages or offices, hotels, parking decks or at a growing number of charging stations throughout Switzerland. It's the only sports car that can be fully or partially recharged by renewable energy -- and several Swiss customers charge on 100 percent solar power from their photovoltaic panels in "off the grid" homes.
The Roadster qualifies for numerous incentives in Switzerland, a hydroelectricity-dominated country with one of the cleanest grids in Europe. In some cantons, EVs get a 100 percent waiver of the annual road tax. Some cities, including Zermatt, ban internal combustion engine cars from the city center and only allow EVs to drive and park there.