Tesla Motors gallery

Where: 915 Pearl St., Boulder

When: Opening Saturday

Web site: teslamotors.com

Fewer than a dozen Colorado residents this year will drive home a Tesla Roadster, the pioneering electric sports car.

Those lucky few will hit another jackpot in the form of a $42,083 tax credit, the equivalent of a 39 percent discount on the $109,000 Roadster.

But the offer expires at the end of the year.

Tesla is set to open a "gallery" (not a showroom) in Boulder this weekend, but most of the available Roadsters for this year already have been sold. The company produced just 1,000 of the cars worldwide this year.

Joe Powers, Tesla's Northeastern regional sales manager, in town to promote the brand in advance of the gallery opening, said the substantial tax credit will do more good in raising awareness about the electric car that still delivers high performance than in attracting buyers.

"For us, it's just about highlighting the fact that the car is out there and available," Powers said.

That said, there still are a few cars available for delivery between now and the end of the year. The amount of the tax credit is based on a percentage of the difference between the alternative fuel vehicle and a comparable, gas-burning vehicle. In the case of the Tesla, that's the $47,000 British-made Lotus Elise.


Mark Couch, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Revenue, said the tax credit was created in 2000 to provide incentives for people to purchase the more expensive hybrid versions of standard cars. At that time, high-end hybrid and electric cars weren't on the market.

In recent years, luxury cars have started to show up on the list of eligible vehicles, and when the same formula is applied to these upscale vehicles, their owners end up with whopping tax credits -- $42,083 for the Tesla and $20,000 for a Lexus LSS 600h Hybrid.

The state Legislature this year put a $6,000 cap on the tax credit, which will go into effect in 2010. The vast majority of hybrid cars fall underneath that limit, and the credit available to those buyers won't change.

And future Tesla buyers won't exactly be left high and dry.

When coupled with a $7,500 federal tax credit for plug-in electric vehicles that takes effect Jan. 1, they still get a $13,500 credit.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Erica Meltzer at 303-473-1355 or meltzere@dailycamera.com.