Tesla tour will visit 15 cities on three continents

An historic round-the-world tour in a zero-emission electric car will come to Zurich on Saturday – the first stop in a 37,000-kilometer voyage by Tesla Motors and avant-garde watchmaker TAG Heuer.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and TAG Heuer President and CEO Jean-Christophe Babin kicked off the “Odyssey of Pioneers” March 18 at a star-studded event in Baselworld for TAG Heuer’s 150th anniversary. The electric car will travel to 15 major cities and more than 150 smaller towns before concluding in Paris in October at another celebrity gala.

The Odyssey of Pioneers centers around the 2010 TAG Heuer Tesla Roadster – a one-of-a-kind collector’s car incorporating TAG Heuer styling and design elements, a unique concept watch and TAG Heuer timepieces. The zero-emissions car will depart Basel March 20 and travel in a convoy with about 20 Swiss owners to Zurich’s spectacular Dolder Grand, the first stop of the tour.

The electric car is expected to arrive at about 16:45 local time. Media may test-drive Roadsters and interview Tesla executives and customers at the event.

Like all Tesla electric cars, the TAG Heuer Tesla Roadster will recharge throughout the Odyssey using existing infrastructure. The electric vehicles Tesla Roadsters can be refueled from conventional electrical outlets, enabling owners to recharge from the peace and safety of their own garage, or at hotels, charging stations, parking lots or nearly anyplace with electricity. The Roadster’s charger is on board the car, so you simply plug the car into an outlet, just like you do with an iPhone or hair dryer – no special equipment required.

Tesla loves Switzerland!

The Odyssey begins in Switzerland, a key customer base for Tesla. Switzerland, home of the world’s most discerning drivers, is Tesla’s top market on a per-capita basis – testimony to the cars’ four-season durability and practicality. Tesla has already delivered nearly 40 cars in Switzerland and plans to open a retail store in downtown Zurich. Right now, the only vehicle utilizing lithium ion batteries is the Tesla Roadster, which travels more than 200 miles on one charge.

Thanks to the car’s software and a patented power management system, the Roadster’s traction control is almost instantaneous — a perfect driving attribute in snowy locations. Furthermore, the Roadster doesn’t require oxygen or lose efficiency at altitude – unlike many conventional cars, which lose roughly 3 percent efficiency per 300 meters of altitude. People driving the single-speed Roadster can confidently overtake slower cars on Alpine passes without any lag or downshifting, and regenerative braking allows the Roadster to recover energy on downhill stretches.

The Roadster qualifies for numerous incentives in Switzerland. In some cantons, electric vehicles 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 electric vehicles to drive and park there. The Roadster can be fully or partially charged by renewable energy, and several Swiss customers refuel their Roadster through solar energy.

Tesla is world’s only automaker selling highway-capable electric vehicles –the only company whose cars equally emphasize design, performance and efficiency. With a relentless focus on customer service, Tesla sells cars directly to clients, both online and out of showrooms and galleries in London, Munich, Monaco, California’s Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, Colorado, New York, Seattle, Chicago and South Florida. Tesla has delivered cars in at least 23 countries worldwide and is already considered the must-have car among Hollywood celebrities, European royalty and trendsetters worldwide. Advertising Age magazine recently named Tesla one of America’s "hottest brands."