This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

April 01, 2009

Tesla Motors Unveils the Model S, an All-Electric Sedan

Photo of the Tesla Model S, a four-door sedan with a swooping glass roof that transitions to a rear hatch.

Tesla is now accepting orders for its all-electric luxury sedan, the Model S. See the full Model S gallery
Credit: Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors, Inc. started taking orders on March 26 for its Model S, an all-electric family sedan that seats seven and can travel 300 miles per charge. The company currently sells the Tesla Roadster, a hot two-seat electric "supercar," which starts at a base price of more than $100,000. Unlike the Roadster sports car, the Model S falls more in the luxury sedan category and is available at about half the cost: $57,400. But being battery-powered, all Tesla vehicles qualify for a federal tax credit of $7,500. The company points out that if gasoline prices return to $4 per gallon, the Tesla Model S will save enough money to place it on par with a gasoline-fueled sedan priced at $35,000.

Tesla is currently accepting refundable deposits of $5,000 for the Model S and plans to start production in late 2011, with vehicle deliveries starting in 2012. However, the company is hoping to finance the construction of the Model S assembly plant using a $350 million federal loan from DOE's Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program (we can't comment on whether that will happen or not). If the loan does go through, the Model S will be available with a variety of battery packs, yielding a range of 160, 230, or 300 miles. It can be recharged using a standard 120-volt outlet or a 240-volt outlet (the type used for electric dryers), but it can be recharged in only 45 minutes if the owner has access to a 480-volt outlet. The floor-mounted battery pack is also designed to be changed out in only a few minutes, allowing for battery-swap services like those proposed by Better Place. (See the article from the EERE Network News on Better Place's plans for California and Hawaii.)

The Tesla Model S gains a unique advantage from its floor-mounted battery pack: the vehicle has a trunk in back and a trunk in the front. And although its performance will fall short of the Roadster, it will be able to accelerate to 60 miles per hour (mph) in less than 6 seconds, with an electronically limited top speed of 130 mph. A sports version will cut the 0-60 mph time to less than 5 seconds. Like the Roadster, the Tesla Model S will channel its power through a single-speed gearbox. See the Tesla press release and the Model S Web page.