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Tesla Introduces New EV: 2012 Model S

by Jeffrey N. Ross
March 27, 2009

After the successful launch and hype surrounding with its initial electric vehicle (EV), the , Tesla is following up the sporty two-seater, open-top EV with a seven-passenger luxury EV sedan, the . With EV cars like the Fisker Karma and Volt preparing to hit the scene, the Tesla Model S will be part of a growing segment of family vehicles focusing on advanced, green technology. The Tesla Model S will go on sale in 2012 with a starting MSRP of $57,400, but purchasers of the Model S may qualify for a $7,500 tax credit - essentially getting the price of this luxurious EV down to $49,900. Reservations are currently being taken by Tesla for its new model for a refundable $5,000.

Building off the momentum created from the Tesla Roadster, Tesla Motors' introduction of the Model S is aimed at creating a more affordable mass-produced electric vehicle that will be capable of traveling up to 300 miles on a single charge. The base Model S will come with a battery pack that offers a 160-mile range on a single charge, but there are upgradeable batteries that increase the range to either 230 miles or 300 miles. The upgraded batteries will cost an estimated $8,000 to $10,000 each, but Tesla is considering a program that would allow Model S drivers to rent the extended-range batteries for long trips. Batteries can be swapped out in as little as five to eight minutes.

Like the Roadster, the Model S will also offer surprising performance due to the instant power and torque afforded by electric motors. Tesla claims that the Model S can go from 0-60 miles per hour in just 5.6 seconds with a 120 mph top speed and can run a quarter mile in just 14 seconds. The 3,825-pound Model S can also come to a full stop from 60 mph in just 135 feet thanks to large, six-piston Brembo® calipers up front and four-piston calipers in the rear. Tesla designed its new Model S to charge from everyday house plugs like a 110-volt (standard wall) or 220-volt (large appliances) outlet as well as a fast-charging mode available from a commercial 440-volt outlet. When charging from a 440-volt outlet, the Model S' battery pack can be fully charged in just 45 minutes.

Electric propulsion is definitely the main draw of the Model S, but that doesn't mean the car should look like a golf cart. With a design similar to the some of the most attractive sedans on the market - namely the - the Model S offers a coupe-like roofline and high beltline. The cars front end shows the new face of Tesla vehicles with an Aston Martin-inspired grille and a mix of LED and Xenon front lighting. From the rear, the hatchback design creates a stylish look highlighted by wide wheel arches and LED taillights. The sleek roofline not only provides for an elegant profile, but it also allows helps add to the overall aerodynamics, with a drag coefficient of .27, helping to improve performance and reduce drag. The Model S' roof also offers a full-length, panoramic sun roof for a more open interior atmosphere.

Inside, the 2012 Tesla Model S was also designed to be family friendly with the capability of seating up to seven passengers. The unique design characteristics of the EV allowed passenger space to move into what is conventionally the cargo area, while the cargo is able to be placed under the hood since there is no engine. In addition to the conventional five-passenger seating of similarly sized sedans, the Model S' hatchback layout allows for additional interior space which gave Tesla the opportunity to equip its sedan with a pair of rear-facing seats for children behind the rear bench seat. Showing its versatility, the Model S will also provide ample cargo space with a 60/40 split fold-flat rear seat and enough interior cargo space to simultaneously accommodate a bicycle with the wheels still on, a surfboard and a 50-inch television.

Besides the unique seating arrangement, the Model S will offer an interior that is about as comfortable and luxurious as a or . The highlight of the cabin is by far the 17-inch central display screen and 3G wireless connectivity with Internet access and HD and satellite radio. The large screen houses all of the controls for the radio, HVAC and navigation functions, and is highly customizable to fit the need and preferences of the driver. Most of the materials used throughout the Model S also follow the car's ultimate purpose as a green machine ranging from the water-based exterior paint to carpet made from 100 percent recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) - which used to make consumer beverage and food containers.

Tesla's CEO Elon Musk says that the Model S will cost consumers about the same as an average $35,000 midsize sedan when factoring in added prices such as maintenance and fuel costs. Although Musk's price assumption includes gasoline prices back up to $4 a gallon, the company says that the car will costs as little as $4 to fully charge (most likely dependant on the particular battery pack). Musk says that Tesla plans to achieve production of 20,000 unites per year within a year of the vehicle's launch. The Model S Signature series will kick off the car's production with a limited-production run of just 1,000 units, and it will go on sale starting in 2011 with a price that has yet to be determined and refundable reservation fee of $40,000. The regular Model S will go on sale shortly after the Signature model.


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