Model S and More Models Promise to Recharge Tesla

Just because Tesla is discontinuing its Lotus-based Roadster doesn’t mean there’s nothing happening at the California-based electric vehicle maker to be excited about.

On the contrary, the startup was busy last week offering test rides in the pending Model S to around 2,000 customers who’d RSVP’d to invites after putting down $5,000 pre-order deposits.

Tesla says it actually has over 6,000 paid pre-orders for the far-more-accessibly priced series of luxurious and sporty EVs due to be launched mid-2012.

The company is also expected to introduce its Model X crossover in November at the LA Auto Show, and that vehicle is due in 2013 or 2014.

As for the S, Tesla opened the doors of its factory, and slotted in test rides for the vehicle now said to be able to zip from 0-60 mph in less than 4.5 seconds.

“That’s quicker than a 911,” said company CEO Elon Musk comparing his battery-powered car to the venerable Porsche Carrera. “Not bad for an electric luxury sedan.”

And to be sure, development of the S has come along a fair way since we last pre-reviewed it, and at the time sub-6 second 0-60 sprints were in the offing.

For that write-up, some readers spoke favorably, while a few others offered such choice comments as the S was nothing more than “vaporware,” and someone in the U.S. government would one day answer to a hearing for loaning Tesla $465 million.

Ah opinions. They make the world go round, don’t they?

As for us, we’ll just hand over a few brief facts.

The base Model S is to be sold for $57,400 and offer a range of 160 miles. For a respective addition of $10,000 or $20,000 more, buyers can get larger battery packs offering 230 or 320 miles range.

The max-distance version will be made possible by aero wheels to add 20 extra miles to an estimated 300 miles for the full-power S.

Although it looks like a sedan, the S is actually a cleverly disguised hatchback, meant to accommodate five people, plus two people under 4-feet, 11-inch (read: kids) in jump seats in the back.

It will be built in Fremont. Calif., at a plant once used by GM and Toyota to assemble compact cars, but this is a car being compared to the Maserati Quattroporte for its aesthetic features and performance.

Top speed is said to be a limited 130 mph – not enough to blow away Euro supercars, but enough to get you a free ride in a police car just the same.

Inside the sleek interior will be such amenities as a 17-inch touch screen displaying data from a 4G infotainment system.

Tesla will also get the ball rolling on this country’s still-limited recharging infrastructure with fast DC charging in several locations along California’s I-5.

The company says recharge time even for the 85-kwh battery pack in the 320-mile version will be under one hour.

A 240-volt Level 2 charger should take around 5 hours, Tesla says.

As for the Model X (sorry, no photos yet), Musk said “the time is right to unveil” that vehicle as well, which could be four-wheel-drive capable, although that’s not confirmed.

Musk has said previously that the Model X will be the “coolest SUV” available, and its existence has been known about since last summer.

Tesla’s manufacturing chief Gilbert Passan said Tesla’s Fremont factory “had been fitted and equipped with the ability to manufacture multiple body styles off the same platform from its conception.”

The X is expected to be as luxurious as the Model S, albeit more utility focused with ability to carry seven adults.

In June Tesla raised an additional $210 million to pay for Model X development, and this vehicle may sell for a bit more than the Model S.

Otherwise, the company has planned to introduce models in a descending order of price. It started at the high end with a $100,000-plus two-seater, but this was a splash leading toward more bread and butter cars planned in coming years.

First off, the base S takes the company a lot closer in that direction, and is just around $10,000 more than a fully-optioned 2012 Chevy Volt.

Assuming Tesla’s plans come to fruition, it intends to keep offering lower priced models, including an electric city car to sell in the $30,000 range, and who know what else in coming years?

The Truth About Cars, Green Car Reports.

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  • MrEnergyCzar

    Great car but you still have that range anxiety. They should put a range extender in like the Volt. EREV’s are the transition vehicle to EV’s….


  • jwishart

    I have issues with the charge time reported in this article. What DC fast charger is going to be able to supply over 85 kW in order to charge the 85 kWh pack “in under an hour”? And even though the SAE has defined AC Level 2 charging as being up to 19.2 kW, no EVSE products out there currently come anywhere near. So to say that the S will charge in about 5 hours is very misleading.

  • FreeElectrons

    FTA “Tesla will also get the ball rolling on this country’s still-limited recharging infrastructure with fast DC charging in several locations along California’s I-5. “

    Clearly they’re speaking of charging stations next to the highway (like gasoline stations). I-5 runs along Path 15 (usually within a few miles of the roadway) and moves gigantic amounts of power up and down the west coast. I’m quite certain Path 15’s two 500 kV and four 230 kV lines are more than adequate to provide a measly 85 kW to charge a Tesla S.

  • Mike S

    I really like this car…. It looks great! I hope I will get one someday…


  • James Davis

    That’s right “FreeElectrons”; I-5 is a power house and Toyota has had a super charger now for over a year that can charge in less than 15 minutes and Toyota and Tesla are partners, so guess what charger Tesla is going to use.

    Since the feds gave GM 140 billion to bail their keesters out of bankruptcy, and we will never see that 140 billion again since GM will be outsourcing their electric car production to China, why can’t the feds give Tesla $140 billion so they can keep their electric car production here in the U. S. where Americans need the jobs? Nissan’s Leaf is already outselling the GM Volt by 2 to 1…shouldn’t that tell the feds that people are craving electric cars and since Tesla is building electric cars, they shouldn’t have any problem getting the 140 billion from the feds.

  • jwishart

    You might be able to argue that the electrical service of +85 kW is available in some situations–but certainly not everywhere that is going to need a DCFC unit if the Model S is going to be charged at this rate ubiquitously–but which model of DCFC is going to put out this amount of power? The CHAdeMO spec is for 50 kW, and some brands go up to 60 kW (disclaimer: I work for a company that has one), but this is certainly nowhere near the power that is mentioned in this article.

  • Jeff A

    Clipper Creek makes a 75A Level 2 charger. They make the existing Tesla HPC chargers which are 70A. So there is such a product out there now. Just very rare.
    Most Level 2’s are limited to 30A which is tiny for a Tesla, but plenty for the run-of-the-mill EV’s.

  • jwishart

    @Jeff A,

    I stand corrected on the AC Level 2 charge time–I did not know the current levels were that high. I just learned this afternoon that my company is also going to be designing a 70+ A EVSE. I would note, however, that the vast majority of public charging stations are going to be limited to 7.2 kW at most, so the article should have at least made the distinction.

    My issue with the DCFC time stands.

  • Max Reid

    See the Video of Tesla Model S Beta in youtube.
    It can seat 5 adults and 2 kids in the hatch area
    and the bonnet can be used for keeping things.

    Thats the advantage of hatch / wagon.

  • sculptor

    Looks reasonable… However, I noticed that only Tesla techs were driving. This is totally understandable since those a beta cars. But, what I fear is that people will buy them without ever really testing them and they’ll prove to be less drivable that appeared here. In particular I’ve heard that the cars will not have regenerative braking and will rely on having a set amount of regeneration as default. This means taking your foot of the gas will kick in the regeneration. Now speaking as a Volt owner I think this will result in an undrivable car. I say this because it means that taking your foot off of the gas will be the equivalent slamming on the brakes because of the high torque of the motor. Now, likely the amount of regeneration will be limited or even configurable but still since braking does not regenerate the tendency will be to set it to a high level. At the very least this will mean it’s pain in the ass to drive.

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