Tesla Model S Revealed

ModelSSide.jpg

Finally, the wait is over. Tesla has just rolled out, debuted and shown (finally- finally- finally) it’s much hyped Model S sedan. No, it’s not that I’m really into this car that much (although it IS nice), it’s just that I’m glad it’s out so I can avoid all the rampant speculation and hype about it.

So what do we have here, exactly? Let’s take a look under the hood … wait, can you do that with an all electric car? Just what DOES this thing have under its bonnet?

For starters, Tesla’s new Model S sedan has more high tech electronics than NASA used to put Neil & Buzz on the moon. That’s to be expected. The short version is that the Model S can hit 60 MPH in 5.5 seconds (thank you high torque electric motors) and has a range of 300 miles in between fill ups (i.e. plugging it in to a wall socket).

Speaking of recharging the beast, Tesla addresses that issue right off the top in its presser (we’ll fisk it a bit here):

“The Model S, which carries its charger onboard, can be recharged from any 120V, 240V or 480V outlet, with the latter taking only 45 minutes. … ”

Yeah, because so many people have access to 480 volts. Sure, rich people who will be buying this can have that sort of services installed in their garages, but most people won’t. Shoot most people won’t even have a 240 volt source handy (although getting a drop on one from your washer/dryer line will be pretty easy), and there in lies the rub.

ModelSandRoadster.jpg

If I’m remembering this stuff correctly when I was “working” at an electric motorcycle/scooter outfit, what takes X number of minutes to charge using 480 volts will take double that if you drop down to 240, and quadruple that if you charge it off of 120 volt household current. So if you plug the Model S into a normal 120 volt household circuit, the recharge time should be around 3 hours. Which is still pretty good, overall.

” … By recharging their car while they stop for a meal, drivers can go from LA to New York in approximately the same time as a gasoline car. … ”

Are they serious? And just how, pray tell, will that happen? I’m blasting across the country on a trip, and I swing into Stuckey’s for lunch, and they won’t mind if I plug my car into their 480 volt drop … what? Stuckey’s doesn’t have 5 or 6 of those handy at every location? And you say that Denny’s don’t either? Huh, I guess that whole claim of ” … By recharging their car while they stop for a meal, drivers can go from LA to New York in approximately the same time as a gasoline car. … ” sort of falls into the BS category then, doesn’t it.

” … Moreover, the floor-mounted battery pack is designed to be changed out in less time than it takes to fill a gas tank, allowing for the possibility of battery-pack swap stations.”

Ah, now that’s a smart idea. Of course, there will have to be ” battery-pack swap stations” scattered across the country, and maybe that will be easier to get done than getting McDonald’s to put in a dozen 480 volt drops at everyone of their locations.

Anyway, due to the slick packaging of the drive components, the Model S has a TON of room inside. Tesla says that ” … the Model S can accommodate a 50-inch television, mountain bike *and* surfboard simultaneously.” Obviously we’re talking short boards here, and I won’t go into what I think about those vis-à-vis my Joel Tudor long board fixation. Also, that’s a pretty interesting combination, I guess there’s a lot of Tesla employees that like to go out surfing, mountain biking and watching TV when they’re taking a break.

Cost?

The base price of the Model S should be $49,900 after a federal tax credit of $7,500, no word yet on options pricing, and there’s also three battery pack choices to consider which will offer a range of 160, 230 or 300 miles per charge.

The other pertinent figures are as follows.

The standard Model S does 0-60 mph less than six seconds and electronically limits its top speed of 130 mph. The sport version is expected to achieve 0-60 mph acceleration well below five seconds says Tesla. The Model S has a single-speed gearbox and tons of tech-goodies on the inside. A 17-inch touchscreen with in-car 3G connectivity, good for doing things like checking Google Maps, or check their state of charge remotely from their iPhone or laptop.

So there you have it … the future starts now.

ModelSTopRear.jpg

Here’s the full press release from Tesla:

Just moments ago, we took the wraps off the Model S, an all electric family sedan that carries seven people and travels 300 miles per charge. We also launched a web site and began taking orders for this historic vehicle, which will likely be world’s first mass-produced, highway-capable EV.

The Model S, which carries its charger onboard, can be recharged from any 120V, 240V or 480V outlet, with the latter taking only 45 minutes. By recharging their car while they stop for a meal, drivers can go from LA to New York in approximately the same time as a gasoline car. Moreover, the floor-mounted battery pack is designed to be changed out in less time than it takes to fill a gas tank, allowing for the possibility of battery-pack swap stations.

The floor-mounted powertrain also results in unparalleled cargo room and versatility, as the volume under the front hood becomes a second trunk. Combining that with a four-bar linkage hatchback rear trunk and flat folding rear seats, the Model S can accommodate a 50-inch television, mountain bike *and* surfboard simultaneously. This packaging efficiency gives the Model S more trunk space than any other sedan on the market and more than most SUVs.

“Model S doesn’t compromise on performance, efficiency or utility — it’s truly the only car you need,” said Tesla CEO, Chairman and Product Architect Elon Musk. “Tesla is relentlessly driving down the cost of electric vehicle technology, and this is just the first of many mainstream cars we’re developing.”

Tesla expects to start Model S production in late 2011. The company believes it is close to receiving $350 million in federal loans to build the Model S assembly plant in California from the Dept of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program.

Building on Proven Technology

Tesla is the only production automaker already selling highway-capable EVs in North America or Europe. With 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds, the Roadster outperforms almost all sports cars in its class yet is six times as energy efficient as gas guzzlers and delivers 244 miles per charge. Tesla has delivered nearly 300 Roadsters, and nearly 1,000 more customers are on the waitlist.

Teslas do not require routine oil changes, and they have far fewer moving (and breakable) parts than internal combustion engine vehicles. They qualify for federal and state tax credits, rebates, sales tax exemptions, free parking, commuter-lane passes and other perks. Model S costs roughly $5 to drive 230 miles – a bargain even if gasoline were $1 per gallon.

The anticipated base price of the Model S is $49,900 after a federal tax credit of $7,500. The company has not released options pricing. Three battery pack choices will offer a range of 160, 230 or 300 miles per charge.

But the anticipated sticker price doesn’t tell the full story. Model S costs half as much as a Roadster, and it’s a better value than much cheaper cars. The ownership cost of Model S, if you were to lease and then account for the much lower cost of electricity vs. gasoline at a likely future cost of $4 per gallon, is similar to a gasoline car with a sticker price of about $35,000. That’s why we’re positive this car will be the preferred choice of savvy consumers.

The standard Model S does 0-60 mph in under six seconds and will have an electronically limited top speed of 130 mph, with sport versions expected to achieve 0-60 mph acceleration well below five seconds. A single-speed gearbox delivers effortless acceleration and responsive handling. A 17-inch touchscreen with in-car 3G connectivity allows passengers to listen to Pandora Radio or consult Google Maps, or check their state of charge remotely from their iPhone or laptop.

Tesla is taking reservations online and at showrooms in California. Tesla will open a store in Chicago this spring and plans to open stores in London, New York, Miami, Seattle, Washington DC and Munich later this year.

We’re certain you’ll be hearing a lot more about Tesla in the weeks and months ahead, and we look forward to seeing you at the stores we’re opening soon!

Photos from Tesla

About The Author

Tony Borroz grew up in a sportscar oriented family, but sadly, it was British cars. His knuckles still show the marks of slipped Whitworth sockets, strains to reach rear upper shock bushings on Triumphs and slight burn marks from dealing with Lucas Electric "systems". He has written for a variety of car magazines and websites, Automoblog chief among them, as well as working on very popular driving games as a content expert. He has also worked for aerospace companies, software giants and as a movie stuntman. He currently lives in a secure, undisclosed location in the American southwestern desert.

No Comments on "Tesla Model S Revealed"

Leave a Reply