Tesla Model S Update


Official word from Tesla concerning their upcoming, and highly anticipated (if not over-hyped) Model S sedan is out. For all of the eco love sent Tesla’s way over their sportscar, a lot of greens have expressed more interest and hopes on the Model S, due to a couple of very well founded concerns.

Basically, eco types and green oriented car people are really jazzed about Tesla’s first effort, the Roadster, but they did have some reservations. There were basically two: cost and practicality. It’s easy to get psyched about the Roadster when you read its specs, both those relating to performance, and also it’s range and the like, but that final spec, the one with the dollar sign attached, left a lot of people cold. Sure, it’d be nice to own a Tesla Roadster, but for $100K, you might as well put it in the “when I win the lottery” category.

The same can be said for The Roadster’s practicality, or lack there of. Since it’s essentially a Lotus Elise, it’s something you take out for a quick blast on a Sunday morning, and not the kind of car you take down the hardware store or Costco or to the airport to pick up the relatives when they come to visit.

Enter the Model S, what some would call Tesla’s first “serious” car. I have a tendency to agree with them. For me, it’s all about sportscars, and the Roadster is right up my alley, but for Tesla to become viable, and by extension, for fully electric cars to become viable, they are going to have to be much more prosaic and utilitarian. Bread and butter transportation needs must be met for cars like this to become the bread and butter income earners of any given manufacturer. And let’s face it, we are going to have to move towards that model (at least) to overcome some serious ecological problems that we face.

Tesla will unveil its Model S prototype sedan March 26 in Hawthorne, California at Tesla’s design studio inside the SpaceX rocket factory. No, seriously, inside not just a rocket factory, but the SpaceX rocket factory. Are they for real, or is this a shoot for the next Austin Power’s movie? Anyway, Tesla is calling this an ” … historic event for car enthusiasts” since the Model S will likely be the world’s first mass-produced, highway-capable EV when it rolls off the assembly line in late 2011.

OK, we’ll see about that. We’ll see if the Model S is that revolutionary, and as practical at the Tesla hype would have us believe.

One thing we do know for sure is that the Model S will be cheaper than the Roadster.

With an anticipated base price of $57,400, and after factoring in a federal tax credit of $7,500 the Tesla Model S will have an effective price of $49,900. No, not cheap, but at least cheaper. So that price is moving in the right direction, and hopefully in the future, etc etc etc.

Tesla goes further, stating “Because of tax incentives and relatively inexpensive maintenance and refueling, the lifetime ownership cost will be closer to cars with far lower sticker prices.”

Yes, that might be so, and that same line of reasoning has been used in the past with other higher end marques, but biting off and swallowing that initial $50K payment is going to be hard to swallow for a lot of people.

Tesla promises a lot more product details at the launch party, and they predict that “The Model S will become the car of choice for environmentally conscious and discriminating drivers throughout North America and Europe.” Time will tell, naturally, but it’s not hard to see a lot of Hollywood types buying Model Ss in droves. Outside of SoCal? Who’s to say?

As far as Tesla’s immediate plans for the Model S, they’re expecting to more or less split initial sales between America and Europe, and later expand into Asia.

Photo from Flickr user Irish Typepad