The Tesla Model S seems destined for a niche market of car enthusiasts, but that's also part of its alure.
Electric car enthusiasts are mostly used to paying a bit more for their vehicles, though they are also quick to point out that they aren't forking over cash at the pump nor do they have to worry about the cost of oil changes or other common internal combustion engine maintenance that adds up over the life of a car.
Tesla described the car as being so advanced that it sets a new standard for premium performance. The Model S is a premium experience first and foremost, it seems, and just happens to be an all-electric vehicle as an afterthought. Heralded for its low center of graviety and even weight distribution, the Model S offers drivers the same agility and handling expected from some of the world's priciest sports cars, yet it does it all in a luxury sedan package. With no engine to weight it down, the Model S's lightweight front suspension helps to optimize wheel control.
With a top speed of 125 mph, the Model S doesn't disappoint in the acceleration department, going from 0 to 60 miles per hour seeminly effortlessly in just 5.6 seconds. The Model S Performance model does so in just 4.4 seconds. Tesla claims the Model S's powertrain is able to utilize energy three times as efficiently as a gas combustion engine would.
Three Battery Options
The Model S comes in three battery configurations, each delivering what may come to be industry-leading range. Regardless of the battery option, all are contained in the same type of enclosure, which Tesla says allows seamless integration with the vehicle, allowing structural, handling and aerodynamice advantages over other vehicles. Each battery option is an automotive-grade lithium-ion cell, optimized for safety and performance. Battery options and ranges are: 40 kwH, 160 miles; 60 kWh, 230 miles; and 85 kWh, 300 miles.
For $49,900, after federal tax credits, you can get into a base Model S equipped with the 40 kWh battery configuration. Also standard on the base model are interior surfaces of black microfiber and synthetic leather, 19-inch all-season tires, a 200-watt-seven-speaker stereo system and a 17-inch touchscreen among other features. Although reservation deposits vary by country, Tesla is taking reservation payments of $5,000 in the U.S. The California-built car is expected to be available beginning the summer of 2012. Tesla has announced that 5,000 of the Model S will be manufactured in 2012.
Tesla has promised improved charging technology with the Model S when compared to the Tesla Roadster. The Model S can be equipped with either a single charger (10 kW) or twin chargers (20 kW), a development it says it based on consumer feedback. Twin chargers are necessary for pairing with power sources between 10 and 20 kW. The Model S's universal mobile connector comes with three adapters: standard 110-V, standard 240-V and a charging station adapter. Like most EV manufacturers, Tesla recommends that Model S owners plug their cars in each night to maximize performance and battery health.