Tesla unveils first electric family car

27 Mar 2009

Tesla Motors, maker of the pricey all-electric Roadster sportscar, is all set to begin production of the Model S, the first mass-production, all-electric family sedan.

The Model S will carry seven people, last for 300 miles per charge and has an onboard charger that will work with any 120V, 240V or 480V outlet (a full charge can be achieved in 45 minutes from a 480V power outlet).

Tesla Motors is already taking orders, but the car will not go into production until late 2011.

For those who think the electric car is a dinky two-person affair, Tesla says the spacious interior of the Model S is so roomy that it can pack in a 50-inch television, mountain bike and surfboard at the same time – that’s more space than any other sedan on the market, and more than the average SUV.

Tesla estimates that the price tag on the forthcoming Model S in the US will be around US$49,900, when a federal tax credit of US$7,500 is taken into account.

The accompanying battery packs will come in three options: 160, 230 or 300 miles per charge.

“Model S costs half as much as a Roadster, and it’s a better value than much cheaper cars,” said Tesla CEO, chairman and product architect, Elon Musk.

“The ownership cost of Model S, if you were to lease and then account for the much lower cost of electricity v gasoline at a likely future cost of US$4 per gallon, is similar to a gasoline car with a sticker price of about US$35,000. I’m positive this car will be the preferred choice of savvy consumers.”

Tesla’s current Roadster model is doing very well, with a production rate of 80 cars per month that will increase to over 100 cars per month this spring, according to senior vice-president of Global Sales, Marketing & Service, Michael van der Sande.

“We have delivered to approximately 300 customers, with another almost 1000 waiting for their Roadster, and we are taking new orders for delivery in late October 2009,” he added.

Although details for the Model S have not yet been announced, it will be based on the technology driving the Roadster, which gives 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds, yet is six times as energy efficient as petrol cars in its class.

Later this year, Tesla plans on opening European stores in both London and Munich.

By Marie Boran