Tesla puts first Model S electric sedans on US roads

25 Jun 2012

Tesla's Model S. Image by Tesla Motors

Electric car maker Tesla Motors has unleashed a batch of its all-electric sedan, the Model S, to its first customers in the US. The California company claims the five-door sedan can accelerate to 60mph in 4.4 seconds.

Four years ago, Tesla announced its plan to create the world’s first premium electric sedan. The company is co-founded by PayPal co-founder Elon Musk, who has been making space strides of late with his company SpaceX.

The launch of the Model S is being seen as a critical juncture for Tesla that could either make or break it, as the company apparently lost around US$1bn when selling its earlier electric sports car model, the Roadster. Since 2008, Tesla has sold around 2,300 Roadsters. Back in May, Tesla Motors reported first-quarter losses of US$89.9m.

Tesla held an invitation-only event at its factory in Fremont, California, on Friday for its first Model S customers. The company said it is now aiming to have 5,000 cars on the road by the end of the year, followed by 20,000 cars in 2013.

Speaking on Friday, Musk, who is Tesla’s CEO and chief product architect, spoke about the company’s vision for the Model S.

“In 2009, we set out to build the most innovative car of the 21st century, and since then have dedicated ourselves to developing and testing Model S to ensure that under any situation, Model S never disappoints,” he said.

Musk added that the car will set new standards around efficiency, safety, technology, operating cost and performance.

The car has a base price tag of around US$49,900, after a US$7,500 federal tax credit. In May, Tesla said it had topped 10,000 reservations for the Model S in the US.

According to the company, the Model S has set a new Environmental Protection Agency record, with an electric vehicle range of 426 kilometres.

The Model S has three battery options – 40 kWh, 60 kWh and 85 kWh.

The company said deliveries of Model S in Europe and Asia will begin in early and mid-2013, respectively.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic