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Tesla officially unveils electric Model S sedan, announces sport edition

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Electric car company Tesla Motors officially revealed on Saturday a “beta” version of its Model S sedan to customers who pre-ordered the long-awaited car, at its factory in Fremont, California. Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk also announced the planned production of a faster version of the Model S, which is capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 MPH in just 4.5 seconds.

The elite group of customers invited to the event were asked to proselytize the benefits of electric car technology while they wait for their vehicles to be delivered next year. Essentially a start-up car company, Tesla faces incredible odds in competing against far larger and more-established brands, like Chevrolet and Toyota.

Prior to production of the Model S, Tesla had only produced one vehicle, the speedy Tesla Roadster sports car, which sells for around $100,000. With the Roadster, Tesla was able to garner praise within the industry and enthusiasm from electric car early-adopters, but sales of the vehicle have yet to turn a profit for Tesla. The Model S, by comparison, will cost around $57,400. The 6,000-vehicle-strong 2012 production run of the Model S is already sold out.

Tesla will offer the Model S with three different battery options, one with a maximum range of 160-miles-per-charge, one with a 230-mile range and one with a 300-mile range. Musk said that it will also offer the option of custom wheels that reduce drag, and give the car a range of up to 320 miles on a single charge.

The sportier Model S will reportedly include an upgraded powertrain that allows the car to reach 60 MPH in 4.5 seconds, as opposed to the 5.6-second time it takes the current Model S sedan. With that kind of speed, the Model S sports version is faster than a Porche 911 Carrera.

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