CES 2012: In the drivers seat with the Tesla Model S

The future is here and you can drive it

It’s exciting times for electric car company Tesla as it begins to roll out the new Model S to North America. We got a chance to hop in the sexy Model S today at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show and needless to say we were left smitten.

To say Tesla’s Model S is impressive is an understatement. Not only is the Model S a sight to behold on the outside, with its sleek and rounded frame, but upon entering the vehicle you are treated to a cutting edge cabin that is both futuristic and cutting edge while maintaining a minimalistic elegance.

Innovative interface

Once inside, you quickly begin to realize that the Tesla Model S is a car unlike any other you’ve seen before. Besides the fact that it is, of course, a fully electric car, the Tesla Model S immediately immerses you with its bright lights and touch screen technology, which will be familiar to anyone with a smartphone. The onboard dash is completely touch screen, the middle console where a radio or familiar dials and buttons would be placed are nowhere to be found. In fact, all buttons and dials of any sort have been removed from the car’s interior design, replaced instead with a huge and vivid touchscreen interface displaying standard information like speed and an energy consumption display to monitor your battery consumption.

Within that interface we were treated to a demonstration of virtually all the applications the Model S has to offer by Tesla Interactive Software Manager, Roy Goldman. Much like a glorified tablet or iPhone, the console inside the Tesla features navigation, internet browsing, internet radio via services such as Slacker, as well as smartphone integration.

The Model S smartphone integration was particular interesting. Demonstrated on an iPhone, drivers can download an app that can control various features such as onboard temperature and navigation. Goldman was to keen to inform us that Tesla has partnered with Google, allowing real-time viewing of your trip and that more integration and app capability was in the works.

Batteries included

But while it’s great that the Model S features all sorts of impressive tech within, it’s also worth mentioning some other noteworthy aspects of Tesla’s all electric sedan. To begin, the Tesla Model S is offered in three battery options: a 40kWh that offers an estimated range of 160 miles, a 60 kWh version that will get you 230 miles, and finally an 85 kWh battery that will net an even more impressive 300 miles on a single charge. And those aren’t the only impressive numbers, each battery variant offers up a top speed of 110, 120, and 125 mph.

While nothing has been officially announced or confirmed, Tesla representatives spoke of the car company’s plans to place and implement proprietary “Super Charger” stations for Tesla owners across the country, which should add to the cars already impressive charging scheme.

Down the road

From a design perspective, the Tesla Model S seems to be much more than a car; it’s an experience – a true leap towards what can be achieved in regards to automotive design and technology. Of course as is often the case with new technology pricing can be prohibitively high and that seems to be the case with the new Model S. All three versions of Tesla’s Model S start north of 40 thousand, with the 40 kWh priced at $49,900, the 60 kWh at 59,900 , and the 85 kWh at 69,000. Incidentally the Model S Performance version is priced even higher at $79,900, although to be fair not many EV’s on the market can hit 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds (85kWh battery option). Luckily for those of us with pockets a little less deep Tesla does plan to introduce a more economically priced versions down the line, but until then we’ll just have to start saving our coppers.