Hot on the heels of the Ford Focus Electric will be the much-anticipated Tesla Model S. After years of development, the electric sedan from the company that brought you the Roadster electric sports car has been tested by the Environment Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. With mileage and crash tests squared away, Tesla plans to deliver the first cars to customers beginning June 22.
On the same day that his SpaceX rocket began its trip to the International Space Station, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the Model S had passed all of the NHTSA crash tests. Musk also said that the Model S achieved a five-star rating in all categories, although the government has not released official ratings.
Musk also expects the top Model S’ range to drop from an anticipated 300 miles to 265, because of changes in the EPA testing procedure, according to a recent post on the company’s blog.
Regardless of how the Model S scored in the various tests, it is ready to go on sale. Tesla will hand over the keys to the first batch of cars at its Freemont, California plant; cars should start trickling into dealers shortly after that. Since these are the first cars from a brand new factory, made to a completely new design, from an essentially brand-new company, Tesla may want to keep in contact with its first customers so it can quickly address problems.
Tesla hopes to sell 5,000 Model Ss by the end of the year. The company says that there is already a waiting list 10,000 names strong. That should take the Model S through this year and into the next. With production fully ramped up, Tesla plans on selling 20,000 of the electric sedans in 2013.
The Model S will cost between $57,400 and $105,400, before a $7,500 federal tax credit. The models are broken down based on range: buyers can opt for 160, 230, and 300-mile versions (expect those numbers to be about 30 percent lower in the new EPA tests). In addition, there is a Model S Performance with a lower 0-60 mph time (4.4 seconds, versus 5.6 for the regular Model S). Buyers can also choose whether they want their Model S to seat five or seven.
The Model S’ performance figures, and pricetag, may seem well above those of established electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt, and that is because Tesla views the Model S as a premium product. Consequently, its main competition will be the upcoming Fisker Atlantic, a sedan of similar size that uses a gasoline engine to charge its batteries. Interestingly, the first drawings of the Model S were penned by Fisker’s own Henrik Fisker; Tesla has made several changes to the styling since then.
Tesla will not stop with the Model S. The company plans to launch a crossover, called the Model X, in the near future.
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