Tesla brought a Model S pre-production car to the electric vehicle symposium (EVS26) held in Los Angeles earlier this month. The Model S will be Tesla's first from-the-ground-up car and will be built in Fremont, California. (The now discontinued Roadster was a converted Lotus Elise.) The latest news is that the deliveries to the first 1,000 customers who opted for the top-trim Signature will begin on June 22nd. A few showrooms already exist and we're told that more are on the way for major metro areas.
The Model S in the flesh is a sleek, low-slung rear-wheel-drive, four-door hatchback about the size of a Porsche Panamera. With its optional rear-facing third-row seat, it theoretically seats seven. Prices start at $57,400 before the federal tax credit of $7,500. A fully decked out Performance Signature version goes for $97,900. (See our Tesla company tour.)
The Model S comes with a choice of three different battery packs: 40 kWh, 60 kWh, and 85 kWh, said to supply a range of 160, 230, and 300 miles, respectively. Claimed 0-60 mph acceleration times are linked to the battery size and span from a lively 6.5 seconds to an exhilarating 4.4 seconds with the 85-kWh performance version.
Tesla hasn't mentioned the charging time, but it should be relatively rapid; we expect a recharge will take a few hours rather than all day funneling through the 10 kW onboard charger. The battery comes with an eight-year warranty.
Unfortunately, we couldn't take the Model S out for a spin while in LA, but we could see that the interior is roomy, with no intrusions into the flat floor. The flat battery is a structural component and spans the whole floor between the wheels. With no engine in front, there is a decent-sized additional trunk, similar to a rear-or mid-engine Porsche's.
Controls, such as window switches and stalks, are from Mercedes-Benz. The dash is dominated by a huge 17-inch touch screen that acts as the interface to the audio, navigation, climate, and connectivity functions. It gives the impression of driving with an iPad in front of you, a potential distraction.
It's encouraging to see that Tesla is on track with the model S launch. It'll be a good omen for the electric-vehicle community if it all goes smoothly.
See our guide to fuel economy and guide to alternative fuels.