INTO THE MAINSTREAM
Premium sedan makes such as BMW are in Tesla’s sights as the company’s latest EV, the Model S sedan, hits the road. Its range: more than 400 km. The car has already received 10 000 pre-orders.
According to Tesla, the Model S is the world’s first premium sedan to be built from the ground up as an electric vehicle. The five-door premium sedan competes with the top cars in its class in spaciousness, handling and style, yet produces zero emissions.
The all-electric model S takes up to five hours to charge, and performance figures include 0 to 100 km/h in about 4,5 seconds and a top speed of over 200 km/h (based on the 85 kWh version).
Could this sedan be the car that finally puts decent amounts of black ink on the balance sheet for the pioneering manufacturer that rewrote the EV rulebook by starting out with an electric sports car that has sold, to date, about 2 300 units?
Tesla is looking to build 5 000 cars by the end of 2012, followed by 20 000 cars in 2013. “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,” said Elon Musk, Tesla Motors co-founder and CEO. “Today we achieved our goal with an exceptional car that we believe sets a new standard for efficiency, safety, style, technology, operating cost and performance.”
The Model S has set a new EPA record for electric vehicle range of 425 km. There are three battery options: 40 kWh, 60 kWh and 85 kWh. Tesla says the battery’s floor-mounted position gives Model S a low centre of gravity and ideal weight distribution for exhilarating performance and superior handling. It also shares many similarities – notably responsiveness, instant torque and smooth acceleration – with the company’s Roadster model.
However, the Model S is not going to be a cheap proposition. Tesla quotes an after-tax-credit price of about R400 000 in the US, though this is said to be a cheaper model. Other reports suggest that prices are more likely about R800 00.
Reinventing the carbuying experience.
Tesla has designed a unique retail model, with stores that feature a hands-on exhibit of the Model S drivetrain, a Design Studio where buyers can customise their own Model S, and an interactive touchscreen experience designed to engage and inform customers about the company’s technology and the benefits of driving electric.
Reservations are being taken online and at the company’s 22 retail stores and galleries around the world (most of them, admittedly, in North America). Home delivery with a product specialist conducting a handover process is available.