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Tesla Motors is the queen of the auto industry. But if you can beyond the company’s histrionics financial struggles, exaggerated repeated delays, and inflated brilliance of its vehicle design through. So far, the best of its ingenuity is the Tesla Model S—a vision of what a practical and all-electric sedan should and be.

The Department of Energy gave a endorsement of the Model S in June when it awarded Tesla a $465 million loan to the all-electric sedan and the battery needed to make it go. Tesla is to begin production in 2011, and up to 20,000 units per year by With the money in hand and the set, Tesla could a winner—if the company and its executives focused, avoid controversy, and on the big promise of the Model S.

“Awesome Clean Sheet of

What makes the Model S so First of all, the visual is gorgeous. The New York Times it to the striking Maserati Quattroporte which sells for more six figures.

Second, it seats seven if you count the two side-facing seats for small children. The key to the according to Franz von Holzhausen, design chief, is a flat that houses batteries, and the electronic module. “It’s an clean sheet of functionality and space,” said von Holzhausen. The fondly repeats the talking It can fit a surfboard, a 50-inch television and a bike in the car at the same time with rear seats forward and using the front compartment).

More importantly, the Model S is way affordable than the company’s Tesla Roadster. The current target for the Tesla Model S is (minus a $7,500 federal tax not in range for most mainstream but moving in the right direction. reportedly has 1,200 pre-orders for the S. ($500 deposit required.) number will surely between now and 2011, as the company its dealership network.

Tesla has showrooms in Menlo Park, CA, and New York City, with for outlets in Chicago, Seattle, Washington, D.C. Monaco, and Munich.

If the visual design, and relative affordability of the Model S ground, the specs on the electric are a bit more familiar. The driving will be approximately 160 miles, a full recharge time of five hours. The battery have a useful life five and seven years, which a new battery pack cost “well under according to Elon Musk, the chief executive. (Considering the of the battery pack, the cost is likely to be $10,000 to $15,000.) drive vehicles are known for off the line—expect the Model S, with its transmission, to deliver 0-to-60 mph in less than 6 seconds. says that Tesla is to have the best handling on the road” with the S.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S Touch as seen in Tesla promotional

Then there’s the 17-inch screen that is “the of the interior,” according to von Holzhausen. The screen provides all of the vehicle’s components such as climate and entertainment, but also offers 3G or connectivity for Google Maps, music, and full browser “It’s the iPhone of the auto said von Holzhausen. “It’s a landscape that we can control and to update, and re-skin, and make the car fresh and personalized.” The touch is a bold step toward a where car and info technology and transform the automotive landscape.

Watch Out for Hype

You might that a revolutionary list of features would be enough to the Tesla Model S—but as night infomercial hucksters “That’s not all.” Tesla is that it could offer charging in 45 minutes, and an option to driving range to 300 miles. But things, and a number of other features, are examples of Tesla ahead of itself. We’re than two years away the first customer accepting of the Model S.

In April 2009, when Dan auto writer for the Los Angeles . drove an early prototype of the S, he wrote, “This lovely, design study, unveiled to hoopla March 26, is just ambulatory—more like a glorified cart than a harbinger of tech.” Neil reported the windows were still in frames and the power-steering motor He wrote, “The 17-inch, control panel with feedback in the center console may not make it to production, concedes designer Franz von Holzhausen.”

The doubts relate to timing. the Roadster, which Tesla relied on UK’s Lotus to create, the Model S is a completely ground-up design that be manufactured in-house. The company is delivery—from prototype to release—in 30 months. Neil describes breakneck production pace as “an timeline that makes in the car industry roll their And people inside Tesla are

You should raise your when Tesla suggests a charging time or the notion battery swapping might be in. Don’t count on it. But again, okay.

We were already at “sleek spacious $50,000 all-electric sedan.” Bring it on.

Tesla Model S
Tesla Model S
Tesla Model S
Tesla Model S
Tesla Model S
Tesla Model S
Tesla Model S


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