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Tesla's Model S 100% Electric Sports Sedan

The Model S, on display as a working prototype at Richard's in Greenwich, Connecticut

Although the collection of fine watches, jewelry, and leather on display surely drew many eyes at Richard’s in Greenwich, Connecticut this weekend, the most enticing object of attention was Tesla’s Model S prototype automobile, on display in the foyer of the luxury department store last Friday and Saturday. Shoppers and local residents stood in awe of the shiny, chestnut colored five-seater sedan prominently displayed in the front of Richard’s in Greenwich, the latest stop in Tesla’s North American tour of its newest electric car. Famous for its Roadster electric supercar which the company launched in 2008, Tesla has focused on producing sporty, 100% electric vehicles (as opposed to the gas-electric Chevy Volt and hybrids such as Toyota’s Prius) with extended ranges in an attempt to relieve feelings of range-anxiety that may plague drivers of Nissan’s Leaf (with an EPA rated 73 miles on its Lithium-Ion battery) and Chevy’s Volt (EPA rated 35 miles on battery alone) on long haul trips.

Although there were two Roadsters on display, the focus was on the Model S. According to Ted Merendino, a Tesla Motors product planner, Tesla has already received over 5000 pre orders for the larger Model S, while the company has sold 1,650 Roadsters as of Q1 2011. Unlike the two-seater Roadster, the Model S seats five adults, with an option for 2 additional rear facing children’s seats. A full-size sedan, the Model S has its battery pack built into the floor, freeing up space for the larger cabin while improving aerodynamics and handling with its lower center of gravity. The most striking aspect of the Model S’ interior may be its totally electronic HUD and center console. All gauges, climate controls, and the Model S’ entertainment system are electronically controlled through a 17-inch touchscreen in the center console, which boasts 3G and Wi-Fi networks through the car or in connection with passenger smartphones, iPod and iPad mobile devices. The Model S starts at $49,900 (before the application of the Federal tax credit of up to $7,500), and although less than half the list price of the Roadster, it will still be one of the more expensive electric vehicles on the market. Like its older sister, the Model S can be charged via standard 110 or 240-volt outlets, with the additional filling capability through a quick-charging station.  Tesla claims the vehicle can be quick-charged in 45 minutes, while it takes about 6 hours with a traditional electrical outlet to reach full charge. “Range is a top priority for Tesla”, says Merendino. “Our vehicles offer high ranges to reduce range anxiety and to allow drivers to remain independent and unconcerned with the need to find a charging station as they go about their commute and through extended trips”.

With fuel prices continuing to increase, alternative fuel source vehicles such as Tesla’s 100% electric Model S are becoming increasingly intriguing as drivers looks for alternatives to gasoline powered vehicles for their automotive needs. Three versions of the Model S will be produced, with ranges of approximately 160, 230, and 300 miles per full charge. The models will be priced accordingly, with each higher range edition costing about $10,000 more than its lower range counterparts. Prototypes will continue to be shown around North America (where the Model S, like the Roadster, will be launched first), with the first public test drives occurring in late 2011, early 2012.

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