In the Lap of Luxury: Tesla's All-Electric Model S
This summer, Tesla is rolling out its luxury electric car, the Model S, amid much acclaim.
"The design and efficiency of the Model S are unparalleled," electric vehicle consultant Shannon Arvizu told TechNewsWorld. "It's a stunningly beautiful car that is incredibly affordable to operate and has 'oh-my-god' wow performance. It's everything you could ever want in a luxury vehicle."
Several customers will be receiving their pre-ordered cars on Friday at a special invitation-only gala at the company's Fremont, Calif., factory, and Model S test-drive events will take place across the country and in Europe and Asia this summer. The company plans to deliver 5,000 vehicles by the end of the year, and there have been more than 10,000 reservations made so far. The car's base price is US$49,900.
With the release of the Model S, Tesla is positioning itself to be one of the premier electric vehicle manufacturers.
"In 2006, our plan was to build an electric sports car followed by an affordable electric sedan, and reduce our dependence on oil," said Elon Musk,Tesla Motors CEO and chief product architect. "Delivering Model S is a key part of that plan and represents Tesla's transition to a mass-production automaker and the most compelling car company of the 21st century."
The Model S is an electric car built from the ground up. It has a uniquely designed powertrain under its floorboard, creating a low center of gravity, and its lightweight aluminum body allows for effective handling and high efficiency.
The Model S, which seats five adults and two children in optional rear-facing seats, has more cargo space than traditional fuel-powered sedans, and it also has a second trunk under its hood. It accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in as little as 4.4 seconds, and it's equipped with a 17-inch in-dash touchscreen networked for streaming radio, Web browsing and navigation.
The car comes with three energy-dense battery pack options and promises a longer range than any other electric car, with the upper limit option delivering around 300 miles.
Model S Market
Because of its price and design, the car will likely appeal primarily to a higher-end market -- including both luxury car lovers and eco-concerned families.
"As a luxury vehicle, the consumers who are likely to be in the market for this car include young professionals, tech-savvy consumers, eco-chic moms, and sports car dads," Arvizu said. "It's a seven-seater vehicle, so the car can accommodate most families. It is a status symbol of those who believe in the future of our country and our energy economy. On the other hand, for those who just want good-old fashioned horsepower, they will be extremely satisfied."
The Model S is the only all-electric luxury vehicle on the market, noted Arvizu.
"The other cars that come close include a more expensive Fisker Karma or a more affordable Chevy Volt. Both alternatives are plug-in hybrid cars that enable drivers to run on both electricity and gas. What makes the Model S unique is that it is all-electric."
The only weakness she noted is a lack of head room in the rear seat.
"Just don't seat a basketball player in the back," Arvizu said.
The introduction of the Model S and other vehicles is making this a groundbreaking period for the electric vehicle market.
"It's kind of a renaissance," Steve Kobb, a member of the Houston Electric Auto Association, told TechNewsWorld.
With increasing selection at both the low and high end, consumers have plenty of choice in the electric vehicle realm.
"Today we have more electric vehicle models to choose from than ever before," said Arvizu. "We are beginning to see electric vehicles that meet a full range of needs -- from pickup trucks to commuter cars. We are at the beginning of a clean-tech transportation system. Those of us who are at the forefront as plug-in drivers are pioneers in innovation and stewards of our future economy."