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First look: Tesla uncovers Model S sedan

Strip tease: Tesla gave this glimpse of its new electric sedan.

US electric sportscar-maker lifts wraps off four-door – and a faster roadster

17 Feb 2009

TESLA has provided a sneak-peek at the all-new electric four-door sedan it will reveal for the first time at an invitation-only event to be held at its California design studio on March 26.

In a statement issued this week, Tesla said that confirmation of the imminent receipt of loan payments from the US federal government, as part of the Obama administration’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program, would keep Tesla on target to commence production in 2011.

Tesla said the Department of Energy advised the US EV maker last week that funding for its $US350 million loan application for the Model S, which will join the Tesla Roadster already on sale, would be dispersed within four to five months.

The company, which says its objective with the Model S was to create “one of the most functional, intuitive and beautiful vehicles on the road”, has announced a $US10,000 ($A15,392) discount from the price of the Model S Signature series for Tesla Roadster owners, who will automatically go to the top of the waiting list, “as a gesture of gratitude for their early support”.

Tesla announced at last month’s Detroit motor show a deal with Daimler to co-develop 1000 battery packs and chargers for Smart – an arrangement it now says could both expand to include tens of thousands of batteries annually as well as lead to a series of strategic alliances to build EVs for other car-makers.

Tesla says its Roadster remains the only “highway-capable production electric car” for sale in the US.

This week it also announced agreements for Tesla sales and service centre leases in Chicago and London's Knightsbridge district. It says it is close to finalising locations in Manhattan, Miami, Seattle and Munich, with all six retail outlets due to open this year.

Also this week, Tesla announced it was taking orders for the Roadster Sport, which the company says is capable of sprinting to 60mp/h (97km/h) in a Porsche 911 Turbo-matching 3.7 seconds, with first deliveries due in June.

Courtesy of a hand-wound stator and increased winding density to reduce resistance and increase peak torque, the Roadster Sport’s extra performance is harnessed by adjustable suspension damping and Yokohama Ultra-High Performance tyres.

Tesla also announced the similarly imminent release of the Executive Leather Interior for the Roadster, as well as a Clear Carbon Fiber Exterior Package bodykit.

Also in response to customer inquiry, Tesla this week said its battery pack should last about seven years or at least 100,000 miles (about 160,000km) “under normal use”.

Tesla says its US, European or UK customers respectively may pay $US12,000, €10,000 or £9000 (about $A19,650) up front to receive a replacement battery pack after seven years.

Alternatively, they may replace their battery pack earlier at a premium or later for a partial refund, and Tesla says that due to the Roadster’s low production volumes the current replacement price of the pack is almost three times the price.

“The main reason for the relatively low cost up front – and why this is a smart purchase – is that we are arbitraging the relative cost of capital between Tesla and our typical customer,” the company said.

In another response to customer demand, Tesla also announced an extended warranty that doubles the standard warranty to include an additional three years or 60,000km, for $US5000, €4000 or £3800 (about $830) – but excludes the battery pack.

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