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Tesla amps up its EV sedan

Words from the chief: Tesla chief executive Elon Musk at the Model S announcement.

4.5-second Tesla Model S set to give Euro sports sedans an electric shock

Tesla logo3 Oct 2011

ELECTRIC sportscar pioneer Tesla Motors has revealed it will launch a high-performance version of its upcoming Model S sedan, boasting 4.5-second acceleration from zero to 60 miles per hour (97km/h) – faster than a Porsche 911 or BMW M5.

The announcement by Tesla chief executive Elon Musk was made at the company’s Californian factory at the weekend when it threw open the doors to some of the 6000 customers from around the world who have placed deposits for the all-electric sedan that is set to go into production next year.

The customers not only received their first glimpse of the production-ready car, but were also treated to rides in a prototype around the grounds of the Fremont factory, which was once a joint-venture plant run by Toyota and General Motors.

Mr Musk opened the event by driving a red ‘Beta-version’ Model S on to the stage, and then announced that Tesla would make a high-performance variant that could accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour (97km/h) in 4.5 seconds.

That is more than two seconds quicker than the standard model, which is said to cover the same sprint in 5.6 seconds on to a top speed of about 200km/h.

It is also a split-second faster than a standard non-turbo Porsche 911 or current generation BMW M5, but not as swift as its own smaller and lighter Tesla stablemate, the Lotus-based Tesla Roadster S, that is capable of a blinding 3.7-second 0-100km/h dash.

55 center imageThe extra pace of the Model S will be achieved by ramping up the power to the motor from 900 amps to 1200 amps.

As GoAuto has reported, more than 50 Australians have put down their names for a Tesla Model S which is expected to go sale Down Under in mid 2013 – about a year after its debut in the United States where it reportedly will be priced at less than $60,000 or about half the price of the Roadster.

In Australia, the Roadster is priced at $206,188 for the standard model and $241,938 (plus on-road costs) for the slightly swifter Roadster S, and Tesla Australia has hinted that the Model S will be priced about $120,000-$130,000.

The Model S will be offered in the US with a choice of three battery packs that will dictate both price and the maximum range – 257km, 370 km or 483 km. As well, Tesla is preparing to offer accessory wheels that improve aerodynamics to extend the range to 515km.

The car is expected to go into production in the first quarter of 2011, when Roadster production will be phased out to allow the company to concentrate on the sedan.

About 6000 Model S sedans are expected to be built in the first year, meaning the entire 2012 production run is already spoken for.

Ultimately, production will be ramped up to about 20,000 a year, although Mr Musk hopes to expand Tesla production to 450,000 with additional models such as the Model X – Tesla’s first SUV.

The Model X – to be unveiled in December – is expected to be more affordable than the Model S when it arrives on the market in late 2013.

Tesla is also gearing up to produce drivetrains and battery packs for partner Toyota’s first all-electric vehicle, a RAV4 EV, which will be built at Toyota’s Woodstock facility in Ontario, Canada rather than at Tesla’s Californian factory.

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