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Tesla still working on Australian sales model

Trickle charge: Tesla is still working on how it will sell its Model S in Australia when it launches here in a few months’ time.

Work still in progress as Tesla prepares for Australian launch of Model S

27 May 2014

TESLA says it is still investigating how it will set up its Australian sales and support network ahead of the electric car-maker’s launch here in a few months’ time.

The California-based electric car-maker is slated to launch here in about August with a single model, the Model S sedan, before adding a battery-powered SUV known as the Model X some time next year.

Tesla Motors global communications spokesman Atsuko Doi told GoAuto today that the California-based car-maker was still making decisions about when it would launch and how it would structure its Australian division, but hinted it would not go down the same route as the electric car-maker’s previous effort.

Tesla launched the $200,000-plus Lotus Elise-based Roadster in Australia in 2011, without a physical showroom or service centre. Instead, the electric car-maker used mobile technicians who would travel to where the Roadster was located to work on it.

However, Atsuko-San said the car-maker was investigating establishing a dealership this time around – a Sydney page is already live on the Tesla Motors website – as well as a more traditional servicing arrangement for the vehicles.

One suggestion has been that Tesla will bypass a traditional new-car showroom for its Australian presence, instead leaning towards a shopfront-style development to bring customers and the car together.

Tesla has recently drawn ire in the US for attempting to bypass dealers and sell direct to customers, with Missouri’s government failing in an attempt to force its citizens to buy only via traditional new-car dealerships, and not via online portals.

The Australian model line-up for the 5+2 seater Model S is expected to stretch across three variants, with the sub-$100,000 entry-level model featuring a 285kW electric motor drawing power from a 60kWh battery pack, providing enough charge to drive about 330km in ideal conditions.

A range-extender version of the Model S, expected to cost less than $120,000, upgrades the battery to a 85kWh unit to give about a 420km driving distance.

However, Australia is also in line to receive the Model S Performance, a 350kW version of the sedan featuring a more track-oriented suspension set-up – the car features air suspension as standard across the range that allows it to squat down at freeway speeds and reduce drag – and wider tyres at the rear. It is expected to cost close to $200,000.

It won’t be a lightweight, either, with the bank of batteries sandwiched beneath the Tesla’s floor expected to help it tip the scales at about 2.0 tonnes – or about the same as a Ford Ranger twin-cab ute.

The extended-range battery adds about another 100kg to the Model S’s kerb weight.

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