Tesla Motors claims its first mass-produced electric car - the Model S sedan - will include performance models to rival Germany’s fast sedans, the BMW M5 and the E63 AMG Mercedes, and will cost significantly less.
The Tesla S is a battery-powered seven seat luxury sedan that will be priced between $A85,000 and $A130,000.
“We’re out to demonstrate that electric vehicles not only have style and functionality, but they perform far better and are far more efficient,” Tesla Motors Australian regional manager Jay McCormack said.
“Our main objective is to relentlessly drive down the cost of electric vehicles,” McCormack says. “Our end result is to offer - both in premium and in mainstream - affordable electric vehicles for everybody. Every year we’ll be looking at releasing a new model,” he says.
The Tesla S is designed to carry up to six model grades, including the performance package. The signature models include a luxury-focused variant that comes with the choice of four exclusive exterior colors, plush interiors and higher equipment levels. One other is the faster, sports-luxury grade, which adds more performance to the package. There will also be a more sports-focused variant featuring a firmer suspension tune for sharper handling and exterior styling cues including front and rear spoilers made of carbon fiber for improved aerodynamics.
Tesla claims the sports models will reach 100 km/h from rest in 4.5 seconds. That time is close to BMW’s twin-turbo V8 M5, which hits 100 km/h in 4.4 seconds. The MB E63 AMG is fractionally quicker again at 4.3 seconds.
No problems with range anxiety, as all three grades are powered by the largest, 85 kWh battery pack for a 500 kilometer driving range, though there is an entry-level Tesla S with a 40 kWh which offers 260 kilometers of range between recharges.
Other variants include the mid-range 60 kWh Model S, with a range of 310 km, and a fourth top-end model to feature an 85 kWh battery pack.
The California-based company will begin delivering the battery powered luxury cars to US customers from June 22, about a month ahead of schedule.
McCormack confirmed a mass-produced, more affordable car is on the cards, as long as it doesn’t compete with its Toyota and Daimler customers, which buy Tesla’s battery and drivetrain technology for their respective RAV4 EV and electric A-Class and Smart car models.
In other news, Tesla’s first and now being phased out Roadster sports car has almost sold out in Australia, with four vehicles remaining. It has sold 25 cars to date, and has shifted a further five this year.
The Roadster will be replaced in 2015 by a sports car that will use the Model S’s modular platform.