Battery-powered Tesla Model S hits the streets in the US

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The first customer cars are rolling out of the Tesla factory averaging around 10-12 cars a week.  By the end of the year, California-based Tesla claims they will have delivered 5,000 of this latest vehicle.

Selected future owners are being given the opportunity to drive this new vehicle and the general opinion is that the Tesla S is a very well made luxury car, and the range is excellent.  Three battery sizes are on offer: 40 kilowatt-hour, 60 kWh and 85 kWh, with base prices for the models equipped with each ranging from USD57,400-77,400; however, a fully spec’d Model S goes for over USD100,000.

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The 85 kWh has a claimed range of almost 500 km, whilst the smallest (and cheapest) 40 kWh battery model should have a range around 250 km.

Charging again takes time, and it is obvious that a dedicated charging point will be needed to recharge the batteries in a reasonably short time.  Some figures being bandied around range from four hours, which is very acceptable, to over 50 hours which is ridiculous.

The styling gives the Tesla S a look reminiscent of Jaguar or a Fisker but with a wide and not so attractive mouth.  It does not scream “Future Electric Car”, but is a pleasant mid-size hatchback.

In some ways similar to the BMW iDrive controller, the Tesla S has a 17-inch tablet display in the center of the dash as the central controller.  The only buttons turn on the hazard lights or open the glove box.

The Model S power plant is located between and just behind the driven rear wheels.  The liquid cooled battery pack makes up the floorpan of the car and is encased in steel and plastic.  The smooth exterior and under-floor produce a very low drag coefficient of 0.24, reputedly the lowest of any production vehicle.  And with 300-400 bhp from the electric engine, it is a very rapid motor car, despite the weight from the battery pack boosting the overall weight to around 2,500 kg.  Performance models are rated at 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque and can accelerate from 0-100 kph under five seconds.

While the Tesla Roadster sis not really take off, in the US, the Tesla S looks as if it will have a much more secure place in the US sales figures.