Tesla S – a battery powered seven seat sedan

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Following on from the Tesla Roadster, the Tesla company is close to releasing a production version of their second electric car, the Tesla S.

The American electric vehicle maker, whose $220,000-plus plug-in Tesla Roadster was the first factory EV to become readily available, has been conducting ‘Alpha’ phase testing of the Model S since last year.

Tesla S Tesla S

Priced between about $120,000 and $150,000 depending on the size of the battery pack, the Model S will enter the final – or ‘Beta’ – range of tests before production commences in the middle of 2012.

Initially it will be in LHD, but RHD production will start in 2013.  Three battery options are likely to be offered, all of them giving a 0-100 km/h time of under six seconds and a top speed of around 200 km/h.

The top of the line Tesla S will be marketed as the ‘Signature’ with a greater range of colors and options not likely to be available on lesser models, and will come with the maximum 480 km range battery pack – up from 255 km for the entry-level Model S and 370 km for more expensive variants.

If you are thinking that perhaps you will wait for it to appear in a showroom, forget it.  A $40,000 reservation deposit is required for the Signature, but the standard Model S can be reserved for a more sensible $6,000 down payment.

Tesla Motors is putting their Model S up against established premium large sedans like the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-class, but is touting the advantage of the third row of seats to be classified as a seven-seater.

Tesla’s latest press pictures feature a chrome grille design that was absent on the original Alpha prototype first revealed earlier this year, but which mirrors the sleek design of the original Model S concept from 2009.

Tesla has big plans for the S, expecting to produce a total of 20,000 Model S vehicles annually and claims the battery packs will retain 70 percent of their initial capacity after seven years or 160,000 km.

Tesla also has plans to make a public offering of 5.3 million shares to help fund the development of a Model X crossover SUV.  This model is shrouded in mystery at present, though the prototype should be running by the end of 2011 before releasing it in the US by the end of 2013.