Tesla Model S: $50,000 Electric Car that Seats Seven

by Benjamin Jones on March 26, 2009

Tesla Model S

Note: Click for larger images

After months of PR, big claims, and worry over Tesla’s future, the young company is finally letting us see the specs on their new electric sedan, the Tesla Model S. For a cool $50,000, you’ll be able to get a very sleek looking sedan that will have a 300 mile range and can do 0-60 in 5.5 seconds.

Tesla Model S

The price is a bit deceptive, because the $50k number includes a $7,500 federal tax break. While that tax break is good to go for any buyer right now, it won’t be around forever, and might not be around for long enough for very many people to use it on the Model S.

Also, that price only comes with a 160-mile battery pack. For more you can upgrade that range, but don’t hold your breath if you expect that to be a cheap upgrade! Seating 7 means that you will have to stuff two kids into rear facing seats in the hatch. If you don’t find 6 people to drag around with you, the Model S should be able to haul quite a large amount.

I won’t bore you with all the details, you can check them out (and some more pictures at the end of the post).

Question: Where do you think this car fits into the market? The same high end that can afford the Roadster and the “green” price tag, or will the middle class be trying to buy this?

Tesla Model S

At a Glance: Production Model S

With a 300-mile range and 45-minute QuickCharge, the $49,900 Model S can carry five adults and two children in quiet comfort – and you can charge it from any outlet, without ever stopping for gas. World’s first mass-produced electric vehicle offers performance, efficiency and unrivaled utility with twice the energy-efficiency of hybrids, making Model S the only car you’ll ever need.

Convenience and utility bullet points:

• Up to 300-mile range
• 45-minute QuickCharge
• 5-minute battery swap
• Charges from 110V, 220V or 440V
• Seating for 5 adults + 2 child seats
• Unique hatch for oversized items
• 60/40 flat-folding rear seat
• 2nd trunk under hood
• EPA Roominess Index 121.6
• More room than station wagons
• 17-inch infotainment touchscreen
• 3G wireless connectivity

Model S powertrain includes a liquid-cooled 9-inch motor, floor-mounted battery pack and a single-speed gearbox, delivering effortless acceleration, responsive handling and quiet simplicity — no fancy clutchwork or gear-shifting required. Model S costs as little as $4 to fully charge – a bargain even if gasoline dropped to $1 per gallon. You can have affordable fun while being socially responsible.

Technical specs:

• 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds
• ¼ mile in 14 seconds
• 120 mph top speed
• Braking 60-0 mph 135 feet
• 42 kWh battery storage system standard
• 70 kWh and greater battery storage systems optional
• 9- inch liquid cooled electric motor
• Single-speed transaxle gearbox
• Curb Weight 3825 lbs
• Overall Length 196″
• Wheelbase 116.5″
• All-wheel-drive available (option available in future production models)
• Right hand drive available

At a Glance: Model S Show Car

The Model S Show Car is a drivable vehicle that exemplifies Tesla’s “no compromises” philosophy – an elegantly refined luxury sedan delivering optimal performance without sacrificing efficiency. Designed by Franz von Holzhausen, the car’s aggressive stance gives way to a modern silhouette, with minimal front and rear overhangs for maximum space efficiency. The car’s mature face defines the future of the Tesla brand and incorporates the touches from the Tesla Roadster. Environmentally friendly materials are incorporated throughout, including water-based paint for the exterior, chrome-free vegetable tanned Italian leather on interior, and 100 percent recycled PET carpeting from Futuris.

Other details:

• Panoramic roof with sliding moon roof
• Retracting door handles for improved aerodynamics
• Full-time 3G connectivity with Internet, HD and satellite radio
• Push button “gear” selector
• Brembo brakes
• Automatic rear lift gate
• 21-inch wheels, Front Tires 245/35ZR21, Rear Tires 285/30ZR21
• 17-inch haptic touchscreen and customizable vehicle information display
• Fully digital instrument cluster
• LED and neon headlight and taillights, with xenon Hella low beams
• Smart-key power and push button gear selector
• Brembo brake system with new one-piece monobloc calipers and integral stiffening bridge to optimize performance
Front brake system:
• Brembo Gran Turismo
• Brembo 6-piston Monobloc Calipers
• Brembo 405x34mm 2-Piece Floating Slotted Discs with Billet Aluminum Hats
Rear brake system:
• Brembo Gran Turismo
• Brembo 4-piston Monobloc Calipers
• Brembo 380x28mm 2-Piece Slotted Discs with Billet Aluminum Hats

Tesla unveils world’s first mass-produced, highway-capable EV
Model S sedan has anticipated base price of $49,900, up to 300-mile range and 45-minute QuickCharge capability

March 26, 2009

HAWTHORNE , Calif.– (BUSINESS WIRE) -Tesla Motors is now taking orders for the Model S, an all electric family sedan that carries seven people and travels 300 miles per charge.

The Model S, which carries its charger onboard, can be recharged from any 120V, 240V or 480V outlet, with the latter taking only 45 minutes. By recharging their car while they stop for a meal, drivers can go from LA to New York in approximately the same time as a gasoline car. Moreover, the floor-mounted battery pack is designed to be changed out in less time than it takes to fill a gas tank, allowing for the possibility of battery-pack swap stations.

The floor-mounted powertrain also results in unparalleled cargo room and versatility, as the volume under the front hood becomes a second trunk. Combining that with a four-bar linkage hatchback rear trunk and flat folding rear seats, the Model S can accommodate a 50-inch television, mountain bike *and* surfboard simultaneously. This packaging efficiency gives the Model S more trunk space than any other sedan on the market and more than most SUVs.

“Model S doesn’t compromise on performance, efficiency or utility — it’s truly the only car you need,” said Tesla CEO, Chairman and Product Architect Elon Musk. “Tesla is relentlessly driving down the cost of electric vehicle technology, and this is just the first of many mainstream cars we’re developing.”

Tesla expects to start Model S production in late 2011. The company believes it is close to receiving $350 million in federal loans to build the Model S assembly plant in California from the Dept of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program.

Building on Proven Technology

Tesla is the only production automaker already selling highway-capable EVs in North America or Europe . With 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds, the Roadster outperforms almost all sports cars in its class yet is six times as energy efficient as gas guzzlers and delivers 244 miles per charge. Tesla has delivered nearly 300 Roadsters, and nearly 1,000 more customers are on the wait list.

Teslas do not require routine oil changes, and they have far fewer moving (and breakable) parts than internal combustion engine vehicles. They qualify for federal and state tax credits, rebates, sales tax exemptions, free parking, commuter-lane passes and other perks. Model S costs roughly $5 to drive 230 miles – a bargain even if gasoline were $1 per gallon.

The anticipated base price of the Model S is $49,900 after a federal tax credit of $7,500. The company has not released options pricing. Three battery pack choices will offer a range of 160, 230 or 300 miles per charge.

“Model S costs half as much as a Roadster, and it’s a better value than much cheaper cars,” Musk said. “The ownership cost of Model S, if you were to lease and then account for the much lower cost of electricity vs. gasoline at a likely future cost of $4 per gallon, is similar to a gasoline car with a sticker price of about $35,000. I’m positive this car will be the preferred choice of savvy consumers.”

The standard Model S does 0-60 mph in under six seconds and will have an electronically limited top speed of 130 mph, with sport versions expected to achieve 0-60 mph acceleration well below five seconds. A single-speed gearbox delivers effortless acceleration and responsive handling. A 17-inch touchscreen with in-car 3G connectivity allows passengers to listen to Pandora Radio or consult Google Maps, or check their state of charge remotely from their iPhone or laptop.

Tesla is taking reservations online and at showrooms in California . Tesla will open a store in Chicago this spring and plans to open stores in London, New York, Miami, Seattle, Washington DC and Munich later this year.

About Tesla Motors

San Carlos, Calif.-based Tesla Motors Inc. designs and manufactures electric vehicles with exceptional design, performance and efficiency, while conforming to all North American and European safety, environmental and durability standards. The Roadster, which has a 0-to-60 mph acceleration of 3.9 seconds and a base price of $101,500 after a federal tax credit, is the only highway-capable production EV for sale in North America and Europe. Tesla expects to begin producing the Model S sedan in late 2011.

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1 Uncle B April 26, 2009 at 9:55 am

The New Automotive Age has arrived! Tesla has done what GM couldn’t do to save it’s soul, and Chrysler couldn’t do to save its company! The world will be a better place for this, even if we have to glaze over the whole of the South Western U.S. A. collecting sun to power the huge numbers that will be sold! Wind Turbines needed, Fast! Tidal electric power – full ahead, we need all the charging time we can get out of the wires day or night! This is the new revolution! Desert real estate with sun just shot up in value, and the windy coasts of our nation have new value. Ballasted by charging batteries, the intermittent nature of these power sources is a negligible problem. We will charge our batteries when peak power is available from the new sources, then use them when we need them! Thank you Tesla for showing “The Big Three” automakers the new way! Perpetual power harnessed in the practical service of man, and no fissionable waste-pile needed! We Win!

2 Ben April 27, 2009 at 1:30 am

I have to question this, Tesla have been a little optimistic with their estimates for cars before especially on electricity consumption. However if it does work it will be a step in the right direction.

3 Benjamin Jones April 27, 2009 at 8:03 am

I tend to agree with you on their generally inflated claims. Hopefully they pull through (and on time).

4 lol May 1, 2009 at 11:09 am

Nice car, I however find it comical how people are being shoved from one polluting energy source to another, just because you don’t have an exaust doesn’t mean the power station didn’t.

5 joe June 12, 2009 at 1:28 pm

… looks exactly like an Aston Martin

6 Mike July 21, 2009 at 12:13 am

@lol, I assume you advocate running our society on unicorn farts? 1.Electric is a step in the right direction because it allows any number of electrical generation technologies to power the car. 2.Power plants generally benefit from efficiencies of scale, meaning that electric is better even with today’s generating mix. 3. electric motors behave differently than combustion engines: they have high torque at low RPMs so stop and go driving is much more efficient and the car doesn’t need a complicated transmission.

7 jay July 21, 2009 at 2:42 pm

so its great thats its ‘green’ and all… but where do you people think the power coming out of the outlet thats charging the car is coming from?

8 Benjamin Jones July 22, 2009 at 8:39 am


I am sure many people overlook the impact of power consumption versus gasoline consumption, but the grid is cleaner than the ICE, so at least they are on the right track.

9 Fahad July 29, 2009 at 3:30 pm

First off like everyone else said, electric companies are far more efficient than combustion engines at converting energy. More importantly, this step represents an effort for electric cars to become mainstream. By the time we have a nation of electric cars, we will have power companies using renewable sources of energy such as hydroelectric and solar to represent a few. We may even have fusion in 50 years with some estimates. With these new sources of energy we can make a giant step in cleaning up our world.

10 lawrence t August 21, 2009 at 11:14 am

Very detailed specifications. But, I didn’t see on the list that the car had A.C.

Was this an oversight, for 50K I would expect automatic climate control. If you load

seven hot bodies in the car when your in So. Cal. or Az. you absolutely need air conditioning.

And just opening the window will never do !!!

11 Chris December 3, 2009 at 1:58 am

That looks like a pretty good car but my Question is does it really seat 7 people?

12 James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil February 14, 2010 at 5:14 pm

We are seeing a lot of proposals about pollution, global warming, fossil fuels, and alternative energy sources. I think they are all missing the point. The Tesla, as much as I admire it and wish them well, doesn’t even begin to address the real problem. That problem is too many people on the planet using too much energy. The most basic law of physics is the law of conservation of energy. All energy, from whatever source, eventually becomes heat.

If you create electricity from hydroelectric plants, cleaner even than nuclear plants, making the electricity creates heat. Turning the turbines creates heat, running the generators creates heat. Transmitting the electricity through wires creates heat from the electrical resistance. Using the electricity creates heat. For that matter, building the dams, turbines, and generators all create heat and often other environmental pollutants.

It’s an unavoidable law of nature. All energy creation and use makes heat. Reduce the number of people on the planet by maybe 1/2 and most environmental problems are solved.

Wind energy? The bird kill problem would be solved by a different design for windmills. Vertical axis designs have been demonstrated that are more efficient, do not kill birds, and are cheaper to make. Even so, when you build them and their necessary generators and electronics, you create heat and other pollutants.

So the real problem is heat pollution, yes, there is accompanying problems of CO2 emissions, particulate pollution and all of the others. Each of those is possible to solve. But the heat pollution will remain and will continue to get worse until the world population is substantially reduced .

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