Telsa S on the Move

Quick: What car is this?

Quick: What car is this?


Chances are, unless you’re an electric vehicle aficionado cum zealot, you have no idea. Maybe if you’re keen of eye you see the car in the back, ID it as a Telsa Roadster, then note the logo on the main vehicle, and assume—correctly—that it is a Tesla, too.

That is the Tesla Model S, which is to become available in 2012. Or so it is said. While some people have doubts about whether this is a “real” car or even a “real” car company, if nothing else they have a full-blown factory to build these things. It isn’t like they’re doing it in someone’s garage or a hacker space. The company says that the production capacity of the plant is 20,000 vehicles per year. We’re not talking mass manufacturing here, but then again, electric vehicles are still an acquired taste, and there isn’t all that much acquisition of yet.

And they’ve recently released a video showing that there are at least three of these things that are drivable. Although given the 43-second run, one can’t draw too many performance-related conclusions.

For those who are looking for a few facts about the Model S. . . .

They’re going to be offering vehicles with three range options: 160, 230, and 300 miles. The standard Model S will be fitted with the 160-mile lithium-ion battery pack. If you want to opt for the 230- or 300-mile package, then reach for your wallet and hope that it is full because it will cost you.

Tesla is offering the base Model S at $49,900—after a $7,500 Federal tax credit. Which means that the real base price is $57,400. (Let’s face it: with the just-passed debt ceiling folderol, who knows how long tax credits for electric vehicles will exist?)

Anyway, if you want the bigger batteries, then to get 230 miles the option will be priced at “about $10,000 more than the base” and it is $20K more for the 300-mile option.

Speaking of batteries, the car can be charged via a regular 110-volt wall socket. In this scenario, it will “charge slowly.” If a 220-volt outlet is used (the kind that major appliances are plugged in to, in this is certainly a major appliance), it charges overnight. And if there happens to be a fast charging station around, 45 minutes.

By the way, if you’re trying to figure out a way to amortize the cost of the vehicle, know that it is capable of seating seven: two buckets in front, a bench in the second row for three, and two jump seats behind that. Maybe a jitney service might be in your future.