By Evan Ackerman
As sexy as the Tesla Roadster is, and as much as I want one, it’s really just a big expensive toy. It’s not a practical car for a consumer (i.e. people who have kids and need to bring home their own groceries) to purchase. Tesla gets this, and has just unveiled their new Model S electric sedan concept that we first got a glimpse of back in October of last year.
The Model S has four doors, and is apparently capable of seating seven people… Five adults, plus two kids in a rear facing seat in the back. Inside, the most notable feature is a 17″ touchscreen in the center panel, which controls the climate, navigation, and entertainment systems, has 3G connectivity built in, and features auxiliary and iPod inputs. It also manages to have more cargo space than a station wagon, thanks to a second trunk under the hood.
Details on the drivetrain, and more pics, after the jump.
While not as nimble as the roadster, the Model S can make it to 60 mph in about 5.5 seconds, with a 120 mph top speed. It has a range of about 160 miles, but different option packages include extended range batteries that can make it to 300 miles. The batteries will fully charge in 4 hours from a 220 volt source, and there’s a 45 minute “quick charge,” although Tesla doesn’t say how much charge it is (my guess is 40-50%). An interesting thing to note is that the battery packs can apparently be swapped out in 5 (!) minutes, which might provide a way to get around the whole charging issue when taking a long trip, although buying or renting a spare battery pack will no doubt be expensive. The batteries themselves should last 10 years with normal use.
The base version of the Model S is expected to cost $49,900, including government tax incentives (you’ll pay more like $57,400 up front). Production should begin near the end of 2011, and by mid 2012, Tesla hopes to be pumping out about 20,000 cars per year. That’s a little ways off, and there’s still the potential for all kinds of things to happen before then… Most likely production delays plus a price increase, just because that’s what always happens. But still, it’s a serious effort at a usable and more or less affordable electric car, and may actually give the Chevy Volt a challenge on features, if not price.