A Closer Look At The Tesla Model S

During the last Dot Com Pho meetup, we had an opportunity to check out the 2012 Model S by Tesla Motors. I got a lot of comments and questions about the car, so I figured I’ll give you a closer look at what many are calling the car of the future.

The Tesla Model S is the only premium sedan engineered from the ground up as an electric car. It’s not the first electric car, but it’s the only one I would consider buying. What sets the Model S apart from its Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf competitors is the driving range. While the Volt and Leaf can go only 40 and 100 miles on a charge, the Model S can go from 160 to 300 miles (depending on battery pack) before needing a recharge. The Model S will also be the world’s first premium luxury electric car when it goes on sale in mid-2012.

Tesla Model S

Tesla plans to produce 20,000 Model S annually. The company has taken more than 4,000 reservations for the Model S in North America and Europe. The base US Model S with a 160 mile battery pack has an anticipated base price of $49,900, after the $7,500 federal rebate. The 230 mile battery pack will cost $10,000 more. Add another $10,000 on top of that to go to the 300 mile battery pack. Is it worth spending another $20,000 to add 140 miles of range? Only you can decide that. The first 1000 cars will be top of the line Signature editions. If you want to be among the first to own a Model S, be prepared to pony up over $70,000.

The Model S can seat up to seven people (five adults and two children). How is that possible? The truck features a couple of rear facing jump seats that pop up like the old Griswold station wagon. The kids should have a blast waving to the cars behind. Imagine what the grandparents will think when you tell them you put the kids in the truck?

Tesla Model S

Should you fill the Model S with seven people, you can still take home the groceries by putting it into the second truck. The electric motor that powers the Model S sits between the rear wheels. This allowed the Tesla engineers to create a second truck under the front hood. The Model S has more than twice the storage space of an equivalent BMW 5 series sedan.

Think of The Screen as a 17″ iPad

Tesla Model S

Model S is equipped with a 17-inch touch screen infotainment cluster with wireless internet access allowing connected navigation, internet radio and points of interest. On the unit I saw, the display looked extremely busy. I can’t imagine using it while driving. Hopefully, Tesla will add voice commends to the list of Model S features.

Slim Profile Battery Pack Under The Floor

Model S Flat Battery Pack

The battery pack for the Model S is located under the floor and is combined with the body structure. The pack contributes to the overall torsional stiffness, providing an unparalleled stiffness-to-weight ratio amongst production vehicles. The pack integration augments the strength of the passenger cabin, allowing the Model S to earn the highest crash safety rating. The pack improves underbelly and wheel well aerodynamics and lowers the center of gravity for better handling.

Charging the Model S is as simple as plugging it into a wall outlet. Mind you, it will take up to 30 hours to recharge a depleted battery pack with a 120-volt outlet. The charge time reduces to eight hours if you use the 220-volt outlet that powers your washer/dryer. Alternatively, you can install the Tesla 240-volt high power wall connector in your garage and charge up the Model S in only four hours. Tesla is also working on a 480-volt charger that can recharge the batteries in 45 minutes.

Instant Troque = 0 to 60 in 5.6 Seconds

The Tesla electric motor that powers the Model S sits in between the rear wheels and is nearly three times as efficient as a gasoline engine. The instant troque of the motor, combined with the single-speed gear box, enables the Model S to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in only 5.6 seconds, making it faster than any other electric vehicles except for the Tesla Roadster.

The innovative packaging, with the motor and power electronics tightly integrated to mount within the rear sub-frame module, results in more usable cabin space and a center of gravity that is lower than any internal combustion vehicles.

Planning a Trip

While a 300 mile range is a decent, it still requires planning if you want to take a long trip. The best way to plan a long trip is to recharge at the local RV parks, since they use 220-volt outlets. Rent a small RV space for the night, plug the car in, stay over at the nearby motel and your Model S will be fully charged by morning. If you try to recharge the car with the 120-volt outlet from the motel, you could be waiting one full day and one full night before the car is fully charged.

If you’re traveling through California, you’ll be in electric car heaven. Many malls have EV charging stations in their parking lots. San Francisco is installing at least 90 new charging stations in city-owned parking garages for electric vehicles to juice up. Best of all, It’s free! Not only can you recharge your car for free but green vehicles are also allowed to use the car pool lane with only a driver.

Your Chance To See The Model S

The Model S Design Prototype is making its way around the US and Canada so you can get up close and personal with the future of automobiling. The car was in Seattle last week. Its next stop will be in Vancouver at the EPIC Sustainable Living Expo. Then it will head to Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Boston and South Florida. More cities will be added.

The video below is from the Model S Alpha prototype. I spiced it up with some cool texts and a really appropriate sound track. Enjoy and be green!