Tesla Motors this week unveiled its long-awaited electric family sedan, the Model S, which the company believes will be the world's first electric vehicle fit for the highway that is mass-produced.
Although the car isn't expected to roll off the production line until 2011, the company is taking orders. The Model S, whose public showing occurred in Southern California on Thursday, will drive 160 miles on a single charge, and cost $49,900 after a federal tax credit of $7,500.
"Tesla is relentlessly driving down the cost of electric vehicle technology, and this is just the first of many mainstream cars we're developing," said Tesla CEO, Chairman and Product Architect Elon Musk, in a statement.
Given its new-energy approach -- and prospects for creating up to 1,000 jobs amid a low-point for the industry -- Tesla Motors has been highly sought after. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson promised the company a tax credit and a purchase order of 100 cars. But in the end, the company -- whose CEO, Musk, is the co-founder of PayPal -- was lured by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The company is hoping it will receive $350 million in federal loans from the Dept of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program.
Named after Nikola Tesla, the turn-of-the century physicist considered by some to be "the patron saint of modern electricity," Tesla Motors already sells an electric sports car called the Roadster, which delivers 244 miles per charge. But so far, only 300 vehicles are on the road.
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.
With the volume under the hood becoming a second trunk, the Model S boasts a large amount of cargo space. The company says this, combined with its hatchback rear trunk and flat folding seats, gives the Model S more trunk space than any other sedan on the market, "and more than most SUVs."
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