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Tesla Sets Price, Production Plans for Model S

Battery sedan will start at $57,400 - before federal tax credits - when launched in mid-2012.

by on Mar.07, 2011

The Tesla Model S will go on sale in mid-2012 at a base price of $57,400 minus the federal $7,500 tax credit.

The first Tesla Model S sedan will roll off the maker’s new assembly line in mid-2012 and carry a base price of $57,400, which would drop to $49,900 after federal tax incentives of $7,500.

Tesla will offer a wide-range of options – including a choice of three battery packs capable of delivering up to 300 miles per charge, according to the Silicon Valley start-ups Vice President of Sales George Blankenship.

“It is clear that our customers would like to keep up with progress as we work towards first deliveries in 2012,” the executive writes in a new blog post that follows a meeting with 50 current Tesla Roadster owners at the company’s newest dealership, in Milan, Italy.

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The first so-called “Alpha” engineering prototypes began road testing in December, noted Blankenship.  Preparations are now underway for “Beta” models, which are described as “production-intent,” or essentially identical to what Tesla will produce when manufacturing gets underway in mid-2012 at the factory the company acquired last year.

A skeleton of the Model S, showing the underlying mechanicals, was displayed during the 2011 Detroit Auto Show.

That facility, originally opened by General Motors, operated, for the last quarter century, as the NUMMI joint venture between GM and Toyota.  GM abandoned the factory following its 2009 bankruptcy, and Toyota decided to walk away from the facility a year later.  It then agreed to sell the suburban San Francisco assembly plant to Tesla as part of a new alliance between the Japanese giant and the small battery-car company.

“We expect to produce approximately 5,000 units in 2012 as we ramp to full single shift production capacity of 20,000 units per year in 2013,” explains Blankenship.

The first of 1,000 those sedans will be the North American Model S Signature Series, he adds.  They will be equipped with a 300-mile lithium-ion battery pack, as well as “unique badging and an extensive complement of options.”

Tesla has been hoping to overcome what the industry describes as “range anxiety,” the fear many potential buyers have that they won’t have enough range to get through their daily duties.  Most current and planned battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, have targeted range of 80 to 100 miles per charge.  But the base Model S will push to 160 miles.

Tesla has not yet provided details of the battery system it will utilize, though senior company officials told TheDetroitBureau.com, in January, that they have been able to improve the efficiency of the Model S significantly through the use of lightweight aluminum and other steps.  The Alpha prototypes require about 300 watt-hours per mile, which would translate into about 60 kilowatt-hours of batteries onboard.  (Including about a 10% “pad,” since battery car makers prefer to neither fully charge nor discharge their batteries, which would reduce the pack’s life significantly.)

The 230-mile pack will be priced at $67,400 – before tax credits.  It likely will require about an 85 kWh battery pack, including pad.

The long-range, 300-mile battery option will go for $77,400, or $69,900 after the federal tax credit.  Its pack will carry at least 110 kWh of batteries, unless Tesla is able to improve the vehicle’s efficiency before the start of production – something Chief Engineer Peter Rawlinson says is a key goal.

Prices could shift a bit before production, according to Blankenship, and Tesla has not yet determined the figure for the Signature Series that will mark production launch.

Meanwhile, the company plans to start delivery to Europe in late 2012 with left-hand-drive models.  Right-hand-drive packages will start being delivered to the U.K. and other markets in 2013.

(For more technical information on the Tesla Model S, Click Here.)

Tesla still hasn’t released official technical details, such as performance numbers or charging times.  The latter will depend upon what charging system customers opt for.  Using a special Level III 440-volt system, which electric vehicle proponents ultimate hope to see in widespread commercial use, a drained 300-mile battery could be recharged in barely an hour.  But with a more conventional, 220-volt home-charger, the times might stretch to 15-hours or more.

Tesla will offer a super-fast, 220-volt 75-amp home charger that could trim the time to around 5 hours, but that could require extensive rewiring, as it uses more current than the typical American home.

For the 160-mile battery, home charging times with a 220-volt system will likely range between 3 to 8 hours, depending on the charger used.

Tesla began production of its first vehicle, the 2-seat Roadster, two years ago.  It has so far sold around 2,000 of the sports cars, which are based on a Lotus platform, worldwide.  The Model S will use a design entirely developed in-house by the California maker.

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7 Responses to “Tesla Sets Price, Production Plans for Model S”

  1. dsm363 says:

    “But with a more conventional, 220-volt home-charger, the times might stretch to 15-hours or more.”

    This again isn’t accurate. Anyone can get a 240V 50A circuit installed in their garage. As we pointed out before, you’re 110kWh pack size probably isn’t accurate but regardless it won’t take 15hrs. The 54kWh pack (almost half your 110kWh) takes 6 hours to charge from empty so 12 hours at most. Also, you’re almost never charging from empty so real charge times will be 1-4 hours depending on how much you drove that day.

  2. dsm363 says:

    “Tesla will offer a super-fast, 220-volt 75-amp home charger that could trim the time to around 5 hours, but that could require extensive rewiring, as it uses more current than the typical American home.”

    I don’t think this is true but even if it is, I think someone spending $75,000 on an electric car would be willing to spend $1,000 to have their electrical box upgraded to handle this. This also is not a problem.

    • Paul A. Eisenstein says:

      Hi, D,
      The typical home, according to some research, is running 150 amps (110V) or less. And the upgrade may cost numerous thousands, as I personally discovered two years ago. It’s a much more significant upgrade than proponents like to believe. And that was just to get the higher amperage into my home. Running it to my garage will be several thousand more. (I am preparing to install an advanced charging system, so I know.)
      I have been asking Tesla for data on how many Roadster owners actually have gone for the 75-amp charger but they decline to provide such data. Anecdotal evidence is that many buyers have not.
      While we tend to believe that once a buyer opts for a luxury car they can afford whatever they want — the 1,200-watt audio system, the fancy wheels, the 14-way massaging seats, etc. — the reality is that’s not the case or maker’s like BMW wouldn’t be offering so many variants of the 5- and 7-Series, for example.
      We’ve had this debate before and I disagree with you though understand your point. Depending on the amperage of your charger and the degree to which the battery has run down, charging times of up to 15 hours are quite realistic.
      Yes, people MAY only drive 50 miles and plug in, but if I am spending an extra $20,000 to upgrade from 160 to 300 miles I intend to more than occasionally drive more than to the grocery store or office. And thus, stated charging times (as with EVERY other maker) should reflect a fully-drained battery. Nissan doesn’t quote charging times for the Leaf used only to the grocery store and back, even if that’s a common scenario *most* days.
      Your approach would acknowledge and accept the game several makers took at the Geneva Motor Show, last week, when they promoted the idea of home charging their new products and then promised 1-hour charging times. Pressed, they acknowledged the shorter times were for those who might have access to 440V, 3-phase DC chargers, not home systems. Oh…
      Again, as to the battery size, Peter Rawlinson’s direct, on-the-record quote is that the 160-mile version of the Model S will require 300 watt-hours/mile. Adding weight, in the form of added battery, will increase the energy demand, though by how much he did not state — though Rawlinson stressed the goal is to reduce the energy consumption between Alpha to Beta to production models, and to bring down battery weight through the use of higher energy-density batteries. But barring specifics from Tesla, the calculations I have come up with AND been given by several outsiders familiar with Tesla’s work suggests that the battery pack would run 100 to 110 kWh on the 300-mile model.
      When Tesla confirms specifics I will be glad to quote their numbers and acknowledge any improvements they made in energy efficiency, battery size and charging times. I hope they will be forthcoming on who buys which charger and what times will be with each.
      Paul A. Eisenstein
      Publisher, TheDetroitBureau.com

  3. dsm363 says:

    Thanks. I know many owners who bought the 70A HPC (Tesla charger) who never charge at 70A and actually drop it down to 40A or 32A. Fast charging isn’t really needed at home. It’s needed in-between major cities every 50-75 miles apart. I have the UMC and dropped my charging from 40A down to 32A as well. I used to charge it every single time I got home. Now I just charge it at night when the load on my house is the least.

    Even if someone with the 300 mile pack drove that much in a day, they would likely be home for at least a few hours before heading back out again.

    Most houses in the last 25 years should have the 150A or above form what I understand (many newer ones have 200A) so I don’t think most people will need thousands of dollars of upgrades to install a 50A circuit. Most home owners won’t need the 75A charger Tesla talked about. It’s good you bring it up so people are aware of the possibility but I don’t expect it to be the norm that each house will require $5,000 or more in electrical work.

  4. dsm363 says:

    I think the confusion is in the thinking that someone with a 300 mile pack will come home on empty and immediately need to turn around and drive another 300 miles an hour later. If that’s a regular occurrence or even a once a month thing (and that’s that person’s only car), then maybe an electric car is not the right car for that person.
    Let’s say I was only able to get a 50A charger (can only charge at 40A). This would add about 35 miles of ‘ideal’ range every hour of charging. If I drove 300 miles and came home, I could recharge for an hour and have enough range to driver 5-10 miles to the grocery store and back and then plug in again. More than likely, someone making that trip is likely to be at home for more than a few hours or overnight. Even if it’s only a 6 hour stop then off to work in the morning, that’s over 180 miles back into the battery. Assuming you don’t have a 50-60 mile commute then you’d be ok until you could get home again and fully recharge.

    This again is probably not the right car for everyone. I would much rather have to 300 mile pack that could take 12-15 hours to fully recharge on a 30-50A circuit than a smaller pack. This way I could drive 100 miles in a day, come home, and would likely be fully charged before my next trip.

    The 230 and 300 mile packs are supposed to weigh the same with the 300 mile pack using a more advanced chemistry.

    • Paul A. Eisenstein says:

      D,
      Again, catch my note about the comments made in Geneva. One side of the mouth: charge this new battery car at home and save on energy; other side of mouth: charge this vehicle in under an hour. What they don’t mention is that the fast charge is on 440V 3-phase DC, which no one has or likely will have at home.
      To apply that to your point, yes, you’re right in the sense that most people won’t, under normal circumstances, use the full 300 miles and then head back out. Fine. So what? When we discuss the size of a gas-powered vehicle we discuss its fuel tank empty. Yes, you’re more likely to wait until a quarter tank to fill up. So, should we thus say a 16-gallon tank is actually a 12, or that a fill-up is $48 rather than $64? With Tesla, should they publish numbers that say, hey, you can charge this 300-mile battery in 45 minutes on 110V at home because you’re probably only going to run to the store and back and then plug in again?
      If it’s 300 miles, and its 100 kWh of usable battery (to round the number out), the stated time should be based on how long it will take to recharge that full amount based on what either the standardized charger will be or what the base charger will be. In other words, if the standard charger is 32A, then that’s what the stated times should be. And if the company wants to provide additional information on charging times based on 1) optional chargers or 2) only partially drained batteries, that’s fine.
      What concerns me is that to try to “pump up” battery power — if I can mix a metaphor — proponents want to see only the best-case scenarios posted. The EPA, in its determination of what Munroney stickers should be based on, opted for a middle ground, ie the 80-mile range of Leaf is a reasonably accurate number for most real-world situations, rather than the 100 Nissan still likes to quote.
      Incidentally, in past discussions, a point has been raised about the range numbers quoted by Tesla, ie the everyday range v being able to squeeze every electron out of the battery while limping home. I will be curious to see if EPA actually allows Tesla to post 300 miles or forces it to use a lower figure on the Munroney.
      Paul A. Eisenstein
      Publisher, TheDetroitBureau.com
      PS: Yes, newer homes are migrating to higher amperage reflecting our love of plasma TVs, 1000-watt entertainment systems, double-door refrigerators and more, never mind the fact that Americans have been buying and building larger homes. That said, 150A at 110 would barely be able to power the 220V 75A if you turned off the master switch for the entire home and even with a 200A 110V system you are pushing things because of the need for things like that fridge, AC, etc., which may continue operating around the clock. To go to the 75A charger is likely to be expensive. And, again, I’d love to have Tesla reveal their internal data on how many have gone with 75A — or lower — and what it required to get there. Of course, data from a $100,000 roadster is likely irrelevant for determining what people will actually experience on the Model S and even less expensive future models.

  5. [...] Tesla announced pricing for it’s Model S electric sedan.  Pricing starts at $57,400 for the base model that has a 160 mile range and will go up to $77,400 for the battery option that delivers a 300 mile range.  Production is scheduled to start in mid-2012. [...]