Telsa Model S Arrives With Big Hopes Riding On It

The vehicle’s powertrain sits under the floorboard, creating a lower center of gravity. The body of the car is aluminum and it’s designed to be a family vehicle, sitting five adults and two children in optional rear facing seats.

The car comes with three options of battery capacity which translate into its performance figures. The 40 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery will get you 160 miles of range, zero to 60 in 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 110 mph. With the 60 kWh and 85 kWh options you get 230/300 mile ranges, zero to 60 in 5.9/5.6 seconds and a top speed of 120/125 mph, respectively. There’s also an 85 kWh “performance” level option, with specs of a 300 mile range, zero to 60 mph of 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph.

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image via Telsa

Inside the car a 17-inch in-dash touchscreen is Internet-enabled, allowing for streaming radio, web browsing and navigation. It has leather interior, an all-glass panoramic roof and a 200 watt, seven-speaker audio system.

If the preliminary reports are anything to go by the Model S, which is being built at Telsa’s factory in Fremont, Calif., already seems to be outliving its predecessor.

Tesla — created by PayPal billionaire and SpaceX founder Elon Musk – said more than 10,000 people have already put down a refundable deposit for the sedan, and the company said it expects to sell 5,000 this year. By comparison, the Roadster has sold just 2,150 since 2008.

However, the Model S will have to compete in an entirely different market to its predecessor and compared to some of the other cars in its class, it could still struggle.

The Nissan Leaf, for example, is another family sedan EV. Since its launch in 2010 30,000 Leaf have been sold and while the Model S could certainly cash in on its homegrown appeal, the Leaf nearly cuts the Model S in half on price.

Paul Willis has been journalist for a decade. Starting out in Northern England, from where he hails, he worked as a reporter on regional papers before graduating to the cut-throat world of London print media. On the way he spent a year as a correspondent in East Africa, writing about election fraud, drought and an Ethiopian version of American Idol. Since moving to America three years ago he has worked as a freelancer, working for CNN.com and major newspapers in Britain, Australia and North America. He writes on subjects as diverse as travel, media ethics and human evolution. He lives in New York where, in spite of the car fumes and the sometimes eccentric driving habits of the yellow cabs, he rides his bike everywhere.