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Tesla Model S "Alpha"

The Model S' 17" center display
First comes Alpha, then comes Beta

When we think of the terms Alpha and Beta in the technology sense, we normally think of software applications that are in development or early revisions of computer hardware. Tesla Motors likes to use the terminology as well, and the company is showing off its latest "Alpha" hardware:  a running prototype of the Tesla S sedan.

Tesla explains that there will be both Alpha and Beta versions of its Model S sedan before it finally settles on a production model to make available to the public. Tesla explains that the Alpha version of its Model S first began testing last year, but the public is just now getting its first look at the test vehicle.

Things have changed slightly from the version of the Model S that was first shown in 2009. The front bumper/grille/headlights have been slightly tweaked, and the rear valance panel has also seen some updates (likely to meet federal bumper height, and lighting requirements). You can see the changes that have been made along with footage of the Model S in motion here.

"The first Alpha is amazingly agile for a car of its size. It has great handling balance and poised ride with communicative steering," noted Tesla Motors in a blog post. "Just goes to show what combining a low center of gravity with a very stiff body structure can achieve." 

Tesla Motors will continue with Alpha testing throughout 2011 in various climate conditions and will likely move on to the Beta phase either later this year or early next year. The production Model S is due out in 2012. 

The 4,000-pound Model S will have a driving range of up to 300 miles and can move from a standstill to 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds. Preliminary pricing for the Model S puts the base model (160-mile range) at $57,400 before a $7,500 federal tax credit. 



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RE: nice design
By GulWestfale on 1/19/2011 1:07:53 AM , Rating: 3
you have explained aerodynamics... but not why a prius is ugly when this can be pretty. also, a veyron is not exactly efficient; many journalists have said that a mclaren F1 could reach similar speeds with 200 hp less than the veyron. the veyron's shape was dictated by ferdinand piech, who liked the design, and not by the engineers who built the car.


RE: nice design
By quiksilvr on 1/19/2011 8:06:46 AM , Rating: 1
Yes he did, but I also believe that there should be a balance of meeting coefficient drag needs and aesthetics. (I think the Nickel Metal Hydride batteries have something to do with the shape as well, but I am not entirely sure)


RE: nice design
By uncomputer on 1/19/2011 10:38:45 AM , Rating: 3
FYI, aerodynamics are damn complicated. For instance, falling rain drops actually have very flat bottoms.


RE: nice design
By ZaethDekar on 1/19/2011 12:02:30 PM , Rating: 2
and when your marketing is "We get the best fuel efficiency." and a very large percent of drivers go to highway speeds, the aerodynamics plays a huge part in getting higher fuel efficiency. That is why the hyper milers end up taking off mirrors and plugging as many holes as possible throughout the car as it lowers efficiency when you have a large amount of air with only one small hole for it to go through in a majority % of the front of a car.

As for they McLaren VS Veyron... There is also the SSC Aero that can top the Veyron's speed.... and it uses the idea of stay as low to the ground as possible so it doesn't have to worry about the wind providing lift as it isn't heavy enough to stay down. That way when at speed the air keeps it down, thus the wedge type design; that also the McLaren F1 uses. It takes less power to get up to speed with that design but you have a higher risk of catastrophic failure if too much air gets under the car. If you have watched Redline its like when the lambo ends up launching in the air, or in some GT races how the race cars have literally flown up into the air and flipped.

So the Veyron chose to have a more stable drive at the top speed as it is a luxury car and it is based around a more comfortable ride than a balls to the wall race excitement.


RE: nice design
By SiN on 1/19/2011 1:01:20 PM , Rating: 4
Don't forget that the Veyron was also a technical goal. VW were trying to show that a car with 1000bhp COULD be built and transfer that energy to the ground in a stable manner.

Top Gear Live. They had one for the show, but the owner requested new tires be fitted after its loan. It cost 40,000 alone for it to be done. The Veyron is not meant to compete, it is a technical feat of engineering. Design and elegant aesthetics is as important for such an object. Money is not.


RE: nice design
By SiN on 1/19/2011 12:51:41 PM , Rating: 2
The fluid/air dynamics combined with engineering, aesthetic and a delivery price. Don't assume aerodynamics doesn't transfer into design - on principle, ignorance or simple misunderstanding.

For a car that stands to prove electric vehicles can hold their own against traditional, petrol, performance vehicles. It stands apart technically, has to appeal to those with the money, taste in design, and knowledge of performance electric vehicles.
It bears the name our forefather of the modern world, Mr Tesla. A man who stood to revolutionize and make our world so rich today, in more aspects than we can envision without overlooking what he achieved. A tall order for Tesla motors to achieve amid the competition.

It has to look good to sell. It has to perform above any other electric vehicle to achieve merit. It needs to make money and recover R&D costs to enable better R&D to become the best.
Other car companies include "ugly" but necessary design features to gain efficiency at a lower entry price, not performance and style.

As a designer, artist, sculptor and someone with great insight into aesthetics, that is my stance. It is a fantastic looking car and elegant. It has to be everything for what it stands for.

As a motor head and someone who was an electrician, a great interest in understanding Mr Teslas work, discovering more about the scientific world continually - physics, chemistry, mechanics - the design of the Tesla Motors is essential to its price point and audience.

I only wish I could have one. I only wish I could be a part of their design team.

BMW, Alpina, Mercedes, AMG, Brabus, and many many many others, fanatic!

The lesser performance, more efficiency category of other vehicles, can not afford to be all that the Tesla Motors aim for. They target a much lesser informed, or much lesser financially rich (me). There are those of us out there who also must simply have the latest greatest next big thing, with more money than sense. Though if they buy a Tesla, I would happily pat them on the back.

Ps, engineers and designers are after one and the same. Top Gear 4 life!


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