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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 Spuke on 1/19/2011 2:20:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Since hybrid drive have to cope with stop-go traffic at low speed and knowing that they are not intended for highway racing, its unknown to me why they are designed with so much attention to aerodynamic drag.
My car gets 28 mpg hwy with a .43 CD. Another car with the exact same engine gets 30 mpg with a .32 CD. Great aero IS important for fuel efficiency!!!!


RE: nice design
By Netjak on 1/20/2011 12:12:09 PM , Rating: 2
This is big difference in Cd (0.32 to 0.43 - 34%), but coresponding difference in consumption is only 7%. Cd is meaningless without cross section and not much important at low speed. FE, for prius with Cd .26 and .32, at 50 km/h power needed to overcome increased aerodynamic drag is only 0,5 higher and at 100 km/h only 2 hp.


RE: nice design
By Jkm3141 on 1/20/2011 12:25:17 PM , Rating: 2
Ohh that must put the nail in the coffin for Aerodynamics being the ultimate consideration of Gas Mileage. The engines the same, but what about the transmission, gear ratio, wheel size, tire size, tread pattern, brake size, weight of the vehicle, rotating mass and any of the hundreds of other factors that affect gas mileage? are they the same between the two cars? I somehow highly doubt it.

Don't get me wrong here, I believe aerodynamics are important, but I don't see it giving any sizable benefit at normal traffic speeds. Yes, super cars/sports cars it matters a lot for handling and grip purposes, but your average person carrier going 55MPH, not so much. And the ugly hybrids are not *that* much better aerodynamically than cars that actually look good.


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