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
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
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.