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The Tesla Model S vehicle is currently in Alpha testing. Tesla's retail chief George Blankenship just revealed pricing specifics for the vehicle.   (Source: Tesla Motors )
$20k USD will buy you 140 extra miles of range

George Blankenship, former Apple retail chief (and an ex-executive of Gap, Inc.), has been a critical force in driving Tesla Motors Inc.'s strong continued sales of its Roadster EV while the company awaits the Model S.  On Monday Mr. Blankenship, the company's new Vice President and retail chief, blogged on a recent meeting at the opening of Tesla's latest store in Milan, Italy.

Apparently Mr. Blankenship and company CEO Elon Musk were met with plenty of questions about the Model S, including details on the battery and pricing.  And, surprisingly, for the first time in some time they offered precise answers.

According to the pair, the Model S is well into Alpha testing, which began with Alpha vehicles hitting the road in December 2010.  The production-intent beta vehicle will be assembled this year at the new Tesla Factory in California, though the precise month was not revealed.

In the realm of more concrete details, the Model S will be produced with a variety of battery options, at a variety of prices.

The longest range model, the Model S, will be priced at $69,900 USD after $7,500 USD U.S. federal tax credit.  It will get 300 miles on a full charge.  230 mile and 160 mile variants will also be offered for $59,900 and $49,900 USD, respectively after federal tax credit.

But there's one caveat.  The Model S "Signature Series" -- a special 300 mile-range model with additional luxury options, still has its pricing up in the air.  That's a major unknown, given that the first production run will be composed exclusively of "Signature Series" models.

The pricing on the Signature Series will be announced this summer.

As to Tesla's shipping schedule, the company says it will produce and ship 1,000 Model S Signature Series vehicles in "mid-2012".  Later that year Model S production will partially shift to the 230 mile and 160 mile variants.  In total 5,000 Model S variants will be assembled and shipped in 2012, if all goes according to plan.

Then in 2013, the production will ramp up to 20,000 units over the year.  Among those will be the first right-handed variants, which will land in "mid-2013", destined for Tesla's European and Asian markets.  Prior to that, Tesla will exclusively be producing left-handed (e.g. North American) models.

Tesla is in the midst of taking the plunge of developing a mass market EV.  That process has thrust the company deep into the red financially, but it promises big rewards if Tesla is correctly predicting the demand for an entry-level luxury EV.  The company is also buoyed by EV-related contracts with Toyota, U.S. Department of Energy high-tech loans, and hundreds of millions of dollars raised by a highly successful initial public offering of stock.

Engineers at Tesla blog on the development of the Model S here.

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RE: So, remind me
By FITCamaro on 3/8/2011 5:06:25 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah because those batteries are made in the US right? And we mine all the materials for them in the US as well.

RE: So, remind me
By BioHazardous on 3/8/2011 5:23:24 PM , Rating: 2
Not the middle east..

I don't recall saying the solution was 100% US. It's idiotic to think for a second that all of the raw materials, mining, assembly, etc take place in the US.

Plus batteries are changing every year, so it's not like electric cars will forever be powered by Li-Ion batteries.

RE: So, remind me
By bug77 on 3/8/2011 7:02:41 PM , Rating: 2
Plus batteries are changing every year, so it's not like electric cars will forever be powered by Li-Ion batteries.

It what world? Li-Ion has been with us since the 70s and it's still the best idea we have for a battery (aside from SF stuff that only works in a lab.

RE: So, remind me
By BioHazardous on 3/8/2011 11:44:51 PM , Rating: 1
You probably should've kept reading that wiki page on Lithium Ion battery history beyond them being theorized in the 1970s. The first commercial Lithium Ion battery was released by Sony in 1991. There have been numerous advancements to Li-Ion technology over the past 20 years.

Yes there are a ton of people experimenting with and testing new battery ideas along with ultra capacitors and some of them do hold promise. It's pretty asinine to believe Li-Ion is the end of the road for batteries.. If that's what you truly believe though, I'm not sure why you bother visiting tech websites.

RE: So, remind me
By bug77 on 3/9/2011 6:15:30 AM , Rating: 3
Did you read what I said? It took 20 years for Li-ion to become commercially viable and 20 years later we don't have anything better.

You said battery tech changes every year. That's a bit off, don't you think?

RE: So, remind me
By BioHazardous on 3/9/11, Rating: 0
RE: So, remind me
By RedemptionAD on 3/9/2011 10:34:23 AM , Rating: 2
It took 50 years for HDTV to come out somethings take longer than others. And the problem with the battery materials is that they are sourced from China. So by going EV we go from being reliant on Middle Eastern Nations to being reliant almost exclusively on China as they have 97% of those materials.

RE: So, remind me
By BioHazardous on 3/9/2011 12:35:50 PM , Rating: 2
From what I've read about where the raw materials come from for Li-Ion batteries is that the bulk of it comes from SA, not China.

RE: So, remind me
By RedemptionAD on 3/9/2011 12:49:47 PM , Rating: 2
I'm talking global supply. China has the lions share, a few other places have a little. At the moment China has cut the USA's supply as well as Japan's so I am sure we've sourced elsewhere to make up for it.

RE: So, remind me
By JediJeb on 3/9/2011 4:52:41 PM , Rating: 2
Most of the Lithium is currently being mined in South America, but China has been buying up those mines so in the end they will own the bulk of the supply.

RE: So, remind me
By sxr7171 on 3/9/2011 10:12:20 PM , Rating: 2
I guess buying cheap Chinese made stuff at Walmart has its price.

RE: So, remind me
By rcc on 3/15/2011 4:54:42 PM , Rating: 2
As I recall, the US has plenty. The environmental lobby has it sewed up for the time being.

RE: So, remind me
By FITCamaro on 3/8/2011 11:19:55 PM , Rating: 2
Once again. We only get a fraction of our oil from the Middle East. This could still be the case no matter how much we drill here because oil is sold on the open market.

RE: So, remind me
By BioHazardous on 3/8/2011 11:52:06 PM , Rating: 2
What does that have to do with subsidizing a few thousand electric cars made by a company here in the US versus wasting money on wars in the middle east?

RE: So, remind me
By BioHazardous on 3/8/2011 11:58:35 PM , Rating: 2
Nevermind, I get it, you're supporting my original claim that the wars over there are a waste of money.


RE: So, remind me
By FITCamaro on 3/9/2011 7:36:23 AM , Rating: 2
I don't consider oil in the current wars. It's not why we're there so its a non-issue. But good to know idiots are still sticking the talking points of 2002.

RE: So, remind me
By BioHazardous on 3/9/2011 8:22:26 AM , Rating: 2
So you must think we're there for...

Hopety Changity feel good feelings reasons.

RE: So, remind me
By Kurz on 3/9/2011 9:38:23 AM , Rating: 2
We are there because our elected officals have something to gain by waging war with the Middle east.

RE: So, remind me
By FITCamaro on 3/9/2011 4:16:15 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah had nothing to do with Afghanistan long harboring terrorism and being run by a terrorist organization that was involved in a direct attack on US soil. Or 20 years of Iraq violating UN resolutions, every intelligence agency on the planet thinking Saddam had nukes (and him admitting he purposely intended that for fear of Iran), Saddam providing funding and safe havens for terrorist organizations, etc.

But clearly you are far more informed.

RE: So, remind me
By BioHazardous on 3/9/2011 4:35:06 PM , Rating: 2
I forgot about those WMDs they found. Thanks for reminding me. They've also done a good job of catching Osama.

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