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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 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.

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