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
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"
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.