Given Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk's claims today, Tesla's Model S all-electric sedan would seem to one-up the stunning Fisker Karma, an E-REV that uses a small gasoline engine to turn a generator. The zero emissions Model S is said to accelerate to 60 mph in roughly the same time (5.6 seconds) as the Fisker. And with the top-option battery pack, Tesla Motors promises a 300-mile range. The standard battery pack yields 160 miles of driving, the second-tier pack 230 miles. Musk envisions Model S owners renting 300-mile battery packs for travels, or upgrading some time after purchasing the vehicle if their driving needs change.
Top speed of the Model S was given as 130 mph for the upcoming sport variant. Just like the Tesla Roadster, a one-speed drive is used. While that sounds decidedly low-tech, it actually means less weight, complexity, and cost. As electric motors have only rotating - not reciprocating - mass to deal with, their maximum speed is much higher and smoother than any internal combustion engine can muster.
To fast-charge a Tesla Model S, buyers can purchase extra transformers, boxes, cables and such from the Tesla dealer and enjoy a quick 45-minute charge time. Standard charge time from a household 220V (i.e., clothes dryer) outlet is a little under four hours. Musk claims that the cost - and environmental impact - of this charge time is hugely below that of a tank of gasoline.
Much of the Model S' chassis and body panels are said to be constructed of lightweight aluminum. Still, this vehicle rings in at just over 4,000 lbs, reflecting a sizable battery pack, plenty of luxury trappings, a huge glass greenhouse, and a large luxury sedan footprint. Musk claims a roughly 45/55 front/rear weight distribution for the sedan and points to BMW and Audi as his ride/handling benchmarks."This thing will have a ridiculously low center of gravity," he said, pointing out that the drivetrain and battery pack reside low and between the rear wheel wells.
A particularly interesting detail is the center control screen that can perform remote vehicle diagnostics, in some cases actually allowing technicians to fix issues from a different locale.
For an even more in-depth look at the technology and statistics - and their ramifications - point your browser to over to John Voelcker's Green Car Reports.