Tesla Model S Specs: Performance, Technology, Efficiency

March 26, 2009

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.

2010 Tesla Model S

2010 Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

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.

2010 Tesla Model S

2010 Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

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.

2010 Tesla Model S

2010 Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

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.

2010 Tesla Model S

2010 Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

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.

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