Tesla Motors yesterday unveiled a pair of prototype all-electric cars that the fledgling automaker hopes will be the family friendly, mid-sized car of the future.
"Welcome to Model S," said designer Franz von Holzhausen as he pulled the covers off the cars, which will seat seven people and travel 300 miles (483km) on a single charge.
Tesla hopes to begin producing the flashy, five-door car at a yet-to-be-disclosed location in Southern California by the final quarter of 2011.
Within a year, it wants to turn out as many as 20,000 of the vehicles annually.
Von Holzhausen led a team of designers that built the cars at the futuristic SpaceX Rocket Factory, where they were unveiled.
Tesla chief executive, Elon Musk, said the company had yet to determine what it will charge for the top-of-the-line model. And no final decision has been made on what options will be available at extra cost.
A model with a range of 160 miles (257km) per charge will cost $49,900 (£35,000) after a $7,500 rebate from the government for car buyers who go all-electric.
"What we're hoping this car will do is show the car industry that it's possible to create a very compelling electric car and a very compelling price," Musk said.
The top-of-the-line battery, with about 8,000 cells, will take four hours to recharge at a cost of about $5 at current electricity rates. It can take a quick charge in about 45 minutes.
Anticipating that gas prices will increase to $4 a gallon (15.14 litres) within the next three years, Musk said a buyer could save as much as $15,000 on petrol over the life of the car, after the cost of electricity.
He said he was confident the company would secure $250m to $350m (£175m to £245m) in federal loans to begin production.
"This car will be manufactured. It will come to market," Musk said.
The sporty-looking, five-door hatchback resembles a Ford Mustang. It can seat five adults, with two children in the back, as in an old-style station wagon.
Without passengers, the back of the car can be used for storage. Musk said a mountain bike, a 50in TV and surfboard could all fit in the space.
The prototype was displayed almost a year after Tesla brought its sleek, pricey, two-seat Roadster sports car to the market. The basic price for the Roadster is $109,000.
Tesla, named after Nikola Tesla, a pioneer in developing practical, efficient uses for electricity, was founded in 2003 with $40m in venture capital from investors including Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
The company has yet to turn a profit.
Last month, Musk, the co-founder of online payment service PayPal, said Tesla had secured another $40m in financing from investors, putting it on track to become profitable by the middle of this year.
This piece originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
photo credit: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
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There's an automatic conversion error in the line: $4 a gallon (15.14 litres)
15.14 litres is 4 gallons. One gallon is about 3.78 litres.
that's no family car... it's too expensive and there's no room for the holiday bags *or* the huge family dog, in the back! A roomy hatchback is needed for families who care about the environment!