2012 Tesla Model S: Coming In June, Projected 250-300 Miles At Highway Speeds

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2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

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Tesla motors has announced that it is on schedule to deliver the first examples of its Model S electric sedan by June.

The company is also set to use all of its $465 million Department of Energy loan within the next six months, though Elon Musk says Tesla is still on target to turn a profit in 2013.

The next few years will be all about the hotly-anticipated Model S, as Tesla plans to sell 5,000 units of the $70,000 electric sedan. The first cars will be delivered in June, a month ahead of schedule, and Detroit News reports that Tesla expects the S to achieve a full five-star crash test rating from the NHTSA.

Tesla is releasing more details on the S all the time, and though the first customers will get to drive their cars before the motoring press is able to test the car, the company has set high standards for its performance and efficiency.

With the 85 kWh battery pack, Tesla has drawn up graphs showing the expected range at different speeds. The outlook is more positive than before, with as much as 200 miles still possible at a constant 80 mph on the freeway, almost 250 miles at 70 mph and over 300 miles at 55 mph. Using the new EPA 5-cycle test, the Model S should achieve a 265-mile range.

Hypermilers might manage even more, and Tesla suspects that a range of over 400 miles is possible. The company hasn't verified that claim, but is promising a special prize for the first owner to travel more than 400 miles on a charge.

Tesla also reveals that despite being heavier, larger and more practical than the Tesla Roadster, the Model S uses only 10 percent more energy at a constant speed, no doubt due in part to the incredibly low drag coefficient of 0.24--the best of any car in the luxury sedan market.

Tesla goes into more detail, suggesting that in very hot or cold climates and using the car's climate control, you could expect between 10-15 percent reduction in range at 55 mph.

Naturally, not all Tesla Model S owners will benefit from the same long range, as smaller battery pack options will be available--but for those who choose the top pack, the range should match many internal combustion vehicles.

Meanwhile, Tesla has confirmed it has also started delivering components for Toyota's RAV4 EV ahead of schedule. Toyota plans to sell 2,600 RAV4 EVs over the next three years, and Musk says the Toyota's city range will top 170 miles.


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Comments (81)
  1. I am very excited, this may be the car that makes the most impact in the transition from gas to electric. I'm also excited because the car sounds like it's going to live up to the goals that we've been hoping for. I've always lived with BMWs but I can't wait to trade-in my current one for a Model S, I might even go for the Model S Sport. Go Tesla go !!!

  2. I can think of only one word to say, "WOW!" The Model S is what America has been waiting on. I would use the kid's college fund to buy that one.

  3. Like the Roadster, I reckon the Model S will redefine the way we see electric cars and their potential yet again.
    It's everything the electric car world needs: Style, performance, range, and relative affordability.

  4. Delivery one month ahead of schedule, possibly fantastic EPA ratings...maybe even John Voelcker will change his opinion about Tesla at some point? I for one am impressed.

  5. @Chris: [sigh] I still don't know where this nonsense about me being anti-Tesla comes from. I'm a journalist, not an advocate. The fact remains: Tesla faces very, very long odds against becoming an independent, high-volume carmaker.

    If & when the Fremont factory starts producing thousands of Model S cars, with customers buying and driving them, we'll report it. I hope it happens; it will be good for the industry (and GCR's traffic, LOL).

    But please don't assume that because I report the challenges facing Tesla that I'm hostile to the company. I'm not. It's a brutally tough industry and it's my job to present context around events. Would you really prefer I were an uncritical fanboi ???

  6. I hardly know where to begin.

    Antony's article is written in a flat neutral tone. Does that make it bad for not providing the "brutally tough industry" contextual side of the story, or make him a fanboi because he seems to be rolling out Tesla's media message? Don't think so.

    Then again, what is the measure of success? I guess I feel very positive about Tesla because I don't expect them to sell vast quantities of vehicles. So I won't be disappointed if they don't. I am only looking to see them deliver on their promises will minimal quality problems.

    Anyway, I don't really see Voelcker as being Anti-Tesla. But his articles are usual not as neutrally written as this one. Don't know if that is good or bad.

  7. @JohnVoelcker: "If & when the Fremont factory starts producing thousands of Model S cars, with customers buying and driving them, we'll report it."

    In June (instead of July), the Fremont factory will start producing tens of Model S, not thousands. So I'm not sure if you are going to report that. However indications are that many of the >10,000 reservation holders plan on actually driving them. ;)

    (Initial conversion rate to orders, if that is the correct term, very high.)

    The ramp-up to higher volumes will be later this year, and Tesla just re-iterated that the plan is still to produce 5,000 *this year*, and by then end of the year, to have increased the production capacity to a rate of 20,000 annually.

    Where does the "If" come from?

  8. @Norbert: [sigh] Because sometimes car companies (and others) *say* they're going to do things that they *don't* actually end up doing.

    That was a rhetorical Q, right?

  9. That was a serious question. You make it sound like the Model S is just a concept car and the production date written in the blue sky. But we are talking about 5-7 weeks now. So you think they might just change their mind next Monday, and build hundreds instead of thousands? Or nothing at all? Maybe they decide to build electric airplanes instead?

    Again: Where does the "if" come from? Are you just making that up because new companies don't have your respect?

  10. @Norbert: And mine was a serious answer. I visited the Fremont factory last fall. The dancing robot arms mostly didn't have production tools at their ends and the stamping presses had just been installed.

    The analysts and journalists present debated energetically as to whether the factory could be ready to produce cars in volume within 9 months. We will see.

    The definition of "production" varies. Tesla will build very slowly at first to ensure quality issues are rectified. I suspect 5,000 cars by Dec 31 is at the upper end of likely, but it's possible.

    I increasingly believe that the Model S will go into production sometime this year. Tesla faces huge uphill battles in general. [cont'd]

  11. [cont'd] and its CEO has a long and documented history of saying things that aren't yet true or distort the facts of the case.

    While Fisker and Tesla are two very different companies, the problems Fisker has had (some self-inflicted) in getting the Karma into production reflect some of the challenges and realities of the auto indsutry: It's very expensive, very complex, very regulated, and everything has to go right just to get the car out the door. I think Tesla's learned a lot from the Roadster experience, but any startup automaker has to be viewed with great skepticism until it has 10 years of success (meaning profits) under its belt. [cont'd]

  12. There are more comments in this thread
  13. Most people who have watched the EV industry have gotten used to the fact that dates are missed and launches delayed or (heaven forbid) cancelled.

    While Tesla has a fairly good track record, past performance does not guaranty future performance, as they say.

    Besides, Voelcker didn't just say "if" he said "if & when" which shows more confidence than just "if".

    For me, I would say "which fingers cross, when Tesla starts shipping next month..."

    Let's all hope it is "on time and on quality"

  14. @ John Voelcker: In all your reporting regarding Tesla there is a deeply negative undertone that goes beyond the duty of a journalist to remain critical. There is a difference between being critical and being sceptical and I think I'm fair in qualifying your systematic glass half empty approach regarding anything Tesla as sceptical. For instance:In your "compliance cars" article you suggested that Model S wouldn't be "real"somehow if it failed to sell in any significant numbers. So than it would be a compliance car somehow? To comply with what? It's that kind of warped logic that seems to emanate from some deep dislike of all things Tesla that I find bothersome.

  15. i dont like tesla, but in no way is it a compliance car.

    that term is used to describe a car that a car company puts out so as to qualify for some minimum percentages.

    tesla and coda only produce evs. irregardless of how many they sell, they certainly are not compliance cars.

  16. @Chris: Here's a little quiz to point out the enormous odds Tesla faces. Name me the last car company founded from scratch in the U.S. by entrepreneurs (before 2000) whose brand survives today.

  17. So your scepticism is based on historical records. It's not your role to be a self appointed Tesla sceptic though, leave that to the commenters. Just stick to the facts (and please stop twisting them to support your opinions) and remain critical rather than sceptical.

  18. @Chris: That's a serious allegation. Please provide examples of facts on Tesla or anything else I have "twisted," with contravening citations.

    As for my role, it's to report on *AND add context around* news in fuel efficiency, alternate fuels, hybrids, diesels, plug-in cars, and the rest, as a journalist schooled in how the auto industry actually works (rather than how some people would like it to work).

    This article from a couple of months ago is probably relevant here:

  19. it is not a gm product

  20. There are more comments in this thread
  21. Current paid reservations ($5,000 minimum) for the Model S are over 12,000. The 5,000 figure cited would be the anticipated deliveries for 3rd and 4th quarter 2012.

  22. 170 miles for the Rav 4 is outstanding. Much better than expected. The Leaf is looking worse and worse....
    The Model S has a hi mileage tire/wheel combo for the 300 mile pack version which Tesla claims has added 20 miles of range, making them 320 mile packs. Hypermilers should have absolutely no problems obtaining 400 miles with those tires and wheels. The range per kWhr at speed is way better than what the roadster could do, whose speed/range performance has been illustrated for more than a year now. Tesla is so far ahead of everyone else it's
    laughable. A 400 mile single charge performance headline would garner more positive PR for electric cars than everything every other automaker has done up to this point. It would be HUGE. HUGE.

  23. Did Tesla provide any information on how much the Rave 4 EV will cost? The Leaf paltry 75-mile range will start to look bad when compared to the Rave 4 EV at 170 miles. The 170-mile range would allow you to use it as a primary car for any thing other than a cross-country road trip. The 300 mile range of the Tesla Model S signature edition could be used to go cross country drive since Most people will gladly accept the 45 minutes it would take to do a quick 440 volt rapid recharge between 300 mile driving sprees. That’s 5 hours of driving at 60 miles per hour.

  24. Yes, the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV will cost $49,800 before incentives:

    The range of the RAV4 EV will not be 170 miles as you state, but roughly 100 miles according to Toyota, and the EPA rating may be up to 30 percent lower--though we'll see.

  25. Yes, I should really have clarified that: 170 miles is the optimal city range stated by Musk. For that, we can assume it means perfect temperatures, a brand new battery, and lots of easy acceleration and deceleration (but not necessarily lots of time at a standstill) to make best use of the regenerative braking.

  26. 170 miles city range corresponds to the 100 miles number given for the Leaf by Nissan. Expected EPA 5-cycle range for the RAV4 EV is 105 miles. (That's what Toyota's "real world" statement refers to.)

  27. Norbert: correct. Voelcker: wrong again regarding what is essentailly a Tesla product putting it in a more negative light than it deserves. What's with all these mistakes putting Tesla products down?

  28. @Norbert: Just caught this one. Can you give me a source for the statement, "Expected EPA 5-cycle range for the RAV4 EV is 105 miles"?

    I specifically asked both Toyota and Tesla product guys on the RAV4 EV, and they resolutely declined to provide any estimates of the EPA range rating. Perhaps it was cited in some other source I missed, but I'd like to know where it came from.

  29. @JV: "but I'd like to know where it came from."

    If the product guys didn't tell you, then it probably wasn't an official and final announcement yet. And it didn't sound like one. If you'd like to know nevertheless, I'll just say you'd have heard the number "105" if you were interested in staying up-to-date about what happens at Tesla. Hint: Q&A. It's a bit between the lines. You might argue the meaning of "expected" is a bit stretched on my side.

  30. There are more comments in this thread
  31. These mileage claims are confusing. We will have see the EPA number to know for sure.

    The RAV-4 battery pack is 42 KWH which is much larger than the 24 KWH in the LEAF which should result in better range. However, the RAV4 is a little larger and that may cut into the range a little bit. Overall, I would expect the RAV4 to have better range than the LEAF, but not dramatically more. But we can hope...

  32. 5-cycle test on Leaf is 73 miles, on RAV4 EV 105 miles.

  33. @Norbert: Thanks for the source, which I'll investigate. Personally I'll wait for the EPA numbers before citing any range for the RAV4 EV.

    If in fact Toyota gets the car over a 100-mile rating, though, I think that'll be a big selling point. Too bad they'll only ever make 2,600 RAV4 EVs.

    See our article on compliance cars, of which that car is one (and which kicked off this whole long thread, chuckle):

  34. @JV: Actually, the same source is also interesting in regards to possibly larger volumes.

  35. There are more comments in this thread
  36. i have no idea what the big hoopla is about the model s being huge.

    it is an expensive car for the well to do. it plays almost no role in the ev industry, in terms of it making evs popular to the masses.

  37. Whether or not the car is aimed at the well-to-do, it's still more realistically priced than the Roadster was,despite it being designed from scratch (rather than using a Lotus platform) and despite it having a greater range and room for more passengers.

    Its role is far more important than its numbers suggest too. If it succeeds, it'll be a huge image car for the EV industry - one that proves an EV can compete on even terms with internal combustion vehicles.

  38. hi antony,

    i simply dont think so. it needs to be a car that the average joe can buy, for it to play a significant role as an "image car".

    the only advertising necessary is people driving them.

    the way people drive them, is for them to purchase the ev.

    and of course, the way to make purchases is to make them affordable to the masses.

    at the moment, the supply is limited enough, such that the price is high, cuz they still have demand.

    as the supply increases, the price will need to decrease in order to sell.

  39. What if the Model S sells in medium volume but builds a supply change for electrical components, which drives the cost down, and then enables less expensive EVs in a few years?

  40. You're right when talking about the U.S., but the Model S will also be sold in other markets, where the "average joe" can afford a car like the Model S. For example here in Switzerland, where the price for the Model S is around the average price, what is paid here for new cars anyway.

    And as Elon is repeating over and over again, the Model S is only a step in between the high prices, very low volume roadster and the low priced, high volume gen-3 car "bluestar", which even the average american joe should be able to afford.

    So please give Tesla a bit more time to show, that they can actually deliver what they are promising now.

  41. I am with Antony on this one. The Roadster had an impact larger than its sales numbers indicate. There is a narrative that gives the Roadster credit for nudging the Volt into production which, if true, is huge.

    The Model S may play a similar role by making it clear that it is possible to make a modern electric car that is great looking, very efficient, with good storage room. I suspect it is already impacting the thinking of auto designers around the world in the way that it wouldn't if it was a more affordable econobox EV.

  42. This. The Roadster has done more for the image of electric cars than any other electric car ever sold, and yet there's only been a few thousand of them sold.

    EV Enthusiast - I fear you misunderstand the concept of an "image car" if you think it needs to be affordable to meet the criteria. Unless Ferrari, Lamborghini et al have been doing something wrong all these years. If only they'd been producing small hatchbacks, perhaps they'd have a better image?...

  43. Tesla still won't make money at that price. $60k for a base model and up to $89k for a sports model won't make enough money for Tesla. That is BMW, Mercedez and Lexus price point. Very few Rich people really care about EVs enough to buy one...

  44. Why do you think, the price won't make enough money for Tesla. Their calculations seem to show a 25% gross margin...

    It would be stupid to name such a number to their investors, when they don't think its realistic, and I don't think they're stupid...

  45. Hopefully the Tesla Model S is as good as Elon says it is. It could be the game changer since we need to finally show the motoring world that EV's can be powerful and stylish and every bit as practical as any gasoline powered car. I would like to see road test were the Model S is compared to other luxury sport sedans. It would be so cool to see it compete against the best gasoline powered sport sedans and beat them at their own game. Tesla's styling and its 300KW motor equals about 400HP and price points are spot on for where it is competing. One area were the gasoline vehicles can't compete is in cost to refuel/recharge since the 300 mile range battery pack cost to recharge will be about $8 to $10 dollars in electricity.

  46. @Mark: [chuckle] We'd like to see that road test too! But the Model S is not yet in production, and Tesla is not providing cars for media tests yet. We'll bring you all the information we can as the car becomes available.

  47. As with every all-electric car, even though the S will be certified by the EPA as a 265 mile car using the 5-mode test, how close to the sun do you dare to fly? In other words, Do you dare driving it 250 miles? 220? 200? If you're not sure how far away the next charger is... or if it will be busy.

  48. john,

    no way can there be enough teslas sold to create a market for electrical parts.

    tesla is part of the "rich and famous" segment. i have no interest in it, because that segment will do nothing to solve world problems.

    the rich and famous segment and the regular joe segment do not interact with any significance.

    the regular joe will know as much about the tesla as i do about yachts - nothing, cuz it is useless info for us.

    gm and toyota are not gonna do anything to help the ev market along. nissan is. i dont know about ford. coda is a small player. hopefully we will get more contenders in the average joe market.

    the faster we build up supply, the faster prices will drop, the faster we get people driving them.

  49. the best advertising is simply getting cars on the road that the average joe can buy.

    if something is within his reach, he will want to know more about it. and as evs are sold, it will become more and more likely that the average joe will know another average joe who is already driving an ev.

    that is why the snowball starts off slowly, but is building up on more of an exponential basis.

    i have said this before, but it bears repeating - if the bigwigs really want to sell evs to the masses, it will be done.

    gm and toyota would be tickled pink if evs went in the tank. when they get involved, it will only be because they have no choice.

    a lot of companies are talking about ev models, but is it just talk ? the next few years will tell.

  50. Yes the average joe needs to be included, but that may not happen until battery prices fall. And no the Model S is not just a car for the rich and famous, it's priced similarly with the BMW 5-series and the M5 so it's in the mid-sized luxury sedan range. If it was priced closer to a Bentley Continental GT Flying Spur, then you would have to be a bit wealthy to buy the Model S new. Yes prices will fall but it's up to technological evolution not supply, like flat panel TVs when they first came out only the well to do could afford them and they were mostly bought for yachts because of their space saving ability, but now the average joe can get one at Kmart. All new tech is the same, it starts high then falls when manufacturing prices fall.

  51. most people can not afford the mid-sized luxury sedans of which you mention.

    the leaf and coda are at least directed in that way.

    look at how many bugs were sold (in its heyday). and compare that to the number of cadilacs.

    if they wanted to completely change over to evs, you would be amazed at how quickly battery technology would "improve", and prices fall.

    it is real obvious that gm and toyota do not want this change to occur. nissan does.

    i certainly agree with your last statement.

  52. No a mid-sized luxury car isn't cheap, but its not too far out of reach either. And Tesla like many others is working toward better less expensive cars, their car code named Gen3 is supposed to be priced somewhere around $30,000 which would be cheaper then current EVs.

  53. cd,

    you know i dont like tesla - 100% because of its lying ceo.

    however, if they add an additional car to their inventory that the average joe can buy, it is helpful towards that overall picture.

    the mid-sized luxury cars are never gonna be plentiful enough that it would make any real inroads when compared to the overall car ownership.

    i want evs to take over. this will only occur down at the average joe arena. if we get that arena, all other arenas are moot. if we dont get that arena, all other arenas are moot.

    at the moment, even the leafs and codas are being sold to the upper middle class. but it is in the correct market.

    if we get that supply up, prices will come down, and we will gradually reach the entire middle class.

  54. "Joe Average" has to wait a little bit. There is nobody around who you could make go faster by annoying them.

  55. hi antony,

    dont know what you mean by "image car". but it is not relevant.

    the average joe couldnt care less about lamborghinis, and it had nothing to do with him buying a chevy or a ford, or a toyota, etc.

    and the tesla wont have anything to do with the average joe buying a leaf, a coda, a focus, etc.

    people listen to their friends and acquaintances. those friends and acquaintances are not gonna be owning lamborghinis or teslas.

    if you want to spread the "image" of evs, you do so by getting them in the hands of the average joe.

    i have told you guys before, but i will tell you again - you are making the mistake of thinking that the average joe has the same mindset as you guys here on this ev forum.

  56. by far and large, the posters and even the writers, make comments about how sexy the car looks or doesnt look, and other silly stuff that only "car people" care that much about.

    no one here likes the looks of the coda, cuz it looks like cars from 15 years ago, so i am told.

    well 15 years ago, that style was probably the top banana.

    ever hear of fashion ? it changes faster than one changes his underwear.

    i own a 2004 hyundai xgl. i have gotten a lot of nice comments about how my car looks. and when i look at it now, it looks somewhat similar to the coda sedan.

    i dont want a "fancy" looking car. i tend to like simplicity.

    the coda appeals to me much more than the leaf, visually.

    however, looks are way, way down the list for me.

  57. and i am not a car person, or even close to it. my only interest in evs is from a world betterment perspective.

    getting rid of our oil wars, the oil stranglehold upon us all, the pollution, etc. etc.

    these are the truly important things. so i make a long sigh when i hear comments about how sexy a car looks.

    to me, that is ridiculously immature.

  58. You can't get a cd of 0.24 from a Coda (maybe from a 'cuda?). Besides, the Tesla is made in the good ole USA by an American comp'ny.

  59. It's a beautiful design and it's elec-trick and it's somewhat affordable - what's not to love? I hope it sells like Camrys and the taxpayers get their half billion dollars investment back pronto.

    Stop picking on Voelcker. He's a good man.

  60. @jm: "Stop picking on Voelcker. He's a good man."

    That's why it matters.

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