For $49,999, you and your family can drive an all-electric sedan off the lot, says Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk.
Musk, speaking at the Tesla dealership in Menlo Park, California, said that the price of the Model S, the five-seater, four-door all-electric passenger car, will be $57,499. The government, however, will give $7,500 in tax credits to people who buy low-emission electric cars. That makes the price $49,999.
The revealed price is slightly lower than earlier projections, even without the tax credit, that the car would cost around $60,000. The price figure, however, must be qualified. The Model S has been delayed a few times already and is now slated to come out in 2011. Tax credits could be withdrawn, but in some jurisdictions, such as Japan, they could even be larger. Still, it's a more granular price than the company has offered before. It's also a positive bit of news for a company that has faced delays, management turmoil and financing problems in the last few months.
If you take into account the $10,000 to $15,000 you might spend on gas with a conventional car, the Model S drops to $34,000 to $39,000, he said. That's around the price of a mid-range Lexus.
Tesla, he added, will have a drivable "mule" for the car by the end of the year and a working prototype by the end of February 2009. The mule will have the same drivetrain as the prototype but the styling will be different. The prototype will essentially resemble the final commercial version of the car. Tesla may unveil the prototype in February, he added. Some exterior and interior styling points are still being worked out.
Meanwhile, Tesla is definitely partnering with a third-party company to release a cheaper car. A third-party company " ;will make available" an all-electric car based on Tesla's technology that will be "comfortably below $30,000," he said. No word on the manufacturer yet, although it is said to be Daimler Benz; nor is there word on a release date.
Musk further added that loans from the federal government would not be used by Tesla on sports cars. "Taxpayers will not be in any way funding the Roadster," he said. The loans the company seeks will be "entirely aimed at the mass market cars," he said.
"The objective is to go to mass market cars as soon as possible," he said.
"It is not very exciting. It has slow acceleration," Musk said of the forthcoming Volt. The Volt will cost around $40,000 and will go from zero to 60 in less than nine seconds.
The Volt is a hybrid with a gas generator that charges a battery. Plug-in hybrids are interesting ideas, Musk said, but they end up being complex and don't cost less than electric cars, he argued. General Motors and others argue that hybrids are much cheaper because they don't need large batteries, which are extremely costly. Think, the Norwegian company that just released a small electric commuter car, sells its car for $29,000, but leases the battery for $183 a month. If you drive the car for seven years, it costs close to $44,000, not cheap for a city cruiser.
Musk further added that he's not in this for the money. "I'm not doing this to increase my net worth," he said. Instead, he says he wants to see the auto industry go electric.
He also mentioned that he only pays about $4 to fill up his own Tesla Roadster.
"The Tesla Roadster is the most efficient car on the road, period," he said.
Tesla now makes 15 roadsters a week and wants to increase that number to 30 by April.
Finally, Tesla shipped its 100th car today. It went to Sam Perry, a business consultant and former journalist. Sam became famous this year when Oprah Winfrey cried on his shoulders.