The Model S, the all-electric sedan from Tesla Motors, is still on track, but some models will be more costly than others.
The company has said that it will begin delivering Model S cars to customers in the middle of 2012. In all, 5,000 cars will come off the line in 2012. That's a little light. Back in October, Tesla said it would produce 7,000 in the maiden year of production. (That's a Model S prototype in the photo taken at the opening of the Fremont, California Tesla plant last year.)
The first 1,000 cars will be a signature version of the Model S that will come with a supersized battery pack that will take the car 300 miles on a single charge -- farther than the two-seater Tesla Roadster.
Tesla will then follow up with versions of the Model S that get 230 miles and 160 miles, respectively, per charge. Consumers will pay for that extra battery capacity. The basic 160-mile Model S will sell for around $57,400 (as expected) before federal and state tax incentives. The 230-mile car will go for around $10,000 more and the 300-mile-range car will go for nearly $20,000 more. The battery pack, and cells in the battery pack, will be developed in conjunction with Panasonic.
Tesla will then boost Model S manufacturing to 20,000 cars a year in 2013.
Other companies -- Fisker Automotive, Audi, Mercedes Benz and Nissan, to name a few -- are coming out with upscale plug-ins and all-electrics, too. General Motors has said it will come out with new cars based on the Volt platform, so expect lots of competition out there in this segment of the car industry. Electric cars at this point are a better value in the premium segment than in the economy segment. Still, Tesla has established quite a bit of brand equity in its short life and a large number of customers, including Weird Al Yankovic, have already plunked deposits down on these cars, so they will sell.
No update on the all-electric Model X, a crossover/SUV type of car due in 2014. A prototype may emerge next year.