Tesla Motors (Nasdaq:TSLA) revealed the beta version of its Model S at its Fremont factory this weekend. The press was allowed to watch while interested potential customers received brief rides around the parking lot.

The beta is the phase of vehicle development before it reaches production.

Tesla's future rests on its ability to build and sell the Model S in volume at a profit. The Roadster, a ubiquitous sight around Silicon Valley and other monied enclaves, was just a limited edition collector's item to prove an electric vehicle could be built and sold with relatively little compromise. For $110,000.

Tesla has received more than 6,000 reservations for the Model S, a four-door, sportback sedan with room for five adults. The car does 0 to 60 in less than 6 seconds and can charge from any conventional 120-volt or 240-volt outlet. The vehicle comes with three range options: 160 miles, 230 miles and 300 miles.

According to the firm's website, in the U.S., the Model S starts at $57,400 or $49,900 after the U.S. federal tax credit. The 230-mile Model S starts at about $10,000 more and the 300-mile Model S starts at about $20,000 more than the base price.

Model S sedans will start being delivered to customers in mid-2012 with a target production of 5,000 units in 2012 and 20,000 vehicles per year after that.

Tesla was the first American car maker to go public since Ford in 1956. It currently has a market cap of $2.54 billion.

At some point, the stock market will start pricing Tesla on its financials and not its promise. But that time has not yet come.


Chart from Google Finance

Photo courtesy of Tesla