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Concept-Tesla Model S Preview

By Jeff Youngs, February 24, 2012


Tesla Model S ConceptCriticalKnowledge:
  • World's first mass-produced all-electric vehicle
  • Seats 7 passenger: 5 adults and 2 children
  • 17-inch infotainment screen
  • 3G wireless connectivity
  • Single electric motor with a 1-speed transmission
  • 45-minute quick-charge
  • Three battery options offer up to a 300-mile range
  • Scheduled for production in late 2011

Introduction
Tesla Motors is a startup automobile manufacturer on track to be theworld's first mass producer of environmentally-conscious electricvehicles. Founded in 2003, the first model introduced by the SiliconValley-based company was the Tesla Roadster. Currently in production,the small 2-seat Roadster shares its platform with the Lotus Elise.However, it has been heavily reworked with new lightweight body panels,an electric powertrain, and a battery pack for all-electric operation.The Model S is the second model from Tesla. It was designed by Franzvon Holzhausen, formerly Mazda'sNorth American director of design,following his familiar Nagare ("natural flow") theme. Significantlylarger than the Roadster, the 5-door sedan was originally code-namedthe "WhiteStar" during early development. In early 2009, the new Tesladebuted as the "Model S" concept. With seating for up to 7 passengers,the all electric 5-door is planned for production in late 2011.

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Tesla Model S ConceptModelLineup
While it is still in concept stage, Tesla Motors has announced only onemodel of the upcoming Tesla Model S sedan. All vehicles will share thesame 5-door body style, with seating for up to 7 passengers (there arefive standard seats and two small seats for children). Designed tooffer utility as well as efficiency, Tesla says the Model S will offermore cargo space than a station wagon with 60/40 flat-folding rearseats, and a second trunk under the hood.

The Model S will feature a panoramic transparent roof with a slidingmoon roof, push-button gear selector, automatic rear liftgate, and afull digital instrument cluster highlighted by a 17-inchtouch-sensitive display. Xenon headlamps and LED/neon taillights anddriving lights are standard. The vehicle features 21-inch wheels, andBrembo high-performance brakes, also as standard equipment. Aside fromvehicle color, the sole option will be a choice between three differentbattery packs.

Hardware
The Tesla Model S is powered by a liquid-cooled, 9-inch electric motormated to a single-speed transmission driving the rear wheels (all-wheeldrive will be available after the vehicle's launch). The all-electricvehicle does not have a conventional fuel tank. Instead, it is poweredby up to 8,000 individual lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery cells. Thecompany will offer three unique battery packs, each with a differentrange on a full charge: 160 miles, 230 miles, or up to 300 miles.Recharging the batteries is accomplished with 110v, 220v, or 440velectrical outlets, with full battery capacity reached in as little as45 minutes depending on pack size and recharge voltage. According toTesla, acceleration to 60 mph occurs in 5.6 seconds with a top speed of120 mph. A special sport model, due at a later date, is expected toreach 60 mph in less than 5 seconds.



Tesla Model S ConceptSafety
The company has not released safety information for the Model S, butTesla is committed to conforming to all North American and Europeansafety and durability standards, the company says. Meeting today'srequirements, the safety equipment will include driver and passengerair bags, anti-lock brakes, whiplash-reducing head restraints, and atire-pressure-monitoring system at a minimum.

Technology
In a significant departure from the approach of other automakers, Teslahas chosen to develop and use one of the largest and most technicallyadvanced lithium-ion battery packs in the world-this is the same typeof battery that is common in laptop computers. Most car companies areusing a small number of large-cell batteries to power their hybrid orelectric vehicles. Unfortunately, a battery failure of this type willlead to a significant drop in performance (and an expensive repair).Tesla avoids this by utilizing nearly 8,000 individual small Li-ionbatteries bundled together. The failure of any one cell, or evenseveral cells, is unlikely to affect performance. To maximize vehiclesafety, each battery is equipped with a Current Interrupt Device (CID)designed to protect the cell from excessive internal pressure (causedfrom high heat). If the battery exceeds a present level, the CID willdisconnect the offending cell, preventing further damage to the batterypack or the vehicle's electronics.

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