What's New for 2013:
- Lower-priced standard and Performance models enter production
- Less powerful, and less expensive, battery options offered
- Tesla claims 13,000 people have reserved the Model S worldwide
The Tesla Model S is an award-winning electric car with an EPA-rated maximum driving range of 265 miles. It was conceived and built by Elon Musk, the same entrepreneur behind Space X, the company that now delivers payload to the International Space Station following the retirement of the U.S. Space Shuttle program.
The Tesla Model S is sold in standard, Performance, Signature, and Signature Performance trim levels. The Signature and Signature Performance variants offer exclusive paint, interior and trim selections.
Standard equipment includes 19-inch aluminum wheels, a choice between a black and a body-color roof treatment, power-retractable door handles, rain-sensing wipers, LED running lights, and LED taillights. Tesla calls the car's front cargo compartment a \"frunk,\" which offers 5.8 cubic feet of storage at the front of the car.
The Tesla Model S is a 5-passenger luxury hatchback available with optional third-row jump seats suitable for children under the age of 10. Including the \"frunk,\" the Tesla Model S carries 31.6 cubic feet of cargo at the same time that it is transporting 5 passengers. Fold the rear seat, and the car can hold 58.1 cubic feet of cargo.
Standard equipment includes 8-way power front seats wrapped in black cloth, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, and cabin materials rendered in microfiber, synthetic leather, and piano black paneling. Digital instrumentation is standard, and the 17-inch color capacitive-touch in-dash control panel screen includes navigation, mobile Wi-Fi service, Internet browsing, smartphone connectivity with Bluetooth calling and music streaming, and dual USB ports. The 7-speaker audio system includes HD Radio and flash memory storage for 500 songs.
In addition to several battery options, the Tesla Model S is offered with two option packages. The Tech package adds xenon headlights, LED fog lights, high-definition reversing camera, power rear liftgate, keyless entry, auto-dimming side mirrors, universal garage door opener, and a turn-by-turn navigation service. The Sound Studio package includes a 580-watt, 12-speaker premium audio system, satellite radio, and a hard-drive music server with storage space for 3,000 songs.
Additional options for the standard Model S include metallic and premium paint, panoramic glass sunroof, active air suspension, silver-finish 21-inch aluminum wheels with performance tires, Nappa leather upholstery, rear-facing third-row jump seats, cargo cover, and protective paint film for the front of the car. Tesla also offers a high-power wall connector and onboard twin chargers to speed charging time at home.
The Tesla Model S Performance includes the most powerful battery offered for the car, plus Supercharger compatibility, gray-finish 21-inch aluminum wheels, active air suspension, and leather seats with contrast piping and Alcantara trim. Unique options for this model include a carbon fiber rear lip spoiler and carbon fiber interior trim. Otherwise, the extra-cost equipment list is similar to the standard model.
The Tesla Model S Signature and Signature Performance models are equipped with everything except for the panoramic glass sunroof, third-row jump seats, high-power wall connector for faster charging at home, and paint armor. They are offered in an exclusive Signature Red metallic paint.
Under the Hood
The Tesla Model S is rear-wheel drive, powered by a 3-phase, 4-pole AC induction electric motor with a copper rotor and a single-speed fixed gear with a 9.73:1 reduction ratio. Electricity is supplied by the buyer's choice of a 40-, 60-, or 85-kWh rechargeable Lithium-ion battery pack.* All battery packs are liquid cooled.
The standard 40-kWh battery provides a 160-mile range on a full charge, accelerates the car to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, and provides a top speed of 110 mph. With the standard charging equipment and a 120-volt household power outlet, this battery recharges in 5.2 hours.**
In exchange for $10,000, buyers can upgrade to a 60-kWh battery offering a maximum driving range of 230 miles, acceleration to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, a top speed of 120 mph, and optional compatibility with Tesla's growing Supercharger quick-charge network.*** Standard recharging time is 7.2 hours.**
An 85-kWh battery is available for $20,000. Tesla says it provides 300 miles of driving range, accelerates the Model S to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, achieves a top velocity of 125 mph, and provides standard Supercharger compatibility. With the standard recharging system, it takes 9.7 hours to juice this battery.**
Performance and Signature Performance models are equipped with the 85-kWh battery and a high-performance driver inverter, producing acceleration to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph, according to Tesla.
*Claimed driving range supplied by Tesla, and assumes a constant 55-mph driving speed under ideal conditions.
**Recharging time is cut in half with a 240-volt power source.
***Using a Tesla Supercharger station, the battery pack receives a 50% charge in 30 minutes.
Fuel Economy Equivalent
As rated by the EPA, the Tesla Model S is expected to achieve these Miles Per Gallon equivalent (MPGe) estimates: 88/90/89 MPGe (city/highway/combined).
The Tesla Model S is equipped with 8 air bags, traction and stability control, and 4-wheel ventilated disc anti-lock brakes. A standard-definition reversing camera is included for base and Performance models, while the Signature and Signature Performance models have a high-definition reversing camera.
As this overview is written, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has performed crash tests on the 2013 Tesla Model S.