Tesla Model S
Fremont, California, United States
|Class||Full-size sports sedan|
|Body style||4-door fastback|
|Layout||Rear-motor, rear-wheel drive|
Three-phase AC induction motor
85 kW·h (Performance)
225 kW (302 hp), 317 ft·lb (430 N·m)
|Transmission||Single-speed fixed gear (9.73:1)|
|Battery||85 or 60 kW·h lithium ion battery|
208 mi (335 km) (EPA)
230 mi (370 km) (Tesla Motors)
233 mi (375 km) (NEDC)
|Wheelbase||116.5 in (2,959 mm)|
|Length||195.9 in (4,976 mm)|
|Width||77.3 in (1,963 mm)|
|Height||56.5 in (1,435 mm)|
|Curb weight||4,647.3 lb (2,108.0 kg)|
|Designer||Franz von Holzhausen|
The Tesla Model S is a full-sized electric four-door fastback sports sedan produced by Tesla Motors. First shown to the public at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show as a prototype, retail deliveries started in the United States in June 2012.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official range for the Model S Performance model equipped with an 85 kWh lithium-ion battery pack is 265 miles (426 km), topping the Tesla Roadster and making the Model S the electric car with the greatest range available in the market. The EPA range for the model with the 60 kW·h battery is 208 mi (335 km). EPA's energy consumption is rated at 237.5 W·h per kilometre (38 kW·h/100 mi) for a combined fuel economy of 89 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent (2.64 L/100 km). Tesla had also scheduled the release of a base model with a smaller 40 kW·h battery expected to deliver a range of 160 miles (260 km) but decided against this entry-level model.
Tesla allocated the first 1,000 sedans off the production line to a Signature and Signature Performance limited edition, equipped with the 85 kW·h battery pack, and priced in the U.S. at US$95,400 and US$105,400 respectively, before any applicable U.S. federal and local government tax credits and incentives. The base Model S starts at US$69,900 with a 60 kW·h battery pack up to US$79,900 with the 85 kW·h pack before any government subsidies. Since its introduction, cumulative sales reached around 9,650 units through April 2013, with most units delivered in the U.S. The Model S ranked as the top selling plug-in electric car in North America during the first quarter of 2013 with 4,900 cars sold, ahead of the Chevrolet Volt (4,421) and the Nissan Leaf (3,695).
The Tesla Model S has won numerous awards and recognition such as the 2013 World Green Car of the Year, 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year, Automobile Magazine's 2013 Car of the Year, Time Magazine Best 25 Inventions of the Year 2012 award, and Consumer Reports' top-scoring car ever.
Model S is a high-performance, premium electric sedan that intends to compete with cars such as the BMW 5-series. This model follows Tesla Motors' business plan to expand down-market from the high performance Tesla Roadster sports car. Model S was styled by Franz von Holzhausen, who previously worked for Mazda North American Operations. The chassis, body, motor and energy storage systems are unique to Tesla Motors.
The Tesla Model S was initially codenamed WhiteStar during research and preliminary development. Model S was announced in a press release on June 30, 2008. The prototype vehicle was displayed at a press conference on March 26, 2009.
In February 2008 it was reported that Tesla Motors was planning to offer a range-extended version of its Model S. This version would have included a gasoline engine to extend the driving range of the vehicle, but it was removed in later revisions. At the GoingGreen conference in September 2008, Musk announced that Tesla was only developing all-electric cars and not hybrids.
Construction of an assembly factory in Albuquerque, New Mexico (a central location for shipping) was supposed to begin in April 2007, but was cancelled. A factory to be built in San Jose, California was also announced. In May 2010 Tesla Motors announced it would produce the new lower-priced Model S at the former NUMMI assembly plant in Fremont, California, now known as the Tesla Factory.
The Model S was featured on Late Show with David Letterman in April 2009. Because the car uses no gasoline and does not produce any tailpipe emissions, it was allowed on the Late Show set and was the first fully functioning car on stage.
Tesla manufactures the Model S at the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California. For the European market, Tesla will assemble and distribute the Model S from its European Distribution Center in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Production of the European left-hand-drive versions is scheduled to start in March 2013.
The Model S was officially launched at the factory on June 22, 2012. Ten customers received their cars at the event, and Tesla reaffirmed their goal to build 5,000 cars in 2012. After the first four weeks of production, Tesla announced it had manufactured their 100th production Model S, of which 74 were for customers. The other 26 were being used for test drives, displays, testing, and training.
On September 13, in an interview Musk indicated the production rate was up to 80 cars per week, and by November 5, Tesla announced it had reached a production rate of over 200 cars per week. By the end of 2012 Tesla revised their deliveries down to 2,500 cars, with 20,000 planned for 2013. By December 2012, Tesla reported that production had reached 400 units per week or 20,000 per year. In March 2013 Tesla reported they produced on average more than 500 model S EVs per week.
The 2012 Tesla Model S Performance model has a 416 hp (310 kW) and 443 ft·lb (600 N·m) rear-mounted electric motor. The base model uses a 362 hp (270 kW) and 325 ft·lb (440 N·m) motor. According to Tesla Motors the electric car has a drag coefficient of Cd=0.24, the lowest of any car in the market until the launch of the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class in January 2013, but the highly aerodynamic styling limits the driver's rear visibility. Under its five-cycle testing, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rated the 85 kWh Model S model with a combined fuel economy equivalent of 89 MPGe (2.64 L/100 km), with an equivalent 88 mpg-US (2.7 L/100 km; 106 mpg-imp) in city driving and 90 mpg-US (2.6 L/100 km; 110 mpg-imp) on highways.
The following table shows the EPA's official ratings for fuel economy in miles per gallon gasoline equivalent (MPGe) and EPA's estimated out-of-pocket fuel costs for the two versions of the Model S rated by December 2012 as displayed in the Monroney label.
|2012-13 Tesla Model S fuel economy and operating costs|
|Cost to drive
|Tesla Model S
(60 kWh battery)
(35 kWh/100 mi)
|94 MPGe||97 MPGe||$1.05||$650|
|Tesla Model S
(85 kWh battery)
(38 kWh/100 mi)
(38 kWh/100 mi)
(37 kWh/100 mi)
|Notes: (1) Based on 45% highway and 55% city driving. Values rounded to the nearest $50. Electricity cost of US$0.12/kWh, as of November 30, 2012). 1 gal. gasoline = 33.7 kWh.|
The Model S Signature model with a 85 kWh pack rated by EPA has a top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h) and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. The Model S Signature Performance model has a top speed of 130 mph (210 km/h) and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, while the base 60 kW·h battery model has a top speed of 120 mph (190 km/h) and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds.
The Model S is offered with two battery packs: a base model with a 60 kW·h battery expected to deliver 230 miles (370 km) and a 85 kW·h battery expected to deliver 300 miles (480 km). These are Tesla Motors estimated ranges at a speed of 55 mph (89 km/h). The EPA official range for the 60 kW·h battery pack model is 208 mi (335 km). The official range for the model with the 85 kW·h battery is 265 miles (426 km).
In December 2012, Tesla released a software update that among other improvements, features new energy-saving "sleep" functionality. The software allows Model S owners to choose between keeping the displays and vehicle electronics instantly available each time you turn on the car, or powering off the display and vehicle electronics each time you exit through a "sleep" state. The former implies a modest increase in the time it takes the touchscreen and instrument panel to wake from this energy-saving state. Using the sleep mode can increase the Model S range up to 8 mi (13 km) per day.
The lithium-ion battery consists of more than 7,000 battery cells for the 85 kW·h pack. The battery pack uses Panasonic cells with nickel-cobalt-aluminum cathodes. The battery pack location underneath the car into the floor, provides the Model S with a very low center of gravity.
The Model S battery is guaranteed by Tesla Motors for eight years or 125,000 mi (201,000 km) for the base model with the 60 kW·h battery pack. All models with the 85 kW·h battery pack are guaranteed for eight years and unlimited miles.
A battery replacement option may be purchased for a cost of US$10,000 for the 60kWh battery and US$12,000 for the 85kWh battery and will provide a replacement battery anytime after the 8th year of operation of the original battery.
In 2013, Tesla canceled a 40 kW·h version of the car due to lack of demand. The customers who ordered this option have instead received the 60 kWh pack, but range is software limited to 40 kWh. It will still have the improved acceleration and top speed of the bigger pack, so will be a better product than originally ordered, and can be upgraded to the range of the 60 kWh upon request by the original or a future owner ($11,000).
The charger for the Tesla Model S, unlike the Tesla Roadster, is integral to the vehicle, providing 10 kW 110/240-volt charging standard. An optional US$1,500 upgrade will support 20 kW charging from a 100 Amp wall-mounted charger (High Power Wall Connector). Instead of a power port that opens like a gasoline cap, like other electric cars in the market, the Model S charge port is hidden behind the left rear taillight. The port is circled in LED lights that indicate how much the battery is charged by how rapidly the lights blink. Tesla uses a proprietary electrical connector or socket that is smaller than the SAE J1772 North American standard, but adapters are provided for 110 and 240 volt outlets, and for public charging stations (J1772 spec adapter). Additional adapters are available for purchase. The carmaker has deployed several 90 kW 250 amp, 400 V Tesla Supercharger units between key cities to allow fast charging on road trips with plans to build more. A Supercharger can add 150 miles of range in 30 minutes and a full charge in approximately one hour with an 85 kWh battery. In 2013 Tesla made Supercharging free of charge for all Tesla Model S's.
Charging times vary depending on the battery pack's state-of-charge, its overall capacity, the available voltage, and the available circuit breaker amp rating (current). From a 110 V/12 A outlet, the range can be restored by 5 miles (8 km) for every hour of charging. From a 10 kW, NEMA 14-50 240 V/40 A outlet (like those used by RVs), the range can be restored by 31 miles (50 km) for every hour of charging. Using Tesla's 20 kW, 240 V High Power Wall Connector, the range can be restored by 62 miles (100 km) for every hour of charging if the car is configured with twin chargers (20 kW). The roadside Tesla Superchargers can charge about half the battery in 30 minutes, providing up to 150 miles (240 km) worth of range into the models configured with the 85 kWh battery packs. Supercharging hardware is included in all models with the 85 kW·h battery pack, including both Signature limited edition models, the Performance model, and the base model with 85 kW·h). Supercharging hardware is also available in the base model with the 60 kW·h battery as an extra option that can be enabled at any point since the hardware will be present in all vehicles and will only require a software change.
|Wall Power||Usual Plug||Phase||Volt||Amp||Connector||Car-Side||kW||km per hour||charging time 85 kW||Source|
|240V/10A||Standard Outlet||1||240||10||Mobile Connector||Single Charger||2.5||14||34||Tesla|
|240V/16A||CEE Red Plug||3||240||16||Mobile Connector||Single Charger||11||50||8.5||Tesla|
|400V/32A||Third Party Wall- Mennekes||3||400||32||Type 2 Adaptor Cable||Twin Charger||22||100||4.25||Tesla|
|240V/32A||CEE Blue Plug||1||240||32||Mobile Connector||Single Charger||6||35||14||Tesla|
Instrument Panel and Touchscreen
The primary Instrumental Panel is a 12.3-inch LCD display which indicates speed, power usage, charge level, estimated range and active gear. The gearbox can be set to Drive, Neutral, Reverse and Park. The vehicle does not have a transmission, only a single speed fixed gear with a 9.73:1 reduction ratio.
The secondary infotainment control touchscreen is a 17" multi-touch panel divided into 4 areas. A top line displays status symbols and provides shortcuts to Charging, HomeLink, Driver Profiles, vehicle information (software version and the VIN), and Bluetooth. The second line provides access to several Apps including Media, Nav (driven by Google Maps), Energy, Web, Camera, and Phone. The central main viewing area changes depending on the app chosen and typically displays two apps at a time, divided into an upper and lower area, although most apps can be expanded to take up the entire main viewing area. The bottom area provides access to Controls (which allows you to access various controls and settings for the vehicle (such as doors, locks, lights, etc.) as well as Climate controls and a secondary volume control for the passenger (primary media volume is provided for the driver in the steering wheel).
Both the instrument cluster and the center infotainment panel are driven by their own separate NVIDIA Tegra 3D Visual Computing Module (VCM). Tesla was the first company to ship this technology although Audi has announced is also using this technology in the 2013 model year in Europe and expects to bring it to North America in 2014. The Tegra system-on-a-chip (SoC) integrates eight specialized processors, including a multi-core ARM CPU, a GPU, and dedicated audio, video, and image processors. Nvidia claims it consumes 50 times less energy than the typical CPU.
The Tegra VCM's can be rebooted individually through the steering wheel. Holding both the left and right upper control buttons on the steering wheel down concurrently for 15 seconds reboots the instrument cluster. Holding both the left and right scroll/click wheels down concurrently for 15 seconds reboots the center infotainment panel.
The following table lists the main features of the different models offered:
|60 kW·h||85 kW·h|
|Range||230 mi (370 km)
208 mi (335 km)
|300 mi (480 km)
265 mi (426 km)
|Max. power||225 kW (302 hp)
@ 5000-8000 rpm
|270 kW (362 hp)
@ 6000-9500 rpm
|310 kW (416 hp)
@ 5000-8600 rpm
|Max. torque||317 lb·ft (430 N·m)
@ 0-5000 rpm
|325 lb·ft (440 N·m)
@ 0-5800 rpm
|443 lb·ft (600 N·m)
@ 0-5100 rpm
|5.9 sec||5.4 sec||4.2 sec|
|Top speed||120 mph
|Note: 1 After purchase, Supercharging can be enabled via a software update for $2,500.|
All versions of the Model S seat five passengers, and there is an optional folding third row for US$1,500 that becomes a rear-facing two-place child seat. Each seat has a racing-style five-point harness and must only be used for children over 37 in (0.94 m) tall and weighting between 35 to 77 lb (16 to 35 kg). When the seats are in use the Model S still has luggage space available under the front hood (which Tesla called a "frunk.") The optional third row makes the Model S the electric car with the greatest passenger capacity.
Tesla Motors is currently building a network of 480-volt fast charging stations, named Superchargers, developed to allow the Model S sedans to make long distance trips. The initial network is planned to be available in high traffic corridors across North America. The company also plans to deploy Supercharger networks in Europe and Asia in the second half of 2013. The first Supercharger corridor in the U.S. opened with free access for its Model S owners in October 2012. This corridor includes six stations placed along routes connecting San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. A second corridor was opened in December 2012 along the Northeast megalopolis, connecting Washington, D.C., New York City, and Boston; it includes two stations located in highway rest areas in Delaware and Connecticut.
The Supercharger is a proprietary DC rapid-charging station that provides almost 100 kW of power, giving the 85 kWh version of the Model S an additional 150 mi (240 km) of range in about 30 minutes (note that the Supercharger will not charge the battery fully in 1 hour due to limitations in lithium ion battery technology). The electricity used by the Supercharger in the West Coast corridor comes from a solar carport system provided by SolarCity, and eventually, all of the Supercharger stations will be supplied by solar power. The Tesla Supercharger network is exclusive to appropriately equipped Model S sedans, which are engineered to accept Tesla's specific form of rapid electricity transfer. Supercharging hardware is standard on Model S vehicles equipped with an 85 kWh battery and optional on Model S vehicles equipped with a 60 kWh battery. The Tesla Roadster is not equipped to charge from the Superchargers, but according to the automaker, all future Tesla models will be able to supercharge. According to Elon Musk, “...we expect all of the United States to be covered by the end of next year ” and he also said that Tesla owners’ use of the network would be free forever.
Vehicle warranty and maintenance
The new vehicle limited warranty is 4 years or 50,000 mi (80,000 km), whichever comes first. The warranty covers all wear and tear parts such as wipers and brake pads (excluding tires.) In North America, the cost of the inspection is $600; a prepaid four-inspection plan is available for $1,900.
Sales and markets
Tesla Motors reported 520 reservations for the Model S during the first week after the carmaker began accepting deposits online and at showrooms in California on March 26, 2009. The very first Model S was reserved for Tesla investor Steve Jurvetson. Tesla required a US$5,000 deposit for a regular Model S and a US$40,000 deposit for the Signature Series Model S. By mid December 2010, Tesla announced that the reservation count had passed 3,000, 6,500 by November 2011, and 13,200 by September 2012. As of 31 December 2012[update], there were over 15,000 net reservations after deliveries and cancellations are accounted for.
The special edition Model S Signature model was sold out even before deliveries began in June 2012, and according to Tesla Motors the electric sedan is sold out through 2012. A car ordered in May 2012 would be delivered in early to mid-2013. Tesla Motors initially expected to sell at least 5,000 units in 2012 and set a sales target of 20,000 units for 2013. In April 2013, Tesla increased its 2013 sales target to 21,000 units. Tesla expects global sales of 30,000 units in 2014, with 15,000 units in the United States, 10,000 units in Europe and 5,000 in Asia.
By August 2012 the carmaker was manufacturing 3 to 4 cars a day and production capacity was ramped up to 200 units a week by early November 2012. The target production rate of 400 cars per week or 20,000 per year was achieved in December 2012, and more than 3,100 vehicles were produced during 2012. A total of 2,650 cars were delivered to retail customers during 2012, and 4,900 during the first quarter of 2013. Tesla expects to deliver over 4,500 units in North America during the second quarter of 2013, out of a production target of 5,000 units, as some cars will be in transit to Europe for start of deliveries in the third quarter.
Deliveries of the models with 40 kW·h and 60 kW·h battery packs were initially slated for November and December 2012 respectively. In December 2012, Tesla announced that production of the 60 kW·h battery model was rescheduled to begin in January 2013, with deliveries in the United States beginning by January-early February 2013.
The first delivery took place on June 1, 2012, to the first person to place an order, Tesla investor Steve Jurvetson. Deliveries for retail customers in the United States started on June 22, at a special event held at the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California. By September 2012, 359 units had been produced with 253 of those delivered to retail customers. A total of about 2,650 units were sold during 2012. In March 2013, Tesla reported the delivery of the 3,000th Model S in California, representing around 50% of Model S sales in the U.S. to that date. During the first quarter of 2013 the Model S ranked as the top selling plug-in electric vehicle in the U.S. with about 4,900 units delivered, followed by the Chevrolet Volt with 4,244 units. Cumulative sales reached about 9,650 units through April 2013.
The first 1,000 production units correspond to the Signature and Signature Performance limited edition equipped with a 85 kW·h battery pack. The Model S Signature model starts at US$95,400 and the Signature Performance at US$105,400. The base Model S with the 40 kW·h battery pack starts at US$57,400, the model with the 60 kW·h pack increases US$10,000 and the base model with the 85 kW·h pack increases another US$10,000. These prices are before any applicable U.S. federal and local government tax credits and incentives.
On November 29, 2012, Tesla announced an all model price increase of US$2,500 for new reservations, starting January 1, 2013. The company also released pricing for a replacement battery pack pre-paid option. The price of a 40 kWh pack is US$8,000, the price of a 60 kWh pack is US$10,000, and the 85 kWh pack costs US$12,000.
American and European standard equipment and options packages are the same. In most countries where the Model S will be sold base prices for the 60 kWh start at €72,600 (around US$95,800), and €83,150 (about US$109,700) for the 85 kWh battery car. The 85 kWh Performance, Signature, and Signature Performance trim levels are listed at €97,550 (around US$128,700), €101,400 (about US$133,800), and €110,950 (around US$146,400) respectively. European prices are higher compared to U.S. prices. Tesla explained that exchange rates, the value added tax (VAT), plus a slight price increase to account for transport costs, import duties and other costs relevant to individual European countries explains the large price difference between European and U.S. pricing. Tesla also offered a deduction of €1,700 (around US$2,250) to buyers who already hold a Model S reservation in Europe, or planned to do so by the end of December 2012. Buyers will need to finalize their order within four weeks of receiving their "Invitation to Configure" from Tesla. Deliveries are scheduled to start early in the third quarter of 2013.
- Green Car Reports' Best Car To Buy 2013
- 2013 AutoGuide.com Reader’s Choice Car of the Year
- Consumer Reports rated the Model S with a score of 99 out of 100, becoming the magazine's best car ever tested. The score would have been higher but for the fact that the all-electric car does need to stop and recharge during extremely long-distance drives. "If it could recharge in any gas station in three minutes, this car would score about 110," said Jake Fisher, head of auto testing for Consumer Reports. Fisher called the car's performance in the magazine's performance tests "off the charts."
The New York Times article
On 8 February 2013, the The New York Times published a review, written by John M. Broder, about the real possibility of a Tesla Model S making a trip between Washington, D.C. and Boston using Tesla's Supercharger network, which only has two stations in the East Coast. In this review Broder made a variety of negative claims about the limitations of batteries during cold weather, and the separation between Tesla's charging stations, that resulted in finishing the trip with the Model S carried by a flatbed truck to the Milford station in Connecticut.
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk responded in a blog on Tesla's website, publishing logs of the charge levels and driving speed that contradicted Broder's account on several factual details. Musk implied that Broder's behaviour in charging and driving the car forced the car to fail. Broder replied to Musk's criticism in a blog post and suggested that the speed discrepancies, pointed out by Musk, may have been caused by car being delivered with 19 inch wheels rather than the specified 21 inch wheels. In the middle of the controversy, a reporter from CNN recreated Broder's trip, and he was able to make it with battery capacity still left. However, there were two key differences with CNN's test from the one from the New York Times. The weather was about 10 °F (6 °C) warmer, and the reporter did the trip in one day; the reviewer from the Times split it into two, letting the car sit overnight without being plugged in. A reporter from CNBC also recreated the trip in one day without incidents. One week later, a group of Tesla owners recreated Broder's trip without problems. Only one car was delayed because his car stopped charging and wouldn't fill up, and had to wait an hour for two special firmware updates.
On February 18, 2013, New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan published an editorial stating that Broder took "casual and imprecise notes" of his test drive and did not use good judgment, but she maintained that the article was done in good faith. She also noted that vehicle data logs reproduced by Musk on Tesla's website were "sometimes quite misleading." On February 22 the New York Times published a comprehensive chronology of the controversy including diverse points of view, in favor of and against Broder's review.
- Government incentives for plug-in electric vehicles
- List of electric cars currently available
- List of modern production plug-in electric vehicles
- List of production battery electric vehicles
- Tesla Model X
- Tesla Roadster
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