Tesla Model S

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Tesla Model S
Tesla Model S 02 2013.jpg
Overview
Manufacturer Tesla Motors
Also called Code name: WhiteStar[1][2][3]
Production 2012–present
Model years 2013
Assembly United States: Fremont, California (Tesla Factory) Europe: Tilburg, The Netherlands (knock-down kits only)
Designer Franz von Holzhausen
Body and chassis
Class Full-size
Body style 5-door liftback
Layout Rear-motor, rear-wheel drive
Powertrain
Electric motor 310 kW (416 bhp), 600 N·m (443 ft·lb), Three-phase AC induction motor
Transmission 1-speed fixed gear (9.73:1)
Battery 60 or 85 kW·h lithium ion[4]
Electric range
  • 85 kW·h
    265 mi (426 km)  (EPA)
    300 mi (480 km) (Tesla Motors)
    310 mi (500 km) (NEDC)
  • 60 kW·h
    208 mi (335 km) (EPA)
    230 mi (370 km) (Tesla Motors)
    233 mi (375 km) (NEDC)
Plug-in charging
  • 11 kW 85-265 V onboard charger for 1ϕ 40A or 3ϕ 16A [5] on IEC Type 2 inlet[6]
  • Optional "Twin Charger" for 22 kW for 1ϕ 80A or 3ϕ 32A[5]
  • Optional Supercharger for 100 kW DC offboard charging, adapters for domestic AC sockets (110-240V)
Dimensions
Wheelbase 2,959 mm (116.5 in)
Length 4,976 mm (195.9 in)
Width 1,963 mm (77.3 in)
Height 1,435 mm (56.5 in)
Curb weight 2,108 kg (4,647.3 lb)

The Tesla Model S is a full-sized electric five-door liftback 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.[7] The Model S was released in Europe in early August 2013, and the first deliveries took place in Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands.[8]

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.[9][10][11] The EPA range for the model with the 60 kW·h battery is 208 mi (335 km).[12] 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).[9][13] 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, citing low demand.[14]

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.[15][16] 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.[9][15]

Global cumulative sales of the Model S passed the 25,000 unit mark in December 2013,[17] with the U.S as the leading market with about 20,600 units sold,[18][19] followed by Norway with 1,986 units,[20] the Netherlands with 1,192 units,[21] and Canada with 733 units through December 2013.[22] The Model S became the first electric car to top the monthly sales ranking in any country, as the car led new car sales in Norway twice, first in September and again in December 2013.[23][24][25][26] The Model S ranked as the third top selling plug-in electric car in the U.S. market in 2013,[27] and also the third best selling all-electric car in Europe.[28][29]

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, Consumer Reports' top-scoring car ever.

History[edit]

The Tesla Model S is a 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.[30]

Tesla Model S prototype at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show

The Tesla Model S was initially codenamed WhiteStar during research and preliminary development.[1][2][3] The Model S was announced in a press release on June 30, 2008.[31][32] The prototype vehicle was displayed at a press conference on March 26, 2009.[33]

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,[34] 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.[35]

Construction of an assembly factory in Albuquerque, New Mexico (a central location for shipping) was supposed to begin in April 2007, but was cancelled.[36] A factory to be built in San Jose, California was also announced.[37][38][39] In May 2010 Tesla Motors announced it would produce the new lower-priced Model S at the former NUMMI assembly plant in Fremont, California,[40] 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.[41]


Production[edit]

A Tesla Model S being manufactured at the Tesla Factory

Tesla manufactures the Model S at the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California. For the European market, Tesla is assembling and distributing the Model S from its European Distribution Center in Tilburg, the Netherlands.[42] Tesla chose Tilburg as its assembly and distribution center because of its good infrastructure for distribution purposes and its location near the port of Rotterdam, where Models S and its components arrive from the U.S. The center occupies a 18,900 m2 (203,000 sq ft) industrial building which also serves as a workshop and spare parts warehouse. The Model S cars are built and tested in Fremont, California. Then the battery pack, the electric motor and parts are disassembled and shipped separately to Tilburg, where the cars are reassembled.[43]

The Model S was officially launched at the Fremont 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 the 100th production Model S, of which 74 were for customers. The other 26 were being used for test drives, displays, testing, and training.[44] By August 2012 the car maker was manufacturing three to four cars a day,[44] the production rate was up to 80 cars per week by mid September 2012,[45] and by November 5, Tesla announced it had reached a production rate of over 200 cars per week.[46] By the end of 2012 Tesla revised their deliveries down to 2,500 cars, with 20,000 planned for 2013.[47] By December 2012, Tesla reported that production had reached 400 units per week or 20,000 per year.[48][49]

In March 2013 Tesla reported they produced on average more than 500 Model S cars per week.[50] As of November 2013, Tesla was producing 550 units per week and expected to deliver just under 6,000 Model S during the fourth quarter, increasing expected total 2013 deliveries to about 21,500 units worldwide.[51] Actual deliveries reached 6,892 units in that quarter.[52] In December 2013, the state of California announced it would give Tesla a US$34.7 million tax break to expand the company’s production of electric cars and powertrains in the state by an estimated 35,000 vehicles annually from its Fremont, California plant.[53] Tesla announced that production is expected to climb from 600 cars per week in early 2014 to about 1,000 units per week by the end of the year.[54] Tesla expects to produce 7,400 units during the first quarter of 2014, but expects to deliver only 6,400 cars due to stock in transit overseas.[55] In February 2014 the company confirmed its goal to deliver over 35,000 units in 2014.[54]

Specifications[edit]

Model S chassis, on display at Santana Row in San Jose, California

Powertrain[edit]

Cutaway view of a Tesla Model S drive motor

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,[56] the lowest of any car in the market, except some models of the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class released following the Model S.[4][57] 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.[9]

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
Model Model
year
EPA rated
Combined
fuel economy
EPA rated
City
fuel economy
EPA rated
Highway
fuel economy
Cost to drive
25 miles
Annual
Fuel Cost(1)
(15,000 mi)
Tesla Model S
(60 kWh battery)[58]
2013 95 MPGe
(35 kWh/100 mi)
94 MPGe 97 MPGe $1.05 $650
Tesla Model S
(85 kWh battery)[59]
2012–13 89 MPGe
(38 kWh/100 mi)
88 MPGe
(38 kWh/100 mi)
90 MPGe
(37 kWh/100 mi)
$1.14 $700
Notes: (1) Based on 45% highway and 55% city driving. Values rounded to the nearest US$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 an 85 kWh pack rated by EPA has a top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h) and accelerates from 0 to 60 miles per hour (0 to 97 km/h) in 5.6 seconds.[9] 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.[60]

Battery[edit]

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 an 85 kW·h battery expected to deliver, according to Consumer Reports, 320 miles (510 km). These are Tesla Motors estimated ranges at a speed of 55 mph (89 km/h).[60] The EPA official range for the 60 kW·h battery pack model is 208 mi (335 km).[12] The official range for the model with the 85 kW·h battery is 265 miles (426 km).[9][61]

Tesla Model S showing the front trunk where the engine would be in a typical car. Tesla Motors calls this a 'frunk'.[62]

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 latter 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.[63]

The 85 kW·h battery pack contains 7,104 lithium-ion battery cells in 16 modules[64] wired in series (14 in the flat section with two additional modules stacked on the front).[65] Each module contains six groups[66] of 74 cells[67] wired in parallel; the six groups are then wired in series within the module.[67][68][69][70] The battery pack, as of June 2012, uses Panasonic cells with nickel-cobalt-aluminum cathodes.[4] The battery pack location underneath the cabin floor provides the Model S with a very low center of gravity.[71]

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.[72]

A battery replacement option may be purchased for a cost of US$10,000 for the 60 kW·h battery and US$12,000 for the 85 kW·h battery and will provide a replacement battery anytime after the 8th year of operation of the original battery.[73]

In 2013, Tesla canceled a 40 kW·h version of the car due to lack of demand, stating that only 4% of pre-orders were for the 40 kW·h battery option. The customers who ordered this option have instead received the 60 kW·h pack, but range is software limited to 40 kW·h (142 miles of rated range). 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 kW·h upon request by the original or a future owner for US$11,000.[74]

Charging[edit]

The Model S charge port is located behind the left rear taillight.

The charger for the Tesla Model S, like the Tesla Roadster, is integral to the vehicle, allowing charging from 120/240-volt sources at up to 10 kW. An optional US$2,700 upgrade supports 20 kW charging from a 100 Amp wall-mounted charger (High Power Wall Connector).[4] 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.[71] Tesla uses a proprietary electrical connector or socket that is smaller than the SAE J1772 North American standard, but adapters are provided for 120 and 240 volt outlets, and for public charging stations (J1772 spec adapter). The carmaker has deployed many 120 kW [75] Tesla Supercharger units between key cities to allow fast charging on road trips with plans to build more.[76] A Supercharger can add up to 200 miles (320 km) of range in 30 minutes and a full charge in approximately one hour with an 85 kWh battery.[4][77] In 2013 Tesla made Supercharging free for life for all 85 kWh Tesla Model S's. Supercharging is an extra cost option for 60 kWh models.

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 120 V/15 A regular household 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/50 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 add up to 200 miles (320 km) of range in 30 minutes.[77] Supercharging hardware is included in all models with the 85 kW·h battery pack. 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 time since the hardware is present in all vehicles and only requires a software change.[72][77][78]

Instrument panel and touchscreen[edit]

Production dashboard with main dashboard digital display (left) and central 17-inch (430 mm) touchscreen control panel (right)

The primary instrument panel is a 12.3 in (31 cm) 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 selectable gear ratios, only a single-speed fixed gear with a 9.73:1 reduction ratio.

The secondary infotainment control touchscreen is a 17 in (43 cm) multi-touch panel divided into four 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 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).

The instrument cluster and the center infotainment panel are driven by their separate NVIDIA Tegra 3D Visual Computing Modules.[79] Tesla was the first company to ship this technology although Audi announced it was also using this technology in the 2013 model year in Europe, expecting to bring it to North America in 2014.[80] 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.[81]

The GPS satellite navigator screen finds the car's position by GPS satellites but uses Google Maps for the map display and calculation of routes. The map display requires a constant Internet connection, so maps will not be available in areas with bad mobile network coverage.[82]

Options[edit]

The following table lists the main features of the different models offered:

Standard Performance
60 kW·h 85 kW·h
Range 230 mi (370 km)
(Tesla Motors)
208 mi (335 km)
(EPA)
300 mi (480 km)
(Tesla Motors)
265 mi (426 km)
(EPA)
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
0-60 mph
(0–97 km/h)
5.9 sec 5.4 sec 4.2 sec
Top speed 120 mph/193 km/h 125 mph/200 km/h 130 mph/210 km/h
Supercharging Optional1 (US$2,500) Included
Note: 1 After purchase, Supercharging can be enabled via a software update for US$2,500.
The Model S has an optional folding third row with rear-facing seats for two children secured with a racing-style five-point harness.

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. The option includes strengthening of the rear bumper to safety levels necessary for passengers. Each seat has a racing-style five-point harness and must only be used for children over 37 in (0.94 m) tall and weighing 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," a portmanteau of "front trunk.") The optional third row makes the Model S the electric car with the greatest passenger capacity.[83]

Supercharger network[edit]

In 2012, Tesla Motors began building a network of 480-volt fast charging Supercharger stations in order to facilitate the Model S sedans to make long distance trips. In June 2013 Tesla announced that all existing stations in the supercharger network, and all new stations, would become Tesla stations, and have facilities to support under-two-minute battery pack swaps for the Tesla Model S, and for all future Tesla models.

Tesla Model S charging at the Supercharger network station in Delaware

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.[84][85] A second corridor was opened in December 2012 along the Northeast megalopolis, connecting Washington, D.C., New York City, and Boston; it includes three stations located in highway rest areas in Delaware and Connecticut.[86] The first set Supercharger stations in Europe opened to the public in Norway in August 2013.[87] As of mid January 2014, there were 65 stations operating in the United States and 14 in Europe.[19]

After opening a network of six Supercharger stations in Norway by the end of August 2013,[87] Tesla is focused on Germany and the Netherlands, with plans to have complete country coverage by mid-2014. Tesla also expects to provide complete country coverage in Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Denmark and Luxembourg by the end of 2014; as well as to provide access within 320 km (200 mi) of a Supercharger station to about 90% of the population in France, England, Wales and Sweden by the end of 2014.[51]

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.[84][85][86] According to Elon Musk, "...we expect all of the United States to be covered by the end of next year [2013]" and he also said that Tesla owners' use of the network would be free forever.[88] In early November 2013, Tesla reported that 90% of its customers have opted for supercharging capability.[51]

Battery swapping[edit]

Panoramic view of Tesla Supercharger rapid charging station in Tejon Ranch, California.

Tesla designed its Model S to allow fast battery swapping, and this feature has facilitated the assembling process.[89] In June 2013, Tesla announced their goal to deploy a battery swapping station in each of its Supercharging stations. At a demonstration event Tesla showed that a battery swap operation with the Model S takes just over 90 seconds, about half the time it takes to refill a gasoline-powered car used for comparison purposes during the event.[90][91]

The first stations are planned to be deployed along Interstate 5 in California where, according to Tesla, a large number of Model S sedans make the San Francisco-Los Angeles trip regularly. These will be followed by the Washington, DC to Boston corridor. Each swapping station will cost US$500,000 and will have about 50 batteries available without requiring reservations. The service would be offered for the price of about 15 US gallons (57 l; 12 imp gal) of gasoline at the current local rate, around US$60 to US$80 at June 2013 prices. Owners can pick up their battery pack fully charged on the return trip, which is included in the swap fee. Tesla will also offer the option to keep the pack received on the swap and paying the price difference if the battery received is newer; or to receive the original pack back from Tesla for a transport fee. Pricing has not been determined.[90]

Vehicle warranty and maintenance[edit]

The Model S is covered by a standard 4-year, 50,000 mi (80,000 km) limited warranty,[92] which includes all standard equipment, the transmission and the complete powertrain (excluding tires).[93] The warranty can optionally be extended an additional 4 years or 50,000 miles (80,000 km) beyond the original terms for US$4,000.[93] Warranty coverage includes a complementary loaner car—a fully loaded Tesla Model S Performance 85 or Tesla Roadster—when service is required.[94] In April, 2013, Tesla announced that a previously-mandatory US$600 annual vehicle inspection and maintenance fee would be made optional, and would not be required to maintain warranty coverage.[94] If elected, the fee covers a complete inspection, tire alignment, new brake pads, hardware upgrades, and miscellaneous other maintenance items as needed.

The battery is covered for eight years or 125,000 mi (201,000 km) for the 60 kW·h base model, or eight years and unlimited miles for all 85 kW·h models.[72] The unconditional battery warranty is very broad and covers everything except deliberate damage, even including cases of user error.[95]

However, loss of battery energy or power over time or due to or resulting from battery usage, is not covered under warranty.[96]

Environmental footprint[edit]

In February 2014, the Automotive Science Group (ASG) published the result of a study conducted to assess the life-cycle of over 1,300 automobiles across nine categories sold in North America. The study ranked the Model S as the best environmental performance in the 2014 full-size cars category.[97] Based on the assessment of life-cycle environmental footprint, the study concluded that the increased environmental impacts of manufacturing the battery electric technology is more than offset with increased environmental performance during operational life. For the assessment, the study used the average electricity mix of the U.S. grid in 2014. The Nissan Leaf was the advanced automotive technology car with the smallest life-cycle environmental footprint of any model year 2014 automobile available in the North American market [98]

Sales and markets[edit]

Tesla Model S sales
by top national markets (2012 - 2013)
Country Sales
2012-2013
Sales
2013
Sales
2012
 United States[18][19] ~20,555 ~18,000 ~2,555
 Norway[20] 1,986 1,986  
 Netherlands[21] 1,192 1,192  
 Canada[22] 733 638 95
  Switzerland[99] 213 213  
 Germany[100][101] 191 191  
 Belgium[102] 148 148  
 Denmark[103] 112 112  
 Austria[104] 50 50  
 France[105] 35 35  
Global sales 25,127 22,477[54] ~2,650[18]

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.[106] 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.[107] By mid December 2010, Tesla announced that the reservation count had passed 3,000,[108] 6,500 by November 2011,[109] and 13,200 by September 2012.[110][111] As of 31 December 2012, there were over 15,000 net reservations after deliveries and cancellations are accounted for.[18]

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.[112][113] Tesla Motors initially expected to sell at least 5,000 units in 2012 and set a sales target of 20,000 units for 2013.[110][114] In April 2013, Tesla increased its 2013 sales target to 21,000 units,[115] and revised it to 21,500 in November 2013.[51] Tesla expects global sales of 35,000 units in 2014, a 55% increase over 2013,[52] with combined sales in Europe and Asia expected to be almost twice that of North America by the end of 2014.[55] Tesla expects to deliver 6,400 cars during the first quarter of 2014.[55]

Model S first retail deliveries ceremony at the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California, held on June 22, 2012.

Deliveries for retail customers in the United States began June 2012.[7] Deliveries of the model with 60 kW·h battery pack were initially slated for November 2012, but its production was rescheduled to begin in January 2013, with deliveries in the United States beginning by January-early February 2013.[116] A total of 2,650 cars were delivered to retail customers in North America during 2012, and 10,050 during the first six months of 2013.[48][115][117] The Model S was released in Europe in early August 2013, and the first deliveries took place in Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands.[8] As of early November 2013, the Model S was sold in 20 countries.[51]

Sales totaled 6,892 during the fourth quarter of 2013,[52] for a year's total of about 22,477 units sold in North America and Europe,[54] surpassing Tesla's annual sales target of 21,500 units.[17] Global cumulative sales passed the 25,000 unit milestone in December 2013.[17] As of February 2014, the United States is the leading market with about 23,255 units sold,[18][19][118] followed by Norway with 2,549 units,[20][119] and the Netherlands with 1,209 units.[21][120]

North America[edit]

Canada

A total of 95 Model S were delivered in Canada during 2012,[121] and an additional 638 units in 2013.[22]

United States

The first delivery took place on June 1, 2012, to the first person to place an order, Tesla investor Steve Jurvetson.[122] Deliveries for retail customers in the United States started on June 22, at a special event held at the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California.[7] By September 2012, 359 units had been produced with 253 of those delivered to retail customers.[123] A total of about 2,650 units were sold during 2012, including some units delivered in Canada.[18]

Personalized delivery of a Tesla Model S in the U.S.

The first 1,000 production units correspond to the Signature and Signature Performance limited edition equipped with an 85 kW·h battery pack. The Model S Signature model starts at US$95,400 and the Signature Performance at US$105,400.[15] The base Model S with the 40 kW·h battery pack, before being cancelled, was priced starting atUS$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.[72] 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 60 kWh pack is US$10,000 and the 85 kWh pack costs US$12,000.[124] While it is illegal for Tesla to sell directly to consumers in Texas because of a state ban, this is hardly a barrier to sales with Texas sales ranking being second only to California.[125] Customers simply order on line, as they do in other markets, and handle tax/license payments at their local county tax assessors office. As of August 2013, similar legislation was pending in North Carolina, Colorado, and Virginia, all with limited effectiveness.[126]

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.[127][128] 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.[115][129][130] According to Edmunds.com, between January and August 2013 the Model S achieved a high market share of new car sales among the U.S. most expensive ZIP codes, as rated by Forbes. Among the top 25 wealthiest ZIP codes, the highest Model S market shares are all found in California, with Atherton ranking first in the U.S. with a 15.4% share, followed by Los Altos Hills with 11.9%, and Portola Valley with 11.2%. Edmunds' analysis also found that during this period the Model S was the most registered passenger car in 8 of the 25 most expensive American ZIP codes.[131] The Model S, with 8,347 units sold in 2013, was the third best selling luxury car in California after the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series sedans.[132] The Model S captured a 9.8% market share of the Californian luxury and sports segment.[133]

Sales during 2013 totaled about 18,000 units,[19] allowing the Model S to rank as the third top selling plug-in electric car in the U.S. in 2013, after the Chevrolet Volt (23,094) and the Nissan Leaf (22,610).[27] Also in 2013, the Model S was the top selling car in the full-size luxury sedan category, ahead of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (13,303), the top selling car in the category in 2012, and also surpassing the BMW 7 Series (10,932), Lexus LS (10,727), Audi A8 (6,300) and Porsche Panamera (5,421).[19] As of March 2014, about 24,600 units have been delivered in the U.S. since the Model S inception in June 2012.[18][19][118] During the first quarter of 2014 about 4,000 units have been sold.[118]

Europe[edit]

The first European deliveries took place at Tesla's store in Oslo in August 2013.

Retail deliveries began in Europe in early August 2013, and the first deliveries took place in Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands.[8] The Model S ended 2013 as the third best selling all-electric car in Europe after the Nissan Leaf and the Renault Zoe, with about 3,900 units sold in the region during 2013.[28][29] First deliveries of the right-hand-drive model destined for the UK, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan are scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2014.[134]

American and European standard equipment and options packages are the same. In most countries where the Model S is 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 needed to finalize their order within four weeks of receiving their "Invitation to Configure" from Tesla.[135][136]

Belgium

Sales in 2013 totaled 148 units.[102]

Denmark

During its first full month in the Danish market, the Model S was the top selling electric vehicle with 42 units sold.[137] Since August 2013 a total of 112 units have been registered in the country through December 2013.[103]

France

Model S deliveries to retail customers started on September 23, 2013,[138][139] with 35 units registered during 2013.[105] During the first two months of 2014 registrations totaled 33 units.[140][141]

Germany

In October 2013 Tesla announced that Model S customers in Germany would be offered a free optional high speed tuning to optimize the Model S for driving on the Autobahn. In addition, the company announced that by November 2013 the first Supercharger stations will open in the corridors between Munich and Stuttgart, Munich and Zurich, Switzerland, and Cologne and Frankfurt. Tesla Motors plans to cover more than 50% of Germany by the end of March 2014, and 100% by the end of 2014, making Germany the country with the most Superchargers per capita in the world. Also, all Supercharger stations deployed in Germany will be power upgraded to 135 kW to deliver faster charging for long distance travel.[142] Also in October 2013, Elon Musk announced Tesla's goal to sell 10,000 Model S per year in Germany by 2015.[143] A total of 191 units were registered in the country during 2013.[100][101] Sales totaled 96 units during the first two months of 2014.[144]

Netherlands
Model S charging in Rotterdam.

The first deliveries in the country occurred on August 22, 2013, at Tesla's European Distribution Center in Tilburg.[43] A total of 170 units were delivered in September 2013, the first full month the electric car was available for retail customers in the country.[145] As of December 2013, a total of 1,192 Model S cars had been sold in the country.[21] After the end of the registration tax exemption, only 17 units of the Model S were sold during the first two months of 2014.[120]

Norway

The first delivery of a Model S to a retail customer in Europe took place in Oslo on 7 August 2013.[146] By the end of August 2013, six Supercharger stations were opened, the first in Europe, with a total capacity of 46 charging spots. The stations are located in Lyngdal, Aurland, Dombås, Gol, Sundebru, and Lillehammer, providing coverage to the most commonly used Norwegian roads and highways.[87]

During its first month in the Norwegian market, a total of 186 units were delivered to retail customers, allowing the Model S to rank as the second top selling electric car in August 2013 behind the Nissan Leaf (448 units).[147] Sales surged in September 2013, with a total of 616 units delivered, making the Tesla Model S the top selling car in Norway during this month, representing a market share of 5.1% of all the new cars sold in the country during this month, and contributed to a record 8.6% market share for all-electric car sales during September.[23][24][25] According to a spokesman from the Norwegian Road Federation (OFV), the peak in Model S registrations "may be a short-lived phenomenon, caused by the grouping together of deliveries made over several months."[148] According to Reuters, the demand for the Model S is so high that there is a five-month waiting list, and as a result of the shortage, a used market has appeared. Some Norwegians were willing to pay as much as US$10,000 to US$20,000 premium to buy a used Model S from existing owners.[149][150] Model S sales dropped to 98 units in October,[151] before jumping back up to 527 units in November and ranking number two in new car registrations only surpassed by the VW Golf.[152] In December 2013, with 553 units sold and a 4.9% market share, the Model S was the top selling new car in the country for the second time in 2013.[26] Despite being in the market only for less than five months, the Model S ranked as the 20th best selling new car in Norway during 2013 with a market share of 1.4%.[153] Cumulative sales during 2013 reached 1,986 units[20] allowing Norway to become the Model S largest overseas market.[154]

The Model S topped the monthly sales ranking for a third time in March 2014, with 1,493 units sold. In the same month, the Model S also broke the 28 year-old record for monthly sales of a single model regardless of its power source, surpassing the Ford Sierra, which sold 1,454 units in May 1986.[155][156] A total of 2,056 Model S cars were sold during the first quarter of 2014, making the Model S the best selling new car in Norway during 2014 (CYTD), capturing a 5.6% market share of new car sales, and 38.8% of the new plug-in electric car segment during this period.[155][157][158] Since its introduction, a total of 4,042 Model S cars have sold in Norway through March 2014.[20][155]

Switzerland

Retail deliveries began in August 2013,[8] and a total of 213 units were registered in the country through December 2013.[99]

China[edit]

Tesla began taking reservations in October 2013 and retail deliveries are scheduled to start in China during the first quarter of 2014. The Model S has the same standard equipment as continental European version but was adapted for the Chinese market to provide roomier back seats available because the car is intended for customers that typically have chauffeurs.[159]

Only two versions with a 85kWh battery pack will be available in the Chinese market, standard and performance. Pricing starts at CN¥ 734,000 (~US$121,200).[160] The Model S price is almost the same as in the U.S. only adding taxes and transportation costs. This pricing strategy is expected to bring a competitive edge for Tesla. Similar luxury cars powered by an internal combustion engines such as the BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class cost in China more than US$180,000.[161][162]

Safety[edit]

NHTSA ratings[edit]

2013 Tesla Model S NHTSA[163]
Overall: 5/5 stars
Frontal Driver: 5/5 stars
Frontal Passenger: 5/5 stars
Side Driver: 5/5 stars
Side Passenger: 5/5 stars
Side Pole Driver: 5/5 stars
Rollover: 5/5 stars / 5.7%

Crash and fire[edit]

A Tesla Model S caught fire after the vehicle hit metal debris on a highway in Kent, Washington state on October 1, 2013.[164] According to the driver, he hit something while traveling in the HOV lane of Washington State Route 167, and exited because the car was running poorly, and flames began coming out of the front of the car at the end of the off-ramp. The fire was caught on video by a witness and posted on several websites.[164][165] According to the Kent Fire Department incident report, initial attempts to extinguish the fire with water were unsuccessful, as the fire reignited underneath the vehicle after appearing to be extinguished. Then, the firefighters used a jack to turn the car on its side, and cut a hole to apply water directly to the burning battery.[166] Tesla Motors confirmed the fire began in the battery pack and it was caused by the "direct impact of a large metallic object to one of the 16 modules within the Model S battery pack." The company spokeswoman said that, "Because each module within the battery pack is, by design, isolated by fire barriers to limit any potential damage, the fire in the battery pack was contained to a small section in the front of the vehicle."[164] Tesla also explained that the car owner "was able to exit the highway as instructed by the onboard alert system, bring the car to a stop and depart the vehicle without injury."[167]

Tesla's CEO Elon Musk issued an official statement on October 4, 2013. The statement explained that the culprit appears to be a curved section that fell off a semi-trailer which was recovered from the roadway near where the accident occurred. "The geometry of the object caused a powerful lever action as it went under the car, punching upward and impaling the Model S with a peak force on the order of 25 tons. Only a force of this magnitude would be strong enough to punch a 3 inch diameter hole through the quarter inch armor plate protecting the base of the vehicle." After the driver exited the car, "a fire caused by the impact began in the front battery module – the battery pack has a total of 16 modules – but was contained to the front section of the car by internal firewalls within the pack. Vents built into the battery pack directed the flames down towards the road and away from the vehicle" and the statement noted that "at no point did fire enter the passenger compartment." According to Tesla, the firefighters observed standard procedure, and gained access to the source of the fire by puncturing holes in the top of the battery's protective metal plate and applying water. However, the company noted that it was not correct to puncture the metal firewall, "as the newly created holes allowed the flames to then vent upwards into the front trunk section of the Model S. Nonetheless, a combination of water followed by dry chemical extinguisher quickly brought the fire to an end."[167]

Musk closed the official statement explaining that the result of this accident could have been "far worse" had a conventional gasoline-powered car encountered the same object on the highway, because the "typical gasoline car only has a thin metal sheet protecting the underbody, leaving it vulnerable to destruction of the fuel supply lines or fuel tank, which causes a pool of gasoline to form and often burn the entire car to the ground." He also noted that Tesla's battery pack "is only about 10% of the energy contained in a gasoline tank and is divided into 16 modules with firewalls in between. As a consequence, the effective combustion potential is only about 1% that of the fuel in a comparable gasoline sedan." And based on U.S. statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, he claimed that a driver is "5 times more likely to experience a fire in a conventional gasoline car than a Tesla.[167]

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was not able to send investigators to the scene of the incident due to the U.S federal government shutdown.[166] After the agency reopened, the NHTSA began gathering data of the incident.[168] On October 24, 2013, the agency announced it will not open a formal investigation into the Model S fire incident. The announcement said that "After reviewing all available data, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not found evidence at this time that would indicate the recent battery fire involving a Tesla Model S was the result of a vehicle safety defect or noncompliance with federal safety standards. The agency continually reviews incoming and prior consumer vehicle complaints, as well as other data to identify potential vehicle defect trends and takes appropriate action as necessary."[169]

A second reported fire occurred on October 18, 2013 in Merida, Mexico. In this case the vehicle was being driven at high speed through a roundabout and crashed through a wall and into a tree. The NHTSA did not investigate this incident because it occurred outside the U.S.[170] On November 6, 2013, a Tesla Model S being driven on Interstate 24 near Murfreesboro, Tennessee caught fire after it struck a tow hitch on the roadway, causing damage beneath the vehicle.[170] As a result of these incidents, Tesla Motors announced its decision to extend its current vehicle warranty to cover fire damage and to apply a software update on Model S cars to increase the ground clearance of the Model S when driving at highway speed.[171][172]

On November 19, 2013, and based on the two fire incidents occurring in U.S. public highways, the NHTSA opened a preliminary evaluation to determine "the potential risks associated with undercarriage strikes on model year 2013 Tesla Model S vehicles." An estimated population of 13,108 Model S cars are part of this initial investigation.[172][173]

Another fire incident took place in Toronto, Canada, in early February 2014. The Model S was parked in a garage and it was not plugged charging when the fire started. The origin of the fire is still unknown.[174] According to Tesla “in this particular case, we don’t yet know the precise cause, but have definitively determined that it did not originate in the battery, the charging system, the adapter or the electrical receptacle, as these components were untouched by the fire.”[175]

On March 28, 2014 Tesla announced that starting with vehicle bodies manufactured as of 6 March 2014, all cars have been outfitted with a triple underbody shield. Tesla service will also retrofit the shields, free of charge, to existing cars upon request or as part of a normally scheduled service.[176][177] Also on March 28, 2014, the NHTSA announced they have closed the investigation into whether the Model S design was making the electric car prone to catch fire, after the automaker said it would provide more protection to its lithium-ion batteries. According to the NHTSA, the titanium underbody shield and aluminum deflector plates, along with increased ground clearance, “should reduce both the frequency of underbody strikes and the resultant fire risk.”[178]

Recognition[edit]

  • Green Car Reports' Best Car To Buy 2013[186]
  • 2013 AutoGuide.com Reader's Choice Car of the Year[187]
  • 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."[189][190]
  • Consumer Reports survey of owner satisfaction among its subscribers resulted in a score of 99 out of 100 for the Model S, "the highest the magazine has seen in years."[191]
  • Consumer Reports Best Overall’ 2014 Top Pick among the best all-around models in all 10 categories of cars, light trucks, and SUVs, which are chosen from more than 260 vehicles the organization has recently tested. The magazine considers the Model S a "technological tour de force, while pricey, is brimming with innovation."[192]

Controversies[edit]

The New York Times article[edit]

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.[194]

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.[195] 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.[196] 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.[197] A reporter from CNBC also recreated the trip in one day without incidents.[198] 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.[199][200]

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."[201][202] 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.[203]

NHTSA safest car[edit]

On August 19, 2013, and based on the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) safety ratings for the Model S, Tesla Motors published a press release claiming that the Model S achieved the best safety rating of any car ever tested. Tesla argued that "NHTSA does not publish a star rating above 5, however safety levels better than 5 stars are captured in the overall Vehicle Safety Score (VSS) provided to manufacturers, where the Model S achieved a new combined record of 5.4 stars."[204] Tesla's claim was widely reported by the main media.[205][206][207][208] However, a few days later the NHTSA released a statement rebutting Tesla's claim, explaining that a 5-star rating for the Model S is equal to any other car with a rating of 5-stars, and explained that the carmaker did not follow its advertising guidelines. The agency also said it "does not rate vehicles beyond 5 stars and does not rank or order vehicles within the star rating categories."[209][210][211]

Power dissipation when not in use[edit]

Using system software v5.0, the batteries lost 4.5 kWh overnight.[212] System software v5.8 reduced this so-called "vampire drain" substantially to 1.1 kWh, or around 3 miles range loss per day.[213] In January 2014, Bjorn Nyland, a Model S owner in Norway, recorded a range loss of approximately 20% during a 27-day extended vacation, an indicated range loss of 63 miles (101 km), or 2.3 miles (3.7 km) per day, while stored in frigid temperatures.[214]

Legislative and legal issues with direct sales model[edit]

Tesla Motors has fought legal and legislative battles in a number of states, like Ohio and New York over proposed or current state laws that want to stop its factory-direct sales and service model.[215][216] As of December 2013, the laws in Texas require would-be Model S owners to take a number of unusual actions in order to buy and maintain their cars.[126][217]

See also[edit]

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