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Tesla Model S Sedan Makes First Public Appearance

Electric carmaker Tesla Motors threw open its factory doors to customers who have preordered its forthcoming Model S Sedan on Saturday evening. The company is now putting the finishing touches on its Model S electric sedan, which is currently in beta testing. The beta is the phase of vehicle development before it reaches production. The press was allowed to watch while interested potential customers received brief rides around the parking lot.

Tesla Model S Sedan Makes First Public Appearance
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, introduces customers to the Model S sedan at the company's Fremont factory

We need your help, Elon Musk, CEO and founder of Tesla Motors told hundreds of customers after driving onto a stage in a red Model S, saying many people thought of electric cars as unrealistic unicorns. He asked the crowd to talk up the car and announced Tesla would be introducing a faster Model S that goes from zero to 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds, shaving more than a second off current acceleration. Of the speediness of the Model, Musk said: That’s quicker than a 911. Not bad for an electric luxury sedan.

While some users might baulk at having to recharge the vehicle, Musk and his team have designed the vehicle to be as practical as possible. Using its QuickCharge system, the Model S will take only 45 minutes to charge up (With its fastest industrial charger, slower chargers take a more conventional five to 12 hours). Alternatively, owners can purchase a second battery and swap out the spent battery in just five minutes. The 2012 Model S will be available in three trim levels, delivering a driving range of 160 miles, 230 miles, and 300 miles respectively. Musk also highlighted the entertainment system on the Model S. He compared it to being akin to having an iPad in the console as it stores music onboard and will respond to music requests made by voice.

Tesla has received more than 6,000 reservations for the Model S, a four-door, sportback sedan with room for five adults. 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 also used the launch of the Model S Beta to unveil its new Tesla Motors website, which contains a wealth of information about what to expect when the car reaches the market after it completes its Beta shakedown.

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