Monday, February 8, 2010

2012 Tesla Model S Review and Prices

When it's time to plug-in, owners can use 120-, 240- or 420-volt outlets, whichever is handy. There's also an onboard charger, so we assume the 2012 Tesla Model S includes a regenerative braking function for juicing the batteries while driving. The brakes themselves are Brembo-brand 4-wheel discs, presumably with ABS. A final factoid for you: The styling has a claimed drag coefficient of 0.26, a low number shared with the compact Toyota Prius hybrid and just as necessary here to minimize power-sapping air drag at highway speeds.

The 2012 Tesla Model S will be sold as a fully equipped car with all the conveniences, a wood-and-leather interior, and a couple of novel items detailed below under "Notable Feature." But as with the $80,000 Fisker Karma extended-range hybrid sedan, due in 2010, initial Model S production--perhaps no more than 100 units--will be a collector-ready Signature Series version with one-time-only trim and colors. A Sport model is due later on. It reportedly does 0-60 in under 5 seconds, presumably via a larger electric motor, stronger batteries, or both. There will be few regular options, according to information on Tesla's website: The extended-range batteries, a full-length panoramic glass roof with opening panel, a power liftgate, and a "remote-vehicle-management" system for charging, personal seat and climate settings, and "data collection" (whatever that means).

From what we can tell, the 2012 Tesla Model S could be that rare car that appeals to gearheads, greenies and growing families all at the same time. It's certainly very much in line with Consumer Guide's notions for what 21st century cars should be: Clean, quiet, practical, environmentally benign, and reasonably affordable. If it proves to be as good in real life as it looks on paper--and however you feel about corporate rescues--the Model S would seem to justify lending Tesla some of our hard-earned tax dollars.

A Notable Feature of the 2012 Tesla Model S

Besides having a trunk at each end, including a wagon-like rear cargo hold, the 2012 Tesla Model S is the only sedan we know of with a 3rd-row seat. We haven't seen it in action, but it's said to be suitable for two pre-teens, which means it likely folds up from the rear-trunk floor to face forward. Another novelty, which we have seen, is the simple dashboard with a hooded electronic gauge cluster, rotary light switch, and a trio of steering-column stalks. Most everything else--including climate, navigation and infotainment functions--is controlled through a pair of centrally mounted touch-screens measuring no less than 17 inches, which is huge for a passenger car. The system is said to include an Internet link as well as the expected phone and music-player connectivity.