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Tesla Model S set to blow apart the EV market

Stunning looks, great range and low prices could make it a winner...

The EV market is slowly expanding, but until now there hasn't been a car to rival the established mid-size saloon (sedan) players - the BMW 5-Series, Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class. Well now Tesla has entered the final tesing phase of it's Model S, and it promises to blow the competition into the weeds.

The Model S is a crucial car for the fledgling car manufacturer, since it has been conceived to open up mainstream markets - and to offer more mainstream affordability than the firm's Roadster, the price of which has crept up to $109,000 (£75,000).

The Model S is a large liftback that's longer than a BMW 5-series but shorter than a 7-series. It can seat five adults, and two children in rear-facing seats (its main luggage area is under the bonnet). This instantly gives it a massive USP over the competition. Especially gievn that the Model S is probably the best looking car on the roads. A truly stunning design, it makes even the likes of the Aston Martin Rapide look overstyled and fussy. The car's styling looks like a neat blend of European influences, most notably the rear end, which bears more than a passing resemblance to the Jaguar XF, and its front wings, which feature Maserati Quattroporte-style vents. It also features a full-length glass roof with optional solar panels for powering the AC when the car is parked or in traffic.

Inside, the Model S's most striking feature is the 17in portrait TFT touchscreen display that occupies the whole centre console and allows control of most of the car's systems including AC, Satnav, Stereo, parking camera and more. It also features 3G internet connectivity.

Tesla claims that the 1730kg Model S can crack 0-60mph in 5.5sec, and reach a top speed of 120mph. Three specs of battery pack will be available; the base model has a range of 160 miles, the mid-range version can last for 230 miles and the top-spec Model S has a range of 320 miles. Tesla claims that the floor-mounted, removable battery can be at least partially recharged in 45 minutes giving around 70 miles of driving.

Prices will start from $49,900 for a battery pack with a 160-mile range, rising by $10k for the 230-mile version and finally the range-topping 320-mile variant, which adds $20k to the base price. The inital 1000 cars will be the North American ‘Signature Series’ - equipped with a battery with a 320-mile range – and will feature "an extensive complement of options", according to sales boss George Blankenship.

European left-hand drive versions will begin towards the end of 2012, with right-hand drive variants available half a year later. As in North America, the launch models for each region will be ‘Signature Series’ editions.

We can't wait to see if the Model S delivers on it's promises of a relatively low cost and decent range. If you could buy a 320-mile range model in the UK for £55,000, and a base model for £30,000 it would be priced well against the established competition and may just steal sales from them. Either way, it will surely give drivers a viable EV option which we hope they take up in droves.

Images courtesy of Tesla

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About Tim Oldland

Contributing Editor - Long time petrolhead, automotive design engineer and journalist. Also Social Media Manager for the ecurie25 Group - Tim has worked in the automotive sector for many years, but has been a fan of anything with 2 or 4... read more