TESLA MODEL S
Tesla Motors' brand-new Model S electric sedan, currently in the last stages of development at the company's US headquarters, has been confirmed for an Asia-Pacific launch in 2013.
The first of the Model S cars to roll off the assembly line will be left-hand-drive models for the North American market, beginning in 2012.
Of those, the first 1000 will be dubbed the 'Model S Signature Series', benefiting from a 480km-range electric battery and a range of limited edition options and badging.
Europe will be the next stop for the new Tesla's international rollout, with left-hand-drive models hitting that market in late 2012.
Speaking with TMR today, Tesla's Camille Rickets said that the right-hand-drive Model S is expected to make its way to the Asia Pacific region - including Australia - around the middle of 2013.
Tesla says development of its first "Alpha build" sedan is now around 80 percent complete. With its design locked in and much of its equipment signed off, this road-testing phase will see settings for its its suspension, motor systems and subframe finalised.
“The first Alpha is amazingly agile for a car of its size," test driver Graham Sutherland said.
"It has great handling balance and poised ride with communicative steering. Just goes to show what combining a low center of gravity with a very stiff body structure can achieve."
Like the Roadster, the Model S will feature a single-speed transmission, which Tesla says has been developed and optimised for ultra-efficient driving.
The Model S also represents Tesla's push toward becoming a volume-selling brand, with its initial 12-month and 5000-unit production schedule expected to grow to 20,000 per year.
By comparison, the company has built just 1500 of its Roadster cars since its launch in 2008.
Final pricing for the Model S is still to be confirmed, although Tesla expects to offer an update on pricing sometime around the middle of this year.