Tesla Motors says that its proposed Model S family sedan is already drawing interest from consumers, despite the fact that the company doesn’t expect it to reach production until late 2011. The electric vehicle maker announced earlier this week that it has already surpassed 1,000 reservations for the vehicle.
If Tesla’s predictions for the Model S are accurate, then there’s good reason for excitement. Tesla says it will hold up to seven people and go 300 miles on a charge. A press release on the company’s web site declares that the new model will offer a fast-charging feature that will enable it to be recharged in just 45 minutes at 480V. It will also be rechargeable at 120V and 240V, though the web site does not say how long those will take.
By comparison, EVs up to now have generally offered driving ranges of 70-150 miles, with recharge times typically taking six hours.
We contacted Tesla earlier this week and they said they’re not yet ready to talk about the Model S in any detail.
Until they’re ready to talk, we can only guess at how they plan to squeeze 300 miles out of a seven-person sedan. In an article we published in 2008, we asked experts from MIT, University of California-Berkeley, Argonne Labs and elsewhere to estimate the state of art in vehicle battery energy. Their average response for lithium-ion: 140 W-hr/kg. Mileage varies from vehicle to vehicle, of course, but conservative estimates say that 1 W-hr/kg equals approximately one mile of range in a big sedan.
That’s obviously far short of Tesla’s predictions, so I guess we’ll just have to wait to find out how they’re going to do it.