While only available in the top-of-the-line version for now, the Model S will one day come in four packages – Base, Performance, Signature, and Signature Performance – ranging from about $50,000 to $100,000, after federal incentives. The Performance edition comes with an 85-kW lithium-ion battery and high-performance drive inverter that offers 416 horsepower at 5,000-to-8,600 rpm and 443 pound-feet of torque at 0-5,100 rpm. Hitting the accelerator pedal keeps the interior completely silent, and the only thing heard is Hasemeyer laughing as he watches the speedometer hit 60 miles per hour (starting from zero) in 4.4 seconds. You can see for yourself below, but here's what else is in the video.
Hasemeyer visited the Tesla factory in Fremont, CA, and got to ask questions of chief designer Franz Von Holzhausen. Von Holzhausen says the team created an architecture for the Model S that it calls the skateboard – the batteries and powertrain are between the wheels and below the centerline of the wheels. Everything above that line became an open opportunity to design and create a new electric vehicle. This means there's more space for seats and comfort in the Model S than in most other EVs. You don't have to cross over the battery pack hump when moving around inside the car, for example.
The display touch screen is something to behold. It's easy to view and toggle through to see your energy use, access the web and use the navigation screen and other apps. Above the wheel, drivers can customize the gauge clusters in front of them.
Like most performance style cars, there are a number of modes you can switch to. Hasemeyer changes steering from standard to sport, and describes how this is the option for when you want less play and a little more feel in the steering wheel.
Ted Merendino, product planner for Tesla Motors, explains why the company just released its own proprietary charger. The existing technologies – J1772 and others – didn't really offer the functionality that Tesla needed, he says. The Model S itself can accept everything from an average household plug all the way up the 90-kW DC charger, which it calls the Supercharger.
As we found when we drove the Model S, the EV sets new standards with no compromise and no emissions plus all the bells and whistles, Hasemeyer said. Looks like a consensus is forming.