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Tesla Model S: the make or break car

Tesla Model S: the make or break car

The company got low-cost US government loans in 2009 worth $465 million to fund a US plant to make the Model S and engineer future electric cars. Tesla will start repaying the loans, with interest rates of 0.9-3.4%, late this year, making it imperative that the rollout of the Model S goes smoothly.

When Elon Musk, the PayPal billionaire and SpaceX founder, came with the idea of starting a car company from scratch in the highcost state, most analysts scoffed. In fact, the delay in the launch of Tesla Motors’ first car-a $109,000 twoseater Roadster-due to boardroomturmoil and technical glitches, only made the analysts’ doubts stronger.

But now, it has to do something more difficult: it has to persuade the masses to buy a relatively expensive car from a smaller, untested company.

Tesla is counting on the car to generate the company’s first profit. It can be cash-flow positive in 2013 with about 8,000 Model S sales, Musk told shareholders on 6 June. Tesla plans to deliver at least 5,300 units, including a $57,400 base version, this year and 20,000 in 2013.

The car

There are eight airbags inside, an optional panoramic sunroof and twin rear-facing jump seats for children. Still, the interior’s centerpiece is the 17- inch touchscreen that controls every aspect of the car, from the infotainment system to climate control. I Bloomberg contributed to this story.

Seating: Five adults, two child seats

Range: Up to 300 miles

Charge: 45-minute quick charge, charges from 110V, 220V or 440V

Turning circle: 37 ft

Curb weight: 4,647.3 lbs

Weight distribution (%, front/rear): approx. 48/52

• 17-inch infotainment touchscreen

• 3G wireless connectivity

• 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds

• Braking 60-0 mph in 135 feet

• 9-inch liquid-cooled electric motor

• All-wheel-drive available (option available in future production models

Photographs: Reuters, Bloomberg, Tesla

pradip.s@livemint.com

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