• 2012 Tesla Model S

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The long-awaited Tesla Model S is finally itching and itching closer to production as the California-based electric car maker has released the latest batch of photos for their electric sedan.

Looking more or less the same as the concept version, the newly-designed Model S features a restyled front bumper and new rear lights that resemble that of the Jaguar XF. Despite the minimal changes, the "new-look" Model S figures to be as close to what the production version of this model is going to look like.

If and when this model does see the light of the production block, Tesla has announced that the first 1,000 models of the Model S will be given a unique special edition badging - the North American Model S Signature Series - which will come with some added aesthetic treatments, a bevy of optional upgrades, and a powertrain that features the model’s top-of-the-line lithium-ion battery pack with a 300-mile range.

UPDATE 05/07/12: The first model of the Tesla Model S with a customized license plate of "TSLA S1" has finally been delivered to one of the member’s of the company’s board, Steve Jurvetson. Check out the video of the delivery after the jump!

UPDATE 09/17/12: Tesla gave Pikes Peak icon Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima the keys to a Model S so he could give it the shakedown befitting a man that has raced the hill climb far longer than most of us have been alive. Needless to say, Tajima enjoyed it so much he wants one for himself! Check out the video by clicking on the photo above.

Details on the Tesla Model S after the jump.

Exterior and Interior

2012 Tesla Model S High Resolution Interior
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Judging by the new set of photos of the more production-ready version of the Model S, the overall design of the car looks to be largely unchanged from the concept version. Having said that, there are still some noticeable changes made, including a remodeled lower facia with two air intakes on both sides of the slightly restyled front bumper, something that you wouldn’t find in the concept version. The profile of the Model S Alpha also appears to be more aggressive than the concept, with a more angular compared to the streamlined appearance of the concept version and rear lights that were given a new lens design.

From there, though, it’s a case of being more of the same for the Model S. The California-based automaker is promoting it as family sedan that can accommodate up to seven passengers. It also boasts of premium interior styling akin to a luxury car and an infotainment unit that features a 17" touchscreen with in-car 3G connectivity.


2012 Tesla Model S High Resolution Exterior
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To give customers a variety of engine choices, Tesla is giving the Model S different options with the base configuration featuring a 160-mile lithium-ion battery pack (40kWh). This particular option will take the Model S from 0-60 mph in just 6.5 seconds with a top speed of 110 mph.

If 160 miles is too short for you, Tesla is also offering more powerful options, including a 230-mile lithium-ion battery pack (60kWh), which hits 0-60 mph in just 5.9 seconds with a top speed of 120 mph, and a 300-mile version (80kWh) that can go from 0-60 mph in just 5.6 seconds and hit a top speed of 126 mph.

The top-of-the-line model is the Model S Sport, which has been pegged as capable of hitting 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds, considerably faster than the 300-mile, 80kWh Model S. The Model S Sport is carrying the 80kWh electric powertrain with the significant power boost coming courtesy of added enhancements.

Charging Time

2012 Tesla Model S High Resolution Exterior
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As an electric car, the Model S’ power can be derived from those lithium-ion batteries, and similar to just about everything that runs on batteries these days, they need to have ample time to recharge. According to Tesla, the Model S can be charged in any 110V, 220V, or 440V outlet with the latter taking only 45 minutes for a full charge.

Official EPA Ratings

The EPA ratings for the Tesla Model S are all based on the 85-kWh battery, not the smaller and less expensive batteries. The Model S came in at a respectable 88 MPGe in the city, 90 MPGe on the highway, and 89 MPGe combined. MPGe is basically how far an electric car will travel on the electric equivalent of the energy contained in a gallon of gasoline.

The EPA didn’t stop there, as it also had to put the Model S’s claimed 300-mile range to the test. In this test, the Model S came up pretty short, as it could only hit 265 miles on a single charge, which is a pretty significant 11 percent drop.


2012 Tesla Model S Exterior
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The basic version of the Tesla Model S is being offered with a choice of three battery options: 40 kWh, 60 kWh, and 85 kWh. The prices range from $57,400, $67,400 and $77,400, respectively. When factoring in the $7,500 federal tax credit, the prices drop to $49,900, $59,900 and $69,900, respectively.

Moving up into the higher-echelon version - the Performance model - with the larger capacity 85kWh will cost you $87,400 or $79,900 after deducting the $7,500 federal tac credit.

The Performance model is offered exclusively with the larger capacity 85 kWh battery and is priced at $87,400 or $79,900 if you deduct the $7,500 federal tax credit. A Nappa leather interior with carbon décor and Aclantara accents along with an Active Air Suspension and 21-inch alloy wheels come as standard on the Perfomance trim.

Model Price
Tesla Model S 40 kWh $49,900
Tesla Model S 60 kWh $59,900
Tesla Model S 85 kWh $69,900
Tesla Model S Performance $79,900
Options Price
Metallic paint $750
Tesla Multi-coat $1,500
All Glass Panoramic roof $1,500
19" Aerodynamic wheels $1,500
21" High performance tires $3,500
Nappa Leather $1,500
Tech Package $3,750
Sound Studio Package $950
Active Air Suspension $1,500
Parcel Shelf $250
Twin Chargers $1,500
High Power Wall Connector $1,200


2012 Tesla Model S Exterior
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In looking for suitable competition for the soon-to-be-released production version, the Model S could find itself battling for the hearts, minds, and pockets of environmentally-friendly customers with a car that is dealing with its own issues as of late: the Fisker Karma.

Unlike the Tesla Model S Alpha, the Fisker Karma isn’t a full-blown electric car, but is a plug-in hybrid that uses its own lithium-ion battery pack. This pack is capable of powering two 200+ hp electric motors for about 50 miles. When the time comes that the battery of the Karma hits the red, a GM-sourced 2.0-liter gas engine with 269 horsepower will be activated, giving the car enough time to generate electricity needed to bring power back to the Model S. Either way, the Karma’s performance numbers aren’t too far off from the Model S Alpha, including a 0-60 mph time of six seconds and a top speed of over 125 mph.

Tesla Model S Takes A Test Drive

First Model S Delivered To Steve Jurvetson

  • Leave it
    • Long wait already
    • Not as powerful as we’d hope
Kirby Garlitos
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read full bio
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What do you think?
Show Comments


  (333) posted on 02.17.2012

This concept of Tesla captures me most especially the red body paint on it. It’s nice to know that this model gives customers a variety of engine choices.

  (463) posted on 02.16.2012

When it comes to interior design; its very roomy and refreshing to look at. It looks better than the concept version and the power train options offer plenty of choices.

  (594) posted on 02.10.2012

I can’t believe that this such stunning and luxurious car is also a green or electric vehicle too. The interior and exterior of this 2012 Tesla Model S are both stylish. The interior has lots of high-tech goodies like the 17-inch LCD monitor.

  (594) posted on 02.8.2012

The car looks better in concept, and it cost expensive as much as Roadster. The engine offers many choices.

  (776) posted on 02.1.2012

I don’t know if this was right, but for me, the 2012 Tesla is far more fabulous than the concept which they’ve presented before the production. The interior was very impressive as they also put the 17” touch screen and good thing it has a 3G connectivity. 

  (676) posted on 01.31.2012

This is one of the most luxury cars I’ve ever seen. It looks better than the concept version. Everything’s nice but the price is not.

  (714) posted on 01.27.2012

2012 Tesla Model S looks more appealing than the concept version and power train option offers many choices.

  (342) posted on 01.10.2012

The colors are pretty stunning as well. This model looks so promising. Good thing is that they are capable in progressing their models.

  (797) posted on 01.4.2012

What a price! Fortunate ones will surely have this car. And the colors are pretty stunning as well, but I will pick the grey one. Also, the exterior design is really promising for an electric car.

  (647) posted on 12.22.2011

Tesla is so awesome on its outlook! It looks perfect more on its car lines even on its interior technology! Moreover, I’m very fascinated with its technology and with its center console. Nice maximum speed as well.

  (503) posted on 12.19.2011

I’m so impressed with its dressed-up interior! It looks cozy and classy on that, and I really find its navigation system very cool! smiley Moreover, I think they should boost more the engine of this Alpha.

  (428) posted on 08.15.2011

If it is their production version, I can say that it looks better than its concept, and it is a good thing that they gave us choices on its power train. On the other hand, I think it is some kind of pricey compare to other roadsters.

  (619) posted on 06.13.2011

Well, I would say that this baby actually looks very promising. And considering that Tesla does have a pretty good record when it comes to electric cars, I am pretty sure that they would be able to pull it off.

  (334) posted on 06.10.2011

I don’t have anything to say about the performance yet. But I do like the looks of the interior, it is really very modern and rather simple in its appearance, very clean too.

  (329) posted on 06.9.2011

well, let’s see how this one would actually turn out. I would say that the Tesla Roaster was really a success, so this baby would definitely be a good follow up to that one.

  (516) posted on 06.8.2011

Hmm, I must admit that I was really not that impressed about the first models that Tesla had released. But I would say that this one actually does look promising.

  (814) posted on 06.8.2011

Good thing that they are really making a lot of progress with the Alpha. I would say that I was pretty impressed with the car when they unveiled it some time ago.

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