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Thumbs Up For Tesla After Investor Drive Day

Road Tests So Far Shed No Light On Range Claims

Electric sports car maker Tesla Motors’ latest investor schmoozing programme was carried out successfully, with most participants in its Model S ride event in Fremont, California expressing admiration for the progress the company is making.

Investors drove the four-door Model S, scheduled for launch in the middle of next year. Production is scheduled to reach 20,000 a year by the middle of 2013.

“Tesla appears well on track to hit their mid-2012 start of production time line and it appears to managing risks associated with a significant amount of vertical integration very well,” said Deutsche Bank analyst Dan Galves.

“We had the opportunity to ride in but not drive a Beta prototype of the Model S. The riding experience was consistent with our relatively high expectations,” Galves said.

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas agreed.

“Expectations were high, but the Model S did not disappoint as initial investor reactions were generally very positive. We are encouraged by the progress Tesla has shown on the manufacturing side,” Jonas said.

Tesla announced at the event that it will offer a sports version of the Model S with a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds. The base model has a 0-60 time of 5.6 seconds. The Model X SUV prototype is expected by the end of this year, with commercial introduction by the fourth quarter of 2013, about six months earlier than initially expected.

Tesla also sells battery packs and chargers to Daimler for its Smart and A class electric vehicles, and electric power-train systems for Toyota’s RAV4 EV.

Range tests to come
Tesla has made sure so far that any driving of its test car was not able to establish its range, which the company claims is 160 miles for the basic $57,400 (before federal tax credit of $7,500) model. This can be almost doubled to 300 miles at the cost of more batteries costing $20,000, or a 230 mile option costing an extra $10,000. The first published road-test of the Model S, from Motor Trend magazine, was restricted to the test site at Fremont.

Neil Winton – October 20, 2011

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