Progress continues on the final development of the Tesla Model S, and company founder Elon Musk added a few new details about the 7-passenger sedan at a special VIP briefing over the weekend at the firm's production facility in Fremont, California. He said the company's latest EV offering would arrive with a few surprises when it hits the market sometime next year. In addition to the previously-announced versions with 160-mile, 230-mile and 300-mile per-charge range capabilities, Tesla plans to offer the top-line configuration with optional aerodynamic wheels that can extend its distance to electronic empty to 320 miles. Musk also said the Model S will be available in a high-performance "Sport" variant that would cut the projected 0-60 mph acceleration time from 5.6 seconds to less than 4.5 ticks, making this full-size four-door nearly as quick as a BMW M5 or Porsche 911.

Musk indicated that 6,000 people had already put up a $5,000 refundable deposit on the Model S, which will carry a base price of $57,400 before the $7,500 federal tax credit. That's less than half the cost of the Tesla Roadster. All versions of the Model S have 5+2 seating with kid-scaled rear-facing foldaway third-row perches and come with a 17-inch central touchscreen display that controls numerous operating and ancillary functions. Each range-extending "upgrade" of its liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack is expected to add about $10,000 to the price of the vehicle. As for replenishment, the Tesla Model S will come with a standard single 10kWh on-board charger but also offers optional dual 10kWh units and can be plugged into any 120V or 240V home outlet or a Level III commercial fast-charger.

As a final surprise, Musk also promised that the Model X sport utility crossover would make its first public appearance sometime before the end of the year. Officially, the Model X is still scheduled to debut in January at the 2012 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

 

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