Recharge of the Cool: The Electric Car You'll Want Is Finally Coming

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Tesla Motors Tesla Motors (TSLA) has some good news for fans of the American maker of electric cars. Tesla's Model S -- the company's first reasonably priced vehicle -- may hit the streets as early as next month.

Sure, calling the all-electric car reasonably priced is relative. The cheapest Model S is going for $49,900, and that's with the $7,500 tax credit baked into the price. Obviously that's going to price the car out of the range of most drivers. However, compared to the defining Tesla Roadster that hit the market with a six-figure price tag four years ago, the Model S is a relative bargain.

Tesla was originally not expected to begin delivering the car until July at the earliest. However, if the car is able to clear its government crash ratings test in the coming weeks, the company is comfortable in bumping the release window up to June.

Demand Speeds Ahead of Supply

If you're considering a Model S purchase, the June arrivals won't matter. More than 10,000 people have plunked down $5,000 as a deposit for the new car, and Tesla only expects to roll 5,000 units off the assembly line this year.

Folks are also starting to get in line for the Model X that Tesla has in the works for early 2014 deliveries. Likely to hit the market at similar pricing to this year's Model S, Model X is an all-electric-crossover SUV complete with rear passenger doors that open up like falcon wings.

Yes, Tesla is cool. It's also not profitable at the moment.

Tesla Motors

Will a Cool Car Cure Buyers' Cold Feet?

The announcement of early Model S sedans on Wednesday night was part of the company's quarterly report that featured a widening deficit on marginal sales volume. That's OK. Tesla has already told investors to expect 90% of this year's revenue to take place during the second half of the year when the Model S is available.



Environmentally friendly drivers -- or folks who are tired of being gouged at the pump every time they need to fill up -- are kicking the tires of electric cars. They're just not buying them.

General Motors (GM) temporarily has had to halt production of Chevy Volt vehicles a couple of times already as a result of sluggish demand. Nissan's (NSANY) Leaf isn't setting the market on fire either. Many rival carmakers have plans for their own plug-in electric vehicles to hit the market later this year.

But what the niche really needs is for Tesla's Model S to prove that electric cars can be cool.

The industry could use the validation. The skyrocketing gas prices that some figured would draw consumers into trading in their gas-guzzlers for electric rides are slowly subsiding. Electric cars are going to have to earn their success -- and it may very well start with heads turning next month as Model S sedans hit the open road.

Longtime Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Tesla Motors and General Motors.

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15 Comments

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docmetcalf1955

$49,000 dollars for a short range low performance electric vehicle is NOT reasonable, period, end of story

May 14 2012 at 10:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
marine1942

Does George Clooney drive one ?

May 14 2012 at 8:15 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Johnny Angel

You call 49 K reasonable ? WAKE UP YOU TARDS!!!

May 12 2012 at 8:42 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Johnny Angel's comment
wtrmlnjuc

You're the retard here. For a LUXURY electric vehicle, this is completely viable. Even without the luxury, electric vehicles have not reached a point where they can offer several hundred mile range while charging that at a cheap price. Tesla's plan is to work towards that goal. They're starting from the top down - the Roadster was roughly 100 K, the Model S is roughly 50 K and they're already developing another model codenamed "Bluestar" (not the Model X, for your uneducated mind) will reach a price point of 20 - 30 K.

May 13 2012 at 3:26 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
okie.rider

until someone can figure out how to charge the batteries while driving, there will be no long distance all electric vehicles. maybe hydrogen fuel cell technology is the real answer to replacing fossil fuels, as electricity is still using them to produce a lot of the spark.

May 12 2012 at 8:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to okie.rider's comment
cpo1514

Hello !!!!! Hydrogen fuel is like getting 5 MPG... A lot of hydrogen is needed to create power. Check our the diesel studies (Energy Department under Carter and revived under Clitnmon) seems that large fuel tanks were needed just to carry the fuel needed. (50 gal to saddle 150 gal tanks= 300 gallon total) But the emissions were sooooo claen... and the cost of fuel was sooooo high in cost-benefit analysis.

May 12 2012 at 9:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
papadon.don

okie...the REAL answer is "cold" nuclear fusion, but it seems Obamba dollars go for windmills instead... hummmmm, if ya mount a windmill on the car roof, could ya charge batteries like the sail boater do??......hummmmmmm!

May 12 2012 at 5:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
allen schroeder

Beautiful car! The Volt is great too, but both must get down into the $30k range for me to consider one.

May 11 2012 at 6:02 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to allen schroeder's comment
papadon.don

allen ... for me it's $15k

May 12 2012 at 5:54 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
thefacts22

I was happy to get rid of my Toyota Prius,my friend had to replace the batteries,and it cost him 3000.00,and all his "relative "savings went out of the door.A real open road electric is not even near.I really think,the future is the hidrogen fuel cell

May 11 2012 at 3:52 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
pm0501

With cars that run on gas or diesel, all you needed was a gas can to hike back to the gas station when you ran out. With electric cars, you'll need a 10 mile long extension cord!

Totally electric cars are still a novelty that are 40 years behind in technology and ripe for politicians to slap on a mileage tax. No matter what....it's still going to cost you the equivalent of $5 - $6. 00/gallon to drive.

Has anybody figured out what the price of replacing the batteries is going to run? Sir.... we can fix your $60,000.00 car but new batteries are gonna cost you $20,000.00!

May 11 2012 at 3:37 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to pm0501's comment