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Tesla Model S

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Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S
Manufacturer Tesla Motors
Also called Code name: WhiteStar[1][2][3]
Production 2012–present
Model years 2012–present
Assembly United States: Fremont, California (Tesla Factory)
Europe: Tilburg, The Netherlands (all parts)
Designer Franz von Holzhausen
Body and chassis
Class Full-size Luxury
Body style 5-door liftback
Layout Rear-motor, rear-wheel drive, Dual motor all-wheel drive ('D'-Versions)
Electric motor , 443 ft·lb (600 N·m), Three-phase AC induction motor
Transmission 1-speed fixed gear (9.73:1)
Battery 40, 60, 70, 85 or 90 kWh lithium ion[4]
Electric range
  • 70 kWh
    240 mi (390 km) (EPA)
  • 85 kWh
    265 mi (426 km) (EPA)
    310 mi (500 km) (NEDC)
Plug-in charging
  • 11 kW 85–265 V onboard charger for 1ϕ 40 A or 3ϕ 16 A[5] on IEC Type 2 inlet[319]
  • Optional "Twin Charger" for 22 kW for 1ϕ 80 A or 3ϕ 32 A[5]
  • Supercharger for 120 kW DC offboard charging, adapters for domestic AC sockets (110-240V)
Wheelbase 2,959 mm (116.5 in)
Length 4,976 mm (195.9 in)
Width 1,963 mm (77.3 in)
Height 1,435 mm (56.5 in)
Curb weight
  • 1,961 kg (4,323 lb) (60) [7]
  • 2,085 kg (4,597 lb) (60D)[8]
  • 2,090 kg (4,608 lb) (70D)[9]
  • 2,108 kg (4,647 lb) (85)
  • 2,188 kg (4,824 lb) (85D)[8]
  • 2,239 kg (4,936 lb) (P85D)[8]

The Tesla Model S is a full-sized plug-in electric five-door, luxury liftback, produced by Tesla Motors. Since its introduction in June 2012[10] it has achieved rapidly growing sales, particularly in Norway and California. It scored a perfect 5.0 NHTSA automobile safety rating. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official range for the Model S Performance model equipped with an 85 kWh battery pack is 265 miles (426 km), topping the Tesla Roadster to lead the electric car market.[11][320][321] EPA rates its energy consumption at 237.5 Wh per kilometer (38 kWh/100 mi) for a combined fuel economy of 89 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent (2.64 L/100 km).[11][322]

The Model S became the first electric car to top the monthly new car sales ranking in any country, twice leading in Norway, in September and again in December 2013.[15][16][17][18] The Model S ranked as the world's second best selling plug-in electric vehicle after the Nissan Leaf in 2014.[19] Global cumulative sales passed 90,000 units by October 2015.[20] During the first nine months of 2015, the Model S ranked as the top selling plug-in electric car in the U.S. with about 17,700 units sold.[20]

The Tesla Model S won awards such as the 2013 World Green Car of the Year, 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year, Automobile Magazine's 2013 Car of the Year, Time Magazine Best 25 Inventions of the Year 2012 award and Consumer Reports' top-scoring car ever. In 2015, Car and Driver named the Model S the Car of the Century.[323]


Tesla Model S prototype at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show
The first production Tesla Model S (with owner Tesla Board member Steve Jurvetson) in June 2015, three years after the car's market release.

The Model S was styled by Franz von Holzhausen, who previously worked for Mazda North American Operations.[22] The car was codenamed WhiteStar during research and preliminary development.[1][2][3]

The Model S was announced in a press release on June 30, 2008.[324][24] The prototype vehicle was displayed at a press conference on March 26, 2009.[25]

In February 2008 it was reported that Tesla Motors was planning to offer a range-extended version of its Model S. This version would have included a gasoline engine to extend the driving range of the vehicle,[325] but it was removed in later revisions. At the GoingGreen conference in September 2008 Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, announced that Tesla was developing only electric cars.[326]

Construction of an assembly factory in Albuquerque, New Mexico (a central location for shipping) was supposed to begin in April 2007, but was cancelled.[327] A factory to be built in San Jose, California was also announced.[328][329][330] In May 2010 Tesla announced it would produce the Model S at the former NUMMI assembly plant in Fremont, California,[331] now known as the Tesla Factory. This third plan was implemented. In June 2015, three years after the Model S introduction and with almost 75,000 Model S sedans delivered worldwide, Tesla announced that Model S owners have accumulated over 1 billion electric miles (1.6 billion km) traveled, and saved more than half a million tons of CO2.[332][34] The Tesla Model S is the first plug-in electric vehicle to reach that milestone. In October 2014 General Motors reported that Volt owners had accumulated a total of 629 million all-electric miles (over 1 billion kilometers) out of a total of 1 billion miles (1.6 billion km) traveled; while Nissan reported in December 2014 that Leaf owners had traveled 625 million miles (1 billion kilometers).[34] Tesla also reported that 68% of Model S travel took place in North America, 25% in Europe and 7% in Asia-Pacific.[34]


A Tesla Model S being manufactured at the Tesla Factory

Tesla manufactures the Model S at the 5.4 million square foot[333] Tesla Factory in Fremont, California. For the European market, Tesla assembles and distributes from its European Distribution Center in Tilburg, the Netherlands.[334] Cars are built and tested in Fremont, California. The battery pack, the electric motor and parts are disassembled and shipped separately to Tilburg, where the cars are reassembled.[37] The center occupies a 203,000 sq ft (18,900 m2) industrial building that also serves as a workshop and spare parts warehouse. Tesla expects the Model S to "pay back" the energy that went into producing the car in fewer than 10,000 miles (16,000 km).[335]

The first ten customers received their cars at the Fremont factory on June 22, 2012 at the official launch.[39] Production grew from 15–20 cars completed/week in August 2012[39] to about 1,000 cars per week in 2015.[40]

In October 2015, Tesla Motors announced the company is negotiating with the Chinese government on producing its electric cars domestically. Local production has the potential to reduce the sales prices of Tesla models by a third.[41] A Model S starts at about US$76,000 in the U.S., while in China pricing starts at CN¥673,000, about US$106,000, after duties and other taxes.[336] Elon Musk clarified that production will remain in the U.S., but if there’s sufficient local demand for the Tesla Model 3 in China, a factory could be built in the country as soon as a year after the launch of the new model. Production in Europe will also depend on the region's demand for the Model 3.[337]


Model S chassis, on display at Santana Row in San Jose, California

The Model S exists in several versions, differing in energy capacity (battery size), power (motor size), and equipment.


Cutaway view of a Tesla Model S drive motor
A Tesla Model S P85+ using regenerative braking power in excess of 60 kW. During regenerative braking the power indicator is green

The 2012 Tesla Model S Performance model has a 416 hp (310 kW) and 443 ft·lb (600 N·m) rear-mounted electric motor. The base model uses a 362 hp (270 kW) and 325 ft·lb (440 N·m) motor. The company claimed a drag coefficient of Cd=0.24,[44] lower than any car when released. Models of Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class (released later) appeared to surpass the Model S[4][338] however, independent measurement by Car And Driver Magazine in May 2014 bore out Tesla's claim by exactly confirming a drag coefficient of Cd=0.24, but in the same test, measured the Mercedes CLA at Cd=0.30, putting Mercedes' claim into question.[339]

The rear axle has a traditional open differential. Models with dual motors also have an open differential on the front axles as well. The front and rear axles have no mechanical linkage — with dual motors the power distribution among them is controlled electronically.[340]

The discontinued Model S P85 top speed is 130 mph (210 km/h) and it accelerates from 0 to 60 miles per hour (0 to 97 km/h) in 4.2 seconds. The replacement Model S 85D has a top speed of 155 mph (249 km/h) and it accelerates from 0 to 60 miles per hour (0 to 97 km/h) in 4.2 seconds, despite the lower total motor power, in part due to the improved traction of the all-wheel drive powertrain. The Model S P85D, a dual motor all-wheel drive vehicle has a governed top speed of 160 mph (260 km/h)[48] and it accelerates from 0 to 60 miles per hour (0 to 97 km/h) in 3.1 seconds (tested to 3.3 seconds), under "Insane Mode", with 1G of acceleration.[48][341] New P85Ds have an optional "Ludicrous Mode" hardware package available with the 90 kWh battery upgrade (thus becoming a P90D) that improves the 0 to 60 miles per hour (0 to 97 km/h) acceleration to 2.8 seconds and 1.1Gs.[50][342][343]

The powertrain also provides regenerative braking power of more than 60 kW which reduces both energy consumption and improves brake lifetime.

In July 2015 Tesla announced its goal to make the Model S powertrain last for one million miles.[53]

Dual-motor all-wheel-drive versions

On October 9, 2014, Tesla announced the introduction of All Wheel Drive (AWD) versions of the Model S' 60, 85, and P85 models, designated by a D at the end of the model number.[54][55][56]

On April 8, 2015, Tesla introduced the Model S 70D as its new US$75,000 entry-level car, with all-wheel drive and an improved range of 240 miles (385 km). The 70D replaced the 60 and 60D in the Model S lineup, with the latter two models no longer being available for purchase. The P85 option was also dropped.[57][344]

In the 85D, the rear drive unit is replaced by a smaller one to save cost and weight, while a second motor of similar size is added to the front wheels. This results in an AWD car with comparable power and acceleration to the RWD version while keeping the price increase to US$5,000. Additionally, the 85D reports a 2% (5 mile) range increase and 11% increase in top speed over the 85[345] (presumably due to incremental improvements in hardware and software). In the P85D, the high-power rear drive unit is retained, while a new front drive motor boosts the total power by about 50%. This results in a significant increase in acceleration and top speed. The 85 kWh version rose from US$81,070 to US$86,070, while the P85 (now the P85D) jumped from US$94,570 to US$105,670. Deliveries of the P85D started in December 2014, with the 85D models starting in February 2015, and the 70D models starting in April 2015.[55]


External images
Speed-dependent ranges of various Model S
Speed-dependent ranges, Roadster & Model S

The 60 kWh electric vehicle battery was rated to deliver 230 miles (370 km), while an 85 kWh battery was rated at 320 miles (510 km), assuming a constant speed of 55 mph (89 km/h).[50] The EPA range for the 60 kWh battery pack model is 208 mi (335 km)[60] and the 85 kWh battery is 265 miles (426 km).[11][346]

Tesla Model S showing the front trunk where the engine would be in a typical car. Tesla Motors calls this a 'frunk'.[62]

The energy-saving "sleep" state powers off the display and other vehicle electronics, after the car goes to sleep. This increases the time it takes the touchscreen and instrument panel to become usable. This mode can decrease the loss of the car's range when not being used (currently 2.3 mi (3.7 km) per day).[63]

The 85 kWh battery pack weighs 1,200 lb (540 kg)[64] and contains 7,104 lithium-ion battery cells in 16 modules[347] wired in series (14 in the flat section and two stacked on the front).[348] Each module contains six groups[349] of 74 cells[68] wired in parallel; the six groups are then wired in series within the module.[68][350][351][71] As of June 2012 the battery pack uses modified Panasonic cells with nickel-cobalt-aluminum cathodes.[4] Each cell is of the 18650 form factor (i.e. an 18 mm diameter, 65 mm height cylinder), similar to the Panasonic NCR18650B cell that has an energy density of 265Wh/kg.[352]

The battery is guaranteed for eight years or 125,000 miles (200,000 km in metric countries) for the base model with the 60 kWh battery pack. The 85 kWh battery pack is guaranteed for eight years and unlimited miles.[73]

A separate battery replacement guarantee takes effect after the eighth year at a cost of US$10,000 for the 60 kWh battery and US$12,000 for the 85 kWh battery.[353]

In 2013, Tesla canceled a 40 kWh version of the car due to lack of demand, stating that only 4% of pre-orders were for the 40 kWh battery option. Customers who ordered this option instead received the 60 kWh pack, with charge software-limited to 40 kWh (142 miles). It has the improved acceleration and top speed of the bigger pack and can be upgraded to use the full 60 kWh for US$11,000.[354]

On April 8, 2015, Tesla Motors discontinued the Model S 60, and replaced the base model with the Model S 70.[355]

In July 2015, Tesla introduced its 70, 90, 90D and P90D variants along with a "ludicrous mode" for the performance model. The P90D combines a front axle power of 259 horsepower (193 kW) and rear axle power of 503 horsepower (375 kW) to a total of 762 horsepower (568 kW), for a 0–60 mph time of 2.8 sec. The acceleration of the P90D can reach 1.1g, described by Tesla as "faster than falling".[53] The "ludicrous mode" costs US$10,000 for P90D, but is discounted to US$5,000 plus labor for P85D owners until January 2016.[77] In 2015, Tesla introduced a 70kWh battery to replace the existing 60kWh batteries and base 60kWh Model S vehicles, as the 60 was low margin and not sufficiently welcomed by customers.[78][79] All 70kWh cars can be had with rear-wheel drive or all wheel drive.[356]

In July 2015, Tesla introduced its 90 and P90D, a "range upgrade" of the 85 variants with a 90kWh battery and explained the 6% energy increase with "improved cell chemistry"[53] and with the introduction of silicon into the graphite cell anode.[357] Tesla additionally announced its expectation of an annual improvement in battery capacity of about 5%. Tesla also explained that apart from the P90D the Model S has its main battery conductor protected by a fuse rated for 1300A and that this rating is somewhat conservative given the uncertainty of the exact conditions under which a fuse melts. To reduce this uncertainty Tesla has for the P90D introduced Inconel battery contactors[82] and an electronically controlled pyro-activated fuse, which monitors the current at the millisecond level, cuts the power with "extreme precision and certainty" and has a rating of 1500A.[53]

A poll among drivers indicate that battery loss steadies around 5% after 30,000 miles (50,000 km).[358]


Past and Current Model S features
  40 kWh1 60 kWh 70 kWh 85 kWh / 90 kWh Performance 85 kWh / 90 kWh
RWD RWD RWD (70) AWD (70D) RWD (85/90) AWD (85D/90D) RWD (P85) AWD (P85D/P90D) Ludicrous 3,4
Range[84][85] 160 mi (260 km)
(Tesla Motors)
208 mi (335 km)
375 km (233 mi)
230 mi (370 km)
375 km (233 mi)
240 mi (390 km)
442 km (275 mi)
265 mi (426 km)
502 km (312 mi)
270 mi (430 km)
502 km (312 mi)
265 mi (426 km)
502 km (312 mi)
253 mi (407 km)
480 km (300 mi)
253 mi (407 km)
480 km (300 mi)
Max. power 235 hp (175 kW) 302 hp (225 kW) 315 hp (235 kW) 329 hp (245 kW) 373 hp (278 kW) 422 hp (315 kW) 470 hp (350 kW) 691 hp (515 kW) 762 hp (568 kW)3,4
Max. torque 317 lb·ft (430 N·m) 317 lb·ft (430 N·m) n/a n/a 325 lb·ft (441 N·m) n/a 443 lb·ft (601 N·m) 687 lb·ft (931 N·m) n/a
0–60 mph
(0–100 km/h)[86]
6.5 sec 5.9 sec 5.5 sec 5.2 sec
(5.4 sec)
5.4 sec
(5.6 sec)
4.2 sec
(4.4 sec)
4.2 sec
(4.4 sec)
3.1 sec
(3.3 sec)
2.8 sec
(3.0 sec)
Top speed 110 mph (180 km/h) 120 mph (190 km/h) 140 mph (230 km/h) 140 mph (230 km/h) 140 mph (230 km/h) 155 mph (249 km/h) 130 mph (210 km/h) 155 mph (249 km/h)[86] 155 mph (249 km/h)
Supercharging No Optional2 (US$2,000) Included
Price (base US) $59,900 $69,900 $70,000 $75,000 $79,900 $84,900 $93,400 $105,000 $118,000
Availability 2012–Apr 2013 2012–Apr 2015 July 2015–present Apr 2015–present 2012–present Nov 2014–present 2012–Nov 2014 Nov 2014–present Aug 2015–present
1 Original stated 40 kWh model specifications. Range limited 60 kWh versions actually delivered.
2 After purchase, a Supercharging upgrade was available for US$2,500.
3 Only available for Dual-Motor Performance models with optional Ludicrous Mode upgrade, which requires 90kWh battery for new cars (P90D). Only available until January 2016 for P85D already in ownership.[77]
4 Total motor power specification, battery power limited to less.

Energy consumption

Under its five-cycle testing protocol, the EPA rated the 85 kWh Model S model with a combined fuel economy equivalent of 89 MPGe (2.64 L/100 km), with an equivalent 88 mpg-US (2.7 L/100 km; 106 mpg-imp) in city driving and 90 mpg-US (2.6 L/100 km; 110 mpg-imp) on highways.[11]

The following table shows the EPA's official ratings for fuel economy in miles per gallon gasoline equivalent (MPGe) and EPA's estimated out-of-pocket fuel costs for the variants of the Model S rated as of 21 August 2015 and as displayed in the Monroney label.
2012–15 Tesla Model S fuel economy and operating costs
Model Model
Combined MPGe City MPGe Highway MPGe Cost to drive
25 miles
Fuel Cost(1)
(15,000 mi)
Tesla Model S
(60 kWh)[87][359][89]
2013–15 95
(35 kWh/100 mi)
(36 kWh/100 mi)
(35 kWh/100 mi)
US$1.05 US$650
Tesla Model S AWD - 70D
(70 kWh)[87][89]
2015 101
(33 kWh/100 mi)
(33 kWh/100 mi)
(33 kWh/100 mi)
US$0.99 US$600
Tesla Model S
(85 kWh)[87][360]
2012–15 89
(38 kWh/100 mi)
(38 kWh/100 mi)
(37 kWh/100 mi)
US$1.14 US$700
Tesla Model S AWD
(85 kWh)[84][87]
2014 89
(38 kWh/100 mi)
(40  kWh/100 mi)
(36 kWh/100 mi)
US$1.14 US$700
Tesla Model S AWD – 85D
(85 kWh)[84][87]
2015 100
(34 kWh/100 mi)
95 mpg-e
(35 kWh/100 mi)
(32 kWh/100 mi)
US$1.02 US$600
Tesla Model S AWD – 90D
(90 kWh)[87][89]
2015 100
(34 kWh/100 mi)
95 mpg-e
(35 kWh/100 mi)
(32 kWh/100 mi)
US$1.02 US$600
Tesla Model S AWD – P85D
(85 kWh)[84][87]
2015 93
(36 kWh/100 mi)
(38 kWh/100 mi)
98 mpg-e
(35 kWh/100 mi)
US$1.08 US$650
Tesla Model S AWD – P90D
(90 kWh)[87][89]
2015 93
(36 kWh/100 mi)
(38 kWh/100 mi)
(35 kWh/100 mi)
US$1.08 US$650
Notes: 1 Based on 45% highway and 55% city driving. Values rounded to the nearest US$50. Electricity cost of US$0.12/kWh,
as of 21 August 2015. 1 gal. gasoline = 33.7 kWh.

Battery Placement

In contrast to most other BEVs including the Roadster, the battery pack of the Model S forms the floor of the vehicle between the axles, providing the vehicle with several advantages. Most notably, since the battery pack is the single heaviest component of the vehicle, the Model S has a center of gravity height of only 18 inches (46 cm),[64][91] helping it to achieve a lateral acceleration of 0.9g[92] and good protection against rollover.[361][94] Secondly, the absence of a heavy engine between the front or rear axle allows the bulk of the mass to be centralized between the axles, lowering rotational inertia allowing it to turn more quickly. Thirdly, the placement of the battery pack increases the rigidity of the passenger compartment, improving the passive safety of the vehicle.[362] Fourth, placing the battery pack under the vehicle makes it possible to remove or replace the entire unit in 90 seconds,[363] either for maintenance or for Tesla's Battery Swap service.


The Model S charge port is located in front of the left taillight.
Model S charging connectors at the Tesla store in Austin, Texas.

The Model S comes equipped with a different charger and connector in North American vs. European markets, reflecting differences in the local electric grid.

In all markets the charge port is located behind a door in the left taillight. During charging, the charge port pulses green. The frequency at which the charge port’s light pulses slows down as the charge level approaches full. When charging is complete, the light stops pulsing and is solid green.[364]

North America

The standard North American onboard charger accepts single phase 120 or 240-volt sources at a rate of up to 10 kW. Included adapters allow the car to charge from a standard 120 volt outlet, a 240 volt NEMA 14-50 outlet, and SAE J1772 public chargers. An optional US$2,000 upgrade for a second 10 kW onboard charger supports a total of up to 20 kW charging from an 80 amp available US$750 Tesla Wall Connector.[4] The North American connector uses a proprietary Tesla design.

Charging times vary depending on the battery pack's state-of-charge, its overall capacity, the available voltage, and the available circuit breaker amperage. From a 120 volt/15 amp household outlet, the range increases by 3.75 miles (6 km) for every hour of charging. From a 10 kW, NEMA 14–50 240 V/50 A outlet (like those used by RVs or standard cooking ranges), the charge rate is 28.75 miles (46 km) per hour. Using Tesla's 20 kW, 240 V High Power Wall Connector increases the rate to 57 miles (92 km) per hour if the car is configured with twin chargers (20 kW).[98]

Europe / Asia Pacific

The standard European charger accepts three phase 230 V or 400 V at up to 11 kW. The connector on the car directly accepts IEC 62196 Type 2 "Mennekes" public charging stations at up to 400 V, and included adapters allow the car to charge from standard continental European outlets and IEC 60309 230 volt (Blue 3 pin) or 400 volt (Red 5 pin) outlets, depending on region. The addition of a second charger supports charging at up to 22 kW, and the Tesla Wall Connector is slated for release in Fall 2015.[365]


Tesla built 120 kW[100] "Supercharger" stations to allow long distance travel in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.[101] A Supercharger can add up to 200 miles (320 km) of range in 20 minutes and a full charge in approximately one hour assuming a nearly empty 85 kWh battery.[4][98]

Supercharging hardware is included in the 85 kWh, 70 kWh, and 60 kWh battery packs; in both the 85 kWh models and 70 kWh models,[366] the payment for the car includes supercharging by default, but in the 60 kWh, supercharging was software-disabled and one must pay an extra fee to enable supercharging.[73][98][103][367]


The Model S has independent coil spring suspension on all four wheels – front control arm and rear multilink. As an extra-cost option, the car is available with self-leveling, height-adjustable air suspension. This is accomplished via adjustable Bilstein shock absorbers controlled by the driver. The car is meant to lower itself at highway speed and raise itself to traverse steep driveways and rough terrain, despite the low 6-inch ground clearance and rather long 116-inch wheelbase.[368]

Because, in the Tesla, electronic systems can be upgraded by "over-the-air" download, rather than recall, the suspension system has been changed retroactively on several occasions. During the 2013 'fire investigation', NHTSA asked Tesla to disable the car's ability to lower itself at speed on the theory that a ground clearance below 6 inches might cause the batteries underneath the car to contact road debris.[369] In September 2014, Tesla upgraded the height adjustment feature for Model S cars equipped with air suspension to remember locations that require higher clearance such as those with potholes and steep driveways, and automatically adjusts to avoid them.[370]


Beginning with vehicles manufactured in late September 2014, all new Model S's come equipped with a camera mounted at the top of the windshield, forward looking radar in the lower grill, and ultrasonic acoustic location sensors in the front and rear bumpers that provide a 360-degree buffer zone around the car. This equipment allows Model S to detect road signs, lane markings, obstacles, and other vehicles. In addition to adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning, a US$2,500 "Tech Package" option will allow this system to enable semi-autonomous drive and parking capabilities.[371][372][373] New models sold since October 9, 2014 have the option to have Autopilot, which allows hands-free driving in many situations. AutoPilot-enabled cars receive software updates for the AutoPilot software wirelessly, just as all other Model S cars receive general software updates wirelessly.

In mid October 2015 in the U.S. Tesla rolled out version 7 of their software that included autopilot capability.[374]

Some industry experts have raised questions about the legal status of autonomous driving in the U.S. and whether Model S owner would violate current state regulations when using the autopilot function. The few states that have passed laws allowing autonomous cars on the road limit their use for testing purposes, not the use by the general public. Also, there are questions about the liability for autonomous cars in case there is a mistake.[112] A Tesla spokesman said there is "nothing in our autopilot system that is in conflict with current regulations." "We are not getting rid of the pilot. This is about releasing the driver from tedious tasks so they can focus and provide better input." Google's director of self-driving cars at the company said he does not think there is a regulatory block as far as the self-driving vehicle met crash-test and other safety standards. A spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that "any autonomous vehicle would need to meet applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards" and the NHTSA "will have the appropriate policies and regulations in place to ensure the safety of this type of vehicles."[112]

According to Elon Musk, the Model S was designed to be a computer on wheels: ""We really designed the Model S to be a very sophisticated computer on wheels. Tesla is a software company as much as it is a hardware company. A huge part of what Tesla is, is a Silicon Valley software company. We view this the same as updating your phone or your laptop.""[375]

According to Musk, "the car will learn over time", including from other cars.[114]

Instrument panel

Production dashboard with main dashboard digital display (left) and central 17-inch (430 mm) touchscreen control panel (right)

The instrument panel is a 12.3-inch (31 cm) liquid-crystal display electronic instrument cluster that indicates speed, power usage, charge level, estimated range and active gear, as well as Nav directions (driven by Garmin). The gearbox can be set to Drive, Neutral, Reverse and Park. The infotainment control touchscreen is a 17-inch (43 cm) multi-touch panel divided into four areas. A top line displays status symbols and provides shortcuts to Charging, HomeLink, Driver Profiles, vehicle information (software version and the Vehicle identification number) and Bluetooth. The second line provides access to several apps including Media, Nav (driven by Google Maps, and thus is separate from the Nav on instrument panel), Energy, Web, Camera and Phone. The central main viewing area displays the (two) active apps, subdivided into upper and lower areas. (Most apps can be expanded to take up the entire area). At the bottom is access to various controls and settings for the vehicle such as doors, locks and lights as well as temperature controls and a secondary volume control.

The instrument cluster and the infotainment panel are driven by separate Nvidia Tegra 3 3D Visual Computing Modules.[376][377] Tesla was the first company to ship this technology. (Audi later delivered this technology in its 2013 model year in Europe, and in North America in 2014.)[378] The Tegra system on a chip (SoC) integrates eight specialized processors, including a multi-core ARM CPU, a GPU, and dedicated audio, video and image processors. Nvidia claimed that it consumes 2% of the energy of a typical CPU.[379]

The navigation system uses GPS and a mix of Garmin and Google Maps route guidance. The map display on the 17-inch screen requires a constant Internet connection, so navigation is limited in areas without mobile network coverage. The Nav on the instrument panel is loaded on the car and does not need Internet access to function.[380] Update 6.2 features automatic nav guidance to charging stations if range is insufficient.[381]

Enthusiasts have developed the Open Vehicle Monitoring System (OVMS) which allows the owner to remotely observe a variety of different vehicle operating parameters, such as battery state of charge, typically using a smartphone. Some switchgear used are Mercedes parts, such as window switches, cruise control lever, and drive selector.

According to Elon Musk, the Model S runs on the open-source Linux operating system.[121] In 2014 Autoblog reported that Tesla Models S owners had determined via the car's combined diagnostics and Ethernet port that a Ubuntu system controlling the central touchscreen is connected to the car's internal Ethernet.[382] The same users determined that another Ubuntu system controlling the dashboard/navigation screen also is connected to the internal network, together with a third computer of unknown type with an unknown function.[383]


The Model S has an optional folding third row with rear-facing seats for two children secured with a racing-style five-point harness.
The Model S key.

All versions of the Model S have the same body and normally seat five passengers. An optional folding third row for US$2,500 becomes a rear-facing two-place child seat. The option includes a stronger rear bumper.[91][94] Each third row seat has a racing-style five-point harness for passengers over 37 in (0.94 m) tall and weighing between 35 to 77 lb (16 to 35 kg). Cargo space is available under the front hood (which Tesla called a "frunk," a portmanteau of "front trunk.") The optional third row gives the greatest passenger capacity of any electric vehicle.[384] In October 2014 the upgraded Model S P85D, D for dual, was introduced.[385] The upgraded version features not one but two electric motors, one driving the rear wheels as in prior versions, and one the front wheels. Safety features are enhanced also, for example with partial auto-pilot functions. The dual motor version will be available also for the basic 85 kWh versions for around US$4,000 more in price. The rear wheel drive version of the P85 was removed, and the dual motor option is not available for the 60 kWh version.[57]

The 2015 model year update introduced electromechanical brakes.[386]

Vehicle warranty and maintenance

The Model S is covered by a 4-year, 50,000 mi (80,000 km) limited warranty,[127] that includes all standard equipment, the transmission and the complete powertrain (excluding tires).[128] The warranty can be extended an additional 4 years or 50,000 miles (80,000 km) beyond the original terms for US$4,000.[128] Warranty coverage includes a complementary loaner car—a Performance 85 or Tesla Roadster—when service is required.[129] In April 2013, Tesla announced that a previously mandatory US$600 annual vehicle inspection and maintenance fee would be made optional, and would not be required to maintain warranty coverage.[129] If chosen, the fee covers a complete inspection, tire alignment, new brake pads, hardware upgrades and miscellaneous other maintenance items as needed.

The battery and drive unit are covered for eight years or 125,000 miles (200,000 km in metric countries) for the 60 kWh base model, or eight years and unlimited distance for all 70 and 85 kWh models.[73][130] The unconditional battery warranty covers everything except deliberate damage, even including user error.[131] However, loss of battery capacity over time or usage is not covered under warranty.[130][132]

Environmental footprint

In February 2014, the Automotive Science Group (ASG) published the result of a study conducted to assess the life-cycle of over 1,300 automobiles across nine categories sold in North America. The study ranked the Model S as the best environmental performer in the 2014 full-size cars category.[387] Based on the assessment of life-cycle environmental footprint, the study concluded that the increased environmental impacts of manufacturing the vehicle are more than offset with increased environmental performance during operation. For the assessment, the study used the average electricity mix of the U.S. grid in 2014. The Nissan Leaf had the smallest life-cycle environmental footprint of any model year 2014 automobile available in the North American market.[388]

Tesla stations

Tesla Model S charging at the Supercharger network station in Delaware, United States.
Tesla Model S charging at a public charging station in Zoutelande, the Netherlands.

In 2012, Tesla began building a network of 480-volt charging stations to facilitate long-distance travel. In June 2013 Tesla announced that existing and future stations would become Tesla stations, with facilities to support under-two-minute battery pack swaps. As of early October 2014, 115 stations were operating in the United States, 71 in Europe and 23 in Asia.[135][136] The Tesla network is usable only by Tesla vehicles, which are engineered for compatibility.

The first Supercharger corridor opened in October 2012 with six stations placed along routes connecting San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.[137][138] A second corridor opened in December 2012 connecting Washington, D.C., New York City, and Boston; it includes three stations located in highway rest areas in Delaware and Connecticut.[139]

The first Tesla stations in Europe opened in Norway in August 2013.[140] Tesla next focused on Germany and the Netherlands, with plans to cover both countries by mid-2014. Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Denmark and Luxembourg were to be covered by the end of 2014. Stations were to be within 200 mi (320 km) for about 90% of the population in France, England, Wales and Sweden by the end of 2014.[141]


The Supercharger is a proprietary DC rapid-charging station that provides up to 135 kW of power, giving 85 kWh vehicles an additional 180 mi (290 km) of range in about 30 minutes. In the West Coast corridor the Superchargers's grid access is assisted by a solar carport system (some including a battery of a few hundred kWh)[142] provided by SolarCity. Eventually, all Tesla stations will be assisted by solar power.

Supercharging hardware is now a standard on all vehicles sold by Tesla Motors. The Roadster is not compatible.[137][138][139] In early November 2013, Tesla reported that 90% of its customers had opted for supercharging capability.[141]

Battery swapping

Panoramic view of Tesla Supercharger rapid charging station in Tejon Ranch, California.

Tesla designed its Model S to allow fast battery swapping, which also facilitates vehicle assembly.[389] In June 2013, Tesla announced their goal to deploy a battery swapping station in Tesla stations. At a demonstration Tesla showed a battery swap operation taking just over 90 seconds, about half the time it takes to refill an empty gas tank.[144][145]

Battery swapping was to be deployed along Interstate 5 in California to allow travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles. These were to be followed by the Washington, DC to Boston corridor. Each swapping station costs US$500,000 and stocks about 50 batteries. The service would be offered for the price of about 15 US gallons (57 l; 12 imp gal) of gasoline at the current local rate, around US$60 to US$80 at June 2013 prices. Owners can pick up their original battery pack fully charged on the return trip, which is included in the swap fee. Tesla would also offer the option to keep the swapped battery for a fee or to receive the original pack from Tesla for a fee. Pricing has not been determined.[144]

Tesla's only battery swap station is located at Harris Ranch, California, and was available for pilot testing in late December 2014.[390] As of 2015, Tesla says they have hundreds of cars in the battery swap program, although few owners are interested in using the service.[391] In June 2015, Tesla said that it was unlikely that more battery swap stations would be added due to lack of demand for battery swaps costing around $60 when supercharging is included free with most models.[392]


Tesla allocated the first 1,000 units to its Signature and Signature Performance limited edition configurations, equipped with the 85 kWh battery pack, and priced in the U.S. at US$95,400 and US$105,400 respectively, not including any applicable U.S. federal and local government tax credits and incentives.[149][150] As of July 2015 the base Model S starts at US$75,000 with a 70 kWh battery pack and goes up to US$105,000 for the performance model with the 85 kWh pack before any government subsidies.[393]

Sales and markets


Model S first retail deliveries ceremony at the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California, held on June 22, 2012.

Tesla Motors reported 520 reservations for the Model S during the first week they were available[394] and as of 31 December 2012 over 15,000 net reservations (after deliveries and cancellations) had been received by year-end.[153] The special edition Model S Signature model was sold out before deliveries began in June 2012, and according to Tesla Motors all models were sold out for that year shortly after. A car ordered in May 2012 would be delivered in early to mid-2013.[395][396]

Initially Tesla expected to reach global sales of 35,000 units in 2014, but in November 2014 reduced its sales target to 33,000 units due to a deficit in production of 2,000 units during the third quarter of 2014. The company expected its annual production to increase by over 50% in 2014 to 35,000 units, and another increase of 50% in 2015.[156] Tesla Motors set a target of between 50,000 and 55,000 deliveries for Model S and Model X cars in 2015.[157]


US deliveries began June 2012.[10] Deliveries of the 60 kWh model were rescheduled from November 2012 to January/February 2013.[158] A total of 2,650 cars were delivered in North America in 2012.[159]


During the first six months of 2013, 10,050 were delivered.[160] The Model S was released in Europe in early August 2013, and the first deliveries took place in Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands,[161] and by November 2013, the Model S was on sale in 20 countries.[141]

Sales totaled about 22,477 units in North America and Europe,[162] surpassing Tesla's annual sales target of 21,500 units.[163] Global cumulative sales passed the 25,000 unit milestone in December 2013.[163] By the end of 2013, according to Elon Musk, Norway and Switzerland became the company's largest per capita sales markets.[397]

Model S global sales by quarter (3Q 2012 - 3Q 2015)

Retail deliveries in China began in April 2014.[165] The right-hand-drive model was released in the UK in June 2014,[166] followed by Hong Kong in July 2014,[398] and Japan in September 2014.[399] Deliveries in Australia began in December 2014.[400]

Global cumulative sales of the Model S passed the 50,000 unit mark in October 2014.[170] A total of 31,655 units were sold worldwide in 2014, allowing the Model S to rank as the world's second best selling plug-in electric vehicle after the Nissan Leaf that year.[19] In 2014 about 55% of Model S deliveries took place in North America (~17,410), 30% in Europe (~9,497), and 15% in the Asia-Pacific market (~4,748).[171]


A total of 21,577 units were sold worldwide during the first half of 2015, of which, 11,532 were delivered during the second quarter alone, up about 52% over the same quarter the previous year, and setting a new record for the most cars delivered in a quarter.[157][172][173] As of June 2015, the Model S was sold in 30 countries.[157] The United States is the leading market with over 50,000 units sold by early July 2015.[174] Norway is the Model S largest overseas market,[175] with 8,697 new units registered through June 2015,[176][177][178] followed by China with 4,646 units registered through June 2015.[179][180] Global cumulative sales passed the 75,000 unit milestone in June 2015.[170] An estimated 11,574 Model S cars were delivered during the third quarter, up about 49% over the same quarter in 2014.[181] As of September 2015, global Model S sales totaled over 89,900 units since its introduction in June 2012.[172][181] Sales are expected to pass 100,000 units delivered globally by December 2015.[20][172]

The following table shows sales by year for the top selling countries through June 2015:
Tesla Model S sales/registrations by top national markets
(June 2012 – June 2015)
Country Cumulative
% of global
2014 2013 2012
 United States[174][182][183] ~49,720 63.5% ~11,900 ~16,550 ~18,650 ~2,620
 Norway[176][177][178] 8,697 11.1% 2,674 4,040 1,983  
 China[179][180] 4,646 5.9% 2,147 2,499
 Netherlands[184][185][186][187] 3,541 4.5% 884 1,465 1,194  
 Canada[188] 2,564 3.3% 984 847 638 95
 Germany[189][190][191] 1,702 2.2% 696 815 191  
  Switzerland(3)[192] 1,347 1.7% 638 496 213  
 Belgium[193][194][195] 1,117 1.4% 448 521 148  
 Denmark[196] 1,083 1.4% 511 460 112  
 United Kingdom[197][198] 1,047 1.3% 347 698    
 Sweden[199][200] 697 0.9% 432 267 5  
 France[201][202][203] 689 0.9% 326 328 35  
 Hong Kong[204][205] 458(4) 0.6% 420(4) 38    
 Austria[206][207] 397 0.5% 213 136 48  
Global sales 78,359[157][172] 21,577[157][173] 31,655[19] 22,477[162] ~2,650[153]
Notes: (1) Percentage of global sales by country, inception through June 2015. (2) CYTD: Current-year-to-date sale through June 2015.
(3) Includes registrations in Liechtenstein. (4) Registrations in Hong Kong through May 2015.



The first nine units were delivered in Sydney on December 9, 2014. Tesla Motors also opened its first store and service centre in St Leonards, and its first Supercharger station at Pyrmont in December 2014. Initially, only two versions were available, the 60 starting at A$91,400, and the 85 starting at A$103,400 before any options, stamp duty and the Australian luxury car tax (LCT). The Model S P85D, starting at A$133,500, had deliveries scheduled to begin in June 2015.[401][402]

As of December 2014, a total of 65 Model S cars were registered in New South Wales and only four in Victoria.[210] At the end of March 2015, registrations totaled 119 in New South Wales and 54 in Victoria. Although there were no sales figures reported for Tesla in other states, the combined sales of these two states alone were enough for the Model S to rank as the top selling all-electric car in the country for the first quarter of 2015, ahead of the BMW i3 (46) and the Nissan Leaf (31).[210]


The first deliveries took place on April 22, 2014.[165] The Model S has the same standard equipment as the continental European version, but was adapted to provide larger back seats because the car was expected to be driven by a chauffeur.[211] Only two versions with an 85 kWh battery pack are available in the Chinese market, standard and performance.[212] Pricing starts at CN¥734,000 (~US$121,200),[212] similar to the US, adding only taxes and transportation costs. Comparable luxury cars cost more than US$180,000 in the Chinese market.[403][404]

Chinese sales up to June 2014 were estimated between 1,000 to 1,300 units.[215][216] JLWarren Capital, an equity firm, estimated that about 2,800 Tesla Model S cars have been imported to China by mid September 2014, but only 432 had received the license plates.[217] According to a Tesla spokesman, the major reasons for the discrepancy could be that registration rules were holding deliveries in Shanghai, and Tesla only recently was able to start delivering the electric cars to customers who bought them in Shanghai. Secondly, many Chinese customers have delayed taking possession of their Model S car while waiting for the government to add the Tesla to the list of electric vehicles exempt from its 8% to 10% purchase tax.[217][405] As of December 2014, Tesla had imported 4,800 Model S cars, but only 2,499 of those vehicles were registered for road use in China.[179]

Tesla's CEO expressed disappointment with the Chinese sales, as stock continued to be high by early 2015.[406] As sales improved, Model S sales reached 2,147 units representing an 80% share of the imported plug-in hybrid or electric car segment in China for the first half of 2015.[180] Sales totaled 3,025 units during the first nine months of 2015,[41] for cumulative registrations of 5,524 units through September 2015.[179][41]


The first European deliveries took place at Tesla's store in Oslo in August 2013.

Retail deliveries began in Europe in early August 2013, in Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands.[161] The two biggest markets for the Model S in Europe are Norway and the Netherlands.[220] The Model S, with about 3,900 units sold, ended 2013 as the third-best selling all-electric car in Europe after the Nissan Leaf and the Renault Zoe.[221][222] A total of 8,734 Model S cars were sold in 2014, representing a market share of 15.5% of new all-electric passenger car sales in Europe,[223] and again allowing the Model S to rank as the third best selling all-electric car in Europe after the Leaf and the Zoe.[223]

Accounting for sales during the first nine months of 2014, the Model S outsold the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Jaguar XJ, ranking second in the European full-size luxury vehicle segment after the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.[407] Model S sales during the first nine months of 2015 totaled about 10,600 units in Western Europe, of which, 3,243 (30.6%) were sold in Norway. This volume of sales allowed the Model S to rank again second in the luxury car segment after the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.[225]


American and European standard equipment and options packages are the same. European prices are higher, due to exchange rates, the value-added tax (VAT), plus transport costs, import duties and other country-specific costs. In most countries where the Model S is sold base prices for the 60 kWh start at €72,600, and €83,150 for the 85 kWh battery car. The 85 kWh Performance, Signature, and Signature Performance trim levels are listed at €97,550, €101,400, and €110,950 respectively. Tesla offered a deduction of €1,700 to buyers who held a reservation by the end of December 2012.[408][409]

Sales by country
Czech Republic

A total of 23 units were sold during 2014.[410]


During its first full month in the Danish market, the Model S was the top selling electric vehicle with 42 units sold.[411] Sales were 112 units in 2013 and 460 in 2014, and 511 units during the first half of 2015.[196] Cumulative sales reached 1,083 units through June 2015,[196] constituting 35% of the sales of luxury cars.[412] A Model S was tested as a taxi,[413] but high price and low range made the project uneconomic.[232] When the AWD model was announced in Autumn 2014, used Model S were sold fast at high price.[233]


Model S customers in Germany are offered a free optional high speed tuning for Autobahn driving. The company announced that by November 2013 the first Tesla stations would open between Munich and Stuttgart, Munich and Zurich, Switzerland, and Cologne and Frankfurt. Tesla Motors planned to cover more than 50% of Germany by the end of March 2014, and 100% by the end of 2014. Germany would then have the most Superchargers per capita of any country. German stations would support 135 kW charging.[414] By late 2013 Tesla announced a goal to sell 10,000 Model S in Germany in 2015.[415]

A total of 183 units were registered in the country during 2013.[189] Registrations totaled 815 units in 2014, representing 2.7% of the luxury segment sales in the country.[190] As of June 2015, cumulative registrations totaled 1,702 units.[189][190][191]


The first deliveries in the country occurred on August 22, 2013, at Tesla's European Distribution Center in Tilburg.[37] A total of 1,194 units were sold in 2013.[185] After the end of the registration tax exemption, sales fell significantly, and only 262 units were sold during the first four months of 2014.[236] As of May 2015, the Model S was the Dutch market leader in the all-electric segment with 3,249 cars registered.[237]


The first delivery of a Model S in Europe took place in Oslo on August 7, 2013.[416] By the end of August 2013, Europe's first six charging stations were opened, in Lyngdal, Aurland, Dombås, Gol, Sundebru and Lillehammer.[140] That month 186 units were delivered, ranking second among all-electric cars behind the Nissan Leaf (448 units).[239] Sales surged in September totaling 616 units, beating the Leaf and achieving an overall new car market share of 5.1%.[15][16][17]

The Model S is Norway's all-time second best selling electric car.[240] Shown in Trollstigen, Norway.

In 2013 a five-month waiting list emerged creating a used market, with US$10,000 to US$20,000 premiums for a used model.[417][418] Sales dropped to 98 units in October,[243] before jumping back to 527 units in November, ranking it number two in new car registrations after the Volkswagen Golf.[244] In December sales of 553 units made it the top-selling new car again and capturing a 4.9% market share of new car sales.[18] With less than five months of sales, the Model S ranked 20th for the year with a market share of 1.4% of Norwegian new car sales, Tesla's largest in Europe.[245][419]

The Model S topped the monthly sales ranking for a third time in March 2014, with 1,493 units sold, breaking the 28-year-old monthly sales record, surpassing the Ford Sierra, which sold 1,454 units in May 1986.[247][420] Sales totaled 2,056 Model S cars during the first quarter of 2014, making the Model S the best selling new car in Norway during this period. The Model S captured a 5.6% market share of new car sales and 38.8% of the new plug-in electric car segment during this quarter.[247][249][421] By the end of 2014, the Model S ranked as the fifth best selling new car in the Norwegian market, with 4,040 units registered and a market share of 2.8% of new car sales in the country that year.[177]

As of July 2014, Norway ranked as Tesla's largest overseas market, with an average of 436 Model S sedans sold per month since August 2013. In comparison, the average in the United States is about 1,630 units delivered per month since the electric car went on sales in 2012.[175] Since its introduction, a total of 8,697 Model S new cars have sold in Norway through June 2015,[176][177][178] and with about 16% of the total registered plug-in electric vehicle stock, the Model S ranks as Norway's all-time best selling electric car after the Nissan Leaf.[240]


Retail deliveries began in August 2013,[161] and a total of 213 units were registered in 2013.[192] The Model S, with 496 units registered, ranked as the top selling plug-in electric car in the country in 2014.[422] With 835 units sold during the first seven months of 2015, the Model S outsold combined Swiss sales of the luxury segment including such models as the Mercedes S-Class, Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series during the same period.[423] Cumulative Model S sales totaled 1,858 units up until September 2015, which includes units sold in Liechtenstein.[192]

United Kingdom

Deliveries began in June 2014,[166] and a total of 698 units were registered in the UK by the end of 2014.[197] Pricing starts at £54,380 before the £5,000 Plug-in Car Grant. Model S owners are also exempted from the London congestion charge.[424] Cumulative registrations totaled 1,047 units up until June 2015.[198]

North America


Cumulative sales of the Model S reached 2,322 units as of May 2015. The Model S is the all-time third top selling plug-in car in the country after the Chevrolet Volt (4,377) and the Nissan Leaf (2,453), and it was the top selling PEV in Canada for the first five months of 2015.[188]

United States
Personalized delivery of a Tesla Model S in the U.S.

The first delivery took place on June 1, 2012.[425] Deliveries for retail customers in the United States started on June 22, at a special event held at the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California.[10] The first 1,000 production units were Signature and Signature Performance limited editions equipped with an 85 kWh battery pack.[153] Cumulative sales passed the 50,000 unit milestone in early July 2015.[174]

About 2,620 units were sold in the U.S. during 2012 out of 2,650 units delivered in North America.[183][153] California is the largest American regional market for the Model S.[220] In March 2013, Tesla reported the delivery of the 3,000th Model S in California, representing around 50% of US sales to that date.[426][427] During the first quarter of 2013 the Model S ranked as the top selling plug-in electric vehicle in the U.S. with about 4,900 units delivered, followed by the Chevrolet Volt with 4,244 units.[160][257][428] During 2013, the Model S was listed as the least stolen car in the United States, with a theft rating of just 0.15 per 1,000 units produced. By comparison, the U.S. average is 3.51 cars stolen per 1,000 produced. The Honda Accord was the most stolen car in the U.S. in 2013, with about 54,000 units, mostly models built in 2007 or before.[429]

California is the top selling regional market of the Model S. Shown in San Francisco.[260]

According to, between January and August 2013 the Model S achieved a high market share of new car sales among the U.S. most expensive ZIP codes, as rated by Forbes, led by California. Atherton ranked first with a 15.4% share, followed by Los Altos Hills with 11.9%, and Portola Valley with 11.2%. During this period the Model S had the highest number of new passenger car registrations in 8 of the 25 most expensive American ZIP codes.[430] With 8,347 units sold in 2013, it was the third-best selling luxury car in California (after the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series sedans),[431] with a 9.8% share of the Californian luxury and sports segment.[432] As of November 2013, the Model S was available nationwide with California leading sales with a 48% share of national sales.[260] During the first half of 2015, with 5,148 units registered, the Model S market share reached 12.0% of the luxury and sports segment in California and ranked third in the segment after the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series sedans.[264]

American sales totaled about 18,000 units in 2013,[135] placing the Model S as the third selling plug-in electric car after the Chevrolet Volt (23,094) and the Nissan Leaf (22,610).[183] Also in 2013, the Model S was the top seller in the full-size luxury sedan category, ahead of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class at 13,303.[135] During 2014 about 16,550 Model S sedans were delivered, down 8.1% from 2013, but the electric sedan ranked again as the third best selling plug-in car in the U.S.[182] During the first nine months of 2015, sales of the Model S surpassed both the Leaf (13,630) and the Volt (9,264), to become the top selling plug-in electric car in the U.S. during this time period, with about 17,700 units sold.[20] An estimated 55,520 Model S cars have been sold in the United States through September 2015.[182][183][20]

Retail sales model

Tesla Motors sells its cars directly to consumers without creating a dealer network, as other manufacturers have done and as many states require by legislation. In support of its approach, the company has fought legal and legislative battles in Ohio, New Jersey, New York and other states.[433][434] With law changes in recent years in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Ohio, and Pennsylvania the Tesla direct sales model is permitted in 22 states as of March 2015.[435][436] As of May 2015 the sales procedure in other states such as Texas is somewhat different with the Tesla salesperson being prevented from discussing prices, the actual sale having to be made online and the sales tax having to be paid up front. Delivery of a Tesla car to a Texas address is no different than in other states.[437] Consequently, while Tesla showcases and sells its cars directly to the consumer in Tesla Stores abroad, it operates a mix of Tesla Stores and Tesla Galleries in the USA.[438]


In June 2012, the Model S Signature model was priced at US$95,400 and the Signature Performance model at US$105,400.[149] On November 29, 2012, Tesla announced an all model price increase of US$2,500 for new reservations, starting January 1, 2013. The price of a pre-paid 60 kWh replacement pack was US$10,000, while the 85 kWh pack was priced at US$12,000, in 2013.[271] As of June 2014, the model with the 60 kWh pack begins at US$69,900, the base model with the 85 kWh pack starts at US$79,900, and the P85 performance model at US$93,400. As of April 2015, the Model S begins at US$75,000 for the 70 kWh dual-motor edition, US$80,000 for the 85 kWh single motor edition, US$85,000 for the 85 kWh dual-motor edition, and US$105,000 for the 85 kWh dual-motor performance edition. These prices do not reflect U.S. federal and local government tax credits or purchase incentives.[73]


The Model S is one of just a few cars to have ever achieved a 5-star safety rating from both Euro NCAP and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Additionally, the Model S is the only car this year to have achieved both a 5-star Euro NCAP rating and 5 stars in every NHTSA subcategory. Only two other cars have earned the same recognition since 2011 (when the NHTSA introduced its latest rating scheme).[439]

NHTSA[440] Euro NCAP[441]
Overall: 5/5 stars Overall: 5/5 stars
Frontal – Driver: 5/5 stars Adult occupant: 31 pts / 82%
Frontal – Passenger: 5/5 stars Child occupant: 38 pts / 77%
Side – Driver: 5/5 stars Pedestrian: 24 pts / 66%
Side – Passenger: 5/5 stars Driver assist: 9 pts / 71%
Side Pole – Driver: 5/5 stars
Rollover: 5/5 stars / 5.7 %

First crash with battery fire

The first widely reported Model S fire occurred several minutes after the vehicle hit metal debris on the Washington State Route 167 highway in Kent, Washington on October 1, 2013.[275] The driver "was able to exit the highway as instructed by the onboard alert system, bring the car to a stop and depart the vehicle without injury".[276] He then contacted authorities and, while awaiting their arrival, smoke began coming out the front of the vehicle. The driver stated that he hit something while exiting the HOV lane.[275][442][443] Tesla stated that the fire was caused by the "direct impact of a large metallic object to one of the 16 battery modules". and that by design, the modules were separated by firewalls, limiting the fire to "a small section in the front of the vehicle".[275]

The module was evidently punctured by a "curved section" that fell off a truck and was recovered near the accident. Tesla stated that the debris punched a 3-inch (76 mm) diameter hole through the .25-inch (6.4 mm) armor plate under the vehicle, applying force of some 25 tons. Built-in vents directed the flames away from the vehicle so that the fire did not enter the passenger compartment. According to Tesla, the firefighters followed standard procedure; using large amounts of water to extinguish the fire was correct,[279] however, puncturing the metal firewall to gain access to the fire also allowed the flames to spread to the front trunk.[276] Tesla also stated that because the battery pack contains "only about 10% of the energy contained in a gasoline tank", the effective combustion potential of a single module is only about 1% that of a conventional vehicle.[276]

Notable subsequent crashes with battery fires

On November 6, 2013 another fire broke out after a Model S struck a tow hitch on the roadway, causing damage beneath the vehicle.[280] The incidents led Tesla to extend its vehicle warranty to cover fire damage and to apply a software update to increase ground clearance when operating at highway speed.[444][282]

Another fire incident took place in Toronto, Canada, in early February 2014. The Model S was parked in a garage and was not charging when the fire started. The origin of the fire is undetermined.[445] According to Tesla "in this particular case, we don’t yet know the precise cause, but have definitively determined that it did not originate in the battery, the charging system, the adapter or the electrical receptacle, as these components were untouched by the fire".[446]

Starting with vehicle bodies manufactured as of 6 March 2014, all units were outfitted with a triple underbody shield. Existing cars were retrofitted upon request or as part of a normally scheduled service.[447][448]

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration evaluation

On October 24, 2013, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced, "After reviewing all available data, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not found evidence at this time that would indicate the recent battery fire involving a Tesla Model S was the result of a vehicle safety defect or noncompliance with federal safety standards."[449] But the following month, the NHTSA opened a preliminary evaluation to determine "the potential risks associated with undercarriage strikes on model year 2013 Tesla Model S vehicles".[282][450] On March 28, 2014, NHTSA closed its investigation, claiming that the new titanium underbody shield and aluminum deflector plates, along with increased ground clearance, "should reduce both the frequency of underbody strikes and the resultant fire risk".[451]



  • 2013 Reader's Choice Car of the Year[452]
  • 2013 World Green Car of the Year.[453]
  • Automobile Magazine's 2013 Car of the Year, a unanimous decision.[292]
  • CNET Tech Car of the Year for 2012[454]
  • Consumer Reports gave the Model S a score of 103 out of 100, its highest ever. The Model S broke the rating scale of Consumer Reports during its most recent test.[455]
  • Consumer Reports' 2013 survey of owner satisfaction produced a score of 99 out of 100, "the highest the magazine has seen in years."[456] In 2014 the Model S topped for the second year in a row Consumer Reports survey of owner satisfaction. This time the Model S had a score of 98 out of 100.[457]
  • Consumer Reports found the Model S to be 'Best Overall’ for 2014 across all 10 categories of cars, light trucks and SUVs, chosen from more than 260 vehicles the organization has recently tested. The magazine considers the Model S a "technological tour de force, while pricey, is brimming with innovation."[458] In 2015 they rated the Model S at 103 (breaking the scale).[459][460]
  • Green Car Reports' Best Car To Buy 2013[461]
  • Motor Trend 2013 Car of the Year, also a unanimous decision and the first winner in the award's history to not be powered by an internal combustion engine.[301]
  • Natural Resources Canada 2013 EcoENERGY for Vehicles Awards in the full-size category[462]
  • Popular Science's Auto Grand Award Winner Best of What's New list 2012.[463]
  • The Telegraph included the Model S in its list of the top 10 cars that changed the world published in December 2014, and also named the electric sedan the most important car of the last 20 years.[464][465]
  • Time Magazine Best 25 Inventions of the Year 2012 award.[466]
  • Yahoo! Autos 2013 Car of the Year.[467]
  • American Automobile Association Green Car Guide 2015, top spot (P85D).[468] The Model S also won the 2014 AAA Green Car Guide.[469]

Distance records

As of August 2015, the distance record is 728.7 kilometres (452.8 mi) in a Model S on a single charge. It was made by Norwegian Bjørn Nyland and his friend on a flat stretch with low traffic around the supercharger in Rødekro, Denmark. They used hypermiling techniques such as front motor only, low speed (39 km/h) and no airconditioning.[310][470] The previous record was 425.8 miles (685.3 km), made overnight on February 14, 2013 by Bruno Bowden.[471][472][473] The first record of 423.5 miles (681.6 km) was set during November 2012 by David and Adam Metcalf.[474][475] These attempts were inspired by a blog written by Elon Musk about the planned range and efficiency of the Tesla Model S, offering a prize for anyone exceeding 400 miles (640 km) on a single charge, where it was estimated the 85 kwh model could do it by driving at a constant 36 mph (58 km/h) under ideal conditions.[476]


Range limitation

On February 8, 2013, The New York Times published a review by John M. Broder about a trip between Washington, D.C., and Boston using Tesla's Supercharger network. At the time it included only two stations on the East Coast. Broder made a variety of critical claims about the battery's performance in cold weather and the distance between charging stations. The trip ended with the Model S carried by a flatbed truck to the Milford, Connecticut, station.[477]

Tesla responded by publishing logs of the vehicle's charge levels and driving speed that contradicted Broder's account on several factual details.[478] Tesla implied that Broder's behavior forced the car to fail. Broder replied to the criticism in a blog post and suggested that the speed discrepancies may have been because the car had been equipped with 19 inch wheels rather than the specified 21 inch wheels.[479] In the midst of the controversy, a CNN reporter recreated Broder's trip without exhausting the battery. However, two key differences distinguished the two journeys. The weather was about 10 °F (6 °C) warmer and CNN did the trip in one day; the Times let the car sit overnight without being plugged in.[480] A reporter from CNBC also recreated the trip in one day without incidents.[481] One week later, a group of Tesla owners recreated Broder's trip without problems. One owner was delayed because his car failed to charge and required two firmware updates.[482][483]

On February 18, 2013, New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan published an editorial stating that Broder took "casual and imprecise notes" of his test drive and did not use good judgment, but she maintained that the article was done in good faith. She also claimed that Broder's vehicle logs were "sometimes quite misleading."[484][485][486]

In July and September 2014 tests performed by an independent German car magazine in cooperation with the TÜV (German Association for Technical Inspection) and Tesla owners seemed to reveal issues with the battery's performance. According to the magazine Tesla did not take up the invitation to repeat the test, and also seemed to refuse to offer vehicles for a second test.[487][488] A test performed by another German publication ("Die Welt") supported the findings.[489]

NHTSA safest car

On August 19, 2013, based on NHTSA safety ratings, a Tesla press release claimed that the Model S had achieved the best safety rating of any car ever tested. Tesla stated, "NHTSA does not publish a star rating above 5, however safety levels better than 5 stars are captured in the overall Vehicle Safety Score (VSS) provided to manufacturers, where the Model S achieved a new combined record of 5.4 stars."[490][491][492][493][494] However, a few days later NHTSA rebutted Tesla's claim, explaining that the rating for the Model S was equal to any other car receiving 5-stars, and claiming that the carmaker did not follow its advertising guidelines.[495][496][497]

Power dissipation when not in use

System software v5.8 (v1.49.30), released December 12, 2013, reduced overnight energy loss substantially, to 1.1 kWh per night, or around 3 miles.[63] In January 2014, Bjørn Nyland, a Model S owner in Norway, recorded a range loss of approximately 20% during a 27-day extended vacation, an indicated range loss of 63 miles (101 km), or 2.3 miles (3.7 km) per day, while stored in frigid temperatures without any charging cable attached.[498]

Consumer Reports Cuts Tesla from its Recommended List

In October 2015, two months after naming the Tesla 'the best car ever tested,' Consumer Reports cut the Tesla Model S from its recommended list, citing too many complaints from owners. Complaints ranged from minor, such as misaligned doors and squeaky body, to severe - things like total engine replacement and inoperable door handles. Tesla's shares dropped 15%, both because of the magazine's cut and because of concerns over the Tesla Model X luxury SUV.[499]

See also


  1. ^

Further reading

  • – See book review: "Tesla Model S Best Car Ever!" is the Book All Model S Owners Should Own (Book Review), InsideEVs, December 13, 2013.
  • – See book review: Owning A Tesla Model S: New Book Offers Tips, Tricks, Inside Info (Book Review), Green Car Reports, May 27, 2014.

External links

  • Official website
  • 2012 Tesla Model S test and range verification
  • Comparison of the Model S against other PEVs available in the U.S., Business Insider
  • Should Battery Fires Drive Electric Cars Off the Road?, Scientific American, November 12, 2013.
  • Road test, Total Car Magazine
  • Track test, Teslarati
  • Tesla Model S EV Safety Training for Emergency Responders, YouTube. Production: Ron Moore and Brock Archer, with collaboration of Tesla Motors, October 2013.
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