Click above to enlarge Tesla Model S teaser

When Tesla formally announced the Model S Sedan last June, the MSRP bandied was about $60,000 for the all-electric sedan. In its newsletter today, Tesla has confirmed that the "anticipated base price" for the Model S will be $57,400. With a federal tax credit of $7,500 available, however, the Model S should cost just $49,900. Details on what's included in the base version of the Model S should be available at the vehicle's official unveiling next week. Tesla says that even with a sub-$50,000 price tag (just barely), the Model S is really competing with cars that cost much less:

Because of tax incentives and relatively inexpensive maintenance and refueling, the lifetime ownership cost will be closer to cars with far lower sticker prices. [...] The Model S will become the car of choice for environmentally conscious and discriminating drivers throughout North America and Europe.

For comparison's sake, the Fisker Karma, a luxury plug-in hybrid sedan, will start at $87,900. The Chevy Volt will probably be somewhere around $40,000, though GM has not made any official announcement about its price.

[Source: Tesla]


Tesla Newsletter:

250th Delivery

Tesla Motors delivered its 250th car last Saturday. Lucky No. 250 was Dr. Rob Wilder, an academic and entrepreneur who created the first Index on Wall Street for energy efficiency and zero-carbon solutions. Rob lives in Encinitas, Calif., where he charges his Roadster from his home's array of solar panels. He picked "very orange" as the exterior color to symbolize the car's connection with the sun.

"We're not beholden to Middle East oil – and by the way my car is probably faster than your car!" joked Rob, CEO of WilderShares LLC and manager of WilderHill Clean Energy Index, the first Index on Wall Street for energy efficiency and zero-carbon solutions. "This car is an elegant solution to some of the world's most difficult problems. And buying it is helping push along EV adoption generally because Tesla is investing the money in lower-priced cars down the line."

Rob's new car marks a symbolic milestone for Tesla and a personal first for Rob, who previously tended to purchase used cars for no more than $13,000 each. In fact, the Roadster is more expensive than all of his previous cars put together.

"I took a big, big gulp and sent in my check – and although this car may not seem like a bargain, I can now say it's a great value. This is exactly the type of car I'd design for myself."

Tesla is now producing approximately 20 cars per week, which will increase to 30 per week this summer. About 1,000 people are waiting to take ownership of their Roadster, which means Tesla is sold out through October of this year. The Roadster remains the only highway-capable production electric vehicle of any kind (not just in the sports car category) for sale in the US or Europe. It does 0-60 in 3.9 seconds yet is twice as energy efficient as a Toyota Prius.

Model S Update

Tesla will unveil its Model S prototype sedan March 26 at the Tesla design studio inside the SpaceX rocket factory, in Hawthorne, Calif. This is going to be a historic event for car enthusiasts; the Model S will likely be the world's first mass-produced, highway-capable EV when it rolls off the assembly line in late 2011.

The Model S will have an anticipated base price of $57,400. After a federal tax credit of $7,500, the effective price will be $49,900. Because of tax incentives and relatively inexpensive maintenance and refueling, the lifetime ownership cost will be closer to cars with far lower sticker prices. Tesla executives will provide a lot more product details at the launch party in Southern California, home to Tesla's design studio and the world's largest new-car market. The Model S will become the car of choice for environmentally conscious and discriminating drivers throughout North America and Europe. Tesla expects to roughly split initial sales between the two continents, later expanding to Asia.

New Digs in Chicago

Tesla announced earlier this month it plans to open a Midwest regional sales and service center in Chicago, the first of seven retail facilities the electric vehicle manufacturer plans to launch this year.

The Chicago store -- which will open this spring -- is at 1053 W. Grand Ave. in the River West neighborhood. The location gives prospective customers the opportunity to experience Tesla's best-in-class performance under a range of driving conditions, including highways and urban streets.

After Chicago, Tesla plans to open a store in London's Knightsbridge neighborhood. We are also finalizing site selection in Manhattan, Miami and Seattle and scouting sites in Washington, D.C. and Munich, Germany. These stores will expose more people to the Roadster – and most importantly they will serve as a lean and efficient retail footprint as we get more mainstream customers for the Model S.

One reason Tesla service centers will be smaller than gasoline car service centers is that the Roadster has far fewer moving (and breakable) parts than an internal combustion engine vehicle. It doesn't require nearly as much service and maintenance as gas guzzlers, so Tesla doesn't need cavernous service and repair bays and large spaces to store spare parts. Tesla requests that owners bring in the car – which never needs oil changes or exhaust system tune-ups, among other costly repairs -- every 12,000 miles or once a year for a diagnostic check and software upgrade.

Tesla Heads North

Earlier this month, Tesla began selling cars in Canada. We will begin delivering cars in the fourth quarter, and we believe Canada will become a premier showcase for the Roadster. In Canada, the majority of electricity comes from renewable resources, including run-of-river small hydro, wind, biomass, geothermal and solar energy. An EV recharged from the current Canadian grid, on average, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 85 percent compared to an equivalent gasoline-powered vehicle. In hydro-dominant British Columbia, Quebec and Manitoba, the reduction would be an impressive 98 percent.

Canadian Roadsters will comply with all national and provincial safety regulations for mass-produced, highway-capable vehicles – and they'll perform in the snow, just as they already do in Northern Europe. The base price for Roadsters in Canada will be set closer to the start of deliveries, and pricing will reflect exchange rates at that time. In the United States, the base price is $109,000.

Thanks, and please be on the lookout next week for official Model S photos and video -- and more exciting news from Tesla in the weeks and months to come!