Tesla revs up the Model S hype machine

Outside of the Toyota Prius or the Chevy Volt, Tesla is the best known name in the ever-growing world of alternative fuel vehicles. 

And now, as the release of the company’s new flagship car, the Model S, creeps ever closer, the Tesla hype machine is beginning to shift into high gear.

The new Tesla S—an electric, full-size, rear-wheel-drive, five-seat sedan—is a departure from the company’s previous car, the high-performance, high-speed, high-price-tag Roadster.

To that end, the company is seeking to recast itself, not simply as a one-trick sports car company, but instead as an all-electric brand capable of competing with luxury car makers the likes of BMW, Mercedes and Audi with its higher-end models.

Ahead of the anticipated mid-2012 delivery date of the Model S, Tesla has already begun to woo potential drivers. The company’s website recently posted a preview video, complete with U2 sound-alike background music, that features Tesla execs extolling the virtues of the Model S. 

Elsewhere on Tesla’s flashy website are features on the upcoming car’s design and manufacturing, reviews from the automobile press who’ve had the opportunity to drive a Model S, as well as virtually any speck of information you’d care to know about the car.

Tesla says deliveries of the California-manufactured electric car will begin this summer. In it’s first year of production Tesla hopes to have 5,000 Model S vehicles on the streets. In subsequent years, the company hopes to hit a production goal of 20,000 vehicles.

At the base price of $49,900 (after US Federal Tax Credit), Model S comes equipped with the 40-kilowatt-hour battery, 19-inch all-season tires, interior surfaces of black microfiber and synthetic leather, the 17-inch touchscreen, a 200-watt, seven-speaker stereo system with AM/FM and HD radio tuners, and a universal charging adapter. 

Tesla could be pointing toward its future marketing direction when it points out on its website that compared to a vehicle like the BMW 535i, the Model S will save its owners approximately $8,000 over five years in fuel costs alone.

Even before the company’s marketing blitz gets up to full speed, Tesla is already taking reservations for the Model S. The refundable reservations in the United States start at $5,000. Reservation holders will then have the opportunity to customize their car approximately three months before it goes into production.

Steve Duda, EarthTechling