In a sprawling Fremont, Calif., warehouse -- once an old, dark industrial car factory, there's a new spark of innovation. The wide open space is clean and glistening with white floors and flooded in bright light.
Starting this week, Telsa Motors is rolling its first production vehicles off the line, and the Model S is impressive. It's sporty, fast and sleek. Is this the next generation of electric cars? CNET toured the factory floor. Come take a look at Tesla Motor from the inside.
Tesla says its Model S is the world's first electric car engineered from the ground up.
The company says it's rethought every aspect of what a car is, and every aspect of the production cycle. The result is that everything in the factory was developed in-house.
The first 1,000 cars off the line this month will be the North American Model S Signature Series. Those vehicles will have an 85 kWh battery pack, unique badging, and an extensive complement of options, Tesla says.
By the end of 2012, Tesla plans to produce about 5,000 Model S sedans before ramping up to 20,000 units per year. After the Signature Series, deliveries in North America will continue with 85 kWh cars, followed by the 60 kWh, and 40 kWh battery pack options.
Tesla says the five-door sedan competes with the top cars in its class in spaciousness, handling, and style, and produces zero emissions. Tesla has already taken over 10,000 reservations worldwide for Model S.
The "assembly line" at Tesla isn't an assembly line in the traditional sense. Tesla moves Model S vehicles throughout the assembly process using automated guided carts they call SmartCarts, which are mobile electric vehicles that follow magnetic tape on the floor. The SmartCarts contribute to an extremely flexible, agile, and modern factory architecture.
The Model S can plug into any conventional 120v or 240v outlet to charge, and can be charged for 50 percent battery capacity in 30 minutes with a Tesla Supercharger.
Model S is offered with three battery pack options: 40 kWh, 60 kWh and 85 kWh. It has the longest range of any electric vehicle currently in production. The 85 kWh battery achieves 265 miles of electric vehicle range using the 5-cycle EPA test procedure.