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Tesla Model S Beta 1 (photos)

Tesla made the first beta of its Model S available for photos and a brief ride along, proving to customers and journalists that the car is on track for production.

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Wayne Cunningham
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1 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
Tesla achieved a proof of concept with its Roadster, and the Model S will be the company's first real car. Beyond a car for electric vehicle enthusiasts, the Model S will feature a minimum 160-mile range, with a more expensive version boasting 300 miles, along with luxury elements that more than justifies its base price tag of $57,400.
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2 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
The Model S is designed with graceful curves that give it a very pleasant appearance, although it falls short of a real exotic look. Once in production, the Model S will easily blend in with traffic.
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3 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
The Model S is made largely of aluminum to help reduce weight, an essential element considering the electric power train. Although it does not need a conventional grille, it has some air ducting for cabin climate control and the battery cooling system.
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4 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
Although it looks very sleek, the Model S is designed as a sedan, with four doors and a hatchback. It seats five in the cabin.
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The Model S uses rear-wheel drive with conventional suspension components, including Bilstein shocks.
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As an electric car, the Model S is very quiet, its tires making the most noise when it is traveling at speed.
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Tesla managed to incorporate a glass roof, with a motorized section for open-air driving.
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As there is no engine, the hood covers a small cargo area.
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The rear of the car holds cargo, or two children in these small jump seats, complete with four-point harnesses.
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Although this car is just the first beta, the interior looks well finished.
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Tesla keeps the controls on the steering wheel simple, with just two clickable scroll wheels. The drive selector, a part similar to that used by Mercedes-Benz, is visible in the background.
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The instrument panel is an LCD, with completely virtual gauges. These graphics are not finalized.
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13 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
Tesla fits the Model S with a large center screen for all the infotainment controls and display. Although this particular screen uses infrared for its touch capabilities, Tesla hopes to have a capacitive touchscreen for production.
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14 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
This interface is not final, but indicative of where the designers are going with it. The icons across the top show some of the projected functions for the car's cabin electronics.
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The navigation systems uses a data connection to download Google Earth imagery. There is also a Navigon navigation system, with locally stored graphical maps as back-up.
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16 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
The actual motor is very small, when compared to a gasoline engine. It sits at the back axle, feeding drive power to the wheels through a reduction gear.
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17 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
The flat battery pack can be seen hanging underneath the car in this exploded model. It bolts up underneath the cabin, forming a structural element in the Model S.
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As with other electric cars, the Model S will include a smartphone app with many remote functions. It will let you check the range of your car from anywhere in the world, and tell it when to begin charging.
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The app also includes a tracker, showing the location of the car with satellite imagery of its surroundings. This tracker also shows the speed of the car when it is moving.

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