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Tesla S unboxingOn a recent visit to Tesla Motors, Molly Wood checks out the tech behind the Model S car and takes a turn in the driver's seat.
-I'm out in the field today for a very special unboxing the Tesla Model S, oh yea. And this is my key, look. It's a little baby Tesla. -Dear [unk] really. -All right [unk] Johnny Law. Let's get to the specs. The Tesla Model S is an all-electric car built to compete head on with gas powered vehicles. Design wise, it's gorgeous. Talk about a head-turner. I saw people taking pictures of me while I was driving it down the freeway in Silicon Valley. Because there's no engine under the hood, there's extra storage up front which Tesla employees jokingly call the frunk. There's a regular trunk too and there's also an option for all-glass panoramic roof, the entire thing is made of lightweight heat and UV-blocking glass. I drove the signature performance model in this gorgeous red with black interior. Unfortunately, this model is sold out and you can't get this pink color anymore. If you want the Tesla Model S in another color, they start at $49,000, 15,000 more than the all-electric Nissan Leaf. There are 3 battery options. The largest is 85 kilowatt hour which will supposedly get up to 300 miles on a single charge driving at 55 miles per hour which non one does. The base model still goes twice as far as the Leaf a 140 per charge. Charging is simple, just find an outlet. There are adapters for 110 volt or 240 volt outlets and you can get a high powered wall charger to top off the car faster. To help reduce your range anxiety even more, Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk just announced these new behemoth super chargers that charge super fast. There are 6 in California now with many more coming, you'll be able to pull over at one on a long road trip and charge up for free. Now, what you're here for the tech on the inside. Check out this 17 inch multi-touch display in the dash which controls most of the car's functions. Ted Merendino of Tesla Motors gave me a walkthrough. -The touchscreen is sort of segmented in a few segments. We have a status bar along the top which tells us temperature, battery-- -So this battery indicated here the actual battery indicator. This is-- that's the range? -That is gonna give you a shortcut to look at charging. So if you-- -Tap it. -It all bring open an image of the car, it's color coded to your car, it's also has the wheels and roof that's on this car. -Nice. -In fact, even if you turn on your turn indicator, it'll turn the turn indicator on. You'll see that the-- -Oh, look. -Turn indicator's going and same thing if you flash the headlights. It's just kinda fun things like that. -Wow, that's super [unk]. I love it. -The status bar in the upper are static that always there as this sort of vehicle controls bar down here which has a climate control and some of the controls for the car. -Uh-hmm. -There two pieces are-- we can move in the player. [unk] if we can swap them from top to bottom that way, we can maximize whatever is on top to take up the whole screen. -Is this Google Maps? -Yes. So this car uses Google Maps, so if you have our connectivity package, meaning if you have the Nav internet down in the car, you'll get Google Maps. And this isn't our navigation per say but it does give you a view of the car or location and a lot of the features that kinda go along with Google Maps and we can maximize this to take advantage of, so all this beautiful screen real estate, we have multi-touch on the screens so you need-- you can squeeze or pinch, we can also switch to satellite view, have really nice beautiful view of the terrain and you can zoom in and out. All the things you're used to doing on Google Maps. -The company is still working out details but there will be some kind of option for a 3G data connection from Tesla. Personally I am surprised there aren't more details about the data plan yet and I'm a bit disappointed that a car shipping in 2013 won't have 4G. When it comes to performance I am not disappointed. The base-model S has 362 horsepower and 325 foot pounds of torque. The performance edition bumps that up to 416 horsepower and 443 pounds of torque. That'll do 0-60 in 5.6 seconds. The model S is a pleasure to drive. Tesla says it's meant to compete with the BMW 5 series and the Audi A6. I can definitely see it in that company although I find the German cars a little bit more responsive and the BMW still do have better road feel. There are a few oddity like the steering column borrow from Mercedes which puts the cruise control lever annoyingly above the turn signal lever. Also the side pillars are huge, visibility is not good in this car. But luckily, you can put your rear inside views in the 17 inch display while you're driving and then you can see anything you want and no other luxury Sedan will give you the Tesla model S is the most outstanding feature complete sense. If you want one of your own, be prepared to put down $5,000 now and wait about a year or more for yours to arrive. But that should give you plenty of time to get over the car you already have.