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DATE News (chronologically)
01/16/10
automotive
Tesla touts its ambitious product goals
Tesla Model S
Enthusiasts have taken a quick shine to the Tesla Roadster, but the nifty two-seater is not truly a harbinger of things to come from the California electric carmaker.

Tesla's goal is to make more mainstream cars, though it admits that's far from reality. The company's future product plans include two more models that could build volume and expand it beyond its current status as a producer of niche sports cars.

The Model S, an eye-catching sedan, is due in about two and a half years. A third car, which would perhaps be the most affordable, could arrive about five years.

“The roadster is really a stepping stone,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said at the Detroit auto show. He compared the Roadster with early Porches and said he hopes it will become a collector's item.

Musk said the Roadster could sell 700 to 1,000 units a year, while the Model S could reach 20,000 annually if things go well. The Model S will also be available through leasing.

“The strategy has always been to get to mass-market electric cars,” Musk said.

The company did click off a milestone recently, producing its 1,000th car, which it displayed at the Detroit auto show. It will be auctioned for charity, with three in the Detroit area among those to benefit.

Musk touched on a range of subjects during his media briefing. He also said:

-- Daimler, which has a stake in Tesla, has been a “benign and benevolent partner,” offering access to its supply chain and other support.

-- A team of 18 Tesla employees made the trip to Detroit for the show, taking turns driving a white Roadster Sport. The car, which was a bit dirty after the trip, was also at the company's display and traced the route through Phoenix, San Antonio, Chicago and other stops en route to Detroit.

--There are currently two running prototypes of the Model S, but the company hopes to have 20 or 30 by the end of the year. AutoWeek

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