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Tesla plans electric SUV, due in 2014

January 26, 2011 | 12:21 pm

Tesla, the electric car manufacturer, has begun planning for a small sport utility vehicle that will be called Model X and come to the market in 2014, the Palo Alto company said.

Although the vehicle will be the size of a small SUV, Tesla said it would offer a much larger interior Model S Alpha because the electric drive train and components will take up less space than a conventional gasoline engine and transmission. 

Tesla also is working with Toyota to develop an electric version of the RAV4 compact sport utility vehicle. It will go on sale in 2012.

Meanwhile, Tesla continues to work on its Model S sedan, which is scheduled to go into production at the company’s Fremont, Calif., factory in the middle of next year and be on sale by the end of 2012.

Tesla is already making development versions of the "S" -- fully functional vehicles for testing characteristics such as aerodynamics, stability and handling, crash safety, performance, and range, said Khobi Brooklyn, a Tesla spokeswoman.

“We are pretty close to the final design,” Brooklyn said.

Tesla plans to produce about 20,000 of the sedans annually. The vehicle will be priced at $57,000, with buyers qualifying for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

The Model S is expected to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in under six seconds and will have a range of up to 300 miles on a single charge, the company said. It will have trunk space in the front and rear. And, although it is designed to carry five adults, it also will have an extra row of fold-up seats for small children.

In June, Tesla sold shares to the public, making it the only publicly held automaker based in California and the first car manufacturer to float an initial stock offering since Ford Motor Co. went public in 1956.
In midday trading Wednesday, its shares had fallen 5 cents to $24.63. Tesla shares are trading 45% above its $17 offering price.

-- Jerry Hirsch

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Photo: Tesla Model S. Credit: Tesla Motor Inc.

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