Currently reading: Tesla Model S saloon revealed
Electric seven-seater shown in California; 0-60mph in 5.5sec, up to 300 miles range

These are the first official images of Tesla's Model S electric saloon, which was unveiled at the firm's California headquarters this afternoon.

The Model S is a crucial car for the fledgling car manufacturer, since it has been conceived to open up mainstream markets - and to offer more mainstream affordability than the firm's Roadster, the price of which crept up to $109,000 (£75,000).

The Model S is a large liftback that's longer than a BMW 5-series but shorter than a 7-series. It can seat five adults, and two children in rear-facing seats (its main luggage area is under the bonnet).

The car's styling looks like a neat blend of European influences, most notably the rear end, which bears more than a passing resemblance to the Jaguar XF, and its front wings, which feature Maserati Quattroporte-style vents. It also features a full-length glass roof.

See more pictures of the Tesla Model S

Inside, the Model S's most striking feature is likely to be a 17in TFT touchscreen display that dominates the centre console and allows control of most of the car's systems. It also features 3G internet connectivity.

Tesla claims that the 1730kg Model S can crack 0-60mph in 5.5sec, and reach a top speed of 120mph. Three specs of battery pack will be available; the base model has a range of 160 miles, the mid-range version can last for 230 miles and the top-spec Model S has a range of 300 miles. Tesla claims that the floor-mounted, removable battery can be at least partially recharged in 45 minutes.

Tesla is making bold claims for the price of the Model S. The entry-level car is expected to cost $57,400 (£39,300), but a federal tax credit will bring the final bill for US customers down to just under $50,000 (£34,500).

Financial restructuring has resulted in delays to the Model S's development; the car was originally due in late 2010, but Tesla expects to start production in autumn 2011, with first deliveries in early 2012.

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