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New seven-seat electric saloon for Europe in 2012

The new Tesla Model S is on course to reach European showrooms in late 2012, and the firm claims to have already received 4600 deposits for the electric luxury saloon.

The Model S, scooped here for the first time while testing, is crucial to Tesla’s future success. The electric vehicle pioneer has never recorded a profit in its eight-year history, and last week reported second-quarter losses of $58.9 million (£36.1m) following heavy investment in R&D of the new seven-seat saloon.

Total revenue for the quarter stood at a record $58.2m (£35.7m), however, bolstered by a rise in demand for the Roadster.

See pics of the Tesla Model SRead our road test of the Tesla Roadster

Tesla, which has financial backing from firms such as Toyota, Panasonic and Daimler’s private equity arm, Blackstar, plans to sell 20,000 Model S units per year from 2013. The Californian firm’s CEO, Elon Musk, said the initial 4600 deposits were enough to account for almost all of the S’s first year of production, which gets under way in mid-2012. Around half of all Model S demand has come from California.

The £45,000 BMW 5-series rival uses a lightweight, state-of-the-art, high-strength aluminium architecture that promises class-leading stiffness. It will be offered with three different battery packs, made up of Panasonic lithium ion laptop batteries, offering 160, 230 and 300-mile ranges. The initial 1000 cars will be special ‘Signature Series’ models that will come equipped with extra kit and a 300-mile range.

Musk also confirmed plans for a Model S-based SUV, called Model X. A concept should be shown before the end of the year and it could reach the market in less than two years’ time, with sales predicted to hit 15,000 units a year from 2014, Tesla claims. Both models will be built at General Motors’ former facility in Fremont, California.

In revealing Tesla’s second-quarter results, Musk wouldn’t be drawn on product plans beyond the Model S and Model X. “There are a couple of things going on,” he said.

Mark Tisshaw

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