What is it?
The Tesla Model S – an S-class-sized electric saloon built in California, the first official example of which has just arrived in the UK. You're reading a UK-roads review here first, then.
You’ve got to hand it to this company. While the rest of the global industry hedges its bets - watching, waiting, perhaps dipping its toe into the water with super-low-volume sports cars, short-range hatchbacks and halfway-house plug-in hybrids – America’s latest maverick car maker is ploughing on with the electrification of the car with total commitment.
Undeterred by the market’s slow uptake of battery cars, Tesla has remained on course to flesh out its product range to include several entirely discreet models by 2015. The Lotus-based Roadster is no more, but before the next two years are out, this firm will be offering small and large saloons, as well as a crossover SUV, to those looking to abandon the petrol pump indefinitely. The motoring public may be yet to take to an EV in serious volume, perhaps because they’ve yet to be offered the right one. Tesla’s bold solution is to come up with three, and in fairly short order.
Into that context, enter the first instalment. In the first three months of 2013, this car outsold the Mercedes S-class, the Lexus LS and the Audi A8 in its domestic market. It beat the BMW 7-series by more than two to one. So it’s proving quite popular – and not just for an EV.