US electric automaker Tesla Motors, which launched a breakthrough gas-free sports car last year, announced Thursday it will unveil in coming days a five-seat sedan, to roll off assembly lines by 2011.
The zero-emission "Model S" prototype with a lithium-ion battery pack will have a range of 225 miles (360 kilometers) per charge. The car has an anticipated base price of 57,400 dollars.
"After a federal tax credit of 7,500 dollars, the effective price will be 49,900 dollars," Tesla said.
But, the innovative firm stressed, "because of tax incentives and relatively inexpensive maintenance and refueling, the lifetime ownership cost will be closer to cars with far lower sticker prices."
The new model is set to be the world's first mass-produced, highway-capable electric vehicle, said Tesla in its newsletter, adding that it will be unveiled at Tesla's design studio in Hawthorne, a suburb of Los Angeles.
"The Model S will become the car of choice for environmentally conscious and discriminating drivers throughout North America and Europe," the company said. It expects to roughly split initial sales between the two continents before expanding into Asia.
Tesla's other zero-emission car, the two-seat Roadster, is on sale in Europe and the United States. The company said last year it had ramped up production of the high-performance Roadster, with a price tag of about 100,000 dollars, due to soaring demand.
Tesla, founded in 2003, specializes in the environmentally-friendly, electric cars that several car manufacturers are starting to produce.
Investors in the company include PayPal co-founder Elon Musk and Google founders Serge Brin and Larry Page.
(c) 2009 AFP
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