Tesla Motors says orders have been streaming in for its electric Model S sedans due to begin rolling off assembly lines in 2011.
The US automaker said that it has received 520 orders for the sedans since the Model S was unveiled in southern California last week.
"Frankly the number of cars reserved in the first week has exceeded our optimistic internal projections," said Tesla chief executive Elon Musk.
"Enthusiasm surrounding the Model S is proof that there's pent-up demand for more affordable, fuel-efficient vehicles -- including those made in America."
Tesla's state-of-the-art five-seat sedan is expected to be the first mass-produced, highway-capable electric car.
The futuristic zero-emission vehicle will be powered by lithium-ion battery packs capable of traveling between 160 and 300 miles (257 and 482 kilometers) per charge.
The car has an anticipated base price of 57,400 dollars but will cost less than 50,000 in the United States after a federal tax credit of 7,500 dollars, Musk said.
While the price tag is steep compared to other mass-market sedans, Tesla has stressed that tax incentives, relatively inexpensive maintenance and the lack of fueling costs will make the car competitive with cheaper rival sedans.
Musk hopes the car will lead a new generation of vehicles that help the auto industry wean itself off foreign oil.
"What we really wanted to show the car industry is that it is possible to create a compelling electric car at a compelling price ... We hope the industry will follow our lead," Musk said at the unveiling.
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 vehicle, which has a price tag of about 100,000 dollars, due to soaring demand.
Tesla reports that it has delivered about 320 Roadsters as of this week.
Founded in 2003, Tesla specializes in the environmentally-friendly, electric cars that several car manufacturers are starting to produce.
Tesla said it has applied for a 350-million-dollar loan from the US Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program. The money would be used to build the Model S assembly plant in California.
(c) 2009 AFP
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