The Tesla Model S is definitely one sexy piece of automotive engineering. Released to market last year, the electric roadster has made a splash worldwide with a fleet of over 1,500 now cruising the streets. To celebrate the growing success and popularity of their electric car, Tesla unveiled the underpinnings of their brand new silvery Model S Alpha at this year's Detroit Auto Show! Read on for a look at the technology beneath the hood of this high-performance green car set to hit the streets next year.
Tesla’s exploded Model S Alpha Build Prototype is an incredible display that piqued the curiosity of many Detroit Auto Show attendees. The prototype is the exact model that engineers are using in the vehicle’s first testing phase. Tesla’s engineers relay that the new vehicles are being subjected to extreme conditions that guarantee the effectiveness of the brakes, suspension, driving dynamics, fit and finish, and safety requirements.
This body structure of the new vehicle captures Tesla’s new in-house-design platform, which is anticipated to give way to other variations, such as an SUV. The structure uses an innovative spot welding system, which helps save weight, enhancing the range that can be achieved by the electric vehicle. The low center of gravity is achieved via light-duty sway bars, which improve the ride quality and reduce overall noise and vibration. Another special feature of the new Model S is the Tesla-designed suspension system, which will be suited for mass manufacturing.
Beneath the exposed frame sits an ultra-thin battery made up of over 7,000 li-ion cells. This system is the same no matter what range battery pack you choose for your Model S –160, 230 or 320 miles. Engineers haven’t decided if the lower-range packs will house fewer cells or if it will use a full complement of lower-density cells, but performance and economics will be the deciding factors. Of course, since the Model S was designed with battery swaps in mind, drivers will be able to exchange their pack for another one using a system that has yet to be determined. Set to hit the market in 2012, the new EV will be priced at $57,400.