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Australian Tesla Model S launch delayed until mid-2014

Delayed arrival: Tesla has bold plans for the US and Europe, and Australia - eventually.

Growing overseas demand and push into Europe sees Tesla delay Model S for Oz

20 Sep 2013

HEAVY demand in the United States and Europe has delayed the launch of Tesla’s long-awaited Model S electric car in Australia until around the middle of 2014.

The lauded grand tourer, which recently achieved the highest score of any car in US crash tests to date, and has a maximum range between charges of nearly 500km, had been due to touch down on local shores this year.

We asked the company if the Australian launch had been pushed back because of high US and European demand, to which a spokesman responded: “yes, frankly”.

The company told us last year it would launch the Model S here around mid-2013, and that it had at that time already sold about six months worth of allocation.

The spokesman said the Model S would now hit our shores from “Autumn of 2014”.

Tesla has previously sold a small number of its Lotus-based EV Roadsters from its dedicated store and service centre in Sydney, though it has used 'pop-up' stores in the past as well.

It is understood there has already been a high level of local interest in the car, although Tesla refuses to disclose the order bank it has here. Local prospective customers can reserve a Model S with a $6000 deposit, according to the company’s website.

The company has also been busy establishing networks across Europe – it has six stores in Germany alone – and has the ball rolling on its expansion into Asia from early 2014.

It is also rolling out a series of fast-charging stations across North America and Canada called ‘Superchargers’. These solar stations are in 23 locations across the US, and by 2015 Tesla wants 98 per cent of the US and Canadian population to be covered. There are six stations in Europe, with plans for more.

Like all EVs, the Model S does not have to be charged at a fast-charging station, although Tesla says it can replenish half the car’s capacity in 20 minutes this way.

The Tesla spokesman we spoke with said the company was “thinking” about setting Superchargers up in Australia next year, but had no concrete plans to announce.

North Americans have been able to buy Model S since June 2012, in which time more than 13,000 units have been sold through Tesla stores. According to the California New Car Dealers Association, Model S sales in that State have outstripped Porsche, Jaguar and Volvo.

Tesla expects to build around 21,000 cars this year in California, and company founder Elon Musk has mooted expanding its manufacturing footprint with factories in Europe and Asia in the medium-term.

The company is also busy developing a new SUV called Model X for a 2014 overseas launch, as well as a smaller, BMW i3-rivalling ‘Model E’ for launch around 2017. Mr Musk this week also announced plans to develop an autonomous car within a few years.

As we reported today, Tesla shares this week hit an all-time high of almost $US180 on the back of the company’s sales growth, new-found profitability and expansion into world markets.

But right now, the company leans on the Models S for the heavy lifting. The least expensive variant, likely to cost well south of $100k in Australia, comes with a 40kWh battery, capable of delivering a range of almost 260 kilometres before the need for a recharge and 0-100km/h in 6.5 seconds.

Upgrading to the mid-range 60kWh battery boosts range to 370km while trimming six-tenths off the time it takes to reach 100km/h, and the top-spec 85kWh battery provides a 483km range and 0-100km/h in 5.6 seconds.

Flagship Signature and Performance variants come with the 85kWh battery as standard. Performance variants get an upgraded 310kW/600Nm electric motor (compared with the standard Signature’s 270kW/440Nm unit), putting the Tesla’s 0-100km/h capability almost into supercar territory at 4.4 seconds (only one-tenth slower than the twin-turbo V8-powered BMW M5).

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