HALF MOON BAY, Calif. Following the introduction of its first electric car, startup Tesla Motors on Monday (Jan. 8) dropped hints about a next-generation sports sedan for the 2009 time frame.
The electric car startup is also looking to manufacturer the sedan in the United States and is seeking a new round of venture capital funding.
Last year, Tesla Motors (San Carlos, Calif.) rolled out its first electric car, dubbed the Tesla Roadster. The electric-powered Roadster boasts the equivalent of 135 miles per gallon and a range of 250 miles on a single charge. Based on an off-the-shelf lithium-ion battery, the electric sports car is capable of accelerating from 0-to-60 miles per hour in about four seconds.
The car, which sells for $92,000, will be produced in limited volumes and is already sold out in 2007. The company has already sold 270 cars since its introduction, said Martin Eberhard, CEO of Tesla Motors, at the Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) event here.
''We think the future is the electric car,'' Eberhard said during at presentation at ISS.
The company is not producing cars based on fuel cells. Honda, General Motors and others have talked about building cars with fuel cell technology. ''I'm skeptical about fuel cells,'' he said. ''That does not make economic sense.''
Tesla is taking another approach. Using a two-speed electrically actuated manual transmission, the Tesla Roadster's power comes from a 3-phase, 4-pole AC induction motor. The motor is controlled by the Power Electronics Module (PEM) which also controls the inverting direct current to 3-phase alternating current, charging and braking systems.
The Roadster's Energy Storage System (ESS) provides power to the entire vehicle, including the motor. Its durable, tamper-resistant enclosure includes: 6,831 lithium-ion cells, a network of microprocessors for maintaining charge balance and battery temperature, a cooling system, and an independent safety system designed to disconnect power outside the enclosure under a variety of detectable safety situations.
Meanwhile, the company is already working on its second model, which will be a sports sedan, Eberhard said. Targeted for the 2009 time frame, the car will boast the equivalent of 110 miles per gallon and will continue to use off-the-shelf lithium ion batteries, he said.
The Roadster is being produced in the Lotus automotive facility in the United Kingdom. The sedan will be made in the United States. Tesla Motors is evaluating production sites in either Arizona or California, but no decision has been made, he said.
Tesla Motors was founded in 2003 by Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning to create efficient electric cars. The company has garnered three rounds of funding for a total amount of $60 million.
The company currently employs 140 people, including teams in California, the U.K. and Taiwan. It is looking to garner a new round of funding, but declined to elaborate.