Meanwhile, Straubel said, Tesla has continued to refine and improve its technology for use in its own vehicles and has begun development of a vehicle that it envisions will cost substantially less than the more than $100,000 price tag on its original Roadster EV.
Later this year, Tesla expects to bring to market its Model S, which features multiple configurations, including a base model priced at less than $50,000. The various configurations of the Model S, which was designed and built from the ground up, include different battery packs that offer different driving ranges, Straubel said.
"Some people don't need a 300 mile range," said Straubel. "If you commute to work 50 miles, you don't need that much range."
Model S also includes Tesla's first attempt to address what Straubel called the "road trip question." While people generally don't drive 300 miles per day, he said, there has always been the question of how an EV can offer a greater range for those occasional long trips.
Model S includes a direct current fast-charge capability that can re-charge the vehicle to about half of its maxim range in 30 minutes, Straubel said. Thus, drivers could conceivably drive very long distances, stopping every 150 miles or so for 30 minutes to re-charge, he said.
Straubel said Tesla has already taken more than 10,000 reservations for Model S vehicles and is already sold out for 2012.
Next year, Tesla plans to introduce its first electric SUV, the Model X, Straubel said.
Straubel said Tesla has begun development of what it's currently referring to as its third-generation vehicle. The company envisions that this vehicle could be priced in the $30,000 range, Straubel said.
Tesla, which is often knocked for the price tag on its original Roadster, continues to refine its technology and drive down the cost of the batteries, Straubel said. He also said the company estimates that customers can save as much as $2,000 per year in fuel and maintenance costs compared to traditional gas-powered vehicles. He acknowledged that the savings per year presents an interesting business model challenge considering that EVs have a higher up front sticker price.
"People aren't used to paying for fuel costs up front, when they buy the car," Straubel said.