California automaker Tesla Motors has announced that shipments of its first Model S EVs will officially begin tomorrow from its Fremont, California, factory. The first 10 Signature performance models of the EV will be picked up by their owners, who paid between $95,400 and $105,400 for the electric cars. On a single charge, the electric driving range of the Model S has been reported to be 265 miles, and so far over 10,000 people have put down the $5,000 to reserve one.
Tesla’s Model S is the company’s first new model to ship since its IPO in 2010, the first IPO for an American automaker since Ford Motors in 1956. While the launch has certainly been long awaited, some industry experts wonder if long-term interest and production of the all-electric car is sustainable.
“Then what?” Dave Sullivan, an analyst for industry researcher AutoPacific Inc. said. “Now everybody that wanted one has got one, where do they find the next 10,000?”
The company has announced plans to manufacture 20,000 Model S cars a year, and expects to start earning a profit next year once an estimated 8,000 Model S EVs are sold. By the end of this year Tesla hopes to ship 5,300 units of the Model S, with the base version of the car selling for $57,400.
Already looking towards the future, Tesla is planning the release of the Model X, an electric SUV, in 2014. The company also helped develop the second generation of Toyota’s RAV4 EV, which will launch later this year at $49,800. Tesla hopes to develop a cheap mass-market electric vehicle by 2015.