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Tesla’s (s TSLA) next-generation electric car, the Model S, is a make-or-break car for the company, and will be busting through some EV barriers, like delivering one of the world’s first EVs with a 300-mile battery range. No surprise that Tesla is spending a lot of time on the design, development and build of such an important car, and on Thursday morning, Tesla invited us down to its Palo Alto, Calif. headquarters to check out the Model S Alpha Build room.
Tesla has built 20 Alpha Model S’s, and, as you can see in the pictures, they were designed for various test purposes, like tweaking the electronics, testing the durability, and crashing the cars (the orange ones). The engineers are now going through the process of testing the functions and capabilities of the Alphas.
In about three months, Tesla will start building the Beta Model S (50 in total) and will be testing those cars, too. By the middle of next year, Tesla says it will be on track to start delivering its first commercialized Model S sedans. (For more on the launch strategy see here).
Tesla Model S Program Director Jerome Guillen (who drove to work this morning in a Model S Alpha) told me he thinks Tesla’s Model S build is very unique in that it’s an open process — lots of windows in the room, inviting the press in — which he says is rare in the auto industry. It’s bringing a little bit of Silicon Valley thinking into the Detroit auto world, he said. (We’ll be featuring auto innovators from Tesla, CODA, Ford (s f), and GM (s gm) at Green:Net 2011 on April 21 in San Francisco).
Here are my photos from the Model S Alpha build room and tour.