Tesla's Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen and Model S Program Director Jerome Guillen announced on the company's blog that they've begun working on Beta versions of the Model S sedan.
Tesla is breaking up the vehicle's development into two stages: Alpha and Beta. Earlier this year Tesla revealed the Alpha version of the electric sedan. In a recent blog post on the company's Web site, von Holzhausen and Guillen said that they've begun assembling the Beta versions of the vehicle to help them prepare for the preproduction of the vehicle that is expected to go on sale in mid 2012. The blog post also revealed a few design keys.
Unlike the Tesla Roadster, the Model S Beta body panels and chassis will not be made of carbon fiber, but rather lightweight aluminum. To maximize air flow, the sedan will retain the flush door handles. Like some new vehicles entering the market, the Model S Beta will skimp on the spare tire (except in states where it's mandated by law). Instead, expect a tire inflation kit. The move will create room to seat seven and maximize storage space, which the designers say will be more than any sedan on the market.
Keeping the EV cool is an advanced HVAC system that uses an environmentally friendly refrigerant gas. But engineers are hoping to minimize need for A/C by outfitting the sedan's greenhouse with an infrared coating, which will reduce incoming solar load to 20 percent, compared with 50 percent on similar sedans.
Options weren't announced, but don't expect a tow package on the Model S. However, designers say the vehicle will be able to accommodate exterior cargo racks, although they're pretty confident that the sedan's generous storage will be able to swallow up most gear.
Beta vehicles will be on display at a few showrooms in North America later this year.
Source: EV World