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Tesla trying to charge up shoppers for its electric cars

Tesla Motors Inc. is promising it’ll be worth the wait for its electric cars and a network of affordable charging stations.

How affordable? How about free.

George Blankenship, vice president of worldwide sales, said Tuesday the electric car maker has come a long way since last year’s North American International Auto Show, when it had only beta vehicles to display.

But the company in 2012 began delivering on the first of more than 13,000 reservations for its cars and Tuesday it showed off the third addition to its line. Executives also shared more details about the company’s 2013 plans, including development of its Supercharger network of charging stations.

The Tesla Model X, expected to go on sale next year, is a sport-utility-crossover mashup with three rows of seating and room for seven passengers. It sports some interesting features such as a front trunk and “falcon-wing” doors. The doors use two pivots making them easier to open in tight space, unlike the classic gull-wing doors most memorable on the DeLorean DMC-12 (aka the Back to the Future car).

Chief designer Franz von Holzhausen said the goal was to balance practicality with sexy design and Tesla’s core electric technology.

It joins the Motor Trend Car of the Year Model S sedan and the original vehicle, the Tesla Roadster. Blankenship said the Roadster was proof of concept, the Models S and X are mass-production vehicles, and the next major step will to build a more affordable $30,000 car.

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) opened 13 showrooms in the U.S. last year, most in shopping malls and other non-traditional car-selling spots.


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