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Money Power: Tesla’s Model S has better battery charge

When Tesla launched its limited-production Roadster in 2008, it was CEO Elon Musk’s intention to create electric cars that are better in every way than models that rely on the internal combustion engine.

Job No. 1: a better battery. The Model S can go up to 265 miles on a full charge, quieting critics who have shunned EVs because of “range anxiety.”

With a sticker price that starts north of $70,000, the Model S breathes the rarefied air of expensive European luxury sedans. But a few things take some of the sting out of the price tag.

First, the Model S is eligible for a federal tax credit of $7,500. Second, with an electric powertrain, the typical cost to drive the base model is about 4 cents per mile, versus, say, 18 cents per mile for a gasoline-fueled BMW 550i.

Plus, maintenance on the Model S is limited to a checkup about once a year at a service center. (Tesla has 41 service centers across the U.S. and another 19 are on the way.) The battery warranty is eight years or 125,000 miles on the base model (eight years with unlimited mileage on 85 kWh models).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the sedan five stars (its highest rating) in every safety category — frontal crash, side crash, rollover and overall. (Note that NHTSA is investigating the cause of several Model S battery fires.)

All models come with an onboard charger and adapters for standard household outlets, 240-volt outlets and public charging stations. The total charge time with a 240-volt outlet is seven to 10 hours.

With optional High Power Home Charging ($2,700), you get Tesla’s wall connector to install in your garage, enabling you to juice up twice as fast. With a Supercharger ($2,500 on the base model and standard on 85 kWh models), you can connect to Tesla’s network of fast chargers throughout the country and replenish more than half a charge in 20 minutes. Tesla anticipates building enough stations to ensure coast-to-coast travel early in 2014.


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