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by Tim Beissmann

Development of the 2012 Tesla Model S is nearing completion, with new images of the luxury electric sedan revealing the car in almost-full-production form.

The images show a Tesla Model S Alpha prototype vehicle, which is currently involved in the first part of the final stage of the car’s real-world development.

A Beta stage is set to follow closer to the launch of the left-hand drive Model S sometime in 2012.

Right-hand drive production is scheduled to begin around the middle of 2013, with the first vehicles expected to arrive in Australia later that year.

The Tesla Model S will be available with three different lithium-ion battery range options: 255km, 370km and 480km. A full fast charge takes just 45 minutes while recharging from a standard power outlet can be completed overnight.

Tesla says the rear-wheel drive Model S will accelerate from 0-100km/h in approximately 5.6 seconds and will go on to a top speed of 200km/h.

The Model S will be a unique luxury sedan with room for seven occupants: five adults and two children (in rear-facing jump seats).

At 4973mm long, 1426mm high and 2189mm wide, the Model S will be a similar size to the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

Specifications are yet to be announced, although an enormous 17-inch touchscreen infotainment display with 3G internet connectivity, radio streaming and satellite navigation is expected to be standard across the range.

Fans of the Model S in Australia can already place reservations for the car.

Deposits of $40,000 are required for the Model S Signature, which will be a limited edition model that will make up the first 500 units of production. The standard Model S requires a less extreme $6000 deposit.

Reservation holders will be invited to a test drive in 2012. Configurations, including specification level and options, will be finalised about three months ahead of production.

Tesla plans to produce 20,000 Model S vehicles every year at its factory in Silicon Valley, California.




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