Tesla's Model S sedan, set to be released next year, is the long-awaited follow-up to the perennial electric vehicle startup's slick Roadster sportscar. This week, Tesla attempted to whet our appetites for the $57,400 electric sedan with a series of videos detailing the nuts and bolts of the vehicle's engineering. Here's what we learned.
According to Tesla chief engineer Peter Rawlinson (the video narrator), the vehicle body is made up of aluminum, dual-phase steel, and boron steel. Ninety eight percent of the unibody's (a term for vehicle shell without an interior or drivetrain) weight consist of aluminum, an ultra-light material. Tesla hopes that the vehicle's overall eight will hover somewhere around 4,000 pounds.
The vehicle's series of cooling system and radiators keeps the batteries at a controlled temperature, while condensers keep the cabin at a comfortable temperature.
The Model S also features what Rawlinson calls "a multi-link aluminum-intensive rear suspension" that has been optimized for the vehicle's low center of gravity. The suspension has a large rear disc rotor in anticipation of the vehicle's rear brakes contributing more than in an average vehicle. The whole thing is "exceptionally light and exceptionally rigid," according to Rawlinson.
The battery pack covers the entire underbody of the vehicle--more specifically, under the floor of the car. When combined with the body structure, the five foot by eight foot battery pack adds both torsional rigidity and protection in side-impact crashes.
We'll have even more details about the vehicle next week, when we report live from the Detroit Auto Show.