This year, Tesla Motors begins production on its Model S, a family sedan—with enough space to seat seven passengers—that's powered by lithium-ion batteries arranged in an inventive "flat-pack" design. The all-electric Model S is already sold out for the year (you'll need to get on a waiting list for next year's production run). But the battery technology is what's driving this company toward its goal of profitability in 2013. Tesla's financial outlook has recently been boosted by lucrative deals to supply components and battery technologies to Daimler, Mercedes, and Toyota. Clearly, Tesla knows something about electric cars that the big players don't.
Illustration by Peter Oumanski