Tesla Begins Delivery of Battery-Powered Coupe

You might of heard about the list of 1,000 would-be Tesla Roadster owners who had each ponied up tens of thousands of dollars to get their name on a waitlist for the car months ago. Well, those 1,000 people are in luck as of this week: the startup announced it has shipped its first nine Roadster, and will be building more at the rate of four per week. By December, the company says, it'll be able to crank out 100 of the Lotus-based vehicles per month, thanks to an improved transmission design. Helping achieve that end is a new hire, Mike Donoughe, who arrives from Chrylser — where he worked for 24 years, most recently revamping the companys mid-size sedans — to become Exectutive VP of Vehicle Engineering and Manufacturing.

Tesla announced a few weeks back that it would be following its $100,000 Roadster with a more "economical" sedan model that will cost close to $60,000. That sedan will go head-to-head with some plug-in electric hybrids being promised by industry heavyweights GM [NYSE:GM] and Toyota [NYSE:TM]. While details on a plug in Toyota Prius are sketchy yet, much is known (and flaunted) about GM's Volt hybrid, which will use battery power as its primary drive, with a small backup gasoline engine to that will be used to charge the battery if power runs low. Tesla claims its sedan will have a larger range between charges than the Volt, which could be a deciding factor for a lot of prospective electric car buyers, despite the gap in the two cars' retail prices; the Volt is set to retail for around $20,000 less than the Tesla sedan.

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