Rahul Sharma (Editor)

Tesla Model S

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Manufacturer  Tesla Inc.
Production  2012–present
Designer  Franz von Holzhausen
Also called  Code name: WhiteStar
Model years  2012–present
Tesla Model S

Assembly  United States: Fremont, California (Tesla Factory) Europe: Tilburg, The Netherlands (all parts)

The Tesla Model S is a full-sized all-electric five-door, luxury liftback, produced by Tesla Inc., and introduced in June 2012. It scored a perfect 5.0 NHTSA automobile safety rating, and, as of March 2017, the P100D variant holds the record for the fastest acceleration of any production vehicle from a standstill to 60 mph in Motor Trend tests. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official range for the 2012 Model S Performance model equipped with an 85 kWh (310 MJ) battery pack is 265 miles (426 km), higher than any other electric car at the time. EPA rated its energy consumption at 237.5 watt-hours per kilometer (38 kWh/100 mi or 24 kWh/100 km) for a combined fuel economy of 89 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent (2.64 L/100 km or 107 mpg‑imp).


In 2016, Tesla updated the design of the Model S to closely match that of the Model X. As of January 2017, the following versions are available: 60, 60D, 75, 75D, 90D and P100D. Owners of the earlier 70 and 70D Model S have the option to unlock the 75 kWh capacity via a software update, adding up to 19 miles (31 km) per charge. The 60 and 60D Model S, reintroduced in June 2016, have a US$9,000 option to unlock the full 75 kWh capacity via a software update any time after purchase. In August 2016, Tesla introduced the P100D as the new top-level model. The P100D model has a 100 kWh battery, a 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) time of 2.28 seconds, and over 300 miles (485 km) of EPA rated range.

The Model S became the first electric car to top the monthly new car sales ranking in any country, twice leading in Norway, in September and December 2013; and also in Denmark in December 2015. Global Model S sales passed the 150,000 unit milestone in November 2016, with the U.S. as the leading market with 57% of global sales. Other leading country markets are Norway, China, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland.

The Tesla Model S has ranked as the world's best-selling plug-in electric car for two years in a row, 2015 and 2016. The Model S also ranked as the top selling plug-in electric car in the U.S. for two years running, 2015 and 2016. As of December 2016, the Model S is the world's second best selling plug-in electric car in history after the Nissan Leaf.

The Tesla Model S won awards including the 2013 World Green Car of the Year, 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year, Automobile magazine's 2013 Car of the Year, Time Magazine Best 25 Inventions of the Year 2012 award and Consumer Reports top-scoring car in its road testing. In 2015, Car and Driver named the Model S the Car of the Century. After declining to recommend the Model S in 2015 due to reliability issues, one year later Consumer Reports added the car to the magazine's recommended list.


The Model S was styled by Franz von Holzhausen, who previously worked for Mazda North American Operations. The car was codenamed WhiteStar during research and preliminary development. It was officially announced in a press release on June 30, 2008. The prototype vehicle was displayed at a press conference on March 26, 2009.

In February 2008 it was reported that Tesla Inc. (then Tesla Motors) was planning to offer a range-extended version of its Model S. This version would have included a gasoline engine to extend the driving range of the vehicle, but it was removed in later revisions. At the GoingGreen conference in September 2008 Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, announced that Tesla was developing only electric cars.

Construction of an assembly factory in Albuquerque, New Mexico (a central location for shipping) was supposed to begin in April 2007, but was cancelled. A factory to be built in San Jose, California was also announced. In May 2010 Tesla announced it would produce the Model S at the former NUMMI assembly plant in Fremont, California, now known as the Tesla Factory. This third plan was implemented.

In June 2015, three years after the Model S introduction and with almost 75,000 Model S sedans delivered worldwide, Tesla announced that Model S owners have accumulated over 1 billion electric miles (1.6 billion km) traveled, and saved more than half a million tons of CO2. The Tesla Model S is the first plug-in electric vehicle to reach that milestone. In October 2014 General Motors reported that Volt owners had accumulated a total of 629 million all-electric miles (over 1 billion kilometers) out of a total of 1 billion miles (1.6 billion km) traveled; while Nissan reported in December 2014 that Leaf owners had traveled 625 million miles (1 billion kilometers). Tesla also reported that 68% of Model S travel took place in North America, 25% in Europe and 7% in Asia-Pacific. Global Model S sales passed the 100,000 unit milestone in December 2015, and the 150,000 mark in November 2016.

In 2016, a racing series called the "Electric GT World Series" was promoted in preparation for a 2017 racing season using the P85+ as a race car on certain traditional tracks. The first season is planned to have 20 cars in 10 teams.

In April 2016, a refreshed Model S was introduced. The front fascia has a similar design as the Model X, and also adaptive LED headlights were introduced. Also, the improved Model S has a HEPA air filtration system that removes at least 99.97% of particulate exhaust pollution and all allergens, bacteria, and other contaminants from cabin air. The standard charger was upgraded from 40 to 48 amps in order to enable faster charging when connected to higher-amp outlets. Two new interior choices were added: figured ash wood and dark ash wood. These improvements were accompanied by a US$1,500 price increase in the base model.


Tesla manufactures the Model S at the 5.4 million square foot Tesla Factory in Fremont, California. For the European market, Tesla assembles and distributes from its European Distribution Center in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Cars are built and tested in Fremont, California. The battery pack, the electric motor and parts are disassembled and shipped separately to Tilburg, where the cars are reassembled. The center occupies a 203,000 sq ft (18,900 m2) industrial building that also serves as a workshop and spare parts warehouse. Tesla expects the Model S to "pay back" the energy that went into producing the car in fewer than 10,000 miles (16,000 km).

The first ten customers received their cars at the Fremont factory on June 22, 2012 at the official launch. Production grew from 15–20 cars completed/week in August 2012 to about 1,000 cars per week in 2015.

In October 2015, Tesla announced the company is negotiating with the Chinese government on producing its electric cars domestically. Local production has the potential to reduce the sales prices of Tesla models by a third. A Model S starts at US$71,500 in the U.S., while in China pricing starts at CN¥673,000, about US$106,000, after duties and other taxes. Elon Musk clarified that production will remain in the U.S., but if there's sufficient local demand for the Tesla Model 3 in China, a factory could be built in the country as soon as a year after the launch of the new model. Production in Europe will also depend on the region's demand for the Model 3.


The Model S exists in several versions, differing in energy capacity (battery size), power (motor size), and equipment. It is classified as a fullsize luxury car in the USA, or as a "Large Car" (120 cu ft or more) or "Luxury Sedan" by the EPA. The Euro Car Segment classification is S-segment (sports car), or "Oberklasse" in Germany.


The 2012 Tesla Model S Performance model has a three phase, four pole AC induction 416 hp (310 kW) and 443 ft·lb (600 N·m) rear-mounted electric motor with copper rotor. The base model uses a 362 hp (270 kW) and 325 ft·lb (440 N·m) motor. The company claimed a drag coefficient of Cd=0.24, lower than any car when released. Independent measurement by Car And Driver in May 2014 bore out Tesla's claim by exactly confirming a drag coefficient of Cd=0.24.

The rear axle has a traditional open differential. Models with dual motors also have an open differential on the front axles as well. The front and rear axles have no mechanical linkage – with dual motors the power distribution among them is controlled electronically.

The Model S P90D has a top speed of 155 mph (249 km/h) and it accelerates from 0 to 60 miles per hour (0 to 97 km/h) in 2.8 seconds, despite the lower total motor power, in part due to the improved traction of the all-wheel drive powertrain. The Model S P85D, a dual motor all-wheel drive vehicle has a governed top speed of 155 mph (249 km/h) and it accelerates from 0 to 60 miles per hour (0 to 97 km/h) in 3.2 seconds (tested to 3.1 seconds), under "Insane Mode", with 1g of acceleration. New P85Ds have an optional "Ludicrous Mode" hardware package available with the 90 kWh battery upgrade (thus becoming a P90D) that improves the 0 to 60 miles per hour (0 to 97 km/h) acceleration to 2.8 seconds and 1.1g. Tesla initially reported the total output in the P85D as the arithmetic addition of the maximum power of the individual electric motors at 691 hp (515 kW) but later reported it as 463 hp (345 kW) because the two motors do not give their maximum power at the same time.

The powertrain also provides regenerative braking power of more than 60 kW which reduces both energy consumption and improves brake lifetime.

Owners reported many powertrain issues from 2012, improving significantly over the years. In July 2015, Tesla announced its goal to make the Model S powertrain last for one million miles.

Dual-motor all-wheel-drive versions

On October 9, 2014, Tesla announced the introduction of All Wheel Drive (AWD) versions of the Model S's 60, 85, and P85 models, designated by a D at the end of the model number.

On April 8, 2015, Tesla introduced the Model S 70D as its new US$75,000 entry-level car, with all-wheel drive and an improved range of 240 miles (385 km). The 70D replaced the 60 and 60D in the Model S lineup, with the latter two models no longer being available for purchase. The P85 option was also dropped.

In the 85D, the rear drive unit is replaced by a smaller one to save cost and weight, while the second motor of similar size is added to the front wheels. This results in an AWD car with comparable power and acceleration to the RWD version while keeping the price increase to US$5,000. Additionally, the 85D reports a 2% (5-mile) range increase and 11% increase in top speed over the 85 (because AWD from a motor on each axle does not have the inefficiencies of single engine AWD systems). In the P85D, the high-power rear drive unit is retained, while a new front drive motor boosts the total power by about 50%. This results in a significant increase in acceleration and top speed. The 85 kWh version rose from US$81,070 to US$86,070, while the P85 (now the P85D) jumped from US$94,570 to US$105,670. Deliveries of the P85D started in December 2014, with the 85D models starting in February 2015, and the 70D models starting in April 2015.

On June 9, 2016, Tesla reintroduced the 60 and 60D, which has a 75 kWh battery, locked out to 60 kWh but upgradable by software, just like Autopilot. The early 2016 refresh also offers the "Bioweapon Defense Mode" airfilter first offered on the Model X.

On August 23, 2016, Tesla introduced the Model S P100D with Ludicrous Mode as its new US$134,500 top-level car, with all-wheel drive and an improved EPA estimated range of 315 miles (505 km). This version of the Model S is notable for being the first electric vehicle to have a U.S. EPA estimated range greater than 300 miles (485 km) and for being the fastest accelerating vehicle currently in production, with a 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) time of 2.5 seconds, when optioned with Ludicrous Mode.

On April 16, 2017, Telsa will remove the model 60 and 60D options, since most customers pick the larger 75-kwh battery option. This will make the Model S 75 the entry-level with a total of five variants: 75, 75D, 90D, 100D and P100D.


In 2012, the EPA range for the 60 kWh battery pack model was 208 mi (335 km) and the 85 kWh battery was 265 miles (426 km). According to Musk, the Model S has a battery with twice the energy density of that on the Nissan Leaf, but the difference in range is more than double. This is also due to other factors such as drag coefficient, weight, motor efficiency and rolling resistance. Musk stated that driving at 65 mph (105 km/h), under normal conditions, gives a reasonable range of 250 miles (400 km).

The energy-saving sleep state powers off the display and other vehicle electronics, after the car goes to sleep. This increases the time it takes the touchscreen and instrument panel to become usable. This mode can decrease the loss of the car's range when not being used (2.3 mi, 3.7 km per day, as of 2013).

The 85 kWh battery pack weighs 1,200 lb (540 kg) and contains 7,104 lithium-ion battery cells in 16 modules wired in series (14 in the flat section and two stacked on the front). Each module contains 6 groups of 74 cells wired in parallel; the 6 groups are then wired in series within the module. As of June 2012, the battery pack used modified Panasonic cells with nickel-cobalt-aluminum cathodes. Each cell was of the 18650 form factor (i.e., an 18 mm diameter, 65 mm height cylinder), similar to the Panasonic NCR18650B cell that has an energy density of 265 Wh/kg. Analysts estimate battery cost to be around 21–22% of the car cost. List price for a replacement battery was US$44,000 in February 2015.

The battery is guaranteed for eight years or 125,000 miles (200,000 km in metric countries) for the base model with the 60 kWh battery pack. The 85 kWh battery pack is guaranteed for eight years and unlimited miles. A poll among drivers indicate that accumulated battery loss steadies around 5% after 30,000 miles (50,000 km), decreasing further about 1% per additional 30,000 miles. Unlike Nissan, Tesla does not specify a limit for battery loss, but some early battery packs have been replaced.

A separate battery replacement guarantee takes effect after the eighth year at a cost of US$10,000 for the 60 kWh battery and US$12,000 for the 85 kWh battery.

In 2013, Tesla canceled a 40 kWh version of the car due to lack of demand, stating that only 4% of pre-orders were for the 40 kWh battery option. Customers who ordered this option instead received the 60 kWh pack, with charge software-limited to 40 kWh (139 miles, 224 km). It has the improved acceleration and top speed of the bigger pack and can be upgraded to use the full 60 kWh for US$11,000.

On April 8, 2015, Tesla discontinued the Model S 60, and replaced the base model with the Model S 70.

In 2015, Tesla introduced a 70 kWh battery to replace the existing 60 kWh batteries and base 60 kWh Model S vehicles, as the 60 was low margin and not sufficiently welcomed by customers. All 70 kWh cars can be had with rear-wheel drive or all wheel drive. The 60 was re-introduced in 2016 as a software-limited 75, upgradable to 75.

In July 2015, Tesla introduced its 70, 90, 90D and P90D variants along with a "ludicrous mode" for the performance model. The P90D combines a front axle power of 259 horsepower (193 kW) and rear axle power of 503 horsepower (375 kW) to a total of 762 horsepower (568 kW), for a 0–60 mph time of 2.8 sec. The acceleration of the P90D can reach 1.1g, described by Tesla as "faster than falling". The "ludicrous mode" costs US$10,000 for P90D, but was discounted to US$5,000 plus labor for P85D owners until January 2016.

Tesla described its July 2015 introduction of the 90 kWh battery as a "range upgrade" of the 85 kWh battery and explained that the 6% energy increase was due to "improved cell chemistry" and the introduction of silicon into the cell's graphite anode. Tesla additionally announced its expectation of an annual improvement in battery capacity of about 5%. Tesla also explained that apart from the P90D the Model S has its main battery conductor protected by a fuse rated for 1,300 A and that this rating is somewhat conservative given the uncertainty of the exact conditions under which a fuse melts. To reduce this uncertainty Tesla has for the P90D introduced Inconel battery contactors and an electronically controlled pyro-activated fuse, which monitors the current at the millisecond level, cuts the power with "extreme precision and certainty" and has a rating of 1,500 A.

In February 2016, the 85 kWh battery option was discontinued in countries including the US, Australia and Canada.

In March 2016, media reported that a firmware version distributed for the Tesla Model S had support for a P100D variant that was yet to come. This battery is more complicated to make than the 90 version. The P100D was released in August 2016.

Practicality and livability

The Model S is notable for being designed solely with an electric powertrain in mind, unlike other vehicles where the manufacturer has simply swapped out or supplanted an internal combustion engine with an electric motor. As a result, the Model S is able to offer unique features such as a front trunk, 'frunk', in addition to a spacious rear trunk (with a capacity of 894 liters) and a greatly enlarged front crumple zone compared to the typical combustion engine powered vehicle.

To enhance livability, Tesla has developed a network of fast-charging 'Supercharger' stations that allow the driver to quickly and easily top-up the charge on their Model S. This Supercharger network has rapidly expanded in Europe, across the United States, and other countries where there is significant demand, and as of September 2016, the network has been established in most American states, thus making cross-country and long distance trips in an electric vehicle feasible and greatly alleviating fears of range anxiety. See the Supercharger section below for further information.

Researchers from the University of California, Davis conducted a study to identify the factors influencing the decision to adopt high-end battery electric vehicles (BEV), such as the Tesla Model S, as these vehicles are remarkably different from mainstream BEVs. The 2016 study found that "environmental, performance, and technological motivations are reasons for adoption; the new technology brings a new segment of buyers into the market; and financial purchase incentives are not important in the consumer’s decision to adopt a high-end BEV."

Energy consumption

Under its five-cycle testing protocol, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rated the 85 kWh Model S model with a combined fuel economy equivalent of 89 MPGe (2.64 L/100 km), with an equivalent 88 mpg‑US (2.7 L/100 km; 106 mpg‑imp) in city driving and 90 mpg‑US (2.6 L/100 km; 110 mpg‑imp) on highways.

The following table shows the EPA's official ratings for fuel economy in miles per gallon gasoline equivalent (MPGe) and EPA's estimated out-of-pocket fuel costs for the variants of the Model S rated as of 30 December 2015 and as displayed in the Monroney label.

Battery placement

In contrast to most other battery electric vehicles including the Roadster, the battery pack of the Model S forms the floor of the vehicle between the axles, providing the vehicle with several advantages. Most notably, since the battery pack is the single heaviest component of the vehicle, the Model S has a center of gravity height of only 18 inches (46 cm) (about the same as a Lotus Elise), helping it to achieve a lateral acceleration of 0.9g and good protection against rollover. Secondly, the absence of a heavy engine between the front or rear axle allows the bulk of the mass to be centralized between the axles, lowering rotational inertia allowing it to turn more quickly for its weight. Thirdly, the placement of the battery pack increases the rigidity of the passenger compartment, improving the passive safety of the vehicle. Fourth, placing the battery pack under the vehicle makes it possible to remove or replace the entire unit in 90 seconds, either for maintenance or for Tesla's Battery Swap service.


In all markets the charge port is located behind a door in the left taillight. During charging, the charge port pulses green. The frequency at which the charge port's light pulses slows down as the charge level approaches full. When charging is complete, the light stops pulsing and is solid green.

The Model S comes equipped with a different charger and connector in North American versus other markets, derived from differences in the local electric grid systems.

North America

The standard North American onboard charger accepts single phase 120 or 240-volt sources at a rate of up to 10 kW. Included adapters allow the car to charge from a standard 120 volt outlet, a 240 volt NEMA 14-50 outlet, and SAE J1772 public chargers. An optional US$2,000 upgrade for a second 10 kW onboard charger supports a total of up to 20 kW charging from an 80 amp available US$750 Tesla Wall Connector. The North American connector uses a proprietary Tesla design.

Charging times vary depending on the battery pack's state-of-charge, its overall capacity, the available voltage, and the available circuit breaker amperage. From a 120 volt/15 amp household outlet, the range increases by 3.75 miles (6 km) for every hour of charging. From a 10 kW, NEMA 14–50 240 V/50 A outlet (like those used by RVs or standard cooking ranges), the charge rate is 28.75 miles (46 km) per hour. Using Tesla's 20 kW, 240 V High Power Wall Connector increases the rate to 57 miles (92 km) per hour if the car is configured with dual chargers (20 kW).

Europe / Asia Pacific

The standard European charger accepts three phase 230 V or 400 V at up to 11 kW. The Type 2 connector on the car directly accepts "Mennekes" IEC 62196 charging from public stations at up to 400 V, and included adapters allow the car to charge from standard continental European outlets and IEC 60309 230 volt (blue 3-pin) or 400 volt (red 5-pin) outlets, depending on region. The addition of a second charger supports charging at up to 22 kW, providing up to 70 miles (110 km) of range per hour of charge; the Tesla Wall Connector is expected to be available in the second quarter of 2016.


The Model S has independent coil spring suspension on all four wheels – front double wishbone, virtual steer axis control arm and rear independent multilink. As an extra-cost option, the car is available with self-leveling, height-adjustable air suspension. This is accomplished via adjustable Bilstein shock absorbers controlled by the driver. The car is meant to lower itself at highway speed and raise itself to traverse steep driveways and rough terrain, despite the low 6-inch ground clearance and rather long 116-inch wheelbase.

Because, in the Tesla, electronic systems can be upgraded by "over-the-air" download, rather than recall, the suspension system has been changed retroactively on several occasions. During the 2013 'fire investigation', NHTSA asked Tesla to disable the car's ability to lower itself at speed on the theory that a ground clearance below 6 inches might cause the batteries underneath the car to contact road debris. In September 2014, Tesla upgraded the height adjustment feature for Model S cars equipped with air suspension to remember locations that require higher clearance such as those with potholes and steep driveways, and automatically adjusts to avoid them.


Beginning in late September 2014, all new Model S vehicles come equipped with a camera (supplied by Mobileye) mounted at the top of the windshield, forward looking radar (supplied by Bosch) in the lower grill, and ultrasonic acoustic location sensors in the front and rear bumpers that provide a 360-degree buffer zone around the car. This equipment allows Model S to detect road signs, lane markings, obstacles, and other vehicles. In addition to adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning, a US$2,500 "Tech Package" option will allow this system to enable semi-autonomous drive and parking capabilities. All Model S sold since October 2014 have the option to have Autopilot, which allows limited hands-free driving. AutoPilot-enabled cars receive software updates for the AutoPilot software wirelessly, just as all other Model S cars receive general software updates wirelessly.

According to Elon Musk, the Model S was designed to be a computer on wheels: "We really designed the Model S to be a very sophisticated computer on wheels. Tesla is a software company as much as it is a hardware company. A huge part of what Tesla is, is a Silicon Valley software company. We view this the same as updating your phone or your laptop." Full autonomy is “really a software limitation: The hardware exists to create full autonomy, so it’s really about developing advanced, narrow AI for the car to operate on.“

Tesla's autonomous driving features are ahead of production cars, and its Autopilot can be classified as somewhere between levels 2 and 3 under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) five levels of vehicle automation. At this level, the car can act autonomously but requires the full attention of the driver, who must be prepared to take control at a moment's notice. Autopilot is suitable only on limited-access highways, and sometimes it will fail to detect lane markings and disengage itself. In urban driving the system will not read traffic signals or obey stop signs. The system also does not detect pedestrians or cyclists.

Starting October 2016, all Tesla cars are built with the necessary hardware to allow full self-driving capability at a safety level (SAE Level 5). The system will operate in "shadow mode" (processing without taking action) and send data back to Tesla to improve its abilities until the software is ready for deployment via over-the-air upgrades. Tesla says it expects to enable full self-driving by the end of 2017, after proper testing.

Fatal accident

The first known fatal accident involving a Tesla Model S when the car was in autopilot mode took place in Williston, Florida on 7 May 2016. The driver was killed in a crash with a large 18-wheel tractor-trailer. By late June 2016 the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened a formal investigation into the accident working with the Florida Highway Patrol. According to the NHTSA, preliminary reports indicate the crash occurred when the tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla at an intersection on a non-controlled access highway, and the car failed to apply the brakes. The car continued to travel after passing under the truck’s trailer. The NHTSA's preliminary evaluation was opened to examine the design and performance of any automated driving systems in use at the time of the crash, which involves a population of an estimated 25,000 Model S cars. On 8 July 2016, the NHTSA requested Tesla Motors to hand over to the agency detailed information about the design, operation and testing of its Autopilot technology. The agency also requested details of all design changes and updates to Autopilot since its introduction, and Tesla's planned updates scheduled for the next four months.

According to Tesla, "neither autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor-trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied." The car attempted to drive full speed under the trailer, "with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S." Tesla also stated that this was Tesla’s first known autopilot death in over 130 million miles (208 million km) driven by its customers where Autopilot was activated. According to Tesla there is a fatality every 94 million miles (150 million km) among all type of vehicles in the U.S. Some statisticians say that Tesla's use of statistics is meaningless due to the relatively small total distance traveled by Tesla cars and the different driving conditions of the two data sets being compared. It is estimated that billions of miles will need to be traveled before a statistically significant comparison can be made. Researchers say that Tesla and others need to release more data on the limitations and performance of automated driving systems if self-driving cars are to become safe and understood enough for mass market use.

Instrument panel

The instrument panel is a 12.3-inch (31 cm) liquid-crystal display electronic instrument cluster that indicates speed, power usage, charge level, estimated range and active gear, as well as Nav directions (driven by Garmin). The gearbox can be set to Drive, Neutral, Reverse and Park. The infotainment control touchscreen is a 17-inch (43 cm) multi-touch panel divided into four areas. A top line displays status symbols and provides shortcuts to Charging, HomeLink, Driver Profiles, vehicle information (software version and the Vehicle identification number) and Bluetooth. The second line provides access to several apps including Media, Nav (driven by Google Maps, and thus is separate from the Nav on instrument panel), Energy, Web, Camera and Phone. The central main viewing area displays the (two) active apps, subdivided into upper and lower areas. (Most apps can be expanded to take up the entire area). At the bottom is access to various controls and settings for the vehicle such as doors, locks and lights as well as temperature controls and a secondary volume control.

The instrument cluster and the infotainment panel are driven by separate Nvidia Tegra 3 3D Visual Computing Modules. Tesla was the first company to ship this technology. (Audi later delivered this technology in its 2013 model year in Europe, and in North America in 2014.) The Tegra system on a chip (SoC) integrates eight specialized processors, including a multi-core ARM CPU, a GPU, and dedicated audio, video and image processors. Nvidia claimed that it consumes 2% of the energy of a typical CPU.

The navigation system uses GPS and a mix of Garmin and Google Maps route guidance. The map display on the 17-inch screen requires a constant Internet connection, so navigation is limited in areas without mobile network coverage. The Nav on the instrument panel is loaded on the car and does not need Internet access to function. Update 6.2 features automatic nav guidance to charging stations if range is insufficient.

Enthusiasts have developed the Open Vehicle Monitoring System (OVMS) which allows the owner to remotely observe a variety of different vehicle operating parameters, such as battery state of charge, typically using a smartphone. Some switchgear used are Mercedes parts, such as window switches, cruise control lever, and drive selector.

According to Elon Musk, the Model S runs on the open-source Linux operating system. In 2014 Autoblog reported that Tesla Models S owners had determined via the car's combined diagnostics and Ethernet port that a Ubuntu system controlling the central touchscreen is connected to the car's internal Ethernet. The same users determined that another Ubuntu system controlling the dashboard/navigation screen also is connected to the internal network, together with a third computer of unknown type with an unknown function.


All versions of the Model S have the same body and normally seat five passengers. An optional folding third row for US$2,500 becomes a rear-facing two-place child seat. The option includes a stronger rear bumper. Each third row seat has a racing-style five-point harness for passengers over 37 in (0.94 m) tall and weighing between 35 to 77 lb (16 to 35 kg). Cargo space is available under the front hood (which Tesla called a "frunk", a portmanteau of "front trunk.") The optional third row gives the greatest passenger capacity of any electric vehicle. In October 2014, the upgraded Model S P85D, D for dual, was introduced. The upgraded version features two electric motors, one driving the rear wheels as in prior versions, and one driving the front wheels. Safety features are enhanced also, for example with partial auto-pilot functions. The dual motor version will be available also for the basic 85 kWh versions for around US$4,000 more in price. The rear wheel drive version of the P85 was removed, and the dual motor option is not available for the 60 kWh version.

The 2015 model year update introduced electromechanical brakes. In 2016, the 85 kWh and later 90 kWh battery was discontinued from all markets. A glass roof with no horizontal roof bar between the B-pillars was introduced in late 2016.

Vehicle warranty and maintenance

The Model S is covered by a 4-year, 50,000 mi (80,000 km) limited warranty, that includes all standard equipment, the transmission and the complete powertrain (excluding tires). The warranty can be extended an additional 4 years or 50,000 miles (80,000 km) beyond the original terms for US$4,000. Warranty coverage includes a complementary loaner car—a Performance 85 or Tesla Roadster—when service is required. In April 2013, Tesla announced that a previously mandatory US$600 annual vehicle inspection and maintenance fee would be made optional, and would not be required to maintain warranty coverage. If chosen, the fee covers a complete inspection, tire alignment, new brake pads, hardware upgrades and miscellaneous other maintenance items as needed.

The battery and drive unit are covered for eight years or 125,000 miles (200,000 km in metric countries) for the 60 kWh base model, or eight years and unlimited distance for all 70 and 85 kWh models. The unconditional battery warranty covers everything except deliberate damage, even including user error. However, loss of battery capacity over time or usage is not covered under warranty.

Environmental footprint

In February 2014, the Automotive Science Group (ASG) published the result of a study conducted to assess the life-cycle of over 1,300 automobiles across nine categories sold in North America. The study ranked the Model S as the best environmental performer in the 2014 full-size cars category. Based on the assessment of life-cycle environmental footprint, the study concluded that the increased environmental impacts of manufacturing the vehicle are more than offset with increased environmental performance during operation. For the assessment, the study used the average electricity mix of the U.S. grid in 2014. The Nissan Leaf had the smallest life-cycle environmental footprint of any model year 2014 automobile available in the North American market.

In 2015, the Union of Concerned Scientists found that in the US regions where the Model S is popular, the 68% higher manufacturing emissions are offset within a few years of average driving. During their life-cycle, EVs emit about half the amount of comparable fossil cars. According to an IBM researcher, this analysis is the best available.

Tesla has worked with ToxCo/Kinsbursky in the US since 2008 and Umicore in Europe to recycle worn out RoHS batteries, which will be performed in Gigafactory 1.

Tesla stations

In 2012, Tesla began building a network of 480-volt charging stations to facilitate long-distance travel. In June 2013 Tesla announced that existing and future stations would become Tesla stations, with facilities to support under-two-minute battery pack swaps. As of early October 2014, 115 stations were operating in the United States, 71 in Europe and 23 in Asia. The Tesla network is usable only by Tesla vehicles, which are engineered for compatibility.

The first Supercharger corridor opened in October 2012, with six stations placed along routes connecting San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. A second corridor opened in December 2012 connecting Washington, D.C., New York City, and Boston; it includes three stations located in highway rest areas in Delaware and Connecticut.

The first Tesla stations in Europe opened in Norway in August 2013. Tesla next focused on Germany and the Netherlands, with plans to cover both countries by mid-2014. Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Denmark and Luxembourg were to be covered by the end of 2014. Stations were to be within 200 mi (320 km) for about 90% of the population in France, England, Wales and Sweden by the end of 2014.


The Supercharger is a proprietary DC rapid-charging station that provides up to 135 kW of power, giving 85 kWh vehicles an additional 180 mi (290 km) of range in about 15–30 minutes. Older 60 kWh may have reduced charge rate. In the West Coast corridor the Superchargers's grid access is assisted by a solar carport system (some including a battery of a few hundred kWh) provided by SolarCity. Eventually, all Tesla stations will be assisted by solar power.

Supercharging hardware is now a standard on all vehicles sold by Tesla. The Roadster is not compatible. In early November 2013, Tesla reported that 90% of its customers had opted for supercharging capability. As of April 2016, there are over 620 open superchargers around the world. Elon Musk said at the unveiling of the Model 3 that that number would be doubled by the end of 2017. Tesla has received criticism about the length of time it has taken them to install chargers on high use corridors of the United States such as I-40 and I-80.

Tesla built 120 kW Tesla supercharger stations to allow long distance travel in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. A Supercharger can add up to 125 miles (201 km) of range in 20 minutes and a full charge in approximately one hour assuming a nearly empty 85 kWh battery.

Supercharging hardware is included in the 85 kWh, 70 kWh, and 60 kWh battery packs; in both the 85 kWh models and 70 kWh models, the payment for the car includes supercharging by default, but in the 60 kWh, supercharging was software-disabled and one must pay an extra fee to enable supercharging.

Battery swapping

Tesla designed its Model S to allow fast battery swapping, which also facilitates vehicle assembly. In June 2013, Tesla announced their goal to deploy a battery swapping station in Tesla stations. At a demonstration Tesla showed a battery swap operation taking just over 90 seconds, about half the time it takes to refill an empty gas tank.

Battery swapping was to be deployed along Interstate 5 in California to allow travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles. These were to be followed by the Washington, D.C. to Boston corridor. Each swapping station costs US$500,000 and stocks about 50 batteries. The service would be offered for the price of about 15 US gallons (57 l; 12 imp gal) of gasoline at the current local rate, around US$60 to US$80 at June 2013 prices. Owners can pick up their original battery pack fully charged on the return trip, which is included in the swap fee. Tesla would also offer the option to keep the swapped battery for a fee or to receive the original pack from Tesla for a fee. Pricing has not been determined.

Tesla's only battery swap station is located at Harris Ranch near Selma, California, and was available for pilot testing in late December 2014. As of 2015, Tesla says they have hundreds of cars in the battery swap program, although few owners are interested in using the service. In June 2015, Tesla said that it was unlikely that more battery swap stations would be added due to lack of demand for battery swaps costing around $60 when supercharging is included free with most models.


Tesla allocated the first 1,000 units to its Signature and Signature Performance limited edition configurations, equipped with the 85 kWh battery pack, and priced in the U.S. at US$95,400 and US$105,400 respectively, not including any applicable U.S. federal and local government tax credits and incentives. As of July 2015, the base Model S starts at US$75,000 with a 70 kWh battery pack and goes up to US$105,000 for the performance model with the 85 kWh pack before any government subsidies. Tesla does not make a convertible Model S.

A custom Model S was designed for the Oceanic Preservation Society in collaboration with Obscura Digital, and was used to project images of endangered animals to help educate the public about the ongoing Holocene mass extinction, as featured in the 2015 documentary Racing Extinction.


Tesla reported 520 reservations for the Model S during the first week they were available and by December 2012, a total 15,000 net reservations (after deliveries and cancellations) had been received by year-end. The special edition Model S Signature model was sold out before deliveries began in June 2012, and according to Tesla all models were sold out for that year shortly after. A car ordered in May 2012 would be delivered in early to mid-2013.

Initially Tesla expected to reach global sales of 35,000 units in 2014, but in November 2014 reduced its sales target to 33,000 units due to a deficit in production of 2,000 units during the third quarter of 2014. The company expected its annual production to increase by over 50% in 2014 to 35,000 units, and another increase of 50% in 2015. Tesla set a target of between 50,000 and 52,000 deliveries for Model S and Model X cars in 2015, and delivered 50,658 units. Tesla plans to deliver 80,000 to 90,000 new Model S and Model X vehicles in 2016.


U.S. deliveries began June 2012. Deliveries of the 60 kWh model were rescheduled from November 2012 to January/February 2013. A total of 2,650 cars were delivered in North America in 2012.


During the first six months of 2013, 10,050 were delivered. The Model S was released in Europe in early August 2013, and the first deliveries took place in Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands, and by November 2013, the Model S was on sale in 20 countries.

Sales totaled about 22,477 units in North America and Europe, surpassing Tesla's annual sales target of 21,500 units. Global cumulative sales passed the 25,000 unit milestone in December 2013. By the end of 2013, according to Elon Musk, Norway and Switzerland became the company's largest per capita sales markets.


Retail deliveries in China began in April 2014. The right-hand-drive model was released in the UK in June 2014, followed by Hong Kong in July 2014, and Japan in September 2014. Deliveries in Australia began in December 2014.

Global cumulative sales of the Model S passed the 50,000 unit mark in October 2014. A total of 31,655 units were sold worldwide in 2014, allowing the Model S to rank as the world's second best selling plug-in electric vehicle after the Nissan Leaf that year. In 2014 about 55% of Model S deliveries took place in North America, 30% in Europe, and 15% in the Asia-Pacific market.


A total of 21,577 units were sold worldwide during the first half of 2015, of which, 11,532 were delivered during the second quarter alone, up about 52% over the same quarter the previous year. As of June 2015, the Model S was sold in 30 countries. A total of 11,597 Model S cars were delivered during the third quarter, up about 49% over the same quarter in 2014. A total of 17,272 Model S were delivered during the fourth quarter, up 76% over the same quarter the previous year, and setting a new record for the most cars delivered in a quarter. Global Model S sales passed the 100,000 unit milestone in December 2015, three years and a half after its introduction. A total of 50,446 Model S sedans were sold globally in 2015, making the Model S the world's best-selling plug-in electric car in 2015, ahead of the Nissan Leaf (about 43,000 units).

As of December 2015, a total of 107,228 Model S sedans had been sold worldwide since its introduction, ranking as the world's second best selling plug-in car ever after the Nissan Leaf (200,000). The United States continued as the leading market with 63,161 units sold. Norway listed as the Model S largest overseas market, with 10,062 new units registered, followed by China with 5,524 units registered through September 2015, and the Netherlands with 4,382 units registered at the end of December 2015.


Model S global sales totaled 12,420 units during the first quarter of 2016. Sales during the second quarter of 2016 were lower than anticipated by Tesla, with 9,764 Model S cars delivered worldwide during the quarter. Although production was up 20% from the previous quarter, the number of vehicles in transit at the end of June 2016 was much higher than expected (5,150 including Model X cars), representing 35.8% of the number of cars delivered in the quarter (14,402 vehicles including the Model X).

Deliveries in the third quarter of 2016 totaled 16,047 units, for cumulative sales of 38,231 Model S cars during the first nine months of 2016, allowing the Model S to rank as the world's top selling plug-in car during this period, just ahead of the Nissan Leaf. Global Model S sales passed the 150,000 unit milestone in November 2016, four years and five months after its introduction, with the United States leading global sales with about 57% of total deliveries. With an estimated 12,700 units delivered during the fourth quarter of 2016, sales totaled about 50,931 units in 2016, making the Model S the world's top selling plug-in car for the second year running. The United States listed as the leading market with about 29,156 units delivered, followed by China with 6,334, surpassing Norway as the largest Model S overseas market.

As of December 2016, about 158,159 Model S cars have been sold worldwide since its introduction, making the Model S the world's all-time second best-selling plug-in electric car after the Nissan Leaf (250,000), and ahead of the Volt/Ampera family of plug-in hybrids (134,500).

Sales by country

The following table shows sales by year for the top selling countries through December 2016:



The first nine units were delivered in Sydney on December 9, 2014. Tesla also opened its first store and service centre in St Leonards, and its first Supercharger station at Pyrmont in December 2014. Initially, only two versions were available, the 60 starting at A$91,400, and the 85 starting at A$103,400 before any options, stamp duty and the Australian luxury car tax (LCT). The Model S P85D, starting at A$133,500, had deliveries scheduled to begin in June 2015.

As of December 2014, a total of 65 Model S cars were registered in New South Wales and only four in Victoria. At the end of March 2015, registrations totaled 119 in New South Wales and 54 in Victoria. Although there were no sales figures reported for Tesla in other states, the combined sales of these two states alone were enough for the Model S to rank as the top selling all-electric car in the country for the first quarter of 2015, ahead of the BMW i3 (46) and the Nissan Leaf (31).


The first deliveries took place on April 22, 2014. The Model S has the same standard equipment as the continental European version, but was adapted to provide larger back seats because the car was expected to be driven by a chauffeur. Only two versions with an 85 kWh battery pack are available in the Chinese market, standard and performance. Pricing starts at CN¥734,000 (~US$121,200), similar to the US, adding only taxes and transportation costs. Comparable luxury cars cost more than US$180,000 in the Chinese market.

Chinese sales up to June 2014 were estimated between 1,000 to 1,300 units. JLWarren Capital, an equity firm, estimated that about 2,800 Tesla Model S cars have been imported to China by mid September 2014, but only 432 had received the license plates. According to a Tesla spokesman, the major reasons for the discrepancy could be that registration rules were holding deliveries in Shanghai, and Tesla only recently was able to start delivering the electric cars to customers who bought them in Shanghai. Secondly, many Chinese customers have delayed taking possession of their Model S car while waiting for the government to add the Tesla to the list of electric vehicles exempt from its 8% to 10% purchase tax. As of December 2014, Tesla had imported 4,800 Model S cars, but only 2,499 of those vehicles were registered for road use in China.

Tesla's CEO expressed disappointment with the Chinese sales, as stock continued to be high by early 2015. As sales improved, Model S sales reached 2,147 units representing an 80% share of the imported plug-in hybrid or electric car segment in China for the first half of 2015. Sales totaled 3,025 units during the first nine months of 2015, for cumulative registrations of 5,524 units through September 2015. Tesla's initial sales target for 2015 was 10,000 units. Sales totaled 6,334 units in 2016.

Hong Kong

Sales of the Model S began in July 2014. After the introduction of the Model S, sales of all-electric cars took off in Hong Kong. Thanks to tax waiver on electric vehicles, the Model S price is very competitive in the luxury car segment. While the after tax price of the Model S 70D is HK$619,000, a Mercedes-Benz E 200 Premium Edition costs HK$1,009,500. As of June 2015, an EV enthusiasts group estimated that the Model S was the top selling all-electric car in the territory with roughly 70% of the registered stock of EVs. According to Tesla, as of June 2015, Hong Kong has the world's highest density of Tesla superchargers, with eight stations comprising a total of 36 supercharger stalls. This infrastructure allows most Model S owners to have a supercharger within 20 minutes' drive. Sales totaled 2,221 units in 2015, and by August 2016 about 80% of 5,800 EVs in Hong Kong were Teslas.


Retail deliveries began in Europe in early August 2013, in Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The two biggest markets for the Model S in Europe are Norway and the Netherlands. The Model S, with about 3,900 units sold, ended 2013 as the third-best selling all-electric car in Europe after the Nissan Leaf and the Renault Zoe. A total of 8,734 Model S cars were sold in 2014, representing a market share of 15.5% of new all-electric passenger car sales in Europe, and again allowing the Model S to rank as the third best selling all-electric car in Europe after the Leaf and the Zoe. Accounting for sales during the first nine months of 2014, the Model S outsold the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Jaguar XJ, ranking second in the European luxury vehicle segment after the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

European Model S sales in 2015 totaled 15,515 units, ranking second after the Renault Zoe (18,727) and ahead of the Leaf (15,455). The Model S captured 15.9% of the European all-electric segment sales in 2015. The Model S topped the European luxury car segment in 2015, ahead of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (14,990), the segment's leader in previous years. Norway was the leading market in 2015 with 4,039 units sold. Cumulative Model S sales in Europe totaled 28,149 units by the end of 2015.


American and European standard equipment and options packages are the same. European prices are higher, due to exchange rates, the value-added tax (VAT), plus transport costs, import duties and other country-specific costs. In most countries where the Model S is sold base prices for the 60 kWh start at 72,600 €, and 83,150 € for the 85 kWh battery car. The 85 kWh Performance, Signature, and Signature Performance trim levels are listed at 97,550 €, 101,400 €, and 110,950 € respectively. Tesla offered a deduction of 1,700 € to buyers who held a reservation by the end of December 2012.

Czech Republic

A total of 23 units were sold during 2014.


During its first full month in the Danish market, the Model S was the top selling electric vehicle with 42 units sold. Sales were 112 units in 2013 and 460 in 2014. Model S sales constituted 35% of the sales of luxury cars by mid 2014. A Model S was tested as a taxi, but high price and low range made the project uneconomic. When the AWD model was announced in Autumn 2014, used Model S were sold fast at high price.

In October 2015, the Danish Parliament approved to phase out the tax exemption for electric vehicles, and customers rushed to order the Model S before the price increase. It became the most sold car of any kind in Denmark in December 2015, with 1,248 cars delivered that month, out of 1,573 electric cars sold in December. This is the first time ever that an electric car is the best selling car in Denmark. The Model S comprised 98% of luxury cars sold in Denmark in 2015. Cumulative sales in the country reached 3,308 units through December 2015, of which, a record of 2,736 units were sold in 2015. Sales plummeted to 78 units in 2016 after the phasing out of the country's tax break for electric vehicles at the end of 2015.


The company announced that by November 2013 the first Tesla stations would open between Munich and Stuttgart, Munich and Zurich, Switzerland, and Cologne and Frankfurt. Tesla planned to cover more than 50% of Germany by the end of March 2014, and 100% by the end of 2014. Germany would then have the most Superchargers per capita of any country. By late 2013 Tesla announced a goal to sell 10,000 Model S in Germany in 2015.

Registrations totaled 815 units in 2014, representing 2.7% of the luxury segment sales in the country. As of November 2015, cumulative registrations totaled 2,354 units. A total of 1,474 Model S cars were registered in Germany in 2016.


The first deliveries in the country occurred on August 22, 2013, at Tesla's European Distribution Center in Tilburg. A total of 1,194 units were sold in 2013. After the end of the registration tax exemption, sales fell significantly, and only 262 units were sold during the first four months of 2014. In April 2014 the Schiphol Group announced that three companies were selected to provide all-electric taxi service in Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The concessions started on June 1, 2014 and service is provided with 100 Tesla Model S cars, which jointed service to the electric buses and hybrid cars already operating at the airport.

Sales in 2015 totaled 1,805 units, and declined to 1,693 in 2016. As of October 2016, combined registrations of the Model S (5,681) and the Model X (250) represented 48.6% of the 12,196 all-electric cars on Dutch roads at the end of that month. The Model S remained as the all-time top selling all-electric car in the Netherlands with 6,049 cars registered at the end of December 2016.


The first delivery of a Model S in Europe took place in Oslo on August 7, 2013. By the end of August 2013, Europe's first six charging stations were opened, in Lyngdal, Aurland, Dombås, Gol, Sundebru and Lillehammer. That month 186 units were delivered, ranking second among all-electric cars behind the Nissan Leaf (448 units). Sales surged in September totaling 616 units, beating the Leaf and achieving an overall new car market share of 5.1%.

In 2013, a five-month waiting list emerged creating a used market, with US$10,000 to US$20,000 premiums for a used model. Sales dropped to 98 units in October, before jumping back to 527 units in November, ranking it number two in new car registrations after the Volkswagen Golf. In December, sales of 553 units made it the top-selling new car again and capturing a 4.9% market share of new car sales. With less than five months of sales, the Model S ranked 20th for the year with a market share of 1.4% of Norwegian new car sales, Tesla's largest in Europe.

The Model S topped the monthly sales ranking for a third time in March 2014, with 1,493 units sold, breaking the 28-year-old monthly sales record, surpassing the Ford Sierra, which sold 1,454 units in May 1986. Sales totaled 2,056 Model S cars during the first quarter of 2014, making the Model S the best selling new car in Norway during this period. The Model S captured a 5.6% market share of new car sales and 38.8% of the new plug-in electric car segment during this quarter. By the end of 2014, the Model S ranked as the fifth best selling new car in the Norwegian market, with 4,040 units registered and a market share of 2.8% of new car sales in the country that year.

As of July 2014, Norway ranked as Tesla's largest overseas market, with an average of 436 Model S sedans sold per month since August 2013. In comparison, the average in the United States was about 1,630 units delivered per month since the electric car went on sales in 2012. As of December 2015, Norway continued as the second largest Model S market by volume, with about 9.4% of cumulative global sales. Tesla Model S registrations in Norway totaled 2,051 new units in 2016. Since its introduction, a total of 12,113 new Model S cars have been registered in Norway through December 2016.


Retail deliveries began in August 2013, and a total of 213 units were registered in 2013. The Model S, with 496 units registered, ranked as the top selling plug-in electric car in the country in 2014. With 835 units sold during the first seven months of 2015, the Model S outsold combined Swiss sales of the luxury segment including such models as the Mercedes S-Class, Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series during the same period. Cumulative Model S sales totaled 3,060 units up until June 2016, which includes units sold in Liechtenstein.

United Kingdom

Deliveries began in June 2014, and a total of 698 units were registered in the UK by the end of 2014. Pricing starts at GB£54,380 before the GB£5,000 Plug-in Car Grant. Model S owners are also exempted from the London congestion charge. During the first half of 2016, slightly more Model S cars were registered in the UK than in Norway, the leading Model S market in Europe. During the first six months of 2016 a total of 1,263 Model S sedans were registered in the UK and 1,248 in Norway. A total of 3,907 Model S sedans were registered in the UK at the end of September 2016.

North America


The first Model S sedans were delivered in December 2012. Cumulative sales totaled 3,590 units as of December 2015, and ranks as the second best-selling plug-in car in the country ever after the Chevrolet Volt (5,415) and ahead of the Nissan Leaf (3,198). The Model S was the top selling plug-in electric car in Canada in 2015 with 2,010 units sold.


Retail sales began in Mexico City in December 2015. Initially, no Supercharger stations are available in the country.

United States

The first delivery took place on June 1, 2012. Deliveries for retail customers in the United States started on June 22, at a special event held at the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California. The first 1,000 production units were Signature and Signature Performance limited editions equipped with an 85 kWh battery pack. Cumulative sales passed the 50,000 unit milestone in early July 2015.

About 2,620 units were sold in the U.S. during 2012 out of 2,650 units delivered in North America. California is the largest American regional market for the Model S. In March 2013, Tesla reported the delivery of the 3,000th Model S in California, representing around 50% of US sales to that date. During the first quarter of 2013 the Model S ranked as the top selling plug-in electric vehicle in the U.S. with about 4,900 units delivered, followed by the Chevrolet Volt with 4,244 units. During 2013, the Model S was listed as the least stolen car in the United States, with a theft rating of just 0.15 per 1,000 units produced. By comparison, the U.S. average is 3.51 cars stolen per 1,000 produced. The Honda Accord was the most stolen car in the U.S. in 2013, with about 54,000 units, mostly models built in 2007 or before.

According to Edmunds.com, between January and August 2013 the Model S achieved a high market share of new car sales among the U.S. most expensive ZIP codes, as rated by Forbes, led by California. Atherton ranked first with a 15.4% share, followed by Los Altos Hills with 11.9%, and Portola Valley with 11.2%. During this period the Model S had the highest number of new passenger car registrations in 8 of the 25 most expensive American ZIP codes. With 8,347 units sold in 2013, it was the third-best selling luxury car in California (after the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series sedans), with a 9.8% share of the Californian luxury and sports segment. As of November 2013, the Model S was available nationwide with California leading sales with a 48% share of U.S. sales.

American sales totaled about 18,650 units in 2013, placing the Model S as the third selling plug-in electric car after the Chevrolet Volt (23,094) and the Nissan Leaf (22,610). Also in 2013, the Model S was the top seller in the full-size luxury sedan category, ahead of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class at 13,303. In 2014, 16,689 Model S sedans were delivered, down 10.5% from 2013, but the electric sedan ranked again as the third best selling plug-in car in the U.S.

In 2015 the Model S ranked as the top selling plug-in electric car in the U.S, with 25,202 delivered, surpassing both the Leaf (17,296) and the Volt (15,393). The Model S was also the country's best-selling car in the large luxury segment among comparably priced four-door sedans, ahead of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (21,934) and BMW 7 Series (9,292). Registrations in California totaled 10,723 units in 2015, representing a 12.1% market share of the state's luxury and sports segment, making the Model S the third best selling car in the segment after the Mercedes-Benz E-Class (12,324) and BMW 5 Series (11,133). By the end of 2015, cumulative sales in the American market represented almost 60% of Model S global sales since its introduction.

Tesla reported 9,156 units sold nationwide in the third quarter of 2016, up 59% from the same quarter in 2015, allowing the Model S to led national sales in the large luxury car segments, representing almost a third of the segment sales, and ahead of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (4,921) and the BMW 7 Series (3,634). The Model S was the top selling plug-in electric in the American market for the second year in a row with an estimated 29,156 units delivered in 2016. Registrations in California totaled 11,326 units in 2016, representing a 14.1% market share of the state's luxury and sports segment, making the Model S the second best selling car in the segment after the Mercedes-Benz E-Class (11,684) and ahead of the BMW 5 Series (10,551). According to Wards's Auto, the Model S topped the American upper luxury segment in 2016, followed by the Mercedes S-Class (18,803) and the BMW 7-Series (12,918). An estimated 92,317 Model S cars have been sold in the United States up until December 2016, representing about 57% of Model S global sales through November 2016.

Owners profile

Owners of the Model S are overwhelmingly male and over 45 years old.

Retail sales model disputes

Tesla sells its cars directly to consumers without creating a dealer network, as other manufacturers have done and as many states require by legislation. In support of its approach, the company has fought legal and legislative battles in Ohio, New Jersey, New York and other states. With law changes in recent years in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Ohio, and Pennsylvania the Tesla direct sales model is permitted in 22 states as of March 2015. As of May 2015 the sales procedure in other states such as Texas is somewhat different with the Tesla salesperson being prevented from discussing prices, the actual sale having to be made online and the sales tax having to be paid up front. Delivery of a Tesla car to a Texas address is no different than in other states. Consequently, while Tesla showcases and sells its cars directly to the consumer in Tesla Stores abroad, it operates a mix of Tesla Stores and Tesla Galleries in the US.


In June 2012, the Model S Signature model was priced at US$95,400 and the Signature Performance model at US$105,400. On November 29, 2012, Tesla announced an all model price increase of US$2,500 for new reservations, starting January 1, 2013. The price of a pre-paid 60 kWh replacement pack was US$10,000, while the 85 kWh pack was priced at US$12,000, in 2013. As of June 2014, the model with the 60 kWh pack begins at US$69,900, the base model with the 85 kWh pack starts at US$79,900, and the P85 performance model at US$93,400. As of April 2015, the Model S begins at US$75,000 for the 70 kWh dual-motor edition, US$80,000 for the 85 kWh single motor edition, US$85,000 for the 85 kWh dual-motor edition, and US$105,000 for the 85 kWh dual-motor performance edition. These prices do not reflect U.S. federal and local government tax credits or purchase incentives.

As of 2016, with the exception of used Teslas, all plug-in models depreciate more rapidly than conventionally powered cars and trucks, according to NerdWallet. For all-electric cars depreciation varies between 60% to 75% in three years. In contrast, most conventionally powered vehicles in the same period depreciate between 45% to 50%. However, the Tesla Model S is more like conventional cars, with three-year depreciation of about 40%.

According to Black Book, a three-year-old Model S sells for about 62% of its original price. According to Autolist, a used Model S with 50,000 mi (80,000 km) on the odometer loses 28% value on average; less than similar cars.

Safety features

The Model S is one of just a few cars to have ever achieved a 5-star safety rating from both Euro NCAP and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Only two other cars have earned the same recognition since 2011 (when the NHTSA introduced its latest rating scheme).

First crash with battery fire

The first widely reported Model S fire occurred several minutes after the vehicle hit metal debris on the Washington State Route 167 highway in Kent, Washington on October 1, 2013. The driver "was able to exit the highway as instructed by the onboard alert system, bring the car to a stop and depart the vehicle without injury". He then contacted authorities and, while awaiting their arrival, smoke began coming out the front of the vehicle. The driver stated that he hit something while exiting the HOV lane. Tesla stated that the fire was caused by the "direct impact of a large metallic object to one of the 16 battery modules", and that by design, the modules were separated by firewalls, limiting the fire to "a small section in the front of the vehicle".

The module was evidently punctured by a "curved section" that fell off a truck and was recovered near the accident. Tesla stated that the debris punched a 3-inch (76 mm) diameter hole through the .25-inch (6.4 mm) armor plate under the vehicle, applying force of some 25 tons. Built-in vents directed the flames away from the vehicle so that the fire did not enter the passenger compartment. According to Tesla, the firefighters followed standard procedure; using large amounts of water to extinguish the fire was correct, however, puncturing the metal firewall to gain access to the fire also allowed the flames to spread to the front trunk. Tesla also stated that because the battery pack contains "only about 10% of the energy contained in a gasoline tank", the effective combustion potential of a single module is only about 1% that of a conventional vehicle.

On October 24, 2013, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced, "After reviewing all available data, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not found evidence at this time that would indicate the recent battery fire involving a Tesla Model S was the result of a vehicle safety defect or noncompliance with federal safety standards." But the following month, the NHTSA opened a preliminary evaluation to determine "the potential risks associated with undercarriage strikes on model year 2013 Tesla Model S vehicles". On March 28, 2014, NHTSA closed its investigation, claiming that the new titanium underbody shield and aluminum deflector plates, along with increased ground clearance, "should reduce both the frequency of underbody strikes and the resultant fire risk".

Subsequent fires

On November 6, 2013 another fire broke out after a Model S struck a tow hitch on the roadway, causing damage beneath the vehicle. The incidents led Tesla to extend its vehicle warranty to cover fire damage and to apply a software update to increase ground clearance when operating at highway speed.

Another fire incident took place in Toronto, Canada, in early February 2014. The Model S was parked in a garage and was not charging when the fire started. The origin of the fire is undetermined. According to Tesla "in this particular case, we don't yet know the precise cause, but have definitively determined that it did not originate in the battery, the charging system, the adapter or the electrical receptacle, as these components were untouched by the fire".

Starting with vehicle bodies manufactured as of 6 March 2014, all units were outfitted with a triple underbody shield. Existing cars were retrofitted upon request or as part of a normally scheduled service.

On 1 January 2016, a 2014 Model S caught fire in Norway while supercharging unsupervised. The vehicle was totally destroyed but nobody was injured. The fire was slow, and the owner had time to unplug the car and retrieve possessions. An investigation by the Norwegian Accident Investigation Board (AIBN) indicated that the fire originated in the car, but was otherwise inconclusive. In March 2016, Tesla stated that their own investigation into the incident concluded that the fire was caused by a short circuit in the vehicle's distribution box, but that the amount of damage prevented them from determining the exact cause. Tesla stated that the Supercharger detected the short circuit and deactivated, and a future Model S software update would stop the vehicle from charging if a short circuit is detected.


On November 20, 2015, Tesla announced a voluntary worldwide recall of all of its 90,000 Model S vehicles, in order to check for a possible defect in the cars' front seat belt assemblies. The problem was raised in early November by one customer in Europe. Tesla's resulting investigation was unable to identify a root cause for the failure, and the company decided to examine every single car. Tesla reported that there have been no accidents or injuries related to the problem.

Tesla recalled Model S from 2012 in January 2017 due to the defective Takata airbags. Cars made later (until 2017) have smaller risk, and may also be recalled. Other Tesla cars are not affected.


  • 2013 AutoGuide.com Reader's Choice Car of the Year
  • 2013 World Green Car of the Year.
  • Automobile Magazine's 2013 Car of the Year, a unanimous decision.
  • CNET Tech Car of the Year for 2012
  • Consumer Reports gave the Model S a score of 103 out of 100, its highest ever. The Model S broke the rating scale of Consumer Reports during its most recent test.
  • Consumer Reports' 2013 survey of owner satisfaction produced a score of 99 out of 100, "the highest the magazine has seen in years." In 2014 the Model S topped for the second year in a row Consumer Reports survey of owner satisfaction. This time the Model S had a score of 98 out of 100.
  • Consumer Reports found the Model S to be 'Best Overall' for 2014 across all 10 categories of cars, light trucks and SUVs, chosen from more than 260 vehicles the organization has recently tested. The magazine considers the Model S a "technological tour de force, while pricey, is brimming with innovation." In 2015 they rated the Model S at 103 (breaking the scale).
  • Green Car Reports' Best Car To Buy 2013
  • Motor Trend 2013 Car of the Year, also a unanimous decision and the first winner in the award's history to not be powered by an internal combustion engine.
  • Natural Resources Canada 2013 EcoENERGY for Vehicles Awards in the full-size category
  • Popular Science's Auto Grand Award Winner Best of What's New list 2012.
  • The Telegraph included the Model S in its list of the top 10 cars that changed the world published in December 2014, and also named the electric sedan the most important car of the last 20 years.
  • Time Magazine Best 25 Inventions of the Year 2012 award.
  • Yahoo! Autos 2013 Car of the Year.
  • American Automobile Association Green Car Guide 2015, top spot (P85D). The Model S also won the 2014 AAA Green Car Guide.
  • Distance records

    As of August 2015, the distance record is 452.8 mi (728.7 km) in a Model S on a single charge. It was made by Norwegian Bjørn Nyland and his friend, Morgan Tørvolt on a flat stretch with low traffic around the supercharger in Rødekro, Denmark. They used hypermiling techniques such as front motor only, low speed (39 km/h) and no airconditioning. The previous record was 425.8 miles (685.3 km), made overnight on February 14, 2013 by Bruno Bowden. The first record of 423.5 miles (681.6 km) was set during November 2012 by David and Adam Metcalf. These attempts were inspired by a blog written by Elon Musk about the planned range and efficiency of the Tesla Model S, offering a prize for anyone exceeding 400 miles (640 km) on a single charge, where it was estimated the 85 kwh model could do it by driving at a constant 36 mph (58 km/h) under ideal conditions.

    Range limitation

    On February 8, 2013, The New York Times published a review by John M. Broder about a trip between Washington, D.C., and Boston using Tesla's Supercharger network. At the time it included only two stations on the East Coast. Broder made a variety of critical claims about the battery's performance in cold weather and the distance between charging stations. The trip ended with the Model S carried by a flatbed truck to the Milford, Connecticut, station.

    Tesla responded by publishing logs of the vehicle's charge levels and driving speed that contradicted Broder's account on several factual details. Tesla implied that Broder's behavior forced the car to fail. Broder replied to the criticism in a blog post and suggested that the speed discrepancies may have been because the car had been equipped with 19-inch wheels rather than the specified 21-inch wheels. In the midst of the controversy, a CNN reporter recreated Broder's trip without exhausting the battery. However, two key differences distinguished the two journeys. The weather was about 10 °F (6 °C) warmer and CNN did the trip in one day; the Times let the car sit overnight without being plugged in. A reporter from CNBC also recreated the trip in one day without incidents. One week later, a group of Tesla owners recreated Broder's trip without problems. One owner was delayed because his car failed to charge and required two firmware updates.

    On February 18, 2013, New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan published an editorial stating that Broder took "casual and imprecise notes" of his test drive and did not use good judgment, but she maintained that the article was done in good faith. She also claimed that Broder's vehicle logs were "sometimes quite misleading."

    In July and September 2014 tests performed by an independent German car magazine in cooperation with the TÜV (German Association for Technical Inspection) and Tesla owners seemed to reveal issues with the battery's performance. According to the magazine, Tesla did not take up the invitation to repeat the test, and also seemed to refuse to offer vehicles for a second test. A test performed by another German publication ("Die Welt") supported the findings.

    NHTSA safest car

    On August 19, 2013, based on NHTSA safety ratings, a Tesla press release claimed that the Model S had achieved the best safety rating of any car ever tested. Tesla stated, "NHTSA does not publish a star rating above 5, however safety levels better than 5 stars are captured in the overall Vehicle Safety Score (VSS) provided to manufacturers, where the Model S achieved a new combined record of 5.4 stars." However, a few days later NHTSA rebutted Tesla's claim, explaining that the rating for the Model S was equal to any other car receiving 5-stars, and claiming that the carmaker did not follow its advertising guidelines.

    Power dissipation when not in use

    Older versions of the system software suffered from power drain issues when the car wasn't being used, with the batteries losing 4.5 kWh overnight (known commonly as "vampire drain"). System software v5.8 (v1.49.30), released December 12, 2013, reduced overnight energy loss substantially, to 1.1 kWh per night, or around 3 miles. In January 2014, Bjørn Nyland, a Model S owner in Norway, recorded a range loss of approximately 20% during a 27-day extended vacation, an indicated range loss of 63 miles (101 km), or 2.3 miles (3.7 km) per day, while stored in frigid temperatures without any charging cable attached.

    Consumer Reports' recommendation

    In October 2015, two months after naming the Tesla 'the best car ever tested,' Consumer Reports declined to give the Tesla Model S a "recommended" designation, citing too many complaints from owners. Complaints ranged from minor, such as misaligned doors and squeaky body, to severe - things like total drive train replacement and inoperable door handles. Tesla's shares dropped 15%, both because of the magazine's cut and because of concerns over the Tesla Model X luxury SUV. Similarly, Edmunds.com found quality and safety issues in their long-term road test and "amassed quite the repair résumé during the last 17 months." Both Edmunds and Consumer Reports reported issues, including the vehicle stalling while driving.

    In their 2016 Annual Auto Reliability Survey, Consumer Reports improved the Model S rating to average reliability, while reporting that the Model X has had significant malfunction issues. The magazine also raised "serious concerns about how some automakers, including Tesla, have designed, deployed, and marketed semi-autonomous technology."

    Power discrepancy

    The P85D "Insane" was widely reported to have 691 horsepower, but some owners reported 20% less power on dynamometer in various circumstances.

    Manufacturers are required by EU law to display power "at full setting of the power controller" (from an external DC source when performing laboratory vehicle approval), but not necessarily to show power limited by battery. Other equipment must be removed, or their power added to the measurement. Actual power available depends on circumstances, as it does for piston cars which until 1972 could be 25–30% less than given.

    As of November 2015, Tesla website showed battery-limited combined 463 hp for P85D (532 hp for "Ludicrous"). A lawsuit by 126 owners in Norway was settled in December 2016.

    Autonomy limitations

    The autonomy features of the Model S, including Autosteer and Traffic-Aware Cruise Control, have limitations that have led to collisions when the driver becomes inattentive. Tesla warns in the owners manual that drivers always must be aware of road conditions and not rely on the cruise control to prevent a collision, as the system may not detect stationary vehicles or obstacles, bicycles, and pedestrians. However, critics such as scientist Andrew Ng have accused Tesla of being irresponsible by releasing a product with such limitations as it can lull drivers into a false sense of security.

    Electrical consumption of Tesla Model S

    In early March 2016, a report by Stuff magazine revealed that test performed by VICOM, Ltd on behalf of Singapore's Land Transport Authority had found a 2014 Tesla Model S to be consuming 444 Wh/km (0.715 kW·h/mi), which was greater than the 236 Wh/km (0.38 kW·h/mi) reported by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the 181 Wh/km (0.291 kW·h/mi) reported by Tesla. As a result, a carbon surcharge of S$15,000 (US$10,900) was imposed on the Model S, making Singapore the only country in the world to impose an environmental surcharge on a fully electric car. The Land Transport Authority justified this by stating that it had to "account for CO2 emissions during the electricity generation process" and therefore "a grid emission factor of 0.5g/watt-hour was also applied to the electric energy consumption", however Tesla countered that when the energy used to extract, refine, and distribute gasoline was taken into account, the Model S produces approximately one-third the CO2 of an equivalent gasoline-powered vehicle.

    Later that month, the Land Transport Authority released a statement stating that they and the VICOM Emission Test Laboratory will be working with Tesla engineers to determine if there was a flaw in the test, and a Tesla statement indicated that the discussions were "positive" and that they were confident of a quick resolution.


    Tesla Model S Wikipedia