Tesla Model S Exterior Front Quarter

Last week, Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk opened his doors to the media, allowing the outside world to see his company’s proposed Model S sedan. Founded in 2003, Tesla has come on the scene as a company looking to revolutionize the way cars move—with electric power. After the company’s first model, the Tesla Roadster, with its 250-mile range, left production earlier this year, the Tesla’s message for this year’s press day became clear: Let the world know that its brand of electric cars is still relevant.

Most people probably couldn’t tell you what the Tesla Model S is. And save for a few specialty features written up about it and the people who still drive them in HOV lanes, most people probably couldn’t even tell you what Tesla’s original Roadster model is. After all, the brand only managed to sell 1800 of the Lotus-based sports cars in its four-year model life.

But Musk believes his mission is simple: Build an all-electric $57,400 luxury sports sedan, and people will come. As plans finalize before the startup of production, the Paypal founder hopes to ramp up production to 20,000 Model S sedans and 15,000 of the upcoming Model X crossover within two years. The Fremont, Calif., manufacturing plant his company purchased from Toyota has the capacity to make 420,000 cars and trucks per year.

When it hits showrooms—if it hits showrooms—the Model S will come in 160-, 230-, and 320-mile range variations. Musk has said the car will be better than any of its gas-powered contemporaries. He’s claimed that it will out-accelerate a Porsche 911, too.

Musk’s eccentricities have been modeled by Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark in the Iron Man movie series because there are so few ultra-rich tech-guru playboys still on the scene in the mold of a Howard Hughes. It’s fascinating to see a visionary with a company leverage all of his finances on an ideal of a premium electric car lineup. The technology is expensive. The startup costs are more expensive. The competition is nothing less than blood-thirsty in its ferocity.

We’re rooting for this mad man and his electric cars to break through the mold, to revolutionize the automotive industry. But despite the extensive factory tour, and the hand-built prototypes that have been shown so far, the deck remains staked against Tesla, and we’re wondering if the dream of a Model S and the Model X will ever become a reality.

Sources: Tesla, Automotive News (Subscription required)

By Jacob Brown