The electric car looks like it might just have a bright future ahead of it, and we have Tesla to thank for it. As Fisker withers and dies, Tesla posts profits and in certain markets is luring significant numbers of people away from their familiar Bimmers, Mercs and Audis. The Palo Alto-based company first introduced us to their take on high-end electric cars in the middle of the last decade with the Tesla Roadster and though that car, with its Lotus chassis and gobs of power was certainly sporty, it was never going to be a huge seller. The market for a sports car is limited enough, but the range of people willing to buy an electric sports car was even narrower. To make themselves a more viable business (some money from the U.S. Government helped), Tesla therefore churned out electric powertrain components to other automakers, and at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show unveiled a new car that would be the hype of the entire automotive world: the Model S.
What was special about the Model S was that it wasn't a wheezy little econobox with a few batteries under the floor or an enthusiast-marketed sports car like the Tesla Roadster. Instead, it was a premium luxury sedan that looked surprisingly contemporary. Tesla was providing a normal-looking car with stellar performance and competitive features that just happened to derive its power from a plug instead of a pump. They gambled that there would be demand for such a car, and so far it's paid off. Deliveries started in 2012, and even after some bad press from a grossly biased review in the New York Times, the Model S has become one of the best selling luxury cars in the country. Not bad for a ten-year-old carmaker. Tesla has even paid back its debt to the government and is moving on to new models and new collaboration deals, but they will still be making tweaks to the Model S and its available features.
Among the few packages you can have on your American-made electric super sedan is the Model S Performance. This version is fitted with a "high performance drive inverter" on the 85 kilowatt-hour battery. The result is the equivalent of 416 horsepower, a 4.2 second zero to sixty time (a full 1.2 seconds quicker than the standard car) and a 130 mile an hour top speed. Alcantara and carbon fiber accents bring the performance orientation to the interior. For those who want just a little more sportiness, a new "Performance Plus" package has been introduced that features significant improvements in handling with upgraded dampers, bushings, stabilizer bars and tires. Just the Performance package itself brings the cost to the $88,000 range and the Performance Plus is a $6,500 option, but while this is quite a pricey car, it's one that doesn't use any gas, accelerates like a supercar, and is more graceful in the styling department than anything Mercedes, BMW or Lexus are throwing at it.