Work on developing the Model S commenced around three years ago, but it was only two years ago that Tesla purchased the factory in Fremont, California, that would eventually be used to build the car.
After buying the plant from Toyota, Tesla set about converting it into a world-class production line designed specifically to build electric cars.
This video, the first in a series from Tesla outlining the production of the Model S, gives us a look at the first stage of building the car, the stamping process.
Like most cars, the Model S actually starts as a huge aluminum coil that weighs up to 20,000 pounds. This coil is unfurled and fed into a machine that cuts the aluminum into large rectangular pieces. A series of presses then stamp the pieces into three-dimensional parts using huge molds called dies. The large black and yellow dies weigh up to 40 tons and are design-specific to stamp each aluminum piece of the Model S.
The video doesn’t do justice to the size and scale of the presses, but it does show how automation helps move parts through the process one step at a time. Tesla’s line of presses is the largest of its kind in North America and is capable of producing one part every six seconds.
The next episode in this series will show how these newly pressed parts are assembled together.
While you wait for the next episode and eventual arrival of the Model S, you can play around with a new online configurator Tesla has launched. The configurator lets you select from the four different Model S variants Tesla is offering, regular, Performance, Signature and Signature Performance, and then configure them exactly how you like.
All 2012 Tesla Model S sedans come with a seven-seat configuration consisting of five regular seats and a pair of jump-seats in the trunk. Each Model S is powered by an electric motor running on lithium-ion batteries mounted in the floor.
The base Model S starts at $57,400 ($49,900 after tax credits), and comes standard with the configurable 17-inch touch-screen console display, 19-inch wheels, and three charge adapters to put electrons into the 40 kWh battery pack. It has a driving range of about 160 miles on a single charge and should go from 0-60 mph in around 6.5 seconds. More expensive models offer a range of 300 miles and 0-60 times as low as 4.4 seconds.