The burgeoning electric car field was just hitting its stride when the bottom fell out of the market last year, and the tough position that has left carmakers like Tesla in has forced some changes to be made. But that's not stopping the company from moving ahead with its product development plans, with the debut of a concept version of the Model S hybrid sedan slated for March.

The information on the new concept was revealed at a town hall-style meeting held this evening in Menlo Park, California, where the company is headquartered. The Model S has been hinted at for some time, though talk of its delay has been equally prevalent. Word coming out of the town hall meeting reveals that Tesla is still working on the car, but the car won't be built until the company can secure a new round of funding.

Once that funding materializes, however, Tesla says the first production Model S will roll off the line within 24 months. Production will be targeted at a few thousand units in during the first year, ramping up to 20,000 annually by the end of 2011, assuming funding comes soon.

In the meantime, interested buyers will have to make do with a driveable prototype concept version of the car, to be unveiled at an invitation-only event in Los Angeles on March 5.

Other news at the meeting revealed a few details about the development of the Daimler electric Smart car. The tiny EV will be priced to start around $20,000 in the U.S. - not far from the current starting price of the standard petrol fortwo. The low price is made possible in part by a simple watercooling system for the batteries that obviates the need for complex systems used by the likes of the Roadster EV. Aside from those few details, however, little is known about the car's powertrain.

Finally, the meeting also included some background on the Roadster price hikes. The price rise, as previously reported, amounts to about $7,000 per car, and is purely a cost recuperation measure by Tesla, intended to keep the company's financials attractive so that it can continue attracting investment capital.

The company characterized the final decision to raise option prices and remove all standard equipment from the base price as a compromise, with the 'no-compromise' position being those measures plus a rise in the base price to $109,000. Instead Tesla chose the middle path, but admits its communication of the matter with customers should have been better.