The last we heard of Tesla’s upcoming Model S all-electric sedan was that the car was in an ‘Alpha’ build stage, where akin to the software industry the Model S is in its first rough draft of the final product.

Today at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show we got to see a bit more of the Model S than we bargained for, with Tesla showcasing a ‘body-in-white’ example to the press. In the car industry, body-in-white refers to the development stage where a car’s sheet metal components have been welded together--but before moving parts (doors, hoods, and deck lids as well as fenders) the motor, chassis sub-assemblies, or any trim whatsoever have been added.

The body-in-white Tesla even managed to pique the interest of Toyota boss Akio Toyoda who was greeted pleasantly by Tesla engineers more than happy to show off the car’s noteworthy structural points.

The Tesla model S is slated to be produced at the side of the former Toyota/GM NUMMI joint-venture facility in Fremont, California, beginning in 2012, but as a 2013 model. Tesla plans to build about 20,000 Model S sedans per year, with a price of $57,400.

For more details on the Tesla Model S, check out John Voelcker’s extensive report over at GreenCarReports.