Tesla Motors of California is preparing to launch its most crucial car yet next month.

The electric car specialist has announced that it'll start delivering its first Model S sedans to customers on 22 June at an invitation-only event at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California.

The Model S has a 42kWh lithium-ion battery that provides its electric motor with enough charge for a 0-100 sprint of 5.6 seconds, 200km/h top speed and a range of up to 483km on a single charge.

However the base model, which costs $57 000 (R470 000) in the USA, has a range of just 258km. Splurge another $10 000 (R82 560) and you get a battery good for a claimed 370km - and this version will be most popular, says Tesla. However clients will need to find another 10 grand to have the 483km version.

"In 2006 our plan was to build an electric sports car followed by an affordable electric sedan, and reduce our dependence on oil," Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said. "Delivering Model S is a key part of that plan and represents Tesla's transition to a mass-production automaker."

Tesla, which said test-drive events for the Model S will begin in select North American cities in July, reiterated that it plans to deliver 5000 Model S cars by year end. Reservations for the electric car top 10 000.

Tesla has described 2012 as a "year of two halves" with the Model S launch as the dividing line. Ninety percent of the company's revenue this year is expected to come from the sedan. -IOL & Reuters