Tesla threw open its California headquarters at the weekend to customers who'd pre-ordered the Model S sedan, with tours of the factory floor and rides in a prototype of the new car.
Tesla co-founder Elon Musk arrived in a red Model S and told hundreds of visitors: "We need your help; many people still think of electric cars as unrealistic unicorns. Tell them about this one!"
He also announced that Tesla would be introducing a faster Model S that would go from 0-100 in 4.5 seconds, more than a second quicker than the current figure.
Tesla is hanging much of its future on the Model S, its first sedan, which it hopes to start delivering to customers in 2012. Musk believes it will help the company move into the black after years of losses.
The Model S will cost about $57 400 (R475 000) compared to the Roadster's base price of $109 000 (R900 000), before a $7500 (R62 000) federal tax credit and other rebates. It will come with a choice of three battery options, with a range of 250, 370 or 480km respectively on a full charge.
Tesla's cars have captured the public imagination and helped spur Detroit to work on its own electric vehicles. In 2010 General Motors started selling its hybrid Chevrolet Volt and Fisker has recently started delivery of its luxury hybrid Karma.
The highlight of the evening for the visitors, who had all placed deposits on the new sedans, was a short drive in a test version of the Model S - and there were so many takers the last rides were booked for 1am!
Tesla will phase out the Roadster in January 2012 to focus on building the Model S, and plans to unveil its Model X SUV prototype in December, ahead of a market launch late in 2013 - Reuters