Tesla Motors Inc., the revolutionary electric car company founded by high-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, announced at a briefing on Thursday that the company’s newest five-door sedan, the Model S, will be launching in the Japanese market sometime in the first half of 2013. The Model S is set to give Japan’s hybrid and electric cars a real run for their money, as the ability to drive 480 kilometers (298 miles) on a single charge far surpasses anything currently sold in the country.
The American electric car manufacturer hasn’t decided on a final price, but it’s expected to be around half the 12.76 million yen (approx. $162,000) price for the company’s flagship Tesla Roadster electric sports car. This is a much higher price than the electric vehicles like Nissan’s Leaf (3.76 million yen/$47,800) or Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV (4 million yen/$50,800). However, Tesla is hoping to attract customers who want to be able to make long trips with their electric cars, which includes driving on highways.
The battery cells in the Model S exceed that of even the Tesla Roadster’s, offering around 30% more capacity. Kurt Kelty, Tesla’s director of energy storage systems, says that the car will be compatible with CHAdeMO, a Japanese standard for electric vehicle quick-charging. The Model S just began sales in the U.S. this June, and while Japanese preorders began in Spring 2011, there hadn’t been a firm release date until now.