2012 Tesla Model S CAPTIONS ON | OFF

Electric automaker Tesla Motors pleased investors Wednesday, announcing that their heavily-anticipated Model S sedan will begin delivery this June. It had previously been schedule for July deliveries. Tesla will begin delivering the first Model S sedans as soon as the car passes government crash testing in the coming weeks.

The news boosted Tesla stock by as much as 13% at one point Thursday.

More than 10,000 customers have placed reservations for the Model S, and Tesla expects to deliver about 5,000 of the cars in 2012. Each reservation costs $5,000 (the Model S Signature Performance reservation costs $40,000). Tesla says all reservations are refundable, and you can click here to configure one of your own.

Tesla embarks on its most important launch ever during a shaky time for electric automakers.

Fellow American electric automaker Fisker began delivering their electric-hybrid Karma last year, and plan to build a new SUV model, the Atlantic, soon. Despite a sales rush for the Karma, however, Fisker has hit a bumpy patch financially. They recently fired twelve workersfrom their Delaware plant, where they had released 26 employees earlier. Now, they’ve had a $529 million federal grant suspended and adjusted 2012 sales projections from 15,000 to 10,000.

Tesla knows Fisker’s pain. Their first model, the Lotus-based Roadster, was a performance success but nearly sank the young company financially. After a personal loan from CEO Elon Musk, it still took hundreds of millions in Department of Energy grants and heavy investment from Daimler just to bring the Model S to production.

The Model S figures to be another on-road superstar. The base Model S, powered by 40 kWh batteries, is expected to reach 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds with a charged range of 300 miles. A 60 kWh battery setup is also available, and the 85 kWh drivetrain could be as fast as 4.4 seconds from 0-60 mph.

But Model S delivery hardly means Tesla is in the financial clear. The company reported a $89.9 million net loss in Q1 2012, compared to a $48.9 million loss in the same period 2011. Revenue fell to $30.2 million, down from $49 million in 2011. The figures are largely based on the fact that sales of the Roadster recently finished.

Tesla expects that about 90% of the year’s revenue will come from Model S sales, and the decision to move deliveries up to June prompted them to adjust their 2012 revenue outlook. Tesla boosted their prediction from $550 million to $560-600 million.

Unlike the Roadster, the Model S is Tesla-made from the ground up, and will serve as a barometer for the health of Tesla in the future.


By Ryan ZumMallen