LOS ANGELES -- U.S. electric automaker Tesla Motors, which launched a breakthrough gas-free sports car last year, announced Thursday it will unveil in coming days a five-seat sedan, to roll off assembly lines by 2011.
The zero-emission "Model S" prototype with a lithium-ion battery pack will have a range of 225 miles (360 kilometers) per charge. The car has an anticipated base price of 57,400 dollars.
"After a federal tax credit of 7,500 dollars, the effective price will be 49,900 dollars," Tesla said.
But, the innovative firm stressed, "because of tax incentives and relatively inexpensive maintenance and refueling, the lifetime ownership cost will be closer to cars with far lower sticker prices."
The announcement comes as President Barack Obama, visiting California, set forth his vision of having a million electric cars on the roads by 2015.
Obama said he was making 2.4 billion dollars available for the development of electric cars, of which 1.5 billion will go for producing batteries, with the aim of reducing US dependence on foreign oil while creating jobs.
Besides Tesla, which wants its "Model S" to compete with sporty German sedans, other US automakers also are eyeing all-electric cars or rechargeable hybrids.
Troubled automotive giant General Motors is developing its own electric sedan, the Chevrolet Volt, which it expects to go on sale in 2011 for about 40,000 dollars a copy, while tiny manufacturer Fisker is targeting the high-end market with its futuristic model Karma, promised for 2010 at a price of 89,000 dollars.
Tesla said its new model is set to be the world's first mass-produced, highway-capable electric vehicle, adding that it will be unveiled at Tesla's design studio in Hawthorne, a suburb of Los Angeles.
"The Model S will become the car of choice for environmentally conscious and discriminating drivers throughout North America and Europe," the company said. It expects to roughly split initial sales between the two continents before expanding into Asia.
Tesla's other zero-emission car, the two-seat Roadster, is on sale in Europe and the United States. The company said last year it had ramped up production of the high-performance Roadster, with a price tag of about 100,000 dollars, due to soaring demand.
Tesla, founded in 2003, specializes in the environmentally-friendly, electric cars that several car manufacturers are starting to produce.
Investors in the company include PayPal co-founder Elon Musk and Google founders Serge Brin and Larry Page.
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