Tesla Developing Gas-Electric Hybrid Version of Whitestar (UPDATED)

tesla roadster

Image courtesy of booleansplit via flickr

Courtesy of AutoblogGreen's Sebastian Blanco and CNET's Michael Kanellos comes the news that Tesla Motors is hard at work on a gas-electric hybrid version of its upcoming all-electric Whitestar sedan; both models are due out toward the end of 2009. Range is the main concern driving the production of the Whitestar REV, or range-extended vehicle, as Elon Musk, Tesla Motors' chairman, explained at a recent press conference.

Whereas the all-electric Whitestar is expected to run 150-200 miles on a single charge, the REV, whose gas motor will help recharge the battery pack while driving, is expected to go much further - possibly as much as 400 miles, if GM's Volt, which boasts that range, is any indication. The REV will be a little cheaper than the all-electric version, which is expected to sell for around $50,000-$70,000 (based on the configuration). By comparison, GM expects to sell its Volt, which is slated for release in 2010, for roughly $30,000. Tesla Motors recently announced that it would sell an economy car in the near future.

Kanellos notes that Tesla Motors is leaning heavily towards the REV option, with plans to bring more such hybrid vehicles over the coming years. Let's hope they also stay true to the all-electric vision.

UPDATE: Darryl Siry from Tesla Motors was kind enough to clarify some of the details about the upcoming gas-electric Whitestar:

"A small correction - I believe the date of 2009 was mis-reported. We haven't yet confirmed specifically when we would expect to see an all-electric model or any range-extended option. We will certainly offer the all-electric version, and probably earlier than the REEV (range extended electric vehicle) option is available. I also want to point out that calling it a "gas-electric hybrid" makes it sound like it is similar to what you would find in today's hybrids like a Prius. That isn't what we are planning. An "REEV" is basically an electric vehicle with full electric performance and a reasonable range (let's say 50 miles) but also an onboard generator that is powered by standard fuels that allow you to continue driving and charging after you have depleted the battery. In this setup, many people would be able to have most of their miles driven be purely electric but also have the flexibility to go longer distances if necessary."

Via ::AutoblogGreen: Tesla will make a gas-electric hybrid version of the WhiteStar (blog), ::Green Tech Blog: Tesla to make gas-electric car (blog)

See also: ::Tesla: Where Are the Keys to the Promised E-Car?, ::Tesla CEO Steps Down, Roadster Delays Possible

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