The Model S was styled by Franz von Holzhausen, who previously worked for Mazda The car was codenamedWhiteStar during research and preliminary development. It was officially announced in a press release on June 30, 2008.The prototype vehicle was displayed at a press conference on March 26, 2009. Exclusive premier of their Model S electric car was held at their Menlo Park store on April 8, 2009.
In February 2008 it was reported that Tesla, Inc. (then Tesla Motors) was planning to offer a range-extended version of its Model S. This version would have included a gasoline engine to extend the driving range of the vehicle, but it was removed in later revisions.
Tesla manufactures the Model S at the 5,400,000 square feet (500,000 m2) Tesla Factory in Fremont, California. For the European market, Tesla assembles and distributes from its European Distribution Center in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Cars are built and tested in Fremont, California. The battery pack, the electric motor and parts are disassembled and shipped separately to Tilburg, where the cars are reassembled. The center occupies a 203,000 sq ft (18,900 m2) industrial building that also serves as a workshop and spare parts warehouse.
The Model S is notable for being designed solely with an electric powertrain in mind, unlike other vehicles where the manufacturer has simply swapped out or supplanted an internal combustion engine with an electric motor. As a result, the Model S is able to offer unique features such as a front trunk (a "frunk") in addition to a spacious rear trunk (with a total cargo volume of 31.56 cu ft or 894 L) (rear wheel drive version has bigger frunk) and a greatly enlarged front crumple zone compared to the typical combustion engine powered vehicle
Under its five-cycle testing protocol, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rated the 90 kWh Model S model with a combined fuel economy equivalent of 104 MPGe (2.26 L/100 km or 125 mpg‑imp), with an equivalent 102 mpg‑US (2.3 L/100 km; 122 mpg‑imp) in city driving and 107 mpg‑US (2.2 L/100 km; 129 mpg‑imp) on highways.