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Tesla Model S is bundled up at CES, we unwrap it (video)

Tim Stevens
01.06.11
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We'll get this out of the way up front: no, we didn't get to drive it. In fact we didn't even get to sit in its creamy white seats, a tragedy that we're still a little sensitive about. But we did get to open the door of the Tesla Model S, testing out the trick powered door handles that motor themselves out after a touch and then, when the door is closed, zip back flush to the sheet metal. It's a nice detail, one that we think would probably lose its ability to inspire wonder after about a week. But, for now, it's cool. Check out a video of that and other details below.

Gallery: Tesla Model S at CES 2011, eyes-on | 30 Photos


We're told this Model S is the first proper prototype the company produced, hand built and worth a couple million but fully drivable and testable -- though still very much a prototype. Those door handles? They'd probably cut your fingers off should you linger too long. The windows? We're told they don't go down. They're just up.

Early or final it's gorgeous, looking a bit like an Aston, a little like a Jag XK (which, admittedly, looks a little like an Aston), a little like the Fisker, but honestly it just looks like a Tesla. In The Roadster you can see its Lotus roots from a mile away, the cleaner DNA is shown here in the smooth curves highlighted by a thick, red metallic paint.


Maybe a little too thick, though, cracking and peeling around those door handles. It's a prototype. Inside the car is that ludicrous 17-inch, Tegra-powered central panel, wedged in between the seats. The interior is looking fairly well finished but that screen still looks way out of place to us. Right now it's just showing a static image, an overhead map view of the Bellagio, but the coating of fingerprints makes us know there's more going on.

Unfortunately they weren't our fingerprints. We weren't allowed to touch that, or the big D and R buttons in the center console, or much of anything else. Maybe we'll have more luck in Detroit next week but, for now, check out the video and the pictures.

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