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Tesla Nears Plant Announcement for Upcoming Model S Sedan

The Tesla Roadster has done wonders for the fledgling California-based electric-vehicle maker, but the company won't survive for long selling its sole $130,000 sports car. To reach a wider market, Tesla will launch its Model S sedan, which will be built at a soon-to-be-announced plant on the West Coast.

While details on the Model S broke early last year, Tesla has yet to announce where its electric sedan and next-generation Roadster will be built. Rumors speculate the plant will be located in Southern California. However, Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently told Automotive News that the formal announcement will be coming in the next few weeks.

"It hasn't yet been finalized," Musk said. "We've almost fully negotiated the deal, but it has not been signed yet."

Musk, after declining to state whether the facility was formerly used by the automotive industry, said the Model S plant will carry tooling for stamping, doors, body and chassis, and a paint shop. A separate powertrain factory will supply the electric internals and Tesla is hiring 50 to 60 new personnel a month in anticipation of the new plant. The new staff will mainly focus on vehicle engineering and production.

"We're really trying to put together a world-class manufacturing team," Musk said. "We're trying to create a Spartan army of expertise."

As the Model S was Penned by former Mazda designer Franz Von Holzhausen, keen-eyed observers will notice its exterior draws inspiration from major premium automakers including BMW, Jaguar, and Maserati. The low-slung, seven-passenger sedan has the brawn to back the design, reportedly hitting 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. Tesla took aim at the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class when tuning the ride and handling.

Preliminary pricing has been announced at $57,400 although a U.S. federal plug-in electric tax rebate of $7500 pushes the entry-level Model S to $49,900, the price figure that Tesla touts on its own Web site.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)