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Tesla Will Go Hybrid

By · February 04, 2008

Tesla Motors may be the darling of the "take no prisoners" electric vehicle world, but the company is reportedly planning to utilize a more mainstream gas-electric hybrid powertrain in its upcoming Whitestar sedan. According to various reports, there will be two versions of the car: One will run on batteries alone, while the other will be a plug-in hybrid—which in some configurations is called a range-extended electric vehicle (REEV)—incorporating a small gas motor to recharge the battery pack during driving.

Because electric drive by itself grants a relatively limited cruising range on a single charge, the gasoline engine will extend the amount of miles the car can be driven. “It is more than research. We intend to have it as part of the offering,” said Tesla CEO Ze’ev Drori. “The Whitestar can be all-electric or it can be an REEV.”

The gas-electric powertrain will increase the appeal of the car to those who want a green automobile, but have concerns about range. The Whitestar REEV is expected to travel up to 400 miles before needing to recharge, as opposed to the all-electric version’s 150 miles. Historically, driving range has been one of the main points of criticism of electric cars.

Driving distance is determined by the size and performance of the battery pack. As a result, cost is a major factor. The all-electric Tesla Roadster carries a hefty price tag of $98,000. By contrast, the Whitestar is expected to have a sticker in the $50,000 to $70,000 range. The gas-electric version will be a little less expensive than the all-electric model. Tesla has not released a target date for release of the Whitestar.

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