Tesla LogoWhile the Tesla Roadster is being assembled at a Group Lotus PLC factory in Hethel, Tesla is preparing the production center for its next model, a zero-emissions luxury sedan. Tesla is building a $250 million facility that will include a production plant for the new sedan as well as its corporate headquarters and R&D center. It will be located in San Jose, California.

The new Tesla sedan was previously referred to as “Project WhiteStar” and is currently referred to as the “Model S”. It will feature 4 doors, 5 seats, and zero emissions. It will use lithium ion batteries for a maximum range of 386km and its base price will be about US$60,000 or about RM204,000, much cheaper than the Roadster’s US$109,000 price tag.

A more expensive version will come later equipped with a range extending internal combustion engine to charge the batteries when you are unable to get the car to a plug-in charging point – this is much like the concept of how things work with the Chevrolet Volt.

The first Tesla Model S is expected to roll off the production line in late 2010. Both the Roadster and Model S will be priced far out of reach of common folk, but Tesla hopes the profits from the Roadster and the Model S can fund a third car – an affordable electric car currently known as Project BlueStar.