TODAY   |  June 09, 2013

Varoom! Tesla's electric cars turn heads

NBC's Tom Costello tests out Tesla Motors' new Model S vehicle, which has earned some of the auto industry's highest ratings.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> to what's described as a bold innovative car built. you've heard of tesla . this is compared to apple for purchasing technology and design to a new level.

>>> after years of staying under the radar, its cars are suddenly turning heads and earning some of the auto industry 's highest ratings. we took one for a spin this week, which explains his absence. we haven't seen him since.

>> if you haven't seen one of those zip by you on the highway, you probably will soon. the tesla s-series luxury car is turning heads. at $70,000 for the base model, it's motor trend 's car of the year and earned the highest score consumer reports has given. it's 100% electric. not a single drop of gas. cnbc's phil labow covers the auto industry .

>> this is not a science project . it has real appeal in the market and that's why so many are looking at it and saying wait a second, this is an electric car that could become a mass market , very popular car.

>> cutting-edge battery science made this car succeed where other attempts at electric cars have failed. able to travel 265 miles on a six-hour charge, tesla is quickly building out a national network of super charge stations that will allow customers to juice up for free in just 20 minutes .

>> the most dominant feature inside this car has to be the 17-inch display that controls everything from your navigation to your music to your sunroof. all the controls for the vehicle.

>> the man behind tesla is the same man who started paypal and stays x. billionaire inventor elan musk.

>> the reason for tesla was to show that it actually is possible to create a compelling electric car or long-range electric car . if you did that, that people would buy it.

>> people are buying. tesla expects to sell 15,000 to 20,000 cars this year. it's paid off a $465 million government green loan nine years early and its stock is soaring. but few americans can afford a $70,000 car even with green tax credits. so tesla plans to roll out a mass market electric family car within four years that sells in the $30,000 range.

>> i think in many respects the technology is right. is it going to get better? absolutely. is it going to get cheaper? absolutely.

>> how good is the pickup? this car can do zero to 60 in about five seconds. like we said, this built in america car is turning heads. proving an american innovation and ingenuity is alive and well . for todd, tom costello, tyson's corner, virginia.