The Tesla Model S, which the controversial carmaker calls "the world's first premium electric sedan," has arrived to its initial customers with a starting price of just under $50,000 after federal tax incentives.

The "affordable" sedan is about half the price of its older, svelte sibling, the two-door Roadster. With its vast array of options, the new Tesla's price can reach nearly $100,000.

"It's certainly not mass market by General Motors or Toyota standards," Edmunds.com senior analyst Michelle Krebs told NPR Morning Edition co-host Renee Montagne. "Tesla says they're going to make 5,000 of these this year, and then increase the production next year. So it still really is a niche vehicle."

Tesla Model S

According to Tesla, the performance version of the new Tesla, with it 40-kilokwatt battery increased to an optional 60 or 85 kwh, can complete the standard 0-60 mph test in 4.4 seconds.

The Tesla's larger batter will also give the Tesla and increased driving capacity on a single charge, about 265 miles, according to the Enviornmental Protection Agency. The EPA did its test with the 85 kwh Tesla edition, which costs about $70,000.

Expressed in the EPA's "miles per gallon equivalent" used for electric vehicles, the Model S gets a combined 89 mpg — which the federal agency equates to about $700 in annual fuel costs, if the car is driven 15,000 miles in a year.

Tesla founder Elon Musk reportedly told investors the company had taken deposits from more than 10,000 customers for the Model S. He also said Tesla needs to sell about 8,000 of the cars to break even.

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