The last time I looked, you could buy Tesla Motors stock (the IPO for 'TSLA' was Tuesday) for around $22. Tesla watchers are going to keep a close watch on how it does. The paper was up 41 percent in the first day, which some observers see as a real "confidence builder" for future clean-tech stock offerings. But the A123 EV battery launch may prove a cautionary tale.

"The IPO was really exciting, and it was a good day for Tesla," said spokeswoman Khobi Brooklyn. "There's a lot of good energy around the whole company, but we understand that there's a big project ahead of us." She means launching the Model S sedan, Tesla's second model and it's hope for winning a wider audience than the 1,100 people who've bought the Roadster so far.

Tesla launched its IPO on a day the market was down 250 points, but while everybody was glued to the stock market, the company quietly launched the Roadster 2.5, the fourth iteration in a continuous updating of the car. Look at the photos, and you'll see the changes are subtle -- basically, it's a touch-up, not a significant sheet metal resculpt or a mechanical upgrade. The new one won't go any faster (but the old one was plenty fast). The new features include:

  • An appearance package, including a new fascia (front end) with new sculpted front vents ahead of the wheels and a redesigned rear diffuser;
  • New directional forged wheels (in silver and black);
  • Upgraded seats, with larger bolsters and a new lumbar support;
  • An optional seven-inch touchscreen with back-up camera
  • A quieter interior with new fender lining material for sound deadening.
Of course, the Roadster was pretty quiet anyway. It's kind of unnerving to be heading down the road to 60 mph in less than four seconds with nothing but batteries and electric motors propelling you forward. Here's a video of me driving it (the old one, that is):

The Model S, under $50,000 with the $7,500 federal tax credit included, is due in early 2012. After that is the third, more affordable model, and some early sketches of that are extant. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is still in an IPO-imposed "quiet period" for another 30 days, but we can promise an all-singing, all dancing interview when that expires. Stay tuned.

Related on MNN: Our complete Tesla coverage

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