Tesla ships first Model S vehicles this week image

Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) will ship first Model S electric vehicles tomorrow, and Co-founder Elon Musk will soon learn if there’s enough Model S demand for Tesla to profit.

The first 10 “Signature” performance versions are to be picked up by their owners at Tesla’s Fremont, California, factory. They’re priced at $95,400 to $105,400 and able to go 265 miles (426 kilometers) per charge.

It’s a watershed moment for the U.S automaker, manufacturing in California and the nascent electric-vehicle industry, which has been struggling to live up to ambitious expectations.

This is a tech product,” said Theo O’Neill, an analyst at Wunderlich Securities who has been bullish on Tesla because the company is delivering the Model S ahead of schedule, something unheard of in the electric-vehicle industry.

“And it is bad news for the naysayers in Detroit who can’t find their way out of a paper bag.”

The Palo Alto, Calif., company sold out its entire 10,000-car production run of the Model S — and bold-faced names like Jay Leno and Will Smith are among those waiting to drive away with theirs as soon as tomorrow.

Tesla, which went public with an initial stock offering in 2010, now employs more than 1,700 people. It will sell the Model S through a network of Tesla stores spanning North America, Europe and Asia.

Up to this point they’ve been doing very well, but it really comes down to how the Model S launch goes,” said Ben Schuman, senior research analyst with Pacific Crest Securities.

The Model S is being built at Tesla’s Fremont, California, plant, which previously was a joint venture owned by Toyota Motor Corp. and the predecessor of General Motors Co. Toyota, Daimler AG and Panasonic Corp. areinvestors (TSLA) in Tesla.