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Tesla says first cars will be testing versions, will raise $40M more

Tesla Motors, the company making an electric sports car scheduled to hit the market next quarter, is now saying the first release of cars won’t have the promised performance.

Rather, they’ll come equipped with an interim transmissions that the company says should be considered “public betas,” or trial versions. Public beta is a software term that essentially means something is in a “testing” state, but can be publicly used while bugs or imperfections are ironed out. In other words, despite several delays already, Tesla is now saying the real deal won’t be ready in the first quarter after all, but will be ready in the second half of next year. GigaOm’s Earth2Tech has the news.

The company is also raising a $40 million round of capital from existing investors, in order to handle the extra costs caused by the transmission problem.

Chairman Elon Musk, the largest stakeholder, appears to be leading the round. It follows $105 million in previous funding from Musk and other well-known Silicon Valley investors, including Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. (See previous coverage here).

The Tesla’s transmission problems have been noted before, and have been cited as having caused earlier delays. However, this is the first time we’ve seen the company saying the final transmission won’t be ready until the second half of next year. The company hopes that it will move into “full production” at that time, it told Earth2Tech. Musk said the following of the first early, limited version: “…it won’t have the performance characteristics that we promised. And there may be some durability issues, not something that is made to last 10 years, but it should be fine for several months…”

He said the early transmissions will be swapped out for the tested ones once they’re ready.