Tesla Motors Starts Shipping The Model S Sedan, Its First Family-Focused Electric Car [Livestream]

Tesla Motors, the electric car company headed up by PayPal founder and all-around tech industry badass Elon Musk, today began shipments of the Model S, the electricity-powered sedan it first unveiled back in 2009. Above we’ve embedded a livestream of the event, being held right now in Fremont, California.

“There are a lot of people who said this day would never come,” Tesla executive George Blankenship said while kicking off the press event in Fremont this afternoon. “But at Tesla we don’t even think about them… we think about the people who made sure that we are here today.” According to Blankenship, chief among those people are the 2300 owners worldwide of the Tesla Roadster, the first electric car the company debuted a couple years back. “Everything they taught us is in the Model S.”

When Elon Musk took the stage at the event, he said that the Model S is mean to “break a spell” in the car industry. “The world has been under this illusion that an electric car can’t be as good as a gasoline car… the Model S is about breaking that illusion,” Musk said. “It’s about showing that an electric car can really be the best car in the world.”

According to Tesla, the response to the Model S, which has pricing beginning at $49,900, has been solid: The company has more than than 10,000 reservations placed for the car (it costs $5,000 to make a reservation for the standard Model S, and $40,000 to reserve a Model S Signature), and it plans to produce and deliver 20,000 vehicles per year beginning in 2013.

The specs on the vehicle are pretty impressive — zero to 60 in less than six seconds with instant torque (that’s a big perk of electric vehicles), an electric vehicle range of 265 miles (purportedly a new record for the industry), all designed and built in California. Its dashboard has a 17-inch touchscreen connected to 3G, which Tesla says puts “streaming radio, web browsing and navigation at the driver’s fingertips.” Not too shabby. It’s also a much more practical car than Tesla’s slick Roadster two-seater, as the Model S seats five adults and two children.

TechCrunch had its first hands-on look at the Model S this past fall — you can check out the full run-down of that right here.