Tesla Motors is essentially charging $5,000 for a test drive and the promise of a car eventually.
San Carlos-based Tesla Motors, which made a splash with a sexy but spendy all-electric coupe, has garnered 711 reservations for its planned Model S sedan.
The prototype car was unveiled last month at the company's headquarters in Los Angeles.
The company had planned to build a plant to produce the sedan in San Jose, but has since decided to stay in the Southland.
However, the company is depending on a loan from the federal government to start production.
That's led to suggestions that the $5,000 aren't so much reservations, but investments in a company desperate for cash.
Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk has personally guaranteed the reservation fee, which for legal reasons the company can't call a deposit.
The Model S sedan is expected to cost $50,000 or more, though the company argues that over the life of the vehicle, it will be cheaper to power and maintain than a $35,000 gas-fueled vehicle. Photo by Stephen Shankland.
Jackson West would rather see the stimulus money go to public transportation than a private car manufacturer.