Tesla Motors, Inc. announced Thursday that it has taken more than 500 orders for its all electric sedan Model S since the car was introduced on March 26.

Tesla's Model S - which will be showcased tonight in Washington in its East Coast premiere - can carry up to seven people and travels up to 300 miles per charge, the company said in a statement. Production of the vehicles begins in late 2011.

Frankly the number of cars reserved in the first week has exceeded our optimistic internal projections, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a statement. Enthusiasm surrounding the Model S is proof that there's pent-up demand for more affordable, fuel-efficient vehicles - including those made in America.

The Model S has a base price of $49,900 after a federal tax credit of $7,500.

Tesla Motors has requested a loan of $350 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to build an assembly plant in California that will make the Model S. The funds requested belong to the DOE's Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program.