Archives for June, 2013

Tesla Now Delivering Model S, But Cash Crunch Judgment Waits For Financials

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

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One hurdle down: Tesla is now delivering production Model S electric cars to paying customers from its reservations list of 18,000 or so.

Next hurdle: Can Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] bring in enough cash from those sales, and ramp up production fast enough, to keep the company solvent?

It would appear the market thinks so, as Tesla stock has risen over the last six weeks from less than $28 a share to more than $32 a share.

MarketWatch analyst pessimistic

Nonetheless, a spate of recent articles have quoted MarketWatch financial analyst Jon Shinal suggesting that Tesla is “among the top candidates in Silicon Valley for a 2013 stock collapse” unless it secures additional funds.

Shinal noted on December 20 that Tesla spent down its cash through the third quarter of 2012, and would have been essentially out of money had it not drawn on the last of its $465 million in low-interest loans from the U.S. Department of Energy.

He notes that it had to lower its 2012 revenue forecasts in September, and had less than six months of cash on hand at the end of that month. And that Tesla’s assets of $809 million were outweighed by its liabilities of $837 million.

One-year history of Tesla Motors stock prices [NSDQ:TSLA] on Jan 11, 2013, as shown on Yahoo Finance

One-year history of Tesla Motors stock prices [NSDQ:TSLA] on Jan 11, 2013, as shown on Yahoo Finance

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That stands to reason, of course: Tesla had just spent two years completing development of the 2012 Model S, and equipping its Fremont, California, assembly plant to build the car in volume.

And that all costs money.

‘Cash flow positive’ tweet

Tesla’s Elon Musk tweeted on December 3 that the company had been “narrowly cash flow positive” the previous week. He hasn’t repeated that tweet in any successive weeks.

The salient question is now: Can Tesla ramp up production quickly enough, and garner sufficient margin on each early Model S it sells, to keep the lights on, the vendors paid, and the production lines humming?

Tesla Motors isn’t talking about its financials, and won’t until it reports to shareholders on its year-end results–likely sometime in February.

2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

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Analysts will pore over those figures to see if the company achieved its revenue projections–the midpoint of the range was $420 million–and whether it did actually deliver 3,000 or more cars.

But it’s clear that the company is working hard to do everything it can to boost revenue and cut expenses.

High-dollar models first

With perhaps 3,000 Model S cars delivered by Dec 31–roughly in line with its September statement that it would deliver 2,700 to 3,225 cars, though down from its first 2012 estimate of 5,000 cars–the company says it’s now building 200 cars a week or more.

And those cars have all been the most expensive models with the 85-kilowatt-hour battery packs, which means Tesla is building the Model S variants that earn it the most cash first.

That’s led to some frustration among reservation holders for the 60-kWh version, which has now been EPA-certified at 208 miles of electric range.

But discussions on stock forums like SeekingAlpha offer the views of both investors bullish on Tesla stock and those who’ve shorted it.

Bulls vs bears

Often, the optimists focus more on the company’s achievements, awards, and largely satisfied customers (much of that covered on this site).

2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

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The pessimists, on the other hand, look more closely at the financials.

There’s a nice roundup of the arguments on each side in a piece called “Is Tesla A Buy, A Short, Or A Stay-Away?”

A December article, “When Will the Tesla Investment Unravel?”, notes that as of December 17, the seven preceding articles on the company had been favorable–indicating that sentiment among the site’s authors and readers had shifted from bearish to bullish.

But one point made last week is worth considering.

Success priced in already?

In “History And Valuation Make Cash-Guzzling Tesla A Short” author Sneha Shah suggests that the stock price pretty much assumes that the company is already a success.

The car business is historically highly capital intensive, Shah notes, with very long product cycles and low profit margins of 2 to 5 percent.



Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

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We’d add that building cars is not only breathtakingly expensive, it’s also very, very hard to do right. That’s why it usually takes new car companies 10 to 20 years to learn how to design and build cars to global standards.

Today, speculation on whether Tesla is in the midst of a cash crunch is relatively pointless.

No analyses can assess the company’s situation as of mid-January, because Tesla has not released data since September on production, sales, revenues, expenses, or average transaction price and cost basis per car sold.

All public financial data is now more than three months old, and Tesla now appears to be building hundreds of cars a week, whereas on September 30, it obviously wasn’t.

Wait for February

So, Tesla could be perilously close to a cash crunch, or it could now be covering each week’s outflow with revenue from cars delivered.

And analysts will only be able to weigh in on whether the company is headed toward financial sustainability once they see that data–and likely that of several more quarters as well.

After all, while achieving something few thought could be done–building a fast, stylish, comfortable, all-electric luxury sedan–is a remarkable achievement, it’s a separate accomplishment from doing so profitably and generating enough cash to fund expansion and new models.

One encouraging sign: So far, no major quality issues with the Model S cars delivered to date appear to have surfaced. A few owners report that their car would not release the charging cable, but the problem seems to be limited.

Tesla still tiny

Finally, note that Tesla’s market capitalization of roughly $4 billion would still be a drop in the bucket if a major global automaker wanted to buy the company.

That $4 billion is less than half the annual R&D budget of a Toyota or Volkswagen or General Motors.

While Tesla Motors has already done remarkable things, it is still a tiny company by global automaking standards.

Which means that if it survives a near-term cash crunch–or even if it doesn’t–it may be coveted by one of those global makers.

Is pessimism warranted?

Sinal is clearly negative, saying Tesla’s stock “in worse shape even than such high-profile Internet IPO flameouts as [online game developer] Zynga and [social group-couponing company] Groupon.” Others disagree, clearly.

What do you think? Is Tesla Motors stock a sensible investment for the short term? Long term? Will the company survive?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below (and, please, stay respectful).

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By John Voelcker

Tesla Model S 60-kWh Is More Efficient Than 85-kWh Car: Why?

2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

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Sharp-eyed Tesla Model S buffs may be wondering why the mid-range 60-kWh car, which costs $10,000 less, is rated more efficient than the top-of-the-line 85-kWh model.

The EPA said last week that the 60-kWh Model S has a range of 208 miles, and its efficiency rating is 95 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent).

That’s about 7 percent better than the 89 MPGe rating for the 85-kWh version–which has a rated range of 265 miles.

Measured from a different angle, the EPA says the 60-kWh car uses 35 kWh of electricity to go 100 miles.

The equivalent number for the longer range version is 38 kWh, meaning the cheaper car has about an 8-percent edge.

Why the difference?

Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TLSA], with its penchant for secrecy about technical matters, is mum on the subject (although a Tesla rep recently told me the company was working on an official statement to explain the difference).

Whatever the reason, the numbers make Tesla buyers who’ve opted for the mid-size battery  (like me) feel a little better. 

The $10,000 jump to the big battery gains only 57 miles of range, from 208 to 265 miles. That’s about $175 per mile.

Looked at another way, the 85-kWh Model S uses a battery pack that’s 42 percent larger to achieve 27 percent more range. Not a great tradeoff.

There are a number of possible reasons for the better efficiency numbers of the car with the mid-size battery.

*Lighter weight?

Although Tesla has always been cagey about battery specs, it’s likely that the smaller battery weighs less. Lower weight means quicker acceleration with the same power, and less rolling resistance at higher speeds.

But it seems unlikely that a weight difference of 100 to 200 pounds–we’re guessing here–could account for a 7-percent efficiency jump.  There’s something else going on.

Tesla Motors - Model S lithium-ion battery pack

Tesla Motors – Model S lithium-ion battery pack

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*Improved battery chemistry?

An unofficial source at Tesla hinted to me that the chemistry of the 60-kWh battery is different–and better–than that of the 85-kWh battery.

The 85-kWh packs went into production more than six months ago, while 60-kWh packs are only now starting to roll off the production lines.

It’s quite possible that, in the meantime, Tesla has improved its battery chemistry.

Tesla uses Panasonic commodity lithium-ion lap-top batteries in its battery packs, making them easy to update. Perhaps Panasonic has tweaked its cells recently?

*Test procedures?

The new 5-cycle EPA tests include a more vigorous acceleration profile.

The 85-kWh battery can supply more output power to the Model S drive motor (362 hp vs. 302 hp).  If the EPA test includes maximum acceleration, the 85-kWh car would accelerate slightly faster than the 60-kWh car–and thus use more energy.

If that’s the case, the EPA numbers are not a precise apples-to-apples comparison, and the efficiency advantage of the cheaper car is illusory.

2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

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It’s also unclear whether the EPA tested a standard 85-kWh car, or the more powerful Performance version (416 hp).

If the test car was the latter model, this test-related discrepancy would be even greater.

*Software changes?

A recent software upgrade tweaked the acceleration profile of the Model S to provide more oomph at highway speed.

If included in the 60-kWh EPA test car, this may have had an effect on the  test numbers–although we would have expected any performance increase to reduce the MPGe number.

As you may have noticed, fevered speculation about technical and production minutia is a daily sport among Model S owners and hard-core Tesla buffs.

With luck, Tesla will soon put us out of our misery on this question.

Until it does, does anybody else have theories why the 60-kWh Model S is more efficient than the 85-kWh version?

David Noland is a Tesla Model S reservation holder and freelance writer who lives north of New York City.

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By David Noland

Motors in the mall: Tesla hawks electric cars like Macbooks with dedicated retail space

Motors in the mall: Tesla hawks electric cars like Macbooks with dedicated retail space

We have come to realize Tesla Motors, and its enigmatic CEO Elon Musk, like to do things their own way. The one-time California start-up is no stranger of going against the grain. When the practical approach to entering the automotive industry would have been to utilize a conventional gasoline-powered engine, Tesla took a different approach. While other companies were busying themselves with hybrid, and plug-in hybrid technology, Tesla was hard at work paving the way for its all-electric Roadster.

With the release of the Model S, the California-based automaker is looking to drive down a different road yet again with a unique and new retail strategy.

Traditionalists will undoubtedly balk, but the method of vehicle buying is changing and companies like Tesla are pioneering new ways modern and future cars can be bought – and it’s about time, too.

Tesla PDX showroom floor

Tesla Model S touchscreenPart of that changing landscape sees a shift to where shoppers head down to a retail location– where little to no inventory will be on hand — instead of the car lot. Here, potential buyers can configure a vehicle exactly to their liking. Everything from the car’s paint and rim size, to the interior’s material and trim color, the entire experience is streamlined, sleek, and personalized. It’s not exactly revolutionary in terms of the retail experience where we used to constantly poking, prodding, and interacting with what we’re about to buy, but it’s new to the automotive industry and a welcome change.

Will it work? Tesla seems to think so. The company just opened its newest showroom located in Portland, Oregon, making it the 14th of its kind in North America (with another six to seven on their way by the end of the year), and 24th Tesla retail location worldwide.

We recently had the opportunity to take a tour and needless to say it’s an impressive, if not familiar, experience. From its modern minimalistic Apple-like layout with wide open glass doors, to its glowing touchscreens and Model S showcased prominently at the front, the Tesla store has little trouble drawing you in — which is exactly the point. Not everyone will feel inclined to head down to a traditional Tesla dealership, but placing these showrooms in malls and large traffic areas will get people curious, into the shop, and (hopefully) ordering.

Tesla Model S configurator

With Tesla’s retail stores, the company seems to be doing everything it can to promote not only the Model S and the brand, but the overall experience. As it is, the Model S is one cool car — and the whole store is designed to accentuate that.

Large touchscreen displays are strewn about the walls where the Model S’ most frequently asked questions are on display for people to interact with and have answered. Shoppers can learn everything there is to know about the Model S, from how much the car costs (base price starts at a steep $57,400) to charging times for the various battery sizes.

Of course part of the traditional car buying experience centers on testing out your potential set of wheels and here the dealership is no different. Tesla says customers will be able to drive the Model S (and later the Model X) before they buy. And it won’t be a solo effort either: Tesla will have product specialists – which the company were keen to point out will not work on commission – available to help answer any and all questions.

Tesla Design Studio

From what we gather Tesla has made a deft move. It might be struggling to keep up with orders –and if you were to mosey on into a Tesla store, or order one online you’re looking at waiting just under a year before delivery – but Tesla’s retail strategy has the potential to work and at the very least create even more buzz and excitement for the brand. Besides, what other automotive company will deliver your vehicle wherever you want?

It’ll certainly be sometime before we see big car lots removed from the equation entirely, but it’s going to happen. After all, people thought Apple was crazy when it launched its own retail stores in the beginning, which turned out to be a runaway success. Could Tesla become the Apple of the automotive world? Crazier things have happened.

By Amir Iliaifar

Tesla Model S Pricing to Be Increased



Tesla Motors seems to be looking for new ways to generate financial resources and while all this sound normal for running a business in the automotive industry, this time the customers will be affected.

The Tesla Model S pricing will be increased, so all those that hadn’t placed an order will be affected. However, if you’ve already reserved one, you’ll still be able to get it starting from $49,000, the original announced price of the vehicle. In addition to this, the option packages for the Model S will also be affected, as certain features that are now standard will migrate to the list of optional extras.

The move comes after Tesla has recently delayed the production and delivery dates for the Model S. The company’s revenue has dropped from $57.7 (EUR44.7) to $50.1 (EUR38.8) million.

By Andrei Tutu

Tesla Begins Model S Customer Deliveries to Begin June 22



Tesla is officially beginning customer deliveries for its new Model S all-electric BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class rival. The first cars are to be presented to their owners at an invitation-only event set to take place at the Tesla factory, in Freemont, California.

As previously reported, they have finished the car and have made it delivery-ready one month ahead of their original July deadline. Tesla plan to deliver around 5,000 cars by the end of the year, with orders currently exceeding the 10,000 mark.

The Tesla Model S is a bespoke car, with no real components borrowed from other manufacturers. It’s a unique proposition and from what the manufacturer claims, it’s a greener and more left-field alternative to the BMW and Mercedes norm.

By Andrei Nedelea

Tesla CEO calls Fisker Karma "mediocre"

2012 Fisker Karma

Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive are both building green luxury cars, but each has gone their own way. The Tesla Model S is fully electric, while the Fisker Karma has a gasoline engine-generator to charge its batteries. That seems like the makings of a rivalry, something Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed in a recent interview with Automobile Magazine.

“I don’t think very highly of Henrik Fisker,” Musk said of Fisker’s eponymous founder. He called Fisker’s $105,000 Karma a “mediocre product at a high price,” saying that the sedan lacked interior and trunk space yet was physically larger than his company’s Model S.

Musk also criticized Fisker for “outsourcing” what he considers the most important parts of car design: engineering and manufacturing. He said Fisker only cares about the way a car looks, but nothing more substantive.

The Karma is built by Valmet Automotive in Finland, the same company that assembles the Porsche Boxster and Cayman. The company talked about opening its own plant to produce a new car, the Atlantic, but those plans are now in limbo.

The Karma’s powertrain was developed by Quantum Technologies, and it uses a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine from General Motors. The Atlantic will use a gasoline engine from BMW.

Tesla did outsource a significant amount of the engineering work on its first car, the Roadster, which essentially an electric Lotus Elise. However, almost every part of the Model S was developed in-house.

Musk does think his competitor designed a nice car. “It looks good. Particularly from the side it looks good. I don’t love the front. It looks too much like a caricature of a Mexican Bandito—the grille,” he said.

Design is where the rivalry began. Back when Fisker was re-skinning BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes, Musk hired him to style the Model S. At some point, Fisker had the idea for the Karma, and Musk sued him for working on his car while he was under contract to Tesla. Fisker won the suit.

Fisker’s response to Musk’s attack was casual. He noted that he had won the suit, thanked Musk for complementing the Karma’s styling, and wished him well.

Despite differences in size and technology, Tesla and Fisker produce the only truly green luxury vehicles on the market, so comparisons are inevitable.

The EPA rates the Karma at 54 MPGe, while the Model S with the biggest battery pack is rated at 89 MPGe.2012 Tesla Model S

The Karma will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, and hit a top speed of 125 mph. Tesla claims a 0 to 60 time of 5.6 seconds, 4.4 seconds with the Signature Performance Package.

A loaded Model S Signature Performance with the largest battery pack costs $105,400, before a $7,500 Federal tax credit. The Karma starts at $105,000, although most models will roll out of showrooms with $115,000 stickers. Tesla does offer a base Model S with a $57,400 sticker, but the Fisker Atlantic, which will be closer to the Model S in size, is expected to cost roughly the same.

By Stephen Edelstein

Tesla Says Model S Platform Will Spawn Minivan, Crossover and Fleet Van Models

Tesla Says Model S Platform Will Spawn Minivan, Crossover and Fleet Van Models

Tesla Says Model S Platform Will Spawn Minivan, Crossover and Fleet Van Models

Currently shipping the Tesla Roadster drivers in the United States and Europe, Tesla Motors is helping to set the standard for high-performance production electric vehicles. Running entirely on lithium-ion battery cells, the vehicle muster 200 miles per charge and a 0-to-60 mph time of 3.9 seconds.

Tesla Motors has already announced that its next production vehicle will be the Tesla Model S. With a more family-friendly design and base MSRP roughly half that of the Roadster’s $109,000 price tag, the Model S will be the first mass-produced electric vehicle fit for highway driving.

The Tesla Model S carries a sedan body style that will seat up to seven passengers (5 adults and 2 kids). However, seemingly aware that a deeper vehicle lineup is necessary to compete with the old stalwarts of the automobile industry, Tesla Vice President of Business Development, Diarmuid O’Connell, recently announced that the Model S platform will also be used to build minivan, crossover SUV and fleet van variants.

As a Silicon Valley startup, Tesla Motors will be funding the production of all Model S vehicles with the help of a low-interest loan awarded to them via the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Manufacturing Program. Specifically, the money will be used to build and operate a Model S assembly plant in Southern California, as well as a powertrain manufacturing facility in Northern California.

As with the Tesla Roadster, all Model S body styles will incorporate lithium-ion battery technology. Range for the Model S sedan is estimated at 300 miles per battery charge. All vehicles can be charged from a common household outlet, and Tesla promises a 45-minute QuickCharge capability.

No additional details for the minvan, crossover or fleet van have yet to be released. However, base price can be expected to be similar to the Model S sedan, which starts at $49,900 (after federal tax credit). While still expensive, O’Connell is quick to point out that fuel savings result in an equivalent gas vehicle cost of $35,000.

The Tesla Model S sedan reports a top speed of 120 mph and a 0-to-60 mph time of 5.6 seconds. The sedan is due to be released in 2011, though no release date is yet scheduled for the body variants.

By Autobytel Staff

Edmunds.com 2010 Tesla Roadster Overview

Edmunds.com 2010 Tesla Roadster Overview

Edmunds.com 2010 Tesla Roadster Overview


Introduction:

The 2009 Tesla Roadster is now for sale, and customers on the waiting list for this instant collector’s item are starting to get the keys to their sporty little roadster. By now, you’ve probably heard of Tesla — the startup electric car company brought to you by Silicon Valley rather than Detroit. And you might have heard rumblings that its Lotus Elise-based Roadster has been far from problem-free, with the most notable being a failed two-speed transmission that had to be replaced (including in those vehicles already sold) by this year’s one-speed automatic. The company itself has had issues, from fired executives to shuttered dealerships. The future remains questionable for the Tesla Roadster, but for now, it remains an intriguing choice for wealthy, green-minded car buyers in search of a little fun.

Here are the important things to know. The Tesla Roadster is an all-electric car with a range of 227 miles under judicious driving (although as a sports car, that could be difficult to accomplish). Using Tesla’s High Power Connector recharging device, it takes 3.5 hours to refill the lithium-ion batteries from near-empty. With only 2,750 pounds to lug about, the 240-horsepower electric motor provides a rush of seamless power, bringing the Roadster up to 60 mph in about 4 seconds. Plus, it does it with the eerie quietness of a Prius in all-electric mode.

Aside from going fast, the Tesla’s Lotus-based chassis allows it to be one of the finest-handling automobiles you can buy. Thanks to the aft positioning of the electric motor and battery pack, the Roadster’s weight distribution is even more rear-biased than the Elise’s — 35 percent front/65 percent rear, compared to 39/61 for the Lotus. The manual steering that is a pain at low parking speeds nevertheless contributes to excellent steering feel and control.

And then there are the environmental benefits. The Tesla Roadster produces no emissions on its own, though electricity produced by coal- or natural-gas-fired power plants obviously has associated emissions. Because of the Roadster’s highly efficient nature, however, Tesla claims the associated carbon dioxide emissions would only be about a third of those for a popular hybrid car. Although if you have enough cash to buy a Tesla, why not make like Ed Begley and pony up for one of those home solar panel systems, too?

The 2009 Tesla Roadster has undeniable appeal, but there are some major drawbacks. Chiefly, its lofty asking price makes it attainable for only the most deep-pocketed buyers. And for them, the tiny spartan interior may not seem to befit a $100,000 car, not to mention the manual steering and the awkward entry and exit. The electric battery range should also be an issue since it makes road trips a near impossibility. However, every new technological road has to start somewhere, and with GM’s EV1 long since forgotten/killed, the Tesla Roadster could very well become known as the electric car that really started it all. Or it’ll be an interesting footnote in the history of the automobile, 2000-2050. Either way, it could be fun to have one in your multicar garage.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:

The 2009 Tesla Roadster is a two-seat roadster with a targa-style removable soft top. Only one trim level is available. Standard features includes 16-inch front and 17-inch rear alloy wheels, the High Power Connector for a 3.5-hour charge, cruise control, leather upholstery, heated seats, a leather Momo sport steering wheel, power windows and locks, air-conditioning, a universal garage opener and a CD player stereo with an iPod interface. Options include a body-colored carbon fiber hardtop, upgraded leather upholstery, microfiber cloth upholstery, Bluetooth and a seven-speaker upgraded sound system with navigation and satellite radio.

Powertrains and Performance:

The 2009 Tesla Roadster is equipped with a 375-volt AC-induction air-cooled electric motor that produces 240 hp and 276 pound-feet of torque. As is the case with all electric vehicles, that torque is immediately available. A single-speed automatic is the lone transmission. Tesla estimates the Roadster will go from zero to 60 mph in just under 4 seconds. It reaches an electronically limited 125 mph. Based on the EPA’s combined city/highway cycle, the Tesla Roadster should travel about 244 miles before needing a recharge, which takes 3.5 hours using Tesla’s High Power Connector. Just as with a gasoline-powered car, this range will obviously drop the more vigorously you drive.

Safety:

Standard safety features on the 2009 Tesla Roadster include antilock brakes and traction control. Notably, side airbags are unavailable.

Interior Design and Special Features:

Like the Lotus Elise on which it is based, the tiny 2009 Tesla Roadster features a rather spartan interior. The heated seats and Momo steering wheel are trimmed in leather, but otherwise don’t expect the sort of luxury normally associated with a car costing $100,000. However, the Roadster does differ from the Elise in its modified transmission tunnel that hosts the exclusive automatic shifter, along with the LCD information readout for battery charge, range and optional navigation.

The seats are supportive but confining and the footwells are extraordinarily narrow, though at least there’s no clutch to worry about. As with the Elise, taller drivers could find the circus act required to get into the tiny, cramped Roadster — particularly with the removable roof in place — to be more trouble than gas-free travel is worth.

Driving Impressions:

You’d think an electric car would have electric power steering, but you’d be wrong. Instead, the Tesla Roadster goes with an unpowered rack. It’s not fun at parking lot speeds, but it’s a treat around corners. Despite the Tesla’s slightly softened suspension settings, this is one of the best-handling (and stiffest-riding) cars on the market. The real story, though, is the eerily muted thrust from the electric motor. Tire noise is more audible than the subdued whine from the electronics tucked behind your left shoulder, yet the Roadster’s acceleration is breathtaking, especially from a standing start with all that torque on tap. It’s fast, but the very opposite of furious.


Copyright Edmunds.com, Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.


By Autobytel Staff

Report: Tesla Under Fire Over Factory-Owned Stores – Rumor Central

Report: Tesla Under Fire Over Factory-Owned Stores

Haven’t we heard this one before? An auto manufacturer opens a dealership owned by them (and not a franchise) and gets called out by various dealer organizations and state governments for violating franchise laws. Tesla is now coming under fire for that very reason.

Automotive News is reporting that the manufacturer-owned stores that Tesla has been opening up across the country are in a direct violation of various states’ franchise laws. Some states completely prohibit dealerships run by automakers, while others – like California – require a certain amount of distance between factory-owned and dealer-owned stores.

Dealer groups are worried that “If a manufacturer sees that Tesla is successful with this kind of business model, who’s to say they don’t break out their own EV product lines and create a separate system that bypasses dealers?” Bob O’Koniewski, the executive vice president of the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, told AN.

Despite saying that it does not want to revolutionize the car-buying experience, Tesla has taken a different tack from other automakers. The upstart automaker hired George Blankenship as the VP of sales to head up the retail experience – Blankenship previously created the look and feel of Apple’s retail stores and has given Tesla’s in-mall retail shops a similar feel. Litigation against Tesla is currently being pursued in Oregon, Massachusetts, and New York; however, some states (such as Texas) has no laws regulation car dealership ownership.

Chrysler faced the same kind of scrutiny that Tesla is now facing when it opened a factory-owned dealership in California last year. After a legal battle, Chrysler acquiesced and sold the retail store to a local dealer.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)





By Donny Nordlicht

That was quick: 'Teslaccessories' aims to outfit your Tesla Model S with aftermarket parts

Tesla Model S

Did you realize the Tesla Model S is sold without a center console? Well it isn’t. It has a center console; it’s just a fairly useless tray.

When sitting in the Model S, we were so blown away with the technology surrounding us, we didn’t really realize we were missing a cup holder. Someone apparently did, though.

Teslaccessories has just launched the first of its aftermarket offerings for the Model S, The Center Console Insert (CCI).

Teslaccessories CCI

The aftermarket cup holder and storage bin mimics the lines and design of the Model S and fits into the standard center console tray area.

It’s not a bad idea, really. It’s got a place for a single cup and a cubby for your iPhone and such with a retractable cover. Teslaccessories will match the color of the tray to the interior color of your Model S as well.

Teslaccessories hopes to expand into more aftermarket parts for the Model S and then to other Tesla models in the future. With more than 5,000 Model S units on the road so far and a lengthy waiting list to get the sleek EV, they might have a lasting business.

If you’re interested in fitting a cup holder and storage bin to the center console of your Model S, you can order online but only by invitation for now.

  • More on Tesla: How about a gull-wing crossover?

By Nick Jaynes

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