Archives for June 11th, 2013
Get the full details on the new Audi A3 e-tron electric car on the latest episode of Wide Open Throttle. Jeff Curry, Audi’s E-Mobility Marketing and Strategy representative, discusses Audi’s new EV.
Curry tells us that 17 A3 e-tron test vehicles are being launched in four select cities to see how they perform in real-world driving conditions. The production version should be ready in two years and will be based on the upcoming all-new A3. A plug-in hybrid should also arrive around the same time. In addition to the A3 e-tron, Audi is planning to test out the R8 e-tron later this year.
Lang also discusses her recent tour of Tesla Motors’ factory, where she drove the new Model S. She highlights a few viewer comments that show EVs still have a polarizing effect on the American public but mentions other deemed-to-fail technologies that have become an integral part of our lives. Watch the video and let us know if you agree with the comparisons Lang makes to the electric car.
A less-than-positive review in the New York Times has unleashed the ire of Tesla Motors founder and CEO Elon Musk. After Times reviewer was unable to duplicate Tesla’s range claims for the 85-kWh Model S on a drive from Washington, D.C. to New England, Musk threw out a few choice words on Twitter and CNBC.
It all started with John M. Broder’s review, which was published in the New York Times this past Sunday. In the article, Broder says he had to power down the Model S’ heating and crawl along at 54 mph on a highway with a 65 mph speed limit to keep his Model S from dying.
This was despite the fact that Broder stopped at Tesla’s two East Coast Supercharger stations (in Newark, Delaware and Milford, Connecticut) to recharge. When he left Newark, the battery meter said he had a full charge, which should have been enough to complete the trip. Instead, Broder spent part of his return trip on the back of a tow truck.
Musk responded to the article with a tweet stating that “NYTimes article about Tesla range in cold is fake. Vehicle logs tell true story that he didn’t actually charge to max & took a long detour.”
The Tesla CEO went on to say that his company had verified the state of charge and the route Broder took with the car’s onboard data logger.
“Tesla data logging is only turned on with explicit written permission from customers, but after Top Gear BS, we always keep it on for media,” Musk tweeted. Tesla sued the popular BBC car show over a supposedly libelous review of its Roadster sports car. The original suit and Tesla’s appeal were both thrown out.
Musk also went on CNBC and called the Times article “something of a set-up.”
“If you had a gasoline car,” Musk said, and “if you only filled the tank part way, and instead of driving to your destination, you meandered through downtown Manhattan, and through all the traffic and everything, and then raced to where you were originally supposed to go, and you ran out of gas, people would just think you’re a fool.”
Broder responded to Musk’s attacks with a blog post. He said the meandering detour Musk described in his CNBC interview was actually a two-mile course correction through Manhattan that was meant to increase the Model S’ range by using its regenerative brakes in stop-and-go traffic. Broder said occasional braking (as opposed to straight highway driving on cruise control) was recommended to him as a range-increasing strategy by a Tesla employee.
In his article, Broder also describes several Tesla employees who said the Model S’ diminishing range was the result of low temperatures. After the article ran, Broder was told, by both Tesla employees and random Internet commenters, that he should have left the car plugged in overnight at the Connecticut Supercharger station to compensate.
The Supercharger also has a “Max Range” setting, which can add 25 miles to a Model S’ range, but takes longer and can damage the battery if overused. Despite contacting Tesla numerous times over the course of his trip, Broder says he was not instructed to use the Max Range setting.
Clear your mind for a second and ask yourself this: when does a new brand become well established? We'll tell you. It's when people start calling whatever it makes "classic".
We've looked at the Tesla Model S from every angle, and by God it's a classic. The company has weathered the storm, establishing itself with a new car formula that we didn't understand very well at first.
This sinister black example of the sedan is absolutely an eye-catcher. It deserves just as much attention as any of the big German names on the market, especially now that it reeived a custom treatment like no other.
Like a black hole sucking in all the light, the sinister Tesla will cruise the streets drawing in people's gazes. It has tinted glass, black door handles and best of all, brushed titanium HRE wheel.
Editor's note: Who needs trapezoidal exhaust pipes when you have door handles that come out!
❐ Check out the Tesla Model S on HRE Wheels photo gallery
By Mihnea Radu
Once we begin our year-long test of the Tesla Model S, the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year, we may not have to visit the dealership to perform most software updates. The automaker has just implemented a new, cloud-based system that will allow owners to view and install software updates from their vehicle’s infotainment screen.
It’s hard to imagine that the Model S needs any updating at this point, considering the amount of impressive technology already packed in the EV. During a recent adventure with the Model S in Las Vegas, Editor-in-Chief Ed Loh said the EV “delivers a bit of magic and a sense of occasion thanks to its myriad touch, proximity, and weight sensors. Touch the chromed door handle and it pops out for a good yank.” However, a recent over-the-air update makes those flush-mounted doors handles a bit more magical — now, they pop out as the driver approaches the vehicle, Automotive News reports. Other updates include voice command and an option for the Model S to “creep” forward when the driver lifts his foot off the brake pedal, similar to what gas-powered cars already do.
The updates will appear on the vehicle’s screen and owners have the option to schedule the install at a future time. Details of the updates are included in “release notes,” similar to the update process consumers are accustomed to with their phones or laptops. The process can save owners time and battery charge needed to visit the dealership.
In addition to the cloud-based update system, the Model S now sports a slightly tweaked front nose and a revised jump seat with better ergonomics. Tesla’s director of Model S programs Jerome Guillen credits these recent updates to the automaker’s relatively small size. Guillen, who previously worked at Daimler AG, told the Automotive News “we are doing things in a couple weeks that, at my previous employer, would have taken two years.”
Automotive News also reports that the Tesla’s plant in Northern California is running at full capacity, with the ability to produce 20,000 units a year. Additionally, Tesla will start building cars equipped with 60kWh battery packs, which will join the range-topping models with the 85 kWh battery packs that were first to launch. A value-priced 40 kWh-model is available, and Model S prices increased for the 2013 calendar year. Also in the pipeline is the Tesla Model X, which Guillen says is still scheduled to go into production sometime next year.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)
The iPhone 5 isn’t the only new high-tech toy to pop up on eBay for exorbitant prices, as one industrious individual has taken to the online auction site in order to sell their soon-to-be-delivered all-electric luxury sedan.
The seller, a reservation holder based in Portland, Maine, placed his Tesla Model S Signature Series on eBay for a staggering $145,000 with an entry bid requirement of $138,500. The vehicle is scheduled to arrive on October 14.
So did anyone actually place a bid? Nope. And we can’t say we’re all that surprised. While a few enterprising folks are likely to sell the iPhone 5 for some ridiculous, inflated price, this seller’s Tesla didn’t fare so well, garnering zero bids.
As a quick recap, the near top-of-the-line Model S ordered directly from Tesla starts at about $95,400 (excluding a $7,500 federal tax credit). In addition to being your neighborhood’s electric car cock of the walk, that $100,000 will nab you a Model S Signature Series with an 85 kWh battery, zero to 60 mpg in 5.6 seconds, and an estimated range of 300 miles. You’ll also get the second most powerful version (the Model S Signature Performance takes that crown with 362 horsepower, 32 pound feet of torque, and a top speed of 125 mph).
“This may be the only chance in the next few years to acquire one of these amazing, limited edition, game changing vehicles,” the seller wrote on his auction post. But rather than turn to eBay, simply placing a $5,000 deposit will reserve you a spot in line for a Model S. Of course that will require a degree of patience as there is currently a 6-12 month waiting list.
Tesla is ready to help out those owners who feel that their Roadsters aren’t new and shiny enough. According to a new report, the electric car maker will be giving owners a credit when they trade in a Roadster for a new Model S.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Tesla has created a buyback program for current Roadster owners who are looking to move into a new Model S. Tesla’s program works just as any other trade-in deal would work, and has been created to help simplify the process for Model S/Roadster customers, according to Tesla representative Christina Ra. Since some Model S variants are actually priced well below the Roadster, it is possible for an owner to receive more on a trade than the cost of the new car. “In that case, we’d write you a check,” Tom vonReichbauer, Tesla’s director of finance, told the Chronicle.
Pricing for the Model S hatchback starts at $57,400 for the 40 kWh battery, steps up to $67,400 for the 60 kWh car, and $77,400 for the 85 kWh model (all prices are before any government tax rebates). The EPA has already rated the 85-kWh Model S at 89 MPGe and a range of 265 miles. Currently, the only Model S versions being built are the top-spec Signature Performance models that use the 85-kWh battery; an upgraded interior, suspension, and wheels; and the exclusivity of being just one of 1000 units built. Once all the Signature models are built, the automaker will begin to produce the Model S and Model S Performance versions.
Having a cache of Roadsters will also help Tesla, the Chronicle points out. Having another vehicle to sell alongside the Model S until the Model X crossover debuts will help the automaker keep retail sales going. It’s expected that a Roadster would be resold for anywhere around $73,000 to $94,000 depending on age and mileage of the car.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
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The Tesla Model S Performance looks great on paper.
Not only does the 85 kWh Model S have an impressive 265-mile EPA-rated range, but it’ll do the benchmark 0-60 mph sprint in only 4.4 seconds.
That means the all-electric luxury sport sedan from Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] is at least as fast as V-8 German super sedans like the BMW M5.
But how do you quantify that sort of speed in the real world? If you’re Drag Times, you put it on the strip, preferably head to head against an American legend like the Dodge Viper SRT10. And then you beat it.
Yup, the near-silent Tesla made a mockery of the shiny red sports car–posting a quarter-mile time of little over 12 seconds in the process.
A second video shows the Tesla’s fastest pass, at 12.371 seconds and 110.84 mph. There aren’t a great many production cars which would do better–mostly vehicles well into the “supercar” or “hypercar” brackets, and at even higher cost than the Model S.
Some of the other statistics are outstanding too.
Drag Times recorded a 3.9-second 0-60 mph time on their VBOX timing gear. Given the Tesla’s hefty weight at the curb of 4,690 lbs, it’s even more impressive–weight is typically the enemy of speed.
Huge low-down torque helps, of course–the 416-hp Model S Performance develops 443 lbs-ft from zero to 5,100rpm, and power delivery is much smoother too.
While that driver in the Viper had to manage wheelspin and shift gears, the Tesla driver just has to sink the right pedal and keep it on the floor until he passes the 1/4-mile mark.
We’d love to see what other car giants the Model S is capable of killing.
With zero emissions and supercar-slaying acceleration, it seems you can really have your cake and eat it too.
Other than range concerns, one of the things that makes consumers most anxious about electric cars is the durability and replacement cost of their spendy battery packs.
Rumor has it that Tesla Motors is working on a solution to that problem: modular battery packs that can be quickly and easily swapped out of a car. Tesla said it was working on this idea in a May 10 filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission.
On page 38, Tesla addressed consumer concerns that limit EVs’ appeal, including bad press from the 2011 Chevrolet Volt fires, and the concern that battery packs that aren’t properly charged will become unstable and need replacement.
Also on the list was Tesla’s “capability to rapidly swap out the Model S battery pack and the development of specialized public facilities to perform such swapping, which do not currently exist but which we plan to introduce in the near future (emphasis ours).”
How near that future is unclear, though. According to Green Car Reports, Tesla has been discussing a battery-swapping setup for the Model S since 2009, and discussed implementing the technology sometime in 2013 in an annual report filed in March.
Battery swapping is exactly what it sounds like: a depleted battery is switched out for a fully-charged one, just like a pair of AAs in a flashlight, but obviously on a much larger scale.
Better Place has been implementing this idea in Israel since 2008, using Renault Fluence Z.E. electric cars and a network of battery swapping stations. Car buyers are primarily buying access to the charging station network, just as cell phone users are primarily buying access to providers’ networks when they purchase a phone.
Under both the Tesla and Better Place schemes, drivers pull their cars into a bay where machines removed the battery pack from underneath a car’s floor and replace it with a new one.
Tesla owners could potentially pay for the service through their Model S’ touch screens, making the whole process fully automated. Unlike Better Place, they may also have to return for their cars’ original battery packs once they are charged up.
This system could not only curb range anxiety by eliminating long charging times, it could also make replacing the most expensive part of an electric car incredibly easy. Imagine removing the engine from a gasoline-powered car in a few minutes and you’ll get an idea of where this is going.
So far, though, battery swapping hasn’t worked out well for Better Place. The company only delivered 518 cars in 2012, with 100 reserved for internal use. Granted, Better Place is only operating in Israel.
Tesla seems to have the magic touch when it comes to electric cars, so we’re eager to see how it implements rapid battery swapping, whenever that happens.
Tesla Model S launch
Tesla Motors said today it would cut the third-quarter production target for its 2012 Model S all-electric sport sedan, according to a stock analyst who follows the company.
A report by Wunderlich Securities analyst Theodore O’Neill notes that Tesla is now saying it would probably only deliver 500 cars through the end of September, down from a previous target of 1,000.
It still expects to deliver about 5,000 cars by the end of 2012, meaning an average of 1,500 cars a month from October through December.
The delays were attributed to unspecified production execution issues.
Green Car Reports has asked Tesla for confirmation of the report, and will update this story if we receive further information.
[UPDATE: In response to a question asking for confirmation of the report, Tesla spokesperson Shanna Hendriks replied, “Tesla’s plan has been and continues to be a focus on quality while ramping up production of Model S. This plan has not changed, and there have been no unexpected challenges or issues.”
That translates to “no comment”; you may draw your own conclusions.]
Tesla delivered its first production Model S in late June, and is now slowly ramping up production of the pioneering electric luxury sedan.
It has said it expects to deliver 15,000 cars during 2013, once its assembly plant in Fremont, California, is up to a steady production rate.
The news caused Wunderlich to downgrade Tesla Motors stock and change its recommendation to Sell, setting a new target price of $28 per share–down from its previous target of $49.
Two other analysts, Jefferies Group and Maxim Group, left their Buy ratings for Tesla stock unchanged.
Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] stock declined steadily throughout yesterday; today the stock price climbed until about 1 pm and then began to fall.
With a little over two weeks left to go until Tesla finally launch their long-awaited Model S, officials have announced that they will be holding 5,000 test drives, in the 45 days immediately after the car’s June 22nd launch. The test drive, which is part of the 'Get AmpedModel S Tour', will be available for anyone who’s ‘pre-ordered’ a Model S, and it will last for around 8 minutes per customer.
The course of the test drive is specially designed to allow the driver to experience the Model S in a wide range of driving environments, located around Tesla’s Freemont, California factory. Drivers will see how the car behaves during highway driving, while tackling various types of bends and roads of varying smoothness with a dash of in-town driving thrown in as well.
The announcement for the test drive comes along with another official video from Tesla, now showing us their ‘Body Center’, how the various bits of the car’s body come together and how they are welded up by robotic arms as they move along the production line, with the caption at the end of the video reading “They’re coming…”
We think that’s a lot to process in only 8 minutes, and those who have reserved their car may be disappointed that the test drive is so short – we know we would!
❐ Check out the Map of the Model S Test Drive Tour photo gallery