Archives for June 12th, 2013
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This week, the Tesla Model S became the first car to ever be unanimously chosen as the Motor Trend Car of the Year. It’s sexy and smooth, but the best thing about the Model S is undoubtedly its remarkable electric powertrain. Let’s see what makes it tick.
In the top-of-the-line Signature Performance trim, the 2013 Tesla Model S packs 416 horsepower and 443 lb.-ft of torque, and can achieve 0-60 mph in just 4.4 seconds. How does a 4,650 lb. car do all this without any gasoline? The obvious answer is of course, sorcery.
But the truth may even be more amazing. The Model S uses a liquid-cooled, lithium-ion battery that includes 7,000 battery cells for 85 kilowatt-hours (kWh) powered by an AC electric motor mounted between the rear wheels. Truly incredible stuff, but what does that even mean?
Well, it all starts with the 3-phase, 4-pole electric motor. The same one, in fact, that Tesla used in their previous Roadster model. A 3-phase, 4-pole motor generates a rotating electrical field at approximately one-fourth the frequency of the AC power supply. This technology was actually discovered by the company’s namesake, innovator Nikola Tesla.
There is an important designation here, because there are plenty of DIY electric car conversions out there that use a DC motor. DC motors are cheaper, but an AC motor places greater emphasis on performance, is safer, more simple to install and more adaptable to moving at different speeds. If a DC motor blows, it’s very likely to leave your converted car in a pile of burned wires. If an AC motor fails, the engine simply fails. No flames. No wonder, then, that the 85 kWh version will run you between $84,900 and $97,900. That’s the price of technology these days, but it’s also the price of whisper-quiet, zero emissions supercar performance.
Back to those 7,000 batteries. Panasonic supplied the lithium-ion cells for the Model S, which uses them as a flat part of the platform (rather than literally piecing thousands of laptop batteries together, like the Roadster did) to increase stability and balance. The cells are also liquid-cooled, constantly monitored to cool or warm the batteries so that they’re always operating at peak performance (and not exploding).
The cells connect to cathodes (electronic conductors through which current flows out) made of nickel-cobalt-aluminum. The most powerful kind of cathods are cobalt dioxide, but these are expensive as all hell and tend to – you guessed it – blow up. A nickel-cobalt-managanese setup lowers the cost, and makes it possible to tune for greater range or performance. Tesla elected to replace the manganese with aluminum, making it even more affordable.
Those cathodes send power to the wheels, which move an extremely lightweight all-aluminum body and high-strength steel frame through the air at just a 0.24 drag coefficient – the lowest of any production car. Full electric power with that kind of weight savings and drag comes out to about 89 MPGe and a 265-mile range. Does that make the 2013 Tesla Model S the car of the year? We’ll leave that up to you, but no matter what you think, you have to admit its technology is truly something to admire.
Thanks for readingPop The Hood, a weeklyautoMedia.comfeature that examines the industry’s latest innovations and what makes them tick. If you enjoyed this column, check out these past entries in our Pop The Hood archive.
AutoMedia – Tesla Model S
- Model S – 40 kWh ($49,900)
- Model S – 60 kWh ($59,900)
- Model S – 85 kWh ($69,900)
- Model S Performance – 85 kWh ($84,900)
- Model S Signature – 85 kWh ($87,900)
- Model S Signature Performance – 85 kWh ($97,900)
Build Your 2013 Tesla Model S
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Boeing 787 Dreamliner
He has his eyes on space, and is changing the world of automobiles with his Tesla electric cars–but now Elon Musk is offering a hand to Boeing, too.
The Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] CEO tweeted Saturday that he was in talks with the chief engineer of Boeing’s Dreamliner 787 aircraft, currently grounded after a series of problems.
Reuters reports that Musk has offered lithium-ion battery packs from his SpaceX rocket program to Boeing, whose GS Yuasa-designed packs have caused a series of fires–thankfully, none of which have caused any injuries.
Boeing’s 787 is one of the most advanced airliners in the world, made from composites to save weight, and using lithium-ion batteries to power electronics and as a backup, rather than powering them from engine load–saving fuel.
Unfortunately, the several packs have overheated, leading the FAA to ground the 50 aircraft in service until changes can be made to ensure the aircraft’s safety.
As we noted a few weeks back, the packs used are of a different chemistry to those used in electric cars, and aircraft batteries present a unique series of challenges–so lithium-ion batteries on their own aren’t solely to blame. That said, the lithium-ion cobalt chemistry used in the Dreamliner isn’t dissimilar from that used in Tesla’s first electric vehicle, the Roadster.
According to Business Insider, the Japanese transport ministry has found no issue with GS Yuasa’s batteries–and investigations are still ongoing into how the issues started.
In an email, Musk told Reuters, “We fly high capacity lithium ion battery packs in our rockets and spacecraft, which are subject to much higher loads than commercial aircraft and have to function all the way from sea level air pressure to vacuum. We have never had a fire in any production battery pack at either Tesla or SpaceX.”
Boeing has declined to comment on the matter, or confirm whether such talks were taking place.
With the holidays fast approaching and enthusiasts planning road trips to visit family and friends, we’ve put together this list of the top 10 coolest road trip cars with 400 hp or more that can accommodate at least four full-size adults. From four-wheel-drive SUVs for those who may traverse deep snow to rear-drive sedans and a wagon for those whose travels will feature sunshine and dry roads, we’ve got the field covered for drivers who demand 400 hp or more.
Click through to read our picks for the top 10 road trip cars with 400 horsepower or more and room for four.
Audi, Crossover/SUV, Dodge, Features, Hybrid Car/EV, Hyundai, Land Rover, Luxury Car, Sedan, Tesla, Top 10 Lists
We Hear: Ferrari’s Next Supercar Could Weigh Just 2425 Pounds, Produce 800 HP
By Jason Udy
Tesla Motors claims that the New York Times faked a Model S road test to slam the EV proved to be accurate, after the company released eloquent driving logs.
Tesla's data release comes just two days after New York Times' John Broder said the Model S ran out of juice after only 200 miles, below the range advertised by the electric car company.
Elon Musk's counterattack, which revolved around Broder not driving the car according to its specification and thus lying about its mile range, was backed today by the release of the vehicle's logs, which prove the New York Times editor's review is not based on real facts.
From the charts you can see in our photo gallery section it's quite clear that not only Broder didn't charge the car properly, but he also tried to drain the battery by driving around a parking lot! Furthermore, he lied about turning off the heat and running at just 54 mph in order to conserve battery life. The logs show the heat was on all the time, while the average speed was over 70 mph.
His second recharge was yet another lie. Despite running into reserve power (the car never actually ran out of battery as stated by the author), he deliberately stopped charging at 72 percent, while reporting, erroneously again, a 11 minute longer recharging time.
Being that as it may, we are anxiously waiting to see how The New York Times will reply to Musk's report, who look more accurate than the Model S review in question.
❐ Check out the Tesla New York Times logs photo gallery
Hard to believe we’d ever be reporting this story, let alone in 2013, but apparently Tesla has sold more units of its Model S than Mercedes, BMW, or Audi did of its respective flagship sedans in the first quarter of the year.
Tesla “delivered 4,750 cars in the first quarter, more than the BMW 7-series (2,338), the Mercedes-Benz S Class (3,077), the Audi A8 (1,462) or the Lexus LS (2,860),” according to an Austin Business Journal report.
Let’s be perfectly, clear, however. Tesla has in no way shape or form outsold Audi, Mercedes or BMW as a brand but rather on a comparable model basis.
Surprising us further, only one automaker’s flagship luxury sedan outdid the Model S: Cadillac’s XTS.
This is surprising to us for two reasons: The XTS isn’t remarkably good nor would we really lump it in with the S-Class, the 7 Series, or the A8. Each of those models is higher priced and far nicer than the Caddy.
Regardless of our niggling issues with the report, we’re ecstatic that Tesla has hit such a sales mark, and so quickly.
If Tesla can pump out several other models alongside the Model S and still retain this kind of momentum, we’ll be even more impressed.
By Nick Jaynes
Tesla, amongst its many EV innovations, has a series of fast-charging stations called “Superchargers.” Currently, these chargers allow for nearly 100-kilowatt charging for the Tesla Model S but are only offered in California and the well-traveled corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C. Tesla owners can juice up their sleek rides in about an hour.
That is all about to change, however.
Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk announced Thursday morning in a conference call that the upstart EV brand would be upping Supercharger power output to 120kw and expand the network across the country to every major metropolis and many well-traveled roadways – all by the end of the year. This year.
120kw rate means a standard 60kw Model S owner get a 2/3rds charge in around 20 minutes, “roughly the same amount of time drivers would want to stop on a road trip anyway,” Musk pointed out.
A 20-minute charge might seem slow to a gasoline-powered vehicle owner but, in comparison to other EVs currently on the market, it’s virtual light speed.
Excitingly, Musk says Model S owners will soon be able to make a trip from New York to LA all on the Supercharger network. In fact, he plans to make that trip with his kids in the near future.
Tesla will also offer use of the Superchargers to Tesla owners for free – for life. This means, aside from food and entertainment, Tesla road trips will cost drivers nothing. How flipping cool is that?
We’re big fans of road trips and of Tesla. We wonder how many we’d have to take before the Model S would pay for itself in saved fuel costs. Hmm…
By Nick Jaynes
Elon Musk has published a thorough blog countering some of the results in a recently published, controversial Tesla Model S review in The New York Times. The review has received plenty of attention, and this week Musk prepared his reply — complete with charts to illustrate his points — on Tesla’s site.
The controversy began when Tesla approached Broder to evaluate a Model S (with an 85 kilowatt-hour battery that provides 265 miles of EPA-rated range) and two new charging stations installed in Newark, Delaware and in Milford, Connecticut. These stations are 200 miles apart and include the company’s new Supercharger, which can recharge batteries at a much faster rate than a typical charging unit (Tesla says the Supercharger can provide up to 150-160 miles of range in just 30 minutes).
In fact, in a February 12 update, Broder says the test was intended to evaluate the Supercharger network on the East Coast, not the Model S, explaining why he didn’t plug in the car overnight in Connecticut.
“This evaluation was intended to demonstrate its practicality as a ‘normal use,’ no-compromise car, as Tesla markets it. Now that Tesla is striving to be a mass-market automaker, it cannot realistically expect all 20,000 buyers a year (the Model S sales goal) to be electric-car acolytes who will plug in at every Walmart stop,” Broder wrote.
Broders Tesla Model S speed log 300×187 image
Broder’s trip began at the Delaware station with 242 miles of range (he was unaware of a “max charge” feature that would’ve topped the battery off at 265 miles). He claims to have experienced fluctuations in the battery’s claimed range, which may have
been affected by the colder temperatures. Still, Broder claims to have properly charged the battery, drove at reasonable speeds, and even reduced the cabin temperature, all in an attempt to increase range. In the end, however, Broder says he ran out of charge before reaching Connecticut, and the Model S was consequently towed to the charging station.
Since then, Tesla has compared Broder’s account to the data log from the Model S test car he drove. Earlier this week, Musk published an extensive blog with that data, which points out a number of claimed discrepancies in the highway speeds at which Broder said he was traveling, charging times, as well as possible errors in his article’s math. Musk also suggested the evaluation was a lost battle for Tesla in the first place, pointing to a March 2012 article by Broder in which he says “the state of the electric car is dismal.”
Check out Musk’s full February 13 blog here, and Broder’s February 12 follow-up here.
Source: NY Times, Tesla Motors
When the Governor of California attends an event, you know it’s something big! Yesterday, June 22nd, will remain in automotive history as a grand day: the day the Tesla Model S was officially launched. All speakers who took part in the event called it the best car in the world, then the best sedan, then the first luxury sedan powered solely by electricity – we honestly hope they got those all correct.
There was a real sense of pride amongst the Tesla workers, as people like CEO Elon Musk, California Gov. Jerry Brown, Model S designer Franz von Holzhausen praised the car, while the workers cheered in the background. Who wouldn’t want a luxury sedan that can seat up to seven people (two of which have to be kids), with a range comparable to a normal car’s (in the top spec version, at least), and a sub six-second (sub five-sec in the top spec) 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time, while controlling all the car’s functions from a gargantuan 17-inch touch-sensitive display – while that last part may not be the most practical solution, as you always have to look before you press, it’s still awesome to behold.
The event also marked the start of customer deliveries, with the first three cars being delivered to their owner’s doorsteps, in an attempt to “make them smile”. Two cars went to Chicago and one stayed in California, while the rest were picked up by their owners from the factory, being part of the launch ceremony.Now, after this grand launch, it’s time to see these cars we’ve heard so much about, on the road, doing their thing, quietly and cleanly.
The Roadster Sport is a $19,500 upgrade package to the basic $110,950 Tesla Roadster. The differences: new drivetrain software and a hand-wound stator in the Sport’s 375-volt AC induction motor with higher winding density and lower resistance, bumping the motor’s torque from 273 pound-feet to 295. Horsepower is now 288 for both base and Sport models. In the suspension, remote-reservoir shocks offer 10 stiffness settings and three positions for the anti-roll bars. Black, forged alloy wheels wear stickier Yokohama Advan A048s.
Is the Sport Worth It?
The Sport picks off the 60-mph mark 0.1 second quicker than the base Roadster, or in four seconds flat. This may be the most expensive 0.1 second of your life, though the Sport also demonstrates a reduced tendency for its air-cooled motor to overheat while jet-whining to high speed. It’s firmly, er, grounded and changes direction with the merest palm impulses. But at the limit, the steering turns slack under acceleration as the front axle goes light and loses bite. It won’t lay a patch owing to the control software, and in the middle setting, the shocks are tolerably soft. The Sport looks extreme, but it still works best as an errand-running pussycat. All Roadsters now have a fancier center console.
What’s the Cost?
The base Sport runs $130,450, though this example was a staggering $155,850 due to optional equipment. If you’ve stopped breathing, at least you’re not emitting CO2.
POWERTRAIN: AC permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor; 288 hp, 295 lb-ft; 1-speed direct drive
EPA CITY/HIGHWAY: 29/32 kWh per 100 miles
C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 4.0 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 12.9 sec @ 102 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 178 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.90 g
View Photo Gallery
2012 Tesla Model S
It all began with a late-night tweet two weeks ago by Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk.
In it, he announced that Tesla would unveil its much-discussed Supercharger network of dedicated quick-charging stations–usable only by 2012 Tesla Model S drivers–on September 24.
Well, today’s the day.
And this evening, the world can watch to learn details of a device that, Musk says, “will feel like alien spaceships landed at highway rest stops.”
Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] will reveal not only the looks and details of the Supercharger, but also its deployment plans, in a webcast tonight from an event that starts at 7:30 Pacific (10:30 pm Eastern).
Starting at 8 pm Pacific (11 pm Eastern), you can watch a webcast of the Supercharger event online.
It calls tonight’s event, to be held at the company’s Design Studio in Hawthorne, California, not an unveiling or a launch but a “Premiere.”
The announcement, it should be noted, appears to have caught Tesla’s communications staff slightly off guard. Rumor has it they first learned of today’s date via Musk’s tweet.
The need for quick charging has to do with the large lithium-ion battery packs of the Model S variants. The 85-kilowatt-hour pack would take 12 hours or more to recharge fully using a conventional 240-Volt, Level 2 charging station.
Thus far, here’s what we know about the Supercharger:
- The 90-kilowatt charging station is said to add as much as 150 miles of range to a Model S in half an hour
- The unique charging connector on the 2012 Tesla Model S accepts both Level 2 AC charging and Supercharger DC quick-charging over the same set of pins
- Last year, Tesla confirmed it would build a Supercharger corridor between the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles
2012 Tesla Model S Charging Connector
For more beyond that, tune in to tonight’s event.
If past events, including the first public showing of the Model S prototype and the unveiling of the Model X crossover concept early this year, are any indication, the event will follow a set format.
It will have questionable lighting for photography, hordes of fans and reporters crowded into roped-off areas, and a lot of tired-looking Tesla employees applauding enthusiastically.
Again, the URL for the webcast is: http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger
We’ll provide a rundown of the details and the event later in the week.