Archives for June 19th, 2013
Concurrent with its legislative battle in Texas for its right to have factory-direct dealerships, the California-based electric car maker received some welcome news in the form of ruling from the New York state supreme court, in which a justice ruled that franchised dealers could not prove sufficient injury from the presence of Tesla’s factory-owned stores, Automotive News reports.
Naturally, the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association voiced its displeasure at the ruling, claiming Tesla’s factory-owned model is “clearly prohibited” by state franchise dealer law. The dealer association has not yet said whether it will appeal the case, or seek recourse by other means. Tesla currently operates three stores and two service centers in the state.
The fear of state dealership associations across the country is that an exemption granted to Tesla would open the door to existing automakers to circumvent the independent franchise model and start opening factory-owned stores in competition with independently-owned dealerships. Franchise laws vary from state-to-state, from outright prohibition, to non-compete language preventing factory-owned stores from opening within a specified distance from an independent franchise.
Chrysler was forced to sell its Motor Village concept store in Los Angeles, after area dealers petitioned the DMV, alleging violations of state franchise law. Tesla’s case is unique in that it is creating a network of new stores for an all-new brand, not opening new outlets for an existing brand.
Source: Automotive News (subscription required)
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When the name Tesla Roadster Sport was penciled in next to the new Porsche Boxster Spyder, I paused. The sorts of things that ordinarily differentiate comparison contestants are generally pleasant little trifles — a few more cc here, an unexpected turbocharger there. These alone can keep us chewing for several pages.
So how in heaven do we get our arms around two cars propelled by entirely different energy sources, employing completely different means of power-making?
By considering them simply as…two sports cars. And not a speculation more. Global warming, battery economics, and recharging infrastructure — the whole swarm of peripheral questions presently swirling around electric vehicles — are more expertly answered by our esteemed counterparts at the journal SCIENCE. But how well do these cars perform as sports cars? For that, baby, the MOTOR TREND test team is cracking our knuckles in anticipation.
The name Tesla Roadster Sport was nominated to face the brand-new Porsche Boxster Spyder because the scrappy San Carlos, California, outfit has now officially paid its dues for the invite. Despite a pistol-whipped economy, a popcorn machine of lawsuits (all nicely detailed in the L.A. TIMES Business section), and a Quixotic attempt to make a two-speed transmission withstand the brute torque of an electric motor, Tesla, scarred, singed, and almost surprised to be with us, is still marching forward. As of this writing, 900 Roadsters have been delivered. Venerable Mercedes-Benz has seen enough to purchase a 10-percent stake. And the federal government has spotted Tesla a goggle-eyed $465 million dollar loan to build its next car, the Model S.
The flip side, though, is that with credibility, comes comparisons.
Facing off against our $155,000 (I’m suddenly dizzy) Roadster Sport is a comparably bargain-priced, $62,150 Boxster Spyder. While your basic Tesla Roadster costs $110,950 (including destination charge, but excluding $7500 in potential federal tax credits), the Sport option tacks on another $19,500, buying you a hand-wound stator, helping the motor to produce its peak oomph (288 horsepower) at 600 fewer revs (its torque rises to 295 pound-feet from 273 and, as always with electrics, at zero rpm). Our Sport-spec car also wore black Tesla-original forged alloy wheels wrapped in fly-paper Yokohama Advan tires, paired with three-position-adjustable shocks coupled to 10-setting shock absorbers.
While the Tesla Sport rings in at the 911 Turbo’s rarified price, the Roadster’s specs align better with Zuffenhausen’s new UBER Boxster. Compared with the Boxster S, it’s 176 pounds skinnier via such jettisoned features as A/C, radio, and even conventional doorpulls (replaced by fabric straps) plus added aluminum doors, lightweight sport seats, and feathery 19-inch aluminum wheels. The whole shebang also squats 0.8 inch closer to the tarmac, helped by a short, steeply raked windshield and a minimalist, erector-set top. Deployed, it’s spectacular, with its aft portion being tensioned by fabric flying buttresses that pull it like a toupee to hooks on the sprawling, undulating, one-piece engine cover. Stowed, it evokes the visual ghost of James Dean’s 1955 550 Spyder quite effectively.
Under that vast engine cover is a 320-horsepower edition of the Cayman S mill, though its peak punch isn’t reached until 7200 rpm, a whopping 2800 revs later than the Tesla’s bundle of magnets and wire. This rpm disparity thing gets completely whacko when it comes to torque, as the Boxster’s 273 pound-feet doesn’t occur until 4750 rpm. Those with calculators will find this exactly 4750 higher than the Tesla Sport’s torque peak.
Before you can finish mouthing “what the…,” you’re at 60
mph in 3.7 seconds. Six-tenths of a second sooner than the
Porsche, which has already lost time at its first gearshift.
On the other hand, the Boxster Spyder’s five extra gears make for one of the strangest comparison’s of zero-to-whatever acceleration I’ve had the pleasure to plot. After briefly twisting the ignition switch to its full throw (a request for maximum power), fully compressing the accelerator (this is truly drive-by-wire), and releasing the brake, the Tesla can vanish like the center seats at a 3D “Avatar” showing. Before you can finish mouthing “what the…”, you’re at 60 mph, 3.7 seconds later. Six-tenths of a second sooner than the Porsche, which has already lost time at its first gearshift. With its instantaneous reactions (the motor has minimal inertia and never pauses to suck a breath of air), this could be the worlds’ swiftest utensil for carving up traffic into utter puree. And just when you’re thinking its unexpected 162-pound weight advantage on the “lightweight” Boxster explains it, suddenly…
… the Porsche begins to grow in the mirrors again. The Boxster’s extra gear cogs let it press the acceleration reset button by up to five more times, so that by the quarter mile, it’s rubberbanded back to within biting distance and moving 7.3 mph faster. Were this to continue for several more quarter miles, the Porsche would eventually top out at 166 mph-sans top. Top-up, it’s limited to 125, no more than a brisk walking pace faster than the Tesla.
|2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder||2010 Tesla Roadster Sport|
|Drivetrain layout||Mid engine, RWD||Mid engine, RWD|
|Engine/motor type||Flat-6, aluminum block and heads||375-volt AC air-cooled|
|Valvetrain||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl||N/A|
|Displacement||209.7 cu in/3436 cc||N/A|
|Power (SAE NET)||320 hp @ 7200 rpm*||288 hp @ 4400 rpm|
|Torque (SAE NET)||273 lb-ft @ 4750 rpm*||295 lb-ft @ 0 rpm|
|Redline||7500 rpm||14,000 rpm|
|Weight to power||9.2 lb/hp||9.6 lb/hp|
|Transmission||6-speed manual||1-speed reduction gear|
|Suspension, front; rear||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar||Control arms, adj coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; control arms, adj coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar|
|Brakes, f;r||12.5-in vented disc; 11.8-in vented disc, ABS||11.5-in vented, drilled disc; 11.5-in vented, drilled disc, ABS|
|Wheels, f;r||8.5 x 19-in; 10.0 x 19-in, cast aluminum||6.0 x 16-in; 7.5 x 17-in, forged alloy|
|Tires, f;r||235/35ZR19 87Y; 265/35ZR19 94Y Bridgestone Potenza RE050A||195/50R16 84W; 225/45R17 90W Yokohama ADVAN A048|
|Wheelbase||95.1 in||92.6 in|
|Track, f/r||58.7/60.2 in||57.7/59.0 in|
|Length x width x height||172.1 x 70.9 x 48.5 in||155.4 x 72.9 x 44.4 in|
|Turning circle||36.4 ft||36.3 ft|
|Curb weight||2940 lb||2778 lb|
|Weight dist., f/r||47/53%||35/65%|
|Headroom, f/r||37.6 in||36.7 in|
|Legroom, f/r||41.6 in||42.0 in|
|Shoulder room, f/r||51.5 in||52.0 in|
|Cargo volume||5.3 F/4.6 R cu ft||6.0 cu ft|
|Acceleration to mph|
|0-30||1.6 sec||1.5 sec|
|Passing, 45-65 mph||2.1||1.8|
|Quarter mile||12.7 sec @ 109.9 mph||12.6 sec @ 102.6 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||101 ft||113 ft|
|Lateral acceleration||1.05 g (avg)||0.98 g (avg)|
|MT figure eight||24.2 sec @ 0.84 g (avg)||24.6 sec @ 0.81 g (avg)|
|Top-gear revs @ 60 mph||2500 rpm||6860 rpm|
|Price as tested||$72,570||$155,850|
|Airbags||Dual front, front side||Dual front|
|Basic warranty||4 yrs/50,000 miles||3 yrs/36,000 miles|
|Powertrain warranty||4 yrs/50,000 miles||3 yrs/36,000 miles|
|Roadside assistance||4 yrs/50,000 miles||3 yrs/36,000 miles|
|Fuel capacity||14.3 gal||53 kW-hr (1.6-gal gas equiv)|
|EPA city/hwy econ||19/26 mpg||29/32 kW-hr/100 mi (116/105 mpg equiv)|
|CO2 emissions||0.90 lb/mi||N/A|
|Recommended fuel||Unleaded premium||Electricity|
By Kim Reynolds
Grille – 2012 Audi Q7 quattro 4-door 3.0L TDI Premium
It may be that short sellers and naysayers aren’t the only ones a bit surprised these days at the positive press received by electric-car maker Tesla.
Yesterday, Germany luxury-car maker Audi issued a rather unusual press release in which it pointed out that it sells more cars than Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA].
That’s not particularly a surprise; Audi has made millions of cars, Tesla roughly 10,000 to date.
The Audi release responded to articles on CNNmoney.com and elsewhere on a topic that Green Car Reports had covered a month earlier: Tesla outselling Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz in one specific category of vehicle, the large luxury sedan segment.
Audi argued, correctly, that Tesla was not outselling any of those three German makers in total vehicles. Which is entirely correct–but not what any of the articles had actually said.
The release also noted that Audi makes vehicles across many segments, also true. It goes on to say that Tesla “faces a number of long-term issues that were also noted this week by the American press.”
But now an interesting thing has happened: When we went back to re-read the release on the Audi Progress blog this morning, it was gone. The link generated an error message.
Audi appears to have deleted their own press release (or blog post if you like).
2012 Tesla Model S
Thankfully, AutoblogGreen has the entire release in a story they wrote yesterday noting the unusual tone of the Audi release.
So we’re just going to print the entire release here.
Not so fast to put Tesla on that particular pedestal
Posted on May 17, 2013 2:38 PM
Not so fast
Investors, press and a lot of front-runners are enthusing over the progress of Tesla in selling all-electric vehicles, and doing so profitably, when other EV brands are faltering. But some reports are giving Tesla too much credit.
A headline on CNNMoney.com this week, for instance, said “Tesla sales beating Mercedes, BMW and Audi.”
But the fact is that Tesla’s reported sales of 4,750 units of its Model S electric car in April were less than half of Audi of America sales of 13,157 vehicles in the month, which represented a 16-percent rise from a year earlier. BMW and Mercedes-Benz sold even more than that.
The story’s misleading headline came from the fact that Model S did outsell at least one of each of the German luxury brands’ models that are in the general price range of the Tesla vehicle. Audi A8 sold 1,462 units in the U.S. in April, for instance.
And while Model S is Tesla’s only nameplate at this point, the Audi A8 is the brand’s flagship model and is aimed at consumers in the most exclusive segment of the market. The demand for premium models including the Audi A6, A7 and A8 is growing but remains just one segment for Audi.
The CNNMoney.com story did mention that it wasn’t making a “perfect comparison,” noting that each of the German brands sells “a full range of cars and SUVs” and that pricing of the Tesla S and the comparison models wasn’t apples-to-apples.
To be sure, Tesla has been riding a boom in investor and consumer interest based on its apparent ability crack the code for EV sales with its $70,000-and-up Model S.
But while Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk has raised Model S sales estimates for 2013 to 21,000 units, the brand faces a number of long-term issues that also were noted this week by American press.
“Tesla has to show it can be consistently profitable with a single product that is priced so high that most buyers can’t afford it,” as USA Today put it. “There are questions, too, about whether it can keep its order books full, or whether the number of people who crave electric cars is limited.”
OK, readers, weigh in: What do you think of Audi’s argument … and of the company’s removing the release from its own website?
Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.
After seeing Tesla Motors' driving logs of their Model S review car, the New York Times has finally admitted somewhat of a defeat in their latest press release.
In an official response written by public editor Margaret Sullivan, the New York Times claims that John Broder, the editor who conducted the test in question, "took the test drive in good faith", but did not use "good judgement along the way".
On the other hand, Sullivan holds Elon Musk responsible as well, especially for using the car's driving logs "in the most damaging (and sometimes quite misleading) ways possible".
"We would like to thank Margaret Sullivan and The New York Times for looking into this matter and thoughtfully considering the public evidence, as well as additional evidence provided on background," was Elon Musk's response, in an official press release.
The Tesla CEO added that the company will continue to improve their cars in order to provide long distance travel without battery discharge related issues.
Tesla Model X
Along with the news that Tesla expects to build 80 Model S electric cars this week, CEO Elon Musk also released a few more details of the company’s plans for additional models in 2016.
Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has already said that it will launch the Model X crossover within the next year or so.
That seven-seat crossover utility, complete with roof-hinged “falcon doors,” is to be built on the same basic understructure as the Model S all-electric sport sedan.
Now, Musk told Wired last week, the company’s third vehicle architecture–a smaller, less costly vehicle than those two models–will include not only a sedan, but also a smaller crossover and a sports car.
The sedan is expected to be roughly the size of a BMW 3-Series, so the crossover might logically be comparable to that company’s X3 crossover utility vehicle.
And the sports car effectively replaces Tesla’s very first car, the 2008-2011 Roadster electric two-seat convertible.
The previously announced entry-level sedan, to be a 2015 model, is targeted for a price before incentives of about $30,000.
That’s little more than half the cost of the Model S, which starts at $57,400 but can approach a sticker of $100,000 if the largest battery pack, for the longest range, and other options are selected.
The sedan will actually be a five-door hatchback, as is the Model S, Musk told Wired.
He called it a “scaled-down Model S,” saying it would be “20 to 25 percent smaller” than the current Tesla sedan.
For the moment, though, Tesla has to work through the challenges of scaling up production of the 2012 Model S, the first production car it’s assembled itself, to volumes of 80 cars a day.
First things first … though it’s nice to have a sense of what Tesla would like to do over the next several years.
You can say one thing: Tesla and Musk don’t lack for ambition.