Archives for June 23rd, 2013

Tesla Roadster Receives Upgrades for 2012 [Photo Gallery]



The Tesla Roadster is approaching the end of its life cycle fast, but this hasn’t stopped the company from introducing a series of minor updates for the 2012 model, which come to make the driving experience more pleasant.

This is the last edition of the electric sports car, with the vehicle only being offered in Europe, Asia and Australia. In case you are wondering about the availability, Tesla said that the upgraded Roadsters will be sold “while they last”.

Here is the full list of changes for this year:

• Exclusive encore colors – Cosmic Black, Galactic Gray and Magma Orange – with new, complimentary interior colors
• A rear snow cover and improved motor and inverter systems for even better performance in snow and ice
• Improved air conditioning for driver comfort in the hottest months
• Xenon headlamps ideal for rural night driving
• Enhanced front windscreen seals to make the cabin even quieter
• Two new Mobile Connectors available for charging in Europe and Japan
• The Tesla IEC Type 2 (Mennekes) Mobile Connector enables charging from Type 2 stations and outlets, the most common EV charging infrastructure in Europe
• The J1772 Mobile Connector enables charging from a developing infrastructure of public J1772 charge stations in Japan

"The Tesla Roadster is the first and only of its kind: an electric sports car with exhilarating performance, zero emissions and gorgeous looks," said Tesla Vice President of Communications, Ricardo Reyes. "This latest version embodies Tesla's commitment to constant improvement. These Roadsters are our best ever."

Check out the Tesla Roadster 2012 photo gallery

By Andrei Tutu

Bet With Auto Writer Dan Neil May Lead Tesla CEO to Donate $1 Million to Charity

Bet With Auto Writer Dan Neil May Lead Tesla CEO to Donate $1 Million to Charity

A wager between two prominent figures in the auto industry may lead to a $1 million donation to international medical charity Doctors Without Borders, according to Detroit Free Press. The parties involved in the bet: Tesla CEO and multimillionaire Elon Musk and renowned automotive journalist Dan Neil of the Wall Street Journal. Formed through a series of oral and email exchanges, the bet reportedly revolves around Tesla meeting its production and pricing goals for the highly-anticipated Model S electric sedan.

As giants in their respective fields – Musk, an EV entrepreneur; and Neil, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning automotive scribe – a bet between the two heavyweights was bound to draw attention at some point. Detroit Free Press reports that Neil wagered that Tesla could not stick to the proposed schedule for the launch of its Model S, and also wouldn’t be able to offer the electric car at the claimed price. If Musk does manage to deliver the Model on time and at the previously announced price, the bet would require Neil to cough up $1000. If Tesla can’t meet its goals, the amount of cash on the line for Musk would be $1 million.

Though hands were never shaken on the matter, it seems the bet is still on, with perhaps a few modifications to the original stakes. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Musk said, “I will put the car out and give $1 million to Doctors Without Borders.” Confident that he can meet his company’s goals and still afford to give generously to charity, Musk continued, “I don’t really need a bet to give money away. I have a foundation that gives away money every year. I think Doctors Without Borders is a good cause, so sure, I will do this. Dan should chip in $1000, too.”

“I’m still game if Elon is,” said Neil to Detroit Free Press, regarding the wager. Neither of the two betters seems particularly worried about losing, but Musk is especially determined to meet his goals, going so far as to invite 3000 customers to see prototypes of the Model S at Tesla’s plant in Fremont, Calif. The event is intended to give customers a feel for what the Model S can do, and will allow them to sample the car’s acceleration, handling, and fit and finish. Musk says the prototypes will be virtually indistinguishable from their production counterparts, utilizing the same stamped aluminum body parts. Musk also maintains that Tesla is on track for the Model S’ mid-2012 delivery target.

Regardless of who wins and who has to pay up, in the end, the money should go toward a good cause. But with such lofty goals set for the Model S, including an anticipated starting price of $57,400 – minus a $7500 federal tax credit – for an electric luxury sedan that gets upwards of 160 miles per charge, we can see how Neil could bet money against Tesla’s plans.

Source: Detroit Free Press

By Alex Nishimoto

Tesla Model S Owner’s Top 11 Favorite Things – Includes Acceleration Runs [Video]



As we had previously reported, people love the Tesla Model S. But the people who love it the most are the lucky few to have gotten the very first deliveries. One of those lucky few, is entrepreneur Konstantin Othmer, who is the owner of a Model S Signature Performance version.

He has made a video highlighting the 11 things he loves most about his car – including the fact that it actually ‘goes to 11’. He does a walk-around of the car, as well as some minor practicality tests and a few acceleration runs, from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in just 4.4 seconds. Such brutal acceleration can only be matched by a handful of more expensive (and polluting) German sedans – BMW M5, Audi RS6, E63 AMG and the likes.

We will not spoil the video for you, but we suggest that you take a good look at the Model S’ door handles. They are definitely the coolest door handles of any car on sale today. We greatly appreciate this video as it shows that the Model S is working well and making people happy, and burning no oil in the process – it’s a win-win situation!

By Andrei Nedelea

MotoGP's 4 Horsemen: Pedrosa vs. Marquez vs. Lorenzo vs. Rossi vs. the World



It's only a few days before a new MotoGP season starts, with the first race of 2013 to be held under the desert sun of Qatar. There are many things which have happened since the end of the 2012 and during the winter tests… but only one question: how will this season be?

While nobody is able to offer a clear answer to this (altogether) recurring question, few considerations should be made just before the kick-off green light. It's no secret that the 2013 championship is a 4-name business, so let's check these horsemen out.

For many analysts and MotoGP fans, the Repsol Honda team looks like the favorite one for this year's title, but whether it's going to be Dani Pedrosa or Marc Marquez, nobody can tell. With Casey Stoner gone, this year could probably mean Dani's best shot at a world title, and we know that he knows it, too.

If we look back at the 2012 season, Pedrosa seems like being in the best shape he's ever been in MotoGP. He has won no less than 6 races in the second half of the last season and finished on the second place, but the tests at Sepang, Circuit of the Americas and Jerez saw a faster bike and seemingly a more focused, more confident rider.

And, speaking of confidence, Pedrosa didn't even race on the third day at Jerez, as he declared the bike was just as it should be, and he enjoyed its every aspect. And then he went home, as if there was no championship ahead.

Even more, Pedrosa is highly motivated by knowing that Rossi is still not fully acquainted with the YZR-M1 bike, and this might work to Honda's advantage in a very convenient way. Adding the fact that Pedrosa is still without a world title in the MotoGP can really boost his efforts.
MotoGP rookie extraordinaire Marc Marquez MotoGP rookie extraordinaire Marc MarquezDani Pedrosa - Repsol Honda Dani Pedrosa – Repsol HondaJorge Lorenzo -  Yamaha Jorge Lorenzo – YamahaOn the other hand, his team mate, Marc Marquez, is the new rookie extraordinaire: reigning champion of the Moto2 series, the young Spaniard astonished everyone with his amazing speed during his first official test aboard a MotoGP machine at Sepang.

Sticking close to Pedrosa and being consistently faster than both Yamaha riders, Marquez lapped great times at Sepang and proved that he can really ride, despite his obvious lack of experience. We like a lot to hear him say that simply being fast during a lap is, of course, very nice, but he's focusing on honing his skills and try to add consistent riding to his speed.

Yamaha attended Honda's private tests at the COTA, but Marquez has been unbeatable on American ground: he had the best laps, even better than Pedrosa's, and he was once more faster than the Team Blue machines.

Pedrosa was there not necessarily for being fast, but he raced in Austin to finely tune some settings and it seems like he got what he wanted. Yamaha stayed in Texas for the first two of the three rounds, checked some new tweaks and called it a day. And on the third day, Marquez was even faster, conveying an even stronger “I can ride fast” message to the rest of the riders and teams.

However, Marc Marquez is still a rookie, and we saw that in Jerez. Setting the rainy, inclement weather aside, Marquez started to realize this was no dream, and emotions caught up on him.

Marquez' slower laps at Jerez had nothing to do with rain: it was all about an official test on Spanish asphalt and the fact that he realized how close his actual debut in the world's top racing series was. We can only hope that the mistakes he will surely make will not be major ones and will not cause serious consequences. Every rookie makes them, so it's not a matter of “if,” but one of “when” and “how bad.”

So much for the winged team, let's take a look at the three tuning forks. Yamaha has fared well during the last seasons: they've got a good bike which is getting better and better, a reigning champion and their rider duo is quite a reputable one.

Jorge Lorenzo is looking forward to his third world title. Seriously, he is. He knows he is good, and we know he can do it. In Lorenzo's case, one of the best things is his lack of inhibition: he's not intimidated by all the hype Rossi's return to Yamaha caused.

Most likely, Lorenzo is quite reassured with his exceptional last 3 seasons, out of which he won 2. He knows Rossi is huge, but he's seeing the Doctor as a team mate. Not necessarily looking up to him and, by all means, not looking down on him, either – Rossi may, of course, become Lorenzo's rival at one point in 2013, but these two are team mates.

Lorenzo really looks and acts like a rider who knows what he's doing. He's not entirely happy with the bike, not the way Pedrosa says he was at Jerez, and he's not afraid to talk about this openly. His mechanics managed to set up the chassis the right way, and have even mended the small braking inconsistencies.

Still, Lorenzo knows Hondas are faster and better, and the fact that he acknowledges this is working to his advantage. Hondas are a just a bit faster, but it's at the end of the turn where the fractions of a second are won – the wings' acceleration is better than what the tuning forks can come up with, at least for the moment.

And knowing this, Jorge Lorenzo will try to compensate: he can be extremely focused and strategic, and he has proven this, in the last three seasons… adding in the info in the first races and tweaking his team will do can better his riding, and this small increment might prove enough for the title.
Valentino Rossi - Yamaha Valentino Rossi – YamahaNicky Hayden - Ducati Nicky Hayden – DucatiAndrea Dovizioso - Ducati Andrea Dovizioso – DucatiLorenzo's team mate needs little introduction: to put it bluntly, if Valentino Rossi wins the 2013 MotoGP, he's reaching Giacomo Agostini's performance and this speaks for itself. However, Rossi comes after two long and frustrating years aboard Ducati bikes.

Long, frustrating, fruitless years with no wins, trying to understand a bike which was obviously no match for the competition. Now, back with Yamaha, Rossi rides a different beast: the M1 is no Ducati and he is no longer the one bringing a spoon to a knife fight. So talk about motivation…

Rossi managed to be faster than Lorenzo during days 2 and 3 of the Jerez tests… but only barely faster, with a 15 thousandths of a second lead. Even so, with the inclement weather in Spain, some say that these results lack the proper relevance, since nobody was able to race as hard as they wanted.

His expertise in MotoGP is a huge advantage, for him and for Yamaha as well, and this might be the dawn of a new era in the history of the Team Blue. From where we stand now, it looks like Rossi is more motivated than Lorenzo: it's the historic number of world titles, the chance to win the new championship with the old team right from the very first year aboard a Yamaha bike, proving he's still the king, and so on.

The only thing missing is that knack which has to be synced with the new bike. If he can do this syncing, we're in for a great show!

Finally, Ducati and the CRT teams. The Borgo Panigale team is in its first full season under Audi ownership, it has replaced its ex-racing director Preziosi with Gobmeier of BMW fame, and has taken a different path in bike-testing.

Both the works and the Pramac Ducati teams have the same bikes and are gathering data from 4 riders, hoping to accelerate the development process. However, it was only after they added a top-notch test rider, Michele Pirro they started to see better results.

The new chassis, in development for such a long time already, needs mass centralization, the Ducati riders said. The team did so and laps became faster; not a match for Honda and Yamaha, but way better than what we saw during the first test at Sepang.

Will they be able to even get a podium in the first half of the 2013 season? Under normal conditions, we'd rather say they won't. But Pirro is riding the lab bike some call the “GP14,” and at some point we could see a GP13.5 machine blending in the new results.

If this happens and the Ducatis start showing their teeth, then it's game on. If not, we will most likely have to wait until Valencia or the first 2014 tests and hope for the best.

As for the April 7 race in Qatar, here's a nice piece on what Carlo Pernat thinks, in a way, a much condensed version of this story. We've just checked with the MotoGP website, and at the time of writing it showed 05 days, 23 hours, 45 minutes and 15 seconds until the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar.

Vroom, vrooom?

By Florin Tibu

Video Find: Tesla Model S Alpha Triplets Play on the Track

Video Find: Tesla Model S Alpha Triplets Play on the Track

Peter Rawlinson, Tesla’s vice president of vehicle engineering, has given a tutorial in series of videos on the electric Model S sedan, in which he highlights the aluminum structure, the rear suspension system, and the battery pack that ultimately makes the electric luxury sedan so unique. But this alpha testing video isn’t just another tutorial – we finally get to see Model S triplets in action as they hit the test track.

These playful Beta cars mean Tesla has finally moved onto the second development stage of the electric sedan, and with plans to start production in the second quarter of 2012, let’s hope testing continues to go as smoothly as it does in the video.

The Model S has been the center of the electric hype, and more than 3000 reservations have been placed for the sedan so far in North American and Europe. When it goes on sale, it will start at $57,000 (before a $7500 federal tax credit)  for the 160-mile range battery pack – a 230-mile pack will run buyers $67,000, and the 300-mile range Model S will start at a cool $77,000.

With its third row – the first in a sedan – the Model S may pose a serious threat to the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class, and the Porsche Panamera. But unfortunately, we can’t really see the interior in this video, which leaves how any person, or child, will fit back there, a mystery.

Source: Tesla Motors

By Karla Sanchez

TOTD: Would You Ever Consider Buying an Electric Car?

TOTD: Would You Ever Consider Buying an Electric Car?

With automakers introducing electric cars that push the envelope in terms of styling and performance, the tailpipe-emissions-free cars are starting to become more acceptable. Take, for example, the stunning Tesla Model S, which won our 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year. Audi’s e-tron concept is also proof that an electric car doesn’t have to look like the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. So what would it take for you to consider buying an electric car?

audi e tron front three quarters driver 3 300x187 imageElectrification has even spread to the world of motorsports, with the very first Formula E race scheduled for 2014. Quick chargers are also becoming more advanced, so getting a full charge won’t be as much of a hassle if the charing station isn’t taken by another electric car driver. Even so, electric cars have a long way to go before they’re perceived in a more positive light by most consumers.

For today’s TOTD, we want to know what it would take for an electric car to work for you. If popular concerns such as charging time, range, prices, and acceleration were addressed, would you ever replace your gas-powered car with an electric one? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks to RedChocobo for today’s TOTD.

By Karla Sanchez

Tesla's company-owned stores create controversy

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

Shopping at the mall is a much more pleasant experience than schlepping to a car dealer, which is why Tesla Motors decided to sell its electric cars exclusively through Apple Store-like retailers in America’s consumer temples. Now, Tesla is under fire because the company-owned stores violate certain state franchise laws, Automotive News reports.

In some states, including Tesla’s home state of California, manufacturer ownership of dealers is restricted or outright illegal. That’s why nearly every car dealer in the United States is an independently owned franchise that buys its merchandise from the factory.

The rules vary state to state. In California, manufacturer-owned dealerships aren’t technically illegal, but they cannot be within 10 miles of an independent dealer. In New York, where Tesla opened its first retail store earlier this year, manufacturer-owned dealerships are completely illegal.

Consequently, Tesla is attracting heat from dealer associations and one state government. On September 28, the Illinois Secretary of State’s office told the company that its listing of CEO Elon Musk as the owner of a Chicago store was a violation of state law.

Dealer associations in New York, Massachusetts, and Oregon are also complaining, saying that the Tesla stores represent unfair competition. They are also afraid that mainstream carmakers will try to open their own dealers if Tesla is successful.

“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, executive vice president of the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, told Automotive News.

Manufacturers do like the idea of owning their dealerships. Last year, Chrysler opened Motor Village in Los Angeles to sell Fiats. However, a California DMV investigation found that it was in violation of the state’s 10-mile rule, and Chrysler sold the store to a local franchisee.

George Blankenship, Tesla vice president of sales and the mastermind behind the Apple Store, said the EV manufacturer is in compliance with all local laws.

“If we can’t be a dealer in a mall, we won’t do reservations onsite. We tell people where to go on our website to make a reservation,” Blankenship said.

When Tesla first unveiled its mall store concept, Blankenship said the company was looking for more publicity than sales. The stores are bound to attract curious shoppers, but serious buyers will have to leave the mall to take a test drive, and there is a no-haggle policy on the cars, which start at $57,400.

Tesla owners will not be going back to the mall for servicing, either. That will take place at a separate service center.

Tesla currently has 17 stores in 10 states and the District of Columbia, with another six scheduled to open soon.

By Stephen Edelstein

Ignore The NY Times; Does Tesla Model S Own Silicon Valley Already?

2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

Yes, there’s a big imbroglio going on right now over an article in The New York Times, followed by some tweets (1, 2, and 3) from Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk contradicting it.

We’re ignoring that, for the moment.

Instead, we’re bringing you an idea that made us chuckle.

That idea is that the Tesla Model S has already beaten the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S Class among buyers of $100,000 luxury sport sedan in one very important market.

That market is Silicon Valley.

It’s where Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] is headquartered, where Stanford University opened its doors in 1891, where much of this country’s technological innovation since 1960 has arisen.

The source for this rather broad claim is a very, very unrepresentative survey done by electric-car advocate and analyst Anton Wahlman, who writes regularly for The Street.

His article essentially says that he sees at least a dozen Tesla Model S cars a day in the heart of Silicon Valley, but in “a month or two” of careful observation, he’s seen exactly zero new S Classes or 7-Series.

Because our parent company, High Gear Media, is located there as well, we can confirm from first-hand experience that there are increasing numbers of Model Ses on the streets.

We have a few caveats, though.

There are also older S Class and 7-Series cars around, if not brand-new ones. But those full-size models have never been the big sedan sellers for Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

Tesla opening second store in Silicon Valley as production ramps up

Tesla opening second store in Silicon Valley as production ramps up

Enlarge Photo

The higher-volume cars are the mid-size E Class and 5-Series cars, which start at about half the $100,000 price Wahlman uses for his “analysis”.

We doubt he’ll be able to make the same claim about the $60,000 and $70,000 versions of the Model S against the smaller German sedans.

Wahlman is careful to note that Silicon Valley has the right climate for plug-in electric cars, and an eager desire for the latest and newest in technology–including in its cars.

But there’s a case to be made that as Silicon Valley goes, so goes (some of) the rest of the nation later on.

The Toyota Prius was popular in California long before it succeeded nationally and became Toyota’s third-best selling car line.

What do you think: Is the Tesla Model S a viable competitor to German luxury sport sedans?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.

Oh, and about that New York Times article? We’ll have more on that too. Stay tuned.

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By John Voelcker

Tesla Pondering High-Performance Electric Truck



Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said the company is looking to build a new facility in Texas and could develop an electric pickup truck in the future.

“When we do establish a manufacturing plant outside of California, Texas would be a leading candidate for that,” said Musk, who is now fighting for new laws to allow Tesla to sell its vehicles directly to consumers. “If we are allowed to go direct, I think we would make Texas on par with California,” he added.

According to Musk, a second plant could allow Tesla to develop additional models, including an advanced, high-performance electric pickup truck.

“I have this idea for a really advanced electric truck that has the performance of a sports car but actually more towing power and more carrying capacity than a gasoline or diesel truck of comparable size. That could be really cool, and I think that would probably make sense to do that at a new plant,” Musk said, adding that such a vehicle won’t arrive in the next four or five years.

Tesla Motors’ only plant is located in Fremont, California and was opened in October 2010.

Story via AutomotiveNews

By Ciprian Florea

TAG Heuer Tesla Roadster Embarks on 24,000-Mile World Road Trip

TAG Heuer Tesla Roadster Embarks on 24,000-Mile World Road Trip

Missed seeing the TAG Heuer Tesla Roadster in person at the Geneva motor show? You may still have a chance to do so, as the car is about to embark on a 24,000-mile, eight-month drive around the world.

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Dubbed the “Odyssey of Pioneers,” the trip will be the first of its kind. Sure, EVs have made road trips before (in fact, a Roadster Sport recently made the trek from Los Angeles to Detroit), but never before has a zero emissions vehicle completed such a task. The car is poised to visit some 15 major cities and at least 150 smaller towns during the course of its journey.

The Roadster won’t be specially prepared for the journey. First shown at the Geneva motor show, the TAG Heuer car is primarily a cosmetic enhancement of the stock Roadster Sport. Apart from green and red mirrors, a swoopy grey paint scheme, and a special edition watchpiece mounted inside the car, the car is untouched.

The car is scheduled to embark on its first leg tomorrow, traveling 53 miles from Basel to Zurich in a convoy formed by 20 other Swiss Tesla owners. With a range of approximately 150 miles, the car will need to be charged nightly, which may create some issues in some remote parts of the world.

The journey is expected to take approximately eight months, and should it make it to Paris come October, it’ll be the star at a huge celebration.

Source: Tesla

By Steve Diehlman