Archives for June 26th, 2013
The Tesla Model S has exceeded sales forecasts, which has helped the company pay back its Department of Energy loans years in advance. To encourage long-distance travel, the automaker is speeding up its plan to install Supercharger charging stations all over the U.S. and today we got a first look at Tesla’s plans.
By the end of next month, the number of operational Supercharger stations will triple, and the company claims that within six months, there will be enough Superchargers to service most major metro areas in North America. A year from now, the company says, Superchargers will provide coverage to 80 percent of the population of North America and 98 percent a year later.
The automaker also announced that new technology will significantly cut charging times. While the chargers at 120 kW are in beta test mode (versus 90 kW currently), the faster chargers will be ready this summer. At 120 kW, Tesla claims it will only take 20 minutes to replenish three hours of driving in the Model S.
Some Tesla Supercharger stations have roof-mounted solar panels (from Musk-owned SolarCity) that are said to pump more electricity back into the grid than what is used to recharge cars. Since the Tesla Supercharger has a unique charger receptacle, the stations can’t charge other EVs. Currently, Model S cars with the 85 kW-hr batteries can recharge for free, while those with the 60 kW-hr model can do the same once they purchase Supercharger capability. Musk says all future Teslas will be capable of using the Superchargers.
So what’s next for Tesla? The company is still kicking around the idea of a sub-$40,000 electric sedan as well as a high-torque electric truck and a second production plant in Texas. Of course, those models would likely arrive after the Model X crossover goes on sale around late 2014 and early 2015.
By Jason Udy
Tesla has announced a new, more affordable way to get behind the wheel of a Model S. Essentially a leasing program, Tesla’s new financing is designed to make it more affordable than ever to buy a Model S. How affordable? Tesla is tossing around a $500-per-month figure with no money down, though that’s with a bit of creative math, which we’ll explain below.
The program, a collaboration with U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, works by having the banks pick up the Model S’ 10-percent down payment. The down payment is covered by federal and state tax credits, which range from $7500 to as high as $15,000, if you live in West Virginia. Essentially, the banks are using as a down payment the tax credit Model S buyers would otherwise receive further down the line.
The buyer, who Tesla chief Elon Musk says must have excellent credit, then makes a monthly payment based on a 2.95-percent interest rate. According to Tesla’s math, that could amount to about $500 per month for 66 months for a buyer of a 65 kWh Model S. That figure is all smoke and mirrors, though, as the automaker is taking into account intangibles like the time you save by using the carpool lane or avoiding the gas station.
For example, say you’re a wealthy West Virginian business owner who’s purchasing a new 65 kWh Model S, who drives 15,000 miles per year, and is getting out of a BMW 550i, which nets 20 mpg combined on the EPA test cycle. Right there, Tesla says you’ve netted $267 per month in energy savings if you figure the average price of premium gas over the next three years will be $5 a gallon. Drive your car for business? Deduct at least $200 per month off. Is your time worth $100 per hour? Then you’ve essentially saved $167 by cutting your commute by five minutes every day, using the carpool lane. Under all those conditions, according to Tesla, your monthly payment amounts to just $184 per month. Except it doesn’t. This West Virginian businessman will actually be paying $1051 per month for his Model S. An 85 kWh Model S Performance, the quickest American four-door we’ve ever tested, would really cost $1421 per month, and the regular 85 kWh model goes for $1199 a month. It’s worth noting that the costs of driving a $1400-per-month Model S will almost certainly be less than driving a comparable $1400 per month gas-powered car.
After three years of owning the Model S the owner will have the opportunity to sell the car back to Tesla, for at least the same residual value of an equivalent-year Mercedes-Benz S-Class. At the moment, that value is 43 percent, as long you drive less than 12,000 miles a year. For those concerned about the viability of Tesla in the long run, Elon Musk will pick up the tab in the unlikely case Tesla doesn’t exist after those three years.
Ultimately, this program looks to be a win for Tesla and a way for those who might not otherwise be able to afford a Model S to get their hands on one of our favorite electric cars. As for what’s next from Tesla, Musk promised the automaker would begin holding weekly phone conferences with the press, so stay tuned.
Play with Tesla’s True Cost of Ownership Model S calculator here.
Now that Elon Musk has paid off Tesla Automotive’s $451.8-million Department of Energy loan, it can do whatever it so pleases, essentially.
What does Musk, one of the world’s boldest billionaires, have in store for his all-electric car company? “A compelling, affordable car,” Musk said last week in a Bloomberg interview.
“With the Model S, you have a compelling car that’s too expensive for most people. And you have the LEAF, which is cheap, but it’s not great. What the world really needs is a great, affordable electric car. I’m not going to let anything go, no matter what people offer, until I complete that mission,” Musk added.
This is exciting news indeed. The Tesla Model S has done with the electric car what Apple did with the iPhone: make a great looking, great operating unit that works the way its competitors’ offerings should have from the get-go.
Speaking of Apple, rumors have recently suggested that Apple has shown interest in purchasing Tesla. Disappointingly, aside from iPhone integration, Tesla hasn’t had any such buyout discussions with Apple.
What might this LEAF-level Tesla cost and when might you be able to get your hands on one? Musk wants to price it below $40,000 and have it hit Tesla showrooms within the next “three to four years.” Even better still, while the LEAF is limited to a sub-100-mile range, the Tesla economy EV would be capable of around 200-miles on a single charge.
So what will it look like? We’re hoping for a scaled-down version of the Model X, complete with gullwing doors and a hatchback.
By Nick Jaynes
Just because you’ve grown up, settled down, and had a kid or two doesn’t mean you can’t have fun anymore. While you may have to take a pass on that late-night partying you once did, you can stay in touch with your younger self with a car that’s fun to drive and can double as a family vehicle. However, finding a vehicle that appeals to you both as an enthusiast and a head of household isn’t always easy, because compromises will have to be made both in packaging and in handling.
To help the gearhead parents out there, Automobile Magazine has put together a list of the 10 Best Sports-Oriented Family Cars. These are cars that you might consider when you’re looking for something that will fit your spouse and children but you don’t want to join the herd and settle for a boring crossover or minivan. You want something that reminds you of that two-seater you traded in for the car seat. It’s doable, as evidenced by these exciting four-doors.
Before Elon Musk even begins to consider letting Tesla be acquired by a larger company, expect a “compelling” electric vehicle with a starting price under $40,000. That’s the latest news from Tesla, which recently paid back its DOE loans nine years early and has seen its stock shoot up past $100 a share.
The last time we heard about a more affordable Tesla, the entry-level four-door was to carry a base price around $30,000 and sell at much higher volumes than the Model S, whose production will be around 20,000-21,000 units globally in 2013. The less-expensive Tesla could reach consumers in three to four years, Musk said to Bloomberg, though the Model X’s debut has been pushed back to late 2014.
Musk acknowledged the Model S is priced too high for most consumers to consider, and described the Nissan Leaf as cheap but not great.
“What the world needs is a great, affordable electric car,” Musk said to Bloomberg. “I’m not going to let anything go, no matter what people offer, until I complete that mission.”
The Nissan Leaf has had a slow start, but with 62,000 units sold worldwide and a significantly lowered base price, the car has started to catch on a bit in the U.S. The Tesla Model S has sold well in spite of the lowest-range 40-kWh model the company said only four percent of customers asked for. Musk claims the more affordable electric car will have a range of about 200 miles, and we’re sure models with more range will easily pass the $50,000 mark.
Whether Tesla can bring to market in three to four years a compelling $40,000 electric four-door with a 200-mile range remains to be seen — the company’s next challenge will be the Model X’s launch.
By Zach Gale
Are electric cars always slow, planet-saving vehicles? Not necessarily. Contributor Ezra Dyer recently pitted a Tesla Model S electric sedan against one of Germany’s hottest performance four-doors — the 2013 BMW M5 — in an impromptu drag race, and the result was closer than anyone expected.
Dyer subjected the two luxury sedans to a 0-to-100-mph drag race at Gingerman Raceway in western Michigan. While we won’t spoil the result, it’s worth looking at how the two cars compare on paper. The 2013 BMW M5 has a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 engine with 560 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission directs that power to the rear wheels. The EPA says the car swills gas at a rate of 14/20 mpg (city/highway).
The 2013 Tesla Model S Performance uses a rear-mounted electric motor rated for 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. That’s less grunt than the BMW, but the key is that the motor produces all of its torque instantly, whereas the M5′s torque band peaks at 1500 rpm. The Tesla’s electric motor is backed up by an 85-kWh lithium-ion battery that the company claims will allow for a driving range of about 300 miles per charge.
When it comes to price and weight, there’s little difference between the two. The BMW M5 seen here wears an as-tested sticker of $106,695 (after destination) and weighs 4387 lbs, while the Tesla Model S Performance costs $102,270 and tips the scales at 4640 lbs.
So, which will take the drag-racing crown: a twin-turbocharged gasoline performance sedan, or a futuristic electric luxury car? Watch the video below to find out.
By Jake Holmes
Everybody in the industry is eagerly waiting for the highly-anticipated launch of Tesla’s Model S, on June 22. Some, apparently, are even more eager than others, as the top-spec Signature Performance model has already been sold out, despite no cars being delivered yet.
According to the Tesla website, they are no longer taking orders for the top-of-the-range version, while the books are still open for the standard car, with the manufacturer still taking €4,020 ($5,000) deposits. To put things into perspective, the Signature Performance variant is considerably more expensive than the base version’s price tag of €46,190 ($57,400). What does considerably more mean? Well, the number is almost double, at €85,000 ($105,400) for a fully-specced Model S, without the €6,050 ($7,500) federal tax credit deducted.
It is clear that Tesla have adopted the very German trait of offering a relatively reasonably priced basic car (which nobody really wants) which is then showered with expensive options to the point where its value is almost triple that of the basic version. Features of the top of the range model include a €3,000 ($3,750) tech package, containing xenon headlights (why are they not standard?), electrochromatic side mirrors, LED foglights, a power liftgate, navigation system, keyless entry, a rear back-up camera and HomeLink. The key option people are looking for (probably) is the improved 85kWh battery pack, which has more than double the capacity of the standard 40kWh pack.
If you want an uprated sound system, why not pay an €765 ($950) for the “Sound Studio” package, or if you feel the car’s ride is not comfy enough for you, there’s a €1,200 ($1,500) air suspension option, priced exactly the same as the optional rear-facing seats.
Update: We have received an update from Tesla stating that "There is still availibility of the Signature edition in Europe and customers are only now starting to specify their preference for their reservation whether that be a Performance edition or not, so we certainly haven't sold out." So, it's not sold out after all.
After having just picked up Automobile Magazine’s 2013 Car of the Year Award, Tesla Motors has a lot to be proud of. Not only has the California startup delivered one of the most stylish and fuel-efficient cars on the market, it’s also managed to win the hearts and minds of automotive purists long skeptical of anything that doesn’t run on drudged up dinosaur bones.
But will the accolades stop at Automobile Magazine? Will the Model S manage to snap some other awards this year, raising its profile and credibility even further? It sure looks that way. While we have yet to find anything concrete, we did some digging around and stumbled upon a post in the Tesla forums that suggests the Model S may be in line to snag Motor Trend’s prestigious Car of the Year award as well.
According to the Tesla Motors Club forums, the company will be holding a special and very exclusive event, on Monday, November 12 at Skylight West Studios in New York. The event invite, pictured here, says that CEO Elon Musk will be in attendance to celebrate an “important milestone” for Tesla Motors.
Speculation on the forum suggests the unveiling of Tesla’s first East Coast supercharging station, and while that seems perfectly plausible, November 12 also happens to be the same day Motor Trend announces its Car of the Year winner.
Again, nothing has been confirmed, and it all may end up being coincidence — but if it turns out to be true, this will indeed be a very big milestone for Tesla and further cement the legitimacy of Tesla’s ambitious project, while also boosting the credibility of electric cars as a whole.
A twin-engine aircraft crashed into power lines outside of Palo Alto, California, today, killing all three occupants — reportedly employees of Tesla Motors.
KTVU reports that the Cessna 310 plane, which was headed south, took off in extremely foggy conditions, and crashed shortly after takeoff. Witnesses described hearing two loud booms. One of the aircraft’s wings broke off and hit the back of a nearby house. The crash has reportedly also taken out power within a radius of the site.
Sources tell the TV station that the three men on board the plane were employees with Tesla, with the pilot reportedly being a “high-ranking official” at the company. The San Francisco Chronicle says the plane was owned by Doug Bourn, a senior electrical engineer at the EV company. It is still unknown at this point if he was flying the plane, or if he was even on board. A witness told KTVU that Tesla Chief Technical Officer JB Straubel, who is himself an accomplished pilot, was onboard, but the FAA has not confirmed who the passengers were. Contrary to some speculation based on his ownership of a plane, CEO Elon Musk was not onboard.
According to reports released on Thursday, February 18, the three Tesla employees on board the plane were senior electrical engineer Doug Bourn, electrical engineer Andrew Ingram, and Brian M. Finn, a senior interactive electronics manager, but Tesla and authorities have not confirmed these reports yet.
“Three Tesla employees were on board a plane that crashed in East Palo Alto early this morning,” Musk wrote in a statement. “We are withholding their identities as we work with the relevant authorities to notify the families. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. Tesla is a small, tightly-knit company, and this is a tragic day for us.”
Tesla representatives won’t comment on the accident until more information is known, only confirming that the three passengers were in fact Tesla employees. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently investigating the scene and cause of the accident.
Anonymous sources are now telling various news outlets that the passengers aboard the plane were two engineers and a manager, not the executives previously reported. Their plane was headed for Hawthorne, California, near Los Angeles where Tesla rents space from Musk’s company Space X, though they may have been traveling to review a possibly location for the Model S sedan assembly plant.
We’ll continue to update this post as we get further details.
Source: KTVU, San Francisco Chronicle
Hottest Cars, Miscellaneous, Tesla
VW Polo GTI for Europe comes with 178 Turbocharged Horsepower
Though Tesla’s Model S electric sedan is considered by many to be merely a pipe dream, the four-door EV is apparently well into its development, as this video shows a Model S prototype conducting winter in Baudette, Minn.
The video starts like an intro to a spy movie, with a satellite image of the testing location complete with info about the region and graphics simulating instrument readings. From this, we learn the temperature range of the test area is -10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The Model S prototype, which Tesla tells us is a second-gen, Beta-phase unit, is next shown conducting various maneuvers in the snow. We see the Model S quietly running a 600-foot slalom, making a quick lane change at speeds up to 60 mph, and giving its suspension and steering a workout running through a snow-covered autocross course. The EV appears to handle pretty well in the powdery stuff, though it does spin out at one point, despite the edited footage making it look like a well-executed drift.
While we don’t get to see anything new when it comes to Tesla’s upcoming sedan, it’s encouraging to see the electric automaker is hard at work testing its latest product. But Tesla had better be, if it hopes to deliver its first production models by this summer. As we previously reported, that first batch will consist of Model S sedans equipped with the 85-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, good for a claimed range of 300 miles. While we’re taking a “we’ll-believe-it-when-we-see-it” stance on those range claims, this video could mean a test of the Model S isn’t too far away.
Check out the video below to see a Tesla Model S being put through its paces.
Cold Weather Climate Testing the Model S from Tesla Motors on Vimeo.
Cold Weather Climate Testing the Model S from Tesla Motors on Vimeo.