Archives for June 27th, 2013

Wide Open Throttle Drives Tesla Model S, Explores Tesla Factory

Wide Open Throttle Drives Tesla Model S, Explores Tesla Factory

The 2012 Tesla Model S is a make-or-break car for electric car manufacturer Tesla. On this week’s Wide Open Throttle, host Jessi Lang takes us on a tour of Tesla’s Silicon Valley factory, while Frank Markus brings us along for his interview with Elon Musk and drive of the 2012 Tesla Model S.

Lang starts with 2012 Tesla Model S specs. The Model S will be available with 40-, 60- and 85-kWh battery capacities, with an estimated range of up to 265 miles. The Model S is powered by a rear AC induction motor producing 362 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque in the base model, and 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque in the performance model.

After Lang hands things off to Markus, he chats with co-founder and CEO Elon Musk and takes the Model S out for a spin in the city, on the highway, and in the twisties.

Check out the latest episode of Wide Open Throttle for yourself below for Markus’ full driving impressions, and make sure you check out our exclusive First Drive and breakdown of the Model S’ factory.

By Christian Seabaugh

We Hear: Tesla May Work With Google on Autonomous Cars

We Hear: Tesla May Work With Google on Autonomous Cars

Tesla Motors may collaborate with Google to develop autonomous cars, Bloomberg reports. CEO Elon Musk reportedly wants his car company to develop driverless technology, which could be created in partnership with Google.

Tesla CEO Musk said he believes the driverless or autonomous technologies are the next big development for the car because they could dramatically improve road safety. “I like the word autopilot more than I like the word self-driving,” he told Bloomberg. “Autopilot is a good thing to have in planes, and we should have it in cars.”

Although Tesla has been in “technical discussions” with Google about its driverless cars, Musk believes the roof-mounted laser-scanning system used by Google is too costly and inefficient to make sense for production cars. He reportedly favors a cheaper camera-based system, “with software that is able to figure out what’s going on just by looking at things.” Musk told Bloomberg that although it is possible that Tesla will cooperate with Google, it’s more likely that the startup will engineer its own unique autonomous-car technologies.

Google Autonomous Toyota Prius front three quarter 300x187 imageGoogle has a fleet of Toyota Prius hybrids (pictured), as well as a Lexus RX450h, that can drive without a human’s input. Lawmakers have granted the Internet company permission to test its autonomous cars in Nevada and California. Lexus demonstrated a semi-autonomous LS sedan at the Consumer Electronics Show, where Audi also showed off self-parking systems.

Self-driving Teslas are some time off, however: Musk says Tesla will focus on launching electric cars, including the Model S sedan and upcoming Model X SUV, before focusing on bringing autonomous technology to production. “Autopilot is not as important as accelerating the transition to electric cars, or to sustainable transport,” he told Bloomberg.

Source: Bloomberg

By Jake Holmes

Tesla: 20,000 Annual Model S Sales Needed to Ring in Profits

Tesla: 20,000 Annual Model S Sales Needed to Ring in Profits

There you have it. Tesla, the much-hyped purveyor of all-electric vehicles, has set the bar: sell 20,000 units of its coming Model S sedan and profits will come.

Next year will be the current generation Roadster’s final year of production. So far, some 1400 models have been delivered to at least 30 countries in North America, Asia, and Europe. While the Roadster has been both an impressive engineering exercise and brand awareness builder, the publicly traded Silicon Valley firm has yet to start raking in the dough. And that’s exactly why it’s betting big on the Model S, which it believes will put it in the black.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Tesla chief technology officer J.B. Straudel asserts the niche carmaker needs to move 20,000 Model S sedans per year to be profitable, citing lower battery pack costs and a $56,500 entry MSRP as the primary enablers.

Tesla’s 18560 cell battery pack, which is similar to our everyday laptop battery, has the benefits of preexisting R&D from major tech companies (Panasonic has invested $30 million in Tesla) and advanced economies of scale, not to mention enviable energy density. According to Martin Eberhard, Tesla’s co-founder who later left the company and has famously sparred with Tesla CEO Elon Musk since, the 18560-cell packs likely cost $200 per kilowatt-hour, which is 71- to 75-percent cheaper than large-form cell lithium-ion packs at current analyses. Additionally, the cells have already diverged onto a dedicated EV development route and are expected to see further year-over-year price drops from 6 to 8 percent.

The same Bloomberg report also cites Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn stating Nissan and Renault may need to sell 500,000 electric vehicles per year for their own program to stay in the black without government aid. At $32,780, the Leaf is considerably cheaper than the Model S and has a head start, having already gone on sale in select launch markets.

Scheduled to start production at the NUMMI factory line in Fremont, California, by mid-2012, the Model S plans to offer three battery pack sizes with varying ranges, a 5.6-second 0-60 mph time, seven seats (extra two for children only), and a futuristic design. Tesla has hired the staff, is doing the homework, and we can now only wait to see how well the finished product turns out.

Source: Bloomberg

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Future/Spied, Green Cars, Hybrid Car/EV, Sedan, Tesla

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By Benson Kong

Feature Flick: Tesla Model S Takes on 2005 Dodge Viper Roadster at the Drag Strip – Rumor Central

Feature Flick: Tesla Model S Takes on 2005 Dodge Viper Roadster at the Drag Strip

The Tesla Model S is quick and capable – that much was established when it was crowned Automobile of the Year – but the car has just proved itself again against another high-performance car on the drag strip. This new video from DragTimes.com shows the electric car going head to head with a last-gen Dodge Viper SRT10 Roadster, with a surprising result.

The DragTimes.com video shows a Model S Performance, complete with the 85 kW-hr battery pack thoroughly smoking a lightly modified 2005 Viper SRT10 at the strip. On paper, the Model S really doesn’t stand a chance – its electric motor in the lineup-topping model makes 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, compared to the stock 2005 Viper’s 8.3-liter V-10, which makes 500 hp and 525 lb-ft of torque. In fact – Motor Trend testing confirms that this isn’t exactly a fair matchup, considering the fastest Model S we’ve tested hit 60 mph from a standstill in 4.0 seconds and completed the quarter mile in 12.4 seconds at 112.5 mph. The last Viper Roadster of the same era tested needed 3.9 seconds to accelerate from 0-60 mph and 11.8 seconds at 123.6 mph to knock out the quarter mile. Nonetheless, just like when the Model S drag raced a BMW M5, it’s the Tesla that comes out on top here, likely because the EV is an incredibly easy car to launch.

DragTimes.com’s 12.371 seconds at 110.84 mph quarter mile time for the Tesla Model S just edges out Motor Trend’s time of 12.4 seconds at 112.5 mph, reportedly earning the Model S the world record for quickest production electric vehicle in the quarter mile from the National Electric Drag Racing Association. Less powerful and expensive Model S trims use 40- and 60 kW-hr batteries instead of an 85 kW-hr battery pack.

In other Tesla news, CEO Elon Musk is reaching out to the chief engineer of the troubled Boeing 787 Dreamliner, in an effort to help the plane maker sort out its lithium-ion battery troubles, Reuters reports. The 787 fleet has been grounded after a series of high-profile fires in the 787′s battery compartment. Musk, who also heads commercial space transport company SpaceX, uses the same type of batteries in the Tesla Model S and in SpaceX’s rockets. The 787 is the first airliner to make extensive use of lithium-ion batteries for main flight control systems.

Check out the Model S racing a Viper in the video below.

Source: DragTimes.com, YouTube, Motor Trend, Reuters




By Christian Seabaugh

George Clooney's Tesla Roadster to Be Auctioned Off for Charity



George Clooney will auction off his Tesla Roadster on August 19, during the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, with proceeds from the sale set to go to the Satellite Sentinel Project, a non-profit organization that uses satelites to monitor the borders of Sudan, aiming to prevent a war between Northern and Southern Sudan.

The actor’s 2008 Tesla Signature 100 Roadster will go under Gooding & Company’s hammer, which expects it to fetch between $100,000 (EUR) and $125,000 (EUR). The electric sports car, which uses the 0008 serial number, comes with 1,700 miles (2,737 km) on its odometer , is finished in Obsidian Black Metallic and offers a two-tone leather interior.

Clooney has shown his support for Sudan’s cause in the past, having been arrested earlier this year in the proximity of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington during a protest that aimed to raise awareness on the fact that Sudan’s president was denying the population’s access to basic resources using military forces.

Story and photo credit: Inside Line

By Andrei Tutu

New Tesla Model S battery pack warranty sets new benchmark for EVs

Tesla Model S

Tesla Motors has raised the bar for electric vehicles by now offering an eight-year unlimited mileage warranty for the battery pack in the Model S sedan.

The warranty includes eight years unlimited mileage for the Model S’s 85 kwh battery pack and eight years or 125,000 miles for the 60kwh pack (whichever comes first), as reported by the Detroit Free Press. 

“We don’t think anybody could put enough miles on to kill the (85 kwh) pack. That could turn out to be wrong, but we have half-a-million miles on one in the lab,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk, is quoted as saying in the report. “Even the 60 kwh customers will be able to take it well over 200,000 miles.”

According to the Detroit Free Press article, Tesla Motors will replace the battery pack in the Model S free of charge for eight years if it happens to fail – aside from deliberate damage to the back.

Many of the other carmakers offer eight-year warranties on their EV battery pack, but Tesla’s is more extensive when it comes to mileage.

tesla-model-s-bones

The warranty is significant considering that one of the biggest consumer concerns when considering an EV, aside from the usual range anxiety, is the cost to replace the battery.  According to Green Car Reports, while a battery pack typically last the duration of the vehicle, the replacement pack in a Toyota EV is about $4,000 minus a core credit of $1,350 for returning the old battery.

While difficult to exactly nail down, Plug-In Cars estimates the replacement 85 kwh battery pack for the Model S could cost as much as $34,000. 

Tesla’s decision to address that cost concern up front with a lengthier battery pack warranty likely eases some of the anxiety of buying a Model S.  However, the move could also benefit consumers eyeing other nameplate EVs as well as more carmakers consider the payoff of following Tesla’s lead to make their electric cars more appealing.   

By Marcus Amick

Repriced: Tesla Model S MSRPs Jump By $2500, Battery Replacement Costs Revealed – Rumor Central

Repriced: Tesla Model S MSRPs Jump By $2500, Battery Replacement Costs Revealed

If you’re considering a Tesla Model S, now would be a wise time to place your order. The EV automaker has just announced that all reservations placed after the end of this year are subject to a price increase of $2500. The 40 kW-hr Model S, for example, will jump to $59,900. The 60 and 85 kW-hr models will cost $10,000 and $20,000 more respectively. The range-topping 85 kW-hr Performance model will carry a $94,900 price tag.

All Tesla Model S cars with the revised pricing will add as standard equipment 12-way power seats and heated front seats. At a constant 55 mph, Tesla estimates the ranges of the three different motor choices at 160, 230, 300 miles. Claimed acceleration from 0-60 mph times take from 4.4 to 6.5 seconds, though we tested a Performance model completing the sprint in 3.9 seconds.

Tesla notes that the $2500 price increase is half the rate of inflation, and with plenty of press — it was the 2013 Automobile of the Year, after all — luxury customers may still be willing to pay the premium. Speaking of premiums, Tesla is also offering a four-year/50,000-mile extended warranty above the car’s standard four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty.

The automaker has also revealed pricing for battery replacements. Taking the mystery out of the one maintenance detail that scares many about electric cars, Tesla says that $8000 will buy 40 kW-hr Model S customers a new battery to be installed at any time after the eighth year of ownership. The cost rises to $10,000 for the 60 kW-hr battery and $12,000 for the 85 kW-hr battery.

Those battery replacement option prices cover the battery and all installation labor and parts needed to make a Model S whole again. Customers who don’t select the option at time of order will have up to 90 days from date of delivery to choose it, and the prepaid battery will apply to second and subsequent owners even if the original owner sells their car. And while it states the fresh battery reprieve comes after the magic 8-year mark, there “will likely be economic outcomes (incentives or drawbacks) tied to early or late exercise options,” per a Tesla spokesperson.

Considering Tesla’s vehicle servicing strategy, we asked if a mobile battery swap was foreseeable in the year 2020. Representatives seemed amused by our image of an electric-powered box truck with enclosed lift being the 2020 version of the electric-car maker’s Service Ranger, but it appears the B&M route is the safest bet for now.

Source: Tesla

Benson Kong contributed to this post.





By Zach Gale

Tesla Model S Production Line Now Running At Full Capacity

2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

For fans of the Tesla Model S all-electric sport sedan, the past few weeks have been full of good news.

Deliveries of top-of-the-line 85-kilowatt-hour models now number in the thousands, the 60-kWh model will go into production this month–and has been rated at 208 miles of range–and no major safety or quality issues seem to have surfaced thus far.

But buried in a news item last week that appeared in trade journal Automotive News was a little nugget we missed during our coverage of last week’s Detroit Auto Show.

Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has now achieved its full production rate of 400 Model S cars a week, said the company’s director of Model S programs, Jerome Guillen.

That means that Tesla should be able to chew steadily away at its list of 15,000 or more reservations for the electric luxury sport sedan, which represents most of a year’s production of 20,000 vehicles.

The number of Tesla Model S cars that were actually built last year, and how many were sold, remains a mystery.

So does the company’s cashflow and balance sheet, and whether the company is suffering a cash crunch, as a few analysts have suggested based on third-quarter data.

As it ramped up Model S production late last year, Tesla Motors chewed through its cash reserves–including drawing on the last of its $465 million in low-interest loans from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The numbers of cars built and sold, and the revenues and expenses associated with them, will only be public when the company reveals its year-end financials.

2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

That will happen in an investor call that’s expected to take place sometime next month.

But meanwhile, if Guillen’s statement is accurate, producing 400 plug-in electric cars a week puts Tesla in the same league as General Motors.

That company is now producing similar numbers (or a bit more) of its Chevy Volt range-extended electric car.

Not bad for a Silicon Valley startup carmaker that didn’t exist 10 years ago.

Can the company survive on its own, or will it be sold to a huge global automaker?

We’ll be waiting for those financial results to see what they say.

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By John Voelcker

Tesla Sells Around 3,000 Model S EVs in 2012



Tesla Motors have been tight-lipped about the actual number of cars they were able to make, and sell in 2012. Their first estimates revolved around the 5,000 deliveries by December 31 2012 mark, yet they were forced to revise the figure down to around 3,000 units in September.

Now, according to greencarreports.com, who have done some thinking and calculations, Tesla did, in fact, manage to sell around 3,000 cars in 2012. How were they able to find out, since no official numbers have so far been released?

Well, the looked at the VIN numbers for all of the cars delivered. They discovered that ‘the highest VIN reported on a truck’ was 3,235, while the ‘highest VIN physically delivered’ was 3,026. If Tesla numbers its cars sequentially, which it most likely does, then yes, they did manage to reach the second estimate.
Aside from the cars delivered, since the highest recorded vin was 3,235, then that is around the number of cars they managed to build in 2012.

We will have to wait until February for Tesla to reveal these numbers, but the logic behind the thinking here seems correct, so we say this more than satisfies our curiosity, for the time being.

By Andrei Nedelea