Archives for June 29th, 2013

Wide Open Throttle Previews Audi A3 e-tron, Discusses Tesla Visit

Wide Open Throttle Previews Audi A3 e-tron, Discusses Tesla Visit

Audi is getting its feet wet in the electric-vehicle market by launching the new A3 e-tron. On this week’s Wide Open Throttle, host Jessi Lang checks out Audi’s new EV and speaks with Jeff Curry, Audi’s E-Mobility Marketing and Strategy representative.

Curry tells us that 17 A3 e-tron test vehicles are being launched in four select cities to see how they perform in real-world driving conditions. The production version should be ready in two years and will be based on the upcoming all-new A3. A plug-in hybrid should also arrive around the same time. In addition to the A3 e-tron, Audi is planning to test out the R8 e-tron later this year.

Lang also discusses her recent tour of Tesla Motors’ factory, where drove the new Model S. She highlights a few viewer comments that show EVs still have a polarizing effect on the American public but mentions other deemed-to-fail technologies that have become an integral part of our lives. Watch the video and let us know if you agree with the comparisons Lang makes to the electric car.

By Erick Ayapana

Tesla Model S Active Air Suspension Demo [Video]



A few weeks ago, Tesla stated that it is dominating the American luxury market and has outsold cars like the Audi A8 or Mercedes S-Class. While at first glance comparing EVs with luxury limos is like comparing apples with genetically modified soybeans, hat’s not the case.

The Tesla Models comes with all the bells and whistles you’d expect inside the cabin of Merc, plus it takes steps into the future age of the automobile with a completely digitized center console that allows you to change every setting using just the 17-inch touchscreen display.

A lesser known fact about the Model S is that it’s available with a very Audi-like system. More specifically, it has Active Air Suspension, which raises the ride height from "Very High" to "Low" to help you deal with lumps and bumps in the road. The car automatically adjusts to the "Low" setting at highway speeds, and back to "Normal" at lower speeds. An all that’s done by sliding you finger on a screen. Brilliant!

By Mihnea Radu

Elon Musk, CEO Of ‘Loser’ Tesla, Suggests Romney Got It Wrong

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk at Motor Trend 'Car of the Year' ceremony in New York City, Nov 2012

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk at Motor Trend ‘Car of the Year’ ceremony in New York City, Nov 2012

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One week ago today, Americans elected a president.

During the hard-fought campaign that preceded the election, Republican candidate Mitt Romney called Tesla a “loser” company, along with Fisker Automotive.

Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] and other companies named by Romney had received loans or grants from the U.S. government.

Last night, Tesla CEO Elon Musk made his first comment on the affair, at a ceremony in which the 2012 Tesla Model S received Motor Trend‘s Car of the Year award.

Musk contrasted the Model S, the winner of the award, to the “loser” remark made during the campaign–by parsing the comment grammatically.

Mr. Romney, he suggested, had gotten “the object, but not the subject” of the remark right.

A standing-room-only crowd of Tesla owners and depositors laughed and cheered his comment.

More seriously, Musk noted, Tesla Motors was proud to have created 3,500 U.S. jobs–at its Fremont, California, assembly plant and elsewhere.

He suggested that the re-election of Barack Obama as president was a good sign for the future of plug-in electric cars in the U.S.

“I think that we can expect at least that things will continue as they have,” Musk told the audience.

“I wouldn’t expect it to get any worse for electric vehicles,” he continued. “Hopefully, it will get a little better.”

1,000th body for 2012 Tesla Model S on display at Tesla Motors factory, Fremont, CA, Oct 28, 2012

1,000th body for 2012 Tesla Model S on display at Tesla Motors factory, Fremont, CA, Oct 28, 2012

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Tesla Motors is focused on ramping up production of the Model S sedan, continuing design of the upcoming Model X crossover, and starting to plan its next generation of more affordable electric cars.

 

The company’s sales will ultimately be split in thirds, Musk predicted: one third each to North American, Europe, and Asia.

He added that the Tesla Supercharger network of fast-charging stations, which only work with the Model S and other Tesla cars, will expand to cover the Boston-to-Washington corridor “next month”–and would be rolled out nationwide within a year.

Musk’s comments were the first time that Tesla Motors had responded in any way to the Romney remark.

At the time Romney called the company a loser during an early October presidential debate, spokeswoman Christina Ra said Tesla had no comment.

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By John Voelcker

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk: "Model S variants to arrive next year"

Tesla Model S sedan

There’s no denying Tesla Motor’s Model S is red hot at the moment. It’s the automotive equivalent to Justin Bieber (he is still cool, right?), at least for EV fans and automotive journalists that is. When the Model S isn’t busy collecting awards, the sleek electric sports sedan is busy turning heads at one of Tesla’s many Apple-like shops across the country. Needless to say, there is a remarkable amount of hype surrounding the California start-up and one of the major sources of that hype is the company’s enigmatic CEO Elon Musk.

As reported by AutoblogGreen, during a recent third quarter financial results call, Musk hinted at the future production of Model S variants due sometime next year, stating: “There are a few other variants of the Model S that we’ll come out next year that I think are going to be pretty exciting.”

In addition to this teasing, yet vague proclamation, Musk reportedly discussed Tesla’s ongoing efforts with the company’s next vehicle, the all-electric crossover known as the Model X, as well as the fact that work has begun on the company’s third-generation and yet–to-be-named vehicle it hopes to launch before the end of the decade.

Of course all of this is simply talk, and we have no way of knowing what is actually in the works for the California-based automaker, but it does give us ample opportunity to speculate and dissect what this all means.

For starters, it’s more than likely Mr. Musk is simply referring to a better handling and performance package, which was mentioned a few months back. Another possibility could be the introduction of an all-wheel-drive system in addition to the current rear-wheel-drive layout found in the Model S. Finally, there is talk of adding an open-air model as well as one with battery packs larger than the current 85 kWh variety found in the Performance Model S.

Aside from speculation, Musk revealed that in response to customer demand, Tesla will make other options available to customers upon ordering their vehicles, in addition to others that could be retroactively fitted.

Whatever the case may be, one thing is clear: We’ll be seeing much more from the Model S in the near future.

What types of additions would you like to see, if any, in the Model S? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

By Amir Iliaifar

Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin Drives Pink Tesla



With a net worth believed to be somewhere about $23 billion, Sergey Brin should be able to afford buying a small country. But he likes to keep things simple and clean, as the Soviet-born American computer scientist and co-founder of Google hasn’t got a garage full of cars.

However, he and Larry Page co-own a two personal jets that have scientific equipment from NASA installed on them. So, what sort of car do you guys think Brin owns?

Given the fact that he is a firm believer in renewable energy and an early investor in Tesla Motors, it’s kind of easy to guess.

What we don’t understand is why his Tesla Model S is pink. Celebrity Cars Blog suggests the billionaire’s car received a pink wrap with eyelashes and batmobile accents as part of an April Fools joke. Guess this is a type of humor we don’t get, but then again, he could just buy another car and leave this one in pink. Guess the joke’s on us then!

By Mihnea Radu

Tesla Model S Depositors: You Can’t Sell Your Reservation, Legally

2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

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There’s lots of interest in the award-winning Tesla Model S electric luxury sport sedan about now.

With production slowly ramping up, even the wealthiest electric-car fans have to wait as Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] works through its 14,000 reservations.

So, perhaps the impatient among them may turn to that source of all secondary sales, eBay.

Indeed, as of today, there are four Model S reservations offered for sale on eBay; last week, there were as many as eight.

There’s just one problem.

Those reservations aren’t transferable.

After a note from our reliable tipster Brian Henderson, we contacted Tesla to ask whether reservations could be transferred.

The answer: No.

“Reservations are not transferable,” replied Tesla communications director Shanna Hendriks, succinctly.

She pointed all reservation holders to Paragraph 6, “Deferral and Non-Transferability,” of the Tesla Model S Reservation Agreement they had to sign to take their place in the Model S queue.

It says:

If you do not wish to enter into a Purchase Agreement at the time that you are contacted by Tesla, you have the option to relinquish your reservation sequence position and defer to a later position to be determined by us (only one deferral is permitted). If you do not communicate your decision to us within ten (10) days of notification under paragraph 4, you will automatically be granted such a deferral. This Agreement is not transferable or assignable to another party without the prior written approval of a Tesla authorized representative.

So does Tesla give that written approval? “I am unaware of any transfers happening,” said Hendriks.

Reading some of the eBay ads, it appears that what’s being offered is an almost simultaneous secondary sale.

That is, the reservation will order the car to the specifications of the secondary buyer, take delivery, and then resell it immediately.

2013 Tesla Model S reservations offered for sale on eBay, Dec 11, 2012

2013 Tesla Model S reservations offered for sale on eBay, Dec 11, 2012

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That’s almost surely legal.

One caveat may be that some states won’t consider a car to be sold as a “used car” until it has racked up some noticeable mileage, perhaps 7,500 miles.

So what these sellers are offering on eBay isn’t actually the sale of a reservation.

They’re selling a used car they don’t actually own yet.

This isn’t unheard of for desirable, limited-production cars on eBay.

We’d encourage the sellers to list what’s being offered more accurately, though–because it’s not their reservation that they’re selling.

For the sake of both parties, we trust that anyone who enters into such an agreement has an iron-clad legal agreement ensuring that both sides clearly understand the terms of the deal.

We suggest it might be a good idea to specify all imaginable contingencies, in the event that something goes south.

Meanwhile, the 2012 Tesla Model S was named the Green Car Reports 2013 Best Car To Buy yesterday.

[hat tip: Brian Henderson]

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By John Voelcker

RAV4 EV: Toyota and Tesla Partner To Make User-Friendly Electric

2013 Toyota RAV4 EV CAPTIONS ON | OFF

The Toyota RAV4 EV – a joint partnership between Toyota and Tesla – will be available for eco-minded customers in California this summer, fully loaded with up to 100 miles of electric range and a starting price of $49,800.

The project aimed to provide a more user-friendly experience for EV owners, and also further the relationship between Toyota and Tesla. In less than two years, Tesla produced specialized battery and electric powertrain to fit the existing RAV4, and Toyota says the RAV4 EV will equal or best its gas-powered brother in nearly all performance tests. In Sport mode, Toyota expects it to reach 0-60mph in 7.0 seconds.

The RAV4 EV can charge in Standard or Extended mode, the former yielding 92 miles of range and the latter providing more than 113. Leviton offers a standard 120V charging cable or an optional 240V for a six-hour charge. Toyota and Tesla developed ECO LO and ECO HI driving modes, pre-cooling and pre-heating systems under charging and a unique regenerative braking technique to make the RAV4 EV easier to own than other electric vehicles.

What’s certainly not user-friendly is that price. Nearly $50 grand is quite steep for a small SUV that carries a Toyota badge instead of Lexus. Federal and state rebates could combine for up to $10,000 in savings, but the cost is enough to keep out everyone but the hardcore EV enthusiasts. Toyota expects to sell about 2,600 models through 2014.

Then again, sales of the RAV4 EV aren’t really what the project is about. It’s about developing and innovating electric technology, in order to bring it to market and eventually make it mass-produced and more affordable. In that respect, partnering with Tesla is proving to be the best move Toyota could have made; the two can share technology costs and existing vehicle platforms to keep costs down.

So don’t think of the RAV4 EV as a $50,000 electric SUV. Think of it as the father of a future generation of affordable technology.

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By Ryan ZumMallen

Tesla Stock Sinks After Release Of 2012 Financial Results

Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] stock price for 5 days ending Feb 21, 2013 [Yahoo Finance]

Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] stock price for 5 days ending Feb 21, 2013 [Yahoo Finance]

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Yesterday was a bumpy ride for the stockholders of electric-car maker Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA].

Following the company’s Wednesday release of its 2012 financial results, including an after-hours conference call, the stock plummeted yesterday.

Before the earnings call, it had closed Wednesday at $38.54. Yesterday, it opened sharply lower at $36.49 and closed at $35.16, almost $5 off its recent high.

At one point during the day, it had fallen to below the $35 level, which was enough to trip a so-called digital “circuit breaker” meant to slow the short sales of falling stocks.

Analysts suggested the market was expressing disappointment in Tesla’s earnings per share, which were $0.12 below the pre-release consensus estimate.

As investor/commentator Tate Dwinnell summarized the sentiment:

It wasn’t a terrible quarter from Tesla, but far from good too.

The company reported revenues that were just ahead of estimates at $306 million, but reported a wider loss than what analysts were looking for (-$0.65 vs. -$0.53).

Helping to drive the stock lower was likely a soft deliveries number. Deliveries were 2,400 for the quarter and about 2,600 for the year…below what the company was expecting.

Saibus Research also noted that Tesla Motors stock had increased almost 40 percent from its low last September to its level just before the earnings call, meaning that some pullback may have been inevitable.

Many analysts suggest that the real test comes in the current quarter, as the street waits to see if Tesla can actually deliver the 4,500 Model S electric luxury sport sedans that CEO Musk projected.

The current quarter is the first one in which the startup carmaker will build 400 cars per week, its target production rate, and begin to reduce its backlog of deposits, now at roughly 15,000.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk with Tesla Roadster

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk with Tesla Roadster

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And, far more important, stockholders and analysts alike will be eagerly waiting to find out whether Tesla Motors is in fact profitable for the January-March period, as Musk suggested it would be.

Saibus summarizes its view of Tesla’s 2012 results this way:

While we don’t think that Tesla will generate as much profit as the CEO is projecting, we believed that this quarter would be important in gauging Tesla’s ability to survive as an independent going concern.

In other words, wait for the current quarter’s numbers–which will likely be released sometime in late April or early May–to get the first inklings of how Tesla performs at its full production rate.

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By John Voelcker