Archives for June, 2013 - Page 2
Hot on the heels of the Ford Focus Electric will be the much-anticipated Tesla Model S. After years of development, the electric sedan from the company that brought you the Roadster electric sports car has been tested by the Environment Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. With mileage and crash tests squared away, Tesla plans to deliver the first cars to customers beginning June 22.
On the same day that his SpaceX rocket began its trip to the International Space Station, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the Model S had passed all of the NHTSA crash tests. Musk also said that the Model S achieved a five-star rating in all categories, although the government has not released official ratings.
Musk also expects the top Model S’ range to drop from an anticipated 300 miles to 265, because of changes in the EPA testing procedure, according to a recent post on the company’s blog.
Regardless of how the Model S scored in the various tests, it is ready to go on sale. Tesla will hand over the keys to the first batch of cars at its Freemont, California plant; cars should start trickling into dealers shortly after that. Since these are the first cars from a brand new factory, made to a completely new design, from an essentially brand-new company, Tesla may want to keep in contact with its first customers so it can quickly address problems.
Tesla hopes to sell 5,000 Model Ss by the end of the year. The company says that there is already a waiting list 10,000 names strong. That should take the Model S through this year and into the next. With production fully ramped up, Tesla plans on selling 20,000 of the electric sedans in 2013.
The Model S will cost between $57,400 and $105,400, before a $7,500 federal tax credit. The models are broken down based on range: buyers can opt for 160, 230, and 300-mile versions (expect those numbers to be about 30 percent lower in the new EPA tests). In addition, there is a Model S Performance with a lower 0-60 mph time (4.4 seconds, versus 5.6 for the regular Model S). Buyers can also choose whether they want their Model S to seat five or seven.
The Model S’ performance figures, and pricetag, may seem well above those of established electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt, and that is because Tesla views the Model S as a premium product. Consequently, its main competition will be the upcoming Fisker Atlantic, a sedan of similar size that uses a gasoline engine to charge its batteries. Interestingly, the first drawings of the Model S were penned by Fisker’s own Henrik Fisker; Tesla has made several changes to the styling since then.
Tesla will not stop with the Model S. The company plans to launch a crossover, called the Model X, in the near future.
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.
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
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk at Motor Trend ‘Car of the Year’ ceremony in New York City, Nov 2012
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 Enlarge Photo
1,000th body for 2012 Tesla Model S on display at Tesla Motors factory, Fremont, CA, Oct 28, 2012
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.
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.
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
2013 Tesla Model S
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.
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
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]
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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Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] stock price for 5 days ending Feb 21, 2013 [Yahoo Finance]
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
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.
Been away from your computer this week and missed all the automotive news? We’ve gathered a few of the top stories of the past week for your convenience.
2012 Chicago Auto Show
Check out our coverage of this week’s Chicago auto show, with news and photos from all the new product debuts. New cars on display at this year’s show range from practical rides like the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT and 2012 Nissan NV200 van, to performance offerings like the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 convertible and 2013 Nissan 370Z.
Tesla Model X Prototype Crossover Revealed with Falcon Door Fixation
Tesla this week revealed the Model X, an all-electric SUV from the maker of electric sports cars. The most notable design touch is what Tesla CEO Elon Musk calls “falcon doors”, which rise up above the SUV’s body when opened. Power will come from lithium-ion batteries in two different sizes, allowing anywhere from 200 to 300 miles per charge. The Model X rides on air suspension and is expected to weigh about 4700 pounds. The car should go into production next year before reaching customers in 2014.
Chevrolet Cruze Wagon Debuting at Geneva Motor Show
Chevrolet will use the Geneva Motor Show to introduce a wagon version of the Cruze. The new variant will be 3.2 inches longer than the Cruze sedan, and will offer between 17.7 and 53.0 cubic feet of cargo capacity, easily trouncing the 15.4 cubes on offer in the sedan version. This is actually the third body style for Chevrolet’s strong-selling compact — although the Cruze is offered only as a sedan, European buyers can also choose from a five-door hatchback. Sadly, chances of the Cruze wagon making it to the U.S. market are close to nil.
Buick Makes eAssist Standard on 2013 Regal, Adds Automatic Option to 2012 Regal GS
Buick announced a mild powertrain shuffle for its Regal sedan. The 2012 Regal GS sports sedan will henceforth offer an optional automatic transmission, expanding the appeal of the formerly manual-only car. Buick says acceleration times and fuel-economy for the automatic Regal GS will be equivalent to the manual-transmission version. Buick also announced that for 2013, the Regal sedan will drop its base inline-four powertrain and make the car’s eAssist mild hybrid system standard. The eAssist drivetrain combines a 2.4-liter inline-four gas engine with an electric motor-generator, returning lofty EPA ratings of 25/36 mpg (city/highway).
New Mitsubishi Outlander Making Debut at Geneva Motor Show
Mitsubishi will show the next-generation of its Outlander crossover in Geneva. The three-row model adopts a new exterior design and is said to have higher-quality interior components than the current Outlander. Additional equipment includes a power liftgate, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and a collision-avoidance braking system. Mitsubishi also will offer a plug-in hybrid version of the new Outlander, with an eco-friendly powertrain derived from the company’s PX-MiEV II concept car. The Outlander goes on sale here toward the end of 2012.
Spied: 2013 Nissan Altima Prototype in Michigan
Though the midsize sedan won’t be revealed publicly for a few more months, we managed to snap photos of the 2013 Nissan Altima testing on a Michigan highway. The sedan appears to have grown a bit compared to the current Altima, with new taillights and a redesigned front grille. Nissan plans for the 2013 car to be a “very strong contender” in a crowded segment that is dominated by the Toyota Camry. There will almost certainly be a hybrid version, with regular powertrain options likely comprising a small inline-four and a 3.5-liter V-6.
Ford Personnel Shifts: Kuzak and Booth to Retire, Huntsman Joins Board
Two senior executives at Ford Motor Company announced their retirement this week, and the Blue Oval announced that a former presidential candidate would join Ford’s board of directors. Ford chief financial officer Lewis Booth, who has been with the company since 1978, will retire April 1. Derrick Kuzack, vice president for global product development, has worked for Ford since 1978 and also will retire April 1. At the same time, Ford says former GOP presidential hopefuly Jon Huntsman, Jr., will join the company’s board of directors. Huntsman previously served as United States Ambassador to China under President Obama, and was governor of Utah.
Spied! 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL in Los Angeles
Mercedes-Benz will soon update its GL-Class SUV, and our colleagues at Motor Trend managed to snap some photos of the next GL driving around Los Angeles. We spy only minor changes to the exterior of this three-row prototype, including restyled taillights and new LED running lights. Instead, expect major changes under the hood. The GL550 will probably stop using a 5.5-liter V-8 in favor of the newer, more efficient twin-turbo 4.6-liter V-8. We can safely expect the next version of the Mercedes GL to debut next year.
Nissan Previews Invitation Concept Ahead of Geneva Debut
Nissan also previewed a car that will be unveiled in Geneva, the Invitation concept. It foreshadows a European-market hatchback that will fit between the Micra and Juke in Nissan’s lineup. The Invitation is based on the company’s B/V platform, which underpins the new Versa sedan. However, it’s unknown whether this car will ever be sold in America. When it goes on sale in Europe in 2013, the car will be badged as the Nissan Note.
First Drives: 2012 BMW 335i, 2012 Toyota Prius C
This week we drove a powerful German sports sedan and a small, thrifty Japanese hybrid. The former was the 2012 BMW 335i, the gutsiest version of the new F30-generation 3 Series currently on sale. The 300-hp 335i is plenty fast and rewards drivers with excellent handling, but we wish the BMW had more steering feel. At the other end of the automotive spectrum is the 2012 Toyota Prius C, which packs the company’s famous Hybrid Synergy Drive into a small hatchback body. The Prius C is an excellent hybrid car that feels even more refined than prior versions of the Prius, but the subcompact’s interior doesn’t feel as upscale or attractive as in non-hybrid competitors like the Ford Fiesta and Kia Rio.
By Jake Holmes