Archives for June, 2013 - Page 3
With its launch right around the corner, which should take place in ‘late 2012’, the Mercedes-Benz SLS E-Cell was recently spotted in what looks to be production form undergoing testing in Germany. Aimed as a more-or-less direct competitor for the R8 e-tron, it features a 526 hp power output, which is achieved using four electric motors (two on each axle).
It can also travel up to 190 km (120 miles) one a single charge, drawing juice from a 48 kWh battery pack, and can reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in four seconds dead. However, being more powerful, 450 kg heavier and four-wheel drive, it will be a completely different vehicle, when compared to the regular, V8-powered car.
Also, with the weight of the batteries concentrated deep in the center of the car, it should corner just as flatly as the Tesla Model S, for instance, benefitting rather than suffering from the extra weight of the batteries, and with a weight distribution of 46:54, it should also handle decently, as well.
❐ Check out the Spyshots: Mercedes-Benz SLS E-Cell Spotted in Silver photo gallery
There is no denying the merit of the Tesla Model S, for truly being the first EV one would actually consider buying without having to make any real compromises over a conventionally-powered alternative. Now, while it is slowly gaining acceptance in its home market, the US, Tesla intend to bring and sell it in Europe, as well, as the Europeans, and especially the West-Europeans are a really green bunch.
Now, the first Model S has arrived in Germany, and a lucky few have already had a chance to take it for a spin! Furthermore, in Germany, the car can be easily maxed out on the autobahn, though that action might drain the battery too quickly. Elon Musk said, regarding the Model S and Europe: "Our goal has always been to build the best car in the world and set new standards for safety, range, design and performance. We have achieved this with Model S in North America and now it's time to introduce the extraordinary Model S driving experience to Europe."
The Model S should be available for purchase as of next year, and we’re sure that if they don’t bump up the price too much, Europe may even become a bigger market than the US, as people here have been waiting for a car like this for a while now, and instead of buying a very limited range Nissan Leaf, they can save up some more and buy the base Model S.
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Chalk up another huge accolade for the Tesla Model S electric car: Consumer Reports has awarded it 99 out of 100 points, and said it’s the best car the magazine has tested since 2007.
In fact, the magazine’s descriptions of the luxury sport sedan brim with adjectives.
The Tesla Model S “is brimming with innovation, delivers world-class performance, and is interwoven throughout with impressive attention to detail,” writes the normally sober consumer publication.
Driving the Model S electric car is “like crossing into a promising zero-emissions future,” and the version tested, with its 85-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, is “easily the most practical electric car we’ve tested.”
CR reports that it gets a real-world 200 miles from that capacity, which is rated by the EPA at 265 miles of range. (The 60-kWh version is rated at 208 miles.)
The Model S was lauded for its quiet operation, its acceleration and roadholding, and its efficiency.
It wasn’t perfect, CR noted, suffering a broken windshield that had to be replaced and a problem with the radio (fixed by a software update that was downloaded through the car’s mobile-network connection).
The missing point was docked because the Model S takes roughly six hours to recharge its battery pack.
Jake Fisher, CR’s head of auto testing, put even that drawback in context when he enthused: “If it could recharge in any gas station in three minutes, this car would score about 110.”
Clearly the CR staff pretty much fell in love with the electric sport sedan.
That stands in harsh contrast to its experience with the Fisker Karma range-extended electric car, which died during a track test and was raked over the coals in a scathing test report.
The Tesla Model S doesn’t yet receive a “Recommended” rating from Consumer Reports, because the magazine doesn’t yet have reliability data on the car, which has only been delivered since last summer.
To read the magazine’s full test report, you’ll have to have a Consumer Reports login.
But you can watch the magazine’s video summary above.
Mercedes-Benz have adopted a rather clever marketing strategy to promote their all-electric B-Class F-Cell, a car which does not emit any CO2, as the video clearly points out at every possible opportunity. The award-winning ad features a B-Class F-Cell, which is covered on one side with what can only be described as a LED-based screen which is malleable and it can be made to follow the shape of the car (more or less), has cameras attached to the other side.
This enables it to display whatever the cameras are recording on the other side, and play it in real time on the LEDs. It works almost too well, and considering the fact that car companies are able to create such technologies with relative ease, we wonder if this kind of idea hasn’t already been implemented by (the much more advanced) military forces of the world’s developed countries – to hide tanks, as well as anti-tank guns.
We hope, however, that this technology will be used for good, and not to cause even more destruction than we currently have. On the plus side, if this becomes commercially available, we will soon be able to buy clothes which will render us invisible – five more years, we say.
2008 tesla roadster motorauthority 020
The Tesla Roadster is no longer on sale, and with attention on the recently-launched Model S, the upcoming Model X crossover and a rumored BMW 3-Series-sized Tesla sedan, it may be some time before the company produces another sports car.
That means you’re limited to used vehicles, and what better model to go for than a little-used example previously owned by Hollywood superstar George Clooney?
Where many celebrities own a token Toyota Prius, Clooney went the whole hog and bought a Tesla Roadster–a 2008 “Signature 100″ model, to be precise.
Inside Line reports that the car, with only 1,700 miles on the odometer–no doubt thanks to George’s busy schedule–will cross the auction block on August 19, during the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
It’s expected to fetch $100,000-$125,000, but rather than filling Clooney’s coffers the money will go towards the Satellite Sentinel Project, an organization that helps prevent wars in southern Sudan by monitoring the borders between north and south Sudan.
“This is an incredible opportunity to purchase a modern collector car with all the right elements: one-owner, celebrity provenance; historical significance; limited-edition rarity and philanthropic ties”, said David Gooding, president and founder of Gooding & Company auctioneers, who will sell the car.
The Obsidian Black Metallic Roadster is number 0008 from the run of 100 special editions, and features a two-tone leather interior.
Tesla Motors wants to build a competitor to the Nissan Leaf, CEO Elon Musk told Bloomberg. Musk said that his electric-car company would develop a more affordable model that was nicer and more desirable than the Nissan Leaf.
Musk admitted to Bloomberg that his company’s only current offering, the Model S, has somewhat limited appeal because it is very expensive. He says Tesla will develop a more affordable model that would compete with — and beat — the Leaf (pictured).
“With the Model S, you have a compelling car that’s too expensive for most people… And you have the [Nissan] Leaf, which is cheap, but it’s not great. What the world really needs is a great, affordable electric car,” Muks told Bloomberg.
Musk said the more affordable Tesla would be priced below $40,000 and would have a range of about 200 miles per charge. It will reportedly go on sale within three or four years’ time. The 2013 Nissan Leaf starts at $29,650 (including an $850 destination charge), and has an EPA-rated 75-mile driving range.
In an interview last year, Musk told us that Tesla would launch a $30,000 electric car in three to four years’ time. He said the scaled-down Model S design would be “about the size of a BMW 3 Series or Audi A4,” both cars which are significantly larger than the Nissan Leaf hatchback. Still, he said that Tesla’s key market was, “for premium sedans above $50,000.”
Earlier this year, Tesla design chief Franz von Holzhausen reiterated that the company is preparing, “an Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Volkswagen Jetta type of vehicle that will offer everything: range, affordability, and performance.” He claimed the car would cost as little as $30,000.
However, Tesla’s confirmation that it will launch a cheaper car comes only a few months after the company eliminated the most affordable version of the Model S sedan. The company killed off the option for a 40-kWh battery pack because only four percent of Tesla Model S customers asked for it.
Tesla is also planning an electric crossover called the Model X, but the company says production of that model has been delayed until 2014. Tesla did, however, fully pay off its U.S. Department of Energy loan ahead of schedule.
By Jake Holmes
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.
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 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.
By Jake Holmes
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.
Future/Spied, Green Cars, Hybrid Car/EV, Sedan, Tesla
Beating the Dead Horse – Top 10 Overused Automotive Cliches
By Benson Kong
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