Archives for July 2nd, 2013

Your Say: Top 10 Cars That Should Be Renamed

Your Say: Top 10 Cars That Should Be Renamed

There was a time when most automakers actually bothered to give their vehicles real names. Cars had elegant names like Continental and Fleetwood, while trucks had tough-sounding names like Bronco and Ram. More often than not nowadays cars get named random alphanumeric characters like FX50 and Z4 sDrive35is.

Last week we asked readers in a Thread of the Day which new cars should be renamed. Today, we’re sharing with you 10 of our favorites from your suggestions. Here are your picks:

2013 Cadillac ATS front three quarter in motion 300x187 imageOne car that showed up a few times in the comments was the Acura RLX. Readers pointed out that Acura’s nomenclature had no easily understandable logic to it, and that the luxury brand once had good names like Legend and Integra.

The 2014 BMW 4 Series was another car mentioned more than once. Though the reasoning behind changing the name of the two-door 3 Series to the 4 Series may be sound, some feel there’s too much heritage behind the 3 Series name to make the change. “Renaming the 3 Series Coupe the 4 Series was a stupid idea,” said –i4Collin-.

The Cadillac XTS and ATS also made the list. “Cadillac has a rich history of names to choose from, but they ignore it and go with alphanumeric names,” said Kavman, who also pointed out that the CTS name has become somewhat iconic within the brand.

2014 Chevrolet SS with USAF Thunderbirds F 16D 300x187 imageThe 2014 Chevrolet SS generated some comments, too. Many thought GM was cheapening the “SS” brand (traditionally a high-performance trim level) by naming a car after it. “Chevy SS is a cop-out,” wrote BlackDynamiteOnline, “There are like 30 Chevys with the SS moniker somewhere on them, past and present. The car is as generic as the name.” Suggested alternative names to the 2014 SS included the Impala SS (as a follow up to the mid-’90s version), Caprice, Biscayne, and Bel Air.

Similarly, commenters had a problem with names like Lincoln MKZ. Just like Cadillac, some felt that Lincoln had too rich of a history to rely on meaningless alphabet soup for names. “Lincoln needs real names for its cars,” said Dan Murphy, “The alphabet soup is lame – so much redundancy.” Many want Lincoln to bring back the Continental, Town Car, and Mark names.

2012 McLaren MP4 12C front on water 300x187 imageOne commenter said the McLaren 12C needed to be renamed…again, perhaps to something that isn’t reminiscent of a fax machine.

Though the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG name comes from Mercedes tradition, the general consensus was that the numbers in the automaker’s names should reflect the displacement of the engine, as they once did. Thus, the 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8-powered E63 would become the E55 AMG, and the 6.2-liter V-8-powered C63 would become the C62.

The Scion FR-S appeared in the comments section as well. The most common suggestions from commenters were to rebadge it as a Toyota and name it the GT86 or the Celica.

2013 Tesla Model S front three quarter 5 300x187 imageThe Tesla Model S is one of two cars on this list that doesn’t actually have an alphanumeric naming scheme. The main complaint, from MistyJ, was that the name “doesn’t have much personality.”

Like the Tesla, the Volkswagen Tiguan doesn’t have random letters for a name, but readers still don’t like it. “Tiguan” is a made-up word (a combination of “Tiger” and “Iguana”).

What new cars need a name change? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Christian Seabaugh

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By Greg Mombert

Tesla Model S Buyers Face Year-End Deadline: $7,500 At Stake

2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

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More than 13,000 people have put down deposits to join the waiting list for the Tesla Model S electric sports sedan.

Each of us eagerly awaits delivery of our much-decorated, cutting-edge car.

But as 2012 winds down, several hundred of us at the front of the queue are especially antsy. 

It’s not just a question of whether we’ll get a cool new car under the Christmas tree.

There’s real money at stake: Will we get our cars by December 31, in time to qualify for the $7,500 Federal tax credit this year?

Or will we end up on the wrong side of  the 2012 delivery bubble, and have to wait an agonizing 15 months–until April 2014–to reap the tax benefit?

When I signed my purchase agreement, back in September, I was told Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] would deliver my car in “November or December.”

But production snags have slowed deliveries, and November is clearly out of the question. And December is looking dicey.

Signatures Okay

It appears that customers who ordered the more expensive Signature cars–the first 1,200 or so cars off the line–will all get their cars this year.

Roughly 600 Signature cars have been delivered so far, and Tesla says it will ramp production rates from 200 a week at the start of November to 400 by the first week in December.

With production of Signature cars winding down–most likely by the end of November–the factory is expected to start building standard models early in December. 

My reservation for a regular Model S is Number 717. If Tesla indeed builds 400 cars a week by December 1, it appears my car would roll off the production line in mid-December.

But hold the Champagne.

A number of complicating factors could delay my delivery until after the first of the year:

*The delivery process. I live outside New York City, 2,500 miles from the Fremont factory. My Tesla rep tells me delivery takes one to two weeks.

*Production batching. Signature cars have not been produced in sequence order, but rather in batches based on options and equipment. Back-ordered parts and post-production correction of quality flaws also scrambled delivery order. So there’s no guarantee my car will be built or delivered in sequence.

*The 60-kWh factor. I ordered my car with the mid-size 60-kWh battery. Tesla hasn’t yet certified the EPA range numbers for the 60-kWh or 40-kWh cars. Until it does, production of those vehicles can’t start.  So Tesla is likely to start building  a batch of already-certified 85-kWh production versions before starting on 60-kWh and then 40-kWh models.

2012 Tesla Model S, brief test drive, New York City, July 2012

2012 Tesla Model S, brief test drive, New York City, July 2012

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A Tesla spokesman told me that 60-kWh cars will go into production in “late December,” followed by 40-kWh cars in January. My place in the 60-kWh queue–and the number of 85-kWh models to be built first–is unknown.

It all boils down to a stew of uncertainty worthy of Heisenberg.

No Refund

My own odd financial situation makes this uncertainty all the more nettlesome.

IRS rules say that the $7,500 tax credit for an electric car purchase may only be applied to Federal taxes owed.  In other words, if you owe less than $7,500 in tax, there’s no refund of the difference. You can only reap the full benefit if your actual tax bill totals at least $7,500.

Due to odd circumstances, my Federal income tax bill may be substantially less than $7,500 this year.  My tax guy advised me to cash in about $20,000 from my IRA, to bring my tax liability up to the $7,500 level so I can take full advantage of the credit.

But if I make the IRA withdrawal and then the car isn’t delivered until after December 31, I’ve just screwed myself out of several thousand dollars.

If the car is delivered in the last few days of 2012–as looks quite possible–I won’t have time to make the IRA withdrawal, which I’m told takes several days.

It appears that I–and several hundred other owners on the December 31 delivery bubble–can only sit tight, cross our fingers…and await our fates.

David Noland is a Tesla Model S reservation holder and freelance writer who lives north of New York City.

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By David Noland

Tesla Takes Steps to Take Service, Warranty From “OK” to “Great”

Tesla Takes Steps to Take Service, Warranty From “OK” to “Great”

Tesla Motors has just announced its plans to revamp the way the automaker provides service and maintenance. CEO Elon Musk recent hosted a live Q&A webcast outlining the new plans, highlighted by intriguing trade-in options with service loaners and a nearly-owner-proof battery warranty.

2013 Tesla Model S right rear side 300x187 imageMusk said his goal is to transform Tesla’s service experience from “OK” to “great.” To start that process, a fleet of loaded Model S cars (and in some markets, Roadsters) will be offered as loaner cars while owners have their vehicles serviced. The company can have the loaner car delivered to owners for no extra fee. Additionally, Tesla hopes to keep the service fleet fresh and new by allowing customers to purchase the loaner if they like it better than their current car. Tesla says the loaner cars will depreciate at a rate of 1 percent per month and $1 per mile. The cars traded in will simply be put up for sale as a used vehicle.

Tesla also hopes to wipe out any doubt potential electric-car owners have surrounding its batteries. The automaker will replace a defective battery regardless of cause, even if the owner is found to be at fault. That means if the battery fails due to improper charging habits, Tesla will still replace it. Obvious attempts at abuse won’t be covered (one of Tesla’s examples: “lighting the pack on fire with a blowtorch is not covered”). The battery warranty (eight years or 125,000 miles, whichever comes first) won’t change and Tesla will used a refurbished battery pack with equal or better battery capacity than the original.

2013 Tesla Model S interior view 300x187 imageThat said, Tesla is now making the $600 annual checkup completely optional. The automaker points to the fact that its cars require very little service. Brake pads in a Tesla, for example, don’t wear as quickly as those in gas-powered car thanks to the regenerative braking system that recaptures energy while simultaneously slowing down the car. In all, Musk hopes the updates to his automaker’s service and warranty methods will provide customers added peace of mind, even those who have never opened the manual.

“Any product that needs a manual to work is broken,” Musk said in the webcast.

Earlier this month Tesla announced a new financing option that makes owning a Model S more affordable.

Source: Tesla

By Erick Ayapana

Lingering Losses: Tesla Reports $38.4 Million Loss for the Second Quarter

Lingering Losses: Tesla Reports $38.4 Million Loss for the Second Quarter

Tesla Motors has yet to post a profit in its short history, and just recorded another significant loss for the second quarter of 2010. With sales of its Roadster electric vehicle in limited quantities, Tesla is now looking toward the launch of its second product, the Model S, in hope of turning a profit

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Although revenue was strong at $28.4 million – a 5.4-percent increase over the same period last year – the automaker managed a $38.4 million net loss. The deficit is attributed to the continued research and development costs for Tesla’s next project, the forthcoming Model S sedan. The Silicon Valley-based automaker insists the development of the Model S is on track, and will debut in 2012 with a price tag of around $57,400 – nearly half the amount of the Roadster’s $109,000. With a more affordable offering, Tesla is expecting a dramatic increase in sales. As of July, the entire run of Tesla Roadsters has accounted for just 1200 sales.

In June, Tesla launched an initial public offering that generated $226 million. Tesla was the first U.S. automaker to go public since Ford’s IPO in 1956. The instant cash infusion should help keep Tesla on its feet until the Model S sees the light of day. Tesla expects its losses to continue, however, until the Model S debuts.

Can Tesla hold out until a second product arrives? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

By Steve Diehlman

Tesla Roadster Owners Get Third-Party Charging Adaptor, CAN Finally Charge

Tesla Roadster To J-1772 Adaptor

Tesla Roadster To J-1772 Adaptor

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It officially ended production last year, but the iconic Tesla Roadster is still being developed and tweaked thanks to a few enterprising Tesla owners and fans. 

The latest must-have for any Tesla Roadster? A small adaptor that allows Tesla Roadster owners to charge their cars at any public J-1772 charging station, despite having a car with a mechanically incompatible charging socket.

Called The CAN, the tiny adaptor has been developed by Henry Sharp, a Tesla Roadster owner from Vermont. 

About the size of a soda drinks can, one side plugs into the proprietary charging socket on the Tesla Roadster, while the other offers a J-1772 inlet that can be used with any Level 2 charging station. 

Luckily, while the Tesla Roadster’s charge port is a physically incompatible with J-1772 charging stations, it is electrically compatible, reducing the adaptor’s complexity.

Tesla Roadster To J-1772 Adaptor

Tesla Roadster To J-1772 Adaptor

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To ensure no-one steals the tiny 6.6-inch long adaptor, Sharp has designed it with a small hole that allows the user to lock the adaptor onto their car. 

At $695, it isn’t exactly cheap, but the third-party device is cheaper than Tesla’s own, much larger,  J-1772 mobile connector by $75. 

Because the Tesla Roadster has such a small trunk however, the new lockable adaptor has already gained itself a significant fan base among Tesla owners unwilling to lug the $750, 4-foot official adaptor from Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] around just so they can charge. 

With other third-party add-on solutions like the Open Vehicle Monitoring System, Tesla enthusiasts continue to ensure that the Tesla Roadster remains up-to-date with electric car technology. 

It also makes the Tesla Roadster one of the most frequently modified electric cars on the market today. 

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By Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield

Tesla Investigated for Using Foreign Instead of US-Made Parts



Just days after announcing that the company had finally stopped losing money, last week, we have now learned that Tesla Motors has the subject of an ongoing investigation by federal authorities, who have the job of checking how they used their government-granted loans, according to the Washington Times.

Apparently, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been investigating the Silicon Valley-based EV maker for the last year, and they have been checking whether or not they used any of the $465-million they received from the Department of Energy (DoE) to buy foreign-made parts, rather than US-made ones.

However, considering Tesla used its foreign trade zone status to work around the problem of ‘buying American’, it does not really have to meet the stringent requirements put forth by the DoE – they applied for e a ‘sub-zone’ in the foreign trade zone of San Jose, which was approved at the end of September.

Furthermore, following the investigation, the ICE found that the loan received by Tesla was actually part of a federal appropriations bill, and it was not directly linked to Obama’s ‘EV encouragement program’, and they stated, in the end, that they did not need to only buy US-made parts, after all. Tesla has also announced that they have begun to pay back some of the federal loan.

By Andrei Nedelea