Archives for July 6th, 2013

Tesla Will Open 10 More Stores This Year In High-End Sites

Tesla Store  -  Portland OR

Tesla Store – Portland OR

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Following on from Elon Musk’s announcement that Tesla is set to build 80 models this week–slowly ramping up production to hit its 5,000 end-of-year target–Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has announced it will open ten more stores in 2012.

Tesla will add 10 stores to its 14 existing sites in North America, taking the worldwide total to 34 stores.

The company’s unique retail locations are more like high-end shops than car showrooms, allowing customers to learn about the Model S electric sedan, design their own Model S using interactive displays, and some stores allow the customer to take the vehicle for a test drive, too.

The new stores will be located at high-end locations throughout the country, with the first new store opening today at Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, New York.

Next week, Tesla Motors will open its first store in Boston, at Natick Mall, before a second Chicago area store opens at Westfield Old Orchard.

Other stores will follow in Westfield Garden State Plaza, Paramus, New Jersey; The Mall at Short Hills, Morristown, New Jersey; Westfield University Town Center, San Diego, California; Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, Florida; Tyson’s Corner, McLean, Virginia and Westfield Topanga, Topanga, California.

November will see the opening of the first Canadian Tesla Motors store, at Yorkdale Shopping Center in Toronto. Further stores will open worldwide in 2013, as Tesla continues its expansion.

George Blankenship, vice president of worldwide sales and ownership experience, said “Our approach continues to be geared towards engaging and informing more people about Tesla and Model S and the technology behind it.

“We know we’ve done our job when customers leave smiling.”


By Antony Ingram

Detroit Electric SP:01 – The New Tesla Roadster?

2013 Detroit Electric SP:01

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The Detroit Electric SP:01 you see above was teased last month, but readers will note its similarity to the British Lotus Elise sports car–albeit one with electric power.

This is not, it has to be said, an original idea. The Tesla Roadster of a few years past also used a Lotus Elise chassis, albeit with carbon-fiber bodywork and a unique redesign. The PG Elektrus was similar. As was the Nemesis. And several others besides.

There’s a good reason for it of course–the Elise’s aluminum chassis provides electric automakers with a light, strong, adaptable platform. But what separates Detroit Electric’s version from the rest?

It’s certainly as fast as the rest–0-62 mph takes only 3.7 seconds, and it’ll reach 155 mph with a long enough straight.

That’s partly down to its light-weight bodywork–carbon fiber, like several of the others–and partly to a 150 kW (201 horsepower) electric motor, developing 166 pounds-feet of torque in the usual low-down manner.

Unusually, Detroit Electric says the SP:01 features four gear ratios, making it one of a small band of electric cars to use a manual transmission. The company does say that gearshifts won’t be frequent however, owing to the motor’s strong torque.

37 kWh of battery capacity supplies the car with nearly 190 miles of range, though this figure was attained in European testing–so expect the EPA figures to be lower. A full charge using the company’s home charging unit takes 4.3 hours.

The SP:01′s technology is newer than its looks suggest. In addition to what Detroit Electric calls a ‘SAMI’–Smartphone Application Managed Infotainment system–the car also features bi-directional charging and discharging. What this means is that the cool blue sports car can be used much like the Mitsubishi i-MiEV House: supplying power back-up for your home. If it’s plugged-in during an outage the car will contact you via SAMI and the GSM network and let you send power the other way, keeping your home on-line.

The price of all this performance and technology is $135,000–more expensive than the Roadster was–with a three-year, 30,000-mile warranty. Buyers can also opt for a five-year, 50,000-mile extension for the battery warranty.

Old name, revived

Its place of birth makes the SP:01 special too. You might have heard the name Detroit Electric used in context with vintage electric vehicles (such as this 1914 example) and as the name suggests, the company is based in Motor City itself, at the Fisher Building in downtown Detroit.

The actual car is to be produced in Wayne County, Michigan, and only 999 examples will be built–before being shipped to buyers worldwide.

The Michigan site actually has capacity for 2,500 vehicles a year, so if the SP:01 is successful it shouldn’t be the last vehicle emerging from the factory’s gates. With added emphasis on the “if”–Detroit Electric in its current guise is still a startup, and as such carries all the associated risks.

We’ve been here before, as evidence of those difficulties–including Detroit Electric’s $25,000 electric sedan project in 2009 that never got off the ground, and a seemingly forgotten deal with Chinese automaker Dongfeng.

The company expects to create 180 manufacturing and sales-related jobs over the next year. IIf all goes well, production is set to begin August 2013.


By Antony Ingram

Fisker Atlantic Officially Getting BMW 2.0-Liter Turbocharged Engine

While the fate of the Atlantic is still unsure, Fisker have secured a deal with BMW, which allows them to use the new 2.0-liter turbocharged unit, as fitted to the new 3-Series, and a few other smaller models from the Bavarian automaker’s range.

The information comes from Fisker CEO, Tony Posawats, who reportedly was also very optimistic about the future of the car. The next step for the company is the transition to being a publicly-owned firm, able to trade stocks, in a similar manner to what Tesla have done. This BMW collaboration is probably the first, as the company plans on multiple partnerships of the sort, as well as a competent lease plan.

The only hurdle standing between the new Atlantic and the Delaware assembly line is, of course, a financial one. Fisker is currently $150-million short, but with half of the Department of Energy (DOE) loan, of $529 still to come, perhaps the money issue will be solved.

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By Andrei Nedelea

Tesla Announces Leasing Program – Rumor Central

Tesla Announces Leasing Program

Tesla has just announced a new finance program, making it easier than ever for prospective buyers to get into a new Model S with no money down and a smaller-than-expected monthly payment.

The program, a collaboration with U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, works by having the banks pick up the Model S’ 10-percent down payment. The down payment is covered by federal and state tax credits, which range from $7500 to as high was $15,000, if you live in West Virginia. Essentially, the banks are using as a down payment the tax credit Model S buyers would otherwise receive further down the line.

The buyer, who Tesla chief Elon Musk says must have excellent credit, then makes a monthly payment based on a 2.95-percent interest rate. According to Tesla’s math, that could amount to about $500 per month for 66 months for a buyer of a 65 kWh Model S. That figure is all smoke and mirrors, though, as the automaker is taking into account intangibles like the time you save by using the carpool lane or avoiding the gas station.

For example, say you’re a wealthy West Virginian business owner who’s purchasing a new 65 kWh Model S, who drives 15,000 miles per year, and is getting out of a BMW 550i, which nets 20 mpg combined on the EPA test cycle. Right there, Tesla says you’ve netted $267 per month in energy savings if you figure the average price of premium gas over the next three years will be $5 a gallon. Drive your car for business? Deduct at least $200 per month off. Is your time worth $100 per hour? Then you’ve essentially saved $167 by cutting your commute by five minutes every day, using the carpool lane. Under all those conditions, according to Tesla, your monthly payment amounts to just $184 per month. Except it doesn’t. This West Virginian businessman will actually be paying $1051 per month for his Model S. An 85 kWh Model S Performance, the quickest American four-door we’ve ever tested, would really cost $1421 per month, and the regular 85 kWh model goes for $1199 a month. It’s worth noting that the costs of driving a $1400-per-month Model S will almost certainly be less than driving a comparable $1400 per month gas-powered car.

After three years of owning the Model S the owner will have the opportunity to sell the car back to Tesla, for at least the same residual value of an equivalent-year Mercedes-Benz S-Class. At the moment, that value is 43 percent, as long you drive less than 12,000 miles a year. For those concerned about the viability of Tesla in the long run, Elon Musk will pick up the tab in the unlikely case Tesla doesn’t exist after those three years.

Ultimately, this program looks to be a win for Tesla and a way for those who might not otherwise be able to afford a Model S to get their hands on one of our favorite electric cars. As for what’s next from Tesla, Musk promised the automaker would begin holding weekly phone conferences with the press, so stay tuned.

Play with Tesla’s True Cost of Ownership Model S calculator here.

Source: Tesla

By Christian Seabaugh

Rafael de Mestre’s Successfully Completes EV Trip Around the World

After starting off in Barcelona, a few months back, Rafael de Mestre and his Tesla Roadster arrived in the Spanish city yet again, only this time after having traveled around the entire world, in order to do so.

While the majority of the trip may have gone smoothly, the Dutchman did suffer a massive setback, just 600 miles (1,000 km) away from his destination, when he crashed into the back of another car, on a German autobahn.

Thankfully, his car was repaired in record time, and he was back on track, despite losing all hope in actually finishing. Well, now, the trip is over, and de Mestre is back in Barcelona, where it all started. The feat was achieved last weekend, and he was greeted by a ‘welcoming committee’, as well as many EV advocates and regular bystanders.

However, this success has only spurred de Mestre on, and he is bent on braking even more EV records. We wish him the best of luck in all his future EV-related endeavors!

By Andrei Nedelea

Tesla Turns A Profit As Sales Exceed Expectations – Rumor Central

Tesla Turns A Profit As Sales Exceed Expectations

Tesla Motors revealed today that it will post a profit in the first quarter of 2013, because sales of the Model S electric sedan exceeded expectations. Total sales of the Tesla Model S reached 4750 units, up from the 4500 units previously planned.

The announcement is good news for Tesla after a disappointing year in 2012, when the company lost almost $400 million. Last year, Tesla sold just 2650 units of the Model S while it ramped up production of the car.

“There have been many car startups over the past several decades, but profitability is what makes a company real. Tesla is here to stay and keep fighting for the electric car revolution,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a statement.

The company also announced two changes to the model line-up. First, Tesla has killed the low-range, 40-kWh version of the Model S. Only four percent of customers asked for the smallest battery, making it financially difficult for Tesla to build that version. Customers will receive the next largest battery pack, with a capacity of 60 kWh, but the car’s software will keep range equivalent to that of the 40-kWh pack unless owners pay for an upgrade.

In addition, Tesla revealed what it calls an Easter egg in the new Model S. Although the hardware to use Tesla’s Supercharger fast-charging network was supposed to be optional, it has actually been included in all versions of the Model S. Customers can simply pay for a software update to “unlock” the function if they need to use the Supercharger network.

Source: Tesla Motors

By Jake Holmes

10 Things You Need To Know About The 2012 Tesla Model S

Electric cars come in all shapes and sizes – not just the compact, mass-production models that most Americans have become familiar with over the past couple of years. The 2012 Tesla Model S represents the new vanguard of battery-powered automobiles, cars that don’t compromise on features, power, or style while still delivering completely emissions-free operation. The Tesla Model S might not be as common as the Nissan Leaf or the Chevrolet Volt, but it’s an important step in the maturity of the electric vehicle marketplace.

Let’s take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2012 Tesla Model S.

01. The 2012 Tesla Model S Is All-Electric

Unlike a hybrid vehicle – or even an extended-range hybrid such as the Chevrolet Volt – the 2012 Tesla Model S derives 100 percent of its motivation from electricity, with no assistance whatsoever from a traditional internal combustion engine. As such, the vehicle does not produce any emissions, and is almost completely silent when underway. The Tesla Model S relies on a single AC electric motor that is capable of generating a monstrous 416 horsepower along with 443 lb-ft of torque – output that is sent to the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission.

02. The 2012 Tesla Model S Features An Extended Range

The 2012 Tesla Model S can be ordered with three different battery options. The entry-level battery offers a 40 kWh capacity, which translates into a range of 160 miles on a full charge. Moving up to the 60 kWh battery expands the Model S’ cruising ability substantially to 230 miles, while selecting the top-of-the-line 85 kWh battery boosts the maximum distance that can be traveled to 300 miles. Each battery comes with an eight year warranty, and while the base storage pack is guaranteed for 100,000 miles of operation, the 85 kWh features an unlimited mileage warranty – one of the first such promises to be made in the electric car industry.

03. The 2012 Tesla Model S Can Recharge Quickly

Like most electric vehicles, the 2012 Tesla Model S offers a variety of different charging options. 110 volt charging from a standard household outlet is of course included with the vehicle’s onboard electrical connection, and an adaptor is also provided in order to connect to 240 volt and J1772 public charging stations for more rapid filling of the automobile’s battery. Using the vehicle’s available 10 kW on-board charger, Tesla claims that the car can travel 31 miles for every hour that it spends sucking juice out of the wall. Upgrading to the 20 kW twin charger doubles that figure to 62 miles of range per hour of charge. The latter is recommended for use with Tesla’s optional High Power Wall Connector, which can be installed in a home garage.

04. The 2012 Tesla Model S Is Rear-Engined

The 2012 Tesla Model S has been designed in order to minimize the impact of the weight of its battery pack and electric engine. The battery pack has been mounted in the floor pan – an absolute must to keep the car’s center of gravity as low as possible, given that these electric storage cells account for one third of the automobiles total mass. In the same vein, the Model S features a rear-mounted motor, squeezing the unit between the vehicle’s two back wheels. Heat exchangers at the front of the car to keep the battery pack and other electronic systems cool.

05. The 2012 Tesla Model S Offers Exceptional Performance

Despite being saddled with a significant amount of weight due to its battery pack, the 2012 Tesla Model S is an impressive performer in real world driving scenarios. The Tesla Model S tips the scales at a hefty 4,642 lbs when ordered with the 85 kWh battery, but that same configuration in Performance trim is capable of zooming to 60-mph from a standing start in an astonishing 4.4 seconds. The Model S 85 kWh Performance also devours the quarter mile in 12.6 seconds, which is fast enough to startle many dedicated sports cars. Top speed for the Model S is limited to between 110 and 130 mph, depending on the model, and even the base 40 kWh edition of the car blows past 60-mph in well under seven seconds.

06. The 2012 Tesla Model S Is A Hatchback Sedan

The 2012 Tesla Model S flirts with the current four-door coupe trend currently sweeping the luxury segment, but ultimately the automobile provides a compromise by offering a hatchback sedan body style that is both elegant and practical. Borrowing more than a few styling cures from Jaguar, Aston Martin, and Maserati, the Tesla Model S provides a long hood, a sweeping rear roofline, a wide oval grille, and a long wheelbase that give it significant presence out on the road. A generous hatch opening makes it a cinch to load the Tesla Model S with cargo.

07. The 2012 Tesla Model S Can Seat Up To Seven Passengers

The 2012 Tesla Model S can handle more than just luggage behind the second row of seating. Thanks to the availability of two optional, rear-facing seats, the Tesla Model S can push its passenger capacity from five to seven, making it a viable crossover challenger for families that need to be able to transport a few extra bodies in a pinch. The most recent vehicles to offer this type of seating configuration were station wagons offered by Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, making the Model S the only hatchback sedan to provide such an appealing option.

08. The 2012 Tesla Model S Can Be Had In Four Different Models

The 2012 Tesla Model S is offered in four distinct models. The base Tesla Model S can be had with either of the three battery pack options, retailing for MSRPs of $49,900 (40 kWh), $59,900 (60 kWh) and $69,900 (85 kWh). Opting for the Model S Performance edition – the quickest of the hatchback sedans, and one that offers additional luxury equipment plus an upgraded suspension system – pumps the price up to $84,900. The Model S Signature and Signature Performance models represent the first 1,000 examples of the car to be built, and they retail for $87,900 and $97,900, respectively. Both Signature models and the Performance version of the car come standard with the 85 kWh battery pack.

09. The 2012 Tesla Model S Comes With High Tech Features

The 2012 Tesla Model S isn’t just a technological tour-de-force under the skin – it also packs a number of sophisticated features aimed at improving the experience of those driving and riding in the electric car. Of these, the most prominent is the 17-inch touchscreen that is mounted on the vehicle’s center stack. This unique LCD panel is used to control almost every single vehicle function, from its heating and cooling controls to its entertainment system and wireless networking capabilities. Opting for the Tech Package adds additional equipment such as a turn-by-turn navigation system, a high definition backup camera, and LED fog lights.

10. The 2012 Tesla Model S Has No Direct Competition

The 2012 Tesla Model S is in a class by itself, as no other automaker is currently offering an all-electric luxury car costing anywhere near the Tesla Model S’ $50k starting MSRP. Broadening the scope, it’s possible that buyers considering the Model S might also look at vehicles such as the BMW 5 Series, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and the Lexus GS. That being said, if zero emissions, a decoupling from gasoline as a mobile power source, and pure prestige are the most important components of the purchasing decision, then the Tesla Model S emerges as the clear winner in its particular niche.

By Autobytel Staff

Tesla Roadster Replacement Coming No Sooner than 2015

Tesla Motors’ first car, the Elise-based Roadster was and still is a unique car, offering emissions two-seater fun, in a compact (and very expensive) package. The fact that they managed to sell the Roadster in fair numbers, for the kind of car it was, enabled them to conceive and finally build and market the Model S sedan, a car completely designed and built in-house.

Now, after the launch of the Model S, the company will begin production of the Model X SUV, which will be followed by an all-electric BMW 3-Series rival, which, in turn, will be followed by a new Roadster, which will also most likely be designed and built in-house – it will not arrive any sooner than 2015-2016, though.

With the Model S being such a capable car for what it is, it is clear that Tesla engineers do know what they are doing, so a purpose-built all-electrc sports car made by the American firm is something to really look forward to, regardless of the fact that they have yet to decide if they will build it, or not – we say they will, as any self-respecting automaker needs an image-boosting 'halo car'.

Story via

By Andrei Nedelea

Does The Tesla Model S Electric Car Pollute More Than An SUV?

2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

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Does the supposedly clean, green Tesla Model S really pollute more than a gas-guzzling Jeep Grand Cherokee sport-utility vehicle?

That’s what one analyst has claimed.

In an exhaustive 6,500-word article on the financial website Seeking Alpha, analyst Nathan Weiss lays out a case that the Model S actually has higher effective emissions than most large SUVs of both the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and smog-producing pollutants like sulfur dioxide.

As a 2013 Tesla Model S owner, I was shocked and concerned by his claims. 

Although carbon emissions were not a big factor in my decision to buy a plug-in car–I was more interested in performance, style, and low operating cost–the car’s green cred was a nice bonus. 

Now here’s this Weiss guy, calling me a global-warming villain.

But I couldn’t help but notice that in his role as financial analyst, Weiss had been advising his clients to “short” the stock of Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA]–to bet against it. (Tesla stock price down = happy clients; Tesla stock up = very unhappy clients.)

And is it a coincidence that the article appeared the same day Tesla stock skyrocketed 30 percent, after Tesla’s first-quarter earning report? (It’s since risen another 30 percent.)

Weiss’s motives aside, his claims deserve a close look on their merits.

Not only the tailpipe

Like all 100-percent electric cars, the Model S indisputably has zero tailpipe emissions. 

But Weiss looks at emissions from the powerplants that supply the Tesla’s electric “fuel,” as well as the excess electricity consumed by the Model S due to charging inefficiencies and “vampire” losses.

These two factors, he concludes, give the Model S effective carbon emissions roughly equal to those of a Honda Accord.

Throw in the carbon emitted during production of the Model S’s 85-kWh lithium-ion battery, says Weiss, and the Model S ends up in Ford Expedition territory. 

Not so fast….

Although Weiss makes a number of valid points, I see several flaws in his argument. And he bases his carbon-footprint estimates of battery production on a single report that is far out of sync with previous research on the subject. 

Furthermore, he fails to account for the carbon emissions resulting from the production of gasoline. If the carbon footprint of a Tesla’s fuel counts against it, why shouldn’t a standard car’s fuel be subject to similar accounting?

So let’s go through his analysis and his conclusions point by point.

*Power plant emissions count against electric cars

Virtually all electric car advocate agree that when toting up the environmental pros and cons of electric cars, it’s only fair to include powerplant emissions. 

When this has been done previously, the numbers have still favored electric cars. The Union of Concerned Scientists, for example, concluded in a 2012 report, “Electric vehicles charged on the power grid have lower global warming emissions than the average gasoline-based vehicle sold today.” 

The carbon-friendliness of the electric grid, of course, varies wildly from region to region, depending upon the type of powerplants there.

2013 Tesla Model S in Queens, NY, service center, awaiting delivery to buyer David Noland, Feb 2013

2013 Tesla Model S in Queens, NY, service center, awaiting delivery to buyer David Noland, Feb 2013

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Tesla Motors has an interactive calculator on its website that allows you to calculate the effective carbon emissions of your Model S, depending on your particular state’s powerplant mix (coal, gas, nuclear, hydro, etc.). The numbers range from 26 gm/mi in Idaho (mostly hydro) to 310 gm/mi in West Virginia (mostly coal). 

According to Weiss, the national average for Tesla’s claimed Model S CO2 emissions works out to 163 grams per mile (g/mi). Tesla says the corresponding figure for gas cars is 400 g/mi.

Although not truly zero-emission, electric cars in general (and the Model S in particular) are still better than most gas cars. Or so goes the mainstream scientific thinking.

Weiss begs to differ.

*Tesla’s numbers are too optimistic

According to the Tesla website, it assumes a Model S electricity usage of 283 Watt-hours per mile for its CO2 calculations. That’s the power required to drive at a steady 55 mph.

Weiss disputes that number as unrealistically low. He cites, among other sources, the EPA’s number of 321 Wh/mi, as well as 48 reports on the Tesla owners’ forum that averaged to 367 Wh/mi.

He concludes that the real-world power consumption of the 85-kWh Model S is actually more like 375 Wh/mi. That’s 33 percent higher than Tesla claims. 

Accordingly, CO2 emissions would also be 33 percent higher.

I can’t argue with Weiss on this one. In 3,000 miles of driving my 60-kWh Model S, I’ve averaged 343 Wh/mi. Since my 60-kWh car is about seven percent more efficient than the heavier 85-kWh model, that would correspond to a real-world consumption of 367 Wh/mi for the longer-range car.

Because my driving–as well as that of the 48 Tesla owners Weiss cites–has occurred mostly in winter, I would expect average energy usage to decline as the weather warms. (I’ve already seen my efficiency improve in May.) I’d guesstimate a real-world year-round number for the 85-kWh Model S of 340 Wh/mi.

But I won’t quibble with Weiss’s figure of 375.

So a 33-percent bump raises Tesla’s claimed Model S effective carbon emissions of 163 gm/mi to 216 gm/mi, or about the same as the Toyota Prius V. 

*Charging losses boost carbon emissions by 18 percent

Not every kilowatt-hour of energy that comes out of the wall plug ends up in the Model S battery. Citing EPA figures and reports from owners, Weiss estimates the Model S’s real-world charging efficiency at about 85 percent.

Again, Weiss has a good point. I’ve measured charging losses of 10-15 percent in my own car. Tesla quotes a “peak charging efficiency” of 92 percent on its website. An average charging efficiency of 85 percent seems plausible.

That means a Model S typically draws 17 percent more power from the plug than it uses to power the car.

So now our Model S carbon emissions are up to 254 g/mi, slightly less than those of a 2013 Honda Civic.

*Vampire losses further raise emissions by 55 percent

Whoa! This is truly a shocking claim. It implies that vampire losses–the power used by the Model S when it’s off, just sitting there in your garage–amount to nearly as much as Tesla claims the car uses while driving.

Weiss, citing a number of sources, (including my own report on Model S vampire losses on this site), settles on a number for vampire losses of 5.1 kWh per day. He then combines that figure with an estimate of 7,728 miles driven per year to conclude that vampire-related Model S CO2 emissions amount to 140 g/mi.

This brings his new total up to to 394 g/mile, about the same as a BMW 5-Series.

I’d call Weiss’s number for vampire drain a bit high, but not implausible. I measured at-the-wall vampire losses averaging 4.5 kWh per day on my car.

One reason for Weiss’s high-ball estimate may be his apparent misunderstanding of the Model S battery thermal management system. He claims that vampire losses in the 30-to-50-degree range are nearly triple those occurring at temperaturess of 50 to 80 degrees, due to the extra juice required to keep the battery warm.

This is simply wrong. I have noticed no such variations.

And a Tesla rep confirmed to me that the Model S battery is not temperature-controlled when the car sits idle, so there is no battery heating/cooling power draw. (Elon Musk has publicly confirmed this.) The brief pre-heat/cool prior to the once-a-day “topping off” charge cycle would have only a minimal impact on vampire losses.

I also take issue with Weiss’s estimate of the Model S average yearly driving distance of only 7,728 miles. (His derivation of the number is too lengthy to analyze here.)

2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]

2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]

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How could it be that Model S owners drive barely half as much as the national average of 13,476 miles per year? l know my own driving mileage has actually increased since I got my Model S, simply because the car is such a blast to drive.

It’s only temporary

But Weiss’s major miscue in the section about vampire power drain–other than misspelling my name–is his implication that these daily losses are a permanent long-term condition.

Tesla has in fact been working on “sleep mode” software improvements to reduce vampire losses. Its next major update, due this summer, is expected to cut vampire losses by half.

By the end of the year, they will be virtually eliminated, according to Tesla spokesperson Shanna Hendricks.

Weiss acknowledges the promised sleep mode, but doubts that it will make any difference. “History (and the mechanics of the battery) suggest it will not meaningfully reduce idle power consumption,” he writes.

I suggest it will. And that by the end of the year, 55 percent of Weiss’s argument will have gone up in smoke.

Anticipating the new sleep mode, I’m going to ignore vampire losses and stick with 254 gm/mi as the Model S carbon footprint, compared to Weiss’s vampire-bloated number of 394 gm/mi.

*Battery production adds 39 percent more

The manufacture of a car contributes to its lifetime carbon emissions. And it’s well established that the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries is a carbon-intensive process. The question is, how much?

For his battery-production carbon numbers, Weiss relies primarily on an outlier study from the Journal of Industrial Ecology. Its estimates of carbon footprint from lithium-ion battery production are far higher than previous studies, and it has been pilloried in the blogosphere for numerous errors too arcane to enumerate here.

A 2010 study in the journal of the American Chemical Society, on the other hand, concludes that the environmental impact of the battery is “relatively small.” It estimates that battery production adds about 15 percent to the driving emissions of an electric car.

A 2012 study for the California Air Resources Board puts the number at 26 percent, assuming the California powerplant mix. But if you adjust to the dirtier national U.S. grid powerplant mix, driving emissions go up. So the percentage share of battery production goes down, also to about 15 percent.

Tesla may, in fact, beat even those lower numbers. Uniquely among electric car manufacturers, Tesla uses what are arguably the most efficiently manufactured lithium-ion battery cells on the planet: “commodity” 18650 laptop cells, which Panasonic churns out by the billions in highly automated plants. (I’m unaware of any carbon life-cycle analysis for these batteries.)

We’ll go with the consensus mainstream number of 15 percent, which brings total Model S carbon emissions up to 292 gm/mi, against Weiss’s battery-boosted grand total of 547 gm/mi.

Carbon summary

We’ve arrived at a number for the real-world effective CO2 emissions of a Model S of 292 g/mi. Admittedly, that’s lot higher than Tesla claims on its website.

But worse than a Grand Cherokee? Hardly.

The V-6 Grand Cherokee’s official EPA CO2 number is 479 g/mi when fitted with the smallest engine offered, a 3.6-liter V-6. The more powerful V-8 model logs in at a whopping 592 g/mi.


In a follow-up post a few days later, Weiss backed off and significantly downgraded his estimate for Model S carbon emissions.

He concedes that, in calculating vampire losses per mile, total distance of 12,000 miles per year makes for a better comparison. He also downgrades his estimate of idle power losses to 3.5 kWh per day.

And, strangely, he neglects to account for the carbon footprint of battery production in any way.

2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]

2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]

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With these new numbers, he recalculates the Tesla’s total effective carbon emissions to be 346 g/mi, not a lot more than the 292 g/mi I calculated above.

Weiss also downgrades his SUV bogeyman, pointing out that even at his revised lower figure of 346 g/mi, the Model S is still a worse carbon polluter than the Toyota Highlander, which the EPA rates at 312 g/mi.

What about carbon from gasoline production?

But for all his zeal in exhaustively parsing the carbon footprint of electricity production, Weiss conveniently forgets to mention that producing gasoline also has its own carbon footprint.

According to a 2000 report from the MIT Energy Lab, gasoline production accounts for 19 percent of the total lifetime CO2 emissions of a typical car. Actually driving the car accounts for about 75 percent of its lifetime carbon output.

Thus the carbon footprint of fuel production adds about 25 percent to a gas car’s nominal CO2 emissions number. 

Sorry, Mr. Weiss. If you apply the same rules to gasoline cars that you did to the Tesla, your Toyota Highlander just went from 312 g/mi to 390 g/mi.

On this adjusted apples-to-apples basis, the Tesla figure of 292 g/mi is roughly comparable to that of the Scion iQ.

*Other pollutants 

With all the growing concern about global warming and carbon emissions, old-fashioned “smog” air pollution–primarily nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2)–has receded into the background.

Due to strict emissions laws, modern gasoline cars emit very little of these lung-threatening pollutants. The same cannot be said, unfortunately, about coal-fired powerplants.

Weiss calculates that powerplant emissions give the Model S an effective level of NOx pollution about triple that of the EPA limit for gas cars. (I’m discounting his suspect inclusion of vampire losses.)

The situation for sulfur dioxide is much worse. Weiss calculates that effective Model S sulfur dioxide emissions equal that of about 400 gas cars. (Again, the suspect vampire data is discounted.)

Weiss writes, “In many states, including California, if a smog-testing center could measure the effective emissions of a Tesla Model S through a tailpipe, the owner would face fines, penalties, or the sale of the vehicle under state ‘clunker buyback’ programs.”

In terms of sulfur dioxide, gas cars are so clean and coal-fired electricity so dirty that a 60-watt light bulb effectively emits as much sulfur dioxide as an average gasoline car driving at 60 mph.

Frankly, I can’t argue with these disturbing numbers, and I have not seen them refuted anywhere. But they say more about the tough emission laws for gas cars and the remarkably lax rules for coal-fired powerplants belching sulfur dioxide than they do about the Model S.

Nevertheless, I’m feeling a bit guilty about the sulfur dioxide spewing out of my Tesla’s virtual tailpipe.

At least I live in New York state, which uses coal for only about 10 percent of its power production. That’s about one quarter of the U.S nationwide percentage, so presumably I’m “only” 100 times worse than a gas car when it comes to sulfur dioxide emissions.

Fortunately, I’m not alone; the vast majority of electric cars operate in states with low-coal grids like California, Washington, and New York.

And the grid is slowly getting cleaner. As more wind, solar, and natural gas come online and antiquated coal plants are shut down, my effective SO2 emissions will steadily decline.

So in the end…

After all of this, the conclusion seemed clear: I drive a kick-ass, high-performance, five-seat all-electric luxury sport sedan that has the same wells-to-wheels carbon emissions as a tiny Scion minicar with two real seats.

Anybody got a problem with that?

When it comes to virtual tailpipe emissions, carbon and otherwise, the Model S ain’t perfect.

But if you ask me, it’s a huge step in the right direction.

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


By David Noland

Infiniti Emerg-e to Be Shown in Action at Goodwood

The Infiniti Emerg-e is a stunning looking thing, and there’s no doubt about that. It is their best design exercise so far, and some officials have stated that it’s ‘feasible’ to build a production version of the car, so it’s great news that the car will be driven for everybody to see at this year’s edition of the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The car is based on a modified Lotus Evora platform – an excellent chassis which has been praised for its excellent handling and comfort characteristics (two traits rarely found together, let alone on a Lotus sports car). It is a range-extended hybrid, with a power output of 402 hp, as stated by Infiniti engineers.

It can crack 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in around 4 seconds, with an all-electric range of 48 km (30 miles) and an extended range of around 480 km – this makes it thoroughly usable as a daily driver, and a more-than-brisk one at that.

If we stop to think for a second, Lotus is open to the whole idea of supplying rolling chassis to other manufactuers, as proven by their collaboration with Tesla – the Roadster sharing the Elise’s epoxy-bonded aluminium construction. This just makes us add the Emerg-e to the category of possible future production cars.

If it does make it into production, the car is expected to cost somewhere in the region of €115,000 (£95,000), and with its ‘green’ credentials, awesome styling and posh badge, it will sell by the thousands, despite the relatively high price – they should also change its name.

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By Andrei Nedelea