Archives for July 9th, 2013

Legendary Rally Racer “Monster” Tajima Wants A 2012 Tesla Model S

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When legendary hillclimb champion and 40-year motorsport veteran Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima entered into the 2012 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, it was the first time he had raced in an all-electric car. 

Sadly, Monster was forced to retire from the event, but last week, he got to put another electric car through its paces: the 2012 Tesla Model S. 

Visiting the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, Monster was eager to put the luxury sedan through its paces in the nearby hills surrounding the factory.

“The reason I have loved hill climbing for so long is because it puts a lot of burden on the cars,” Monster said. “I feel a new era of mobility has come, especially when driving an EV like this, and it is very exciting.”

Clearly pushing the Model S into every corner, the video of Monster’s test drive shows him laughing with glee at every twist in the road.

Monster Tajima Drives 2012 Tesla Model S

Monster Tajima Drives 2012 Tesla Model S

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“The car I drove today was extremely well tuned and balanced,” he said afterwards. “The [body] rolling is very controlled, which is a direct result of the super low center of gravity and concentrated mass. The quality of the handling is really incredible.”

Impressed by his experience behind the wheel, Monster called electric cars like the Model S “the most important parts of the solution” against climate change and global warming. 

“Thank you very much for today,” he told Tesla after the drive, adding “Please give me one!” 

Given the fact that only one person in the history of Tesla Motors has been given a car, we’re not sure Monster will get his wish, especially as that person was Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda, whose company had invested $50 million in the automaker. 

But could this be the start of a wonderful relationship between the 9-times Pikes Peak champion and the luxury automaker?

After all, how awesome would it be to see Monster drive a custom-hill-climb car built with Tesla technology?

Let us know your thoughts in the Comments below.


By Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield

Videos: Tesla Model S Hits Indicated 133 MPH, Fits Kindergarten Class

Videos: Tesla Model S Hits Indicated 133 MPH, Fits Kindergarten Class

We’re not the only ones interested in putting the Tesla Model S through its paces, as these videos from amateur testers show. In one video, a driver attempts to determine the real-world top speed of a Model S, while a kindergarten class tests the EV’s pint-sized passenger capacity in another.

Tesla Model S kindergarten class rear hatch 300x199 imageWe’ve demonstrated in our tests that the Tesla Model S can out-accelerate a number of powerful sports sedans, and this new video gives us an idea of how fast it will go if you keep your foot on the gas pedal. The video shows a man driving his Model S Signature Performance equipped with the 85-kW-hr battery on a sparsely populated highway. As he mashes the “throttle,” there’s a subtle hum but otherwise the cabin is eerily quiet. There’s no physical needle to peg, but the digital display finally tops out at an indicated 133 mph.

In the second video, a group of kindergartners questions the Model S’ seven-passenger capacity. The five- to six-year-olds, who are all naturals in front of the camera, count out loud as they appear out of the car’s cargo area, cabin, and frunk. By the end of the video, a total of 16 kindergartners are found stuffed in the Model S’ various orifices.

Check out both videos below.

Source: YouTube

By Alex Nishimoto

Rimac Concept One Electric Supercar Drifting [Video]

About a week ago, we brought you a report that stated Rimac Automobili would build a limited run of just 88 electric supercars based on the Concept One. These will be priced from €740.000 ($980.000), but unlike a Tesla or Fisker, the performance would be truly epic.

Recently, Rimac Automovili also released a teaser video to preview their Concept One show car and the performance it has to offer. Want to see what an electric car with over a thousand horsepower looks like going sideways? Check out the video!

The propulsion system for the Rimac is made up of a battery pack and four electric motors. Combined, they provide a total of 1088 horsepower. The performance figures announced yesterday give credit to the supercar claims: 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 305 km/h (190 mph).

By Mihnea Radu

Tesla Motors Supercharger: The fastest way to charge and EV?

Tesla Model S and Tesla Roadster

Tesla Motors tried to set the bar for electric automotive performance and style with its Model S, and now the company is giving that sleek sedan a suitability high-performance charging system. Tesla says its charger, modestly dubbed “Supercharger,” is the fastest of its kind.

Tesla says the system is “like an adrenaline shot for you battery.” That’s a very odd image, but if Tesla’s claims prove true, the Supercharger could make current EVs into viable long-distance vehicles, despite their relatively short ranges.

Tesla says the Supercharger can add 150 miles of range to its 85 kWh (the largest battery pack Tesla makes) Model S in just a half hour. It reckons conventional 240 volt outlets and high-powered wall units can only add 16 and 31 miles of range, respectively, in that time.

The Supercharger cuts charge times by pumping more electricity into a car’s batteries. At 90 kW, it easily outdraws conventional systems, which typically produce 10 to 20 kW. Tesla says all those watts are routed through special cables to keep things safe, and that said cables plug directly into the Model S’ battery to further increase charging speed.

Tesla plans to set up a network of over 100 Supercharger stations by 2015 to keep the juice flowing. The stations will be located at restaurants and malls so drivers have something to do while their Teslas recharge.

Six charging stations are already open in Tesla’s home state, California. Located in Los Angeles, Barstow, Tejon Ranch, Harris Ranch, Gilroy, and Folsom, they create a 200-mile radius circle that also encompasses San Francisco and Las Vegas.

In other words, the maximum distance between any of those cities or a Supercharger is 200 miles, well within the range of the 85 kWh Model S and 40 miles beyond the range of the base 40 kWh model.

The next round of Superchargers will be installed in urban corridors throughout the United States and Canada, creating a similar chain of stations for intercity electric car travel. Tesla has earmarked Vancouver-San Diego, Montreal-New York, and Los Angeles-New York as the three corridors it would like to develop.

Tesla will also export the Supercharger to Europe and Asia in the second half of 2013.

Although there has been talk of standardizing EV chargers, Tesla did not say whether the Supercharger is compatible with other companies’ vehicles. Given the trick direct-to-battery connection, it may not work with other cars.

A lack of charging stations has limited most EVs to commuter duty and general urban driving, but Tesla has decided to take matters into its own hands on this one. A cross-country network of charging stations is about as ambitious as the Model S itself, and both might be necessary to make Tesla’s vision feasible.

By Stephen Edelstein

Only Mercedes-Benz B-Class to Be Sold in US Is the EV Version

Mercedes-Benz doesn’t currently sell the B-Class, their practical MPV-esque hatchback, in the US, but when they will, it will only be the electric version, and in limited numbers. The information comes from Car and Driver, who spoke to Mercedes-Benz officials at the Paris Motor Show.

Aside from being the only B-Class to be sold Stateside, it is also the only EV sold by the German manufacturer, who apparently isn’t bringing any other electric car to the US for the foreseeable future. The B-Class Electric Drive was recently unveiled in Paris, and it features a 134 hp motor, which draws juice from a lithium-ion battery pack made by Tesla.

With a claimed range of 125 miles (200 km) it will have the best range of any other EV sold in the US, aside from the much more expensive Tesla Model S.

By Andrei Nedelea

Coda Automotive, the 'anti-Tesla,' files for bankruptcy, returns focus to battery biz

Coda sedan driving

Tesla Motors has stolen the electric car spotlight with its flashy, luxurious Model S, but there is another upstart EV builder that most people forget about (and it’s not Fisker). Maybe that’s why Coda Automotive is filing for bankruptcy.

The company will leave the car business and instead concentrate on Coda Energy, a stationary battery division it started in 2011.

Coda Automotive had a short and frustrated existence. It finally put its electric sedan on sale last year after months of delays, only to lay off 15 percent of its workforce last December.

While the car business has always been tough to break into, it’s easy to see why Coda failed just by looking at its product.

Coda really was the anti-Tesla; its car was supposed to be cheap and unpretentious, which is why it didn’t even have a name.

However, that meant Coda had to skimp on several qualities that could have attracted less humble customers. The Coda was based on the Chinese Haifei Saibao, so it had the styling of a 1990s Hyundai. It also lacked the tech and convenience options of other cars.

In the end, the Coda sedan wasn’t especially cheap either. At $37,250, it was actually a little dearer than a Nissan Leaf, and thanks to the creation of a new $28,800 base model, the Leaf is now significantly cheaper.

The Coda’s performance didn’t set the world on fire either. It’s 85 mph top speed and EPA-rated 88-mile range put it in the middle of the EV pack.

Even if the car was better, Coda’s demise wouldn’t be entirely surprising. Starting a car company isn’t easy, even when that company isn’t built around relatively unproven technology. Just ask Preston Tucker, or Henrik Fisker.

Like those men, Coda’s founders had a good idea that just didn’t work out. Coda may be gone, but hopefully the idea of a truly affordable, no-nonsense EV won’t die with it.

By Stephen Edelstein