Archives for July 17th, 2013

Tesla Model S Beats Viper on Drag Strip [Video]

If you needed even more proof that the Tesla Model S is properly quick, by any standards, we highly recommend you check out the video above. The car was recently put up against a previous-generation 2004 Dodge Viper SRT-10, which features an 8.3-liter V10 engine, with over 500 hp.

The Dodge has a claimed 0-62 mph or 0-100km/h time of just under four seconds, so it is comparable to the claimed time of the 414 hp all-electric Model S, which Tesla claims completes the benchmark sprint in just over 4 seconds (they say 4.4, but the actual figure is actually lower).

The video, courtesy of DragTimes, shows the two cars being put head to head on a smooth and even drag strip, so it`s all down to which car is quicker, and there are no exterior factors which could corrupt the result.

The electric car sprints off the line much quicker than the Viper, which actually looks and feels very sluggish. The EV pulls a comfortable lead on the V10 car, and despite the fact that by the end of the quarter-mile, it is beginning to gain ground, the Tesla still nails it in the end.

By Andrei Nedelea

Tesla Model S Earns 89 MPGe Rating, 265-Mile Range


The top-of-the-line Tesla Model S all-electric sedan reaches 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds and has a top speed of 130 mph. Today we can add another number to the spec sheet: 89. As in, 89 MPGe (Miles Per Gallon equivalent).

That’s how the EPA officially rated Model S cars with the largest 85 kWh battery today, along with an expected range of 265 miles on a charge. Tesla had originally predicted a 300-mile range, which may still be possible if you’re dainty with the accelerator.

The 85 kWh battery is available in both the Model S Signature ($87,900*) and Signature Performance ($97,900) trims that will begin delivering to customers this Friday. An 85 kWh Model S Performance ($84,900) and 85, 60 or 40 kWh Model S ($49,900-$69,900) will begin delivery later this year. The EPA has not yet released figures for the 40 and 60 kWh battery-powered Model S vehicles. Tesla predicts an electric range of 160 and 230 miles, respectively.

The EPA rating places the Model S below its all-electric competitors in the U.S. market. The Honda Fit EV recently set an all-time record with its 118 MPGe rating, while the Mitsubishi i-MiEV scored a 112, the Ford Focus Electric is 105, and the Nissan Leaf weighs in at 99 MPGe.

Of course, none of those offer much in the way of performance, and none will turn heads like the drop-dead gorgeous Model S is sure to do. Its 265-mile driving range is more than double each of the other EVs, as well.

The Tesla is exponentially more expensive than its electric competition in every trim except the 40 kWh Model S, but for this combination of style, performance and eco-friendliness, that’s small pittance to high-income and green-minded buyers.

*All Tesla prices listed are after a $7,500 federal tax credit for electric cars.

Visit theautoMedia.comGreen Cornerfor quick access to reviews, pricing, photos, mpg and more. Make sure to follow onTwitterandFacebook.

Are you charged or drained by the efficiency rating for the Tesla Model S? Let us know in the comments below.

Tesla Model S – Official Website

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By Ryan ZumMallen

Buy a House, Get a Free Tesla Model S Thrown In

There was this guy once, who was trying to sell his two-story house in Neville's Cross, Durham, UK. It had been on the market for quite some time, with very little interest, despite several price drops, so the guy decides to throw in his 1998 Ferrari 355 to coax in more buyers.

We don’t really know whether that guy managed to sell his house, but what we do know is that another guy is doing the same thing, but with a car that’s a quite a bit more special, even more so than a Ferrari 355. The house in question is a traditional-looking thing, worth around $1.15- (€0.93-) million, and to spice things up, the owner is throwing in his soon-to-be-delivered Tesla Model S.

What can we say, other than the fact that it’s rather pointless, as the Model S in question could have gone to somebody who actually wanted it, and it’s kind of silly to give away a car with the house, instead of just detracting the car’s value from the house’s. Modern marketing techniques like this one shouldn’t work. But then again, they are – this piece of news is all over the web, so whoever thought it up definitely deserve at least some credit. They even put up a website for it.

By Andrei Nedelea

Elon Musk Calls Fisker Karma ‘Mediocre’ and Overpriced

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, has officially started a tense and negative future relationship with Fisker and its founder, Henrik Fisker. He recently said, in an interview with Automobile Magazine that “it’s a mediocre product at a high price [. . .] The car looks very big, and yet it has no trunk space and is very cramped inside, particularly in the rear seats.”

Now, while we do not agree with malicious comments, especially when it comes to ‘green’ cars, we say that in light of recent (and older) events, coupled with less-than-positive customer reviews which argue that the car is badly built and not up to the quality standard of the price bracket in which it sits, we say that there is some truth in what Elon Musk is saying. However, considering the fact that Tesla’s first car was basically a Lotus Elise rolling-chassis stuffed with batteries, the Fisker Karma is a much more complete and unique offering, than the Tesla Roadster, leaving its owners with a feeling of bespoke-ness.

Musk went on to say “The fundamental problem with Henrik Fisker — he is a designer or stylist…he thinks the reason we don’t have electric cars is for lack of styling. This is not the reason. It’s fundamentally a technology problem. At the same time, you need to make it look good and feel good, because otherwise you’re going to have an impaired product. But just making something look like an electric car does not make it an electric car.

By Andrei Nedelea

Tesla Model X Crossover Teased

Tesla is almost ready to unveil the Model X crossover, with the vehicle scheduled to be shown to the public for the first time on February 9, and we can now see the first teaser of the vehicle.

The image, which comes from the invitation sent to the customers who will attend the event, allows us to see a silhouette that borrows a few tricks from that of the Model S sedan, whose platform is also used by the crossover, but also comes with original details, such as a higher roof line.

Tesla wants the Model X to be both versatile and sporty, and, if the vehicle manages to deliver on this promise, we will get one interesting proposition, especially if we consider that it will use electric power.

The Tesla Model X is scheduled to the unveiled on February 9 during a special event that will be held in Los Angeles, with the ceremony set to be broadcasted live on Tesla Motors’ website (8 AM local time).


By Andrei Tutu

How Far Will A Tesla Model S Go? One Owner Did 405 Miles

Tesla Model S owner David Metcalf after covering more than 400 miles [photo: Gene Kruckemyer]

HI-RES GALLERY: Tesla Model S owner David Metcalf after covering more than 400 miles [photo: Gene Kruckemyer]

  • Tesla Model S owner David Metcalf after covering more than 400 miles [photo: Gene Kruckemyer]

  • David and Adam Metcalf beat 400 miles on a charge in a 2012 Tesla Model S (Image: David Metcalf)

  • David and Adam Metcalf beat 400 miles on a charge in a 2012 Tesla Model S (Image: David Metcalf)

  • Tesla Model S owner David Metcalf after covering more than 400 miles [photo: Gene Kruckemyer]

    • Tesla Model S owner David Metcalf after covering more than 400 miles [photo: Gene Kruckemyer]

    • David and Adam Metcalf beat 400 miles on a charge in a 2012 Tesla Model S (Image: David Metcalf)

    • David and Adam Metcalf beat 400 miles on a charge in a 2012 Tesla Model S (Image: David Metcalf)


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Back in May, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] released range estimates for the 2012 Model S.

While the company predicted that 250-300 miles would be typical for the largest, 85 kilowatt-hour battery, and the EPA confirmed this with an official 265 miles, insiders at Tesla had a sneaky feeling that 400 miles would be possible.

That estimate has now been confirmed by Model S owner David Metcalf, and his 12-year old son, Adam.

After a 405-mile journey through Florida, the father and son team is the first to break 400 miles in the Model S. That distance is now being verified by Guinness World Records, and could become a benchmark for other Model S owners as the car goes on sale around the world.

The trip ended with a congratulatory call from Tesla Vice President, George Blankenship, followed by a tweet from Tesla CEO and founder, Elon Musk. Musk may now be looking for a prize for the record-breaking duo, as promised for the first owner to pass 400 miles on a single charge.

According to David’s twitter feed, much of the journey was relatively flat, and done at constant speed on rural roads. There were few stops over the 400 miles and to eke out a little more range, the duo rolled down the windows a few inches rather than using the climate control. The car’s tires were also inflated higher than standard.

The car actually managed 423.5 miles before the duo finally stopped, ready to be towed home.

There’s another significance to the 400-mile record–it comfortably beats the maximum range attained in Tesla’s own Roadster, when two Australian owners hit 313 miles back in 2009.

It’s also a greater proportion above the official EPA ratings. The 313-mile record was set against an EPA rating of 244 miles–a 28 percent increase. The new drive is over 50 percent greater than the Model S’s EPA range of 265 miles.

Green Car Reports offers its congratulations to both David and Adam!

[Hat tip: Brian Henderson]


By Antony Ingram

Tesla Repays $465-Million DoE Loan, Chrysler Bites Back At Claim

'Revenge of the Electric Car' premiere: Elon Musk arrives in a Tesla Roadster

‘Revenge of the Electric Car’ premiere: Elon Musk arrives in a Tesla Roadster

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Ah, politics.

Yesterday, Tesla paid off the balance of its U.S. government loan, using proceeds from its $1 billion-plus offering of stock and warrants last week, as CEO Elon Musk had said  Monday it would in a tweet.

The amount settled yesterday was $451.8 million, following installments paid by Tesla last year and in the first quarter of this year.

Loans to Ford, Nissan, Tesla

The company had been granted $465 million in low-interest loans by the U.S. Department of Energy in June 2009, through its advanced technology vehicle manufacturing program.

Other carmakers who got loans included Fisker ($532 million, of which only $192 million was disbursed), Ford ($5.9 billion), and Nissan ($1.6 billion).

Musk thanked the DoE “and the members of Congress and their staffs that worked hard to create the ATVM program,” in a release yesterday, with special appreciation to “the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate.”

“I hope we did you proud,” he concluded.

Out from under

So Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] is now out from under the shadow of U.S. government investment.

By paying off the loan early, Tesla also precluded the government from sharing in the current appreciation of its stock. Warrants for the DoE to acquire Tesla stock would not have kicked in until later in the loan term, as at least one critic points out.

The DoE issued a grateful press release as well, saying Tesla’s repayment highlights the “strength” of its loan portfolio and noting that losses to its total $34 billion portfolio of loans across many programs represent only about 2 percent to date.

Leilani Münter and the Tesla Model S

Leilani Münter and the Tesla Model S

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Like any other carmaker selling plug-in electric cars, it continues to benefit from Federal income-tax credits of $2,500 to $7,500 offered to its buyers.

And it also earns additional money selling Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) credits to other makers who buy them to comply with California state regulations requiring them to sell a certain number of vehicles that have no tailpipe emissions.

Only carmaker to repay?

But Tesla took it a step further, saying in its release, “ Following this payment, Tesla will be the only American car company to have fully repaid the government.”

That generated a swift response from Chrysler, which issued this statement late last night:

The information is unmistakably incorrect. It’s pretty well-known that almost exactly two years ago–May 24,2011–Chrysler Group LLC repaid (in full and with interest) U.S. and Canadian government loans more than six years ahead of schedule. Question: short memory or short-circuit?

2013 Fiat 500e electric car, Los Angeles drive event, April 2013

2013 Fiat 500e electric car, Los Angeles drive event, April 2013

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Chrysler’s closing sentence contains a pun that one might expect from the Detroit maker most hostile to plug-in electric vehicles (despite the excellence of the Fiat 500e it built as a compliance car).

But is Chrysler’s claim accurate?

Yes and no.

There was that bailout…

The company did pay off $7.6 billion in loans that were part of the U.S. government’s overall bailout of the company, control of which was essentially passed to Italy’s Fiat.

But as numerous commentators pointed out at the time, the U.S. government still lost money on the Chrysler bailout.

When Chrysler filed for bankruptcy in 2009, Obama administration forgave more than $4 billion of debt from the $13 billion it had put into the company.

So while Chrysler did technically pay off the government loans owed by the post-bankruptcy Chrysler, the U.S. government still lost billions of dollars on its investment in Chrysler.

Tesla’s release includes a sentence noting that the DoE’s ATVM program “is often confused with the financial bailouts provided to the then bankrupt GM and Chrysler, who were ineligible for the ATVM program, because a requirement of that program was good financial health.”

Perhaps understandably, Chrysler chose not to mention those facts in its release.

UPDATE, May 24: Tesla CEO Musk and a Chrysler executive continued to spar over Tesla’s claim throughout the day yesterday.


By John Voelcker

Will Tesla Try For Federal Rule Permitting Non-Dealer Stores?

Elon Musk

Elon Musk

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Several thousand Tesla owners have now purchased their cars by ordering and paying for them online after visiting a Tesla Store showroom.

No franchised dealers are involved.

That’s a model that Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] feels is crucial to getting its electric cars into the mainstream.

State and national auto-dealer groups strongly disagree.

Very, very strongly.

Taking it Federal

Now Tesla’s ambitious CEO Elon Musk suggests that perhaps the company will attempt to ensure its legal right to sell cars directly at a Federal level.

In an interview last week with trade journal Automotive News, he suggested that two routes might be Congressional legislation or a Federal lawsuit alleging restraint of interstate trade.

He suggested that the company would rather fight “one federal battle” than “20 different state battles.”

Musk has been in the forefront of the fight to protect Tesla’s store-and-online-ordering model.

Most recently, he testified last week in Texas on a bill that would explicitly permit customers to buy direct from carmakers who sell “only all electric-powered or all battery-powered motor vehicles.”

In other words, from Tesla Motors.

State laws protect dealers

Ever since Tesla announced its plans to sell cars directly, with factory-owned Tesla Stores and Tesla Galleries acting only as display showroms, car dealers and their associations have denounced the plan.

They’ve also sued Tesla for violating franchise laws in several states–Massachusetts, most notably–and gotten laws changed in others to make Tesla’s model flatly illegal.

Tesla Store - Portland OR

Tesla Store – Portland OR

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Most states have some variation of a law that says automakers cannot open wholly-owned dealers that compete with franchises selling the same brand.

Dealers feared in the post-war period that automakers would set up their own dealerships and give them preferential financial terms over franchised dealers.

But Tesla Motors has no franchised dealers to protect.

Changing Colorado law

Nonetheless, the Colorado Auto Dealers Association got that state’s law changed in early 2010 to forbid direct sales of any car by any maker soon after Tesla opened its first store there.

State auto-dealer groups are viewing the Colorado legislation as a model, and such efforts may pop up in other states as well.

Meanwhile, William Underriner, last year’s chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, told a group of Detroit journalists in December that the association has “a whole mess of lawyers in Washington” who work on state franchise laws.

NADA could conceivably deploy those attorneys to support state dealer group efforts in every location Tesla seeks to open a store or service facility.

Milan's Tesla Store Opens up

Milan’s Tesla Store Opens up

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David Westcott, this year’s NADA chairman, called Musk’s suggestion a “mistake” and vowed that NADA will “vigorously defend the franchise system.”

Auto dealers say that Tesla should use existing dealers who are already operating and know their local markets.

Musk counters that those dealers make the bulk of their profits from selling gasoline cars, meaning that they have little or no incentive to support a disruptive product like the all-electric Tesla Model S luxury sport sedan.

Dealers protect buyers

In an interview last year, Tim Jackson, who heads the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, detailed three reasons that dealers feel Tesla’s online ordering and company store model does not protect the company’s buyers:

  • If or when Tesla Motors fails, independent dealers can continue to provide parts and service for the cars;
  • Opening stores is expensive and time-consuming; Tesla should spend its money and resources more wisely; and
  • The reputation of all auto dealers will be hurt if Tesla fails and strands its owners.

Tesla, it’s safe to say, likely disagrees with Jackson’s arguments.

Petition to White House

The idea of helping Tesla Motors to make its non-dealer stores legal seems to have at least some support among the general public, too.

A petition on urges the Obama Administration to “overturn franchise laws that limit auto manufacturers from selling their vehicles directly to consumers.”

Posted on Tuesday, the petition must reach 100,000 signatures by May 16th to be considered by the White House.

Thus far, it has fewer than 2,000–though we suspect that number may rise as Tesla fans and supporters get wind of it.


By John Voelcker

Weekend Roundup: Automobile, Design, Man, Technology, Racing Car Of The Year – Rumor Central

Weekend Roundup: Automobile, Design, Man, Technology, Racing Car Of The Year

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.

2013 Automobile of the Year: Tesla Model S

This week we announced five awards, starting with Automobile of the Year. We picked the Tesla Model S not just because it’s an electric car, and not simply because it’s a luxurious car, but for the way it demonstrates how a Silicon Valley start-up has created a world-class car. The Model S impressed us with its solid build quality, long real-world driving range, and effortless (and BMW M5-equalling) acceleration.

2013 Design of the Year: Porsche Boxster

Design editor Robert Cumberford greatly admired the 1993 Porsche Boxster concept, but found the subsequent production models far less attractive. So it’s telling that this year he named the new PorscheBoxster our Design of the Year, thanks to a host of subtle revisions that improve the roadster’s proportions. Credit Porsche design chief Michael Mauer, who has “brought the Porsche design team into a realm it had never before occupied, with pure style and pure functionality fused in products of exceptional elegance.”

2013 Man of the Year: Sergio Marchionne

Chrysler once seemed beyond saving, but today the automaker is profitable, has launched a range of great new products, and has posted thirty consecutive months of year-over-year sales increases. Much of that success can be attributed to the actions of CEO Sergio Marchionne, also head of Europe’s Fiat, who has guided Chrysler from bankruptcy and bailout to being able to pay back government loans. Even though Fiat is struggling in Europe, Marchionne has proven himself a shrewd businessman capable of keeping car companies on the right financial track.

2013 Racing Car of the Year: Ben Bowlby’s Revolutionary DeltaWing

We haven’t named a Racing Car of the Year for some time, but the Nissan DeltaWing project was so revolutionary that we decided to resurrect the award. It may not have won a single race so far, but we think the DeltaWing could easily be named Racing Car of the Decade. Designer Ben Bowlby has created a small, nimble racing platform that has proven dramatically more fuel-efficient than traditional Le Mans prototypes — while still delivering solid on-track performance. It may look weird, but the DeltaWing may render an entire generation of racing cars obsolete.”

2013 Technology of the Year: Cameras!

Cameras have been available in cars for years, but this year we recognized the technology because it is starting to become more prevalent on affordable, everyday cars. The cameras themselves may be less powerful than the ones in your cellphone, but the software behind them has the capability to improve driving and prevent accidents. Whether it’s watching for children behind a parked car, warning of vehicles in a blind spot, or monitoring lane markers in case the driver veers off course, in-car cameras are proving they have untold numbers of applications that could save lives.

Spied: Facelifted 2013 Honda Civic Sedan Caught In The Wild

The 2012 Honda Civic had a lukewarm reception due its perceived cost-cutting, so Honda is in a rush to launch an updated version. As our spy photos show, the car benefits from tweaked fascias and sheetmetal, including revised taillights, a new front fascia and grille that ape the front of the 2013 Accord, new wheels, and a redesigned trunk lid. No major powertrain revisions are expected, although at some point in the future we hear that a new version of Honda’s IMA system will be added to the Civic hybrid, and non-hybrid models may eventually add direct-injection engines. We expect the 2012 Honda Civic will bow at the L.A. auto show later this month.

Report: Hyundai, Kia Repaying Buyers for False Mileage Claims

Hyundai and Kia admitted this week that they will lower the fuel-economy ratings of about 900,000 cars, after determining that the companies’ internal fuel-economy tests didn’t match the tests required by the EPA. That means seven different 2013 Hyundai models and different 2013 Kia models will see their ratings drop by anywhere from one to six mpg. To make amends to consumers, the automakers will mail debit cards that cover the approximate cost of fuel based on the difference between the original and new MPG ratings for each car.

Top 10 Favorite Cars From The 2012 SEMA Show

This week’s SEMA show gave us a chance to admire (and sometimes cringe at) the wide range of tuned, tweaked, and modified vehicles on display at the annual Las Vegas show. We picked through the long list of entrants to select our ten favorite new cars on display at the 2012 SEMA show. Some, like the Chevrolet Camaro Hot Wheels Edition, are destined for showrooms, while others, like the wild Ford Cobra Jet Twin-Turbo concept, are merely meant for automakers and aftermarket tuners to show off their wrenching skills.

2014 Subaru Forester To Debut At L.A. Auto Show

A new version of the Subaru Forester will make its debut later this month at the L.A. auto show. Subaru revealed photos of the 2014 Forester, which adopts more mature body lines, a grille shared with the new Impreza, and a slightly larger body. The company promises more interior and cargo room, better on-road suspension manners, and better fuel economy. The base engine remains a 170-hp, 2.5-liter flat-four engine, while the upgrade powertrain is a new turbocharged 2.0-liter flat-four with 250 hp. Look for the 2014 Subaru Forester to reach showrooms by spring 2013.

First Drives: 2013 Land Rover Range Rover, 2013 Toyota Avalon

This week we headed to rain-drenched Morocco to evaluate the 2013 Land Rover Range Rover. The new luxury SUV proved just as capable as ever of tackling sand dunes, mud, and steep inclines as we trekked across rough terrain in Morocco. And keeping up with the other half of its promise, the new Range Rover kept occupants comfortable, entertained, and ensconced in such luxury that we could easily imagine luxury sedan owners abandoning their cars for this fancy SUV. We also got behind the wheel of the 2013 Toyota Avalon and Avalon hybrid, both of which prove far more interesting and exciting than the previous Avalon. The V-6-powered model is quick but not a sporty car, while the Avalon hybrid impresses with strong fuel economy and the ability to drive on electrical power alone at low speeds.

By Jake Holmes

Tesla Stock Falls 10 Percent On Lower Model S Volume Numbers

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

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The price of Tesla Motors shares fell 10 percent yesterday, closing at $27.66–down $3 from the previous day’s ending price–due to a reduced revenue forecast.

As described in a statement filed with the SEC, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] says it will have sold only 2,700 to 3,225 cars by the end of the year, rather than the 5,000 it had previously forecast.

As noted on Business Insider and elsewhere, Tesla said it was ramping up production more slowly than anticipated, due in part to difficulties at some parts suppliers in delivering parts on time.

The company said it had built 255 Model S vehicles as of last Sunday, September 23, with 77 of those assembled just last week.

Tesla now projects that it will build more than 300 Model S cars, and deliver between 200 and 225 of them, by the time the quarter ends on Sunday.

During the fourth quarter, starting Monday, it expects to deliver between 2,500 and 3,000 vehicles, generating revenue of $400 million to $440 million–a reduction from its earlier projections of $560 million to $600 million.

Gross margin will fall due to the reduction in projected Model S sales, Tesla said, as well as delays in payments from Daimler for development work on powertrains for its Mercedes-Benz B Class E-Cell.

Third-quarter revenue is projected at $44 million to $46 million.

The company plans to deliver more than 20,000 Model S vehicles next year, it said.

Finally, Tesla said it has now fully drawn down the $465 million in low-interest loans from the Department of Energy under the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program.

On Monday, the company was granted a waiver from a loan requirement specifying a specific ratio of assets to liabilities; it has until the end of October to come up with a proposal for speedier repayment of its DoE loan.

A spokesman for the department said Tesla had made all required payments to date on the loan, which the company said it expects to repay before its 10-year term.

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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Principal repayments are to begin in December; interest payments began in February.

Tesla said it will have to raise additional capital if it is to avoid requesting yet another modification to the loan terms. It plans to sell 4.34 million additional shares, which it expects will raise $128 million to $148 million.

Tesla also said it had approximately 13,000 outstanding reservations for the Model S, up from 11,500 at its last report, and expects to add 2,600 more in the fourth quarter.

None of this should be surprising, given Tesla’s opaque statements on production volume and its refusal to release monthly sales figures.

And given the major quality challenges suffered by Fisker Automotive, Tesla is perhaps better served by going slowly and doing everything it can to maintain the quality of a smaller number of Model S vehicles.

It simply goes to show that making cars is extraordinarily challenging and consumes ferocious amounts of capital.

Will Tesla Motors survive? Give us your thoughts in the Comments below.


By John Voelcker