Archives for July 20th, 2013

Will the Tesla Model S Get Poor Range in Cold Weather?

Ia question asked by David Noland, a Tesla Model S reservation holder who is also a freelance writer. He posted an article on, asking whether to go for the $10,000 more expensive 60 kWh battery pack for his car, factoring in his daily commute needs, as well as batteries’ loss of capacity during extremely cold weather.

And thus, he has discovered that there is no real data available to answer his question, as Tesla’s range-calculating application only goes as low as 0°C (32°F), so it’s not really helpful, given the low temperatures often recorded in his home state of New York and its surroundings. He reportedly got an email from Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, saying that the drop in capacity would be closer to 20%, not 40.

If the Model S would suffer from the same drop in range as the Chevrolet Volt, which can lose up to 40% of its battery capacity in really cold weather, then a 40 kWh battery pack would leave him stranded, with around 32 km (20 miles) from his destination, as its range would drop significantly. This has prompted us to ask ourselves the same question, having realized that nobody has really mentioned the problem of cold weather range for the Model S, despite reports that it could actually exceed its predicted range.

By Andrei Nedelea

Tesla Model S Shows Muscles Against BMW M5 F10 [Video]

We know that the Tesla Model S is a very quick car – one of the quickest cars in its class, that is. Exactly the same description could be used for the new BMW M5, and the two cars are actually very evenly matched. Automobile put the two cars head to head in a drag race, and the result may surprise some…

The challenge was a 0-100 mph (0-160 km/h) drag race, where the 560 hp BMW would try to keep up with the 416 hp Tesla – or is it the other way around?. However, with instant and seamless power delivery, the Tesla’s electric powertrain is a match to what the BMW offers.

While you may think that this is foregone conclusion, due to the power deficit that the Tesla has, but torque also plays a very important part in acceleration, so the 600 Nm (443 lb-ft) figure is definitely very relevant here, and while the BMW may have more of it, being rated at 680 Nm (500 lb-ft), it is not instant and seamless, and each gearshift puts the BMW slightly behind the Tesla.

So, which do you think will be the victor?

By Andrei Nedelea

Elon Musk Ridicules Chrysler after the Latter Tries to Prove It Beat Tesla in Repaying Loans

This week has seen Tesla and Chrysler start a media war that’s getting more and more violent and now we have a new blast coming from Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk.

But before we get into the details, we’ll remind those who turned on their TVs later, that the first move came from Tesla. The EV producer announced that it has repayed the entire loan granted by the Department of Energy (DOE) nine years ahead of schedule.

Chrysler responded by releasing a statement in which it pointed out that it was the first US carmaker to return the US government funds in 2011.

Musk now replied to the aforementioned statement, using his tweeter account to tell Chrysler that it is no longer an American automaker, being owned by Italy’s Fiat Group and adding that it still has to return some money to the US Governement.

This are Musk’s tweets: ““As many have already noted, Chrysler is a division of Fiat, an Italian company. We specifically said first ‘U.S.’ company.”

“More importantly, Chrysler failed to pay back $1.3B. Apart (from) those 2 points, you were totally 1st,”

The latter tweet is referring to the $1.3 billion (EUR1 billion) that the US Treasury gave the old Chrysler in order to allow it to morph into a new company. The funds were granted back in 2009 and were not officially classified as a loan, being offered rather as an aid.

As you can imagine, some people must be sweating really hard in a Chrysler office right now and we’re waiting to see the company’s reaction, if any.

By Andrei Tutu

Life With 2013 Tesla Model S: Some Bikes Don’t Fit

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan on delivery day, with owner David Noland

I’ve now had my 2013 Tesla Model S for six weeks since it was delivered in late February, and I’m getting used to living with it.

I’ve recharged at the Supercharger network, measured its vampire current usage at night, tested the impact of speed on range, and even experienced my first software update.

According to Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA], one of the original clean-sheet-of-paper design criteria for the Model S was that the rear cargo area–with seats folded down–should be able to accommodate a bicycle without removing the front wheel.

As an avid cyclist, this was one of many factors in my purchase of the car.

But it doesn’t apply to my bicycles, it turns out.

At 6’2″, I’m a tall guy, and both my road bike and my mountain bike have large frames and high seat posts. 

With a bit of carefully choreographed manipulation and the passenger’s seat pushed all the way forward, each bike just barely fits into the back of my Chevrolet Volt.

But to my surprise, the rear hatch opening of the much larger Model S is actually a smidgin narrower than the Volt’s. That smidgin makes the difference.

Unless I want to push the bike forcefully against the Model S’s soft interior material–and risk ripping it–the bikes simply won’t fit in the back without removing the front wheels.

The road bike has a quick-release front wheel that pops off in a second or two, so it’s no big deal to remove it.  But my mountain bike’s front wheel is maddeningly designed to be virtually impossible to remove by hand, apparently for liability reasons.

So no mountain-bike excursions in the Model S.

Maybe that’s not so bad after all. Do I really want to be loading a greasy, muddy mountain bike into the back of my pristine Tesla? Not really.

At least not until the new-pet-car syndrome wears off.

If it ever does.

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


By David Noland

Tesla CEO Elon Musk Slams The Fisker Karma – Rumor Central

Tesla CEO Elon Musk Slams The Fisker Karma

You could say Elon Musk is fairly busy these days: bringing the Tesla Model S to production, not to mention sending Space X cargo ships into orbit, requires 100-hour work weeks. But the billionaire CEO carved out a few moments last week to throw a few bombs at nemesis Henrik Fisker and the plug-in electric rival to his Model S, the Fisker Karma.

“It’s a mediocre product at a high price,” Musk said in an interview with Automobile Magazine. “The car looks very big, and yet it has no trunk space and is very cramped inside, particularly in the rear seats.”

The rivalry between Tesla and Fisker dates back to the origins of both sedans. Tesla unsuccessfully sued Henrik Fisker, CEO of the eponymous car company, for developing the Karma while he was under contract for the design of the Model S. “We were paying someone to do styling for his own car,” Musk alleges. Tesla hired former Mazda and General Motors designer Franz von Holzhausen to pen a completely new, battery-electric Model S, which is now rolling off Tesla’s Fremont, California, assembly line with a base price of $95,400 (in the Signature trim level; a $57,400 version with a smaller battery goes on sale this fall). Musk sees a critical difference between it and the $103,000 Karma—and between himself and Fisker.

“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.”

Alluding to the fact that the Karma leans heavily on suppliers, Musk continued, “[Fisker] thinks the most important thing in the world — or the only important thing in the world — is design, so he outsourced the engineering and manufacturing. But the fact is…that’s the crux of the problem. And he’s outsourcing to people who don’t know how to solve the problem.”

The Karma’s plug-in hybrid powertrain was developed by Quantum Technologies and employs a General Motors–sourced 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder for its gasoline engine. Contract manufacturer Valmet assembles the car in Finland. Tesla employed a somewhat similar model in producing its Lotus Elise-based Roadster, installing its own electric motor into a Lotus-supplied chassis. But for the Model S, Musk has gone to extreme lengths to vertically integrate production. Everything from the electric motor to the aluminum-intensive chassis and the seventeen-inch touch screen were developed by Tesla, which has grown from some 500 employees in 2009 to about 2000 today.

Musk allowed that the Karma, our 2012 Design of the Year, is well styled. “It looks good. Particularly from the side it looks good. I don’t love the front. It looks too much like a caricature of a Mexican Bandito—the grille.”

We ran Musk’s comments by Henrik Fisker, who responded via e-mail:

“Firstly, to set the record straight, Fisker won in court…a judge threw out the case and awarded costs to Fisker.

Secondly, we are delighted that Elon thinks the Karma is a good-looking car.

Obviously, Tesla and Fisker are appealing to two different customer bases with two totally different technologies. Tesla has pure EV and Fisker has a range-extended offering with no compromise on range. We are proud to have delivered over 1000 Karmas to customers in the U.S. and Europe and are now moving into the [Gulf Cooperation Council countries] and Chinese global markets.

We wish Tesla all the best with their latest model and hope that both companies go from strength to strength as they challenge the automotive rulebook.”

The truth is that both fledgling automakers have far bigger concerns than each other. But the enmity certainly makes things interesting. Who do you think builds a better environmentally friendly luxury sedan? Read our review of the Karma here and our first drive of the Model S here. Our complete interview with Musk is here.

—David Zenlea

By Automobile Staff

Tesla Opens Portland Store, Passes A Million Visitors So Far In 2012

Tesla Store – Portland OR

HI-RES GALLERY: Tesla Store – Portland OR

  • Tesla Store  -  Portland OR
  • Tesla Store  -  Portland OR
  • Tesla Store  -  Portland OR
  • Tesla Store  -  Portland OR
  • Tesla Store  -  Portland OR
  • Tesla Store  -  Portland OR
  • Tesla Store  -  Portland OR
  • Tesla Store  -  Portland OR
  • Tesla Store  -  Portland OR
  • Tesla Store  -  Portland OR

  • Tesla Store – Portland OR

By the sales numbers—even if you consider the 20,000 Model S sedans (which Green Car Reports drove this week, with a first drive review and video post) the company hopes to sell annually—Tesla Motors [NSDQ: TSLA] is a small niche automaker. But based on what the upstart electric automaker has seen so far this year, there’s a lot of public interest in its cars. It’s arguably on its way to becoming a much better-known brand, and its new high-visibility stores are part of the reason why.

As of this weekend, across Tesla’s ten new-design, retail-oriented stores (out of 14 total stores), there will have been over a million visitors so far in 2012.

“That’s off the charts,” said George Blankenship, Tesla Motors’ VP of sales and ownership experience. “And if you take the stores that were open last week, which would be nine of the new design, you still have over 51,000 people that went through, this past week.”

We recently caught up with Blankenship as he personally oversaw training at the company’s new Portland store, which opened yesterday.

Although it’s too early to tell how the Portland store—located in a large suburban mall, near a Sears anchor store—will do, Tesla is finding that the new stores are drawing as many as 11,000 people in a week (in its Santa Monica store). And those are numbers that even seem to surprise Blankenship.

George Blankenship - Tesla Motors

George Blankenship – Tesla Motors

Enlarge PhotoThe Tesla sales chief is a former Apple and Gap executive, and was seen as Apple’s retail guru, credited for the company’s smart growth and placement of its stores.

Around the same time that Blankenship joined Tesla, a couple of years ago, the automaker started to transition to the same type of store—one focused around foot traffic, and far closer to a traditional main-street or mall storefront than a traditional dealership property.

Yep, like an Apple Store

As opposed to Tesla’s first few North American stores—in Menlo Park, Manhattan, and Washington D.C.—which were set up more like traditional prestige-luxury or exotic-car dealerships, these new stores are more like—and there’s really no surprise here—Apple stores. You walk into a long, brightly lit showroom, with video screens, walls of technical and feature displays, and other exhibits, as well as several complete cars in the middle. Product specialists, who don’t make any commission, are responsible “to make sure everyone who leaves is smiling,” says Blankenship, and there are some computer terminals and a few semi-private chairs in back for talking details.

Blankenship says that with the Model S, the company’s stores have to serve a different kind of role. “It’s a matter of being in front of them on a daily basis to tell them who we are and what we do—and to explain EVs to them, because most people don’t understand what it’s like to drive an EV, and the benefits of it.”

Some of Tesla’s new stores are in especially high-visibility areas and have become tourist destinations, Blankenship describes. “People go to that store; they’ve never seen a Tesla, they think ‘Oh, this is great;’ they go to and they reserve a car; and that store has now impacted another store in another part of the country or of the world.”

Tesla’s numbers come from the basic camera-based people counters—a commonly used tool from conventional retailing—that Tesla uses in all of its store entries.

Tesla Store – Portland OR

And that doesn’t count the window shoppers (or those under four feet tall), Blankenship pointed out—as almost perfectly timed, a middle-aged woman in fitness wear stopped to pull her iPad out of a shoulder bag, snap a picture of the storefront, and send or post it.

“What makes the experience more complete is that it’s in a location like this where a lot of people are going by and stop by just because they’re in the mall, and then secondly you just have an interior presentation that invites engagement,” said Blankenship. “We get people in every day who have no idea who we are, and we start informing them.”


By Bengt Halvorson

Tesla Model S 60-kW-h Version Rated at 94/97 MPGe, Goes 208 Miles

Tesla Model S 60-kW-h Version Rated at 94/97 MPGe, Goes 208 Miles

The EPA has released official ratings for the mid-range Tesla Model S with the 60-kw-h battery, which scores a rating of 94/97 mpge city/highway, and 95 mpge combined. In addition, the government agency has rated the mid-level battery pack’s range at 208 miles. Although the 60-kW-h battery provides less range than the 85-kW-h unit, found in our 2013 Car of the Year, the mid-range model uses less energy to travel 100 miles.

Where it takes 38 kW-h of electricity to travel 100 miles in the Model S equipped with the larger battery pack, it requires 35 kW-h of energy to travel 100 miles in the mid-range model. Model S models equipped with the 85-kW-h battery are estimated to travel 265 miles on a single charge while achieving 88/90 mpge, according to the EPA.

Tesla Model S cockpit 300x187 imageDuring three different range verification tests, we were able to travel 233.7 (with an indicated four miles of range left), 211 (74 miles of range left), and 285 miles (three miles of range left) on a single charge in a Model S with the 85-kW-h battery. That equates to 100.7-123.4 mpge – well above the EPA ratings. Just like fossil fuel-powered vehicles, the Model S’ mileage varied depending on load, driving style, terrain, and environmental conditions.

The Model S proved to be efficient in testing, but that’s not all the EV is good at. At the test track, we were able to reach 60 mph in 5.0 seconds with the standard 85-kW-h Model S, and 4.0 seconds in the performance-tuned version.

One more Model S variant is on the way with a 40-kW-h battery pack under the floor. Tesla expects that model to have a range of 160 miles, though that number may come down as the automaker initially expected the 85-kW-h and 60-kW-h batteries to provide 300 mile and 230 miles of range, respectively.

Source: EPA

By Jason Udy

Tesla Model X Production Pushed Back to Late 2014

Tesla Model X Production Pushed Back to Late 2014

Production of the Tesla Model X crossover has been pushed back from the end of this year to the end of 2014. A Tesla representative told the Los Angeles Times that the wait for the electric crossover has increased as the company focuses on filling orders for the Model S four-door, which could reach 20,000 units this year.

Tesla Model X Rear Three Quarter Doors Open1 300x187 imageThe original Tesla Model X was supposed to go on sale early in 2014, but now deliveries will likely begin early 2015. While Tesla focuses on Model S sales and delays the Model X, the company has pledged to pay back its Department of Energy Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan by 2017 – five years earlier than the original deadline.

We’ve taken a ride in a Tesla Model X prototype, which has flashy “falcon doors” that Elon Musk said will make installing child seats easier. At the time, Musk estimated that the Model X would weigh 10-15 percent more than the Model S, or about 4700 pounds.

Tesla also expects to make a modest profit for the first quarter of 2013. The company has also raised $40.5 million from sales of zero-emission vehicle credits and greenhouse gas credits to other undisclosed companies, according to its annual report. The next Tesla model in the pipeline is a smaller electric sedan at a lower price point to appeal to broader range of customers.

Source: Los Angeles Times, Tesla

By Jason Udy

Tesla Repays $465 Million Government Loan Ahead of Schedule

2013 Tesla Model S CAPTIONS ON | OFF

In the biggest win for the Obama administration’s plan to fund alternative fuel technologies, Tesla Motors today paid off the final $451.8 million in their government loan – nine years ahead of schedule. What does this mean for the future of government funding and the EV industry in the future?

“I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staffs that worked hard to create the ATVM program, and particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk. “I hope we did you proud.”

Tesla also made smaller payments in 2012 and earlier this year, fulfilling the entire $465 million loan entirely with today’s payment. The electric automaker is riding a wave of momentum, as its stock price rocketed after posting their first quarterly profit and receiving a 99/100 score from Consumer Report on their new Model S sedan.

The success of Tesla is due to many factors, especially when compared to recent failures like that of Fisker and Coda. For one, Tesla has the private backing of Musk, who pumped hundreds of millions of his own money into the company during rough times. For another, the Model S has been a massive hit since its release last summer. But vehicle sales alone have not been enough to offset the massive costs of auto production.

Several shrewd business moves proved to take Tesla to the top, from outfitting an old Toyota plant to produce cars rather than buying and building a brand new facility, to a partnership with companies like Mercedes-Benz to develop and sell battery component for use in their future cars.

Tesla seems to be on solid ground for the first time in its ten-year history, thanks to sounds business decisions and, yes, a quality product. Past disasters may have cooled government loans for the time being, but Telsa proves that investing in the right company can go a long way. Their place in the industry now solidified, we have a bright future ahead that includes not only Tesla vehicles, but other brands making better cars thanks to their work.


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By Ryan ZumMallen