Archives for July 21st, 2013

On the Money? Hagerty’s Top Future Collectibles List Includes VW GTI, Audi RS5

On the Money? Hagerty’s Top Future Collectibles List Includes VW GTI, Audi RS5

Hagerty has released its annual “Hagerty Hot List” of the top 10 cars the insurance company believes will become collectible in 20 years. Hagerty’s list is comprised completely of 2013 model-year vehicles that the company thinks will still be desired by enthusiasts in 20 years.

Unlike our own list of future collectibles, Hagerty’s rules are a bit less stringent. To qualify as a future collectible on the Hagerty list, the vehicle must be mass-produced, and available for sale as a 2013 model, with a base price of less than $100,000.

Here’s Hagerty’s List:

2013 SRT Viper GTS Launch Edition Left Front 300x187 imageSRT Viper: The new SRT Viper is one of just three cars that made both our list and Hagerty’s. Hagerty chose the Viper for its list because it’s “one of the last living examples of the once-celebrated mantra of ‘there is no replacement for displacement.’”

Chevrolet Corvette 427 Convertible: The Corvette 427 is a no-brainer for this list. As Hagerty points out, the Corvette celebrates its 60th anniversary this year and the 427 is not only a limited-production model commemorating that fact, but also the last model year for the C6 ‘Vette, ensuring the 427′s status as a future collector’s car.

2013 Audi RS 5 front end 300x187 imageAudi RS5: Hagerty named the RS5 on its list because the collector car insurance company “think[s] the basic Audi A5 is one of the handsomest coupes on the market.”

Porsche Cayman S: According to the press release, the Cayman S made its way on to this list because it’s “Porsche’s atonement for the sin of the diesel [Cayenne].” We didn’t realize a diesel-powered SUV was such a bad thing.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible: We might prefer the hardtop Camaro ZL1 (which made it on last year’s Hagerty list) to its portly soft-top sister, but Hagerty nevertheless expects the ZL1 drop-top to command a premium among buyers in 20 years’ time.

2012 Tesla Model S front 2 300x187 imageTesla Model S: This list wouldn’t be complete without the revolutionary new Tesla Model S. The Model S earned its spot as a future collectible because it’s one of the first electric cars built with enthusiasts in mind.

Mini John Cooper Works GP: Hailed as “the fastest Mini ever built,” the John Cooper Works GP’s future as a collectible is ensured by the fact that it’s limited to just 500 units in the United States – well that, and the fact that its $39,950 base price is likely a little too dear for all but the biggest Mini fans.

Subaru BRZ side in motion1 300x187 imageSubaru BRZ: Hagerty reasons that the Subaru BRZ will be a future collectible because the rear-drive sports car injects a bit of “tire-smoking” adrenaline into the Subaru brand.

Volkswagen GTI: The latest version of the original hot hatch gets a spot on this list because of theGTI’s “cult-like following,” and because “the 2013 version may be the best yet.”

Ford Focus ST: The final spot on Hagerty’s list goes to the Focus ST, because it’s one of the first European Ford products we’ve gotten in the U.S. in a long time, thanks to Ford’s One Ford global initiative.

Do you agree with Hagerty’s picks? Who had the better future collectibles list, Hagerty or us? Sound off below.

Source: Hagerty

By Christian Seabaugh

Tesla Considers Pickup Truck Plant for Texas – Rumor Central

Tesla Considers Pickup Truck Plant for Texas

It’s been a little while since Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk made any interesting declarations about product or development, which means we shouldn’t be surprised that Mr. Musk spoke of a future with Tesla Motors making pickup trucks in Texas.

For what it’s worth, Tesla neither makes pickup trucks now, nor does it make vehicles in Texas. At this point the experiment of making electric sport sedans in California has been a relative success: Tesla says that it’s now making a profit after years of red balance sheets. One of the more significant problems at this point–beyond the occasional question of range or creative accounting–is that Tesla’s unique method of selling cars might be under fire.

Dealers in Massachusetts and New York have already filed suit against Tesla, saying that Tesla’s retail setup, which uses corporate owned “galleries” that show off cars and allow people to place deposits via the internet, violates existing automotive franchise laws. In Texas, Tesla galleries are not allowed to plan test drives or talk car sales at all, and Tesla service centers can’t process warranty work in the same manner as a franchised dealer.

Musk and Tesla received two gifts this week, however, in the form of a bill in the Texas legislature that would allow Tesla (and other EV manufacturers with no pre-existing dealer network) to sell and service its own cars. Meanwhile in New York, a judge struck down the lawsuit against Tesla, saying that “dealers cannot utilize the Franchised Dealer Act as a means to sue their competitors.”

Where does Tesla go from here? South, and not in the metaphorical sense. Musk said on Wednesday, while he was in Texas supporting the bills, that Texas has the potential to become one of the company’s biggest markets, selling perhaps 1500-2000 Model Ss a year. Musk thinks that success for the Model S in Texas could pave the road for a new production plant there.

What will the plant make? If Musk gets his way, the as-yet-unbuilt Texas plant could make the as-yet-undeveloped Tesla pickup truck we’ve heard about before. Musk told Automotive News “I have this idea for a really advanced truck that has…more towing power and more carrying capacity than a gasoline or diesel truck of comparable size.” That makes Musk the second Tesla exec (behind designer Franz von Holzhausen) to mention the truck in one year. Does it mean that this will happen? Not necessarily, but we do like the sound of it.

Source: Tesla via Twitter, Automotive News (Subscription required)

By Ben Timmins

Jay Leno Drives 2012 Tesla Model S Electric Car (Video)

Larger-than-life TV presenter Jay Leno is known for his love and obsession of cars–and not just those fueled by gasoline.

To prove it, he tests one of the hottest electric cars around in his latest video–the 2012 Tesla Model S.

The comedian even counts a 1909 Baker Electric among his personal collection, as well as a Chevrolet Volt–as long as it has wheels, he doesn’t discriminate.

Not that many discriminate against the Model S, which has performance that even dyed-in-the-wool gasoline-heads can appreciate.

And Jay does his best to highlight that right at the start of the video (and the end), with a smoky getaway to prove that even electric cars can still do burnouts.

The rest of the test is a little more factual, but Jay comes away impressed–rating the car’s ride, performance and technology. The long range is commended too–Tesla says 300 miles on the 85 kWh battery pack, and officially the EPA rates it at 265 miles.

In fact, he finds very little to criticize, even offering a few words of wisdom to gasoline-only enthusiasts–the more electric cars there are, the less gas is wasted on boring commutes. That just means more for weekend toys…

His verdict? A fairly understated “Pretty cool”. We wonder how long it’ll be until a Model S turns up in Jay’s own collection…


By Antony Ingram

Update On 2012 Tesla Model S Production: 1,000 Bodies

1,000th body for 2012 Tesla Model S on display at Tesla Motors factory, Fremont, CA, Oct 28, 2012

1,000th body for 2012 Tesla Model S on display at Tesla Motors factory, Fremont, CA, Oct 28, 2012

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Tesla Motors is often frustratingly opaque about the company’s progress in getting its 2012 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan up to mass production.

Hard numbers come only from quarterly reports filed with the SEC–and sporadic tweets from Elon Musk, its CEO.

According to one of those tweets yesterday, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] built its 1,000th body shell for the Model S, presumably on or around Sunday, October 28.

Musk’s tweet said the company had completed more Model S cars in October than in the entire rest of the year, from the start of production in May or June through the end of September.

The CEO included a photo of more than 100 Tesla factory workers gathered around the body, with a crude cardboard sign saying “We loaded 1,000″ propped in front.

There appears to be no way for journalists to verify Musk’s statement independently.

On September 15, Musk had tweeted, “Tesla made 100 vehiclebodies this week for the first time. Really proud of the team!”

Although Musk identified the body in that photo as serial number 396, the company’s Christina Ra said the number of 400 bodies built was inaccurate.

She would not provide any information to back up this claim, beyond saying that the serial number was not indicative in this case.

Clearly, if 1,000 bodies have just been assembled, the number of finished cars that have been completed is lower, and the number delivered to customers lower than that.

Tesla has been slower to ramp up production of the Model S than it had planned.

Since June 22, when it delivered its first 2012 Model S cars to paying customers, it took six weeks for the company to reach a total of 50 cars built.

In late September, Tesla said in a statement filed with the SEC that it expects to sell only 2,700 to 3,225 cars by the end of the year, rather than the 5,000 it had previously forecast.

Still, if 1,000 bodies have been assembled, the company would seem to have a shot at meeting those revised targets if its production rate continues growing as it has to date.


By John Voelcker

Tesla Predicts $178 Million for Initial Public Offering

Tesla Predicts $178 Million for Initial Public Offering

Get your checkbooks out: Tesla is now planning to file an initial public offering at an estimated $178 million.


Well, not quite yet.

Tesla, which has lost money hand over fist since inception, believes it can make an IPO of $178 million, up from a January estimate of $100 million. The automaker plans to sell just over 11 million shares, at $14 to $16 each, and will be bolstered by a planned $50 million investment from Toyota.

Currently, Tesla’s earnings stand at $147.6 million since 2003, contrasted against losses of more than $290 million. So far, the money comes from the sales of its one and only offering, the Tesla Roadster, though Tesla has teased a sedan called the Model S.

Tesla is working on the sedan in collaboration with Toyota and expects it to compete in the $50,000 range. It will be built in Toyota’s shuttered NUMMI manufacturing facility in Fremont, California, pending the finalization of an agreement between the two companies. We’ve already reported on the two brands working together, and are curious to see if Tesla can make good on the deal.

Source: Detroit News

By Motor Trend Staff

Tesla Motors CEO Musk To Support Tesla Museum Project

Famed electrical engineer Nikola Tesla, scanned image from postcard c. 1890.

Famed electrical engineer Nikola Tesla, scanned image from postcard c. 1890.

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Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors, has quite a lot on his mind these days.

Among his tasks: making sure production of the 2012 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan ramps up quickly enough, while maintaining superb quality, to let Tesla build 5,000 units before the end of the year.

But Musk still took time recently to support the effort by a nonprofit to purchase the laboratory building in which famed electrical engineer Nikola Tesla experimented and establish a Nikola Tesla Museum in Shoreham, New York.

It all started with a post on the popular Oatmeal site that supported the fundraising effort to buy the property, then known as Wardenclyffe.

Shoreham is located east of New York City on Long Island, perhaps better known locally as the site of a never-finished nuclear plant that ultimately bankrupted the local electric utility.

The cost of the Tesla property is $1.6 million, and New York State has offered a grant that will match independently raised funds, dollar for dollar, up to $850,000.

The fundraising effort on IndieGogo has thus far raised almost $500,000 of the necessary $850,000. But, inevitably, there’s a villain in the story.

Another potential purchaser has an offer on the table and plans to turn the property into a retail location–potentially demolishing Tesla’s laboratory building to do so.

Since Tesla Motors [NYSE:NSDQ] is named after Nikola Tesla, it seemed a natural fit to Jalopnik’s Matt Hardigree.

He connected Oatmeal’s Matthew Inman to Musk via e-mail, and Musk agreed to donate to the effort personally.

Musk did note that a donation wouldn’t be an appropriate use of Tesla Motors funds at this point, since all its cash needs to be “reserved for operation of the business.”

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk with Tesla Roadster

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk with Tesla Roadster

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You can see the entire correspondence, which is pretty amusing, on Jalopnik.

So, well done, Hardigree. Well done, Mr. Musk.

Now it’s up to you. The closing lines of the Oatmeal post: “Internet, this is where you come in. Let’s build a goddamn museum!”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

You can donate here: IndieGogo Tesla Museum.

FYI, according to the IndieGogo site, the campaign is linked directly to the bank account of Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization registered with the State of New York.

UPDATE: Tesla boardmember and Model S driver Steve Jurvetson points out that a new graphic novel about Tesla, titled The Inventor – Nikola Tesla, will be published by Halloween. Chapter One is available online for a limited time.


By John Voelcker

Tesla Says All-Electric 3-Series Competitor Due By 2015

Tesla presentation slide from June, 2012 outlining 'Gen 3' platform variants

Tesla presentation slide from June, 2012 outlining ‘Gen 3′ platform variants

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Ever since it was founded, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has followed a ‘trickle-down’ business model, developing its technology in premium luxury cars before using that technology to develop ever more affordable models. 

With its first car, the expensive yet sexy Roadster sports car no-longer made, its 2012 Model S full-size sedan now in production and plans to launch its Model X Crossover SUV next year, Tesla is already looking towards its first true, affordable electric car. 

It, according to Tesla’s chief designer, Franz von Holzhausen (via autocar), will be a BMW 3-series competitor that the Californian automaker hopes to launch as early as 2015.

First promised earlier this year, the new car will be Tesla’s third mass-produced electric car, built on an all-new, smaller, third-generation platform that it will share with a compact crossover SUV.

But according to von Holzhausen, Tesla may build more than just a compact sedan and crossover SUV on the new platform.

“There are lots of ways in which we can exploit the platform,” von Holzhausen said. “There will be a time and place for us to develop something around a pickup. That’s a market for which the torque of an electric motor would be ideally suited.”

Hinting that the target price of Tesla’s compact sedan would be around $30,000, von Holzhausen promised that “the third model will continue to drive down the price point as fast as possible.” 

2012 Tesla Model S painting process

2012 Tesla Model S painting process

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We’re glad to see Tesla planning for its future, but it’s worth remembering a few things.

First, while Tesla’s Model S development was at breakneck speed, it remains to be determined whether there will be any quality issues of the kind most automakers experience with brand-new cars and platforms.

Second, the 2012 Model S is Tesla’s first mass-produced car. To launch a 2015 affordable BMW 3-series beater, it has to continue producing the Model S,  as well as the successful development and launch of the 2013 Model X. 

In short, a lot can change in three years.


By Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield

Tesla Model S Top Speed, Child Capacity Tested – Rumor Central

Tesla Model S Top Speed, Child Capacity Tested

We’ve tested our 2013 Automobile of the Year, the Tesla Model S, extensively. But some people are curious to see what else the electric sedan is capable of, as these two amateur test videos show. In one clip, a driver tries to find the Model S’ top speed, while the other seeks to find out if you can squeeze a kindergarten class into the EV.

As we’ve seen in other videos, the Tesla Model S can out-accelerate such powerful sports sedans as the BMW M5, 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

Tesla Maps Out Supercharger Network, Speeds Up Charging

Tesla Motors Supercharger Network In 2015 - released May 2013

Tesla Motors Supercharger Network In 2015 – released May 2013

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The electric-car maker Tesla Motors [NYSE: TSLA] has announced breathtaking expansion plans for its Supercharger network, detailing where the company plans to install its proprietary Supercharger rapid-charging stations all the way through 2015.

According to CEO Elon Musk, who announced the expanded network and other improvements in a media conference call, Tesla owners will be able to choose from hundreds of stations and thousands of charging ports by 2015, and to drive all the way from Los Angeles to New York, using only the company’s Supercharger network, by the end of 2013. Ultimately, the company plans to cover 98 percent of the population within the U.S. and Canada by 2015.

The supercharger announcement, already postponed by the company’s announcement that it had paid off all of its Department of Energy loan, delivers detail to a long-anticipated series of tips and hints about a massive expansion of the network.

Not just new regions, but route options

The expansion won’t just reach new regions of the country, but it will increase the density of stations on well-traveled routes. Tesla plans to reduce the distance between Supercharger stations to just 80 to 100 miles, and there will be some redundancy in options between stations.

Musk said he also doesn’t want owners to get locked into using a single route. So for instance in California owners would eventually be able to take U.S. 101 or California 1 instead of I-5. “I think we’ll probably end up doing more than what’s shown here in 2015,” he added.

This summer, the company will add chargers in the Pacific Northwest, Florida, Colorado, and Illinois, along with new stations in the Northeast (stretching south to Virginia). Then this fall, new stations in Michigan and elsewhere in the Midwest will open up the possibility of long-distance travel in that region, while many more stations will fill in the gap between Virginia and Florida. By the end of the year, the company plans to open a cross-country passage mostly via I-80, through Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Minnesota, allowing that LA to New York road trip.

Vancouver to San Diego, or Montreal to Miami, are a couple of other possibilities that Tesla mentions as possible with the new network.

With the pacing of a normal road trip

With the Supercharger stations in place, owners will be able to drive for three hours, then stop for a 20-minute break before heading back out, noted Musk, who summed: “Essentially…it allows them to stop for the normal amount of time they’d stop on a road trip”

Tesla Supercharger fast-charging system for electric cars

Tesla Supercharger fast-charging system for electric cars

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The Supercharger system, as it is, allows rapid recharges, with 80 percent of battery capacity achievable in only about a half hour.

Tesla currently offers a Model S with an 85-kWh battery, EPA-rated at a 265-mile range, while the 60-kWh model is rated at 208 miles. Those ranges may be considerably lower in cold weather or at fast Interstate highway speeds, however.

With the expanded locations (more than 200 in all by the end of 2015), each charging station will have more ports than Tesla’s earlier stations, and the automaker will continue to add ports to its existing stations. For instance, Harris Ranch in California, one of the most popular charging stations, and a waypoint between LA and San Francisco, originally had one port but now has ten.

Musk estimated the number of total charging ports available to vehicles, by the end of 2015, to be in the vicinity of 2,000 to 3,000. The company will also be adding more spaces in which to queue during busy times.

Better Supercharging, too

Tesla also announced an important upgrade in the Supercharger technology itself. By increasing the maximum charge rate from 90 kW to 120 kW, and adjusting the charge algorithm so that it no longer rapidly tapers off as early in the charge process, the company will be able to charge batteries to well above the current half-charge after the same 20 minutes.

Musk noted that the Supercharger improvement is still in ‘beta,’ but it will be rolled out within three months.

The supercharging is free for life, at supercharging stations. “So it’s possible to drive anywhere in the country, leave your wallet behind, pack lunch, and stay with friends—and not spend a dollar, which I think is pretty cool,” added Musk.

Musk hinted that the company will have another important announcement on June 20.

See Tesla’s Supercharger info page for an interactive map on where superchargers will be and when.


By Bengt Halvorson

Tesla Model S vs Chevy Volt race: No points for guessing the winner

Tesla Model S Sunset

Battery-electric cars like the Tesla Model S and plug-in hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt are supposed to save the planet, not defile it with burnout marks, but who wouldn’t want to find out which is faster? The answer isn’t very surprising: in a drag race filmed by That Racing Channel, a Model S destroyed a Volt in the quarter mile.

Although it looks like the Volt got the jump on the Model S at the start, the Tesla pulled away with comedic ease. It finished the race in 12.562 seconds (still not fast enough to impress Dom Toretto) at 108.34 mph. The Volt could only manage 17.201 seconds at 80.36 mph.

It was all very funny, but in no way shocking (no pun intended). The winner was racing a top of the line 85-kWh Signature Performance, with 416 hp and 443 lb-ft. Even the “base” Model S has 362 hp and 325 lb-ft.

The Volt’s electric motor has a mere 149 hp and 273 lb-ft. Its 1.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline “range extender” can contribute 83 hp, but the gasoline and electric halves of the Volt’s powertrain rarely work together.

One thing that was surprising about this lopsided matchup was how quiet it was. If you’ve never seen a drag race before, just listen to the rumbling engines in the background. That’s what they sound like at idle. They’re sonic weapons when the drivers put their feet down.

Is this the future of drag racing? It’s going to be hard to get used to noiseless speed, so we might consider installing noisemakers on any cars participating in our green drag race.

We also might try an apples-to-apples comparison. That means pitting the Model S against another all-electric car, like the Nissan Leaf, and lining the Volt up next to another plug-in hybrid, like the Fisker Karma.

On second thought, a Fisker versus Tesla drag race would probably be the most fun. Both companies claim to build the ultimate eco-friendly luxury sedan and, unlike Chevy and its more utilitarian Volt, both consider their cars to be performance vehicles.

With 403 hp and 959 lb-ft of torque, the Karma looks like it could put up more of a fight, although it does take 6.3 second to reach 60 mph compared to the Model S Signature Performance’s 4.4 seconds. Still, that theoretical race would probably be closer than this real quarter mile massacre.

By Stephen Edelstein