Archives for July 22nd, 2013

Video: 2013 Tesla Model S Electric Car To Start At $49,900

For a small company, Telsa Motors has been making big ripples in the automotive industry with its electric roadster, Toyota partnership, and soon its electric luxury sedan. Even though the first Alpha-build Model S began road evaluations in December 2010, and it won’t be delivered to customers until mid 2012, the company has stated that pricing will begin at $49,900, after a $7,500 federal tax incentive.

Breaking News: Tesla Model S Scores 99 Rating from Consumer Reports

Pricing is tiered based on the storage capacity for the lithium-ion battery pack and projected range, climbing in $10,000 increments. The base car will promise a 160-mile range. The middle model touts a 230-mile range for $59,900, and the top model will give 300 miles for $69,900.

Tesla Motors says the first 1,000 cars off the production line will be the North American Model S Signature Series. Those vehicles will be equipped with a 300-mile battery. Being special-edition sedans, they will wear unique badging and an extensive complement of options. And it is expected early adopters will pay a price premium.

The rear-drive sedan will reported sprint from 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds and have a 125 mph top speed.

Reservations are now being taken.

Learn more about fuel economy and driving green in our Green Corner.

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By Jeff Prescott

Tesla Model X Crossover Revealed. Has Falcon Doors



Tesla has finally show what the brand new Model X is all about at its design studio in California. This vehicle combines elements of SUV and minivan design and actually features the rumored falcon doors, which unsurprisingly aren’t that different from gullwing doors.

The Model X crossover is underpinned by the same chassis as the Model S, but it sits higher off the ground and comes with AWD as an optional extra. Also borrowed from the electric sedan is the list of battery options – more specifically the 40 kWh, 60 kWh and 80 kWh.

The real novelty with the X is the so called falcon doors in the back. These open up like on the Mercedes SLS AMG, but have an extra hinge installed in the middle so they can be operated in tighter spaces. Tesla is clearly aiming this vehicle at larger families, as it has three rows of seats for seven people. However, your family will have to be very tech-savvy, because the whole dash has been replaced with a touchscreen that operates everything.

Expect production of the Model X to start next year.

Check out the Tesla Model X Crossover photo gallery

By Mihnea Radu

Promises, Promises: Ten Cars We Keep Waiting (and Waiting) For

Promises, Promises: Ten Cars We Keep Waiting (and Waiting) For

Taste is a fickle thing. What’s cool today is lame tomorrow. Few things vex automakers more than this aspect of human nature, because new and even updated cars can take years to reach showrooms while the instant gratification generation loses interest. The following are perfect examples of the trouble automakers find themselves in.

These vehicles are as much rumor as they are fact. They’ve been rumored, alluded to, teased, promised, and delayed more times than we can recall, and have achieved a nearly mythical status that often evokes guffaws and cries of “I’ll believe it when I see it” from our staff. Whether the pet project of an executive, the demand of a vocal group of hardcore fans, or a technology that just isn’t viable yet, all of these vehicles have managed to hang around in limbo for years, feeding fans’ hopes and driving everyone else nuts. In no particular order, we present 10 of the longest-running broken promises in the automotive industry today.

Tesla Model S

After a string of high-profile growing pains, things have gone quiet over at Tesla. The company is working furiously to get its Model S electric sedan (pictured above) to showrooms by 2012. This might not seem like an unrealistic goal, until you consider the fact that Tesla doesn’t even have a factory to build the car in yet. The company is rumored to be deciding between three empty factories in the Los Angeles area that it would have to retrofit before ever beginning production, a process that’s estimated to require nearly two years working around the clock. Add to that the fact that the company hasn’t yet revealed a production-intent model of the car, and it’s not hard to believe that the Model S will miss its big dance number.

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Mahindra & Mahindra Pickup

Though known globally for its rugged, inexpensive small trucks and SUVs, India’s Mahindra & Mahindra is completely unknown in the U.S. and looks to stay that way for a while. The company has been promising to bring its diesel pickup here since 2007 with tentative launch dates in 2009 continually pushed back. We hear now that the company is hoping to get trucks in dealers by December, but we’re not holding our breath, since we heard the same thing this time last year. We can only hope for the best for the shuttered Chrysler dealers who signed on as Mahindra dealers and are still awaiting product.

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Global Ford Ranger

There’s nothing particularly wrong with the current Ford Ranger. It’s just ancient. The current model has been on the road more than a decade with only minor updates, and is long overdue for a replacement. When we’ll get one, though, is anybody’s guess. Global markets have had updated Rangers for years and we’ve spotted the latest redesign out testing more times than we can count. While it’s obvious that Ford is working on a new Ranger, we have no idea when it will actually see our showrooms, if ever. Of course, if the F-100 project rises from the dead, we may never see the next Ranger, but at this point we’re not sure which of those scenarios is less likely.

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Tata Nano

The world’s cheapest car costs the rough equivalent of $2000, and if Indian manufacturing powerhouse Tata has its way, you’ll see one in the U.S. Of course, for that to happen, Tata will need to catch up with Indian market demand first. Delays, cost overruns, and the relocation of the primary factory all put the Nano behind schedule, but it’s finally on the streets of India, glued-on rear hatch and all. And it’s catching fire. Tata’s got a recall out for some faulty wiring that’s led to several car fires, and even without that issue there’s serious concern that the little bean-shaped car wouldn’t meet U.S. crash standards anyway.

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Re-Badged Ram Pickup

First it was Nissan that wanted in on the Ram pickup’s act. Building the Titan in-house wasn’t especially cost-effective for Nissan considering its low volume, so Nissan made a deal with Chrysler to build a new Titan that would essentially be a re-skinned and re-badged Ram. The project was on and off for some time until Chrysler entered bankruptcy and put the kibosh on the whole affair. With Nissan out of the way, word has it that Hyundai is sniffing around Auburn Hills looking for a Ram with a shiny Hyundai badge on it. Chrysler reportedly said no to that request, but it doesn’t matter since Hyundai’s issued an official press release denying any pickup plans for the “foreseeable future.” Nissan, meanwhile, has decided to press on with the Titan on its own.

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GM RWD Large Car

We can probably thank former VP of Awesome Bob Lutz for this one, along with his replacement Mark Reuss. Both are big proponents of Holden and the work they’ve been doing down under, particularly on the Zeta large passenger car platform. After the Aussie-based Pontiac GTO flopped, they tried again with the Zeta-based Pontiac G8 only to see the brand put out to pasture. Still, they did get the Chevrolet Camaro built on the Zeta platform, but it’s said to be migrating to another platform with its first redesign. With the G8 gone, rumors continue to fly around GM fan sites of RWD Impalas, Buicks, and other large GM cars. Lutz fanned the flames before his departure, but now that he’s left the building, we’re not holding our breath.

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Porsche/Volkswagen Small Roadster

A few years back, Volkswagen unveiled the surprisingly cool Concept BlueSport Roadster, a diesel-powered, mid-engine, two-seat sports car that promised a happy compromise between fuel efficiency and sportiness. Most everyone loved the idea, but it didn’t get enough love from VW brass to hit the streets. Then the whole Porsche/Volkswagen takeover debacle occurred, and suddenly there were rumors of a joint project between the companies, a la the old Porsche/Volkswagen 914. Word has it Porsche is looking for a new entry-level car below the Boxster, and sharing it with Volkswagen would seriously curtail the bill. The car’s been stuck in rumor phase ever since, and we don’t see it coming out any time soon.

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A Viable Hydrogen-Powered Car

Sure, GM and Honda have built small fleets of hydrogen fuel-cell cars, and Mazda’s tricked a couple of its cars into burning the stuff straight up, but none of them has much of a prayer of mass production. Hydrogen remains expensive to harvest, volatile to store and use, and lacks anything even resembling a refueling infrastructure that could be used by more than a handful of enthusiastic early adopters in Southern California. Though the technology is impressive, it’s likely to be forgotten as battery-powered and range-extended cars like the Chevrolet Volt take to the market, what with their ability to take advantage of the massive electrical infrastructure in the U.S.

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Any Car from a Chinese Automaker

China has dozens upon dozens of automakers in its home market, but only a few have a shot at becoming real powerhouses like their international brethren. The frontrunners, in a bid to expand their reach into what is now the second-largest car market in the world, have all declared they’ll bring their cars to the U.S., and soon. Geely, Chery, and BYD have all made and broken this promise more times than we care to recall, and they show no signs of slowing down. BYD even shows up in Detroit every year promising to bring its cars to our shores in the near future. While we don’t doubt that a Chinese car will someday be offered in the U.S. market, we aren’t planning any comparison tests yet.

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The Entire Alfa Romeo Lineup

After an embarrassing withdrawal from the U.S. market in 1995, Alfa fans have pined over the possibility of a reintroduction. The legendary Italian automaker teased us with a small number of 8C Competizione supercars a few years back, but ever since the promise of Alfa’s triumphant return has been a string of broken promises. Things looked bleak until last year when Fiat, Alfa’s parent company, took control of bankrupt Chrysler. Alfa’s back! Or is it? The brand’s return has continued to fluctuate ever since the merger and its status has changed twice already in 2010 alone. For now, the plan is to have Alfas in U.S. showrooms in 2012, but we expect that story to change a few more times before then.

Honorable Mentions:

Toyota/Subaru FT-86, Carbon E7, Dodge Viper replacement, Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Fisker Karma, Hummer H4, Dodge Hornet/subcompact car and nearly every electric car start-up and cottage supercar-maker out there.

By Scott Evans

Who Wants To See A Tesla Model S Burnout?

2012 Tesla Model S CAPTIONS ON | OFF

Naysayers beware. The Tesla Model S delivers speed, style, and sexiness on par with its non-electric competition. Also, as this newly released video from Road & Track shows, it does sick burnouts. Very, very, quiet sick burnouts.

Keeping with its reputation of pushing cars to their limits, Road & Track released a video of a Model S (possibly a Signature Performance model) delivering an extreme burnout, temporarily silencing speed freaks who consider electric cars an eco fad lacking in the excitement department.

In order to achieve a full burnout, R&T West Coast editor Jason Cammisa removed a single fuse to disable the ABS, stability control, and traction control. While unsafe, this allowed the powerful, 416 horsepower and 443 lb.-ft, rear-mounted electric motor to instantly accelerate to the car’s maximum 132 MPH.

While producing this undoubtedly head-turning trick, the modification has a few dangerous drawbacks. Aside from killing the aforementioned control features, the removed fuse also disables the speedometer, air suspension, brake assist, and power steering. Not surprisingly, the extreme torque also destroys the rear tires fairly quickly.

Considering these risks, and also taking into account the $50,000 price tag and three-month waitlist for a base Tesla Model S, serious car modders should probably reserve their hacks to old Acura Integras and Mitsubishi Ellipses – at least for now.

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By Jessica Matsumoto

Teslas on Video: From Model S Road Trips to Roadster vs. Porsche Boxster Comparo

Teslas on Video: From Model S Road Trips to Roadster vs. Porsche Boxster Comparo

Now that we’ve crowned the Tesla Model S the Motor Trend 2013 Car of the Year, we’ve dug up the best videos of the electric cars that we could find. From videos documenting the development of the Tesla Model S to a Motor Trend comparison with a Tesla Roadster and a Porsche Boxster, get your fill of Tesla videos right here.

Tesla Model S with Frank Markus and Elon Musk 300x187 imageThe Tesla Model S was designed and engineered with one goal in mind: to cure electric-vehicle range anxiety. To put it to the test, we drove it to Las Vegas and back in one single charge and documented the journey. How do we know what Tesla’s goal was with the electric sedan? Before setting off on the excursion to Sin City, we toured the Tesla’s Silicon Valley factory and spent some time with Tesla CEO, Elon Musk to learn more about the Model S.

We’ve tested the 2013 Tesla Model S’ range on three single-charge road trips, but how did the car perform on the track? The Model S reached 60 mph in 4.0 seconds and finished the quarter-mile in 12.4 seconds at 112.5 mph, and its performance was all caught on video for an episode of Ignition. While the Model S is a great performer all on its own, we were also curious to discover how it behaves when matched up against an unlikely rival in a drag race — the BMW M5.

Before we got our hands on the Model S though, we followed the development process and all the engineering that went into it with a series of three videos. We also caught a trio of prototypes testing on the track, and it appears the Model S also enjoys a bit of winter weather, as we’ve also caught it playing in the snow. Before the Model S though, was the original Tesla Roadster, which we compared against a 2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder. Let’s not forget about the upcoming Model X, in which we got to check out its awesome gullwing doors at its official debut.

Watch the Tesla videos below.

By Karla Sanchez

Tesla repays federal loans nine years early, ignites war of words with Chrysler

Tesla Model S

Looks like we have quite the little scuffle on our hands between Tesla and Chrysler.

Last night, Tesla announced that it had officially repaid – nine years early – its $465-million loan from the Department of Energy, bragging it was the first U.S. company to do so.

This morning, Chrysler exerted that it was in fact the first automaker to repay its government loans, not Tesla.

Never one to take a fight lying down, Tesla founder Elon Musk fired back on Twitter saying, “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.”

In a Detroit News interview, Chrysler spokesman Gualberto Ranieri said: “I am the first to understand that this is open to an endless debate. Technically, Chrysler was the first to repay its government loans, General Motors was the second.”

It at least warrants a chuckle that the Chrysler spokesperson chosen to reinforce Chrysler’s American standing has perhaps one of the most Italian sounding names of all time. Oh the irony!

So why did Tesla repay the loans with such expediency? Apparently, some potential customers were off-put by the DOE loan hanging over Tesla’s head. “It just felt right” to repay the loans early, Musk told Bloomberg news. “I just feel better having done it.”

By Nick Jaynes

Next Tesla Roadster to Be Called ‘Model R’



Recent information suggests that Tesla is planning on making a new Roadster, which will arrive on the market probably in 2017. Not many details about it are known, yet autoexpress.co.uk say that it will most likely be called the Model R. They are currently buying back Roadsters, as credit for a new Model S.

We can understand this, as all manufacturers want some sort of linearity and uniformity in their naming strategy, so this information is actually very plausible. The new car will be even quicker than the old Lotus Elise-based offering, yet it will be an in-house job, not employing the use of a ‘glider’ (rolling chassis) from another manufacturer. This is a good thing, as everybody who has driven Tesla’s all-electric sedan has praised it for its excellent handling, road manners and performance.

The British publication also suggests that it will be underpinned by the same platform as the Model S (and its possible new variants), yet this is debatable. If the platform is modular enough to be made shorter and lighter, perhaps it will be used, but it is more likely to employ the use of the platform which will underpin Tesla’s BMW 3-Series rival, the third car in their lineup, after the Model S and Model X – the Model R will most likely be their fourth model.

By Andrei Nedelea

Tesla pushes Model X back to 2014 to focus on Model S

Tesla Model X

The Tesla Model S has been a staggering sales success by electric car terms. The electric car company headed by Elon Musk is on track to surpass 2012′s record of selling 20,000 of the sleek EVs in annual sales for 2013.

Riding high on the Model S triumph, Tesla has decided to continue pushing the sports sedan, delaying the eagerly anticipated Model X. Slated to go on sale later this year, the Model X will be pushed to late 2014, according to the LA Times.

Based upon the Model S, the Model X is supposed to have all the benefits of a minivan without the unsavory looks. Complete with gullwing doors, the Model X takes family hauling to all-new levels of excitement and design daring.

We’re disappointed in Tesla’s decision. While we understand that the electric automaker must keep working on a known entity before it can divert to something new, we ultimately see production pauses as a sign of weakness. We needn’t look past Fisker and the delayed Atlantic model for a perfect example.

On a bit of a higher note, however, Tesla has announced it will repay all of its $465 million in loans from the U.S. Department of Energy by 2017, five years ahead of schedule. It’s news like this helps assuage our niggling fears that things might be a bit off for the fledgling automaker based upon the Model X delay.

When we learn of an official launch date of the Model X, we’ll be sure to bring it to you.

By Nick Jaynes

16 Kindergarten Kids Prove Tesla Model S Rocks [Video]



Guinness doesn't recognize record attempts for squeezing kindergarteners into a car, but they should because it looks like a lot of fun.

This totally non-serious attempt probably took place in Pheonix, Arizona, judging from the license plate and the high concentration of EV owners there. A whole class of 16 kids easily fits inside the car. There's a whole bunch of them in the rear trunk, four in the front trunk and only two girls in the front.

The kids are adorable because they forget their count and stay still when the bonnet is raised.

As funny as clip is, the point is that a Tesla Model S probably has as much space as some minivans.

By Mihnea Radu

Tesla May Team Up with Google for Autonomous Driving



Tesla is currently weighing the introduction of autonomous driving technologies for its models. The company’s CEO, Elon Musk, recently let it slip that the automaker is negotiating a partnership with Google, a leader in the field of self-driving vehicles.

Despite the fact that Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin both invested in Tesla prior to its initial public offering in 2010, Musk doesn’t fully agree with Google’s approach on the matter.

Tesla’s CEO sees the technology on Google’s self-driving Toyota Prius models, which is based on sensors, as being too expensive. He explains that an optical system relying on cameras and software would be a more cost-effective alternative.

And while Google is making efforts to bring self-driving vehicles to the market quicker, Tesla has other priorities. The company is keen to establish a customer base first.

Thus, it seems likely that Tesla will develop its own “auto-pilot”, as Musk describes it, but the EV producer could join forces with Google for the development process.

Via: Automotive News

By Andrei Tutu