Archives for July 25th, 2013
Tesla Road Trip from MD to CT, Feb 2013 – Tesla Model S cars at Delaware SuperCharger location
The long-promised announcement from Tesla Motors on expansion of its Supercharger network has been delayed by the company’s billion-dollar fundraising, and this week’s payoff of its entire Department of Energy loan.
But Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] still plans a rapid expansion of the network of fast-charging stations for its Model S electric cars.
Currently there are just nine Supercharger stations, six in California and three along the Northeast Corridor from Boston through New York City to Washington, D.C.
Now we’ve learned that the network will expand into the Midwest.
At least four stations will be installed in Normal, Illinois, the electric-car friendly town known for its dozens of Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric minicars. (There’s a Mitsubishi plant in Normal.)
According to Pantagraph, up to 10 Supercharger stations will be located in the municipal parking deck.
On Monday, May 6, the Normal City Council voted 5-2 to approve a five-year lease with Tesla Motors, with two five-year extensions possible.
Tesla will pay all costs of installing and maintaining its charging stations.
Under its EV Town initiative, Normal is moving aggressively to install infrastructure for electric cars, offer purchase incentives, promote their advantages, and otherwise demonstrate what a community can do to integrate plug-in electric cars into its everyday life.
Rumors about Tesla’s upcoming Supercharger announcement–postponed from last week, per a tweet from CEO Elon Musk–indicate that the company may announce that up to 100 stations will be opened before the end of this year.
Other locations known to be slated for installations include more in the Northeast, plus new stations in the Pacific Northwest, Texas, and Florida.
With the rise of electric vehicles comes the risk of confusing methods to charge the batteries. Thankfully, seven automakers have collaborated and reached an agreement to standardize EV fast charging methods in the United States and Europe.
The automakers include Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche, and Volkswagen. All seven have agreed on one vehicle inlet/charging connector as well as the method in which the car communicates with the charging station. They also considered the future of smart grid application and have decided to use HomePlug GreenPHY for the communication protocol.
The agreement is compatible with the J1772 connector standard in the U.S., now used at Level 2 (220V in the U.S.) charging stations.
“At Ford, we know how important it is to provide technologically innovative solutions that are convenient for our customers – it’s part of our ‘One Ford’ vision and a key factor in our company’s overall success,” said Steve Biegun, Ford’s vice president of international government affairs. “We applied the same philosophy in working with other global automakers and governments to offer one common approach on charging electric vehicles – helping speed infrastructure development, strengthen economic growth and most importantly, make charging even more convenient for our customers.”
However, it’s a different story for Japanese cars such as the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi i, which currently support the CHAdeMO standard for level 3 DC fast charging (anywhere between 300-500 volts). That means owners of Japanese EVs will likely have to use adapters for any quick charging station that isn’t CHAdeMO compatible. Tesla, which created its charging units prior to standardization, also requires an adaptor for any station outside of the automaker’s proprietary connectors for all charge levels (1,2, and 3) for both the Roadster and upcoming Tesla S sedan.
Having paid its full Department of Energy loan nine years early, Tesla Motors has recorded yet another growth on the stock market, breaking the $100 mark for the first time and reaching an all-time high of $110.33.
Tuesday, Tesla jumped no less than 6 percent in the last 40 minutes of trading to end the day up 14 percent. This means that the EV automaker’s stock has risen 104 percent in May alone, which translates into a cool 217 percent the past three months.
Last week, Tesla Motors announced that it has paid off the entire loan awarded by the DOE in 2010, including interest, after wiring a final payment of $451.8 million. Earlier this month, the US company posted a $11 million first quarter profit for the first time in its history.
In other related news, Elon Musk revealed that Tesla will offer an affordable electric car in the next three to four years that will rival the Nissan Leaf. The new EV will cost less than $40,000 and will have a range of about 200 miles.
Tesla Motors, the electric-car manufacturer launched by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, may finally be on the way to turning a profit. In a message posted to Twitter on Monday, company CEO Musk said that, “Tesla was narrowly cash flow positive last week. Continued improvement expected through year end.”
If true, the message is good news for Tesla, which has heretofore struggled to turn a profit despite receiving millions of dollars in private funding, as well as a $465 million loan from the Department of Energy. For the third quarter of 2012, Tesla reported a net loss of $111 million. However, the company predicts a positive operating margin of about 12 percent by the end of 2012.
Tesla sold 2400 copies of its first car, the Lotus Elise-based Roadster, and is now ramping up production of the Model S luxury sedan. We named the Tesla Model S our 2013 Automobile Of The Year, and our colleagues at Motor Trend concurred by naming named it Car Of The Year.
Sales of the car, however, have been anything but brisk. More than 13,200 people have placed reservations for the Model S so far, but as of November 5 the company had only built 350 cars and delivered just 250 to paying customers. That didn’t stop the automaker from raising prices of the Model S by $2500, effective January 1, although Tesla defended the price bump as equaling only half the national inflation rate.
If Tesla really is on track to profitability, that bodes well for the company achieving its fourth-quarter goals. Before the end of 2012, Tesla hopes to open ten more retail outlets (for a total of 24 domestically and 34 globally) and deliver another 2500-3000 vehicles. Then in 2013, Tesla says it will continue to ramp up production and deliver 20,000 cars. We’ll see whether Tesla’s financials can stay in the black long enough for the company to hit those benchmarks.
Sources: Twitter, Tesla
By Jake Holmes
We didn’t crown the Tesla Model S Car of the Year just because it was a technological marvel – it also earned the golden calipers because it’s damn fast (among other reasons). Reconfirmation of the Model S’ dynamic abilities comes from Florida, where DragTimes.com drag raced a Model S against a last-generation Dodge Viper SRT10 Roadster.
The DragTimes.com video shows a Model S Performance, complete with the 85 kW-hr battery pack thoroughly smoking a lightly modified 2005 Viper SRT10 at the strip. On paper, the Model S really doesn’t stand a chance – its electric motor in the lineup-topping model makes 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, compared to the stock 2005 Viper’s 8.3-liter V-10, which makes 500 hp and 525 lb-ft of torque. In fact – our testing confirms that this isn’t exactly a fair matchup, considering the fastest Model S we’ve tested hit 60 mph from a standstill in 4.0 seconds and completed the quarter mile in 12.4 seconds at 112.5 mph. The last Viper Roadster of the same era we tested needed 3.9 seconds to accelerate from 0-60 mph and 11.8 seconds at 123.6 mph to knock out the quarter mile. Nonetheless, just like when the Model S drag raced a BMW M5, it’s the Tesla that comes out on top here, likely because the EV is an incredibly easy car to launch.
DragTimes.com’s 12.371 seconds at 110.84 mph quarter mile time for the Tesla Model S just edges out our time of 12.4 seconds at 112.5 mph, reportedly earning the Model S the world record for quickest production electric vehicle in the quarter mile from the National Electric Drag Racing Association. Less powerful and expensive Model S trims use 40- and 60 kW-hr batteries instead of an 85 kW-hr battery pack.
In other Tesla news, CEO Elon Musk is reaching out to the chief engineer of the troubled Boeing 787 Dreamliner, in an effort to help the plane maker sort out its lithium-ion battery troubles, Reuters reports. The 787 fleet has been grounded after a series of high-profile fires in the 787′s battery compartment. Musk, who also heads commercial space transport company SpaceX, uses the same type of batteries in the Tesla Model S and in SpaceX’s rockets. The 787 is the first airliner to make extensive use of lithium-ion batteries for main flight control systems.
Check out the Model S racing a Viper in the video below.
Source: DragTimes.com, YouTube, Reuters
Tesla Supercharger fast-charging system for electric cars
It’s been a great few months for Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA].
The company’s flagship product attracted a near best-ever rating from Consumer Reports to add to its trophy cabinet. Its DoE federal loans have been paid, and the company made a profit in the first quarter.
But is Tesla’s greatest potential in its Supercharger fast-charging network, rather than the Model S and its future vehicles?
The Wall Street Journal thinks it might be, and the argument is a strong one.
At the moment, only eight Superchargers dot the country, but that number will triple by the end of this month and rise to a hundred by the end of the year.
Superchargers for all
The business case for the Superchargers is currently one of added value for Model S sales. Tesla owners aren’t charged a penny to use the chargers, and that’s likely to remain the case for the forseeable future. As a Model S buyer, it’s nice to know you’ll eventually be able to travel the country without spending a dime on fuel.
But Tesla’s Supercharger technology is among the best fast-charging tech out there, and stations that can replenish 200 miles of battery capacity in 20 minutes have plenty of potential outside Tesla’s realm.
What if, asks The Wall Street Journal, Tesla Motors could expand its network faster than anyone else? And what if other cars were eventually able to use that network?
The paper likens the move to the first network of filling stations across the U.S. These were controlled by–get this–Henry Ford, shortly after the Model T was launched.
It’s great having people fill their Model S for free at those Superchargers, but even if Tesla’s success continues, it will only ever be one maker of electric cars. There are thousands of other electric vehicles out there with charging requirements, and allowing them access to the national Supercharger network could be a real money-spinner.
Charging: In Tesla’s best interests
Tesla is also perfectly placed to control such a network.
Many companies have a passing interest in running an electric network–automakers, utility operators, gas stations–but all have other interests at heart. Tesla’s business is only in electric vehicles, so there’s all the more to be gained from investing in the technology.
And while there are several competing charging technologies, such as the CHAdeMO standard adopted by many Japanese automakers, Tesla could potentially share its tech with some big automakers like Toyota and Daimler–both of whom have technology deals with Tesla.
Tesla has an exciting product line ahead of it, but The Wall Street Journal sums up the charging situation quite nicely:
“It has proven much more profitable to be Chevron than it is to be GM.”
It will of course be hugely expensive to set up a wide-reaching Supercharger network, as investment site Seeking Alpha points out (each station costs around $300K)–but that’s all the more reason to expand the network beyond merely free Tesla charging.
A Model S in every garage would be nice for Tesla Motors, but every electric car in the land using their chargers could be even better…
[Hat tip: Brian Henderson]
Despite the fact that Tesla sold around 3,000 Model S EVs in 2012, the all-electric sedan is still a rare sight on US roads. This means that there aren`t all that many videos of it online (though the number is going up), so when a new one which shows off the car's performance is uploaded, we really don`t want to miss it.
In this particular video by DragTimes, the Model S is put up against a Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, with the new 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine, which makes as near as makes no difference 518 hp, without the performance pack, which this car doesn`t have anyway.
The two cars sprint off the line, and while the Tesla may have less horsepower (416 ponies, of which 386 make it to the wheels), its instant torque delivery and lack of time-consuming gearshifts means it pulls ahead of the Mercedes with ease.
Once they do get moving, the big Merc does begin to catch up, but in the real world, with actual traffic, corners and stoplights, the Tesla will leave the German car for dead. Still, even in this 0-110 mph or 0-176 km/h run, they were still very evenly-matched.
Watch the video and cast your own opinion.
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E-mail from Tesla P.R. person: “Where is my baby?”
I look around. Gads, I’m still in Costa Mesa, a good 50 miles from Tesla’s dealership in Santa Monica.
I knew the car needed to be returned today after our five-day stint, which included two days of testing and lapping, but only now was it dawning on me that the luscious orange Roadster Sport I’m screwed into needed to be returned this morning so that it could be cleaned up and recharged in time for its next journalist-driver (our pal Aaron Robinson; sorry, Aaron). But after leaving our office last night with enough battery charge for maybe 220 miles, well, what would you do? Return it with a three-quarter-full battery? Ohhh, no. Those miles were going to be put to good and proper use — all while gradually nearing Santa Monica, of course.
And so, daughter Catherine, age 10, got a ride to school. Her pal, Lukie, who lives down the street, appeared to need a quick jolt of big-g acceleration, and wound up with a smile that could have been painted on. Of course, Lukie’s big sister, Edyn, couldn’t be left out. And what about Patrick, their dad? We’re all kids at heart, you know.
Then, heading up the 405 freeway I realized I’d better do some coast-down tests on a nearby road that’s perfect for such things.
Okay, that part sounds strange — let me explain. You see, for people like me, cars are simultaneously what you normal people perceive — cool hardware, driving fantasies, and all that stuff. But in addition, hovering above them like floating small clouds, I also see bunches of swirling equations and graphs and vectors, with unknown coefficients just aching to be figured out. Don’t see them? Next time stare harder. Among those coefficients is drag, what I’m after with my detour (and unusual for a sports car, the Tesla’s front camber is zero to minimize rolling resistance). Oh, and my apologies to the befuddled traffic following me that must have been wondering why this idiot Tesla driver kept accelerating like crazy and then coasting nearly to a stop.
And then — oh, heck, what’s this e-mail on my blackberry? “ETA on car?” Hmm. Gosh, I happened to be really near pal Paul Van Valkenburg’s house and if I didn’t drop in, Paul would never forgive me.
As I silently rolled to a stop, Paul magnetically appeared as if perceiving an approaching EV. His skill at sensing interesting automotive technologies like this traces back to his days at Chevrolet where he had a hand in the great Chaparral Can Am cars, and it’s still evident in his own top-secret EV project…about which I’d better not say anything more.
“So, a Tesla! What a surprise!” Paul greeted me, and we quickly went for a ride. First off, I explained that this is the new Sport version.
In Sport form — which adds $19,500 to the standard Roadster’s $110,950 base price (including destination charge) — its motor produces the base unit’s same 288 horsepower but at 600 fewer revs (4400 rpm), as well as 295 lb-ft of torque (up from 273) at zero rpm. Credit a hand-wound stator with increased winding density. Its black, Tesla-original forged alloy wheels wear Yokohama Advan tires, sized 195/50R16 up front and 225/45R17 at the rear. And in support of this meaty rubber are 10-position adjustable shocks and three-setting shock absorbers. Moreover, our particular example was kitted-out with generous exposed carbon fiber and a stitched leather interior (pushing the all-up price toward $160,000, though it’s eligible for a $7500 federal tax credit). In fact, the interior has evolved quite a bit since my original drive in a roadster (back when it still had a two-speed transmission).
Now, there’s a glovebox, transmission selections are accomplished by an easy button push on the center console (the scene of the crime when I mistakenly pressed reverse for a simulated drag race for our video guys — yikes!), and the multiscreen info display (which does such things as provide recharge scheduling and calculation of your energy costs) is now properly located below the radio.
I showed Paul how all you have to do to access full power is briefly twist the ignition switch to its full throw (though it doesn’t ignite anything, of course). And under power, the Sport emitted a strong whine which neither of us could determine to be entirely gear noise or electronics goings on (even after experimenting with coasting in neutral). Regardless, its acceleration is breathtaking. Make that breath-extracting. At the track, we confirmed the car’s 3.7-second scream to 60 mph — but, that’s just a number. Three-point-seven — what’s that mean? Felt, it’s such an unnatural thrust that it actually brings to mind that hokey Star Trek star-smear of warp-speed. The quick, linear accumulation of velocity makes you smile and hold on, shake your head, and eventually learn to carve unimaginable moves through traffic that’s populated by completely flat-footed internal-combustion cars.
While the Tesla’s other performance measures are impressive too, they’re simply extraordinary instead of unnatural. Yes, the car’s lateral acceleration averaged an impressive 0.98 g, but the steering’s feedback at the limit doesn’t do the number justice; you find yourself regarding tire slide with a hesitant reserve. This wasn’t an issue during our figure-eight test, set in a broad asphalt expanse. But on a narrow road, you just don’t have enough information at hand (literally) to explore beyond 90 percent or so.
Another curiosity is that while there’s a giant amount of regen deceleration when you lift throttle — so much so that the brake pedal often doesn’t need touching in typical traffic — lift-throttle on the skidpad doesn’t illicit the kind of rotation you need to adjust the attitude mid-corner. And that’s despite the car’s considerable rear weight bias — 65 percent — though power-oversteer is almost too easy. A sports car needs to have both tools available, and in balance. Perhaps the front wheels’ zero camber accounts for some of this. Or that Tesla thinks its clientele is interested only in acceleration, and maybe they are. But it would be awfully interesting to spend a day tinkering with the car’s setup to see what its real handling potential is.
After dropping Paul off, I briefly stopped by our office, then headed to Tesla’s Santa Monica dealership to sheepishly hand over the keys. In a drizzle, I noted the remaining range — still half left, darn it — then wormed my way out of the seat, shut the carbon-fiber door (the entire body is carbon), and considered its big questions.
What about range? Omitting our testing, the car generally traveled beyond 200 miles per charge, a distance that permits a comfortable degree of freeform driving (even in L.A.) before the eventual range calculations in the brain begin. Our charging was mostly done in our new garage, which is handily fitted with several 240-volt, 50-amp connectors. And there, everything worked without a hitch — indeed, it got to be commonplace. But typical 120-volt (wall plug) charging is so slow — about 5 miles of added range per plug-in hour (compared with 32 mph on our 240-volt plug, and as quick as 3.5 hours with an installed wall unit). Well, it’s like filling your tank with a straw. All this makes me really question the 100-mile range we’re commonly hearing about with the new crop of pure battery electrics (Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi MiEV). Personally, I’m finding my range anxiety setting in at about 50 percent of battery depletion. The Tesla’s 200-plus miles seems to me to be the minimum any EV should provide.
And the cost. At about $130,000 (base price), our Roadster Sport is within pocket change of Porsche’s 911 Turbo, which, as a value, is simply a hell of a lot more car for the dollar. Yet, how do you honestly compare the Tesla with a conventional sports car? The Tesla’s technology is so different, so early-stage, that it’s a bit like comparing the memory capacity of cheap new computer hard drives to the latest solid-state, big flash memories. Flash is expensive, but is it ‘worth it?’ Not for most, but it depends on your finances and enthusiasm for cutting edge tech.
Last, it’s time to start regarding Tesla as an actual car company. With 900 Roadsters delivered, Mercedes-Benz now owning a 10-percent stake, a federal loan of $465 million, and a new factory being created for the Model S sedan, Tesla is the first maker to crack the EV legitimacy barrier in a century. And as such we’re going to start doing the same things with them we do with any other new cars.
So Tesla — with all apologies about your car’s late return — ah, when can we get it back?
|2010 Tesla Roadster Sport|
|Base price||$130,450 (eligible for $7500 tax credit)|
|Price as tested||$153,900|
|Vehicle layout||Mid-engine, RWD, 2-door, 2-pass, convertible|
|Motor||375-volt/288-hp/295-lb-ft AC electric motor|
|Transmission||Single reduction ratio|
|Curb weight||2778 lbs|
|Length x width x height||155.4 x 72.9 x 44.4 in|
|0-60 mph||3.7 sec|
|Quarter mile||12.6 sec @ 102.6 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||113 feet|
|Lateral acceleration||0.98 g (avg)|
|MT figure eight||24.6 sec @ 0.81 g (avg)|
|EPA est city/hwy energy consumption||29/32 kW-hr/100 mi|
By Kim Reynolds