Archives for July 30th, 2013
The controversy continues surrounding the recent The New York Times article written by reporter John M. Broder, who was left stranded when the Model S he was driving ran out of charge before reaching a charging station. Since then, his review has received lots of attention, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently provided his side of the ordeal and shared extensive data from the Model S driven by Broder.
The controversy began when Tesla approached Broder to evaluate a Model S (with an 85 kilowatt-hour battery that provides 265 miles of EPA-rated range) and two new charging stations installed in Newark, Delaware and in Milford, Connecticut. These stations are 200 miles apart and include the company’s new Supercharger, which can recharge batteries at a much faster rate than a typical charging unit (Tesla says the Supercharger can provide up to 150-160 miles of range in just 30 minutes).
In fact, in a February 12 update, Broder says the test was intended to evaluate the Supercharger network on the East Coast, not the Model S, explaining why he didn’t plug in the car overnight in Connecticut.
“This evaluation was intended to demonstrate its practicality as a ‘normal use,’ no-compromise car, as Tesla markets it. Now that Tesla is striving to be a mass-market automaker, it cannot realistically expect all 20,000 buyers a year (the Model S sales goal) to be electric-car acolytes who will plug in at every Walmart stop,” Broder wrote.
Broder’s trip began at the Delaware station with 242 miles of range (he was unaware of a “max charge” feature that would’ve topped the battery off at 265 miles). He claims to have experienced fluctuations in the battery’s claimed range, which may have been affected by the colder temperatures. Still, Broder claims to have properly charged the battery, drove at reasonable speeds, and even reduced the cabin temperature, all in an attempt to increase range. In the end, however, Broder says he ran out of charge before reaching Connecticut, and the Model S was consequently towed to the charging station.
Since then, Tesla has compared Broder’s account to the data log from the Model S test car he drove. Yesterday, Musk published an extensive blog with that data, which points out a number of claimed discrepancies in the highway speeds at which Broder said he was traveling, charging times, as well as possible errors in his article’s math. Musk also suggested the evaluation was a lost battle for Tesla in the first place, pointing to a March 2012 article by Broder in which he says “the state of the electric car is dismal.”
Check out Musk’s full February 13 blog here, and Broder’s February 12 follow-up here.
Source: NY Times, Tesla Motors
It appears hot Romanian model Catrinel Menghia and Charlie Sheen were effective at publicizing Fiat’s hot hatch. Chrysler can’t keep up with all the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth orders, and the automaker has informed dealers that orders for the 500 Abarth for the 2012 model year are currently not being accepted.
Those who place an order now for the scorpion-badged Abarth will be forced to wait until next fall to slip behind the wheel of next year’s model, which won’t begin to ship until next fall. Customers who put their deposits down as early as March will also have to wait until the 2013 batch arrives in September.
By the time the Abarth started trickling into Fiat showrooms in April, The Detroit News reports the company already had more than 1000 cash deposits from customers. The automaker originally planned to build about 1000 vehicles at the company’s factory in Toluca, Mexico, but after receiving a flurry of orders, the automaker bumped up production to the factory’s maximum output of 3000 units a year.
Thanks in part to a small dealer network, Fiat sales didn’t hit the initial target of moving 50,000 cars by the end of 2011, selling only 19,769. The picture appears to be improving, however, as 16,702 Fiat 500s have already been sold through May 2012.
As for the Tesla Model S, the automaker tells us no more reservations are being taken on the Signature model — which has a claimed 300-mile range. The top trim of the Model S which has a claimed 300-mile range. The top trim of the Model S is expected to earn an EPA range rating of 265 miles, and is limited to 1000 units.
Source: The Detroit News, Tesla
Tesla Motors is in the middle of a spat with the Texas Automobile Dealers Association, but that isn’t stopping CEO Elon Musk from mapping out his future plans in Texas. If Musk has his way, Texas could be home to Tesla’s second assembly plant, he told Automotive News. And if that weren’t enough, he said the new plant could produce an EV truck, if the company ever offers pickups.
Musk didn’t specify which cities he’s considering for the new plant, but he did say the process could start as soon as three years from now. “When we do establish a manufacturing plant outside of California, Texas would be a leading candidate for that,” Musk told Automotive News. California is currently Tesla’s biggest market and Texas has the potential of becoming the automaker’s second-largest money maker.
In addition to the logistical benefits for Tesla, the new plant will produce thousands of new jobs for the state. Musk also hinted that the new location could build an EV truck. “I have this idea for a really advanced electric truck that has the performance of a sports car but actually more towing power and more carrying capacity than a gasoline or diesel truck of comparable size,” Musk said.
First, though, Tesla must determine how it will sell cars in the state. As previously reported, only franchised dealers are allowed to sell cars in Texas, which means Tesla’s factory-owned stores (one in Austin and another in Houston) are prohibited from conducting any sales-related activity including test drives, financial transactions, or deliveries. The same applies for service work. Current owners must initiate service-related requests outside of the state before going to a subcontracted garage in Texas.
Tesla is attempting to gain exemption from the state, but is facing resistance from the Texas Automobile Dealers Association. The automaker faced a similar battle in Minnesota, but has temporarily earned an exemption around that state’s franchise law.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)
Auto News, Dealers, Government, Hybrid Car/EV, Tesla
Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse is World’s Fastest Convertible, Hits 254 MPH
Ford has steadily improved the SYNC system, developed with the help of Microsoft, over the years, and while it may still not be perfect, even after a few years in development, they have now reported the sale of the 5 millionth vehicle equipped with the system.
According to Paul Mascarenas, CTO and VP of Ford Research and Innovation, “SYNC has helped us evolve as an automaker, to think and act more like a technology company, with a new level of openness and access that has forever changed how we look at our business and respond to our customers [. . . ] Ultimately, SYNC embodies what Ford is all about: going further to transform innovative ideas into products that are affordable, attainable and valuable to millions of people.”
Over time, the system will improve, and the fact that they have made an alliance with the likes of Microsoft will most likely ensure a good quality product in the end. Some customers still don’t like it, and this will still be the case, until they finally make a system which is truly easy to use and intuitive – like the one used by Tesla, on the Model S’ oversized central screen, but smaller.
2012 Tesla Model S Signature
Tesla has released details of an impending software update, for the 2012 Tesla Model S electric sedan.
Among the changes, owners will now be able to use new features like an app launcher and voice commands, while seeing improvements to some of the controls, and even acceleration response.
First of the new features introduced in the update is a “vehicle sleep” mode.
This is aimed at reducing energy use while the vehicle is off, powering down the vehicle display and electronics to a “sleep” state when the car is turned off.
Tesla notes that this does mean the displays will take a little longer to boot up, but drivers can choose whether to turn this feature on or off. Turning it on is beneficial to those who may not recharge every time they’re parked up–the company says that leaving the displays on uses the equivalent of 8 miles of energy per day when the car is not plugged in.
An App Launcher is also included in the update, letting users pick where they wish a launched app to be displayed–in the top or bottom half of the screen–by dragging and dropping the item on the touchscreen.
2012 Tesla Model S display screen [Photo: Flickr user jurvetson]
Finally, voice commands are now available.
Drivers can use this to listen to music, use the navigation system, or call contacts–all using simple commands like “listen”, “drive to” and “call”, while holding down the voice command button on the steering wheel.
A series of subtle enhacements are included in the updates.
Most noteworthy are the synchronized door handles and the improved throttle response.
The former means that all doorhandles now present and retract together. All door handles will remain extended for a minute after the last door closes, before all retracting in unison.
The latter will also be welcome for Model S drivers. The car has never been short on speed, but Tesla has re-tuned the “throttle” response for what it calls a smoother, crisper feel. This should make the Model S even quicker in real-world driving.
Additionally, drivers can switch the vehicle alarm on or off, choose between metric or imperial units, choose whether the door handles auto-present when unlocking the car, and a ‘Range Driving Mode’ reduces the climate control’s effectiveness to the benefit of conserving range.
Model S owners will be presented with an update scheduling screen when the update becomes available, and the software will be updated wirelessly.
(Hat tip to Brian Henderson)
Tesla claims it has 250 patents covering its Model S sedan, with more pending. The electric motor sits between the rear wheels, contributing greatly to the car’s 47/53-percent front/rear weight distribution.
Tesla offers three lithium-ion battery packs for the Model S — 40-kW-hr, 60-kW-hr, and 85-kW-hr — that are claimed to provide ranges of 140, 200, and 265 miles, respectively. The base 85-kW-hr powertrain delivers a stout 362 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, while the performance version makes 416 hp and 443 lb-ft.
Read more about the Model S: 2012 Tesla Model S Test and Range Verification
Guest judge Wayne Cherry, a former GM design boss, summed up the exterior design theme of the Model S as “somewhat safe and conservative.” His only criticism? “The front end is a missed opportunity to establish brand identity.”
A number of the interior design solutions need more polish. However, all judges were impressed with the Tesla’s unique user interface, courtesy of the giant touch screen in the center of the car that controls everything from the air-conditioning to the nav system to the sound system to the car’s steering, suspension, and brake regeneration settings.
For the 313 miles of road loops during the COTY evaluation, where the car was driven at normal speeds by all the judges with the air-conditioning running, it averaged 74.5 mpg-e. Impressive numbers, especially considering the 4766-pound Tesla Model S Signature Performance version will nail 60 mph in 4.0 seconds and the quarter in 12.4 seconds at 112.5 mph, with a top speed of 133 mph.
Other Car of the Year Contender WOT Posts:
BMW 3 Series
CODA EV Sedan
Toyota Prius C
To compete for the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year title, contenders must be all new or significantly revised 2013-model-year cars or 2012-model-year cars that went on sale too late for 2012 COTY consideration. All eligible vehicles are invited to compete. Check back to MotorTrend.com on November 12 at 3:30 p.m. PST / 6:30 p.m. EST to discover what will become the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year!