Archives for August 7th, 2013

Tesla Posts First-Ever Quarterly Profit, Raises Global Sales Target

Tesla Posts First-Ever Quarterly Profit, Raises Global Sales Target

Tesla CEO Elon Musk must be smiling, because the startup company has made a profit for the first time in its 10-year history. Tesla reported revenue of $562 million, resulting in an $11.2-million net income.

2013 Tesla Model S front right side1 300x187 imageThe Model S, which we named the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year, plays a huge part in this, as the company sold 4900 vehicles in the first quarter, exceeding the original 4500-unit goal. Tesla said it produced 400 or more cars a week, totaling 5000 for the first quarter. The company also raised its full-year forecast to about 21,000 worldwide deliveries (from 20,000), which seems like a realistic goal since the company has reduced the number of hours it takes to build a Model S. The automaker estimates U.S. demand this year for the Model S at 15,000 units.

Tesla now offers an improved finance plan and longer-term loans, which should make it easier for more people to consider a Model S. The automaker also improved its service experience, though the dealer network continues to expand. Over the last 30 days, Tesla’s stock has jumped from around $42 to about $55 a share. Whether the Model X can repeat the Model S’ success remains to be seen.

In other Tesla news, the Model S has also earned Consumer Reports‘ highest rating of 99 out of 100, performing better than any other vehicle except the Lexus LS 460L, which earned the almost-perfect score in 2007. The electric sedan was lauded for its quick acceleration, precise handling, and quiet interior. The publication didn’t like the limited range and long charging times.

Source: Tesla, Consumer Reports

By Karla Sanchez

Tesla to Build and Sell Europe-Bound Vehicles in the Netherlands



We did not think that Tesla had the necessary financial backing to push forth and establish a foothold in Europe so soon, but it is now official – they will begin selling and manufacturing the Model S for the European market, in the Netherlands, from their European Distribution Center, in Tilburg.

Production is set to begin in March of next year, at their new facility, which will have a total staff of 50. Tesla have not specified whether or not the Euro version will get any changes, either mechanical or otherwise, as it may have to comply with different rules and regulations, and some of its US-spec parts may not be legal on The Old Continent.

Pricing is another mystery, as it has not been revealed yet. Prospective buyers don`t even know whether or not the $2,500 price increase the car is getting from 2013 will apply to the Euro models, or not. If the car were to cost exactly the same as it does in the US, it would start at around €46,000, and would climb to around €72,200 for a top spec model.

By Andrei Nedelea

Model X is fastest selling Tesla, already up to $40 million in reservations

Tesla-Model-X-is-fastest-selling-Tesla,-already-up-to-$40-million-in-reservations

Taking a page out of fellow Silicon Valley-based company, Apple, Palo Alto-based automaker Tesla unveiled its highly anticipated Model X last Thursday at its design studio in Southern California. And, as they say, the jury is in, and the numbers don’t lie.

Well sort of. If pre-order sales are anything to go off of, it looks like Tesla Motors has a real winner with the Model X. According to Tesla Motors, the Model X is the fastest selling Tesla ever with advanced sales north of $40 million, which – depending on your point of view — is equally impressive and meaningless, considering Tesla only offers two other models: the Tesla Roadster, and the sleek Model S.

While some of the sales spikes for the Model X are from customers switching over from the Model S, Tesla also pointed out that sales generated from reservations for its Model S shot up 30 percent following the event.

Considering that the Model X won’t begin serious production until the end of next year, the enthusiasm surrounding the car is certainly palpable. Much of the surrounding excitement lies on the car’s features and technology. The Model X features unique Falcon Wing doors (an endless source of debate around the DT office — some love it, others not so much) and is built on the same platform as the Model S, but with a longer wheelbase.

Tesla has also been touting that the Model X will feature approximately the same external dimensions at an Audi Q7, but will offer 40 percent more room.

Most of us don’t associate crossover vehicles, like the Model X, with performance and speed, but Tesla is claiming that its newest model will offer a generous helping of style, functionality, and performance. In fact, according to Tesla, the performance version of the Model X will be able to accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds, effectively making it faster than a Porsche 911 Carrera.

While no definitive pricing has been released, Model X is expected to range between $60,000 and $100,000. Customers who recently placed reservations on the Model X were asked to provide a refundable $5,000 deposit for the base model, or a $40,000 deposit for the Signature series. 

By Amir Iliaifar

PG Elektrus: Carbon-Fiber Electric Lotus Elise



Production of the Tesla Roadster might have ended, but it’s opened up a whole new market. This is the creation of a German company called PG, which has created another Lotus Elise-based electric car, only this one has some serious attributes.

That silly looking grin at the front and the whole body for that matter is made up of carbon fiber, which is why it weighs less than a ton, just a bit over 900 kg in fact. The motor for this bad boy produces 272 horsepower and 350 Nm (258 lb-ft) of torque. Now that might not sound like much, but the ridiculously low weight, it’s enough to push the Elektrus past the first 100 km/h (62 mph) in just under 3 seconds and on to a top speed of up to 300km/h (186mph).

The range on a full charge should be 350 km (217 miles) but only if you don’t floor it. Only 667 of these will be built and the starting price has been announced at €240,000 ($312,500).

Check out the PG Elektrus: Carbon-Fiber Electric Lotus Elise photo gallery

By Mihnea Radu

Tesla Shares Up 24 Percent Following First Quarter Profit



With a first quarter 2013 profit of $11 million and a 99 out of 100 score from Consumer Reports, everything seems to work just fine for Tesla Motors. And good news keep pouring in for the EV manufacturer, with Tesla shares going up 24 percent.

According to Automotive News, Tesla Motors Inc. shares surged to $69.40 on the New York Stock Exchange right after the company posted its first quarterly profit in history. The same source says that the company’s shares have gained 65 percent this year.

As we already reported yesterday, Tesla delivered 4,900 vehicles in the first quarter of 2013 for record sales of $562 million, up 83 percent when compared to the last quarter, which resulted in a profit of $15 million (GAAP profit of $11 million).

Furthermore, Tesla’s 4,900 examples delivered in North America in the first quarter have surpassed both the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, with the two companies reporting 4,244 and 3,539 units sold over the same period of time.

Story via AutomotiveNews

By Ciprian Florea

2013 Tesla Model S Performance Package Road Test & Review

2013 Tesla Model S Performance Package Road Test & Review: Introduction

2013 Tesla Model S Performance Package Road Test & Review: Introduction

Representatives of a number of established manufacturers openly scoffed when Elon Musk announced his intention to start a car company building only electric cars. His first effort, essentially a warmed over Lotus Elise converted to run on electric power, was giggled at by some, but for others it was a wake up call.

Naming his car company for Nikola Tesla, the Serbian-American electrical engineer, credited with developing the modern alternating current (AC) electrical system, Musk signaled his intention to build the best practical electric car the world has ever seen.

And, he has.

Streaking along a road tracing the ridgeline of a mountain range in Tesla’s Model S sedan equipped with the Performance Package, the silence is almost deafening. The complete absence of mechanical noise — no intake growl, no exhaust rumble — makes hustling the extremely powerful car along the winding road a near-surreal experience.

Hampered briefly by a slower-moving vehicle, when a passing lane opens up, I give the Model S full throttle for the first time. A great leaping explosion of forward thrust shoves the 4,770-pound car past the slow-moving vehicle with such tremendous force I am literally dumbfounded at both the alacrity and relentlessness of the acceleration.

2013 Tesla Model S Performance Package Road Test & Review: Models & Prices

The 2013 Tesla Model S is offered in two models with four different powertrain configurations. Powertrain configurations and base pricing are determined by the battery pack and electric motor fitted to the car.

The most basic version runs a 40kWh battery and a 175 kW electric motor, capable of generating 235 hp. The range for that configuration is estimated at 160 miles and its pricing starts at $52,400. Offered alongside that is a 60 kWh battery and a 225 kW electric motor good for 302 hp and a range of 230 miles. Pricing for that configuration starts at $62,400. The next rung up the ladder is fitted with an 85 kWh battery, a 270-kW/362 hp electric motor, a 300-mile range, and a price of $72,400.

The top of the model range, and the subject of this road test and review, the Tesla Model S Performance Package is also fitted with an 85 kWh battery pack. However, the performance model gets a 310 kW electric motor good for 416 hp and a range of 300 miles. Pricing for the Model S performance starts at $87,400.

It should be noted; those prices subtracted a $7500 federal tax credit for emissions free vehicles. Our Model S Performance Package test car would start at $94,900 without it.

2013 Tesla Model S Performance Package Road Test & Review: Design

Franz von Holzhausen, Tesla Motors’ lead designer, was responsible for the Pontiac Solstice and the Saturn Sky. He also had a considerable hand in the design of the Volkswagen New Beetle.

The look for the Model S he specified is completely distinctive, yet normal. While derivative of no other the model on the road, it also blends in with the mainstream. The design could just as easily be an Audi or a Buick. It immediately registers as a premium automobile. However, it is so innocuous I have literally had to point out the Model S in traffic to friends. To have cloaked such a revolutionary automobile in such a conventional looking body is either sheer genius, or utter folly — depending upon your perspective.

From where I’m sitting it’s genius.

People are concerned about the limitations of electric cars. To have made the Model S radically stand out could have served to feed that anxiety. By making the Tesla look so much like every other car, it becomes very easy to think of the Model S as just another member of the mainstream.

And yes, the Prius carved out a niche for itself partly because it looked so different. However, the Model S is playing in a much more rarified environment than the Prius. Like Jackie Robinson, or Barack Obama, as the first in the type of arena it’s playing in, it’s better to be quietly competent than a brash standout.

2013 Tesla Model S Performance Package Road Test & Review: Comfort & Cargo

A four-door hatchback, the Tesla has plenty of room for five passengers and cargo. The interior treatment is well laid out and the seats are quite comfortable. During my time with the Model S, I found it to be both quite comfortable and spacious.

At first glance, the front seats would appear to be more about form than function, but over the period of my drive I found them quite supportive, well bolstered, and nicely padded. The back seats look rather plain and I consider the omission of a center armrest something of an oversight. However, in terms of comfort they’d easily support two passengers for an extended drive and three around town. With the driver’s seat adjusted for my 6’1” frame, I could easily occupy the seat behind it and would be comfortable there for a drive around town.

One of the benefits of the rear-mounted electric motor is the flexible packaging such an arrangement permits. In addition to the cargo compartment underneath the hatchback, there is a cargo compartment at the front of the Model S. Because there is no engine, there is also no drive shaft necessitating a tunnel in the Tesla’s floor. This frees up considerable space for legroom, as well as accommodating reconfigurable seating layouts. Thus, the Model S can also accommodate a rear facing third-row seat for two children.

2013 Tesla Model S Performance Package Road Test & Review: Features & Controls

While looking around the interior of the Model S reveals it has a ways to go before challenging an Audi for style, fit and finish; when it comes to tech, the Tesla positively shines. The centerpiece of the interior is, quite literally, a 17-inch touchscreen panel within which is contained the interface for all comfort and convenience functions. Endlessly entertaining, positively practical, and intelligently intuitive, the flexibility the control panel affords is an utterly redefining experience.

The most commonly used controls like temperature and audio volume are located along the bottom of the screen. Other controls including lights, door locks, and the panoramic roof are easily accessible. The panoramic roof, for example, opens by simply swiping along its image on the screen to the opening size you prefer. With built-in high-speed Internet connectivity, you can access restaurant reviews, movie times and an abundance of other information. While the touchscreen displays the nav system’s maps in high-resolution with map or satellite views, you can also overlay weather, traffic, and charging information.

Now, with that said, there are a few state of the art conveniences other luxury sedans in the Tesla’s price range offer that have yet to be fitted to the Model S. You’ll do without smart cruise control, blind spot indicators, and lane departure warnings. You’ll also do without a driver adjustable suspension system and near infinitely adjustable seating.

2013 Tesla Model S Performance Package Road Test & Review: Safety & Ratings

Equipped with eight airbags, the passenger compartment is constructed of high-strength steel and aluminum. Traction and stability control, along with anti-lock brakes are standard equipment.

The battery pack is an integral part of the car, while also comprising a structure in its own right. Using liquid cooling to prevent overheating, it is designed to disconnect the power supply in the event of a crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has yet to crash test a Model S; ditto the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), so no formal crash test information exists for the car — as of this writing.

2013 Tesla Model S Performance Package Road Test & Review: Motor/Fuel Economy

My Performance Package Model S test car was fitted with the 416 hp 310 kW electric motor. The powerplant produces peak horsepower at between 5,000 and 8,000 rpm. As I mentioned before the motor generates its full 443 ft-lbs of torque at 0 rpm.

Tesla quotes the car’s range at 300 miles when driven at a steady 55 miles per hour. The EPA says the car is good for 265 miles in its 5-Cycle Certification test, which is the equivalent of 89 miles per gallon overall.

Recharging can be accomplished with either a standard 110v outlet or a 240v outlet (preferred). A full charge from a 240v outlet can be accomplished in four hours; an extended range charge takes six. The Tesla can also be fast-charged to 80 percent of capacity in about 30 minutes.

2013 Tesla Model S Performance Package Road Test & Review: Driving Impressions

With the Tesla’s transmitter fob in your pocket, walking up to the Model S causes it to extend its door handles from their flush resting positions. Settling behind the wheel, a tap of the brake pedal awakens the propulsion system and the Model S is ready to take to the road. There are no “keys” or “switches”. The Tesla assumes if you sat down, touched the pedal, and put it in drive, you’re ready to go.

Underway, the motor’s full torque potential is available the moment you set the Tesla into motion. Nail the throttle, as I did on that mountain road, you’ll get an inkling of what it feels like to be launched in a rocket test sled. The Model S accelerates instantaneously, and just as viciously as any supercar you can name. Performance Package models like my test car have been clocked at 3.9 seconds from 0-60 and at 12.5 seconds in the quarter mile.

Further, when it’s time for the serpentine waltz, the Model S is as graceful as any sports sedan in its class. The steering is highly responsive and adjustable for effort through three ranges. The way the sleek sedan feels ratcheted to the road surface inspires tremendous confidence, while the Tesla’s braking ability is fully commensurate with its other performance attributes.

The Model S is designed to recapture inertial energy through a regenerative braking system calibrated to perform the moment you release the throttle. This makes for an interesting driving technique. Once you get a feel for the way it works, you can go rushing toward a corner and simply lift off the throttle. In so doing, you’ll get weight transfer to the front wheels to improve turn-in and the car will slow enough for you to feed it into most corners without touching the brake pedal.

When acute cornering demanding more vigorous braking is required, depressing the “other” pedal hauls the curvaceous sedan down from speed with significant authority. There was a relative lack of braking action right at the top of the pedal’s travel in my test car, but when you got deep into the binders, the car stopped — really well.

When you arrive at your destination, simply depress the park button, get out, and walk away — the Tesla shuts down and locks.

2013 Tesla Model S Performance Package Road Test & Review: Final Thoughts

Those expecting the world’s first electric luxury sedan to be an amalgamation of compromises are going to be rather disappointed. Dynamically, the Model S is a fully formed well thought out effort. Further, drivers will find it capable of far more performance potential than they will ever have a desire to exploit on the road.

However, the list of items I stated the Tesla owner would do without should also include the prestige factor of a three-pointed star, a golden shield with a prancing stallion, a wreath and crest, a blue and white roundel, or four interlocking rings. On the other hand, the Tesla Model S Performance package owner will get a thoroughly enthralling driving experience, a raft of luxurious accommodations, practical and seamless operation, up to 265 miles of range between recharges, and the aforementioned virtually silent operating experience.

They will also get the best electric car ever offered…to date.

In short, the Tesla Model S is — undeniably — the real thing.

2013 Tesla Model S Performance Package Road Test & Review: Pros & Cons

Pros

• No Gas Required — Ever

• Exceptionally Fast And Powerful

• Understated Good Looks

• Redefines The Way We Interact With Cars

• No Gas Required — Ever

Cons

• Recharge Time Still Bested by Gasoline

•Interior’s A Bit On The Plain Side For The Price

• Some State Of The Art Features Missing

• Prestige Factor Isn’t On Par With Price — Yet

By Autobytel Staff

Tesla CEO Elon Musk Gets Second Model S



After reporting that board member, Steve Jurvetson was the first to take delivery of the first ever Tesla Model S, the second person to get a car is the CEO of the company, Elon Musk himself, apparently at the same time Steve got his own.

The two men reportedly received their cars two days before the pictures of Steve Jurvetson surfaced on the internet. Also, if you were wondering why the two men received their cars early, a statement by Elon Musk will clear that up for you: “…the reason those two cars are goingto Steveand myself is so that we can spend a few weeks just going through the cars in detail and experiencing any tiny issues ourselves before regular customers experience them them. I think its really important to thoroughly test your own product and be extremely tough on it before giving it to general customers” and goes on to explain how issues have been identified and fixed before the big day.”

While that may not be entirely true (we think), they are the words of the CEO of the company and should be taken as they are.

Story via insideevs.com

By Andrei Nedelea

2013 Tesla Model S

  • BY CSABA CSERE
  • PHOTOGRAPHY BY A.J. MUELLER

    Those of us who like cars propelled by closely spaced, tiny explosions don’t easily warm up to electric power. It’s not just our troglodytic affection for an urgently revving engine, a crisp redline shift, and the earthy whiff of gasoline. The reality is that most electric cars simply haven’t been very good.

    Optimized for high mileage ratings, current electric cars are small and slow. Even worse, none has sufficient range to be truly useful, unless your duty cycle consists of driving no farther than the nearest grocery store. It’s no surprise that electric cars are selling like stale cowpies.

    Then along comes the Tesla Model S from Elon Musk, he of PayPal and SpaceX, to change our perceptions about cars powered by electrons. For example, in one day, our photographer drove the fully charged car for 30 to 40 miles—already half the range of a Nissan Leaf. Then I drove it 30 miles to dinner and to a friend’s home another 40 miles away before taking the long way back to Ann Arbor. After gallivanting all over Detroit’s sprawling metro area, I returned to Car and Driver headquarters to polish off the last few miles. Our measured range was 211 miles—not quite the EPA-predicted 265—but impressive, given our 75-to-80-mph highway speeds.

    Unlike other electrics, the Model S is a spacious five-door with an optional rear-facing third row and luxurious appointments. Perhaps the Model S’s closest competitors are the couture German luxury sedans—the Audi A7, the BMW Gran Coupe, and the Mercedes-Benz CLS. Designed by Franz von Holzhausen, who sculpted the Pontiac Solstice, the Model S has enough style to match the high-end German crowd.

    Its flowing lines help it achieve a 0.24 drag coefficient. If that seems incredibly low, consider that the Tesla’s grille inhales only about one-third as much air as a standard car’s. And its underside is as smooth as any we’ve seen, thanks to front and rear belly pans, no exhaust pipes, and a flat battery pack under the passenger compartment.

    That battery pack is roughly five feet wide, eight feet long, and four inches thick. It holds more than 7000 cylindrically shaped lithium-ion cells and weighs more than 1300 pounds, with a capacity of 85 kWh. That’s three-and-a-half times the juice of  the Nissan Leaf’s battery.

    A discharged battery can be replenished in about 10 hours with the standard 10-kW charger, which uses a 40-amp, 240-volt ­circuit—what an electric oven requires. Our car had the optional 20-kW, 80-amp ­charger, which cuts the plug-in time to about seven hours. Keep in mind that you are unlikely to completely deplete the battery. Moreover, Tesla recommends using the standard-range mode, which reduces available energy and range by about 15 percent while extending battery life.

    These electrons energize the 416-hp motor positioned on the left side of the Model S, just behind the differential. Peak power occurs between 5000 and 8600 rpm, peak torque of 443 pound-feet at 0 rpm, yet the motor can spin to16,000 revs. That means that the Model S gets by with just one speed—essentially no transmission.

    But “gets by” understates the Model S’s performance. We measured 0-to-60 mph in 4.6 seconds, a quarter-mile of 13.3 seconds at 104 mph, and a governed top speed of  134 mph. That’s similar to the performance of the V-8 German sedans.

    Specifications >

    VEHICLE TYPE: rear-motor, rear-wheel-drive, 5+2-passenger, 5-door wagon

    PRICE AS TESTED: $109,600

    BASE PRICE: $105,400

    MOTOR TYPE: AC permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor

    Redline: 16,000 rpm

    Power: 416 hp @ 8600 rpm
    Torque: 443 lb-ft @ 0 rpm

    TRANSMISSION: 1-speed direct drive

    DIMENSIONS:
    Wheelbase: 116.5 in


    Length: 196.0 in

    Width: 77.3 in
    Height: 56.5 in

    Curb weight: 4785 lb

    C/D TEST RESULTS:
    Zero to 60 mph: 4.6 sec
    Zero to 100 mph: 12.1 sec
    Zero to 120 mph: 21.4 sec
    Street start, 5–60 mph: 4.5 sec
    Top gear, 30–50 mph: 1.8 sec
    Top gear, 50–70 mph: 2.3 sec
    Standing ¼-mile: 13.3 sec @ 104 mph

    Top speed (governor limited): 134 mph
    Braking, 70–0 mph: 160 ft
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.91 g

    FUEL ECONOMY:
    EPA city/highway: 88/90 MPGe
    C/D observed: 74 MPGe

    TEST NOTES: Not a hint of launch wheelspin. During repeated acceleration runs, there is some loss of performance that’s likely attributable to heat build-up in the motor, the power controller, and the battery pack.

    Continued…

  • BY CSABA CSERE

  • PHOTOGRAPHY BY A.J. MUELLER

    The figures, however, don’t reveal the Tesla’s instantaneous response. When you floor the accelerator on a conventional car, the airflow has to increase, the turbos must spool up, and the transmission unlocks its torque converter and usually downshifts. In the Model S, you’re shoved into your seat right now, with an immediacy that no Corvette, Ferrari, or Porsche can match.

    This performance is particularly impressive because the Model S weighs 4785 pounds. Despite its aluminum structure and bodywork, there’s ample weight in the battery pack, the electronics, the cables, and the powerful electric motor.

    At least Tesla uses this mass to good effect. The battery is below the passenger cabin—as low as it can be placed. The electric motor and power electronics also are mounted low and behind the rear axle. The result is a front/rear weight distribution of 47/53 percent and, more important, a center- of-gravity height of 18.0 inches. That’s one of the lowest we’ve measured, second only to the Corvette Z06’s 17.5.

    The payoff is a car that rolls and pitches very little in spite of dampers and air springs calibrated for a supple ride. Driven hard on a country road, the Model S is well-planted, with nary a creak or groan from its structure even on bumpy pavement. With electric power steering that’s responsive and nicely weighted, the Model S carves into bends without hesitation. At 0.91 g, grip is plentiful thanks to our test car’s in-development suspension tuning and monster 21-inch Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires.


    The Model S’s spaciousfive-plus-two-passenger cabin is enabled by its compact propulsion system and clever component layout. The AC drive motor, power-inverter circuits, and final-drive differential are contained within compact housings supported by a rubber-isolated rear subframe. More than 7000 cylindrical battery cells are vertically oriented inside a large aluminum box that also serves as the body structure’s floor. Liquid cooling circuits keep the driveline and battery pack within desired temperature limits during strenuous driving. A rigidly attached front crossmember supports the suspension system’s lower control arms and the power rack-and-pinion steering gear. An aluminum space frame—augmented by high-strength steel B-pillars and bumper beams—supports the above components as well as the formed-aluminum body panels.

    These performance tires clomp on broken pavement, but the ride is otherwise smooth and comfortable. Though road noise is not high, we suspect that BMW or Mercedes chassis engineers could have made it quieter. Our car was plagued by at least one severe wind leak that started howling between 70 and 80 mph. Perhaps not coincidentally, it also had several poor-fitting panels. This was a preproduction car—“Elon’s iPhone” was one entry on the “paired phones” list; prospective buyers would be wise to check for wind noise before depositing any cash.

    If you do take a test drive, you’ll notice a unique feature, even for electric cars. The regenerative braking—which repurposes the motor as a generator to recover the car’s kinetic energy when you’re decelerating—is controlled solely by the accelerator. As you lift off the pedal, the motor absorbs up to 60 kW (81 hp), producing nearly 0.2 g of braking at low speeds. That’s a fair amount of deceleration, but we quickly adjusted to driving the Tesla using only its right pedal.

    A benefit of this approach is that the left pedal controls the hydraulic brakes, so there’s none of the mismatched blending of regen- and friction-brake feel that plagues other electrics. It also serves as an efficient driving reminder, because you only need the brake pedal when you don’t properly anticipate your stop. If you must slow quickly, however, the Model S’s hydraulic brakes can stop from 70 mph in a mere 160 feet—an average deceleration rate of 1.02 g.

    Another unusual aspect of the Model S is an enormous capacitive touch screen that almost completely replaces the knobs and buttons on the dash. It measures 17 inches diagonally, is mounted vertically, and pre­sents the area of four to six typical screens.

    Specifications >

    VEHICLE TYPE: rear-motor, rear-wheel-drive, 5+2-passenger, 5-door wagon

    PRICE AS TESTED: $109,600

    BASE PRICE: $105,400

    MOTOR TYPE: AC permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor

    Redline: 16,000 rpm

    Power: 416 hp @ 8600 rpm
    Torque: 443 lb-ft @ 0 rpm

    TRANSMISSION: 1-speed direct drive

    DIMENSIONS:
    Wheelbase: 116.5 in


    Length: 196.0 in

    Width: 77.3 in
    Height: 56.5 in

    Curb weight: 4785 lb

    C/D TEST RESULTS:
    Zero to 60 mph: 4.6 sec
    Zero to 100 mph: 12.1 sec
    Zero to 120 mph: 21.4 sec
    Street start, 5–60 mph: 4.5 sec
    Top gear, 30–50 mph: 1.8 sec
    Top gear, 50–70 mph: 2.3 sec
    Standing ¼-mile: 13.3 sec @ 104 mph

    Top speed (governor limited): 134 mph
    Braking, 70–0 mph: 160 ft
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.91 g

    FUEL ECONOMY:
    EPA city/highway: 88/90 MPGe
    C/D observed: 74 MPGe

    TEST NOTES: Not a hint of launch wheelspin. During repeated acceleration runs, there is some loss of performance that’s likely attributable to heat build-up in the motor, the power controller, and the battery pack.

    Continued…

  • BY CSABA CSERE

  • PHOTOGRAPHY BY A.J. MUELLER

    Thanks to that vast display area, there’s always a climate-control section at the bottom of the screen and a navigation ribbon at the top. The touch “buttons” are large, which makes them easy to locate at speed. You can view two functions at a time in separate windows, or use the entire screen, handy for navigation and phone contact lists. Switching between screens is intuitive, and you can operate it by pinching your fingers, as on an iPhone. It’s what you’d expect from a car conceived in Silicon Valley.

    Unfortunately, the system has several shortcomings. For example, the map orientation is fixed with north at the top of the screen. And we didn’t find any way to modify the nav settings to allow us to avoid toll roads. We also had trouble getting the Model S to download our phone contacts. Other flaws include incompatibility with an iPod, the inability to specify how many doors unlock at a time, no voice commands, and no memory seats—a common feature on workaday sedans. Tesla says some changes will come soon via software upgrades, but missing features such as adjustable thigh support won’t be downloaded through the internet.

    Such omissions bring up the question of value. Deliveries of the Model S started last summer, but the initial focus is on the premium models, such as this Signature Perform­ance edition. Its base price is $97,900; with options it swelled to $102,100—and that’s after deducting the $7500 federal tax credit.

    The least-expensive Model S with an 85-kWh battery will set you back $69,900, but that version also has a less powerful motor and is about a second slower to 60. Soon Tesla plans to offer a 60-kWh version for $59,900, which will be a few more ticks slower. Finally, a 40-kWh version will arrive for $49,900, with half of our test car’s range, a 110-mph top speed, and a claimed 0-to-60-mph acceleration in the mid sixes.

    It will be interesting to see if Tesla turns a profit at those prices. The Model S is a clean-sheet design that required far more investment than its first car, the Roadster, which was based on the Lotus Elise and cost well over $100,000 but still lost money. Not that we own any Tesla stock, but a car company that doesn’t make money won’t be in business for long—and its eight-year battery warranty won’t be worth anything if the company goes under.

    If we were hot for Tesla’s electric car, we wouldn’t consider anything less than the 60-kWh model. Who, after all, wants range anxiety? But remember that even with the bigger batteries, the Model S’s range is too short and its recharging time too long for extended highway trips.

    But in a city, even a sprawling one like Detroit or Los Angeles, the Model S gets the job done. It’s attractive, comfortable, fast, practical, technically fascinating, and not overpriced. Most important, it’s not just a good electric vehicle, it’s a good car.

    Specifications >

    VEHICLE TYPE: rear-motor, rear-wheel-drive, 5+2-passenger, 5-door wagon

    PRICE AS TESTED: $109,600

    BASE PRICE: $105,400

    MOTOR TYPE: AC permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor

    Redline: 16,000 rpm

    Power: 416 hp @ 8600 rpm
    Torque: 443 lb-ft @ 0 rpm

    TRANSMISSION: 1-speed direct drive

    DIMENSIONS:
    Wheelbase: 116.5 in


    Length: 196.0 in

    Width: 77.3 in
    Height: 56.5 in

    Curb weight: 4785 lb

    C/D TEST RESULTS:
    Zero to 60 mph: 4.6 sec
    Zero to 100 mph: 12.1 sec
    Zero to 120 mph: 21.4 sec
    Street start, 5–60 mph: 4.5 sec
    Top gear, 30–50 mph: 1.8 sec
    Top gear, 50–70 mph: 2.3 sec
    Standing ¼-mile: 13.3 sec @ 104 mph

    Top speed (governor limited): 134 mph
    Braking, 70–0 mph: 160 ft
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.91 g

    FUEL ECONOMY:
    EPA city/highway: 88/90 MPGe
    C/D observed: 74 MPGe

    TEST NOTES: Not a hint of launch wheelspin. During repeated acceleration runs, there is some loss of performance that’s likely attributable to heat build-up in the motor, the power controller, and the battery pack.

    View Photo Gallery

    By CSABA CSERE

  • Tesla Model S 60-kWh Delayed To Jan: Bye-Bye, 2012 Tax Credit

    2013 Tesla Model S

    2013 Tesla Model S

    Enlarge Photo

    Well, it looks like there won’t be a Tesla Model S under my Christmas tree after all.

    Even more annoying, that means I’ll have to wait until April 15, 2014, to take advantage of my $7,500 electric-car tax credit.

    As Model S reservation holder P717, I’d hoped to take delivery of my car this month, after the initial batch of 1,200 premium-priced Signature cars were completed by Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA].

    When I signed the purchase agreement back in August, I was told I’d get my car–a metallic green 60-kWh model–in November or December, in time for the 2012 tax credit.

    But with production slippages and a delay in the EPA certification of the 60-kWh battery version, delivery by the December 31 deadline began to look dicey.

    Tesla has now officially delivered the bad news in a note to its reservation holders: production of 60-kWh cars won’t begin until January, with initial deliveries in “January/early February.”

    With perhaps a couple of hundred 60-kWh buyers in line ahead of me, and the one- to two-week delivery time from California to my place in New York, it now looks like I’ll get my hands on the car in mid- or late February.

    Oh, well. At least I’ll be missing a lot of cold weather, in which electric cars typically lose substantial range.

    Tesla also announced new delivery dates for certain other options not available at the start of production.

    Production of the base 40-kWh Model S will begin in March 2013, with deliveries starting in “March/early April.”

    Cars with the standard coil suspension will also now start production in March. (So far, cars have been built only with the optional $1,500 air suspension.)

    2012 Tesla Model S, brief test drive, New York City, July 2012

    2012 Tesla Model S, brief test drive, New York City, July 2012

    Enlarge Photo

    The one option whose start date hasn’t been pushed back is the new multi-coat Red paint color, which will come on line in March, as originally scheduled.

    Tesla promises to send Model S buyers regular updates as each option gets closer to production.

    “We have not done a great job at all in the past regarding communication on these items,” conceded Tesla VP George Blankenship. “I fully acknowledge our shortfall in this area.”

    Going forward, he promised, the company will do “a much better job.”

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

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    By David Noland