Archives for August 13th, 2013

Tesla Model S Reportedly Exceeds Range Expectations

With their first car, the Tesla Roadster, the Silicon Valley-based manufacturer claimed it was at its 2008 model was at least twice as energy efficient as a Toyota Prius. With battery technology, and EV related stuff in general, having come a considerable way in the last 4 years, the company’s new offering, the Model S sedan is expected to have a very good range for an EV.

According to Tesla, we shan’t be disappointed with the new car’s range, as they claim that the 85 kWh battery pack can enable the car to drive on for 480km (300 miles) before recharging. The figure was achieved on a EPA approved 55% in town and 45% highway journey, driving at constant speed of around 80-100km/h (50-70mph), without using the climate control, with the windows closed and with tires inflated to the recommended pressure.

With even bolder (but not verified) claims of economy, Tesla officials say the car could even go on to drive 640km (400 miles) under the right driving conditions. They also say they’re planning a prize for the first customer to achieve this extraordinary range for the first time.

With its sleek design, very good proportions and design, excellent efficiency and performance, coupled with a 5-Series-rivalling price, there’s no reason for the Tesla Model S not to sell very well, and we actually expect it to do so.

By Andrei Nedelea

Tesla Motors falls behind 2012 delivery schedule

2012 Tesla Model S

Tesla Motors launched its all-electric Model S on June 22, delivering the first 10 cars to customers at its California headquarters. The company said it was on track to deliver 5,000 of the electric cars by the end of the year, but that seems increasingly unlikely. Tesla has not delivered any cars since June, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Tesla says it has 12,200 people on its waiting list, meaning this year’s production run and a good portion of next year’s (Tesla says it will build 20,000 cars in 2013) have already been spoken for. So where are the customers’ cars?

“The production steps up in a geometric and exponential way,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk told analysts in a conference call, “the production ramp is this sharp S curve. In 2013 we’ll produce at least 20,000 units. That’s all that matters.”

Musk said the delays are due to his attention to detail. He personally inspects as many cars as he can, and he claims the delays are the fault of suppliers who don’t meet Tesla’s quality standards. Musk has sent interior trim and chromed door handles back because they did not satisfy him.

“There are these little things that are extremely annoying,” Musk told the analysts, “they are mostly interior, soft trim issues.”

Musk said Tesla has made a total of 40 production cars this year. In a letter to shareholders, the company said it will deliver 500 more cars in the third quarter, and the balance of the 5,000 scheduled cars in the fourth quarter. Tesla currently makes 10 cars per week, and will need to make 375 cars per week by October to meet its goal.

Meanwhile, Tesla’s losses continue to pile up. Despite the beginning of Model S production and a possible joint project with Mercedes-Benz, the company posted a $106 million loss in the second quarter of 2012, compared to $89.9 million in the previous quarter.

The Model S is supposed to break new ground for electric cars by focusing on luxury, style, and performance, as well as efficiency. A base model with a Tesla-quoted 160-mile range costs $57,400, while a top-spec model with an EPA-rated 265-mile range costs $105,400. The Model S qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

Tesla plans to sell the majority of its cars through retail stores in malls, instead of traditional dealerships. The first of these Apple Store-like outlets opened in White Plains, New York in June.

Everything about Tesla’s products and marketing is very clever, but it seems the company has gotten hung up on one of the fundamentals of the car business: actually making cars.

By Stephen Edelstein

Watch the Tesla Model S Attempt to Reach Las Vegas from L.A. on a Single Charge

Watch the Tesla Model S Attempt to Reach Las Vegas from L.A. on a Single Charge

Like it or not, an increasing number of automakers are experimenting with electric vehicles. Whether EVs will supplant internal combustion engines or only complement regular vehicles depends on how well executed they become. On this episode of Wide Open Throttle, host Jessi Lang and Motor Trend technical director Frank Markus attempt to drive the all-new Tesla Model S from Los Angeles to the Las Vegas strip on a single charge – the first real-world range test of its kind.

Tesla Model S from LA to Las Vegas WOT video pic 11 300x187 imageThe Tesla Model S, which is the personal car of Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, is fitted with the larger 85-kW-hr battery pack that is EPA rated at 265-mile range. An earlier test by testing director Kim Reynolds and associate online editor Benson Kong netted about 238 miles – short of the official rating. While Lang’s and Markus’ trip was only about 210 miles, they were facing two 4000-foot mountain passes in route to Sin City. In an effort to reduce energy consumption, the duo climbed the summits at 55 mph with the air conditioning off and the windows up in 100 + degree temperatures.

Check out the video below to see if Lang and Markus made it to Las Vegas on a single charge or if the Tesla Model S ended up on the back of a flatbed tow truck. Don’t forget to check out our two Tesla Model S road trip stories here and here.

By Jason Udy

Cocktail Chatter: February 22, 2013 – Rumor Central

Cocktail Chatter: February 22, 2013

What cocktails go best with all this car chatter? is here to help with weekly recipes. Remember, this is for talking about cars, not driving — always designate a driver. This week’s cocktail comes by way of Automobile Magazine contributor Bob Merlis, who served The Christie at his Palm Springs pool party this past week. The Christie is made my mixing vodka and fresh grapefruit juice (Merlis recommends plucking a grapefruit from a tree and giving it a squeeze, since they grow all over Palm Springs); the proportions between juice and liquor and use of ice are up to the drinker’s discretion. Top with sparkling water, a splash of pomegranate juice, and a squeeze of lime. Read more about Merlis’ party below.

Ready for Bed: It actually has lights! Who wouldn’t want to tuck their kids in this Corvette bed? Now if only they made it an adult-size.

Tom Hang, Graphic Designer

BaT Hits the Big Time: We’ve long been fans of Bring A Trailer, the daily email with picks of the most interesting vintage cars for sale. We’ve even interviewed its founder, Randy Nonnenberg. Recently, BaT received the endorsement of bona fide celebrity car guy Jerry Seinfeld, in his recent appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman.

Seinfeld suggests that BaT might be the place to find a vintage ride for Dave, for Seinfeld’s web series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” The question is, what would be the right car for Letterman?

Joe Lorio, Senior Editor

Review Sparks Outrage: John Broder’s review in The New York Times of the Tesla Model S, our Automobile of the Year, drew nasty tweets from the automaker’s chief, Elon Musk. Public reaction seems to favor Musk and his electric car, though I have no doubt that Broder followed Tesla’s instructions in his test of the company’s East Coast Supercharger network, resulting in a dead car. The Model S is a high-tech wonder, with an impressive electric-car range. It’s not for the uninformed, uninvolved customer, even the rich ones, who plans to drive it every day, in all conditions. Musk may be a visionary, but he’s a thin-skinned one, used to sycophantic press clips from an adoring Silicon Valley press corps. Buck up, Elon; new car reviews, like the car business, aren’t easy.

Todd Lassa, Executive Editor

German NASCAR: We got fired up for the sports car racing season last week at Daytona Int’l Speedway as BMW introduced its new car for the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), the BMW Z4 GTE. It looks like the snakiest Z4 in captivity with its unique, wide-body aero bodywork for the U.S., plus it has a 480-hp version of the latest 4.4-liter BMW V-8. Compared to the former M3 GT’s V-8 with its 180-degree crankshaft, this new BMW V-8, with its even-fire crankshaft, sounds like a NASCAR engine. In fact, NASCAR exec Mike Helton made a brief appearance in pit 1961 cadillac coupedeville r34 224x300 imagelane to see the program, and as the BMW Z4 GTE roared past on the banking, he said, “Now that sounds like a proper racing car.”

Mid-Century Magnificence: This weekend Palm Springs wraps up Modernism Week, which is the annual celebration of Mid-Century Modern design in the resort town in the California desert. Last Monday the Modernism Week car show took place in front of the convention center, a modest event of about 60 cars. Contributor Bob Merlis was predictably one of the ringleaders, as he knows everyone in Palm Springs who owns a cool car from the 1950s and 1960s. Merlis and his wife even hosted a pool party where Modernism Week performer Lou Christie – famous for his three-octave singing in the early 1960s — was the honored guest. Now that it’s cool to own a car that you might see in Mad Men, our Connecticut-bred Merlis wears a 1950s porkpie hat like he was born to it.

All in the Family: Contributor Ronald Ahrens was at Daytona Int’l Speedway last weekend as the 2014 Chevrolet SS was presented to the public. It made sense, since the rear-wheel-drive SS is the template for Chevrolet’s new-generation NASCAR racer that will appear in the Daytona 500 on Sunday. GM North America president Mark Reuss was the key spokesman, which seems only fair, since he was the general manager of Holden in Australia when the platform beneath the SS was first developed for the Pontiac G8. Some noticed that many wore a T-shirt emblazoned, “L. Reuss Garage: Excellent Used Cars, Darmstadt, Ill.”  This is the car lot owned by Reuss’s grandfather, and Reuss’s father grew up there to become first an important GM engineer and then president of the whole corporation. This might seem like vanity move by Mark Reuss, but today Detroit feels like a family enterprise more than ever, because every person on every street depends on the car business for a livelihood and lives and dies with its successes and failures more than ever. Grandsons on the assembly line and daughters in the engineering office – everyone. It’s no longer fashionable at Chrysler, Ford and GM to be a Wall Street bagman and pretend it’s all just about business. In Detroit, it’s not just business. It’s personal.

Michael Jordan, Senior Editor

The End of Road Rage?: After I stumbled upon some illustrations of hovering cars the other week, I’m just now reading about Google’s new driverless car and the impacts it could have on roads, legislation and, really, how we live our everyday lives. The advent of these cars raises an important question: what happens when a driverless car is in an accident that might normally provoke road rage? It’s easy enough to get angry with the driver of a fellow car, but when it’s actually the car and not the driver that’s responsible for the accident, do you instead unleash your furry on an inanimate object?

John Kalmar, Graphic Designer

AWD AMG: Realizing that its E-Class needed major work, Mercedes-Benz implemented some serious changes for the mid-cycle face-lift of its high-volume mid-size car. The change that strikes me most is the move to standard all-wheel drive (sorry, 4Matic) for the AMG performance edition. Mercedes-AMG will soon go from offering zero all-wheel-drive cars to four (E63, CLS63, A45, and CLA45), in addition to the quartet of all-wheel drive SUVs already for sale. Is this a good thing? That depends on whether you’d rather get superb lap times on track days or perform sensational powerslides for magazine covers. BMW says that its M cars will remain rear-wheel drive, but German car companies often behave like lemmings, so I wouldn’t be surprised if BMW follows Mercedes, which followed Audi anyway.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

Million Dollar Rides: It turns out that from The Black Eyed Peas is the owner of that crazy $900,000 Dick Tracy from the future car. Yeesh.

Kelly Murphy, Creative Director

Marketing Madness: Driving a Chrysler 300 Glacier Edition, I couldn’t help but to wonder why someone would buy one of these over the 300 S. The Glacier is based on the S, but eschews things like full leather seats and 19-inch wheels, while adding little more than one unique paint color, special floormats, and not-even-trying-to-look real carbon fiber interior trim. Unless you’re jones-ing for a 300 painted in Glacier Blue Pearl with 17-inch wheels, there’s little reason to opt for the special-edition car over the 300 S. We get it Chrysler – you’re trying to remind us that you have an all-wheel drive sedan in your dealerships, but I think your marketing money might be better spent just reminding people that the 300 is quite a good car, no special edition needed.

Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor

Navigation Niggles: I spent Monday and Tuesday driving a Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible from Las Vegas to San Francisco. It was a spectacular car that handled Death Valley as well as it did a blizzard (thanks to the snow tires). But the navigation system is severely lacking. The Hyundai Azera I’m driving around Los Angeles has a faster, more logical navigation system. Then again, I suppose anyone driving a Bentley has already arrived.

Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor

CDs? What are Those? I’m generally a fan of services like Rdio and Pandora to stream music, but I was recently reminded how good CDs—derided as relics of a bygone era—still are. I purchased Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” with my Sunday morning Starbucks and popped it into the Buick Regal GS’ optional Harmon/Kardon stereo; the combination of high-quality audio, surround sound algorithms, and about 500 watts of power turned “When It’s All Over” (one of the album’s most adventurous, and most satisfying, tracks) into an aural masterpiece. I’m sure that I could have replicated the experience in some cars with Bluetooth, or HD Radio, but CDs remain the most consistently awesome medium for listening to high-quality tunes.

Ben Timmins, Associate Web Editor

World’s Worst Drivers? There was no shortage of video footage of the asteroid that hit Russia last week thanks to the fact that so many drivers in that country have dash-mounted video cameras in their cars. Curious as to why this is so, The Washington Post  looked into it and reports that the dash cams are there as a reaction to Russia’s high incidence of hit-and-run crashes and false accident-liability claims. One result of all those dash cams is that the internet is chockfull of compilations of Russian traffic accidents. Go to YouTube or Google and type in “Russian car crash” and you’ll find scores of video compilations of Russian traffic accidents. You’ll be alternately entertained by the crazy driving maneuvers and the fender benders that result and dismayed by the widespread disregard for public safety. But once you start watching, you might not be able to stop. It is, literally, like watching a train wreck – er, make that a car crash.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

Bling Bling: If that spiffy new 2013 GL in your driveway lacks a certain something, Mercedes-Benz has something that might literally light up your life. The automaker’s accessories wing is now selling kits that illuminate the gigantic three-pointed star grille emblem with LEDs at night. Pricing remains unknown, as does the illuma-star’s compliance with federal safety standards. Part of me kind of hopes Mercedes-Benz develops this for its European Actros semi truck, as that emblem is about the size of an extra-large pizza.

Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor

Mulling Over Mercedes: Mercedes-Benz USA product planners and PR reps visited this week and gave me a few things to think about:

They talked more about the upcoming CLA250, the so-called baby CLS four-door coupe that will have a price point just below $30K (before destination charge) when it goes on sale later this year, thus undercutting the current least expensive Mercedes-Benz, the C-class sedan, by some five or six thousand dollars. The CLA appears to be a beautiful car (I’ve seen it only in photos), and I don’t think the target buyers in the United States will give a fig that it’s built on a front-wheel-drive platform rather than rear-wheel drive. (All-wheel drive will arrive early in 2014.) But it got me thinking about this difficult business of premium brands reaching down the price scale. I thought about the BMW 318 hatchback of the mid-90s, which started in the low to mid $20,000s. I thought about the early-2000s C-Class, which was heavily advertised as being a Mercedes for less than $30,000. Neither one of those cars really did much for their brands. I think the jury is still out on whether a premium brand like Mercedes can dip this low in the American market without losing its cachet.

Mercedes-Benz USA’s head of product planning, when asked about the recent announcements of a Chevrolet Cruze diesel and a Mazda 6 diesel, was ecstatic, telling us that nothing can be better for acceptance of diesel automobiles in America than affordable, mass-market diesel sedans. Mercedes, which has been selling BlueTec versions of its E-Class and S-Class sedans and its M-Class and GL-Class SUVs, has done everything it can to educate Americans that modern diesel engines are smooth, powerful, reliable, and efficient, but they’ve had a very difficult time spreading the message beyond a core group of true believers. So it was interesting to me to see a representative of a premium brand so excited about what’s going on at two mass-market brands.

Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor

XL1ent: The news that Volkswagen will put its XL1 into limited production is great for the auto industry. Sure, the teensy, slow, and likely very expensive car is nowhere near as thrilling as the latest supercar from Europe — but it involves just as much clever engineering. The challenges needed to build a car that can drive 261 miles on a single gallon of diesel fuel are just as (or perhaps more) interesting than those needed to build a 900-horsepower supercar. Just like a supercar, the Volkswagen XL1 will be somewhat expensive and thus will have limited appeal, but also like a supercar, lessons learned from the XL1 will eventually trickle down to other models. This car is the future — and I would love to drive it.

Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor

88 MPH: Universal Studios recently announced that a crack team of geeks restored a DeLorean from the Back to the Future franchise. This “Time Machine Restoration Team” reminds me of when a Midwestern DeLorean club visited my high school.

I woke up early on a Saturday morning and drove to our garage to clean and paint suspension components for a 1965 Ford Mustang. About an hour after I arrived, the first one pulled up. Then the next one. Then the next. The stainless-steel locusts filled the lot adjacent to the garage. I studied the cars only until I saw their owners. “88 MPH” t-shirts tucked into the elastic waistbands of 99-cent sweatpants. One guy silently walked around with a clipboard. One guy put his car up on a two-post lift, looked at its underside for a few minutes, then decided to cut a line that subsequently spilled transmission fluid all over the floor. One guy enthusiastically gloated that he’d installed a clear, neon-lit steering wheel in his car.

I’ve seen my hell, and it’s full of aspiring “Time Machine Restoration Team” members.

Chris Nelson, Road Test Editor

Extreme Makeover: Lots of new cars have claustrophobic interiors. In some cases, like that of the Chevrolet Camaro, this is driven by conscious (if not quite wise) design. But even family cars like the Chevy Malibu and Ford Fusion—vehicles put on earth to haul people and things—seem to have oppressively big dashboards, door panels, and roof pillars. The real culprit is all the stuff that’s found its way into our cars in the last few decades—airbags, touchscreens, multi-zone climate control, super-strong roof pillars. No wonder people think they need big crossovers.

Enter the Visteon e-Bee concept. The supplier essentially gutted a Nissan Leaf and rebuilt it with some new components and new thinking. The climate control hardware is smaller and has been relocated from under the dashboard to the nose of the car. The front airbags move into the ceiling.

All this obviates the need for a big dashboard, which as one Visteon designer reminded me, exists solely to hide ugly parts like the A/C blower motor. This opens up space for the front passenger. That passenger, in turn, sits on a fixed seat, saving the weight and cost of rails. Capacitive screens replace just about every physical control, something we’re already seeing on production cars with mixed results. Here, two small screens are placed on either side of the steering wheel, almost like shift paddles. This placement theoretically reduces the hands-off-wheel time and replaces the bulky center stack. Visteon is also working on software that “learns” a driver’s climate and media preferences, so one wouldn’t constantly need to dig through menus to flip on seat heaters and tune to a favorite radio station.

Some of Visteon’s ideas are a bit radical. I don’t think, for instance, most American buyers would give up floor carpeting (saves weight) or a rear window (ditto). But the general direction is brilliant. Car interiors cannot continue to look exactly like they did twenty years ago, only with more stuff, because the stuff is crowding out the passengers.

David Zenlea, Associate Editor

By Automobile Staff

Massachusetts Dealer Lawsuit Against Tesla Dismissed – Rumor Central

Massachusetts Dealer Lawsuit Against Tesla Dismissed

One of the advantages of being the new kid on the block in business is that you often get to approach things in a different way than the more established players in the market, even down to how your products are sold. That’s the approach Tesla took in selling its vehicles, adopting a manufacturer-direct, company-owned store model. But that approach did not sit well with established, franchise model dealers, claiming the company’s model skirts the car dealer franchise laws in some states. The Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association in particular took issue with Tesla, and took the automaker to court after it opened a showroom in the Natick Mall.

But Massachusetts Judge Kenneth J. Fishman dismissed the suit, stating “The court is unconvinced that the 2002 amendment to Chapter 93B expanded the purpose of the statute to protect the motor vehicle franchise system,” Bloomberg reports.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk addressed the legal victory by Tesla in a statement: “We are delighted by the outright dismissal of this case, and the validation that we are operating our business in compliance with the laws and expectations of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

But the dealer association hasn’t given up its fight against Tesla entirely, saying it is considering an appeal. “It’s just another bump in the road we have to address,” Robert O’Koniewski, executive vice president of the state dealer association said.

Source: Bloomberg

By Edward A. Sanchez

Tesla Model S Sales Pass Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf

2013 Tesla Model S CAPTIONS ON | OFF

The little car company that could, Tesla Motors Inc., is now the domestic leader in electric car sales. The Model S recently surpassed sales of the Chevrolet Volt, a vehicle that led regional sales of rechargeable cars in 2012. This news is an undeniable blow to General Motors, though representatives for the Detroit based automaker remain optimistic.

“Any success for a company in this space is helpful for all other makers of plug-in vehicles,” said Jim Cain, a General Motors spokesman. “The single most important thing we can do for plug-ins, to encourage sales, is to have them on the road.”

The sales ranking for the Model S coincides with Tesla saying it would report a first-quarter profit, the first in its ten-year history. When it releases first quarter results, Tesla expects 4,750 deliveries of the electric Models S in North America – compared to GM’s 4,421 sales of the Chevy Volt. The all-electric Nissan Leaf also expects smaller sales figures.

Despite its high base price ($69,900) and its exclusivity in North America, the Model S has been extraordinarily successful and is a critical darling. Always attempting to outdo itself, Tesla has pledged to sell over 20,000 vehicles this year.

GM sold about 30,000 of their respective rechargeable models worldwide last year, but has declined sharing its volume-targets for 2013.

At the North American International Auto Show in January, retired GM executive Bob Lutz spoke with a hologram of inventor Thomas Edison, who was the former employer and later adversary of Nikola Tesla. Edison was revered for generations while Tesla faded into obscurity, despite the fact that cities abandoned Edison’s dangerous direct current electricity system in favor of Tesla’s safer alternating current system.

Perhaps Tesla Motors success is history’s vindication for the brilliant, but ill-fated engineer, or perhaps Tesla Motors just created a better product. Either way, it’s clear to GM that Tesla Motors is more than a novelty – it’s serious competition.


Visit theautoMedia.comTesla Research Centerfor quick access to reviews, pricing, photos, mpg and more. Make sure to followautoMedia.comonTwitterandFacebook.


By Jessica Matsumoto

2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S Signature Sedan Exterior

What’s New for 2012

The 2012 Tesla Model S is an all-new model.


Forget everything you once knew of electric cars. The 2012 Tesla Model S has rewritten the rule book and may have even set the bar higher for conventionally powered cars.

Unlike other EVs currently out there, the Tesla Model S is not a podlike transport, nor is it based on an existing economy car. It’s a large sedan with luxury leanings, eyebrow-raising performance and stunning good looks. By all accounts, it’s one of the best cars you can buy, electric or otherwise.

The 2012 Tesla Model S isn’t a bank-account-emptying toy for the ultra-wealthy, either. With a starting price right around $60,000 (not including the $7,500 federal tax credit), the base model is surprisingly accessible. That 40 kWh model is, however, the least powerful (235 horsepower) and has the shortest range (we’d guess just over 100 miles). For another $10,000, you can upgrade to the 60 kWh battery pack with 302 hp and a 208-mile range. With yet another $10,000, the 85 kWh pack kicks power to 356 hp and 265 miles of range. There’s also the $87,400 Performance version, boasting 416 hp and identical range.

Regardless of which model you choose, the 2012 Tesla Model S is thoroughly modern inside and out, fulfilling our childhood dreams of what a 21st-century car should be. The sleek body is a pleasure to look at and even the flush-mounted door handles kick the cool factor up as they deploy when unlocked and require a minimum of effort to access the cabin.

The love affair continues inside, with a modern and tasteful interpretation of what a car interior could be. A massive central touchscreen replaces conventional knobs and buttons and the simple elegance of the cabin design is the epitome of tech chic. None of this sacrifices usability or utility, either, as the systems actually work as you’d expect and there’s a wealth of cargo space.

Even without the electric drivetrain, the 2012 Tesla Model S is unique among all other cars. Understandably, competition is slim, if not nonexistent. So not only has Tesla rewritten the rule book, they may have tossed it into the shredder.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Tesla Model S is classified as a large sedan and is available in four trim levels: base, Performance, Signature and Signature Performance.

Standard features for the base Model S include 19-inch wheels, LED daytime running lights, keyless entry, full power accessories, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 17-inch touchscreen, cloth upholstery, heated 12-way power front seats with memory functions, 60/40-split-folding rear seats, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio and a seven-speaker sound system with dual USB ports and HD radio.

Besides an increase in power output, the Performance models add the ability to use twin chargers, an active air suspension and leather upholstery.

Since the Model S features mobile Internet connectivity, access to rudimentary Web-based navigation and maps is possible, but turn-by-turn guidance is only available as part of the optional Tech package. Other Tech package features include xenon headlights, LED foglights, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, a power rear hatch, automatic keyless entry, a universal garage door opener and a high-definition rearview camera. The Sound Studio package includes a 12-speaker surround-sound audio system. Stand-alone options include 21-inch wheels with performance tires, a panoramic sunroof, rear-facing third-row seats, a cargo cover and additional charging units.

Signature and Signature Performance trims included the Tech and Sound Studio packages along with twin charge capability.

Powertrains and Performance

Four distinct powertrain choices are offered with the 2012 Tesla Model S, each with increasing levels of range and performance. All Model S powertrains are propelled by a single water-cooled electric motor, routing power through a single-speed transmission on its way to the rear wheels. Lithium-ion battery packs are also utilized throughout the lineup.

With the base 40kWh battery pack, the Model S can produce the equivalent of 235 hp and 310 pound-feet of torque. You can expect a cruising range of just over 100 miles. Tesla claims a 0-60-mph time of 6.5 seconds, which is comparable to a base midsize luxury sedan.

With the 60kWh battery, electric motor performance increases output to 302 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque. The EPA estimates a range of 208 miles, while Tesla expects it to reach 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. The 85 kWh model makes 362 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque with an estimated 60-mph run of 5.6 seconds and a range of 265 miles. Upgrading to the 85kWh Performance boosts output to 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, with a range of 265 miles. In Edmunds testing, the Tesla Model S Performance accelerated to 60 mph in a very quick 4.3 seconds, which confirms Tesla’s 4.4-second estimate.

In terms of efficiency, the EPA estimates the Model S will use 38 kWh city/37 kWh highway and 38 kWh combined per 100 miles driven. (Remember that here, the lower the number, the better.) In miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe), that’s 88 mpg city/90 mpg highway and 89 mpg combined.

The Model S can be recharged from all standard 110- and 240-volt household outlets and from various public charging stations using the included Universal Mobile Connector and adapters. Figure up to 5 hours of recharging time at 240 volts for the 40 kWh pack with the base model’s single onboard charger, and half that with the dual-charger system. The dual-charger system — which needs a 100-amp circuit to operate at full capacity — also is an option for the 60 kWh battery, halving the normal 7.5-hour recharge time. The system is standard on the Signature and Signature Performance models, giving them a potential 4-hour recharge time, despite their much larger battery packs.

Models equipped with the 60 and 85 kWh batteries can also use a nationwide network of “superchargers” that Tesla is building. Tesla says the industrial-grade, high-speed chargers promise to replenish 160 miles of range in the 85 kWh batteries in about 30 minutes, enabling long-distance travel.


Standard safety features for all 2012 Tesla Model S variants include head, knee and pelvic airbags for the front passengers as well as front and rear side curtain airbags. Also standard on all models are stability and traction control, crash sensors for high-voltage disconnect, antilock disc brakes and a rearview camera.

In Edmunds brake testing, the Model S with optional 21-inch wheels and performance tires came to a stop from 60 mph in an impressive 108 feet.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2012 Tesla Model S features a cabin that is as modern and classy as you’ll find in any segment. Almost all knobs and buttons are absent, replaced by a sleek 17-inch vertical touchscreen that controls almost all onboard systems. It is essentially a big and beautiful iPad. Besides looking good, the system actually functions well, too. Users can configure the placement of audio, navigation and climate controls to their liking on the screen and we experienced few, if any, flaws.

For the directionally challenged, however, we would recommend springing for the expensive Tech package which includes a turn-by-turn navigation system that is more like the units found in conventional cars. The standard system can access online maps for viewing, but that’s about the extent of its function.

In terms of comfort, both front and rear seats offer ample legroom for adults, though taller rear-seat passengers may run out of headroom. The optional rear-facing jump seats, on the other hand, are almost comically small. Only small children would be willing or able to sit back there. These third-row seats do fold flat into the foot well, allowing for a capacious 26.3 cubic feet of cargo space, which is significantly more than other large luxury sedans. Folding the middle row flat expands that space to 58.1 cubes. There’s also a secondary trunk under the hood that offers 5.3 cubic feet of storage.

Materials throughout the cabin are high-quality enough to be comparable to the typical luxury sedan, but those who purchase the range-topping $100,000-plus models might expect more than the Model S delivers. The leather upholstery is by no means a disappointment; it’s just not up to premium luxury standards. Elsewhere, the typical window switches and driver controls have been sourced from Mercedes-Benz, making them hard to fault by any measure.

Driving Impressions

The 2012 Tesla Model S effectively crushes every preconceived notion you may have had about electric cars. Unlike the quirky pod cars, golf carts or even economy car-based EVs, the Tesla drives just like a conventional luxury sedan. Our experience has been limited to the 85 kWh Performance model, and we came away utterly impressed on a number of levels.

Acceleration is eerily quiet and incredibly potent. With all torque being immediately available, it’s like being shot out of a gun barrel — with a silencer. Braking is also praiseworthy, not just because the pedal feels like one from a conventional car, but also because it gets the Model S stopped with linear authority.

The well-tuned steering and suspension further add to the experience, with a sharpness and accuracy that brought a smile to our faces on serpentine roads. This could be attributed to the larger wheels shod with performance tires, but even so, this unexpected level of athleticism was refreshing. Fortunately, the Model S’s sporty capabilities don’t come at the expense of comfort and compliance either, as we found the ride quality to be smooth and agreeable.


Tesla Gives Complete Battery Warranty

Electric automaker Tesla will offer a full battery warranty for the new Model S luxury sedan, as part as of its promise to deliver the ‘world’s best service warranty program.’

Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed that the company will cover all battery damage issues from the customers, including intentional abuse or improper maintenance. No matter what, Tesla will replace the damaged battery with a factory reconditioned unit free of charge.

Also, while the customer’s car is being taken care of, he will get a top model replacement Tesla Model S. In some areas, they can even opt for a Roadster replacement to roam around the streets while their luxury EV sedan is in service.

Another nice thing Tesla will do for its customers is the fact that they will hire valets to collect and replace the cars for clients and even return them the repaired car and recollect the loaned one.

By Gabriel Brindusescu

The Lightning GT: Britain's answer to the Tesla Model S and Fisker Karma?


Driving an electric car doesn’t have to be a dull affair. As the electric automotive market begins to grow out of its infancy, companies are looking to get in on the booming market and offer environmentally conscious customers an electric driving experience that is equal parts performance, style, and eco friendly.

Entering the fray is Britain’s’ Lightning Car Company, a self described team of proven automotive experts in car creation, design, and advanced technology integration. We have no doubt that the chaps over at LCC hope their Lightning GT is a pure embodiment of all those qualities and more, but does it offer enough performance and appeal to separate it from other similar cars on the market?

Ahead of the pack?

Since sporty EVs aren’t exactly new, with both Fisker Automotives Karma on the market and Tesla Motor’s Model S on the horizon — LCC’s Lightning GT has its work cut out for it. But despite some already established competition, the company is looking to offer some new and proven technologies, with a number of advanced features mixed in as well, which may just separate it from the pack.

A different breed of battery

While most EVs feature a lithium-ion battery powering its core, the Lightning GT runs on lithium-titanate, an even more advanced and stronger battery pack. By using lithium-titante, the Lightning GT is able to achieve ranges of over 150 miles on its standard spec, and an excess of 225 miles with an optional range extender pack. By comparison the top-tier Model S will offer a pure electric 300 mile driving range, while Fisker Karma’s gas-electric hybrid will provide a pure electric range of 50 miles, after which the internal combustion engine engages to support the electric motors for an additional range of 250 miles.

Lightning-GT-Rear-AerialLightning fast charging

Charging times have increasingly becoming a concern for any EV owner, regardless of range. Nobody wants to have to wait hours to charge their car after 50, 100, or even 200 miles. Impressively, LCC has stated that the Lightning GT will be able to recharge its battery in as little as 10 minutes. What’s more, LCC has also claimed that the battery life should remain constant for up to at least 10,000 cycles.

It’s always great to see company’s taking real pride in their work, and LCC seems to be particularly proud of its British roots. The Lightning GT will be built in Britain and feature an aluminum honeycomb chassis and superform aluminum bodywork that is said to give the car superior handling properties.

Thunderous performance

Powering the Lighting GT will be a 300kw (400 hp) twin motor powertrain, which LCC states will “ensure instant surge and seamless acceleration.” Spec numbers are generally what people like to see, and the Lightning GT’s are decidedly impressive. According to official numbers from LCC, the Lightning GT can hit 0 to 60 in under five seconds, and features a recommended top speed limit ( we are not sure what happens if you go beyond that) of 125 mph.

If you’re in the market for an electric sports car, chances are price isn’t much of a deciding factor. But it’s worth mentioning that, in comparison to the other cars the LCC’s Lightning GT may be up against, both come in at a considerably lower price point than their British counterpart. A top tier Tesla Model S will set you back around $70,000 (after federal tax credits) , while Fisker’s base Karma starts in at $102,000. Contrast that with the Lightning GT’s estimated $280,000 sticker price and you have a hefty difference. 

While we are certainly intrigued by what the Lighting GT has to offer in both the style and performance categories (we kind of find the Lightning’s front fascia reminiscent of a TVR Cerbera), time will ultimately tell whether LCC’s Lighting GT will strike gold, or if it will end up being a lightning flash in the pan. 

By Amir Iliaifar