Archives for August 14th, 2013
Just how far can you drive an electric car? That’s the subject of a mild argument between Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk and The New York Times, after the latter published a story claiming a Tesla Model S electric car couldn’t drive as far as its range estimates predict.
Reporter John M. Broder planned to test Tesla’s new Supercharger network by driving a Model S with an 85-kWh battery from a Supercharger point in Newark, Delaware, to Milford, Connecticut — a distance of 206 miles. Yet Broder says that the car arrived at the Supercharger point with its range readout pointing to 0 miles, because parking the car overnight in cold weather had apparently sapped 21 miles of battery range.
Eventually Broder ran out of charge on a highway exit ramp, and the Tesla Model S had to be towed to a charging station. “If this is Tesla’s vision of long-distance travel in America’s future,” he wrote, “it needs some work.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, however, was less than pleased with this story. He publicly accused the Times of manipulating the story and providing an unfair verdict on Model S driving ranges. Musk’s assertion was based, in part, on checking vehicle charging logs that are available through the Tesla’s in-car telematics system.
“NYTimes article about Tesla range in cold is fake. Vehicle logs tell true story that he didn’t actually charge to max & took a long detour,” Musk wrote on Twitter. “Am not against NYTimes in general. They’re usually fair & their own prev Tesla test drive got 300+ miles of range!”
A spokeswoman for The New York Times told Reuters that the paper denies Tesla’s claims. She said that Broder, “followed the instructions he was given in multiple conversations with Tesla personnel” and that his account of the road trip, “was completely factual, describing the trip in detail exactly as it occurred. Any suggestion that the account was ‘fake’ is, of course, flatly untrue.”
Tesla predicts versions of the Model S equipped with an 85-kWH lithium-ion battery can drive 300 miles on single charge, although the EPA said the cars can manage just 265 miles on a single charge. While Tesla acknowledges that battery life can degrade by about 10 percent in cold weather, the automaker still believes its car should have traveled than Broder managed in his road trip.
It’s worth noting that our colleagues at Motor Trend managed to drive a Tesla Model S from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, a distance of 212 miles, even despite crossing tall mountain ranges and occasionally using the car’s air conditioning. And subsequently, editor in chief Ed Loh drove the same Model S 285 miles on a return trip to southern California.
We named the Tesla Model S our 2013 Automobile of the Year. Motor Trend also selected the electric sedan as its 2013 Car Of The Year.
Sources: The New York Times, Reuters
By Jake Holmes
Attention F10 BMW M5 owners: feeling a bit inadequate now that an electric-powered new kid on the block can beat you from 0-60 mph? Then Switzer might have a remedy. With just a few tweaks, the Ohio-based tuner has boosted the M5’s power figures from the factory-rated 560 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque to nearly 700 hp and 640 lb-ft (at the crank). Switzer is calling it the “M5 BMW should have built!”
The list of modifications is relatively short. A new engine control unit squeezes more boost from the twin turbos in the M5’s 4.4-liter V-8. Next, a Switzer exhaust and high-flow air filter round off the P700 package. The tuner didn’t provide any acceleration times, but we’re guessing it should shave off a couple tenths from the 3.7-second 0-60 mph run we recently achieved in an M5 (with the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox). Better yet, Switzer says the new exhaust provides an aural benefit, with just enough punch to enter the cabin naturally, which means owners could theoretically disconnect the artificial engine noise currently produced through the M5’s stereo speakers.
The upgrade package is priced at $6995. Switzer will release more M5-specific items this summer, including wheels and carbon-nano brake pads. The P700 BMW M5 sounds promising and we’re eager to see how it performs against its German rivals and the surprisingly quick Tesla Model S.
Tesla is officially off the ground as a ‘real’ car manufacturer, despite having only one ‘commercial’ model in its range, the newly-launched Model S sedan.
Despite posting a $105.6 million loss, the company did receive $27-million from sales revenues, and while a loss may not sound like such a good thing, they still have access to around $233 million in cash, as well as an expected revenue by the end of the year around the $600-million mark.
Also, with their production schedule for the coming period diminished, this has had an effect on the company’s stocks which fell from $36 to just under $29. However, they have already increased their production capacity to 10 cars per week, as opposed to the original 5.
They plan to make 500 cars in Q3, with an additional 4,500 coming in Q4, before reaching their 2013 target of 20,000 units per year, with some speculating that they could even make 30,000 cars next year – we hope they do!
After successfully launching their first all-original car, the Model S, Tesla are now looking to downsize the third model in their line-up, to rival the current king of that class, the BMW 3-Series (which we recently tested). However, it will not be their second offering, as the second spot in their lineup will be taken up by the Model X – a crossover built on Model S underpinnings, set to make its debut in 2013, at a price of around €40,000 ($49,900).
As we had previously mentioned, The 3-Series rival will arrive in 2015 with a price starting as low as €24,600 ($30,000). If they are able to keep this promise of an affordable price, then the upcoming EV will definitely give the auto industry a good shake, as it will offer all-electric motoring of a very high quality (if the Model S is anything to go by), at a price which will be roughly the same as that of a conventionally-powered alternative.
If they market it properly, and if it is as good as we now expect it to be after having seen the Model S, their future will be pretty much assured as a trendsetting automaker which encourages its buyers to ‘go green’ and lose absolutely nothing that a normal car would offer – except the tailpipe emissions.
Story via autocar.co.uk
Following the bankruptcy of solar-panel maker Solyndra, the House Republicans are eager to cut green-jobs programs. – The ill-fated solar panel manufacturer was the first company to receive money from the Obama administration’s green-tech stimulus loan. One of the other programs under scrutiny is the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Program (ATVM). The same program loaned Tesla Motors $465 million back in June 2009.
Tesla used the ATVM loan to open an electric powertrain facility at its Palo Alto headquarters and revamp the former NUMMI plant to build the Model S electric sedan.
Earlier this week the automaker posted a blog on its website defending the program. Tesla says it employed 400 people before the original loan. The loan helped add 1000 jobs and plans to add another 1000 jobs in the next year.
Tesla’s website doesn’t specify how much in additional loans the company needs or what it would be used for. It does say that the electric automaker “has raised an additional $620 million in private investment capital.”
The last line on the blog post says, “Tesla has no pending completed applications with the DOE.”
In light of government spending cuts and a bankrupt solar-panel manufacturer, do you think Tesla should be asking for another loan from the federal government?
Update 09/28/2011, 10:40 a.m.
A follow up call to Tesla spokeswoman Khobi Brooklyn confirmed the last line of the company’s blog post: “Tesla has no pending completed applications with the DOE.”
Source: SF Gate, Tesla
By Jason Udy
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Not many cars have a distinctly climactic moment when they’re presented to the press, but the instant the photographers gathered around the Tesla Model X prototype saw Elon Musk raise one of its second set of doors, the shutters went off like automatic gunfire. Giving access to its second and third rows, the resultant opening was positively gaping, the door that fills it being larger than any modern production car.
But that’s merely a measurement. The theater part is how it opens — rising in a gullwing fashion, but more specifically, like a two-piece articulated gullwing, which, when done, the Model X winds up looking like a perched pterodactyl. In a vast shopping mall parking lot, this will be noticed. Tesla calls them falcon-wing doors, the word falcon being a popular one on the premises of the Tesla design studio. Where we were standing is adjacent to Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s other rather big endeavor, the Space X rocket factory in Hawthorne, Calif., which builds the Falcon 9 rocket ship.
The prototype’s doors are interesting. Unlike ‘ordinary’ gullwings, the Model X’s powered articulation allows them to stay close to the car’s flanks as they rise, making ingress and egress in tight parking spots a snap. You just step into the vehicle and sit down; no ducking and squirming necessary. Musk, a father of five boys, made a point of demonstrating how much easier this will make installing child seats. The opening’s unusually long length also helps accessing the Model X’s twin, third-row seats (there’s seven seats, all told). Frankly, the whole thing is an intriguing — but complicated solution — and it’ll be interesting to see how all this works out in the real world (think, rain storms; kids getting their razor scooters caught in the hinges). And speaking of hinges, in a roll-over scenario, the hinges between lower door halves the upper and will free, letting you climb out (no explosive bolts ala the gullwing door Mercedes-Benz SLS).
While the Model X we examined was a prototype with plenty of details that’ll undoubtedly change (for instance, I wouldn’t bet on the side mirror-replacing video cameras making it — though they’d reduce drag by a useful 5 percent), what’ll stay includes the Model S’s magnificent, 17-inch hi-res, multi-touch display, as well as that car’s fascinating overall architecture.
Transferred straight from the Model S will be its pancake-flat, under-floor battery packs but in two sizes (60 and 85 kW-hrs) unlike the S trio of packs (the small, 40 kW-hr size being deleted). Given the Model X’s greater CdxA, it’ll have between 10 to 12 percent less driving range, meaning between about 214 to 267 miles, depending on the battery you’ve got. Recharge times are unchanged at about four hours for the big battery (at a colossal 20-Watt rate; by contrast, our longterm Chevrolet Volt with a 16 kW-hr battery needs 3.5 hours). Wow.
Simply extending the Model X’s extruded structure between the front and rear cast aluminum subframes has allowed the wheelbase to grow by about four inches. The resulting interior volume is astounding, but the clever bit is that, with the low, flat battery, and the small-size and low-positioning of the electric motors, there’s room galore. There’s a generous rear cargo hold even with the third-row seat erected, plus a decent front trunk as well. With no tall gasoline engine in front, there’s plenty of crush space, and dynamically, its handling promises to be unusually good despite the Model X’s height, what with all the weighty stuff being so low (this, being somewhat mitigated by the door-supporting roof structure). Depending on speed and circumstances, the Model X’s air suspension will allow it to vary its ride height by about an inch. Musk estimated the X to weigh between 10-15 percent more than the Model S, or about 4700 lbs.
You might have noticed me mentioning ‘electric motors’ earlier. A second, front motor with about half the rear’s estimated 300 horsepower will be optional, offering a lot of interesting dynamic possibilities as you can redirect the power instantly between the front and rear (lateral distribution being via individual brake application). There’s greater regen braking available, and even its handling balance might be actively controlled via the fore-aft distribution of power … or regen-caused drag). Our brief ride around the parking lot suggests the Model X will be quick — Musk claims 4.4 seconds to 60 mph quick (from, presumably a sport edition). Pricing is expected to about the same as the Model S (starting at $49,900 after the Federal tax credit) with production starting late next year and volume delivery happening in 2014.
As Musk quipped “I don’t think a car company should be a one-trick pony.” The Model X gives Tesla a couple of tricks up its sleeve. And moreover reinforces a brand-new EV proposition in the marketplace that the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i don’t provide — the long-range battery-electric car that isn’t limited to neighborhoods or stratospherically priced. With deliveries of the Model S slated for no later than July, we’ll soon see if the market is ready for that proposition.
By Kim Reynolds