Archives for August 23rd, 2013

Leases On 118 MPGe Honda Fit EV Available On West Coast This Friday

The electric Honda Fit EV will be available for lease in California and Oregon beginning this Friday, lining up the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt in its sights as Honda attempts to further their stake in the EV game.

“No other automaker on the planet is more deeply committed to produce and deliver more energy-efficient and sustainable transportation solutions than Honda,” said Steven Center, vice president of the American Honda Environmental Business Development Office, in a press release. “The 2013 Honda Fit EV is the latest example of this commitment.”

The Fit EV certainly has one thing going for it: In early June, the EPA handed it the highest fuel efficiency rating ever with a 118 MPGe (132/105) score.

That’s more than enough to best the Leaf (99 MPGe), Volt (98), Tesla Model S (89), Ford Focus Electric (105) and Mitsubishi MiEV (112).

But does that mean that customers will flock to the Fit EV? We’ve already seen a few zipping around the streets of Torrance, near Honda headquarters, and if the giant “EV” logo splashed across the side of the car doesn’t turn buyers away, the steep three-year lease price of $389 per month might. It adds up to a $36,625 MSRP – more than twice the cost of a base Fit ($15,325) and significantly more than a fully-equipped Fit Sport Navi ($19,690).

Honda is betting that customers are willing to shell out the extra money for a chance to be early adopters of the most fuel-efficient production car on the market; not to mention the most eco-friendly on their block. Plus, the Fit EV can fully recharge from a 240-volt outlet in just three hours and the Fit is well-known as one of the most versatile and practical cars available. The Fit EV will expand to six East Coast markets in early 2013.

As with all electric vehicles, the cost will level off as the technology improves and becomes cheaper to manufacture, and the important thing is that cars like the Fit EV are coming to market at all. Competition is certainly a good thing – now we’ll just have to see which EV the public responds to most.

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

Does the Fit EV pique your electric interest? Let us know in the Comments below.

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By Ryan ZumMallen

First Tesla Model S Delivered Before Schedule



After making numerous claims that the launch date for the Model S is June 22nd, it has become apparent that some of Tesla’s customers have benefited from an early deliver, receiving the car at least two weeks before the official date.

The car is now owned by Steve Jurvetson, who is Managing Director of a venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, California. It also seems to be a higher spec car, as it features the ‘Tesla Multi-Coat’ exterior finish in Signature Red and a bootlid spoiler, which tell us that it’s either the ‘Signature’ or ‘Signature Performance’ model, so the car cost at least €71,700 ($89,400), factoring in the extra €1,200 ($1,500) for the special paint. It seems that it also has a panoramic or blacked out roof, and the 21-inch ‘Silver’ rims thus ruling out the possibility of a low spec car – this is a top-of-the-range version of the Model S.

We genuinely look forward to the official release of the car and the first driving impressions, as we’ve waited a long time to see it in action, and properly so!

Story via businessinsider.com


Check out the First Tesla Model S Delivered Before Schedule photo gallery

By Andrei Nedelea

Should Apple Buy Tesla? Or Would Ford Be A Better Buyer?

Tesla Model S with DISRUPT license plate, March 2013 [photo: Sam Villella]

Tesla Model S with DISRUPT license plate, March 2013 [photo: Sam Villella]

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Electric-car maker Tesla is on a roll–its first quarter was profitable, its stock price is soaring, and Consumer Reports gave its Model S a rave review.

That has led many writers to compare the company to Apple Inc. [NSDQ:AAPL].

Now one analyst has taken it further: In a Bloomberg column, Chamath Palihapitiya suggests that Apple should simply buy Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA].

And, Palihapitiya writes, if Steve Jobs were still alive, he would have done so. He argues:

The right move would be for Apple to enter the car space, buy Tesla and make Elon Musk the CEO. Cook could move back to COO. Obviously this will never happen. The market is too big. Tesla is too good, and Cook is probably too weak to do something this radical.

Apple has designs on your dashboard, granted, and it is working with carmakers to integrate its Siri Q+A service into car infotainment systems.

Apple also has the money: Even assuming a 100-percent price premium over Tesla’s current market capitalization of $8.8 billion, buying Tesla would cost Apple only 12 percent of its $145-billion cash hoard.

So it’s doable.

But it would probably be a spectacularly bad idea.

Writing about Apple’s rumored plans to enter the television market, Palihapitiya writes, “TVs will probably turn out to be a very difficult product category.”

So cars, meanwhile, would be easy?

Apple designs remarkable consumer electronic products that share the following characteristics:

  • Product cycles of 18 to 36 months
  • Superb, sometimes revolutionary user interfaces
  • Outsourced manufacturing in developing countries
  • Core technology is low-power consumer electronics
  • Size is small enough to carry; weight is a few ounces to 30 pounds

Tesla’s designs, on the other hand, differ rather a lot from Apple’s:

  • Product cycles of 3 to 7 years
  • User-interface innovation confined to infotainment; steering, brakes, accelerator all conventional
  • Manufacturing done in-house by automakers of scale
  • Core technology is energy storage in battery, and high-power electric motor-generator plus power electronics
  • Size is more than 16 feet long; weight is more than 2 tons

The similarities and shared expertise are … where, exactly?

Sure, Apple tends to enter new categories within its core industry.

'Revenge of the Electric Car' premiere: Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk on red carpet

‘Revenge of the Electric Car’ premiere: Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk on red carpet

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But we’d suggest that going into carmaking would be roughly as smart as Apple going into, say, deep-sea oil exploration–another industry where electronics and sensors are increasingly key to success.

We’ve long argued that Tesla is not likely to remain independent as a carmaker. At some point, we believe, it will be bought by one of perhaps a dozen global automakers.

By far the most logical candidates are Daimler and Toyota, each of which owns a minority share of Tesla. An outlier might also be its lithium-ion cell supplier, which also has a stake in the company.

But may we suggest a different acquirer? What about Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F]?

Ford is at best lackluster about the prospects of battery-electric vehicles.

Its Ford Focus Electric is apparently only a compliance car, and the company has said in the past it doesn’t expect it to sell well–a self-fulfilling prophecy, apparently.

But we note that company chairman Bill Ford (whose name is on the building) recently expressed his admiration for Tesla and its recent successes.

“My hat’s off to them,” Ford said at a Los Angeles conference last Tuesday, although the company needs to be “mindful as they scale.”

1903 Ford Model A Rear Entry Tonneau and Bill Ford, Jr.

1903 Ford Model A Rear Entry Tonneau and Bill Ford, Jr.

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Of the big global companies, Toyota has placed its bets on hybrids (Ford makes some too, but only a fraction of Toyota’s volume). GM has its Chevy Volt, Nissan its all-electric Leaf and other battery cars coming, and Volkswagen is doing a bit of everything.

It’s a sign of Detroit’s inherent conservatism that Ford jokingly called himself as a “Bolshevik” for pledging that the company would raise fuel efficiency 25 percent from 2000 to 2005–a commitment it did not keep.

If Ford came to see plug-in electric cars as necessary to comply with increasingly stringent global fuel-efficiency rules, buying Tesla could catapult it to the front of the crowd.

That makes more sense, at least, than an Apple acquisition.

As Ford cautioned, “Running a car company is different than running a tech company.”

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By John Voelcker

Aston Martin engineering VP moves to Tesla Motors

Tesla Model S

Rumors were traveling at light speed through the Internet’s series of tubes this week about the VP of Engineering for Aston Martin, Chris Porritt, jumping ship and moving to Tesla Motors.

Now Tesla – by way of Green Car Reports – has confirmed the move.

This is a big move for Tesla for it didn’t just acquire a great engineer; it got one of the most innovative in the luxury performance market.

In 2009, Porritt lead the engineering charge on the Aston Martin One-77 supercar.

Interestingly, however, this isn’t the first time an Aston man has moved over to Tesla. The infamous Henrik Fisker (co-founder of now defunct Fisker Automotive) help Tesla design what would later become the current Model S.

Before that Fisker had worked at Aston as a designer. Most notably, it was Fisker who penned the V8 Vantage before starting his own eco-friendly luxury sedan company.

It took us a while to believe in the longevity of Tesla but its Model S has shown us it just might have staying – and profit-making – power. Now with the addition of Porritt to the team, Tesla’s future looks that much more promising.

It won’t be a few years before we see Porritt’s influence on any future Tesla projects but the result will surely be stunning.

By Nick Jaynes

Alpha Testing: Tesla Details Engineering Advances of Model S Development

Alpha Testing: Tesla Details Engineering Advances of Model S Development

Tesla’s out to prove its electric Model S luxury hatchback is unique in its technological advancement. To make that happen, the company has released three videos featuring Peter Rawlinson, Tesla’s vice president of vehicle engineering, talking about the car’s structure.

We’re expecting to find more information about the Model S at the Detroit Auto Show next week but, for now, we’ve got these videos highlighting the aluminum structure.

“We’re particularly pleased with this,” Rawlinson says, “it’s a very advanced form of architecture, which is a combination of castings, extrusions, and stampings.”

Currently, the Model S is in its Alpha testing and development stage. In other words, it’s in stage one of two. As though having an electric powertrain wasn’t enough, the Model S will also distinguish itself from other luxury vehicles with its seven-passenger seating.

“Model S has such extraordinary package efficiency, it’s possible to endow it with a third row of occupants,” Rawlinson says.

Underneath that third row you’ll find the compact electric motor and rear suspension — we’re eager to see just how comfortable that third row will truly be.

Rawlinson continues in the third video, discussing how the battery pack helps increase torsional rigidity. Many still doubt whether Tesla will be capable of introducing the Model S quickly enough and selling it at a reasonable price.

“We have a very lean team,” Rawlinson says. “We have people from different disciplines sitting right next to each other and sharing the collective experience of designing and packaging the car.”

Source: Tesla

Tags:

Auto News, Detroit Auto Show, Future/Spied, Green Cars, Hatchback, Hybrid Car/EV, Luxury Car, Tesla, Video Find

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By Zach Gale

March Plug-In Electric Car Sales: Tesla On Top, Leaf Roars Back (FINAL UPDATE)

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]

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The big news in plug-in car sales for March was Tesla’s statement that it delivered “more than 4,750″ Model S electric cars from January through March.

That news early Monday not only sent stock in Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] soaring, it also cued up an interesting three-way horse race.

Those sales put the Model S on a par with the Volt, ahead of the Leaf, and add roughly another third or so to the total number of plug-in cars from established makers that were delivered for the quarter.

Would Chevrolet manage to deliver more than 2,000 Volt range-extended electric cars to outsell the Model S?

And how quickly would sales of the 2013 Nissan Leaf rise now that cars are flowing freely from the Tennessee assembly line where they’re now built?

CEO Ghosn promises Leaf sales

Last month, while Volt sales recovered, Leaf deliveries were hampered by low inventory.

With production of the U.S.-built 2013 Nissan Leaf ramping up at Nissan’s Smyrna, Tennessee, assembly plant, supplies were low for the first two months of the year.

But at a press roundtable at the New York Auto Show last Wednesday, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said that the company expected to deliver around 1,900 Leafs during March.

The actual number turned out to be 2,236–higher than Ghosn’s no-doubt lowballed estimate–bringing the Leaf’s quarterly total to 3,539. Not at Tesla levels, but by far the Leaf’s best-ever monthly total.

Ghosn went on to say that a level of around 2,000 monthly sales was NOT where Nissan expected to settle–implying that higher volumes were in the cards for the rest of the year. We hope Nissan’s U.S. sales staff is listening to their boss.

Volt gets close–but not close enough

As it turned out, Chevrolet delivered 1,478 Volts during March, fewer than last month’s 1,626.

That number brings first-quarter Volt totals to 4,244, decisively below the Tesla total.

While the Volt is still ahead of the Leaf for the first three months of the year–4,244 to 3,539–it was outsold in March by Nissan’s battery electric car, for the first time since January 2012.

The third-place monthly ranking has got to be a blow for GM’s electric-car team–although, in fairness, the price of the average Model S is likely twice that of the average Volt and Tesla has a backlog of eager customers who’ve waited up to three years to take delivery of their cars.

Plug-in hybrid models to come

In fourth place during the first quarter was the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, which outsold the Leaf through February to take a solid second place behind the Volt.

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, Catskill Mountains, NY, Oct 2012

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, Catskill Mountains, NY, Oct 2012

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We said yesterday that if March sales tracked at their level during the first two months of the year, the Prius Plug-In would come in between 700 and 900 units.

And in fact, Toyota delivered 786 plug-in Priuses in March, for a first-quarter total of 2,353–bumping that car down to fourth place for the quarter, now that we have Tesla numbers.

As for Ford, it continues to increase sales of its Energi line, with 494 C-Max and 295 Fusion plug-in hybrids sold.

The Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid appears to be on a slow upward trend. Just 19 were delivered in January and February combined, but March saw 26 sold–a far slower pace than the first months of the Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid.

Compliance cars coming too

As for the battery-electric compliance car segment, deliveries of the Ford Focus Electric totaled 180 cars in March–its best-ever month, bringing total sales since December 2011 over the 1,000 mark for the first time.

(We’re still waiting for Ford to address our questions about whether the Focus Electric actually is a compliance car, though its continuing pessimistic and downbeat predictions on the Focus Electric’s sales potential may well be self-fulfilling.)

Remarkably, 133 Toyota RAV4 EVs were sold in March, by far the highest monthly number ever–bringing total sales since last September to more than 400, or one-quarter of the number Toyota needs to build.

Honda delivered 23 Fit EVs in March, equaling the previous two months’ sales combined and bringing the lifetime total to 139.

Finally, as for the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, after a couple of months that totaled almost 600 sales, the littlest electric car on the market slumped back to its 2012 levels of 31 cars delivered.

The i-MiEV isn’t a compliance car, but the March sales are at that level–and a disappointment to the hopes of those who like small, minimalist plug-ins.



2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]

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Next: Tesla Q1 sales call in May

Analysts will now be looking for comments from Tesla–which may not come until its Q1 earnings call in May–about the level of reservations for Model S.

Not all reservation-holders will convert into sales, but the rate at which the company can add new reservations versus starting to clear its queue of more than 10,000 Model S depositors will be keenly watched as an indicator of its ability to sustain sales beyond its first audience of early adopters.

Finally, one note on sales outside the U.S.: In its first full month of deliveries, 1,089 Renault Zoe all-electric subcompact hatchbacks were registered last month in France.

That number is fully 80 percent of plug-in electric car sales in the country for March.

French carmaker Renault is an alliance partner of Nissan, with the two companies together having delivered 70,000 battery-electric vehicles since December 2010.

The Zoe is its first high-volume battery electric vehicle, following the Kangoo ZE small electric delivery van and the low-volume Fluence ZE mid-size sedan with a swappable battery pack, designed for–and mostly sold to–the Israeli company Better Place.

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By John Voelcker