Archives for September 5th, 2013

Tesla Buys $15 Million of Equipment and Parts From NUMMI Plant

Tesla Buys $15 Million of Equipment and Parts From NUMMI Plant

The NUMMI venture between Toyota and General Motors may be long gone, but some of that partnership’s parts and equipment will live on with Tesla.

The electric vehicle company just bought $15 million worth of assets from the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California.

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This follows Tesla’s agreement to purchase the plant for about $42 million. In July, Tesla and Toyota announced an electric version of the 2012 Toyota RAV4 SUV would be produced.

It’s possible the purchase of this equipment will help Tesla meet its deadlines for the Model S five-door. The car, according to Tesla, will head from 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds and last 300 miles to a charge.

Shares of Tesla’s stock, which opened at $17 a share, closed at $19.10 on August 20.

Source: The Street, Tesla

By Zach Gale

The Tesla Model S Electric Wagon We Wish They’d Build

Tesla Model ST wagon render by Theophilus Chin

Tesla Model ST wagon render by Theophilus Chin

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High-performance wagons are easy to appreciate. Plenty of utility, but none of the sacrifices that practicality usually implies.

If they look great and run on electricity, like Theophilus Chin‘s render of a Tesla Model ‘ST’, then all the better.

Chin’s render (via Autoblog Green) is so slick you’d think it came from Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] itself.

The long, elegant body of the regular Model S lends itself to the wagon shape, and the end result isn’t dissimilar from the recent Jaguar XF Sportbrake, one of the best-looking wagons on the road.

In fact, we’ve a nagging feeling it looks even better than the regular Model S. There’s little doubt it’d add  to that car’s practicality too, perhaps enough to swap the two small booster seats for a full rear bench.

The Model S’s wind-cheating aerodynamics might suffer, and we’d expect a weight increase too–but it’d be a small price to pay for such an elegant “sport tourer”.

Tesla Model ST wagon render by Theophilus Chin

Tesla Model ST wagon render by Theophilus Chin

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It’s unlikely to see the light of day, though–Tesla already has a larger seven-seat vehicle on the way, in the shape of the falcon-winged Model X crossover.

What other vehicles would you like to see from Tesla? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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By Antony Ingram

For $25,000: New or Used? Latest Wide Open Throttle Discusses

For $25,000: New or Used? Latest Wide Open Throttle Discusses

Greg Emmerson of European Car joins the roundtable discussion on this episode of Wide Open Throttle to discuss his recent Head 2 Head comparison of the BMW E30 M3, Scion FR-S, and Volkswagen GTI. Jessi Lang, Jonny Lieberman, Angus MacKenzie, and Ron Kiino also discuss the crowded entry-luxury segment as well as the future of new and existing electric vehicle manufacturers.

Wide Open Throttle 62 25K Sports Cars Entry Luxury Future of EV Makers image 10 300x187 imageDespite the classic BMW’s high cost of entry when it was new and similar performance to the more affordable FR-S, Emmerson defends the E30 M3 and GTI against the rear-drive Scion sports car. Next, the conversation moves to the entry-luxury market with Scion and Mazda wanting to move up and Mercedes-Benz and Audi strengthening their entry-level presence with the CLA and A3 four-doors. After talking about Scion’s original purpose of bringing younger buyers into the Toyota fold and then move them into Toyota and Lexus products, Lieberman questions how the youth brand can move upmarket. The panel then debates what constitutes luxury.

Just a day after Fisker executives were questioned by a government committee about the company’s $529 million loan, the latest Wide Open Throttle video crew discuss the fate of struggling Fisker, profitable Tesla, and newcomer Detroit Electric. Emmerson notes that BMW will soon introduce the i3 and i8 electric vehicles, and wonders how it will affect other mainstream brands as well as the newer EV makers.

Check out the video below to hear the full discussion.

By Jason Udy

Zero Race: Electric Car Race to Traverse the Globe in 80 Days

Zero Race: Electric Car Race to Traverse the Globe in 80 Days

The Zero Race, an appropriately named zero-emissions race designed to raise awareness about environmentally friendly vehicles, started its 18,000-mile, 80-day journey in Switzerland earlier this week.

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Zero Race began in Geneva, Switzerland, and the competitors — four small teams that specially designed their electric vehicles — will make their way through Berlin to Shanghai, China. After their trip to the Far East, they’ll resume the race in Vancouver, Canada, and then on to Cancun, Mexico, in time for the World Climate Change Conference that starts November 29.

Over the course of the next few months, the competitors will cover more than 18,000 miles and travel for more than 80 days. All four of the competing vehicles are powered by electricity acquired from renewable resources, such as wind or the sun. Each vehicle can achieve a minimum speed of 55 mph and travel 155 miles between charges. In this fashion, the teams will travel the world without the vehicles ever emitting a pollutant from exhaust or from an electrical source. However, as the vehicles need to be shipped across several oceans, the event won’t be completely emissions-free.

Although called a race, time is anything but the determining factor in who wins. The competitors are scored on their reliability during the race, energy efficiency, safety, performance, and design popularity as scored by spectators along the way. At the end of the race, the competitor with the highest score wins.

“Such a clean technology initiative underscores the importance of individual efforts in building a green, low-carbon future for the world,” said United Nations Environment Program executive director Achim Steiner.

The race reflects growing interest in low-emissions vehicles. This interest, along with government incentives and regulations, has pushed automotive manufacturers to investigate hybrid and electric vehicles, such as the upcoming Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf. The small, startup automaker Tesla only builds electric vehicles, such as its Roadster and planned Model S sedan.

Head over to Zero Race’s Web site to view the competitors’ progress as they make their way around the world and look for the race to end at the World Climate Change Conference in November.

Source: Zero Race, Bloomberg

By Andrew Peterson

Tesla Working on 3 Series Challenger, Considering EV Pickup

Tesla Working on 3 Series Challenger, Considering EV Pickup

We’ve already seen Tesla’s Model S and Model X, but we now hear that the electric automaker is working on a midsize sedan to take on the BMW 3 Series, and may also have its sights set on the pickup truck market.

So far, Tesla has only produced the Lotus-Elise-based Roadster and Model S large hatchback, but with the latter car’s bespoke platform done, the sky’s the limit. The Model X all-electric sport utility vehicle is already planned with its crazy falcon wing-style door and is slated to start production late in 2013, reaching dealers early in 2014.

2012 Tesla Model S rear three quarter 300x187 imageWe hear from Autocar that Tesla’s followup to the Model X will be a midsize premium sedan, in the vein of the BMW 3 Series. The car would be smaller than the Model S and also have a smaller price tag than the current car’s $49,000 sticker — Tesla design chief Franz Von Holzhausen said that company bosses are shooting for the car to have a $30,000 price on the base model.

The addition of a 3-Series-sized car to the Tesla EV range makes sense — it would give Tesla a larger customer base — but what Von Holzhausen said next was a bit more puzzling. “There will be a time and place for us to develop something around a pickup,” he told Autocar.

At first glance, the idea of Tesla leaving its eco-luxury roots and making a workhorse pickup truck seems odd, but Von Holzhausen did say that the Tesla’s electric powertrain would have suitable torque to make a good pickup truck. If Tesla could make an all-electric pickup at or near the same $30,000 price point as the upcoming 3 Series fighter, it would be an interesting entrant into the shrinking market of fuel-efficient pickups, especially now that midsize pickups like the Ram Dakota and Ford Ranger have died.

The 3 Series rival could bow as early as 2015, with the pickup following some time later.

Source: Autocar

By Ben Timmins

2012 Tesla Model S Signature Series: Is It Worth The Premium?

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

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The first 1,000 or so 2012 Tesla Model S electric sport sedans to be delivered to U.S. customers will be fully-loaded, limited-edition “Signature” cars.

But as delivery dates slip due to early production snags, some owners of Signature cars–called “Sigs” within the Tesla clan–grumble that they’re not getting much value for the extra money they had to shell out.

Is the “Sig tax”–the premium price and the hefty $40,000 deposit–worth its benefits? 

Let’s look at the numbers.

The Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] list price for a Signature Model S is $87,900.

A comparably-equipped standard Model S–with an 85-kWh battery and all available options except the moon roof–lists for $84,350. That’s a $3,550 difference.

For the Performance version of the car, the comparable numbers are $97,900  and $92,850–or a $5,050 difference.

Interest adds up, too

The effective “Sig tax” can be higher if an owner wouldn’t otherwise have ordered a particular option. Downgrades aren’t allowed; Signature owners pay for all the options and the premium paint job whether they want them or not.

Then there’s the interest on the $40,000 deposit. In effect, Tesla has received interest-free loans totaling more than $40 million from its Signature owners.

Early depositors put down their money more than three years ago. At current corporate bond rates  (about 6 percent), that amounts to about $8,000 in foregone interest.

So, roughly speaking, the typical Signature owner has paid a “Sig tax” of $3,500 to $13,000. 

What does he or she get for the money?

  • The option of a special red paint job unavailable on the standard car
  • The option of a special white interior, also unavailable on the standard car
  • Two small external “Signature” badges
  • Free 3-G connectivity for one year

In addition, Signature Performance models get some added minor interior and exterior accents that the standard Performance car lacks.

Ironically, the Signature Model S lacks some interior and paint options available on the standard car.

If you happen to prefer green paint to red, or a silver interior rather than white, the first two Signature “benefits” become penalties.

Is that all there is?

At first glance, these Signature benefits may not impress. 

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

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

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“I don’t think I’m getting anywhere near the value for the money,” griped one owner in a lengthy thread on the Tesla Motor Club forum.

“I too think the Sig is a disappointment in terms of value,” chimed in another. “But I can’t bring myself to switch (to a standard car).”

For most Sig owners, however, the “Big Bennie” is not the car itself. It’s the timing.

Sig owners automatically go to the front of the queue to own what is, by all accounts, an extraordinary, ground-breaking car. 

But recent production delays and the rapid anticipated ramp-up in production of standard cars as soon as the Signature cars are built has blunted this hoped-for time advantage. 

“I was willing to pay the premium (begrudgingly) to jump the line by three months,” says one Sig owner whose car has been delayed by four to six weeks. “But for one month, it’s an absurd premium to pay.”

“Delivery during the summer would actually have had some value,” echoed another.

Earliest cars delivered

The very earliest adopters at the head of the Sig line already have the pleasure of driving their cars three to six months ahead of the rabble, starting in June with venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson, who’s on the Tesla board.

(At this writing, Tesla will only say that “more than 250″ Model S cars have been delivered.)

Last-minute Signature buyers also reaped a huge bonus in delivery time. If you signed up for one of the last few remaining Sigs in August, you’re probably looking at a December delivery.



2012 Tesla Model S Signature

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

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But if you’d chosen a standard car instead, your number in the queue would have been about 12,000–and you’d be getting delivery next summer at the earliest.  Is that a benefit worth $5,000? For a lot of people, it is.

The frustrated Signature owners seem to be mostly those in the middle of the pack, who are now watching their early delivery advantage fade. 

Middle of the pack

One of them, Arnold Panz, of Miami, Fla., had this to say on the Tesla Motor Club forum:

The fact that we, as Sig holders, have gotten absolutely no special treatment has been a huge miss. (We) were mostly Tesla’s truest of true believers, plunking down $40,000 for a car that we had no guarantee would ever be made, let alone be a great car. How was that blind faith rewarded? I’m still trying to figure that out.

A lot of this is basic psychology. Why are people who are paying almost six figures for a car complaining about $600/year in maintenance? The same reason high rollers who gamble  $1,000 a hand in Vegas demand free rooms, tickets to shows, and free meals….and choose their hotel on who provides the best “perks”.

BMW bakes the cost of maintenance into the cost of the car and everyone thinks they’re getting “free” service! Tesla…just didn’t understand the basic psychology that makes BMW’s program so popular.

The same is true for Sigs…Additional swag, ‘insider’ informational e-mails, free satellite radio, and free maintenance (still) wouldn’t make the Sig premium cost-effective…..But (it) would have psychologically given us all the warm and fuzzies…We would have felt like we were getting special treatment that made the excess cost worthwhile.

 

A role in history

In the end, the Signature program has proven to be a good deal for Tesla.

It got the company $40 million cash up front, and assured that the first 1,000 cars out the door would be maxed out with options, bringing in nearly $100,000 each.  (That’s $100 million in badly needed cash.)

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

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

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Tesla clearly could have done a better job making its Signature buyers feel special. But all 1,000-odd available Sig cars have sold out.

At some level, the market proves that the “Sig tax” is perceived as value for money–by at least 1,000 or so people.

“Definitely worth it,” explained one Sig depositor. “I feel I am playing a minor role in history….I am proud to be helping, in a small way, [to] usher in the age of vehicle electrification.”

On a less philosophical note, an envious non-Signature Model S depositor summed it up nicely: “The value is simple: They are getting cars right now. The rest of us are waiting.”

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

All-Electric smart ED to Go on Sale for €18,910 in Germany



The all-electric Smart ED (Electric Drive) has been with us for around three years now, with the manufacturer first delivering 250 of them to the US for testing purposes, back in 2009. Well, now the car will enter official production and it will be available in Germany for as low as €18,910 ($23,585) for the basic car.

The car is powered by a 30 kW (55 kW in peak) electric motor which draws juice from a 17.6kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which at first was developed by Tesla for Daimler, Smart’s parent company. The car has a top speed of 125 km/h (78 mph) and it reaches 60 km/h (37.5 mph) in 4.8 seconds after setting off, giving it decent poke – more than adequate for town driving. If driven carefully, the car’s theoretical maximum range is 145 km (90.6 miles).

It will be available as both a coupe and cabrio, with the topless variant costing €22,000 ($27,500). This price does not include the monthly €60 ($75) battery lease, however, the car can be ‘completely bought’, if the customer so requests, but prices are considerably higher, with the coupe ending up costing €23,770 ($29,600) and the cabrio model costing €26,770 ($33,500).

By Andrei Nedelea