Archives for September 8th, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S Rated For 95 MPGe, 208-Mile Range With 60-kWh Battery Pack – Rumor Central

2013 Tesla Model S Rated For 95 MPGe, 208-Mile Range With 60-kWh Battery Pack

The 2013 Tesla Model S electric luxury sedan is offered with several different battery packs, and now the Environmental Protection Agency has rated the energy efficiency of the Tesla’s middle option, a 60-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The EPA says that Model S sedans equipped with the 60-kWh battery average 94/97 mpge (city/highway) for a combined rating of 95 mpge, and can travel 208 miles on a single battery charge.

The estimates show that the 2013 Tesla Model S is slightly more energy efficient when equipped with its smaller, lighter battery pack. The EPA says the top-spec 85-kWh model averages 89 mpge combined and travels 265 miles on a charge. The range estimates vary significantly from Tesla’s predictions: Tesla hoped the two cars would travel 300 and 230 miles, respectively, compared to the EPA’s more conservative 265- and 208-mile ratings. The cheapest battery pack, rated at 40-kWH, has yet to be tested by the EPA.

The Tesla Model S is slightly less powerful when equipped with its 60-kWh battery, which also contributes to the higher energy efficiency. The company says the car’s electric motor provides 302 hp and a 5.9-second 0-to-60-mph time with the 60-kWh battery pack. Stepping up to the 85-kWh battery unlocks 362 hp and a 5.6-second acceleration time; the pricey Model S Performance version uses the same battery but offers 416 hp and a claimed 4.4-second 0-to-60-mph sprint.

The 95 mpge rating is lower than many other all-electric cars, but that’s primarily because the Tesla is larger, more powerful, and more luxurious than most other EVs. According to the EPA, the Ford Focus Electric manages 105 mpge combined, the Nissan Leaf averages 99 mpge combined, and the Honda Fit EV achieves 118 mpge combined.

Pricing for the 2013 Tesla Model S recently jumped by $2500. A sedan with the base 40-kWh battery pack now starts at $59,900, one with the 60-kWh battery is $69,900, and opting for the 85-kWh battery will set buyers back $79,900. A fully-loaded Tesla Model S Performance carries a sticker price of $94,900.

We named the 2013 Tesla Model S our 2013 Automobile of the Year,. Despite losing money for years, Tesla now expects to make a slight profit by the end of this year. The company hopes to deliver another 20,000 vehicles in 2013.

Sources: EPA, Tesla



By Jake Holmes

Automobile Magazine awards Tesla Model S 2013 Car of the Year

Tesla Model S

The electric car has received a positive image boost, and perhaps more mainstream validation, as Automobile Magazine has named the Tesla Model S its “2013 Car of the Year.”

For those unfamiliar with Tesla Motors ambitious EV, the Model S is an all-electric luxury sport sedan and the California start-up’s second battery-powered vehicle after the well-received Tesla Roadster.

Okay, so it’s powered by electrons. But what makes the Model S worthy of such an accolade? “It’s the performance that won us over,” Automobile Editor-in-Chief Jean Jennings said in the magazine’s January 2013 issue. “The crazy speed builds silently and then pulls back the edges of your face. It had all of us endangering our licenses.”

Indeed, Tesla’s green speed-machine is capable of rocketing from zero to 60 miles per hour in a mere 4.2 seconds when outfitted with an 85 kilowatt-hour battery – this, despite weighing more than 4500 pounds. “It’s alarming to jam the accelerator of such a big car and have it surge forward so quickly and so quietly,” said copy editor Rusty Blackwell.

Of course, a lot of cars are fast, very fast, and while it’s no doubt impressive that the Model S can scamper down a straight line with ease, it’s not the only reason the folks at Automobile were smitten with it, citing the vehicle’s excellent handling dynamics, ability to soak up road noise, and nuanced steering. “All that speed, along with powerful braking, superflat handling, and sharp steering, gives you the sense that you’re invincible,” reads Jennings’s evaluation of the vehicle on a test track.

And then there’s the inside. The Model S might be packing a lot of impressive tech, battery and all, but it’s the car’s command center cabin that proved equally drool-worthy. Having already sat inside the Model S ourselves over the course of the year, we are more than aware of the tech-laden wonderland that is the Model S’ cockpit. Instead of dials, buttons, and knobs, virtually everything inside the Model S is operated via its gigantic, 17-inch iPad-like center touchscreen. Want to open the panoramic sunroof? Swipe the screen. Climate controls? Same deal. Drivers can even surf the Web and access their email while on the go.

Interestingly, Tesla’s status as a start-up was taken into consideration before the final decision was made, according to Automobile’s senior editor Joe Lorio. “What if we give the car this honor, and a year from now the company disappears in a ball of flakiness?” he said “Are we going to feel foolish?”

Ultimately, though, the Model S was given the award based on its merits as a standalone vehicle and not the politics or position it may or may not see itself in down the road. “The car is here now, and we think it’s a significant milestone,” Lorio explained.

The Model S is available in three different battery sizes: 40 kWh, 60 kWh, and 85 kWh. Pricing for the 40kWh Model S starts at $57,000, $67,00 for one outfitted with a 60 kWh battery, and $77,000 for an 85 kWh model like the one tested by Automobile. (All prices exclude a $7,500 federal tax credit). Estimated range for the base Model S sits at 160 miles on a single charge, 230 miles for the 60 kWH, and 300 miles for the 85kWh.

The Tesla Model S went into production this summer, with 250 deliveries having taken place as of October. According to Tesla, roughly 13,000 people have placed $5,000 deposits towards a Model S. The company expects to sell about 3,200 units by the end of 2012.

[Update] Tesla Motors representative Shanna Hendricks had this to say to about the Model S being named Automobile Magazine’s 2013 Car of the Year, “We’re thrilled to receive this endorsement from AUTOMOBILE Magazine. This recognition underscores our goal to build a great car, not just a great electric car.”

By Amir Iliaifar

Report: Tesla Discussing Autonomous Cars With Google – Rumor Central

Report: Tesla Discussing Autonomous Cars With Google

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk wants his electric-car company to work with Google on developing autonomous cars. Bloomberg reports that Tesla is discussing driverless technology with Google, even though Musk asserts Tesla will probably create its own system.

Tesla CEO Musk said he believes the driverless or autonomous technologies are the next big development for the car because they could dramatically improve road safety. “I like the word autopilot more than I like the word self-driving,” he told Bloomberg. “Autopilot is a good thing to have in planes, and we should have it in cars.”

Although Tesla has been in “technical discussions” with Google about its driverless cars, Musk believes the roof-mounted laser-scanning system used by Google is too costly and inefficient to make sense for production cars. He reportedly favors a cheaper camera-based system, “with software that is able to figure out what’s going on just by looking at things.” Musk told Bloomberg that although it is possible that Tesla will cooperate with Google, it’s more likely that the startup will engineer its own unique autonomous-car technologies.

Google has a fleet of Toyota Prius hybrids (pictured), as well as a Lexus RX450h, that can drive without a human’s input. Lawmakers have granted the Internet company permission to test its autonomous cars in Nevada and California. Lexus demonstrated a semi-autonomous LS sedan at the Consumer Electronics Show, where Audi also showed off self-parking systems.

Self-driving Teslas are some time off, however: Musk says Tesla will focus on launching electric cars, including the Model S sedan and upcoming Model X SUV, before focusing on bringing autonomous technology to production. “Autopilot is not as important as accelerating the transition to electric cars, or to sustainable transport,” he told Bloomberg.

Source: Bloomberg




By Jake Holmes

Monster Tajima Drives and Loves the Tesla Model S [Video



When it comes to opinions which should matter and should be taken into consideration, concerning car handling and more recently EVs, is that of Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima, nine-time winner of the Pikes Peak hill climb.

He was recently put at the helm of a Tesla Model S, which he drove on some distinctly Californian roads (narrow and quite twisty).

At the wheel of the Model S, Tajima has a constant grin on his face, and he even bursts into laughter several times, being really impressed by the performance of the car. He appreciates its superb handling, excellent weight distribution and low center of gravity, as well as its style and green credentials.

Tesla have done themselves a real favor by having a legend like Tajima drive and ultimately love their product. At the end of the video, he declares that he wants one – some of the best publicity Tesla has ever gotten.

By Andrei Nedelea

Tesla Model X Delayed Until "Late 2014" – Rumor Central

Tesla Model X Delayed Until “Late 2014″

The Tesla Model X electric crossover won’t start production until late 2014, a major delay as the car was slated to go into production this year. Tesla had initially promised the Model X would debut in late 2013 with “volume” production beginning in earnest by 2014, but now it appears the Tesla factory won’t even start building the crossover until the end of next year.

The Tesla Model X is a three-row crossover with upward-opening “Falcon Wing” doors that is based on the company’s Model S all-electric sedan. It was originally slated to go on sale in limited numbers by the end of 2013, with production ramping up significantly by 2014. In fact, the automaker’s website still indicates that, “Deliveries begin 2014.”

Tesla appears to have quietly delayed the introduction of the Model X by about a year. The company’s latest SEC Filing, which also revealed Tesla will repay government loans early, confirmed the new production date. “We currently plan to start production of Model X in late 2014,” the filing reads. “We currently intend to target an annual production rate of approximately 10,000-15,000 cars per year.”

That means the car probably wouldn’t reach more than a handful of customers until early 2015. The company previously reported it would have total production capacity of 20,000 units in 2013.

Tesla warned in its filing that development of the Model X hasn’t been completed, signaling that production couldn’t start for some time. “The Model X design is not yet finalized and we may be unable to use the adaptable Model S platform to the extent we currently intend,” the filing reads.”We may experience… delays, cost overruns and adverse publicity… We are in the initial design and development stages of Model X. Furthermore, we have not yet evaluated, qualified or selected all of our suppliers for the planned production of Model X.”

A Tesla representative told us, “Tesla has been intensely focused on Model S, its production and product enhancements and believe there is increased volume potential for Model S.  As a result, we are pushing back the development and timing of Model X to 2014. ”

Source: Tesla



By Jake Holmes

“Utility Meets Performance”: Tesla Teases New Model X SUV

“Utility Meets Performance”: Tesla Teases New Model X SUV

Electric carmaker Tesla Motors will soon launch a new SUV called the Model X. The company has released a dark teaser photo of the new car along with the tagline “Utility meets performance,” and promises the Model X will be revealed next Thursday, February 9, in California.

We don’t really know anything about the Model X, although lightening the teaser image with Photoshop reveals a curved hooded, sloping roofline, and oval front grille opening. The Model X’s lines are reminiscent of those found on the company’s forthcoming Model S large hatchback. Furthermore, Tesla CEO Elon Musk wrote on his Twitter feed that, “Most cars are pretty blah. This is not.”

As with the company’s Lotus-based Roadster and long-awaited Model S, we expect the Model X to use a proprietary all-electric powertrain developed by Tesla. This won’t be the first time Tesla has dabbled with building an SUV: the company previously partnered with Toyota to build an electrified RAV4.

Sources: Tesla, Twitter

By Jake Holmes

All Eyes on Cal Crutchlow



Yamaha Tech 3's main rider Cal Crutchlow is the man of the moment. He is not leading the provisional standings and he hasn't even won a GP race this season; yet, he is the man of the moment for several very good reasons.

One of these reasons is that Crutchlow has showed that a satellite bike can beat its factory siblings. Some might add that Lorenzo had problems, and Rossi is still not 100 per cent "back there" on his M1… and be right. However, in the end it's the result that matters, and that result showed Cal beating the works Yamaha machines fair and square. So it's possible, if one rides well.

We're also paying attention to the Brit because he's becoming better and better, race by race. In his case, it's more than Marquez' talent: it's hard work (just like pretty much any responsible rider puts in) and a granite-hard determination.

Is he looking for a victory in 2013? We simply won't be surprised at all to hear the British anthem after one of this year's rounds… because Crutchlow showed that beating the factory machines on a satellite bike is possible.

Would his Tech 3 ride beat the Hondas? In normal conditions, I'd say it would not, but with Cal riding as hard as he does now, making no mistakes and with a bit of luck he definitely could squeeze in front of them, by all means.

While we're only 5 rounds into the 2013 calendar, one thing is impossible to forget: Crutchlow's contract with Tech 3 ends at the end of the season and "what next?" is a question all those interested are asking today, hoping for a good answer before the final round in Valencia.

As far as what things look like right now, Cal Crutchlow has three roads ahead, and which one will he tread remains to be seen. To put things bluntly, it seems like these paths are named Suzuki, Ducati or Tech 3, which is the least likely, given the present order of things.

Tech 3

I tend to rule Tech 3 out because it's a satellite team and Crutchlow was rather explicit as he mentioned he was looking to ride a factory bike in 2014. Now, it may be that the 2014 MotoGP will no longer be a works vs. CRT business (details here) so adding the MSMA tag to Tech 3 could possibly calm things down a bit.

With Yamaha planning to lease their M1 engine to the CRT teams, the bikes using it will have a better shot at glory, though everybody knows they will not be THE M1 machines. And this looks like it won't be enough for Crutchlow. Or maybe they can find an offer too good for him to refuse…

The Brit is as close to the technical limits of his Tech 3 machine and it's little he, or the team, could do to make it better. Again, with just a tad of luck, he’s proved that he is good enough to beat the factory riders, remember that.

On the other hand, there have been some discussions between Yamaha officials and Aleix Espargaro's brother Pol. With Rossi in the last straight line of his career, the Tuning Forks should be ready for the change, but what this change will be is a question to which only Yamaha's boss Lin Jarvis seems to have an answer.

Will they go for young blood and hope Pol will be the next Marc Marquez, or will they prefer a very good, prove rider to be Lorenzo's next teammate? I dare not say. Talking to Autosport about Yamaha and Pol Espargaro, Crutchlow is quite blunt: ”Everybody thinks the next guy up is going to be as good as Marquez, but Marquez is like Valentino was 15 years ago; he is unbelievable. Pol is not going to beat Marquez. Would he [Espargaro] beat me? No." No need for too much psychology to sense Crutchlow's (normal, I daresay) irritation.

Crutchlow leaving Yamaha is not nice, from a sponsor's perspective: he has a deal with Monster and Monster loves him, because he is truly an emblematic presence: fast, joyful, witty and charming, but at the same time, a ticking time-bomb.

Crutchlow has that special edge which, we must all admit, has little to do with the corporate, politically-correct BS sometimes: he is all about racing and less about playing Ken's (remember Barbie dolls?) role.

And just to prove I am right, here are his words via Moto Matters: "[Yamaha] have signed Pol, as far as I am aware. It's none of my business and I don’t really care, but one thing is for sure, I won’t ride under Pol Espargaro in my team. So I will be leaving, that’s clear. I won't ride there if he has a factory contract and I don't."

So, I am really open to any suggestions: what could Yamaha do if they want to keep Crutchlow? Will they find a way to offer Cal an offer he can't refuse?

Ducati

Nicky Hayden is also becoming "free" at the end of the 2013 season, as his one-year deal with Ducati comes to be fulfilled, and this could mean seeing Crutchlow riding again with Andrea Dovizioso, his former teammate.

Could such a move be a good one? By all means, yes, as Cal gets a factory ride and he also gets to play an important role in the development of the machine. As for Ducati, things could also work out just great, as they'd have a skilled rider helping them build the new GP bike alongside Michele Pirro, thus increasing the speed of their comeback.

Ducati made a huge progress since winter, when even their fans started to be so mad as to start petitioning them to leave the MotoGP and I was wondering whether their fate was indeed sealed.

With Herr Gobmeier as the new Ducati Corse boss and Audi backing, the Borgo Panigale factory managed to steer well outside the path of ridicule and disgrace they seemed bent for and things are looking well once more. Of course, there is still a lot to do, but the wind is now favorable, and with Crutchlow in the team (and possibly with some Monster money, too), 2014 could be the first of the rest of the good years…

With the Yamaha MotoGP machinery being obviously tuned to Lorenzo's riding style, we see Crutchlow trying to emulate the Spaniard's way of riding, in order to make the bike work for him, instead of battling it. And this means adaptability while retaining high-class racing quality and results… two more aces the Englishman has up his sleeve.

With Ducati, he could tailor the bike (already suitable for his aggressive style) to his preference and this may be a winning combo. Ducati seems to have great potential once more, and upping it with a rider of Crutchlow's class would certainly be a thing quite interesting to watch (for us) and… profitable.

Suzuki

The third way leads to Suzuki. First rumored to come back to MotoGP and now awaiting for the official “go”, the Suzuki factory team are bringing a new engine to the game.

They ditched the V4 and their new in-line machine is said to become better with each passing test. Randy de Puniet went to Motegi this week and rode it, and I can't wait to see how will it fare in the first official tests.

Though no official timings came from these tests, it looks like the new Suzuki is somewhere between 1.5 and 2 seconds slower than the fastest Motegi laps… pretty much where Ducati were 5 months ago. Given Ducati's example, it's obvious that Suzuki could reduce the gap as they've been in racing for such a long time now. Question is if they can really afford the price of this…

MotoGP racing is expensive and developing a really competitive bike is eating up much of the money pouring in. Suzuki is not exactly in their best period now, after their US automotive division bankruptcy, and not even the best intentions and dedication from engineers, riders and pilots alike could compensate for the needed dough.

Ducati has had a fair share of frustration not being able to bring the factory riders to the COTA… and in case Suzuki is not able to cope with the top-level racing expenses (engineering, development, testing and all the upgrades), we might just see them “hi-bye” once more.

Just as I’ve written recently, this almost looks like a soap opera, with so many possibilities and options, things we don't know, scheming and various moves which are out of sight and out of mind, even.

However, there is one major difference between MotoGP and soap operas: while one could easily stretch the story across thousands of episodes (remember The Young and the Restless?), the 2013 MotoGP season ends in Valencia on November 10. And things must be settled by then.

Until then, it's just "Go Cal!" for this Sunday.

By Florin Tibu