The U.K. institution known as the British Broadcasting Corporation recently embarked on a near 500-mile trip with one of Mini’s experimental Mini E fleet, which was arranged in part to highlight the inconveniences of electric vehicles. Not surprisingly, things got pretty inconvenient.
The BBC’s story, airing on English television, chronicles journalist Brian Milligan’s drive from London to Edinburgh, a journey of some 484 miles. According to the automaker, the Mini E’s range is roughly 100 miles, but driving habits, traffic conditions, and ambient temperatures can have an effect on that number — potentially whittling it down to as little as 60 miles. Not surprisingly, charging stations were few and far between along the route and Milligan was forced to wait for hours at a time for the electrified Mini to charge before continuing.
After Milligan published his frustrations on both his blog and Twitter feed, EV advocates started to cry foul. British EV fan David Peilow was so incensed, he arranged a publicity stunt with Tesla Motors to counter the BBC story. Borrowing a new Roadster Sport and leaving after Milligan had a two-day lead, Peilow set out to beat the BBC to Edinburgh.
He did just that. The Roadster, equipped with a lithium-ion battery pack offering roughly 245 miles of range (and, importantly, a 3.5-hour recharge time on a 240-volt charger), managed to make the trek in a single day. Pielow needed to stop only twice, and, having left in the wee hours of the morning, managed to sneak into Edinburgh hours before Milligan did.
The BBC is crying foul, noting the sporty Roadster’s range is nearly twice that of the “practical” Mini E. But beyond the obvious PR stunt for Tesla, Pielow’s counter drive did serve to notice that despite the significant obstacles, the hurdles to widespread EV may yet be overcome someday.
Source: Tesla, BBC
Tesla is preparing to deliver its first Model S electric sedans to customers next month, but in the spirit of full disclosure, has outlined why it anticipates its 300-mile version will be rated by the EPA for 265 miles.
The Model S’ drawn-out unveiling has ingrained three specific driving ranges related to battery size – 160, 230, and 300 miles – but the EPA will have its own stamp of approval. An official blog bylined by CEO Elon Musk and CTO JB Straubel dives right into the matter, presumably foreseeing questions and concerns about the 35-mile disparity with the farthest-traveling selection.
The difference between 265 and 300 miles extracted from the Model S’ substantial 85-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery comes down to the EPA’s testing methodology. The stated 300-mile range with the highest-capacity battery was always Tesla’s target. From one perspective, it has actually exceeded the mark, claiming 320 miles under the EPA’s old 2-cycle fuel economy evaluation. It’s when the EPA’s updated 5-cycle test enters frame that “265 miles” rears its head. For comparison, the 245-mile-rated Roadster and Roadster 2.5 endured the elder cycle while the Nissan Leaf has a 73-mile range under the 5-cycle assessment.
Going from the 2- to 5-cycle test can drastically impact vehicle ratings. The simpler 2-cycle had an approximate weighting of 55-percent city and 45-percent highway use; the more comprehensive 5-cycle is more representative of 43-percent city and 57-percent highway driving. The certifications are run on dynamometers, and the specifics are as follows:
1) Federal Test Procedure: 2-cycle, 5-cycle
2) Highway Fuel Economy Driving Schedule: 2-cycle, 5-cycle
3) Cold Federal Test Procedure (run at ambient 20 vs. 75 degrees Fahrenheit in standard FTP): 5-cycle
4) SC03 (air conditioning test at ambient 95 degrees F): 5-cycle
5) US06 (aggressive acceleration test, up to 80 mph): 5-cycle
Exactly how much the 85-kW-hr battery’s claimed range figures matters will likely be determined as Model S driving impressions roll in from customers and media outlets.
Tesla hasn’t disclosed its anticipated EPA ranges for the 160- and 230-mile batteries, but a 12-percent loss like the 300-mile option would peg them at a predicted 141 and 203 miles under the EPA 5-cycle, respectively. The 160- and 230-mile estimates from the respective 40- and 60-kW-hr packs can be achieved from a steady 55-mph cruise, per Tesla spokesperson KC Simon.
Interestingly, the blog gives insight into the Model S’ range and electricity consumption behavior with graphs. These graphs often have little bearing on the real world since Main Street USA is not a laboratory with fixed inputs. Nevertheless, considering the less expensive Model S is considerably heavier, it’s reassuring to see the family-friendly electric four-door head and shoulders above the Roadster from an efficiency standpoint.
The Model S costs from $57,400 (160-mile battery) to $105,400 (Signature Performance model with 300-mile battery) depending on battery size and trim, excluding the highly touted $7500 federal tax credit that gets applied to your income tax return. Depending on your state of domicile, there may be additional state and local tax credits or rebates as well.
By Benson Kong
Although initially slated to go on sale this year, the Tesla Model S seems to be inching closer to production. The electric car maker has just released new pictures of its Model S Alpha pre-production test vehicle, and, at least on styling alone, it looks ready to take on the competition in the midsize luxury market.
Looking similar to the silver Alpha test car Tesla showed us a while back, this sinewy black model sharpens its sheetmetal with sleek headlamps, chrome detailing, and smoked taillights. Compared to the original concept car we first saw back in early 2009, the latest rendition of the Model S has exchanged many of its rounded edges for taught creases and a more aggressive front clip. More traditional air inlets on the lower front fascia, wheels that look production-ready, and squarer side mirrors help to better bring into focus what the final car will look like.
The Model S won’t go on sale until late next year, starting at $57,000 before a $7500 federal tax credit. That is for the 160-mile range battery pack – a 230-mile pack will run buyers $67,000, and the 300-mile range Model S will start at a cool $77,000. The first cars to roll off of the Freemont, California assembly line will all be limited-edition Model S Signature versions with the 300-mile range pack, each of which required a $40,000 refundable deposit from prospective customers; all other Model S versions require $5000 down to save a spot. As of May 2009, Tesla already had over 1000 orders for the car.
According to Tesla’s website, the second phase of the testing for the Model S — called Beta — will begin this fall with will be production-intent vehicles built at the factory, and full series production will begin in the middle of 2012.
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
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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
Creating a new automaker out of nothing is one of the most difficult types of business one could get into. However, Elon Musk seemed to have what it takes to pull it off, and while we still have faith in him and his vision, all we are hearing regarding the company’s numbers is never good.
Now, the most recent number to be talked about is their sales expectation for the year. When they first estimated the kind of revenue they would be bringing in in 2012, they were expecting $600-million, yet with the latest issues which have confronted the automaker, they have been forced to be less optimistic, with a projected figure of between $400- to $440- million.
The reason is the fact that Tesla is unable to increase the production volume of the Model S quickly enough, and while things are thankfully moving along, the pace is way off what was originally intended. They have also reported a total loss of, wait for it, $864.9-million, up until June 30th of this year. Now, they are reportedly working to achieve just over half of the projected production figure of 5,000 units by the end of the year.
Thankfully, however, there are now 13,000 orders for a Model S, so there’s no shortage of customers willing and eager to give up on gasoline altogether. The first several thousand customers have already been asked to configure their car, or risk losing their place in the ‘queue’.
Story via autonews.com
Last week, I wrote about how I thought that Tesla was getting chewed up by the Twitter fight between a New York Times reporter and Elon Musk, its famous and hard-to-control CEO. But as I looked at the test Tesla offered to put it through and thought more about the car a bit, I has another realization: The Tesla Model S and Fisker Karma would both be better off if they just swapped drivetrains.
I arrived at this conclusion after a conversation I had with Michael Dell (yes, that Michael Dell) some time ago on the Karma. Both he and I were looking to buy one, and decided not to for very different reasons: me because its performance sucked, and Dell because it needed weekly software updates (something I’d been unaware of).
In looking at both cars, it suddenly struck me that both the Model S and Karma have power plants completed mismatched to the rest of the car. Here’s what I mean.
The workhorse with the heart of a cheetah
When you look at the Tesla Model S, it looks like a high-end Japanese car. It has decent back-seat legroom; it has a very nice, tablet-like control center; it has been very reliable (so far); and it’s a car that you would likely want to use daily. Its performance (in the higher cost performance configuration) is in supercar territory, with a 0-to-60 time approaching 4 seconds or in line with a new Jaguar XK-RS.
On the other hand, as the problems last week illustrated, it really isn’t a great long-distance commuter. You’re better off driving it under 100 miles round trip, and charging it at home at night so you have plenty of power buffer. So while the car has the body and configuration of a touring car or long-distance commuter, it has the heart of a performance car that you’d only drive occasionally, and for short distances.
The cheetah with the heart of a workhorse
To look at the Fisker Karma is to lust for it. It has the design cues of an exotic, with a really long hood, huge wheels and tires, and a mean, aggressive posture. It sits so low the battery pack goes between the passengers, and like many exotics, it isn’t known for reliability. All the technology inside means you do have to struggle with a bit before you get a handle on it. Unlike the Model S, it uses an electric-hybrid drivetrain, so while it has the same published range of 300 miles, you can fill it with gas and take it on long trips. However, these issues with reliability and comfort suggest the Karma is really better suited for short hops. I’d doubt anyone would really want to drive it long distances, particularly far away from dealerships that could repair it.
Performance is lackluster for a supercar, with a 0-to-60 time around 6 seconds. A stock 2013 Honda Accord EX-L Coupe would pretty much dust it. This wouldn’t matter as much if you were driving a sedan like the Tesla S, that car doesn’t look like a racer, but the Fisker does. That means a lot of kids are going to be laughing at your expense from stop lights.
If you put the Fisker Karma power plant in the Tesla Model S, you’d get performance in line with the base model and gas-car range consistent with the look and configuration of the car. You’d have a true luxury commuter. If you put the performance version of the Model S drivetrain in the Fisker Karma, you’d get an electric that could keep up with a Jaguar XK-R, and likely dust most performance cars at any light (electrics are particularly strong from 0 to 30mph). You’d likely drive it short distances, so the range thing wouldn’t be that important.
Power plants with purpose
In today’s world, a commuter car still makes more sense with either an ordinary gasoline engine, or a gas-electric hybrid configuration. But for an exotic, pure electrics are just fine, particularly if you are a bit of a stop-light racer. You can dust the other car before you exceed the speed limit, and since they’re quiet, your engine won’t be the one the cop hears. Unfortunately, the existing Tesla Model S and Fisker Karma have this configuration backwards. It’s a shame Fisker and Tesla separated, because clearly both cars could have been more compelling with a few features borrowed from one another.
By Rob Enderle
Tesla Motors will be farming out its electric vehicle (EV) technology in the coming years. The company is building Toyota RAV4 EVs, and will soon begin a similar project for Mercedes-Benz.
Mercedes wants to a bring an electric version of its B-Class compact to the United States in 2014. Automotive News reports that Tesla will supply the car’s electric motors and battery pack. Mercedes did not comment on the report.
Details on the B-Class EV’s performance are few, as there is still much development work to be done. The B-Class itself is a tall-roofed, five-door hatchback based on Mercedes’ new MFA platform. The MFA platform will support several front-wheel drive Benzes, including the CLA “four-door coupe” previewed by the Concept Style Coupe concept car.
Mercedes calls the current B-Class a “Compact Sports Tourer,” a smaller version of the R-Class “Grand Sports Tourer.” Powered by a selection of small four-cylinder engines, the car has been on sale overseas since 2005. Mercedes hasn’t seen fit to bring it to the U.S. until know, since fuel economy is trumping snobbery over driven wheels, size, and pretentious names like “Sports Tourer.”
When the B-Class EV hits the market, it will hold a unique place. Other luxury EVs, such as the Tesla Model S and upcoming Infiniti LE emphasize style, but the chunky Benz seems more utilitarian. The body style is almost a mix between a compact van (like the Nissan eNV200) and a regular, five-door hatchback (Nissan Leaf). The three-pointed star in the grille might also help sales against less prestigious brands.
This is not the first time Tesla has offered its services to another company. It is already building 2,600 RAV4 EVs for Toyota, with a 100-mile range and a price tag of $50,610. The project will give Tesla some cash while its Model S and Model X production lines spool up to full capacity.
A team-up with Mercedes makes even more sense, since Mercedes’ parent company, Daimler, owns 4.7 percent of Tesla. The electric carmaker has already built a Smart ForTwo EV for Daimler.
Tesla Motors, the electric-car manufacturer launched by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, may finally be on the way to turning a profit. In a message posted to Twitter on Monday, company CEO Musk said that, “Tesla was narrowly cash flow positive last week. Continued improvement expected through year end.”
If true, the message is good news for Tesla, which has heretofore struggled to turn a profit despite receiving millions of dollars in private funding, as well as a $465 million loan from the Department of Energy. For the third quarter of 2012, Tesla reported a net loss of $111 million. However, the company predicts a positive operating margin of about 12 percent by the end of 2012.
Tesla sold 2400 copies of its first car, the Lotus Elise-based Roadster, and is now ramping up production of the Model S luxury sedan. We named the Tesla Model S our 2013 Automobile Of The Year, and our colleagues at Motor Trend concurred by naming named it Car Of The Year.
Sales of the car, however, have been anything but brisk. More than 13,200 people have placed reservations for the Model S so far, but as of November 5 the company had only built 350 cars and delivered just 250 to paying customers. That didn’t stop the automaker from raising prices of the Model S by $2500, effective January 1, although Tesla defended the price bump as equaling only half the national inflation rate.
If Tesla really is on track to profitability, that bodes well for the company achieving its fourth-quarter goals. Before the end of 2012, Tesla hopes to open ten more retail outlets (for a total of 24 domestically and 34 globally) and deliver another 2500-3000 vehicles. Then in 2013, Tesla says it will continue to ramp up production and deliver 20,000 cars. We’ll see whether Tesla’s financials can stay in the black long enough for the company to hit those benchmarks.
Sources: Twitter, Tesla
By Jake Holmes
Tesla Motors Supercharger Network In 2015 – released May 2013
The electric-car maker Tesla Motors [NYSE: TSLA] has announced breathtaking expansion plans for its Supercharger network, detailing where the company plans to install its proprietary Supercharger rapid-charging stations all the way through 2015.
According to CEO Elon Musk, who announced the expanded network and other improvements in a media conference call, Tesla owners will be able to choose from hundreds of stations and thousands of charging ports by 2015, and to drive all the way from Los Angeles to New York, using only the company’s Supercharger network, by the end of 2013. Ultimately, the company plans to cover 98 percent of the population within the U.S. and Canada by 2015.
The supercharger announcement, already postponed by the company’s announcement that it had paid off all of its Department of Energy loan, delivers detail to a long-anticipated series of tips and hints about a massive expansion of the network.
Not just new regions, but route options
The expansion won’t just reach new regions of the country, but it will increase the density of stations on well-traveled routes. Tesla plans to reduce the distance between Supercharger stations to just 80 to 100 miles, and there will be some redundancy in options between stations.
Musk said he also doesn’t want owners to get locked into using a single route. So for instance in California owners would eventually be able to take U.S. 101 or California 1 instead of I-5. “I think we’ll probably end up doing more than what’s shown here in 2015,” he added.
This summer, the company will add chargers in the Pacific Northwest, Florida, Colorado, and Illinois, along with new stations in the Northeast (stretching south to Virginia). Then this fall, new stations in Michigan and elsewhere in the Midwest will open up the possibility of long-distance travel in that region, while many more stations will fill in the gap between Virginia and Florida. By the end of the year, the company plans to open a cross-country passage mostly via I-80, through Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Minnesota, allowing that LA to New York road trip.
Vancouver to San Diego, or Montreal to Miami, are a couple of other possibilities that Tesla mentions as possible with the new network.
With the pacing of a normal road trip
With the Supercharger stations in place, owners will be able to drive for three hours, then stop for a 20-minute break before heading back out, noted Musk, who summed: “Essentially…it allows them to stop for the normal amount of time they’d stop on a road trip”
Tesla Supercharger fast-charging system for electric cars
The Supercharger system, as it is, allows rapid recharges, with 80 percent of battery capacity achievable in only about a half hour.
Tesla currently offers a Model S with an 85-kWh battery, EPA-rated at a 265-mile range, while the 60-kWh model is rated at 208 miles. Those ranges may be considerably lower in cold weather or at fast Interstate highway speeds, however.
With the expanded locations (more than 200 in all by the end of 2015), each charging station will have more ports than Tesla’s earlier stations, and the automaker will continue to add ports to its existing stations. For instance, Harris Ranch in California, one of the most popular charging stations, and a waypoint between LA and San Francisco, originally had one port but now has ten.
Musk estimated the number of total charging ports available to vehicles, by the end of 2015, to be in the vicinity of 2,000 to 3,000. The company will also be adding more spaces in which to queue during busy times.
Better Supercharging, too
Tesla also announced an important upgrade in the Supercharger technology itself. By increasing the maximum charge rate from 90 kW to 120 kW, and adjusting the charge algorithm so that it no longer rapidly tapers off as early in the charge process, the company will be able to charge batteries to well above the current half-charge after the same 20 minutes.
Musk noted that the Supercharger improvement is still in ‘beta,’ but it will be rolled out within three months.
The supercharging is free for life, at supercharging stations. “So it’s possible to drive anywhere in the country, leave your wallet behind, pack lunch, and stay with friends—and not spend a dollar, which I think is pretty cool,” added Musk.
Musk hinted that the company will have another important announcement on June 20.
See Tesla’s Supercharger info page for an interactive map on where superchargers will be and when.