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

Tesla Opening Showroom on the East Coast

With the imminent launch of the Model S, Tesla have decided to expand their showroom network, with the addition of a 22nd one, in White Plains, New York.

It will definitely not sell as well as on the sunny West Coast, but it’s a good addition for those who would have ordered their cars from the other side of the country – this makes things much easier for them.

This is not the only addition to their line-up of showrooms, with four others planned to be opened this summer, in Santa Monica – California, Scottsdale – Arizona, Portland – Oregon and Miami Beach – Florida.

With the Model S being such a genuinely interesting proposition and alternative to the mainstream mid-sized sedans, we think it will sell very well, and with the addition of the new showrooms, the future looks bright, for Tesla.

By Andrei Nedelea

Johnny Smith’s Flux Capacitor – Enfield 8000-Based Performance EV [Video]

It is projects like this that make us proud to be motoring journalists. One man with an excellent idea is given the financial backing he needs to make his dream a reality. The project is undertaken by Fifth Gear’s Johnny Smith, who will attempt to convert a 1970s Enfield 8000 into a Tesla Roadster-beating EV.

The Enfield 8000, a car killed just as it was supposed to go into production in the US, is a genuinely practical EV, of which only 120 were ever built in the mid 1970s. Officially, they could travel up to 145 km (90 miles) on one charge (under the right conditions), as well as reach a top speed of up to 129 km/h (80 mph), but those numbers were never achieved, in fact, the actual figures were nowhere near the official ones.

Now, Johnny has big plans for the Enfield, as it will be powered by two electric motors with a combined torque output of 1355 Nm (999 lb-ft), in order to put it on par with modern supercars. The project is not yet completed, but we’d be lying if we said we weren’t a bit excited as to what the final result will be like.

Old presentation of the Enfield 8000 by an elderly couple

By Andrei Nedelea

Tesla Model S To Get Adaptive Cruise, Lane-Departure Warning, More?

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Drivers of the Tesla Model S are generally pretty happy with their cars, but as with any new product there are always a few ways it could be improved.

Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] is one of few companies that can execute those improvements without you having to lift a finger, as software updates can be achieved via the internet.

Whether lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and blind spot detection will be software updates is a different matter, but all have been discovered deep within the car’s menus by an enterprising owner (via Autoblog).

None are currently available on the Model S but all have appeared in a video of the car’s menu settings, located behind an access code off the car’s main menu.

It’s likely that all are simply menu provisions for hardware changes coming in later Model S, unless Tesla has hidden the required sensors in each car already.  ‘Right Hand Drive’ also appears on the menu, suggesting that Tesla has designed in a bunch of features not yet tested, but expected at a later date.

What itt does imply is that the car will be getting a few of the options some owners have been asking for, already standard on many competing vehicles.

Other screens within the coded menus include power usage data, not just between battery, motor and wheels but also through the battery temperature systems, heating and ventilation and more.

Another menu shows not-yet-available apps, light-hearted applications like a sketchpad rubbing shoulders with test apps for the screen colors, audio and others. A further menu illustrates speed and torque-limiting option sliders.

One thing is for sure: There are still plenty of interesting features in the pipeline for Model S owners.


By Antony Ingram

The Lightning GT: Britain's answer to the Tesla Model S and Fisker Karma?


Driving an electric car doesn’t have to be a dull affair. As the electric automotive market begins to grow out of its infancy, companies are looking to get in on the booming market and offer environmentally conscious customers an electric driving experience that is equal parts performance, style, and eco friendly.

Entering the fray is Britain’s’ Lightning Car Company, a self described team of proven automotive experts in car creation, design, and advanced technology integration. We have no doubt that the chaps over at LCC hope their Lightning GT is a pure embodiment of all those qualities and more, but does it offer enough performance and appeal to separate it from other similar cars on the market?

Ahead of the pack?

Since sporty EVs aren’t exactly new, with both Fisker Automotives Karma on the market and Tesla Motor’s Model S on the horizon — LCC’s Lightning GT has its work cut out for it. But despite some already established competition, the company is looking to offer some new and proven technologies, with a number of advanced features mixed in as well, which may just separate it from the pack.

A different breed of battery

While most EVs feature a lithium-ion battery powering its core, the Lightning GT runs on lithium-titanate, an even more advanced and stronger battery pack. By using lithium-titante, the Lightning GT is able to achieve ranges of over 150 miles on its standard spec, and an excess of 225 miles with an optional range extender pack. By comparison the top-tier Model S will offer a pure electric 300 mile driving range, while Fisker Karma’s gas-electric hybrid will provide a pure electric range of 50 miles, after which the internal combustion engine engages to support the electric motors for an additional range of 250 miles.

Lightning-GT-Rear-AerialLightning fast charging

Charging times have increasingly becoming a concern for any EV owner, regardless of range. Nobody wants to have to wait hours to charge their car after 50, 100, or even 200 miles. Impressively, LCC has stated that the Lightning GT will be able to recharge its battery in as little as 10 minutes. What’s more, LCC has also claimed that the battery life should remain constant for up to at least 10,000 cycles.

It’s always great to see company’s taking real pride in their work, and LCC seems to be particularly proud of its British roots. The Lightning GT will be built in Britain and feature an aluminum honeycomb chassis and superform aluminum bodywork that is said to give the car superior handling properties.

Thunderous performance

Powering the Lighting GT will be a 300kw (400 hp) twin motor powertrain, which LCC states will “ensure instant surge and seamless acceleration.” Spec numbers are generally what people like to see, and the Lightning GT’s are decidedly impressive. According to official numbers from LCC, the Lightning GT can hit 0 to 60 in under five seconds, and features a recommended top speed limit ( we are not sure what happens if you go beyond that) of 125 mph.

If you’re in the market for an electric sports car, chances are price isn’t much of a deciding factor. But it’s worth mentioning that, in comparison to the other cars the LCC’s Lightning GT may be up against, both come in at a considerably lower price point than their British counterpart. A top tier Tesla Model S will set you back around $70,000 (after federal tax credits) , while Fisker’s base Karma starts in at $102,000. Contrast that with the Lightning GT’s estimated $280,000 sticker price and you have a hefty difference. 

While we are certainly intrigued by what the Lighting GT has to offer in both the style and performance categories (we kind of find the Lightning’s front fascia reminiscent of a TVR Cerbera), time will ultimately tell whether LCC’s Lighting GT will strike gold, or if it will end up being a lightning flash in the pan. 

By Amir Iliaifar

Tesla Buoyant After 2012 Model S Launch, Despite Losses

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

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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After nothing to sell for nearly six months, an age of anticipation, media hype and short, chaperoned rides, Tesla began official deliveries of its all-electric 2012 Model S sedan just over a month ago.

So its hardly surprising that the fledgling car company has just posted net losses of $105.6 million for the second quarter of 2012, up from $58,9 million for the same quarter last year. 

Losses widen, revenue down

According to the official financial results released by Tesla [NSDQ:TSLA], sales revenue during the same period has dropped by 54 percent to $27 million.

Of that $27 million, Tesla reports, $22 million came from automotive sales, up by 15 percent from Q1 2012. 

While some of that will have been raised from early Model S sales, Tesla also sold 89 of its remaining Roadsters to International customers.

Research revenue down

Because the 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV is now entering production — a car Tesla designed the drivetrain for — Tesla reports its developmental revenue has dropped dramatically compared to its previous quarter. 

However, with a new project now underway to build an all-electric drivetrain for Mercedes Benz, this should be a temporary glitch. 

Tesla also notes that it received some of its Q2 revenue from powertrain component sales to Toyota for its soon-to-launch electric crossover SUV. 

DOE Loans

In its official investor documentation, Tesla reports that it plans to draw the remaining $33 million in low-interest loans available to it under the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program “in the next few months”. 

However, with a waiting list of 10-11 months for its 2012 Model S, and the top-spec 2012 Model S Signature Series already sold out, Tesla is predicting that it will be cash flow breakeven by the end of 2012, commencing Loan repayments as early as December 2012. 

Model S on track

Both in its official financial report, and in its subsequent earnings call, Tesla was keen to reiterate that its production plans for 2012 remain at 5,000 cars, despite a drop in scheduled production during the third quarter

CEO Elon Musk said during the earnings call that the automaker plans to to make “at least 20,000” Model S cars next year, with the possibility of a second shift to push that to 30,000 if needed. 

With more than 11,500 confirmed orders for the all-electric sedan, Musk isn’t shy about his expectations. 

“This accelerating pace of reservations makes us confident that demand will surpass 20,000 Model S units for full-year 2013 deliveries,” he is quoted as saying in the report. 

Next few months critical

With Tesla buoyant about the coming months, the automaker is hoping to transition from a small, boutique automaker into a slightly more mainstream automaker. 

However, it’s worth noting that even with production volumes of 30,000 cars a year, Tesla is likely to remain one of the smallest volume automakers in the U.S. for many years to come. 

Regardless of production volumes however, the next few months — including the continued rollout of the 2012 Model S — remain critical to the company’s future. 


By Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield

Tesla repays federal loans nine years early, ignites war of words with Chrysler

Tesla Model S

Looks like we have quite the little scuffle on our hands between Tesla and Chrysler.

Last night, Tesla announced that it had officially repaid – nine years early – its $465-million loan from the Department of Energy, bragging it was the first U.S. company to do so.

This morning, Chrysler exerted that it was in fact the first automaker to repay its government loans, not Tesla.

Never one to take a fight lying down, Tesla founder Elon Musk fired back on Twitter saying, “As many have already noted, Chrysler is a division of Fiat, an Italian company. We specifically said first ‘U.S.’ company. More importantly, Chrysler failed to pay back $1.3B. Apart (from) those 2 points, you were totally 1st.”

In a Detroit News interview, Chrysler spokesman Gualberto Ranieri said: “I am the first to understand that this is open to an endless debate. Technically, Chrysler was the first to repay its government loans, General Motors was the second.”

It at least warrants a chuckle that the Chrysler spokesperson chosen to reinforce Chrysler’s American standing has perhaps one of the most Italian sounding names of all time. Oh the irony!

So why did Tesla repay the loans with such expediency? Apparently, some potential customers were off-put by the DOE loan hanging over Tesla’s head. “It just felt right” to repay the loans early, Musk told Bloomberg news. “I just feel better having done it.”

By Nick Jaynes

Topline 300-Mile Tesla Model S Projected to Earn 265-Mile EPA Range

Topline 300-Mile Tesla Model S Projected to Earn 265-Mile EPA Range

The top-of-the-line Tesla Model S with a claimed 300-mile range is expected to earn an EPA window sticker displaying an official range of 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.

2012 Tesla Model S side 300x187 imageThe 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 spokeswoman 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.

Source: Tesla

By Benson Kong

Sale of Tesla Model S Reservations Deemed Illegal

If you were to check eBay right now, you would find five or so reservations for the Tesla Model S, which are for sale. However, don`t buy or buy into them, as they should not legally be there, according to Apparently, all buyers who put their name down for a Model S can sell the car, but only after they`ve taken delivery – the reservation is not transferrable.

Currently there are 14,000 reservations, yet none can legally be sold. The only way to do it, though, is with special approval directly from Tesla, and the US green automaker has reported receiving no such requests. However, those who still want to sell their Model S, prior to even taking delivery of it, perhaps they should take a moment and think about their decision, and if it is not financially motivated, perhaps they should reconsider, give the car a try, and then if they are still bent on selling it, they can do so much easier.

The same rules will most likely apply in Europe, as well, despite the fact that Tesla is outsourcing distribution and manufacturing for the Old Continent to Tilburg, in the Netherlands, where they plan on starting production of the Model S, in March of next year.

By Andrei Nedelea

New York Times Fake Test Cost Tesla $100 Million, Says Elon Musk

When the New York Times admitted the editor's lack of "good judgement" in the Model S review last week, we thought the two would finally bury the hatchet. Well, we couldn't be more wrong!

Tesla Motor's boss Elon Musk came back pouring more gasoline on the (electric?) fire claiming that New York Times' review cost the automaker up to $100 million. "It probably affected us to the tune of tens of millions, to the order of $100 million," Elon Musk said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

The Tesla CEO's estimate is of course virtual, but company shares have fallen 12 percent (from $39.24 to $34.38) since the New York Times article appeared almost three weeks ago.

Tesla Motors Inc. has accused a New York Times reporter of faking a Model S road test and claiming the electric automaker is misreporting the vehicle's estimated driving range. The automaker backed its story by releasing the vehicle's driving logs, which actually did prove that the New York Times editor's review is not based on real facts.

Story via Bloomberg

By Ciprian Florea