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
Elon Musk signs new 2013 Tesla Model S at Tesla Store opening, Austin, Texas [photo: John Griswell]
Investors in startup electric-car maker Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] have had quite the wild ride lately.
Following its first-ever profitable quarter, with its share price soaring above $80, Tesla announced last Wednesday that it would issue new stock and warrants.
Now, Tesla has quietly increased its offering, which could raise the company more than $1 billion if its stock price stays at current levels.
30 percent more
In a Bloomberg article late Friday, CEO Elon Musk said the offering would be increased by 30 percent over the level announced just two days previously.
On Wednesday, Tesla said it would offer 2.7 million to 3.1 million more shares of its common stock, as well as issuing up to $450 million in convertible debt.
At a closing price of $84.84 per share that day, total receipts to the company would have been $229 million to $263 million for the stock, for a total of $680 million to $710 million.
The expanded offering of up to 3.9 million shares could net the company as much as $1.08 billion.
Many analysts say the high price of Tesla stock is due to a “short squeeze,” in which investors who felt the share price was too high sold Tesla shares they didn’t own and now must buy the stock to cover their short positions.
To date, Tesla has sold approximately 10,000 cars globally. All but 2,500 of them are the company’s all-electric Model S luxury sport sedan, which starts at $69,900.
Musk follows Iacocca?
The Bloomberg article compared Musk to Lee Iacocca, who ran Chrysler during and after its 1979 bankruptcy.
Under his leadership, Chrysler repaid its government bailout loans with interest in 1983, seven years ahead of the due date. Musk intends to do the same, nine years early.
2013 Tesla Model S
Most of Tesla’s $465 million low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Energy is still outstanding, although Tesla has made payments of $25.4 million to date.
But Wednesday’s offering announcement included the pledge that Tesla would use much of the proceeds to pay off the loan entirely.
Taxpayers might see a profit of $12.8 million after the loan is paid back by the end of this month.
The company will have roughly $680 million in cash and cash equivalents afterward, up from $214 million at the end of March.
Ford, Nissan, Tesla vs. Fisker
The DoE loan was granted to Tesla in July 2009 as part of its advanced-technology vehiclemanufacturing program.
Much larger amounts went to both Ford ($5.9 billion) and Nissan ($1.6 billion, of which it drew down $1.4 billion), which are making payments on schedule.
The fourth large loan commitment was $529 million to Fisker Automotive, although the DoE froze disbursements after $192 million had been paid out.
Fisker is now in deep trouble, having laid off most of its employees and not built any cars since last July.
Meanwhile, Tesla stock closed Friday at $91.50, more than five times its June 2010 initial public offering price of $17.
Last week we reported that Tesla Motors, maker of the of the 2-seater all-electric Tesla Roadster, is serving Top Gear with a libel suit claiming that an episode featuring the sports car contained false and exaggerated criticisms, some of which included failed brakes and an overheated and immobilized motor. A complete explanation of the claim is posted on Tesla’s website.
Recently, Top Gear’s executive producer Andy Wilman responded to the suit in a blog post on the show’s website, providing a detailed counterpoint to each claim.
He starts with the Roadster’s range, claiming the show never refuted the company’s advertised range of 211 miles, but instead boasted a short 55-mile range based on hard track use. He points out that Tesla engineers back in California confirmed their calculations. And when the engine overheated from their testing, Wilman says the show stated the car had “reduced power” while Tesla maintains that they said it was “completely immobilized.” Lastly, Tesla claims that Top Gear lied when they stated the brakes were broken. Though a failed vacuum pump fuse required the driver to push the brake pedal harder than normal, the brakes were still operable. Wilman argues that broken is broken, especially if something requires a visit to the shop for repair.
Wilman says the BBC normally stays quiet while preparing their defense for court, but took the unprecedented step of fighting back since Tesla is “being quite noisy with their views” of the show’s conduct.
Shortly after Wilman issued his take on the matter, Tesla issued its own response.
“Mr. Wilman seems to want Top Gear to be judged neither by what it says, nor by what it does,” corporate representatives wrote on Tesla’s official website. “Top Gear needs to provide its viewers, and Tesla, straightforward answers to these questions.”
Tesla insists it “wants people to know the truth, and correct the public’s misperceptions” of its electric two-seater. Since the episode first aired on December 14, 2008, it has been re-broadcasted on both the BBC, syndication, and several dozen websites. Tesla wants the episode to disappear for good, and is banking on the courts to agree.
At this point, it seems the only point both sides can agree on is this may prove to be a lengthy legal argument…
Source: Tesla, Top Gear
Cadillac is the sort of car company that lets their products do the talking. Working under the presumption that American luxury is still an ideal, and that it needs to be completely different to the Europeans, they've decided to put a four-seater electric coupe into production.
The ELR is based on the same architecture and layout as the Chevy Volt, but will probably cost twice as much due to being packed with more luxury features – simple stuff like sueded microfiber, chrome, wood and available carbon fiber finishes throughout.
The elegance of the small frame and the spectacular LED headlights inspired the automotive world, and graphics manipulator Theophilus Chin decided to turn the car into a convertible. This would be the very first 4-seater electric convertible in the world. What's more, Cadillac knows how to take care of the luxury aspects, so the ELR Convertible would be something completely different from the sporty Tesla Roadster.
We think the ELR looks even better as a convertible than a coupe. Think about it: electric motor driving the wheels, electric motors opening the roof, and you in charge of everything.
By Mihnea Radu
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
Tesla Motors is making good on its promise to cover the United States with “Supercharger” fast-charging stations to support its luxury electric vehicles. The California-based company is expanding the Superchargers’ reach with two new stations on the East Coast.
The first East Coast Supercharger stations are located in Milford, Connecticut and Newark, Delaware, facilitating EV travel along the busy Boston-Washington, D.C. corridor. Both Superchargers are located at rest stops on heavily traveled Interstate 95.
The Supercharger adds 150 miles of range to a Model S equipped with the largest battery pack (85 kWh) in 30 minutes. That means a Model S can drive the 443 miles between Boston and the District of Columbia with just an hour of charging time. Even drivers of electric cars have to stop for lunch, after all.
The Supercharger is “super” because it pumps more electricity into a car’s batteries at a faster rate. It draws 90 kW, compared to the 10 or 20 kW of normal chargers. It also bypasses the Model S’ conventional charger to feed power directly to the battery. The system only works with the Model S.
Reinforced cables keep Model S drivers insulated from the current, and hopefully they and the rest of the Superchargers’ hardware will survive the rigors of an I-95 highway rest stop.
The stations in Connecticut and Delaware join six Superchargers in Tesla’s home state of California. They are located at shopping centers, hotels, and Los Angeles’ Hawthorne Municipal Airport.
Tesla hopes to have 100 Supercharger stations in operation by 2015, allowing drivers to take their EVs from San Diego to Vancouver, and from New York to Montreal or Los Angeles.
Limited range and long charging times are the two biggest drawbacks of current electric cars, so if Tesla’s network of charging stations can erase those concerns, they really will be super.
Tesla owners & supporters gather in Statehouse in Austin to support company [photo: John Griswell]
While CEO Elon Musk is doing another tweet-hyped conference call today, Tesla has a lot going on in the background.
Not only is it building and selling Model S electric luxury sport sedans, but Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has quietly hired a new vice president of vehicle engineering.
That new VP is Chris Porritt, whose previous job was chief platform manager for British luxury sports-car maker Aston Martin.
He led the development of the Aston Martin One-77 supercar in 2009, and is intimately familiar with developing fast, luxurious vehicles for wealthy, demanding customers.
Porritt’s appointment was first hinted at on Tuesday by British magazine Autocar, in an article on the likely departure of Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez, who has led the company since 2000.
Shanna Hendriks, Tesla’s communications manager, confirmed the news when contacted by Green Car Reports.
“Yes, Chris Porritt has joined us as VP of Vehicle Engineering,” she wrote in an e-mail.
“Chris is the first VP in that role,” she continued, “since Peter Rawlinson left” and returned to the U.K. to tend to personal matters in January 2012.
Until Porritt’s arrival, she said, “Jerome Guillen had been overseeing some of the Engineering responsibilities in the interim.”
Porritt will not be the first former Aston Martin executive involved with Tesla, however.
The company contracted with noted designer Henrik Fisker to develop concepts for the large electric luxury sedan that became the 2012 Tesla Model S.
Fisker had styled the Aston Martin Vantage V8 before founding his own coachworks.
The Danish designer worked for several months during 2006 and 2007 on the large luxury sedan project, then co-founded his own startup: luxury green-car maker Fisker Automotive.
That company is largely defunct now, though it has not as yet declared bankruptcy.
Tesla sued Fisker in April 2008 for theft of confidential design information and trade secrets; the matter was settled that December when an arbitrator ruled largely in Fisker’s favor.
Let us hope Porritt has a considerably happier and less contentious tenure at Tesla.
Tesla Motors gallery in Houston Galleria, opened October 2011, with Model S on display
Tesla Motors is facing a formidable opponent it may not have sufficiently appreciated: the auto dealers of America, and their state associations.
Tesla, you may remember, is selling its electric cars online, not through franchised, independently owned dealers, and delivering them directly to buyers from the factory.
In doing so, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has removed the two parts of car shopping that customers clearly hate most: haggling and buying.
Its Tesla Stores, it says, are simply educational showrooms where no cars are actually sold.
Dealer groups–who view the approach as a dire threat–do not believe this, and they are both changing state laws and suing Tesla to prevent the company from opening its stores.
By the beginning of this month, Tesla faced lawsuits in four states over its stores.
On Monday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk weighed in, posting what was for him a relatively polite, conciliatory response to those challenges on the company website.
“In many respects,” he wrote, “it would be easier to pursue the traditional franchise dealership model,” which would save Tesla money and broaden its distribution much more quickly.
The problem, he argued, is that any conventional dealer has a fundamental conflict in explaining the advantages of battery electric cars when they rely on gasoline vehicles for the bulk of their sales and profits.
The 2012 Tesla Model S is so different from any other car, he said, that consumers require a great deal of education before they can even start to think about buying.
That’s what the Tesla Stores do, he wrote: let the public learn about the Model S from product specialists–who are not on commission–and, critically, about electric cars in general.
‘Revenge of the Electric Car’ premiere: Elon Musk arrives in a Tesla Roadster
“Their goal and the sole metric of their success is to have you enjoy the experience of visiting so much that you look forward to returning again,” Musk said.
Contrary to spirit of the law?
He acknowledged existing state laws and pledged that Tesla follows them. “We do not seek to change those rules,” he wrote, “and we have taken great care not to act in a manner contrary to those rules.”
In respect to two lawsuits filed against the company, he said Tesla believes they are “starkly contrary to the spirit and the letter of the law.”
Musk noted that they were filed in one case by a Fisker dealer, and in the other, by “an auto group that has repeatedly demanded that it be granted a Tesla franchise.”
He also noted that U.S.-style franchise laws do not exist elsewhere in the world, and described Tesla’s plans for service facilities in some detail.
Laws in 48 states
In 48 states, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), franchise laws forbid or severely restrict the ability of automakers to sell vehicles directly to the public.
Tesla Store – Portland OR Enlarge Photo
Tesla Store – Portland OR
The specific wording of those laws varies from state to state, but most are based on the rationale that letting big automakers sell cars to customers would stifle competition.
And there’s some history–from half a century ago–that supports the notion that franchised auto dealers may face unfair competition from factory stores selling the same cars.
Tesla Motors, of course, doesn’t have a single franchised dealer.
It has only factory showrooms, and the only way to purchase a Tesla Model S is to order it online.
[UPDATE: Yesterday, NADA upped the ante. It said in an e-mailed statement it was seeking a meeting with the startup automaker to explore “serious concerns about Tesla’s intentions.”
Its chairman William Underriner told reporters the dealers’ group “has ‘a whole mess of lawyers in Washington’ who work on state franchise laws,” which presumably NADA could deploy in every state where Tesla has or seeks to open a store or service facility.]
Changing Colorado law
But dealers insist that Tesla’s showroom workers are part of the sales process, even though they can’t take money for cars.
They view that as a violation of state laws, and are fighting the company on several fronts.
In Colorado, for instance, the state dealer association got a bill passed in 2010 that amended the laws governing dealer operations and their business arrangements with automakers.
The bill, which was signed on March 22, 2010 and took effect immediately, prohibited Tesla from opening any further stores in the state.
Tim W. Jackson, president, Colorado Automobile Dealers Association Enlarge Photo
Tim W. Jackson, president, Colorado Automobile Dealers Association
As the association wrote in its 2010 End of Session Report:
An existing provision in Colorado law already prevented a manufacturer from operating a dealership so long as they were not [sic] franchised dealerships. This statue [sic] narrows provision [sic] so a manufacturer that has any dealerships in Colorado, whether franchised or not, is prohibited from operating a dealership.
A Tesla Store in Colorado had opened in 2009, spurred in part by interest in a then-active $42,000 tax credit for the purchase of a Tesla Roadster.
Asked for comment on the 2010 Colorado legislation, Tesla spokeswoman Shanna Hendriks said only:
Tesla’s business model was developed in the best interests of consumers and the advancement of electric vehicle technology. In doing so, we have worked closely with regulators to operate within compliance of all current state and municipal laws.
That’s as close to a “no comment” as you’ll get. Tesla currently has just one Colorado facility, in Lone Tree, south of Denver.
Dealerships: the best way to protect buyers
Two weeks ago, Tim Jackson, president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, spoke at length with Green Car Reports on dealers’ reasons for opposing the Tesla model and fighting its stores.
It’s really, he explained, all about protecting consumers. He offered three different reasons for the group’s action.
Tesla Motors gallery in Houston Galleria, opened October 2011, with Model S on display
First, he said, independent dealerships usually continue in business to provide service even if an auto company or brand shuts down the supply of new cars.
If Tesla were to fail, he pointed out, it would close all its company-owned stores and service facilities, leaving Tesla owners without recourse.
Owners of Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs, HUMMERs, Saabs, Daewoos, Isuzus, and other vanished makes got varying access to service and parts through independent dealerships long after they disappeared from the market, he maintained.
Second, the dealers feel–as Musk acknowledged in his letter–that Tesla could spend its money much more wisely than on building its own stores.
Imagine, Jackson suggested, what Tesla could do if it applied the money it’s now spending on stores and service centers to its product development plans instead.
And third, he argued, all auto dealers will be hurt if Tesla fails.
If that were to happen, and consumers were left high and dry without a place to have their Tesla cars serviced, he said, it would do great damage to the good reputation of all auto dealers.
Jackson acknowledged that most car buyers have no idea automakers are legally forbidden from selling cars to them directly.
He reiterated the association’s position that the public is best protected by having independently owned dealerships, rather than direct sales by carmakers.
Like Apple, like Tesla
The model for the Tesla Stores is none other than Apple’s outrageously successful chain of retail shops. In fact, both companies’ stores have been designed by the same man, George Blankenship.
“The [traditional] model is that [carmakers] do a bunch of research, hold a bunch of focus groups, and they decide that this is a car we should build,” Blankenship said at the July opening of the Portland store.
“They design that car, they engineer it and manufacture it, and then they sell it to some dealer who then tries to sell it.”
“That’s just not how we’re doing it.”
Meanwhile, Tesla has said it had already logged more than 1 million visitors in its various stores by mid-July.
And the company is moving forward with plans to open 10 more stores in high-end locations by the end of this year.
Heading into January, Musk wrote, Tesla will have 19 stores, three galleries, and 26 service centers in the U.S.–including service centers in cities where it has no showrooms.
In an effort to improve consumer awareness of electric vehicles’ capability and range, Tesla Motors is kicking off its Oz Goes Electric Tour to bring the Tesla Roadster to electric vehicle enthusiasts along Australia’s eastern coast. The Roadster will travel a total distance of 3000 kilometers (1864 miles). The tour launched March 16 at the Sofitel Hotel in Melbourne.
Officials from the Victorian provincial government and Department of Transportation were present at the event, with the tour being part of the local government’s electric vehicle trial and EV awareness campaign.
The tour will cover Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, and feature test drive events and public displays of the Tesla Roadster along the route.
The Tesla Roadster also holds the record for distance driven on a single charge in a production electric vehicle, which was broken driving 501 kilometers (310.6 miles) in Australia. You can follow the tour here.
Sitting on the Board of Tesla Motors certainly has its benefits, and for Steve Jurvetson, it’s the chance to become the owner of the very first Model S to roll out of the factory. Jurvetson, a director of the venture capitalist firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, took ownership of Model S #001 at a packed ceremony held at Tesla’s Palo Alto, California headquarters earlier this week.
The moment was captured for posterity on video, which you can see below, and features Tesla’s Chief Technical Officer, JB Straubel handing over the key to Jurvetson, who gives a brief speech before driving the car — complete with TSLA S1 license plate — out into the world.
Naturally, he was quite excited, and sung the praises of electric vehicles in his words, saying “we’ll all look back ten to twenty years from now and realize this was the future, and all cars were to be electric.”
He added that next year, all the cars in his “personal fleet” will be made by Tesla, and he “will never have to buy gasoline again.”
So how did Jurvetson grab the very first Model S, and not Tesla CEO Elon Musk? According to an article published in 2010, Jurvetson spotted a concept Model S during an investment meeting, and said simply that he had to have one.
Obviously one for dramatic gestures, he wrote a check for the full price of the car right then, and Musk, who was sitting at the same table, said “well, I guess you get the first car.” Musk isn’t going to have to join the long waiting list though, as he’ll be getting car number two.
For all us mere mortals, who don’t have the financial means to splash out the $57,000 to $104,000 needed to secure a Model S, we can watch those who can on June 22, when Tesla will livestream the first public deliveries on its website.
By Andy Boxall