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Tesla And Chrysler In Public Spat Over Loan Repayment

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After the announcement that Tesla had repaid its $456 million loan in full earlier this week, and proclaimed themselves “the only American car company to have fully repaid the government,” the old guard stepped up and took offense. Chrysler soon posted a blogthat called Tesla “unmistakably incorrect” and said that Chrysler has repaid their government loan in full two whole years earlier.

It would have been a great rebuttal. Except it isn’t true.

The bitterness and resentment is understandable. It has been a long and difficult road to recovery for Chrysler, who have had to watch the media and customers fawn over the new EV darling and their stellar Tesla Model S. While things have been looking up for Chrysler lately, with improved sales and significantly better products, Tesla has emerged as an unqualified success and even won over doubters with their loan repayment.

Chrysler saw an opportunity to put the up-start in their place, but Ranieri’s claim is way off base for a number of reasons.

First off, Chrysler isn’t exactly an American company anymore. As Tesla CEO Elon Musk noted in a Tweet yesterday, Chrysler is now a subsidiary of the Italian giant Fiat, after buying the company following their 2009 bankruptcy.

Second, while Chrysler paid off all $11.2 billion that the U.S. government expected from them (Fiat paid it, actually) six years earlier than necessary, that still left $1.3 billion that will never be recouped. For those keeping score at home, the Tesla loan brought taxpayers a $12 million profit, and the Chrysler loan brought them a $1.3 billion loss.

The auto industry bailout saved thousands of jobs, several iconic American brands and perhaps even the economy itself. Chrysler should be confident with the fact that they’ve used that money wisely and paid off what they could. But they tried to pick on Junior and instead opened up an ugly can of worms. Next time, tell us less about your shaky financial past and much more about what has come out of it. We’re going to go back and read our review of the 2013 SRT Viper now.

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Visit theautoMedia.comTesla Research Centerfor quick access to reviews, pricing, photos, mpg and more. Make sure to followautoMedia.comonTwitterandFacebook.

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By Ryan ZumMallen

FIRST DRIVE: Tesla S Sedan Fulfills Its Battery-Powered Promise, and More

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Nikola Tesla would have been impressed. Tesla, a Serbian-American inventor, is credited with discovering alternating current (AC)—the electricity that runs through our power grids.

Now, 69 years after his death, Tesla’s name has been revived for a car make. For several years, Tesla Motors has been in the news for developing a battery-powered Roadster that promised phenomenal performance as well as thrifty all-electric operation. In 2012, the emphasis has shifted to the Tesla S premium sedan, which has been publicized for some time and is finally in production.

Not often does a vehicle come along that qualifies as excellent or better on all counts. That’s especially unlikely when the vehicle isn’t even fully on sale yet, apart from a handful of early buyers. As of early summer 2012, 10 Tesla S sedans were in the hands of customers, though many more had plunked down deposits.

Even more surprising, the vehicle in question is a pure electric model—a powertrain that isn’t getting a lot of respect these days, except from hardened electric-car fans and early adopters.

Range is invariably the Number One question about electric cars, and Tesla has three answers. The Tesla S may be ordered with any of three battery capacities: 40, 60, or 85 kilowatt-hours. Starting at $57,400, the 40-kWh version promises a range near 160 miles. Another $10,000 buys the 60-kWh model, with a 230-mile range. For $77,400, the 85-kWh edition claims a range of about 300 miles (at 55 mph).

Performance varies, too, with 0-60 mph acceleration time as low as 5.6 seconds. Not enough? Acceleration advocates can shell out additional dollars for a Performance Package, which slices 0-60 time to a blazing 4.4 seconds. This ultimate Tesla S model also nets 89 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent).

Acceleration in a Performance Package stretches beyond astounding. This Tesla S shot forward with supreme smoothness and effortless action, seemingly eager to go on indefinitely. No, such performance is seldom necessary in ordinary driving. But most emphatically, no Tesla driver will ever have to worry about being short on response when it’s time to pass another vehicle, or enter a crowded expressway.

Better yet, the Tesla S grabs the pavement tenaciously and handles with confidence. Body lean is almost nonexistent through quick curves. As the Store Manager noted, the “passenger leans more than the car does.” Ride comfort matches just about anything in the luxury class.

Controls differ from any car on the market. Rather than buttons or switches, nearly everything takes place on a vertically oriented, 17-inch touchscreen display mounted at the center. A Tesla S is packed solid with technology and driver choices, but everything on-screen is clearly identified. Still, almost nothing can be adjusted while driving without taking your eyes off the road for a moment or two.

A Tesla S definitely looks the part of a luxury sedan, ready to rival four-doors from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Jaguar. Door handles retract into the body; moving out at a touch. Then, you pull lightly and the door opens. It’s one of many impressive extra features, such as having cargo space at the front of the car as well as below the rear hatch. Wearing an aluminum body for lightness, with an air suspension for ride quality, the rear-wheel-drive Tesla S has a battery pack, inverter, electric motor, and gearbox at the rear.

Anyone interested in a Tesla will have trouble finding a dealership. Instead of the conventional sales lot, Tesla is marketing its sedan at storefronts, typically in malls. Currently, there are 14 such “stores” in North American (24 worldwide), with another dozen expected later this year. No one is expected to buy a Tesla right off the showroom floor. The stores exist to drum up interest, with both a complete car and a Tesla chassis on display, along with wall-mounted interactive screens that give the full story.

Tesla Motors – Model S – Official Website

Design Your Own Tesla Model S

Reserve Your Own Tesla

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By James M. Flammang

Creative Math: Tesla Says Model S True Net Cost Is Under $500/Month With New Financing Option

Creative Math: Tesla Says Model S True Net Cost Is Under $500/Month With New Financing Option

Tesla has announced a new, more affordable way to get behind the wheel of a Model S. Essentially a leasing program, Tesla’s new financing is designed to make it more affordable than ever to buy a Model S. How affordable? Tesla is tossing around a $500-per-month figure with no money down, though that’s with a bit of creative math, which we’ll explain below.

2013 Tesla Model S front side 300x187 imageThe program, a collaboration with U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, works by having the banks pick up the Model S’ 10-percent down payment. The down payment is covered by federal and state tax credits, which range from $7500 to as high as $15,000, if you live in West Virginia. Essentially, the banks are using as a down payment the tax credit Model S buyers would otherwise receive further down the line.

The buyer, who Tesla chief Elon Musk says must have excellent credit, then makes a monthly payment based on a 2.95-percent interest rate. According to Tesla’s math, that could amount to about $500 per month for 66 months for a buyer of a 65 kWh Model S. That figure is all smoke and mirrors, though, as the automaker is taking into account intangibles like the time you save by using the carpool lane or avoiding the gas station.

2013 Tesla Model S left profile 300x187 imageFor example, say you’re a wealthy West Virginian business owner who’s purchasing a new 65 kWh Model S, who drives 15,000 miles per year, and is getting out of a BMW 550i, which nets 20 mpg combined on the EPA test cycle. Right there, Tesla says you’ve netted $267 per month in energy savings if you figure the average price of premium gas over the next three years will be $5 a gallon. Drive your car for business? Deduct at least $200 per month off. Is your time worth $100 per hour? Then you’ve essentially saved $167 by cutting your commute by five minutes every day, using the carpool lane. Under all those conditions, according to Tesla, your monthly payment amounts to just $184 per month. Except it doesn’t. This West Virginian businessman will actually be paying $1051 per month for his Model S. An 85 kWh Model S Performance, the quickest American four-door we’ve ever tested, would really cost $1421 per month, and the regular 85 kWh model goes for $1199 a month. It’s worth noting that the costs of driving a $1400-per-month Model S will almost certainly be less than driving a comparable $1400 per month gas-powered car.

After three years of owning the Model S the owner will have the opportunity to sell the car back to Tesla, for at least the same residual value of an equivalent-year Mercedes-Benz S-Class. At the moment, that value is 43 percent, as long you drive less than 12,000 miles a year. For those concerned about the viability of Tesla in the long run, Elon Musk will pick up the tab in the unlikely case Tesla doesn’t exist after those three years.

Ultimately, this program looks to be a win for Tesla and a way for those who might not otherwise be able to afford a Model S to get their hands on one of our favorite electric cars. As for what’s next from Tesla, Musk promised the automaker would begin holding weekly phone conferences with the press, so stay tuned.

Play with Tesla’s True Cost of Ownership Model S calculator here.

Source: Tesla

By Christian Seabaugh

Tesla Model S coupe looks great but, sadly, it's not real

Tesla Model S coupe front three quarter

How do you improve on the Tesla Model S’ signature good looks? Maybe by lopping two doors off.

That’s what self-styled “automotive manipulator” Theophilus Chin did, in Photoshop, that is. Chin apparently wasn’t satisfied with the Model S wagon he unveiled back in January.

The result is an all-electric two-door that still seats four and looks pretty good.

That’s not surprising, because the real Model S already has the makings of a coupe. It’s low roofline and classic long-hood, short-rear-deck proportions are part of the current styling trend of “four-door coupes,” or sedans with coupe-like profiles.

Taking two doors off further enhances those features. The long hood and muscular haunches give the virtual Model S coupe a hint of Aston Martin Vantage or Maserati GranTurismo.

Thanks to its flat battery pack and Porsche 911-like front trunk, the four-door Model S is actually quite roomy despite its low roofline. A coupe would be similarly spacious relative to other cars in its class.

In fact, the only drawback might be that this hypothetical Tesla conceals its electric powertrain too well.

Like the Model S sedan, the coupe is a slavish copy of popular automotive styling cues, but there’s nothing especially creative about it. It looks fantastic, but there’s nothing to mark it as the revolutionary car that it is.

Tesla Model S coupe rear three quarterStill, we’d consider buying a Model S coupe over a sedan if we could, and we probably wouldn’t be alone.

The Model S is roughly the same size as a BMW 5 Series, and starts in the middle of the 5’s price range. BMW offers a 5 Series coupe, the 6 Series, so why shouldn’t Tesla?

For now, the Model S coupe exists only in pixels, but if Tesla ever wants to expand its lineup, the coupe would be a logical choice.

What do you think of the Model S coupe’s styling? Tell us in the comments.

By Stephen Edelstein

Tesla Model X Production Delayed Until 2014

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Hold onto your Amex Centurion cards, Tesla freaks. Tesla Motors confirms it will push back production of its upcoming Model X until the end of 2014. The news went out a little earlier than Tesla had planned, when the Los Angeles Times leaked Tesla’s 10-K form.

In a statement released by Tesla, the high-end electric vehicle company decided to hold back on the Model X to focus on its wildly popular Model S. Click through to read the official statement.

“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, Tesla has decided to slightly push back the development and timing of Model X to 2014. We do not expect a material impact on our profitability in 2013 or 2014.”

The third model in the successful Tesla lineup, the Model X is the heftier crossover with the face of its sportier sister, the Model S. The Model X was first unveiled at Tesla Studios in February 2012, causing hundreds of Tesla devotees for fork over $5,000 deposits.

The Model X features seating for seven, falcon-winged rear doors, a front and rear trunk, and two touchscreens on the steering wheel. The all-wheel drive version of the Model X also has two motors powering the front and rear.

The wait for this innovative, all-electric crossover will be a little longer, probably 2015 at the earliest. Hopefully, the wait will be worth it.

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Visit theautoMedia.comTesla Research Centerfor quick access to reviews, pricing, photos, mpg and more. Make sure to followautoMedia.comonTwitterandFacebook.

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By Jessica Matsumoto

Tesla Model S Runs Out of Juice in NY Times Review, Musk Calls Article “Unreasonable”

Tesla Model S Runs Out of Juice in NY Times Review, Musk Calls Article “Unreasonable”

We’ve extensively tested the Tesla Model S’ range, but after one reporter from The New York Times wrote about his experience with the car running out of power, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has taken notice. The Model S review suggests that cold weather negatively impacts range, but Musk has expressed doubts about the reporter’s story.

“Essentially, we think the article is a bit of a set up and is unreasonable” Musk told CNBC.

2013 Tesla Model S front left view 300x187 imageIn the NY Times article, reporter John M. Broder planned a road trip around the EV charging stations newly set up 200 miles apart on Interstate 95, in Newark, Del. and in Milford, Conn. With the Model S’s 265-mile estimated range, Broder didn’t experience range anxiety until after the first charge in Delaware.

Broder wrote that he barely made it to the service plaza in Milford, and had range issues the following day. Once the car failed to make it to the nearest charging point, the author noted that the Model S gave the tow truck operator problems, as the electronic parking brake wouldn’t release without power.

Musk, not surprisingly, had a different take on the story. He told CNBC that vehicle logs reveal the author took detours and drove at speeds that decreased the car’s range. In addition, Musk also said the driver didn’t charge up to the maximum amount. In response, the NY Times claimed Broder’s article was completely factual and that he described the entire drive in the story.

Although we experienced a bit of range anxiety in the Model S ourselves, we were able to drive the Model S with the largest available battery pack from Los Angeles to San Diego in one single charge, in which we managed 238 miles at 65 mph on flat terrain with the AC off. From Los Angeles, we traveled 211 miles to Las Vegas and had 74 miles of range left, but on the way back, editor-in-chief Ed Loh was sweating as he barely made it back from the valet garage at the Aria Casino to Motor Trend’s El Segundo headquarters (285 miles on the dot) with range left for about three miles.

Read more about Tesla’s Superchargers here.

Source: NY Times, CNBC

By Karla Sanchez