One month after having its dealer license denied in Virginia, Tesla Motors failed to get a permit to sell cars in its own dealership in Texas as well.
According to Automotive News, the Tesla-backed bills, that would have created an exemption to current state franchise law restricting factory-owned dealerships, were rejected before making it to the Texas House of Representatives, and the automaker won’t get another shot at this until 2015.
"The Legislature did the right thing," said Karen Phillips, general counsel of the Texas Automobile Dealers Association, which opposed the legislation. Tesla Motors has two showrooms in Texas, located in Houston and Austin.
While the “Lone Star State” doesn’t take kindly to electric cars, its inhabitants sure love trucks, with one out of every six pickups sold nationwide being delivered in Texas. Maybe Tesla should up the ante on that high-performance electric truck Musk was talking about back in April. Just saying, you know?
Story via AutomotiveNews
Porsche may not be the first name that comes to mind when you think electric vehicles. However Ferdinand Porsche developed what is believed to be the first hybrid car in 1906 for Austrian car builder Lohner. In the last few years, Porsche has begun using modern hybrid technology to increase efficiency in their SUVs and even a few race cars. The forward thinking company is again looking forward by building three full electric Boxsters to test the practicality of the drivetrain and current state of infrastructure in place for the use of electric powertrains.
Details are still scarce, but the vehicles are said to have one or two electric motors with as much as 180KW or roughly 240 horsepower. While this is 15 horsepower short of a standard gas-powered Boxster, the electric version undoubtedly stomps it in torque output. Porsche claims the Boxster E is capable of performance figures that match a Boxster S.
The three Boxster E’s are currently just rolling laboratories for testing the propulsion technology and the infrastructure needed to maintain electric vehicles. Porsche currently has no plans of a full electric production vehicle. However with hybrids currently for sale and possibility of their next super car using a kinetic energy recovery system, this work surely won’t go to waste. If at some point in the future we are all forced to commute in electric vehicles, wouldn’t you rather it rolled out of a factory known for building race cars rather than refrigerators?
Give us your opinion on this; are electric vehicles the way forward, and if so, do you want manufacturers to make them as entertaining as possible, or should we just throw in the shop towel?
Source: Porsche AG
By Mike Febbo
The all-electric Smart ED (Electric Drive) has been with us for around three years now, with the manufacturer first delivering 250 of them to the US for testing purposes, back in 2009. Well, now the car will enter official production and it will be available in Germany for as low as €18,910 ($23,585) for the basic car.
The car is powered by a 30 kW (55 kW in peak) electric motor which draws juice from a 17.6kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which at first was developed by Tesla for Daimler, Smart’s parent company. The car has a top speed of 125 km/h (78 mph) and it reaches 60 km/h (37.5 mph) in 4.8 seconds after setting off, giving it decent poke – more than adequate for town driving. If driven carefully, the car’s theoretical maximum range is 145 km (90.6 miles).
It will be available as both a coupe and cabrio, with the topless variant costing €22,000 ($27,500). This price does not include the monthly €60 ($75) battery lease, however, the car can be ‘completely bought’, if the customer so requests, but prices are considerably higher, with the coupe ending up costing €23,770 ($29,600) and the cabrio model costing €26,770 ($33,500).
As an all-electric luxury sedan, the Tesla Model S is a new type of car. Fittingly, it will be sold in a new type of dealership. In fact, Teslas will not be sold in traditional dealerships at all; they will be sold at mall stores.
“We want to engage with people when they’re not thinking about buying a car,” George Blankenship, Tesla’s sales czar, told CNN. Blankenship, who helped design Apple’s retail stores, thinks potential customers will be easier to convince at the mall, since they aren’t prepared to talk to a salesman. A Model S, which stickers for roughly $60,000 to $100,000 would be quite the impulse buy.
Tesla may be trying to lure disoriented mall shoppers, but its sales pitch will be decidedly low pressure. Shoppers will be allowed to browse, take pictures, and let their kids sit in the cars. That will be a nice change of pace.
The salespeople will not be the stereotypical goniffs, either. “The people in our stores are more likely to be from Nordstrom’s than from a car dealer,” Blankenship told CNN. Since they don’t work on commission, the people manning Tesla’s stores will be less aggressive. Like Saturn, Tesla has a no-haggle sales policy.
Tesla’s mall strategy seems to be more about publicity than moving metal. Blankenship says a typical dealer gets 20 visitors a day, while a typical mall store gets 3,500. However, it is unclear how many of those people would actually plunk down $57,400 to $105,000 for a car.
Since the cars are built to order, the stores will not have inventory. Tesla wants to sell 5,000 Model S sedans by the end of the year, and already has a waiting list 10,000 names long, so the stores will not be under much pressure to meet sales targets.
The stores will also be much smaller than traditional dealerships. Imagine a typical mall store with a couple of cars replacing the clothing displays, and you’ve got the idea. Test drives will take place in parking lots, and customers will be directed to a separate service center once they buy their Teslas.
Sales potential aside, there is also a legal issue with the Tesla-owned mall stores. The first store recently opened in White Plains, New York, a state where it is illegal for car companies to own dealerships. Regardless, Blankenship said the stores, “generally speaking,” comply with all applicable laws.
Tesla may be the first company to set up all of its stores at malls, but the idea of taking cars out of the conventional dealer environment isn’t entirely new. In Paris, Renault, Peugeot, and Citroen have stores that sell nothing but t-shirts and toy cars, but help publicize each company’s full-size models. Certain Ferrari dealers are also amicable toward visitors who are not buying, but just want to see the cars.
What makes Tesla’s approach so novel is that mall stores will comprise its entire dealer network. Will it work? Cars are a lot more expensive than iPods; only one-percenters have the cash to buy a Tesla without really thinking about it. As long as Tesla keeps its sales goals low, that may not be a problem. If it wants to compete with more established car companies, Tesla may have to leave the mall.
A rumor coming out of jolly old England’s Auto Express suggests electric car manufacturer Tesla is looking to bring a new model to the market in 2017.
The new car would replace Tesla’s first car, the Roadster, and be built from the ground up as pure all-electric vehicle (EV). Whereas the current Roadster is underpinned by Lotus’ Elise platform, Auto Express claims the successor to the Roadster, thought to be named the Model R, will utilize the same platform currently underpinning the Model S and the upcoming Model X crossover.
In addition to adhering to the company’s current naming convention, the Model R will reportedly expand on the Roadsters lightning-quick acceleration, which is capable of rocketing from 0-60 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds and traveling 254-miles on a single charge of its 53 kWh lithium-ion battery.
If true, the Model R would undoubtedly benefit from a platform switch. The Lotus Elise weights about 1800 pounds, while the Roadster weighs in at 2,723 pounds. A new platform built from the ground up to accommodate an EV powertrain has the potential to reduce the weight of the car, while at the same time improving range and acceleration.
Tesla sold the Roadster between 2008 and 2011, with about 2,500 rolling off the line. Base price for the zippy EV started around $109,000. While no longer selling the Roadster, the California-based automaker started a buyback program last month that allows Roadster owners the option to trade theirs in for credit towards a Model S.
According to Auto Express, Tesla has its sights set on Ferrari with the Model R, but we remain skeptical. Still, if the Model R can indeed go toe-to-toe with the iconic Italian automaker we’ll be very impressed. Of course that leaves us with another question: How much will it cost?
I ran into Tesla Model S design chief Franz von Holzhausen at the Paris Motor Show as we were both on the way to the unveiling of the McLaren P1 supercar. After graduating from Art Center College of Design with a bachelor’s degree in Transportation Design, Von Holzhausen began his career with Volkswagen under J Mays and worked on such seminal projects as the Concept One (which became the new Beetle). He then moved to GM, and drew critical acclaim for his Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky roadster. In 2005, Mazda hired von Holzhausen as its North American design chief. Under his watch, the company developed the Nagare design language, revised the style of the RX-8 and Mazda5, and launched the 2009 Mazda6 and Mazda3.
One of my favorite concept cars of all time was executed by Franz and his team; the rotary-powered, LMP1-based Mazda Furai. Why do I still love it so? Because unlike most concept cars, it wasn’t just a pretty face, but a full runner that I got to experience around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Franz obviously knows something about fast cars and great designs, so just after McLaren boss Ron Dennis and Managing Director Antony Sheriff raised the sheet on McLaren’s all-new P1 supercar, I asked him for his first impressions:
FvH: Makes the 12C kind of old and tired. It’s got a great stance, it sits well, reminds of the F1 [McLaren’s first street legal sports car]. Yeah, I like it. It’s definitely got a menacing feel to it – a pissed-off face. It has a BIG greenhouse and I’m wondering about that proportion – but it’s hard to tell from here.
I love the sculpture on the body side. Reminds of stuff that we were doing in the past. Apparently it’s very functional as well, with the intakes going right from the door into the engine. So I can appreciate that, the form and the function kinda working together. It’s awesome.
Yeah, but it makes the 12C dated for sure.
MT: Have you ever worked with [McLaren head of design] Frank Stephenson before?
FvH: No, I haven’t. I was looking for him on the stage, but I just know of him from, you know, the designer crowd, and but I think he did a pretty solid job. In general I think the car is cool. Way better than in pictures, sits way better on its wheels, from here. I’ll have to come back later, tomorrow, when there is less people to get a better view. But you know it’s awesome, Ron Dennis is up there — you don’t see that every day. Seeing Ron in person is very cool.
And I appreciate them continuing to just go for it.
MT: What do you think about the orange color?
FvH: I’m wondering about it. There must something about it I’m just not aware of. Is it the brand color…? I love the simplicity of the stand with the orange and white, it’s super cool. But is it the right color for the car?
MT: Well, everyone knows you designer types only like light gray or silver for your concepts so you can show off the lines…
FvH: [Laughs] Actually, orange is one of my more favorite colors, but this shade seems a bit, um, overly mature. I think a car like this, if you could get some screaming colors on it, it would be all that more impressive.
I do see a lot of reference from the F1 in the side feature. Hard to tell about the silhouette but from what I’ve seen, the silhouette is pretty similar.
MT: I noticed that the McLaren logo seems to be used as a throughout the car – in the headlights, hood scoops, etc. You know, the upside-down swoosh, punctuation mark…too much repetition? What do you think?
FvH: Oh as an element on the car – front, rear, everywhere – the “boomerang.” It reminds me of the Kumho tire logo. But you know it’s subtle enough that you know it’s not too overt.
It doesn’t punch you in the face…and you know the car does look fantastic.
MT: Thanks Franz!
By Edward Loh
Tesla is set to bring its Model S under the spotlights once again. The full electric Model S is getting a new performance package that will increase its range and improve handling.
Costing $6,500 (€4,966), the Performance Plus pack will include upgraded stabilizer bars and bushings and wider Michelin rear tires. Measuring 20 mm wider than the previous ones, they will ensure better acceleration and grip in fast corners.
Another benefit from the beefier tires will be that the car will be able to achieve a better mileage, squeezing between 6 and 12 mpg more from its all-electric drivetrain. We'll remind you that the Tesla Model S uses a 310 kW (421 hp) electric motor that sends all the power to the rear axle.
Despite its green nature, it can accelerate the car from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 209 km/h (130 mph).
Electric cars like the Tesla Model S offer up a unique challenge to firefighters. Rather than engines, fuel tanks, and fuel lines, electric cars have motors, batteries, and high-voltage cables that can potentially electrocute someone trying to save an occupant after an accident. Because of the challenge, Tesla has just put out a video showing just how firefighters should dismantle a Model S in the event of an accident.
If you want to skip the video’s drier bits, the Tesla Model S destruction starts at the 27:45 mark in the video below. Firefighters begin by ripping off the door and front quarter panel, before ripping into the A-pillar. The firefighters then dig into the dashboard and completely separate the dashboard section from the rest of the Model S, causing complete destruction of the electric car.
Watch the Tesla Model S get torn to shreds in the video below.
Source: Brock Archer via YouTube
Tesla Model S with DISRUPT license plate, March 2013 [photo: Sam Villella]
Electric-car maker Tesla is on a roll–its first quarter was profitable, its stock price is soaring, and Consumer Reports gave its Model S a rave review.
That has led many writers to compare the company to Apple Inc. [NSDQ:AAPL].
Now one analyst has taken it further: In a Bloomberg column, Chamath Palihapitiya suggests that Apple should simply buy Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA].
And, Palihapitiya writes, if Steve Jobs were still alive, he would have done so. He argues:
The right move would be for Apple to enter the car space, buy Tesla and make Elon Musk the CEO. Cook could move back to COO. Obviously this will never happen. The market is too big. Tesla is too good, and Cook is probably too weak to do something this radical.
Apple has designs on your dashboard, granted, and it is working with carmakers to integrate its Siri Q+A service into car infotainment systems.
Apple also has the money: Even assuming a 100-percent price premium over Tesla’s current market capitalization of $8.8 billion, buying Tesla would cost Apple only 12 percent of its $145-billion cash hoard.
So it’s doable.
But it would probably be a spectacularly bad idea.
Writing about Apple’s rumored plans to enter the television market, Palihapitiya writes, “TVs will probably turn out to be a very difficult product category.”
So cars, meanwhile, would be easy?
Apple designs remarkable consumer electronic products that share the following characteristics:
- Product cycles of 18 to 36 months
- Superb, sometimes revolutionary user interfaces
- Outsourced manufacturing in developing countries
- Core technology is low-power consumer electronics
- Size is small enough to carry; weight is a few ounces to 30 pounds
Tesla’s designs, on the other hand, differ rather a lot from Apple’s:
- Product cycles of 3 to 7 years
- User-interface innovation confined to infotainment; steering, brakes, accelerator all conventional
- Manufacturing done in-house by automakers of scale
- Core technology is energy storage in battery, and high-power electric motor-generator plus power electronics
- Size is more than 16 feet long; weight is more than 2 tons
The similarities and shared expertise are … where, exactly?
Sure, Apple tends to enter new categories within its core industry.
‘Revenge of the Electric Car’ premiere: Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk on red carpet
But we’d suggest that going into carmaking would be roughly as smart as Apple going into, say, deep-sea oil exploration–another industry where electronics and sensors are increasingly key to success.
We’ve long argued that Tesla is not likely to remain independent as a carmaker. At some point, we believe, it will be bought by one of perhaps a dozen global automakers.
By far the most logical candidates are Daimler and Toyota, each of which owns a minority share of Tesla. An outlier might also be its lithium-ion cell supplier, which also has a stake in the company.
But may we suggest a different acquirer? What about Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F]?
Ford is at best lackluster about the prospects of battery-electric vehicles.
Its Ford Focus Electric is apparently only a compliance car, and the company has said in the past it doesn’t expect it to sell well–a self-fulfilling prophecy, apparently.
But we note that company chairman Bill Ford (whose name is on the building) recently expressed his admiration for Tesla and its recent successes.
“My hat’s off to them,” Ford said at a Los Angeles conference last Tuesday, although the company needs to be “mindful as they scale.”
1903 Ford Model A Rear Entry Tonneau and Bill Ford, Jr.
Of the big global companies, Toyota has placed its bets on hybrids (Ford makes some too, but only a fraction of Toyota’s volume). GM has its Chevy Volt, Nissan its all-electric Leaf and other battery cars coming, and Volkswagen is doing a bit of everything.
It’s a sign of Detroit’s inherent conservatism that Ford jokingly called himself as a “Bolshevik” for pledging that the company would raise fuel efficiency 25 percent from 2000 to 2005–a commitment it did not keep.
If Ford came to see plug-in electric cars as necessary to comply with increasingly stringent global fuel-efficiency rules, buying Tesla could catapult it to the front of the crowd.
That makes more sense, at least, than an Apple acquisition.
As Ford cautioned, “Running a car company is different than running a tech company.”
2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011
HI-RES GALLERY: 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011
2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011
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The first two 2012 Tesla Model S all-electric sport sedans to roll off the Tesla production line last month were shipped to Chicago, where they’re presumably now tooling around in the Midwest’s record-setting summer heat.
But how will the cars’ impressive EPA range of 268 miles hold up six months from now, when the Windy City turns bitterly cold?
For now, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] isn’t answering that question. A company spokesperson told us that “we’re not yet fully ready to discuss” the car’s range in seriously cold weather.
Tesla’s range-calculator program (available at its retail stores, but not yet on its website) offers some hints–but it only goes down to a temperature of 32 degrees. That’s fine for the lucky folks in California, but for many of us, 32 degrees in January would be a heat wave.
For a variety of reasons, electric cars suffer a significant loss of range in cold weather. When the temperature hits the teens, my Chevy Volt’s summer range of 40-plus miles drops to about 25 miles–a loss of 40 percent. Nissan Leaf owners report similar numbers.
Will the Model S suffer the same fate, or does Tesla know something that Nissan and Chevy don’t?
For me, that’s not just an academic question. I’m Model S owner number P 717, hoping to take delivery late this year.
I’m currently debating between the basic 40-kWh battery pack (good for 160 miles) and the $10,000-more-expensive 60-kWh battery, good for 230 miles. Those range estimates are both Tesla numbers; the official EPA ratings for range on those two battery-pack capacities have yet to be announced.
My minimum travel requirement is to New York City and back without recharging, which is about 120 miles. At first, I assumed the 160-mile battery would be enough.
But after living through a winter with the Volt, I’m not so sure. If the Model S suffers the same 40-percent loss as the Volt, I’m looking at a cold-weather range of 100 miles–which would leave me stranded somewhere on the Palisades Parkway in New Jersey or lower New York state.
So the $10,000 question becomes: In seriously cold weather, will the 2012 Tesla Model S suffer range losses similar to those of the Volt and Leaf?
A few months ago, Elon Musk assured me in a personal e-mail that “we are probably closer to a 20-percent drop than a 40-percent drop.” (Pretty cool that the CEO will respond in two hours to a customer query out of the blue.)
A blog on Tesla’s website by Musk and company CTO J.B. Straubel says that under “very cold” conditions, range at 55 mph may be reduced by 10 to 15 percent.
Tesla’s Model S range calculator, which I tried out in the Tesla store in White Plains, New York, predicts a loss of about 8 percent at 50 degrees and 15 percent at 32 degrees. But that’s as low as it goes.
2012 Tesla Model S display screen [Photo: Flickr user jurvetson]
If we extrapolate that curve (actually, it’s a straight line) down to 17 degrees, we get a range loss of 21 percent–only about half that of the Volt. Take the curve down to 0 degrees, and we have a 27 percent loss–giving a range of about 118 miles on the 40-kWh, “160-mile” battery.
But how accurate is that extrapolation? I’d rather make my $10,000 decision on the basis of real-world testing and experience. And at the moment, almost none of that is publicly available.
According to Tesla’s range calculator, cabin heating causes most of the Model S range loss in cold weather. At 55 mph, the model I’m considering has a range of 170 miles at the ideal 70 degrees.
When the temperature drops to freezing, that range goes down to 145 miles. But if you’re willing to turn off the heater, range jumps back up to 162 miles.
So what do you think? Should I pony up the extra $10,000 for the bigger battery? Or just bundle up for my winter trips to New York City? Or, maybe just burn some gasoline in the Volt?
Leave me your thoughts in the Comments below.
David Noland is a Tesla Model S reservation holder and freelance writer who lives north of New York City. This is his first article for High Gear Media.
By David Noland