New Features in Tesla Model S’ Hidden Menus [Video]



Tesla’s Model S EV saloon will get some new options in the future, as the adjacent video reveals some non-functional features currently hidden in three secret menus.

The short video shows that if you keep touching the Tesla logo on the big 17-inch screen on the central console, it will ask you for a security code. Once filled with the proper numbers, some new menus will be displayed.

While the APPS section of the menus shows options like Sketch Pad, Image Viewer, Scheduler and some other “office” apps, the DATA area displays configuration options for Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection and Lane Departure Warning System, features that are not available for the current Model S. This leads us thinking that Tesla is currently developing such options to be fitted to the car in the near future.

Take a sneak peek at the incognito Model S menus, as the guys from Drag Times show how to unlock them in the clip bellow.

Source: Drag Times

By Gabriel Brindusescu

Tesla Model S Loaners For Tesla Model S Owners, Elon Musk Says

2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

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Loaners cars are now routinely provided by luxury carmakers when their customers have cars in for servicing.

Now Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] is joining the crowd, providing Model S luxury sports sedans to its Model S (and Roadster) owners while their cars are in the shop.

But according to CEO Elon  Musk, these aren’t just any Model S: All the loaners will be the top-end, most luxurious Model S Performance version with the 85-kilowatt-hour battery pack and punchier acceleration than lesser models.

Road testers have logged the Tesla Model S Performance accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds (the original factory quote was 4.6 seconds).

That’s a number that exceeds most luxury sedans on the market today, although to be fair, repeated use of that acceleration is likely to have a negative effect on the car’s EPA-rated range of 265 miles.

Musk discussed the loaner plan in an interview with USA Today, in which he also promised that Tesla employees would drop the temporary Model S cars wherever the customer requested–rather than requiring the owner to bring the car in to a Tesla service center.

Initially, the loaner fleet will number about 80 vehicles spread among Tesla’s 21 current service centers.

The fleet will expand as Tesla opens more stores and service centers across the country; the company lists another 13 service centers as “coming soon.”

Musk noted that the idea for luxury loaners hadn’t originated with Tesla. He attributed it, instead, to Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus.

But a top-of-the-line loaner–nicer, in many cases, than the Model S that’s in for service–is certainly a step up from hearing the service guy yell, “Hey, Manny, whadda we got in the back for this guy?”

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By John Voelcker

Zero Race: Electric Car Race to Traverse the Globe in 80 Days

Zero Race: Electric Car Race to Traverse the Globe in 80 Days

The Zero Race, an appropriately named zero-emissions race designed to raise awareness about environmentally friendly vehicles, started its 18,000-mile, 80-day journey in Switzerland earlier this week.

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Zero Race began in Geneva, Switzerland, and the competitors — four small teams that specially designed their electric vehicles — will make their way through Berlin to Shanghai, China. After their trip to the Far East, they’ll resume the race in Vancouver, Canada, and then on to Cancun, Mexico, in time for the World Climate Change Conference that starts November 29.

Over the course of the next few months, the competitors will cover more than 18,000 miles and travel for more than 80 days. All four of the competing vehicles are powered by electricity acquired from renewable resources, such as wind or the sun. Each vehicle can achieve a minimum speed of 55 mph and travel 155 miles between charges. In this fashion, the teams will travel the world without the vehicles ever emitting a pollutant from exhaust or from an electrical source. However, as the vehicles need to be shipped across several oceans, the event won’t be completely emissions-free.

Although called a race, time is anything but the determining factor in who wins. The competitors are scored on their reliability during the race, energy efficiency, safety, performance, and design popularity as scored by spectators along the way. At the end of the race, the competitor with the highest score wins.

“Such a clean technology initiative underscores the importance of individual efforts in building a green, low-carbon future for the world,” said United Nations Environment Program executive director Achim Steiner.

The race reflects growing interest in low-emissions vehicles. This interest, along with government incentives and regulations, has pushed automotive manufacturers to investigate hybrid and electric vehicles, such as the upcoming Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf. The small, startup automaker Tesla only builds electric vehicles, such as its Roadster and planned Model S sedan.

Head over to Zero Race’s Web site to view the competitors’ progress as they make their way around the world and look for the race to end at the World Climate Change Conference in November.

Source: Zero Race, Bloomberg

By Andrew Peterson

2012 Tesla Model S Signature Series: Is It Worth The Premium?

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

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The first 1,000 or so 2012 Tesla Model S electric sport sedans to be delivered to U.S. customers will be fully-loaded, limited-edition “Signature” cars.

But as delivery dates slip due to early production snags, some owners of Signature cars–called “Sigs” within the Tesla clan–grumble that they’re not getting much value for the extra money they had to shell out.

Is the “Sig tax”–the premium price and the hefty $40,000 deposit–worth its benefits? 

Let’s look at the numbers.

The Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] list price for a Signature Model S is $87,900.

A comparably-equipped standard Model S–with an 85-kWh battery and all available options except the moon roof–lists for $84,350. That’s a $3,550 difference.

For the Performance version of the car, the comparable numbers are $97,900  and $92,850–or a $5,050 difference.

Interest adds up, too

The effective “Sig tax” can be higher if an owner wouldn’t otherwise have ordered a particular option. Downgrades aren’t allowed; Signature owners pay for all the options and the premium paint job whether they want them or not.

Then there’s the interest on the $40,000 deposit. In effect, Tesla has received interest-free loans totaling more than $40 million from its Signature owners.

Early depositors put down their money more than three years ago. At current corporate bond rates  (about 6 percent), that amounts to about $8,000 in foregone interest.

So, roughly speaking, the typical Signature owner has paid a “Sig tax” of $3,500 to $13,000. 

What does he or she get for the money?

  • The option of a special red paint job unavailable on the standard car
  • The option of a special white interior, also unavailable on the standard car
  • Two small external “Signature” badges
  • Free 3-G connectivity for one year

In addition, Signature Performance models get some added minor interior and exterior accents that the standard Performance car lacks.

Ironically, the Signature Model S lacks some interior and paint options available on the standard car.

If you happen to prefer green paint to red, or a silver interior rather than white, the first two Signature “benefits” become penalties.

Is that all there is?

At first glance, these Signature benefits may not impress. 

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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“I don’t think I’m getting anywhere near the value for the money,” griped one owner in a lengthy thread on the Tesla Motor Club forum.

“I too think the Sig is a disappointment in terms of value,” chimed in another. “But I can’t bring myself to switch (to a standard car).”

For most Sig owners, however, the “Big Bennie” is not the car itself. It’s the timing.

Sig owners automatically go to the front of the queue to own what is, by all accounts, an extraordinary, ground-breaking car. 

But recent production delays and the rapid anticipated ramp-up in production of standard cars as soon as the Signature cars are built has blunted this hoped-for time advantage. 

“I was willing to pay the premium (begrudgingly) to jump the line by three months,” says one Sig owner whose car has been delayed by four to six weeks. “But for one month, it’s an absurd premium to pay.”

“Delivery during the summer would actually have had some value,” echoed another.

Earliest cars delivered

The very earliest adopters at the head of the Sig line already have the pleasure of driving their cars three to six months ahead of the rabble, starting in June with venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson, who’s on the Tesla board.

(At this writing, Tesla will only say that “more than 250″ Model S cars have been delivered.)

Last-minute Signature buyers also reaped a huge bonus in delivery time. If you signed up for one of the last few remaining Sigs in August, you’re probably looking at a December delivery.



2012 Tesla Model S Signature

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

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But if you’d chosen a standard car instead, your number in the queue would have been about 12,000–and you’d be getting delivery next summer at the earliest.  Is that a benefit worth $5,000? For a lot of people, it is.

The frustrated Signature owners seem to be mostly those in the middle of the pack, who are now watching their early delivery advantage fade. 

Middle of the pack

One of them, Arnold Panz, of Miami, Fla., had this to say on the Tesla Motor Club forum:

The fact that we, as Sig holders, have gotten absolutely no special treatment has been a huge miss. (We) were mostly Tesla’s truest of true believers, plunking down $40,000 for a car that we had no guarantee would ever be made, let alone be a great car. How was that blind faith rewarded? I’m still trying to figure that out.

A lot of this is basic psychology. Why are people who are paying almost six figures for a car complaining about $600/year in maintenance? The same reason high rollers who gamble  $1,000 a hand in Vegas demand free rooms, tickets to shows, and free meals….and choose their hotel on who provides the best “perks”.

BMW bakes the cost of maintenance into the cost of the car and everyone thinks they’re getting “free” service! Tesla…just didn’t understand the basic psychology that makes BMW’s program so popular.

The same is true for Sigs…Additional swag, ‘insider’ informational e-mails, free satellite radio, and free maintenance (still) wouldn’t make the Sig premium cost-effective…..But (it) would have psychologically given us all the warm and fuzzies…We would have felt like we were getting special treatment that made the excess cost worthwhile.

 

A role in history

In the end, the Signature program has proven to be a good deal for Tesla.

It got the company $40 million cash up front, and assured that the first 1,000 cars out the door would be maxed out with options, bringing in nearly $100,000 each.  (That’s $100 million in badly needed cash.)

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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Tesla clearly could have done a better job making its Signature buyers feel special. But all 1,000-odd available Sig cars have sold out.

At some level, the market proves that the “Sig tax” is perceived as value for money–by at least 1,000 or so people.

“Definitely worth it,” explained one Sig depositor. “I feel I am playing a minor role in history….I am proud to be helping, in a small way, [to] usher in the age of vehicle electrification.”

On a less philosophical note, an envious non-Signature Model S depositor summed it up nicely: “The value is simple: They are getting cars right now. The rest of us are waiting.”

David Noland is a Tesla Model S reservation holder and freelance writer who lives north of New York City.

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By David Noland

Tesla Opens Distribution & Assembly Center In The Netherlands

2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

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As the first cars are set to arrive in European dealers next year, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has announced its new European distribution center in Tilburg, Netherlands.

The facility will serve as a final assembly point for European vehicles, as well as acting as Tesla’s distribution hub and regional service center.

The 62,000 square-foot facility will be central to Tesla’s roll-out of Model S cars through Europe. The first European Model S will enter production at Tesla’s Fremont plant in March 2013, before being shipped to Tilburg for final assembly.

As well as distribution and servicing, Tesla will use the facility for training, importing operations, parts remanufacturing, collision repair and more. Tesla expects up to 50 new jobs to be created in the next few years.

Many European Tesla dealerships have already begun taking orders for the electric sedan, while some still have stocks of the Roadster left.

Official pricing hasn’t yet been announced, though as with the U.S, European buyers can choose between standard and Signature Edition Model S.

Also in common with the U.S, many European countries offer tax incentives and rebates for the purchase of electric cars, plus exemptions from local vehicle taxes, parking charges and inner-city congestion charging.

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By Antony Ingram

Tesla Celebrates Building of 1,000th Model S Frame



For the doubters, who never expected Tesla to make it, this is proof that the American company is still hard at work, trying to achieve its projected sales/deliveries figure for this year. Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, has tweeted on his account, that the company has built its 1,000th Model S frame.

They were planning on building 5,000 complete cars by the end of the year, and the fact that they managed to build more frames in one month (October), than they managed to do in the entire year so far shows that they are hard at work trying to get as close to the projected figure as possible. Musk admitted that they are one month behind schedule on deliveries, yet this is by no means a critical threshold.

The company also reported that they will be getting a $10-million injection of funds, in order to expand its production facility in their Bay Area plant, where they will begin production of the Model X SUV, hopefully some time in 2014.

Story via greencarreports.com

By Andrei Nedelea

The Seven Best Post-Turkey Cars This Thanksgiving

2013 Lexus LS460 CAPTIONS ON | OFF

Whether you plan on passing out in the passenger seat, or just want a comfortable ride after loading up on stuffing, these are the new cars you’ll want for the long ride home this Thanksgiving.

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Lexus LS460

Some automakers offer cars with a quiet, smooth ride. And then some hollow out their wheels with “air holes” to decrease road noise. When we drove the 2013 Lexus LS460 this Fall, it became clear we were riding in something ahead of its pillow-soft time. It’s no surprise that a Lexus makes this list, but with more noise prevention than ever before, the LS460 is an easy choice here.

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Buick LaCrosse

With the optional four-cylinder engine and eAssist hybrid, the 2013 Buick LaCrosse is one of the most quiet and smooth large sedans on the market today. Its triple door seals, acoustical laminated glass and giant 111.7-inch wheelbase combine to make the 2013 LaCrosse a floating sleep vessel – especially once the tryptophan takes hold.

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Tesla Model S

What you know: The electric motors in the 2013 Tesla Model S create almost zero interior noise. What you don’t know: The top-quality fit and finish in the 2013 Model S is the best ever for an EV. Combine a silent powertrain with air-spring suspension and you’ve got the perfect car for a nap on the way home.

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Ford Edge

Ford engineers designed a veritable obstacle course for noise to reach the passengers inside the 2013 Edge. Re-shaped mirrors and a new rear spoiler help the Edge cut through the air, while new sound-deadening foam in the fenders and roof pillars keep you drifting off to La-La Land without being interrupted by engine noise. Go the extra mile by opting for the 2.0L four-cylinder EcoBoost engine.

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Jeep Grand Cherokee

Thanksgiving is about family, and there’s nothing more familial than the Pentastar engine across the Chrysler lineup. In the 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the 3.6L V6 Pentastar turns an off-road performance specialist into a docile luxury sedan shaped like an SUV. Smooth delivery across the powerband will have you thinking about next Thanksgiving, not your newfound girth.

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Kia Sorento

Unlike you, the 2013 Kia Sorento is lighter today than it was yesterday. A new, lightweight unibody structure keeps the Sorento moving firmly and smoothly across the road from Nana’s house. Newly designed suspension is comfortable under cruising and the four-cylinder engine is quiet enough to let you fall under the spell of the iPod jack in peace.

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Lamborghini Aventador

Didn’t see this one coming, did you? In the Ultra-Hypercar Smooth Ride category, the Aventador stands alone as the one track star that can get you home without rattling your stuffed insides. The reason is cylinder deactivation, which shuts down six of the twelve cylinders when running under 84 mph. The new system saves fuel, which is all well and great, but it’ll also reduce the engine roar from Mufasa to Simba levels. Worst comes to worst, dial up all 700 horsepower and your long ride should pass in no time at all.

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

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By Ryan ZumMallen

2014 Tesla Model X Vs. 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV: Electric SUV Showdown?

2014 Tesla Model X all-electric crossover with 'Falcon Doors' open

2014 Tesla Model X all-electric crossover with ‘Falcon Doors’ open

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The 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV is unique, the only all-electric compact sport-utility vehicle sold by a major automaker in the U.S.

Behind the wheel, its Tesla-developed powertrain makes it peppy but quiet, while it maintains all the cargo and people space of the original gasoline version.

There’s really only one vehicle that’s even close to comparable, and that doesn’t exist yet: the 2014 Tesla Model X all-electric crossover, of which prototypes were unveiled in February.

Comparing a real car to a hypothetical one is an exercise in speculation.

But spurred on by a review on TheStreet.com that suggests buyers view the Toyota RAV4 EV as a Tesla for half the price, we decided to do it anyway.

SIZE:The 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV is a compact crossover, in the popular segment that includes the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Nissan Rogue. The 2014 Tesla Model X, on the other hand, is a segment larger, competing with the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, and undoubtedly pricier and more luxurious import-brand SUVs like the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Range Rover, and Mercedes-Benz GL. Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] says the Model X has the dimensions of the Audi Q7 but 40 percent more interior space.

SEATING: The RAV4 EV seats four comfortably, five in a pinch. The electric Tesla sport utility, on the other hand, will offer seven seats (as does the Model S sedan with its optional jump seats, though the last two are only child-sized).

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, Newport Beach, California, July 2012

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, Newport Beach, California, July 2012

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WEIGHT: The electric RAV4 weighs 4,030 pounds, while no weight has been given for the Model X. Since it’s larger, we’d expect it to be rather heavier than the Model S sedan on which it’s based, which comes in at 4,650 pounds for the 40-kWh version.

BATTERY SIZE: The RAV4 EV has 41.8 kilowatt-hours of usable pack capacity, though oddly Toyota won’t give the total pack size. The Model X will offer 60-kWh and 85-kWh options, though unlike the Model S sedan, it won’t have a 40-kWh version.

POWER: The Toyota RAV4 EV uses the same electric motor as the Tesla Model S sedan, but its power is limited to 115 kilowatts (154 horsepower) by the battery pack output.The Tesla Model X will likely use the Model S motor–with peak power of 270 kW (362 hp)–in the standard version, and two electric motors (one per axle) of unspecified power for the all-wheel drive model. Tesla says there will be a Model X Performance edition as well.

DRIVE WHEELS: Toyota’s electric RAV4 is offered only in front-wheel drive, although Toyota’s program leader Sheldon Brown said that at least one all-wheel drive prototype was built, adding a second motor at the rear to complement the existing one up front. The Model X will be offered with rear-wheel drive standard, plus an optional all-wheel drive version that adds a second motor for the front wheels.

VOLUME: Toyota will build only 2,600 RAV4 EVs for the 2012 through 2014 model years. Tesla has said it could sell 10,000 to 15,000 Model X crossovers a year once full production levels are reached.

Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

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PRICE: The list price of the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV is $49,800, with a $2,500 California purchase rebate, and buyers may qualify for a $7,500 Federal tax credit. No price has been announced for the 2014 Model X, but Tesla says prices will be “comparable” to the base prices of the Model S sedans with equivalent battery packs–which are presently $67,400 and $77,400.

In the end, we think we agree with TheStreet.com writer Anton Wahlman, who suggests that (California) buyers who are eager to drive a Tesla as soon as possible consider the less glamorous, far less sexy RAV4 EV for its powertrain and electric performance.

He also suggests that it would be the perfect complement for the Model S owner who doesn’t want to wait two years for a Model X.

Ah, if only we lived in THAT world ….

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By John Voelcker

Massachusetts Dealer Lawsuit Against Tesla Dismissed – Rumor Central

Massachusetts Dealer Lawsuit Against Tesla Dismissed

One of the advantages of being the new kid on the block in business is that you often get to approach things in a different way than the more established players in the market, even down to how your products are sold. That’s the approach Tesla took in selling its vehicles, adopting a manufacturer-direct, company-owned store model. But that approach did not sit well with established, franchise model dealers, claiming the company’s model skirts the car dealer franchise laws in some states. The Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association in particular took issue with Tesla, and took the automaker to court after it opened a showroom in the Natick Mall.

But Massachusetts Judge Kenneth J. Fishman dismissed the suit, stating “The court is unconvinced that the 2002 amendment to Chapter 93B expanded the purpose of the statute to protect the motor vehicle franchise system,” Bloomberg reports.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk addressed the legal victory by Tesla in a statement: “We are delighted by the outright dismissal of this case, and the validation that we are operating our business in compliance with the laws and expectations of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

But the dealer association hasn’t given up its fight against Tesla entirely, saying it is considering an appeal. “It’s just another bump in the road we have to address,” Robert O’Koniewski, executive vice president of the state dealer association said.

Source: Bloomberg




By Edward A. Sanchez

Electric-Car Maker Tesla Gains In Brand Awareness

2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

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If you’re reading this, you probably already know a little bit about Tesla.

Brainchild of entrepreneur Elon Musk, producer of electric vehicles, and upstart in the automotive market, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has been one of the highest-profile new brands of recent years.

That high profile has done more than put the company on the automotive landscape–it’s also made an impact in American homes. Tesla has now crept onto the top ten list for brand perception, as ranked by Consumer Reports.

The survey of more than two thousand Americans records their perception of automotive brands, in terms of quality, safety, performance, design and other factors.

Topping this year’s list is Toyota, followed by Ford, Honda, Chevrolet and Mercedes-Benz.

But ranked at number 10 is Tesla, whose score has risen since last year, no doubt thanks to the Model S sedan, which has already received several awards over the past 12 months.

Other brands in the top 10 include Volvo, Cadillac, BMW and another new top-10 entrant, Dodge–so Tesla is in good company.

At the other end of the scale, Toyota’s youthful brand Scion ranks lowest, with small-car makers Fiat and MINI also scoring poorly–as do luxury brands and potential Tesla rivals Land Rover, Jaguar and Porsche.

Each category used to determine the position of each brand is ranked by importance by those surveyed. Quality, safety and value are all most important.

While green concerns are still a factor, it ranks lowest of all other buying decisions for those surveyed. Given that technology and innovation are just above this, it perhaps makes Tesla’s achievement all the more impressive–since it will have scored highly on less green-orientated factors, too. Toyota, Smart and Tesla all scored well on green image.

Consumer Reports suggests that brands such as Smart and Tesla must continue to work hard on building their reputation, despite being up against much larger companies.

Whether Smart can do that remains to be seen with a new Fortwo on the way, but Tesla could be very interesting to watch–will 2014 see it dip back out of the top ten, or will it have risen even higher?

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By Antony Ingram