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Tesla Motors really seems to be very serious about covering the whole of the US with their Supercharger fast charging stations, so that the owners of their cars will be able to drive anywhere they please, without the risk of running out of juice in the middle of nowhere.
Now, they have announced the opening of the first such stations on the East Coast. The first is located in Wilmington, DE, which is located around 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia, while the second is in Milford, CT, which is situated around the halfway point between New York City and Boston – both are located along the I-95 interstate.
Furthermore, owners of the Tesla Model S (the only model ‘supported’ by the fast chargers), benefits from a high-voltage output of 480 volts, which gives the car another 150 miles of range, from a half-hour charge. Also factoring in the fact that charging is completely free, it is a really important incentive for those looking to buy an EV in order to reduce motoring costs, along with being green – people who would buy the most basic version of the Model S, which should arrive in 2013.
Rumors have abounded regarding the next-generation Ford F-150, due for 2015. Word is that the new truck will heavily utilize aluminum to help boost fuel economy and decrease curb weight. Now, according to our colleagues at Motor Trend, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is adding some fuel to the fire.
Speaking with MT during the Detroit auto show earlier this year, Musk pontificated on the type of aluminum Ford may be using for the new F-150. “From what I’ve heard, they’re using 7000-series aluminum, which is the right step. It’s very strong and light—it’s the same alloy we use to build rockets. There are many different alloys you can use, and a lot of manufacturers use 5000-series aluminum, but 7000 is twice as strong. It can’t be traditionally welded; it must be bonded or mechanically joined or friction welded.”
Interesting is Musk’s note that the 7000-series aluminum would need a new bonding method versus being traditionally welded. While the F-150 does sell in huge numbers – at 645,316 copies were sold of the F-Series last year, it remained the country’s best-selling vehicle – we’re not sure if Ford would be willing to cut into the profitable truck’s bottom line so substantially. However, better efficiency for the F-150 could translate to even more sales, and using such a high-selling model to pioneer aluminum construction could help with economies of scale.
We do know that Ford will draw on the Atlas Concept from this year’s Detroit show (pictured) to inspire the design of the 2015 F-150. Expect the new truck to use active aerodynamic features and to drop roughly 700 lbs from the new construction methods. This weight loss piqued Musk’s interest, too: “I’m very curious about how Ford is going about [the new F-150]. Honestly, we may have something to learn. Our chassis is a bit heavy; it could stand to lose a little weight.”
Source: Motor Trend
Tesla has just announced a new finance program, making it easier than ever for prospective buyers to get into a new Model S with no money down and a smaller-than-expected monthly payment.
The 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 was $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.
For 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.
2013 Tesla Model S
Does the supposedly clean, green Tesla Model S really pollute more than a gas-guzzling Jeep Grand Cherokee sport-utility vehicle?
That’s what one analyst has claimed.
In an exhaustive 6,500-word article on the financial website Seeking Alpha, analyst Nathan Weiss lays out a case that the Model S actually has higher effective emissions than most large SUVs of both the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and smog-producing pollutants like sulfur dioxide.
As a 2013 Tesla Model S owner, I was shocked and concerned by his claims.
Although carbon emissions were not a big factor in my decision to buy a plug-in car–I was more interested in performance, style, and low operating cost–the car’s green cred was a nice bonus.
Now here’s this Weiss guy, calling me a global-warming villain.
But I couldn’t help but notice that in his role as financial analyst, Weiss had been advising his clients to “short” the stock of Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA]–to bet against it. (Tesla stock price down = happy clients; Tesla stock up = very unhappy clients.)
And is it a coincidence that the article appeared the same day Tesla stock skyrocketed 30 percent, after Tesla’s first-quarter earning report? (It’s since risen another 30 percent.)
Weiss’s motives aside, his claims deserve a close look on their merits.
Not only the tailpipe
Like all 100-percent electric cars, the Model S indisputably has zero tailpipe emissions.
But Weiss looks at emissions from the powerplants that supply the Tesla’s electric “fuel,” as well as the excess electricity consumed by the Model S due to charging inefficiencies and “vampire” losses.
These two factors, he concludes, give the Model S effective carbon emissions roughly equal to those of a Honda Accord.
Throw in the carbon emitted during production of the Model S’s 85-kWh lithium-ion battery, says Weiss, and the Model S ends up in Ford Expedition territory.
Not so fast….
Although Weiss makes a number of valid points, I see several flaws in his argument. And he bases his carbon-footprint estimates of battery production on a single report that is far out of sync with previous research on the subject.
Furthermore, he fails to account for the carbon emissions resulting from the production of gasoline. If the carbon footprint of a Tesla’s fuel counts against it, why shouldn’t a standard car’s fuel be subject to similar accounting?
So let’s go through his analysis and his conclusions point by point.
*Power plant emissions count against electric cars
Virtually all electric car advocate agree that when toting up the environmental pros and cons of electric cars, it’s only fair to include powerplant emissions.
When this has been done previously, the numbers have still favored electric cars. The Union of Concerned Scientists, for example, concluded in a 2012 report, “Electric vehicles charged on the power grid have lower global warming emissions than the average gasoline-based vehicle sold today.”
The carbon-friendliness of the electric grid, of course, varies wildly from region to region, depending upon the type of powerplants there.
2013 Tesla Model S in Queens, NY, service center, awaiting delivery to buyer David Noland, Feb 2013
Tesla Motors has an interactive calculator on its website that allows you to calculate the effective carbon emissions of your Model S, depending on your particular state’s powerplant mix (coal, gas, nuclear, hydro, etc.). The numbers range from 26 gm/mi in Idaho (mostly hydro) to 310 gm/mi in West Virginia (mostly coal).
According to Weiss, the national average for Tesla’s claimed Model S CO2 emissions works out to 163 grams per mile (g/mi). Tesla says the corresponding figure for gas cars is 400 g/mi.
Although not truly zero-emission, electric cars in general (and the Model S in particular) are still better than most gas cars. Or so goes the mainstream scientific thinking.
Weiss begs to differ.
*Tesla’s numbers are too optimistic
According to the Tesla website, it assumes a Model S electricity usage of 283 Watt-hours per mile for its CO2 calculations. That’s the power required to drive at a steady 55 mph.
Weiss disputes that number as unrealistically low. He cites, among other sources, the EPA’s number of 321 Wh/mi, as well as 48 reports on the Tesla owners’ forum that averaged to 367 Wh/mi.
He concludes that the real-world power consumption of the 85-kWh Model S is actually more like 375 Wh/mi. That’s 33 percent higher than Tesla claims.
Accordingly, CO2 emissions would also be 33 percent higher.
I can’t argue with Weiss on this one. In 3,000 miles of driving my 60-kWh Model S, I’ve averaged 343 Wh/mi. Since my 60-kWh car is about seven percent more efficient than the heavier 85-kWh model, that would correspond to a real-world consumption of 367 Wh/mi for the longer-range car.
Because my driving–as well as that of the 48 Tesla owners Weiss cites–has occurred mostly in winter, I would expect average energy usage to decline as the weather warms. (I’ve already seen my efficiency improve in May.) I’d guesstimate a real-world year-round number for the 85-kWh Model S of 340 Wh/mi.
But I won’t quibble with Weiss’s figure of 375.
So a 33-percent bump raises Tesla’s claimed Model S effective carbon emissions of 163 gm/mi to 216 gm/mi, or about the same as the Toyota Prius V.
*Charging losses boost carbon emissions by 18 percent
Not every kilowatt-hour of energy that comes out of the wall plug ends up in the Model S battery. Citing EPA figures and reports from owners, Weiss estimates the Model S’s real-world charging efficiency at about 85 percent.
Again, Weiss has a good point. I’ve measured charging losses of 10-15 percent in my own car. Tesla quotes a “peak charging efficiency” of 92 percent on its website. An average charging efficiency of 85 percent seems plausible.
That means a Model S typically draws 17 percent more power from the plug than it uses to power the car.
So now our Model S carbon emissions are up to 254 g/mi, slightly less than those of a 2013 Honda Civic.
*Vampire losses further raise emissions by 55 percent
Whoa! This is truly a shocking claim. It implies that vampire losses–the power used by the Model S when it’s off, just sitting there in your garage–amount to nearly as much as Tesla claims the car uses while driving.
Weiss, citing a number of sources, (including my own report on Model S vampire losses on this site), settles on a number for vampire losses of 5.1 kWh per day. He then combines that figure with an estimate of 7,728 miles driven per year to conclude that vampire-related Model S CO2 emissions amount to 140 g/mi.
This brings his new total up to to 394 g/mile, about the same as a BMW 5-Series.
I’d call Weiss’s number for vampire drain a bit high, but not implausible. I measured at-the-wall vampire losses averaging 4.5 kWh per day on my car.
One reason for Weiss’s high-ball estimate may be his apparent misunderstanding of the Model S battery thermal management system. He claims that vampire losses in the 30-to-50-degree range are nearly triple those occurring at temperaturess of 50 to 80 degrees, due to the extra juice required to keep the battery warm.
This is simply wrong. I have noticed no such variations.
And a Tesla rep confirmed to me that the Model S battery is not temperature-controlled when the car sits idle, so there is no battery heating/cooling power draw. (Elon Musk has publicly confirmed this.) The brief pre-heat/cool prior to the once-a-day “topping off” charge cycle would have only a minimal impact on vampire losses.
I also take issue with Weiss’s estimate of the Model S average yearly driving distance of only 7,728 miles. (His derivation of the number is too lengthy to analyze here.)
2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]
How could it be that Model S owners drive barely half as much as the national average of 13,476 miles per year? l know my own driving mileage has actually increased since I got my Model S, simply because the car is such a blast to drive.
It’s only temporary
But Weiss’s major miscue in the section about vampire power drain–other than misspelling my name–is his implication that these daily losses are a permanent long-term condition.
Tesla has in fact been working on “sleep mode” software improvements to reduce vampire losses. Its next major update, due this summer, is expected to cut vampire losses by half.
By the end of the year, they will be virtually eliminated, according to Tesla spokesperson Shanna Hendricks.
Weiss acknowledges the promised sleep mode, but doubts that it will make any difference. “History (and the mechanics of the battery) suggest it will not meaningfully reduce idle power consumption,” he writes.
I suggest it will. And that by the end of the year, 55 percent of Weiss’s argument will have gone up in smoke.
Anticipating the new sleep mode, I’m going to ignore vampire losses and stick with 254 gm/mi as the Model S carbon footprint, compared to Weiss’s vampire-bloated number of 394 gm/mi.
*Battery production adds 39 percent more
The manufacture of a car contributes to its lifetime carbon emissions. And it’s well established that the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries is a carbon-intensive process. The question is, how much?
For his battery-production carbon numbers, Weiss relies primarily on an outlier study from the Journal of Industrial Ecology. Its estimates of carbon footprint from lithium-ion battery production are far higher than previous studies, and it has been pilloried in the blogosphere for numerous errors too arcane to enumerate here.
A 2010 study in the journal of the American Chemical Society, on the other hand, concludes that the environmental impact of the battery is “relatively small.” It estimates that battery production adds about 15 percent to the driving emissions of an electric car.
A 2012 study for the California Air Resources Board puts the number at 26 percent, assuming the California powerplant mix. But if you adjust to the dirtier national U.S. grid powerplant mix, driving emissions go up. So the percentage share of battery production goes down, also to about 15 percent.
Tesla may, in fact, beat even those lower numbers. Uniquely among electric car manufacturers, Tesla uses what are arguably the most efficiently manufactured lithium-ion battery cells on the planet: “commodity” 18650 laptop cells, which Panasonic churns out by the billions in highly automated plants. (I’m unaware of any carbon life-cycle analysis for these batteries.)
We’ll go with the consensus mainstream number of 15 percent, which brings total Model S carbon emissions up to 292 gm/mi, against Weiss’s battery-boosted grand total of 547 gm/mi.
We’ve arrived at a number for the real-world effective CO2 emissions of a Model S of 292 g/mi. Admittedly, that’s lot higher than Tesla claims on its website.
But worse than a Grand Cherokee? Hardly.
The V-6 Grand Cherokee’s official EPA CO2 number is 479 g/mi when fitted with the smallest engine offered, a 3.6-liter V-6. The more powerful V-8 model logs in at a whopping 592 g/mi.
In a follow-up post a few days later, Weiss backed off and significantly downgraded his estimate for Model S carbon emissions.
He concedes that, in calculating vampire losses per mile, total distance of 12,000 miles per year makes for a better comparison. He also downgrades his estimate of idle power losses to 3.5 kWh per day.
And, strangely, he neglects to account for the carbon footprint of battery production in any way.
2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]
With these new numbers, he recalculates the Tesla’s total effective carbon emissions to be 346 g/mi, not a lot more than the 292 g/mi I calculated above.
Weiss also downgrades his SUV bogeyman, pointing out that even at his revised lower figure of 346 g/mi, the Model S is still a worse carbon polluter than the Toyota Highlander, which the EPA rates at 312 g/mi.
What about carbon from gasoline production?
But for all his zeal in exhaustively parsing the carbon footprint of electricity production, Weiss conveniently forgets to mention that producing gasoline also has its own carbon footprint.
According to a 2000 report from the MIT Energy Lab, gasoline production accounts for 19 percent of the total lifetime CO2 emissions of a typical car. Actually driving the car accounts for about 75 percent of its lifetime carbon output.
Thus the carbon footprint of fuel production adds about 25 percent to a gas car’s nominal CO2 emissions number.
Sorry, Mr. Weiss. If you apply the same rules to gasoline cars that you did to the Tesla, your Toyota Highlander just went from 312 g/mi to 390 g/mi.
On this adjusted apples-to-apples basis, the Tesla figure of 292 g/mi is roughly comparable to that of the Scion iQ.
With all the growing concern about global warming and carbon emissions, old-fashioned “smog” air pollution–primarily nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2)–has receded into the background.
Due to strict emissions laws, modern gasoline cars emit very little of these lung-threatening pollutants. The same cannot be said, unfortunately, about coal-fired powerplants.
Weiss calculates that powerplant emissions give the Model S an effective level of NOx pollution about triple that of the EPA limit for gas cars. (I’m discounting his suspect inclusion of vampire losses.)
The situation for sulfur dioxide is much worse. Weiss calculates that effective Model S sulfur dioxide emissions equal that of about 400 gas cars. (Again, the suspect vampire data is discounted.)
Weiss writes, “In many states, including California, if a smog-testing center could measure the effective emissions of a Tesla Model S through a tailpipe, the owner would face fines, penalties, or the sale of the vehicle under state ‘clunker buyback’ programs.”
In terms of sulfur dioxide, gas cars are so clean and coal-fired electricity so dirty that a 60-watt light bulb effectively emits as much sulfur dioxide as an average gasoline car driving at 60 mph.
Frankly, I can’t argue with these disturbing numbers, and I have not seen them refuted anywhere. But they say more about the tough emission laws for gas cars and the remarkably lax rules for coal-fired powerplants belching sulfur dioxide than they do about the Model S.
Nevertheless, I’m feeling a bit guilty about the sulfur dioxide spewing out of my Tesla’s virtual tailpipe.
At least I live in New York state, which uses coal for only about 10 percent of its power production. That’s about one quarter of the U.S nationwide percentage, so presumably I’m “only” 100 times worse than a gas car when it comes to sulfur dioxide emissions.
Fortunately, I’m not alone; the vast majority of electric cars operate in states with low-coal grids like California, Washington, and New York.
And the grid is slowly getting cleaner. As more wind, solar, and natural gas come online and antiquated coal plants are shut down, my effective SO2 emissions will steadily decline.
So in the end…
After all of this, the conclusion seemed clear: I drive a kick-ass, high-performance, five-seat all-electric luxury sport sedan that has the same wells-to-wheels carbon emissions as a tiny Scion minicar with two real seats.
Anybody got a problem with that?
When it comes to virtual tailpipe emissions, carbon and otherwise, the Model S ain’t perfect.
But if you ask me, it’s a huge step in the right direction.
David Noland is a Tesla Model S owner and freelance writer who lives north of New York City.
By David Noland
Tesla Motors may collaborate with Google to develop autonomous cars, Bloomberg reports. CEO Elon Musk reportedly wants his car company to develop driverless technology, which could be created in partnership with Google.
Tesla CEO Musk said he believes the driverless or autonomous technologies are the next big development for the car because they could dramatically improve road safety. “I like the word autopilot more than I like the word self-driving,” he told Bloomberg. “Autopilot is a good thing to have in planes, and we should have it in cars.”
Although Tesla has been in “technical discussions” with Google about its driverless cars, Musk believes the roof-mounted laser-scanning system used by Google is too costly and inefficient to make sense for production cars. He reportedly favors a cheaper camera-based system, “with software that is able to figure out what’s going on just by looking at things.” Musk told Bloomberg that although it is possible that Tesla will cooperate with Google, it’s more likely that the startup will engineer its own unique autonomous-car technologies.
Google has a fleet of Toyota Prius hybrids (pictured), as well as a Lexus RX450h, that can drive without a human’s input. Lawmakers have granted the Internet company permission to test its autonomous cars in Nevada and California. Lexus demonstrated a semi-autonomous LS sedan at the Consumer Electronics Show, where Audi also showed off self-parking systems.
Self-driving Teslas are some time off, however: Musk says Tesla will focus on launching electric cars, including the Model S sedan and upcoming Model X SUV, before focusing on bringing autonomous technology to production. “Autopilot is not as important as accelerating the transition to electric cars, or to sustainable transport,” he told Bloomberg.
By Jake Holmes
It's only a few days before a new MotoGP season starts, with the first race of 2013 to be held under the desert sun of Qatar. There are many things which have happened since the end of the 2012 and during the winter tests… but only one question: how will this season be?
While nobody is able to offer a clear answer to this (altogether) recurring question, few considerations should be made just before the kick-off green light. It's no secret that the 2013 championship is a 4-name business, so let's check these horsemen out.
For many analysts and MotoGP fans, the Repsol Honda team looks like the favorite one for this year's title, but whether it's going to be Dani Pedrosa or Marc Marquez, nobody can tell. With Casey Stoner gone, this year could probably mean Dani's best shot at a world title, and we know that he knows it, too.
If we look back at the 2012 season, Pedrosa seems like being in the best shape he's ever been in MotoGP. He has won no less than 6 races in the second half of the last season and finished on the second place, but the tests at Sepang, Circuit of the Americas and Jerez saw a faster bike and seemingly a more focused, more confident rider.
And, speaking of confidence, Pedrosa didn't even race on the third day at Jerez, as he declared the bike was just as it should be, and he enjoyed its every aspect. And then he went home, as if there was no championship ahead.
Even more, Pedrosa is highly motivated by knowing that Rossi is still not fully acquainted with the YZR-M1 bike, and this might work to Honda's advantage in a very convenient way. Adding the fact that Pedrosa is still without a world title in the MotoGP can really boost his efforts.
⌕ MotoGP rookie extraordinaire Marc Marquez⌕ Dani Pedrosa – Repsol Honda⌕ Jorge Lorenzo – YamahaOn the other hand, his team mate, Marc Marquez, is the new rookie extraordinaire: reigning champion of the Moto2 series, the young Spaniard astonished everyone with his amazing speed during his first official test aboard a MotoGP machine at Sepang.
Sticking close to Pedrosa and being consistently faster than both Yamaha riders, Marquez lapped great times at Sepang and proved that he can really ride, despite his obvious lack of experience. We like a lot to hear him say that simply being fast during a lap is, of course, very nice, but he's focusing on honing his skills and try to add consistent riding to his speed.
Yamaha attended Honda's private tests at the COTA, but Marquez has been unbeatable on American ground: he had the best laps, even better than Pedrosa's, and he was once more faster than the Team Blue machines.
Pedrosa was there not necessarily for being fast, but he raced in Austin to finely tune some settings and it seems like he got what he wanted. Yamaha stayed in Texas for the first two of the three rounds, checked some new tweaks and called it a day. And on the third day, Marquez was even faster, conveying an even stronger “I can ride fast” message to the rest of the riders and teams.
However, Marc Marquez is still a rookie, and we saw that in Jerez. Setting the rainy, inclement weather aside, Marquez started to realize this was no dream, and emotions caught up on him.
Marquez' slower laps at Jerez had nothing to do with rain: it was all about an official test on Spanish asphalt and the fact that he realized how close his actual debut in the world's top racing series was. We can only hope that the mistakes he will surely make will not be major ones and will not cause serious consequences. Every rookie makes them, so it's not a matter of “if,” but one of “when” and “how bad.”
So much for the winged team, let's take a look at the three tuning forks. Yamaha has fared well during the last seasons: they've got a good bike which is getting better and better, a reigning champion and their rider duo is quite a reputable one.
Jorge Lorenzo is looking forward to his third world title. Seriously, he is. He knows he is good, and we know he can do it. In Lorenzo's case, one of the best things is his lack of inhibition: he's not intimidated by all the hype Rossi's return to Yamaha caused.
Most likely, Lorenzo is quite reassured with his exceptional last 3 seasons, out of which he won 2. He knows Rossi is huge, but he's seeing the Doctor as a team mate. Not necessarily looking up to him and, by all means, not looking down on him, either – Rossi may, of course, become Lorenzo's rival at one point in 2013, but these two are team mates.
Lorenzo really looks and acts like a rider who knows what he's doing. He's not entirely happy with the bike, not the way Pedrosa says he was at Jerez, and he's not afraid to talk about this openly. His mechanics managed to set up the chassis the right way, and have even mended the small braking inconsistencies.
Still, Lorenzo knows Hondas are faster and better, and the fact that he acknowledges this is working to his advantage. Hondas are a just a bit faster, but it's at the end of the turn where the fractions of a second are won – the wings' acceleration is better than what the tuning forks can come up with, at least for the moment.
And knowing this, Jorge Lorenzo will try to compensate: he can be extremely focused and strategic, and he has proven this, in the last three seasons… adding in the info in the first races and tweaking his team will do can better his riding, and this small increment might prove enough for the title.
⌕ Valentino Rossi – Yamaha⌕ Nicky Hayden – Ducati⌕ Andrea Dovizioso – DucatiLorenzo's team mate needs little introduction: to put it bluntly, if Valentino Rossi wins the 2013 MotoGP, he's reaching Giacomo Agostini's performance and this speaks for itself. However, Rossi comes after two long and frustrating years aboard Ducati bikes.
Long, frustrating, fruitless years with no wins, trying to understand a bike which was obviously no match for the competition. Now, back with Yamaha, Rossi rides a different beast: the M1 is no Ducati and he is no longer the one bringing a spoon to a knife fight. So talk about motivation…
Rossi managed to be faster than Lorenzo during days 2 and 3 of the Jerez tests… but only barely faster, with a 15 thousandths of a second lead. Even so, with the inclement weather in Spain, some say that these results lack the proper relevance, since nobody was able to race as hard as they wanted.
His expertise in MotoGP is a huge advantage, for him and for Yamaha as well, and this might be the dawn of a new era in the history of the Team Blue. From where we stand now, it looks like Rossi is more motivated than Lorenzo: it's the historic number of world titles, the chance to win the new championship with the old team right from the very first year aboard a Yamaha bike, proving he's still the king, and so on.
The only thing missing is that knack which has to be synced with the new bike. If he can do this syncing, we're in for a great show!
Finally, Ducati and the CRT teams. The Borgo Panigale team is in its first full season under Audi ownership, it has replaced its ex-racing director Preziosi with Gobmeier of BMW fame, and has taken a different path in bike-testing.
Both the works and the Pramac Ducati teams have the same bikes and are gathering data from 4 riders, hoping to accelerate the development process. However, it was only after they added a top-notch test rider, Michele Pirro they started to see better results.
The new chassis, in development for such a long time already, needs mass centralization, the Ducati riders said. The team did so and laps became faster; not a match for Honda and Yamaha, but way better than what we saw during the first test at Sepang.
Will they be able to even get a podium in the first half of the 2013 season? Under normal conditions, we'd rather say they won't. But Pirro is riding the lab bike some call the “GP14,” and at some point we could see a GP13.5 machine blending in the new results.
If this happens and the Ducatis start showing their teeth, then it's game on. If not, we will most likely have to wait until Valencia or the first 2014 tests and hope for the best.
As for the April 7 race in Qatar, here's a nice piece on what Carlo Pernat thinks, in a way, a much condensed version of this story. We've just checked with the MotoGP website, and at the time of writing it showed 05 days, 23 hours, 45 minutes and 15 seconds until the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar.
By Florin Tibu
Fan of Tesla’s Model S? Do your pockets run nearly as deep as Elon Musk’s? If so, you might be interested in purchasing this palatial 4-bedroom abode nestled just outside the Windy City.
Looking to sweeten the deal for his $1.29 million home, an Illinois man has decided to throw in a free all-electric Tesla Model S luxury sedan. According to the seller’s website, the price of the house was recently dropped by $200,000 and will now include his reserved Model S upon purchase.
“I get it. Houses are hard to tell these days. That’s why I reduced the price by $200,000, and I’m including a brand new 2012 Tesla Model S electric car,” writes the seller about his motivation to include the popular electric sedan. “As you may know, there is a waiting list of over 6,000 on this car. My reservation is #300+ so you will get the car quick. Mind you this is not just any car, it’s one of the hottest cars to come out this decade.”
Indeed. While the seller has pointed out that this might be the first time someone has included a high-end electric car with the purchase of a house, it’s not the first time someone has tried to lure potential home buyers with the inclusion of a luxury car. Atlanta Falcons Tight End Tony Gonzalez offered up his Porsche, in a similar bargain a few years back.
Even though the seller had us at “free Tesla Model S,” the spacious 6757 sq ft home also comes fully furnished with a decked-out theater room, and 50-inch plasma TV. And if you just so happen to be shopping for a new home, and would like to get your hands on a Model S, it doesn’t get much sweeter than this.
2013 Tesla Model S
Since Tesla issued its first-quarter financials last week, its stock has been on a tear.
Not only did the company have its first profitable quarter ever, but the many investors who had shorted the stock of Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] are now faced with the threat of expensive margin calls.
So Tesla is taking advantage of the price runup; it announced this afternoon that it would issue up to 2.7 million to 3.1 million more shares of its common stock.
At today’s closing price of $84.84 per share, that would net the company $229 million to $263 million. It will also offer $450 million in convertible debt.
CEO Elon Musk simultaneously said he would also buy $100 million of shares with his own funds–$45 million from the new offering–giving it total expected proceeds of about $830 million.
But that’s even not the big news.
The remarkable part of the company’s release this afternoon is that Tesla plans to use the proceeds of the offering to prepay the remainder of its $465 million low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Energy, both principal and interest.
That loan was granted in July 2009 as part of the DoE’s advanced-technology vehicle manufacturing program, along with much larger loans to Ford ($5.9 billion) and Nissan ($1.6 billion, of which it drew down $1.4 billion).
Last fall, Tesla was deemed a “loser” company by name by unsuccessful Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who criticized a slew of companies to which the DoE loaned or granted money–a few of which have failed, most notably Solyndra.
Paying off its DoE loan entirely removes one stick used by Tesla critics to beat the company: that it is subsidized by your tax dollars and would not otherwise be viable.
Consider articles like this one, for example: Sorry, Tesla’s Only Profitable Because Of Your Tax Dollars.
While Tesla Model S electric cars will still be eligible for the same Federal income-tax credit and other incentives as any plug-in car, paying off the loans means the Feds will no longer be in the business of providing operating funds for the company.
Startup Fisker Automotive was also granted $529 million in loans by the DoE, but the department cut off access after the company drew down $192 million.
While Fisker has not filed for bankruptcy, it has not built any of its Karma range-extended electric luxury sedans since last July, and laid off most of its employees last month.
Tesla’s Model S electric sport sedan, meanwhile, received a rave review from notably cautious Consumer Reports two weeks ago.
We’ve tested the 2013 Tesla Model S’ range on three single-charge road trips, but how will the car perform on the track? In this episode of Ignition, associate road test editor Carlos Lago puts the Model S through our standard battery of tests to see just how fast and fun the electric car is to drive.
At the test track the Model S reached 60 mph in 4.0 seconds and finished the quarter-mile in 12.4 seconds at 112.5 mph while it stopped from 60 mph took 113 feet. Despite its hefty weight, the Model S handles well because the battery pack’s mass sits low in the chassis.
Lago then takes the Model S to the streets to see how the electric car behaves in the real world. Check out the video below to hear Lago’s conclusion about the Model S and whether he thinks it’s a viable alternative to traditional gas-powered cars. And if you haven’t seen it, watch the Tesla Model S vs. BMW M5 drag race here.
By Jason Udy
During a presentation for his company’s upcoming Initial Public Offering, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk revealed that Tesla is working on three new models based on the Model S architecture, including a convertible, a van, and a crossover.
The new models will use the Model S’ underlying platform and powertrain with new bodies on top. Sketches revealed in the Road Show presentation to potential Wall Street investors included a two-door Cabriolet that bears a strong resemblance to the Model S, but with more aggressive styling; a van similar to the Ford Transit Connect; and a crossover that looks like a beefed-up Model S wagon. Tesla is also working on liquid-cooled batteries and electronics for the Model S to boost efficiency and component life.
Along with the Road Show, Tesla’s complete IPO filing with the SEC is available now and reveals some interesting facts about the company and its products. As we learned last week, Tesla has been losing money since its inception, and its IPO shows that the company is heavily dependent on selling carbon credits to other automakers, a $450 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy, and the money it hopes to raise in its IPO. The company also receives funds from a deal to supply batteries to Daimler’s Smart brand, but will lose that income when Daimler brings its battery development in-house. Further, the company expects to continue losing money until the Model S actually starts selling in significant quantities.
The company is also dependent on its unfinished agreement with Toyota to buy a portion of the closed NUMMI plant in California for production of the Model S. Should the deal fail to germinate by December 31, 2011, it is null and void. Even if it goes through, it only covers the building, not the equipment, which Tesla will have to secure on its own.
Tesla’s concerns run deeper than that. As of March 31, the company had only 110 outstanding orders for its Roadster model, of which 1063 had been sold to that date. Most of Tesla’s sales have been fulfilling orders that have been on the books for months or even years. Despite the limited orders, the company has an agreement with Lotus to purchase 2400 Roadster chassis. The company currently has 2200 non-binding reservations for the Model S as well, a car that the company says won’t see production until at least 2012 with deliveries following months later.
Some experts have questioned that timeline, given that the IPO also notes that the company has only a driveable prototype built at this point, not a production-intent car, and has not selected its suppliers yet. The filing also reveals that Tesla acknowledges having no experience with designing or using a common platform, and design of the Model S platform isn’t even complete yet. Other technical limitations include an admission that no facility yet exists that can swap out the Model S’ battery pack as the company has suggested in the past, and that the company realizes its current Roadster battery pack will lose up to 40 percent of its capacity, and therefore the vehicle’s range, after 100,000 miles, or about seven years.
On the non-technical side, Tesla also faces pressure from regulators, customers, and competitors. Tesla’s model of company-owned retail outlets and Internet sales is unproven and could run afoul of dealer franchise laws in some U.S. states and European countries. Its service program, with its mobile service technicians, is also unproven. Any new crash, safety or other regulations could slow development of the Model S and its mainstream competitors are better equipped financially to face the burden of developing an all-new car.
If the company has overestimated the market for its expensive, high-end models, it will make it harder to turn a profit and invest in more affordable models. And of course, the company will be without a source of revenue after 2011 when the first-generation Roadster ceases production along with the Lotus Elise it’s based on. Production of a second-generation car won’t begin until after the Model S is on sale.
While Tesla is clearly optimistic as it continues to expand its brick-and-mortar stores and product, there’s no telling how Wall Street will react. The company is hoping to pull in $178 million in its IPO in the next few weeks, but even if it’s successful in that endeavor, it still faces a number of challenges over the next several years as it struggles to reach financial stability on the backs of its products rather than temporary deals like carbon credit swaps.
What do think will happen?
By Scott Evans