The Tesla Model S has never been marketed or positioned as a mass-market volume play along the lines of the Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Volt, but despite the car’s not-insignificant purchase price, the Palo Alto, California-based company is expected to report first-quarter sales of the Model S surpassing the Leaf and Volt, making the Model S the best-selling plug-in vehicle for the quarter, according to Bloomberg.
Tesla is expected to report 4750 deliveries of the Model S when it releases first-quarter sales and financial results. The Volt sold 4421 units and the leaf sold 3695 units in the same period. This accomplishment follows the company’s earlier announcement of a new fleet of loaner vehicles and a “no-fault” battery warranty, as well as the expectation it will post its first-ever quarterly profit.
General Motors spokesperson Jim Cain lauded Tesla’s apparent victory, saying, “Any success for a company in this space is helpful for all other makers of plug-in vehicles.”
Although the Model S has taken the lead for this quarter, both the Volt and the Leaf have been on-sale longer than the Model S, and have more affordable starting prices than the premium Model S, which can crest six figures in top-of-the-line trim. Despite Tesla’s apparent successes, many auto industry analysts remain skeptical of the company’s long-term viability.
Range is something of an issue for EV owners, even those who bought their electric cars from Tesla. The EV start-up, which offers the highest-capacity battery packs in the business, is looking to offer a way to make longer road trips plausible without having to install internal combustion range extenders to its cars. Enter the Tesla Supercharger station, of which Tesla has now opened six in California. These are public charging stations for Tesla owners which will not only deliver a partial charge extremely quickly, but are also free to use.
The principal behind these stations is fairly simple. Batteries can be charged very quickly when they are nearly depleted, and this is what the Supercharger station does. Tesla owners can replenish their batteries to point where they have 150 out of the 265 miles of range which the Model S is capable of in just 30 minutes with a Supercharger. Topping it off the rest of the way requires standard charging, but 150 miles is quite a lot for just 30 minutes of charging, and Tesla has placed the stations in high traffic areas between large cities in California with the intent of getting owners of their EVs that extra bit of distance needed to get to their destination.
The Supercharger charging equipment connects directly to the car’s battery, bypassing the onboard charging system. It charges at 90 kW, and is 4.7 times faster than the already-quick home charging stations which Tesla will install for you when you buy a Model S. The stations are located not just along routes where they are deemed most useful, but also near restaurants, shops and other such locations which will help you to kill 30 minutes while you wait for your EV to charge.
The chain of stations makes it possible to travel by EV from Los Angeles all the way to San Francisco with just a couple of relatively quick charging stops. Tesla says that their plan is to extend the model across the whole country, making charging pipelines from coast to coast and across Canada as well. As an added eco bonus, the tops of the stations are covered in solar panels, thus sidestepping the problem of dirty electricity generation. Nationwide implementation will be a much more difficult undertaking, but assuming that everything goes according to plan with these first stations, it’s not an insurmountable goal.
By Jacob Joseph
Tesla Motors is gathering quite the automotive buzz with its mysterious Model X crossover. The California-based luxury electric car company is planning on unveiling the Model X at its new Los Angeles design studio on February 9th.
Recently Tesla began sending out invitations to owners beckoning them to attend the unveiling, and included a partially silhouetted image of the car. While we can’t devise much from the image, the Model X looks like it will pack Tesla’s signature sleek design, and appears to closely resemble the Model S – only with a shorter hood, longer measured roof, and of course, a more rounded rear.
When we recently had a chance to jump inside Tesla’s Model S at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show we came away impressed. If that is any indication for what to expect with the Model X we certainly have high hopes.
According to a tweet by CEO Elon Musk, the reveal will be broadcast live on the Tesla Motors Website. Musk, who historically has never been one to mince words or hesitate from unabashed self-promotion, stated in his tweet, “Most cars are pretty blah. This is not.” What that means exactly remains to be seen, but we are positively intrigued nonetheless.
Another interesting circumstance surrounding the Model X is the company’s collaboration with Toyota. Since Tesla will be providing the electric powertrain for Toyota’s RAV 4 EV , including the battery, motor, gear box, and power electronics we can’t help but wonder if the Model X will share any similar design characteristics with its Toyota cousin.
Tesla Model S
Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has announced European pricing for the Model S, set to go on sale there next year.
Speaking on the Tesla Blog, Tesla vice president George Blankenship revealed that the company is using a transparent approach to European pricing, making no more profit per car than it does in the U.S.
In the Netherlands, where Tesla is basing its European operations, a 60 kWh Model S kicks off at €72,600 ($96,000). 85 kWh models start at €83,150 ($110,000), and the Model S Performance starts at €97,550 ($129,000).
Signature models, arriving in the Spring, cost €101,400 ($134,000), and Signature Performance cars will be €110,950 ($147,000). All prices are before local incentives, and inclusive of purchase tax.
That purchase tax, plus a slight price increase to account for transport costs, import duties and other costs relevant to individual European countries (plus exchange rates) explains the large price difference between European and U.S. pricing. U.S. pricing starts at $67,400 for the 60 kWh model.
Blankenship also confirmed that the 40 kWh model won’t be available in Europe, at least initially–Tesla may choose to sell it in Europe at a later date.
Tesla will also offer deductions of €1,700 ($2,250) to buyers who already hold a Model S reservation in Europe, or plan to do so by the end of December. Buyers will need to finalize their order within four weeks of receiving their “Invitation to Configure” from Tesla.
Model S Signature models will start arriving by late Spring, and non-Signature car deliveries will start in Summer 2013.
Interested parties can head to their relevant European Tesla website.
Trying to win over Texans by giving them a new pickup truck sounds too stereotypical to be true, but that’s exactly what Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is doing. What might a Tesla Truck look like? Digital artist Garrett Bradford created the above image using design cues from current Tesla models to come up with an educated guess.
Musk is currently fighting Texas legislators, who claim Tesla’s company-owned retail stores violate laws prohibiting car manufacturers from owning dealerships.
The Tesla stores (photo below) are modeled on Apple Stores, and are usually located in upscale shopping malls. They also operate more like retail stores than conventional dealerships: there’s no inventory of cars and customers are directed to separate service centers if they have any problems with their purchases.
Tesla currently runs two stores in Texas: one in Houston’s Galleria mall, and another in Austin’s Domain shopping center.
While many states prohibit car companies from selling directly to customers, Tesla goes to extraordinary lengths to skirt the Texas laws.
Tesla stores in Texas do not offer test drives and do not offer pricing information, although it is easily obtainable by going to Tesla’s website.
Once a customer orders a car, the transaction is funneled through Tesla’s home base in California. Cars are either delivered at the factory or to the customer’s home. Either way, they never have to set foot in the showroom again. Service centers are also limited in the way they can communicate with customers.
Musk apparently thinks this is too much of a hassle, and is trying to change the law. That’s where the pickup truck plan comes in.
“I have this idea for a really advanced electric truck that has the performance of a sports car but actually more towing power and more carrying capacity than a gasoline or diesel truck of comparable size,” Musk told Automotive News.
If Tesla does decide to build a truck, Musk says it would likely require a new factory. He said Texas would be a “leading candidate” for such a plant.
While we’ve heard fantastic product ideas from Musk before, the Tesla Model F-150 is definitely the most outrageous. Tesla would have to design a second platform from scratch; the unibody that underpins the Model S won’t cut it for a truck.
Of course, Tesla designed the Model S from scratch, but a truck also doesn’t seem to fit the company’s mission. The Model S is a luxury car, and so is every other model Tesla has proposed so far. “Luxury trucks” are still a bit oxymoronic (Lincoln Mark LT, anyone?), but trucks have been getting more and more civilized – and tech heavy – as of late.
While Tesla officials have discussed turning the company into a full-line carmaker, jumping from a luxury sedan to a pickup truck without anything in between is just too crazy to be believable.
After all, Tesla still hasn’t put the Model X crossover into production, and recently canceled plans for a sub-Model S sedan.
An electric truck would be cool, but it doesn’t seem like that is what Musk is really proposing. Texas lawmakers might be willing to give him what he wants if it means netting a new factory and its many jobs.
Musk is a man that follows through with his visions, but this time he seems to be visualizing a network of company-owned car stores, not a new EV.
Elon Musk Speaks
Within the next hour, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] will release its first-quarter financial results.
We already know the company will be profitable, and that it sold “more than 4,750″ Model S electric luxury sport sedans from January through March.
CEO Elon Musk has also said that Tesla is targeting a 25-percent gross margin on sales by the end of the year.
But here are some other things to look for:
- Per-share profit: The consensus number on the Street is $0.04 [ACTUAL EARNINGS PER SHARE: $0.12]
- Revenue: Expectations are that this will come in at about $500 million [ACTUAL REVENUE: $562 million]
- Reservations: How much did the total number of U.S. reservations for Tesla cars fall?
- Europe: As the company prepares to start selling in multiple European countries, how many reservations has it booked from there so far?
- Revenue sources: Did Tesla break even on building and selling cars? Or was it profitable only because of two other sources of income: making electric powertrains for other car companies, and selling zero-emission vehicle credits?
We were asked to come on CNBC today to discuss the company before its earning call at 5 pm today.
The first couple of minutes of the video below shows CNBC automotive correspondent Phil LeBeau discussing some of the financials.
Then your faithful correspondent appears at the 1:44 mark, to talk more broadly about the challenges Tesla faces and what it’s accomplished to date.
Meanwhile, if you’re a Tesla Motors fan–and we know many of you are–stay tuned to the news tickers after the market closes today.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed the Tesla Model X prototype to the world today at the site of his other big endeavor, the Space X rocket factory in southern California, which builds the Falcon 9 rocket ship.
The signature feature of the Model X prototype is a falcon of a different kind, what Tesla calls falcon-wing doors, a two-piece articulated gullwing door. Unlike ‘ordinary’ gullwings, the Model X’s powered articulation allows them to stay close to the car’s sides as they rise, making ingress and egress in tight parking spots a snap, just step in and sit down. Musk stood up under them to show how much room there is with the falcon doors in full flight. The opening’s unusually long length also helps accessing the Model X’s twin, third-row seats (there are seven seats in all).
While the Tesla Model X is still of course a prototype with many details that will change, it will share much with its Model S sedan sibling, including its imposing 17-inch hi-res, multi-touch display and its overall vehicle architecture.
Also the same as the Model S will be its pancake-flat, under-floor battery packs in two sizes (60 and 85 kW-hrs). The small, 40 kW-hr size will only be available in the S. Given the bigger size and weight of the Model X, range will likely be at least 10 percent less than what is expected from the Model S, somewhere between about 214 to 267 miles depending on the battery. Recharge times are unchanged at about four hours for the big battery.
Extending the Model X’s extruded structure between the front and rear cast aluminum subframes has allowed the wheelbase to grow by about four inches over the Model S. Combined with the low, flat battery and the small-size and low-positioning of the electric motors (a second, front motor with about half the rear’s estimated 300 horsepower will be optional), there’s room galore. There’s a generous rear cargo hold even with the third-row seat erected, plus a decent front trunk as well. The Model X’s air suspension will allow it to vary its ride height by about an inch. Musk estimated the Model X will weigh between 10-15 percent more than the Model S at about 4700 lbs.
Tesla says power can be transferred instantly between the front and rear motors (lateral distribution being via individual brake application). There’s also greater regen braking available. Musk claims the Model X will move from 0-to-60 in as little as 4.4 seconds to 60 mph (from presumably a sport edition). Pricing is expected to about the same as the Model S, which starts at $49,900 after the Federal tax credit. Production of the Model X is expected to start late next year with volume delivery happening in 2014. -Photos by Jason Davis
Taking a page out of fellow Silicon Valley-based company, Apple, Palo Alto-based automaker Tesla unveiled its highly anticipated Model X last Thursday at its design studio in Southern California. And, as they say, the jury is in, and the numbers don’t lie.
Well sort of. If pre-order sales are anything to go off of, it looks like Tesla Motors has a real winner with the Model X. According to Tesla Motors, the Model X is the fastest selling Tesla ever with advanced sales north of $40 million, which – depending on your point of view — is equally impressive and meaningless, considering Tesla only offers two other models: the Tesla Roadster, and the sleek Model S.
While some of the sales spikes for the Model X are from customers switching over from the Model S, Tesla also pointed out that sales generated from reservations for its Model S shot up 30 percent following the event.
Considering that the Model X won’t begin serious production until the end of next year, the enthusiasm surrounding the car is certainly palpable. Much of the surrounding excitement lies on the car’s features and technology. The Model X features unique Falcon Wing doors (an endless source of debate around the DT office — some love it, others not so much) and is built on the same platform as the Model S, but with a longer wheelbase.
Tesla has also been touting that the Model X will feature approximately the same external dimensions at an Audi Q7, but will offer 40 percent more room.
Most of us don’t associate crossover vehicles, like the Model X, with performance and speed, but Tesla is claiming that its newest model will offer a generous helping of style, functionality, and performance. In fact, according to Tesla, the performance version of the Model X will be able to accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds, effectively making it faster than a Porsche 911 Carrera.
While no definitive pricing has been released, Model X is expected to range between $60,000 and $100,000. Customers who recently placed reservations on the Model X were asked to provide a refundable $5,000 deposit for the base model, or a $40,000 deposit for the Signature series.
CAPTIONS ON | OFF
Mitsubishi Motor Company recently disclosed details about the highly anticipated 2014 Outlander plug-in hybrid, scheduled to be released in Japan on January 24th. According to Mitsubishi, the Outlander PHEV is its “most important vehicle sold in decades.” This is a particularly bold claim coming from the car company who just last year released the i-MiEV (review here), a well-received all-electric vehicle.
The base price is ¥3,324,000 and its highest‐level factory model goes for about ¥4,297,000, approximately $38,972 to $50,380 U.S. at the current exchange rate. In Japan, the crossover qualifies for the “eco‐car” government incentives, which slashes about $5,000 off its cost, making the Outlander’s starting price as low as $33,471.
While the Outlander PHEV is an interesting, eco crossover entry, it should not be expecting an open season in the U.S. market. Probable competitors include the current Toyota Rav4 EV (review here) and the soon to be released Tesla Model X. However, these cars are both electric vehicles, making them only suitable for short trips. Tesla is attempting to overcome these shortcomings, claiming that its nationwide “supercharger network” will be finished sometime in late 2014. Considering Tesla’s reputation for sticker shock, the Model X is unlikely to be vying for Mitsubishi’s more modest market.
The Outlander PHEV is powered by Mitsubishi’s Plug-in Hybrid EV System, a multi-mode drivetrain, which combines two independent electric motors, a 12kWH lithium–ion battery pack, and a 2.0L four-cylinder MIVEC gas-powered engine. The gas engine is rated at 117 hp and 137 lb.-ft of torque. This “motor à trois” gives the Outlander PHEV an estimated 37 mile range on electric only, hybrid mpg of 44, and a combined fuel efficiency of 175 mpg.
Mitsubishi added that quick-charging will be an available option. This feature allows the Outlander PHEV to charge the battery up to 80 percent in 30 minutes, undoubtedly a useful element when charging the crossover away from home. Also available is a plug‐in system that allows the vehicle to power other sources at 100 volts AC and up to 1,500 watts.
The Outlander PHEV will come in five trim levels. Four “G levels,” which include the barebones G, the G Safety Package featuring the “e-Assist” advanced safety technology system, the G Navi Package with an on-board navigation system, and the G Premium Package, which boasts a Rockford Fosgate Premium Sound System and leather-upholstered seats. The fifth trim level is the prestigious E, which is made-to‐order to the customer’s specifications.
Design wise, the 2014 Outlander was given a moderate facelift. The headlights have been narrowed and swept back further. The front has been squared off, giving the crossover a more robust, yet streamlined appearance. It is unknown whether or not this Japanese market design (as well as its price tag) will carry over to its later international release.
Visit theautoMedia.comMitsubishi Research Centerfor quick access to reviews, pricing, photos, mpg and more. Make sure to followautoMedia.comonTwitterandFacebook.
State laws may put a kink in Tesla Motors’ retail plans, as the EV automaker’s factory stores are being questioned by dealer associations and state regulators, reports Automotive News. Tesla hoped to recreate the Apple buying experience with its factory stores, but dealer associations in a number of states claim those stores create unfair competition for conventional dealerships.
The main complaint is that Tesla’s stores are in violation of state franchise laws, which bar factory ownership of dealerships. Tesla currently operates 17 stores in the U.S., with most located in shopping malls. Recently, the Secretary of State’s office in Illinois told Tesla officials the company was breaking state law by listing CEO and founder Elon Musk as the owner of its Chicago store. Tesla said it would comply and asked for 30 days to respond.
Elsewhere, dealer associations are challenging the legality of Tesla stores. In defense of its Boston store, Tesla told city officials that the store wouldn’t conduct sales.
“We do what we’re capable of doing, and we do whatever they let us do,” Tesla’s vice president of sales George Blankenship told Automotive News. “It’s unique for each location. If we can’t be a dealer in a mall, we won’t do reservations on-site. We tell people where to go on our website to make a reservation.”
But the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Associations has issues with Tesla’s plan, claiming product presentation and directing customers to Tesla’s website is part of the sale.
Tesla doesn’t face the same hurdles in all states, as the company operates within the limits of the law in California. In the Golden State, manufacturers can operate dealerships so long as they’re more than 10 miles away from a private-capital dealer selling the same brand. Since there are no private-capital Tesla dealers, the company is covered. That same law caused problems for Chrysler Group earlier this year, when the company’s new Motor Village in downtown Los Angeles was investigated for violations of state franchise law.
According to the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA), factory ownership of dealership is restricted or prohibited in 48 states. NADA said in a release:
“Tesla may not yet recognize the value of the independent, franchised dealer system, but as its sales increase, NADA is confident it will re-examine its business model.”
Six Tesla stores are scheduled to open this fall, and if the launch of the Model S is successful, don’t be surprised to see a few more popping up around the U.S. before long.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)