Sarah Palin Calls Tesla, Chevy Volt "Losers"



We are pretty much immune to the green bug, but electric and hybrid cars are steadily conquering the world and proving to be good solutions to our mobility problems. However, the Republicans still haven't heard about this and are sticking to the old ways, criticizing president Obama for his support of green energy and electric automobiles.

In a recent Facebook post, Sarah Palin picked up where Mitt Romney's campaign left off, calling the Chevy Volt and Tesla “losers.” She was, of course, exploiting the media opportunity created by Fisker's recent financial problems and rumored bankruptcy.

Here's the full statement made by Palin on April 5th on her Facelbook page:

Once again, the American public lost when the Obama administration attempted to pick “winners and losers” in the free market. Today the electric car company Fisker Automotive, which received nearly $200 million in taxpayer money, is laying off three-fourths of its U.S. workers.

The Anaheim, CA-based start up has failed at pretty much every level – especially when it comes to the company’s ultra expensive luxury electric hybrid, the Karma (what a name!), which is assembled in Finland and received a green-energy loan to transition the assembly to the U.S., something that never happened.

This losing tax-subsidized venture joins other past losers like the Obama-subsidized Volt that gets 40 miles per battery charge, or like the Obama-subsidized Tesla that turns into a “brick” when the battery completely discharges and then costs $40,000 to repair

This is really just the latest manifestation of the administration’s crony capitalism as their green energy buddies benefit from this atrocious waste of taxpayer money. Americans really need to get outraged by these wasteful ventures. As we’ve seen time and time again, We the People are always stuck subsidizing the left’s “losers.”

So what’s the solution and where do Americans go with our outrage? Stand up against the crony capitalism and elect only those who understand and will let America’s marketplace dictate economic successes, instead of letting politicians (some who have never run any business nor even worked in the private sector) choose free enterprises’ winners and losers. Take a stand, friends. Nothing will change unless you do.

- Sarah Palin

By Mihnea Radu

Tesla Pledges Nissan Leaf Rival



With the Model S already enjoying success on the luxury market and the Department of Energy loan paid in full nine years early, Tesla Motors is looking to offer a totally new electric car.

Aware that the Model S is too expensive for most people, Elon Musks says his company is working on an affordable EV that could rival Nissan’s Leaf model. Although the low cost Tesla is far from being developed, Musk promises the car will eventually see the light of day.

“With the Model S, you have a compelling car that’s too expensive for most people,” he said. “And you have the Leaf, which is cheap, but it’s not great. What the world really needs is a great, affordable electric car. I’m not going to let anything go, no matter what people offer, until I complete that mission.”

In addition, Musk said the affordable Tesla will hit the market in three to four years with a range of about 200 miles and a price tag of under $40,000. The 2013 Tesla Model S can be had for at least $60,000 while the current generation Nissan Leaf costs almost $29,000.

Story via DetroitNews

By Ciprian Florea

Tesla to Issue New Stock and Pay Off Government Loan – Rumor Central

Tesla to Issue New Stock and Pay Off Government Loan

Tesla plans to offer 2,703,027 shares of common stock and $450 million in convertible senior notes due in 2018 to raise money toward its outstanding loan from the Department of Energy.

Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk will purchase $100 million worth of the shares himself, with $45 million purchased from the common stock offering and $55 million bought directly from Tesla in a private sale. The underwriters will have a 30-day option to purchase up to 405,454 additional shares and $67.5 million worth of convertible notes, which can be converted into cash or shares of Tesla stock when they mature.

Tesla stock ended trading on Wednesday at $84.84 a share, up significantly from last week’s price in the mid- to high $50 range. The surge in price is attributable to Tesla posting its first quarterly profit, with the company generating $11.2 million net income in the first quarter of 2013.

Though Tesla’s revised financing option may have lead to higher consideration among luxury buyers, the brand is still only selling variations of one vehicle. Whether Tesla can maintain its momentum remains to be seen.

Source: Tesla




By Alex Nishimoto

Oatmeal raises $1 million to build a Nikola Tesla museum

Nikola Tesla's Wardenclyffe

Matthew Inman, the lone man behind the comics of The Oatmeal, is at it again on the crowdfunding platform IndieGoGo. This time Inman is asking for contributions that will go into securing the site of Nikola Tesla’s final laboratory in Shoreham, New York, for the future development of a Tesla museum. As of today, Inman has more surpassed his $850,000 goal and cracked the $1 million mark.

Nikola Tesla was many things. He was an inventor, an engineer, physicist, and most notably a futurist, who paved the way for modern technologies that we take for granted, including wireless communication and radio, and alternating current systems. We also Tesla to thank for other nifty inventions like the Tesla coil, which sends visible high-voltage sparks shooting into the air. Today he’s a cultural icon.

In the early 1900s, that Tesla attempted to construct a tower adjoining his laboratory, which would in theory generate electricity and wirelessly transmit it to the world. The tower ultimately failed despite its construction due to two factors. First, Tesla’s initial attempts at transmitting electricity failed due to insufficient experimentation. Second, the Panic of 1910 froze investment in his projects from J. Pierpont Morgan (founder of investment bank, J.P. Morgan). Tesla’s project was indefinitely halted and the site was sold off to George Boldt, proprietor of the Waldof-Astoria, for $20,000 ($400,000 in today’s value) to pay off his overdue rent. The site’s new owners destroyed the tower in 1917 for scrap.

The Long Island science organization has long sought to transform the property into a Tesla museum, while other interested buyers plan to raze the structures and redevelop it. Its current owner, Agfa Corporation, wants $1.6 million for the property. At the site, only the laboratory remains.

Inman’s original goal of $850,000 would buy just half of the cost of the property, but the state of New York has agreed to match contributions, bringing total funds up to $1.7 million. Raising the capital to build a museum from the property will be another cost, but from the looks of it, with 36 days left and having already surpassed the $1 million mark, there should be funds to spare.

You can check out a video of the inside of Wardenclyffe below. Note that the footage taken was the result of individual trespassing and breaking into the laboratory, but it will give you good idea of what the building looks like.

By Francis Bea

2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S Front On Road

2012 Tesla Model S Front Three Quarter 1

2012 Tesla Model S Rear Three Quarter 1

2012 Tesla Model S Interior

See All 22 Photos

2012 Tesla Model S Front Three Quarter 1

As clean-sheet designs go, this one was penned on a bleached Pantone 9010 Pure White satin king-size. It’s Silicon-Valley fresh — no precedents or paradigms to shift and the air is filled with fresh thinking. Elon Musk’s goal in founding Tesla here in 2003 was to hasten the transition to affordable carbon-free transportation. His foundling company learned to crawl and walk first, bolting electric drivetrains into some 2250 Lotus Elise rolling chassis, and now with the 2012 Tesla Model S, the pace is picking up to a healthy saunter, leading up to next year’s production “run” of 20,000 cars. Musk’s goal for the Model S? “To be the best car in the world and to show that an electric car can be the best car in the world.”

2012 Tesla Model S Rear Three Quarter 1

You’re probably snorting and rolling your eyes at the hubris of a guy who daisy-chained a bunch of laptop batteries together to make a Lotus run silently, but trust me — after a walk through the factory, a visit to a dealer showroom, and an hour-and-a-half spent driving the car on a mix of roads, my eyes are wide and my jaw has dropped. Remember, Musk’s Space-X operation just launched a commercial rocket that successfully docked with the international space station. Don’t underestimate his determination, or his ability to lure talent. Examples? In the chassis department, Huibert Mees did the Ford GT’s suspension and Graham Sutherland spent 23 years tuning Lotuses. Manufacturing boss Gilbert Passin ran Toyota’s North American manufacturing engineering operations, and sales veep George Blankenship designed the Apple Stores.

2012 Tesla Model S Interior

2012 Tesla Model S Rear Trunk Seats

2012 Tesla Model S Front Trunk

This team has conceived a different kind of car, one that has more than 250 patents issued for it already with more pending. It’s a hatchback sedan with an optional ($1500) third-row of child seats, that can still accommodate 8.1 cubic feet of luggage under its “hood”– a difficult task for many three-row SUVs, but not for an EV with a 4-inch-thick battery pack under the floor and an its electric motor tucked between the rear wheels. There’s no engine-start button — climb aboard with the key and it’s ready to go; walk away and it powers down and locks up. There’s no parking brake handle or switch, it just automatically engages when you select park. A gigantic vertical touch screen uses Navigon/GoogleMaps with a browser interface, and as browsers evolve so too will the downloadable software, so your car always looks current. A built-in SIM card allows web surfing, and yes, it works in motion so the passenger can operate it (and as Musk points out, if a driver is determined to surf while in motion, it’s safer to do so on a 17-inch screen than a 3-inch one).

Tesla Model S Key In Elon Musk Hand

Design chief Franz Von Holzhausen’s shape is not as “disruptive” as the rest of the car’s technology. He opted for classic beauty along the lines of the Ford Fusion and Aston Martin Rapide, though neither had appeared when it was first drawn. It does, however, boast the lowest drag coefficient (0.24) of any current production car.

The aluminum structure of stampings, die-castings, and extrusions utilizes expertise from the rocketry division. Extruded rear suspension links (as strong as forgings) and hollow-cast front knuckle designs are claimed automotive innovations, each of which also lowers unsprung weight. Double-octagon extrusions form the front and rear crumple-zone structures, which are claimed to outperform federal standards, especially in back, where the car was impact tested at 50 mph as well as the mandatory 35. The roof crush resistance is also double the requirement (it broke the crush machine), and the rigid battery pack greatly restricts side-impact intrusion.

Frank Markus With Tesla Employees

Tesla acquired the 5-million-sq-ft former NUMMI factory in Fremont, California, that GM and Toyota once occupied — complete with conveyor equipment and stamping and injection-molding machines — at a yard-sale price during the economic downturn. Other machinery was nabbed from ailing automakers and suppliers so that now the vast majority of the stamped and die-cast aluminum parts are made on site. To make these tools pay off on a low-volume product like the Model S, the Tesla team has had to develop quick die and tool change processes that allow one tool to make many parts in smaller quantities. Similarly, the robots that frame the unibody structure are all multi-taskers that can spot-weld, MIG-weld, bond, rivet, and even move parts around. Owning all this tooling favors in-sourcing over out-sourcing. Over 90 percent of all the plastic parts in the Model S are made onsite. More of the Model S’s parts are made in the building than was the case with the Corolla that was made here previously.

Frank Markus And Elon Musk Inside 2012 Tesla Model S

Elon Musk In 2012 Tesla Model S

Tesla Factory 1

Tesla Factory 2

Frank Markus With Tesla Factory Head Gilbert Passin

2012 Tesla Model S In San Jose Tesla Store

Okay, so it’s cleverly conceived and safe, but you’d be forgiven for remaining skeptical of that world’s-best-car claim. Humor me a bit longer. Performance-wise, that rear motor makes 362 hp at 6-9000 rpm and 325 lb-ft at 0-5000 rpm in the base model. Performance versions make 416 hp at 5-8600 rpm and 443 lb-ft at 0-5100 rpm. A front-mounted motor as found in the forthcoming AWD Model X would fit but is not yet planned for the sedan. By using an AC-induction type motor (which Nicola Tesla helped develop) instead of the typical permanent magnet type, Tesla needs not fret about rare-earth metal supplies and prices.

2012 Tesla Model S With Frank Markus And Elon Musk

Feeding electrons to that motor is a choice of three lithium-ion battery packs (using Panasonic cells with nickel-cobalt-aluminum cathodes) sized to assuage differing degrees of range anxiety. Range is money, how far do you want to go? For $58,570 before tax credits, short-haul drivers can get a 40-kWh pack good for about 140 miles of EPA 5-cycle range (official numbers are not yet available). By comparison a Nissan Leaf’s 24-kWh battery propels the 1300-pound lighter car 73 miles. The 60-kWh battery should take you 200 miles on a charge for $68,570. The 85-kWh pack has just been EPA-rated at 265 miles and 89 MPGe and costs $78,570 (the Performance package adds $15K, the Signature package, built on the first 1000 cars, adds $18K). As for charging, the 10-kW 110/240-volt charger lives in the Tesla, not on the wall. An identical second charger (nestled beside the first under the right rear seat costing $1200) allows 20 kW to flow into the battery pack via Tesla’s unique connector from a special 100-amp wall charger. Tesla’s charging socket is smaller than the SAE J1772-spec socket (adaptors are provided) but can accept up to 90 kW from roadside Supercharger units Tesla will install between key cities capable of putting 150-miles worth of range into the battery in 30 minutes.

2012 Tesla Model S Front 1

2012 Tesla Model S Right Side

2012 Tesla Model S Front 2

Before we buckle in for a romp through the hills above the East Bay, let’s talk chassis. The under-floor battery is a stressed member, and helps lower the center of gravity to just 17.5 inches high with two occupants — about the same as the Ford GT’s. The front control-arm rear multi-link suspension is nearly all aluminum. Performance and Signature cars get a four-position height-adjustable air suspension (down 0.8 inches at speed or for egress, up as much as 1.2 inch for clearing steep driveways). The anti-roll bars are solid steel and look surprisingly thin, but that low CG means the body mass never gets much leverage for body roll. In the rear, a wide control arm includes a curious vertical link to the knuckle at the rear. This provides caster control and distributes the brake-reaction torque among the control-arm bushings for greater comfort.

2012 Tesla Model S Front On Road

Alright, time to put this world’s-best notion to the 100-mph highway and twisty-road tests. The Model S bolts away from a stop like any EV, but it accelerates from 60 to 80 mph like a big gasser, continuing to pull strongly past 100 mph (top speed is 130 on Performance models). Sound levels are amazingly low, with just a whisper of wind at the pillars. The heft and communication coming through the electrically boosted steering does a Rich Little-grade impersonation of an Audi helm. As we head up and over the hills the brake pedal feel stands out as better than most Toyota hybrids, with no obvious handoff from regen to hydraulic retardation. The 48/52-percent front/rear weight distribution, low polar-moment of inertia (all the heavy bits are between the wheels) rear-drive, and aggressive Michelin Pilot Sport rubber help this 4650-pound sled corner sharply with no squealing. Ride quality is also impressive, in that it traverses bumps smoothly with no head toss. The Tesla team iterates at a blinding pace by car industry standards: Just six weeks ago independent evaluators complained about the car’s flinty ride, and in response the nimble team made over 100 tuning changes to the tires, bushings, anti-roll bars, shock valving, and more.

2012 Tesla Model S Front 3

So is it the best car in the world? This fourth production example built may not be, but I’d rank it among the top few percentile and at the rate these automotive greenhorns are improving things, it might well be the best car in the solar system by version 2.0. I’d advocate for a bit more rear seat space, comfort, and lateral support, and of course more range for less money would be nice. But the dynamic performance, equipment level, and style nearly justify the price — even if you don’t care about the electric drivetrain. I don’t. And I want one.

2012 Tesla Model S Front Three Quarter 3

2012 Tesla Model S Rear Three Quarter 2

2012 Tesla Model S Left Side


Exterior Details

Charge Port is concealed in driver rear side reflector lamp, like 1950s GM cars.
Flush handles pop out when the key approaches, or when shifting to park, or when pressed.
Finishing Panels for both B-pillars are made of glass.
No seams in upper chrome daylight-opening molding for luxury look.
Choice wheels. 21-inch slicer wheels shown are for Performance models (dark gray finish is standard); others get 19-inch design for better ride (19s are 4.4 pounds heavier).
Flat underbelly pan smoothes airflow, contributes to record low drag coefficient of 0.24.
Panorama roof boasts industry’s largest opening (at least until Lincoln MKZ arrives).

Interior Details

Familiar Switches for the power windows come from the Daimler bin, but nearly all other functions are controlled by the touch-screen.
Dashing display in front of driver shows speed and power use in center digi/analogue gauge, and your choice of navigation, energy use, audio track, or phone info on either side.
Steering column and stalks are familiar pieces purchased from investor Mercedes Benz.
Console bin shown is open and flat on the floor—no drive shaft or exhaust pipe tunnel needed, but cubbies for iPhones and other personal items are in the works.
Largest ever 17-inch automotive touch screen controls headlamps, trunk/hatch releases, sunroof, seat heaters, suspension height, steering effort, regenerative braking strength, audio and climate systems.
Décor Accent options include Piano Black, Lacewood, and Obeche Wood (shown).

2012 TESLA MODEL S SIGNATURE
BASE PRICE $96,570-$106,570*
VEHICLE LAYOUT Rear-motor, RWD, 5- or 7-pass, 4-door hatchback
MOTOR 362-416-hp/325-443-lb-ft AC electric
TRANSMISSION 1-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT 4650 lb (mfr)
WHEELBASE 116.5 in
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 196.0 x 77.3 x 56.5 in
0-60 MPH 4.4-5.6 sec (mfr est)
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON 88/90 mpg
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 38/37 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS 0 lb/mile (at car)
ON SALE IN U.S. Currently
*Before $7500 Federal Tax Credit

By Frank Markus

Tesla Plans on Early Repayment of DOE loans, Re-Files Annual Report – Rumor Central

Tesla Plans on Early Repayment of DOE loans, Re-Files Annual Report

In stark contrast to the woes faced by other upstart plugin auto brands Coda and Fisker, Tesla seems to be resolute and resilient in its business strategy. The company is so confident in its success, that it released a statement on the company blog that it intends to re-pay its Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loans five years ahead of schedule. This would put the final payment of the loan in 2017, as opposed to the original deadline of 2022.

In the heated political climate surrounding government-subsidized green energy initiatives, the company was quick to point out the that ATVM loans were initiated and approved under the Bush administration, and were completely separate from the federal bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, as well as being the smallest of the ATVM loans granted, the others being Ford at $5.9 billion, Nissan at $1.4 billion, and Fisker at $529 million. Tesla’s loan was for $465 million.

In the blog post, Tesla’s VP of Business Development, Diarmuid O’Connell, said the company expected to show a modest profit in the first quarter of 2013, excluding non-cash option and warrant-related expenses.

The company’s upcoming models were briefly mentioned in the post, including the Model X crossover, and the third-generation model, described as a high-volume, low-price model, sometimes referred to as the “Blue Star.” During its development, the Model S was coined the “White Star” by many automotive media outlets.

However, being a publicly-traded company, Tesla is under the scrutiny of investors and regulators, and announced that its annual report would be delayed due to errors in its filing, according to Bloomberg. Some unpaid capital expenditures from 2011 and 2012 will be re-classified as operating activities in the revised report.

Source: Bloomberg, Tesla




By Edward A. Sanchez

Tesla Shares Up 24 Percent Following First Quarter Profit



With a first quarter 2013 profit of $11 million and a 99 out of 100 score from Consumer Reports, everything seems to work just fine for Tesla Motors. And good news keep pouring in for the EV manufacturer, with Tesla shares going up 24 percent.

According to Automotive News, Tesla Motors Inc. shares surged to $69.40 on the New York Stock Exchange right after the company posted its first quarterly profit in history. The same source says that the company’s shares have gained 65 percent this year.

As we already reported yesterday, Tesla delivered 4,900 vehicles in the first quarter of 2013 for record sales of $562 million, up 83 percent when compared to the last quarter, which resulted in a profit of $15 million (GAAP profit of $11 million).

Furthermore, Tesla’s 4,900 examples delivered in North America in the first quarter have surpassed both the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, with the two companies reporting 4,244 and 3,539 units sold over the same period of time.

Story via AutomotiveNews

By Ciprian Florea

2013 Tesla Model S

  • BY CSABA CSERE
  • PHOTOGRAPHY BY A.J. MUELLER

    Those of us who like cars propelled by closely spaced, tiny explosions don’t easily warm up to electric power. It’s not just our troglodytic affection for an urgently revving engine, a crisp redline shift, and the earthy whiff of gasoline. The reality is that most electric cars simply haven’t been very good.

    Optimized for high mileage ratings, current electric cars are small and slow. Even worse, none has sufficient range to be truly useful, unless your duty cycle consists of driving no farther than the nearest grocery store. It’s no surprise that electric cars are selling like stale cowpies.

    Then along comes the Tesla Model S from Elon Musk, he of PayPal and SpaceX, to change our perceptions about cars powered by electrons. For example, in one day, our photographer drove the fully charged car for 30 to 40 miles—already half the range of a Nissan Leaf. Then I drove it 30 miles to dinner and to a friend’s home another 40 miles away before taking the long way back to Ann Arbor. After gallivanting all over Detroit’s sprawling metro area, I returned to Car and Driver headquarters to polish off the last few miles. Our measured range was 211 miles—not quite the EPA-predicted 265—but impressive, given our 75-to-80-mph highway speeds.

    Unlike other electrics, the Model S is a spacious five-door with an optional rear-facing third row and luxurious appointments. Perhaps the Model S’s closest competitors are the couture German luxury sedans—the Audi A7, the BMW Gran Coupe, and the Mercedes-Benz CLS. Designed by Franz von Holzhausen, who sculpted the Pontiac Solstice, the Model S has enough style to match the high-end German crowd.

    Its flowing lines help it achieve a 0.24 drag coefficient. If that seems incredibly low, consider that the Tesla’s grille inhales only about one-third as much air as a standard car’s. And its underside is as smooth as any we’ve seen, thanks to front and rear belly pans, no exhaust pipes, and a flat battery pack under the passenger compartment.

    That battery pack is roughly five feet wide, eight feet long, and four inches thick. It holds more than 7000 cylindrically shaped lithium-ion cells and weighs more than 1300 pounds, with a capacity of 85 kWh. That’s three-and-a-half times the juice of  the Nissan Leaf’s battery.

    A discharged battery can be replenished in about 10 hours with the standard 10-kW charger, which uses a 40-amp, 240-volt ­circuit—what an electric oven requires. Our car had the optional 20-kW, 80-amp ­charger, which cuts the plug-in time to about seven hours. Keep in mind that you are unlikely to completely deplete the battery. Moreover, Tesla recommends using the standard-range mode, which reduces available energy and range by about 15 percent while extending battery life.

    These electrons energize the 416-hp motor positioned on the left side of the Model S, just behind the differential. Peak power occurs between 5000 and 8600 rpm, peak torque of 443 pound-feet at 0 rpm, yet the motor can spin to16,000 revs. That means that the Model S gets by with just one speed—essentially no transmission.

    But “gets by” understates the Model S’s performance. We measured 0-to-60 mph in 4.6 seconds, a quarter-mile of 13.3 seconds at 104 mph, and a governed top speed of  134 mph. That’s similar to the performance of the V-8 German sedans.

    Specifications >

    VEHICLE TYPE: rear-motor, rear-wheel-drive, 5+2-passenger, 5-door wagon

    PRICE AS TESTED: $109,600

    BASE PRICE: $105,400

    MOTOR TYPE: AC permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor

    Redline: 16,000 rpm

    Power: 416 hp @ 8600 rpm
    Torque: 443 lb-ft @ 0 rpm

    TRANSMISSION: 1-speed direct drive

    DIMENSIONS:
    Wheelbase: 116.5 in


    Length: 196.0 in

    Width: 77.3 in
    Height: 56.5 in

    Curb weight: 4785 lb

    C/D TEST RESULTS:
    Zero to 60 mph: 4.6 sec
    Zero to 100 mph: 12.1 sec
    Zero to 120 mph: 21.4 sec
    Street start, 5–60 mph: 4.5 sec
    Top gear, 30–50 mph: 1.8 sec
    Top gear, 50–70 mph: 2.3 sec
    Standing ¼-mile: 13.3 sec @ 104 mph

    Top speed (governor limited): 134 mph
    Braking, 70–0 mph: 160 ft
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.91 g

    FUEL ECONOMY:
    EPA city/highway: 88/90 MPGe
    C/D observed: 74 MPGe

    TEST NOTES: Not a hint of launch wheelspin. During repeated acceleration runs, there is some loss of performance that’s likely attributable to heat build-up in the motor, the power controller, and the battery pack.

    Continued…

  • BY CSABA CSERE

  • PHOTOGRAPHY BY A.J. MUELLER

    The figures, however, don’t reveal the Tesla’s instantaneous response. When you floor the accelerator on a conventional car, the airflow has to increase, the turbos must spool up, and the transmission unlocks its torque converter and usually downshifts. In the Model S, you’re shoved into your seat right now, with an immediacy that no Corvette, Ferrari, or Porsche can match.

    This performance is particularly impressive because the Model S weighs 4785 pounds. Despite its aluminum structure and bodywork, there’s ample weight in the battery pack, the electronics, the cables, and the powerful electric motor.

    At least Tesla uses this mass to good effect. The battery is below the passenger cabin—as low as it can be placed. The electric motor and power electronics also are mounted low and behind the rear axle. The result is a front/rear weight distribution of 47/53 percent and, more important, a center- of-gravity height of 18.0 inches. That’s one of the lowest we’ve measured, second only to the Corvette Z06’s 17.5.

    The payoff is a car that rolls and pitches very little in spite of dampers and air springs calibrated for a supple ride. Driven hard on a country road, the Model S is well-planted, with nary a creak or groan from its structure even on bumpy pavement. With electric power steering that’s responsive and nicely weighted, the Model S carves into bends without hesitation. At 0.91 g, grip is plentiful thanks to our test car’s in-development suspension tuning and monster 21-inch Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires.


    The Model S’s spaciousfive-plus-two-passenger cabin is enabled by its compact propulsion system and clever component layout. The AC drive motor, power-inverter circuits, and final-drive differential are contained within compact housings supported by a rubber-isolated rear subframe. More than 7000 cylindrical battery cells are vertically oriented inside a large aluminum box that also serves as the body structure’s floor. Liquid cooling circuits keep the driveline and battery pack within desired temperature limits during strenuous driving. A rigidly attached front crossmember supports the suspension system’s lower control arms and the power rack-and-pinion steering gear. An aluminum space frame—augmented by high-strength steel B-pillars and bumper beams—supports the above components as well as the formed-aluminum body panels.

    These performance tires clomp on broken pavement, but the ride is otherwise smooth and comfortable. Though road noise is not high, we suspect that BMW or Mercedes chassis engineers could have made it quieter. Our car was plagued by at least one severe wind leak that started howling between 70 and 80 mph. Perhaps not coincidentally, it also had several poor-fitting panels. This was a preproduction car—“Elon’s iPhone” was one entry on the “paired phones” list; prospective buyers would be wise to check for wind noise before depositing any cash.

    If you do take a test drive, you’ll notice a unique feature, even for electric cars. The regenerative braking—which repurposes the motor as a generator to recover the car’s kinetic energy when you’re decelerating—is controlled solely by the accelerator. As you lift off the pedal, the motor absorbs up to 60 kW (81 hp), producing nearly 0.2 g of braking at low speeds. That’s a fair amount of deceleration, but we quickly adjusted to driving the Tesla using only its right pedal.

    A benefit of this approach is that the left pedal controls the hydraulic brakes, so there’s none of the mismatched blending of regen- and friction-brake feel that plagues other electrics. It also serves as an efficient driving reminder, because you only need the brake pedal when you don’t properly anticipate your stop. If you must slow quickly, however, the Model S’s hydraulic brakes can stop from 70 mph in a mere 160 feet—an average deceleration rate of 1.02 g.

    Another unusual aspect of the Model S is an enormous capacitive touch screen that almost completely replaces the knobs and buttons on the dash. It measures 17 inches diagonally, is mounted vertically, and pre­sents the area of four to six typical screens.

    Specifications >

    VEHICLE TYPE: rear-motor, rear-wheel-drive, 5+2-passenger, 5-door wagon

    PRICE AS TESTED: $109,600

    BASE PRICE: $105,400

    MOTOR TYPE: AC permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor

    Redline: 16,000 rpm

    Power: 416 hp @ 8600 rpm
    Torque: 443 lb-ft @ 0 rpm

    TRANSMISSION: 1-speed direct drive

    DIMENSIONS:
    Wheelbase: 116.5 in


    Length: 196.0 in

    Width: 77.3 in
    Height: 56.5 in

    Curb weight: 4785 lb

    C/D TEST RESULTS:
    Zero to 60 mph: 4.6 sec
    Zero to 100 mph: 12.1 sec
    Zero to 120 mph: 21.4 sec
    Street start, 5–60 mph: 4.5 sec
    Top gear, 30–50 mph: 1.8 sec
    Top gear, 50–70 mph: 2.3 sec
    Standing ¼-mile: 13.3 sec @ 104 mph

    Top speed (governor limited): 134 mph
    Braking, 70–0 mph: 160 ft
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.91 g

    FUEL ECONOMY:
    EPA city/highway: 88/90 MPGe
    C/D observed: 74 MPGe

    TEST NOTES: Not a hint of launch wheelspin. During repeated acceleration runs, there is some loss of performance that’s likely attributable to heat build-up in the motor, the power controller, and the battery pack.

    Continued…

  • BY CSABA CSERE

  • PHOTOGRAPHY BY A.J. MUELLER

    Thanks to that vast display area, there’s always a climate-control section at the bottom of the screen and a navigation ribbon at the top. The touch “buttons” are large, which makes them easy to locate at speed. You can view two functions at a time in separate windows, or use the entire screen, handy for navigation and phone contact lists. Switching between screens is intuitive, and you can operate it by pinching your fingers, as on an iPhone. It’s what you’d expect from a car conceived in Silicon Valley.

    Unfortunately, the system has several shortcomings. For example, the map orientation is fixed with north at the top of the screen. And we didn’t find any way to modify the nav settings to allow us to avoid toll roads. We also had trouble getting the Model S to download our phone contacts. Other flaws include incompatibility with an iPod, the inability to specify how many doors unlock at a time, no voice commands, and no memory seats—a common feature on workaday sedans. Tesla says some changes will come soon via software upgrades, but missing features such as adjustable thigh support won’t be downloaded through the internet.

    Such omissions bring up the question of value. Deliveries of the Model S started last summer, but the initial focus is on the premium models, such as this Signature Perform­ance edition. Its base price is $97,900; with options it swelled to $102,100—and that’s after deducting the $7500 federal tax credit.

    The least-expensive Model S with an 85-kWh battery will set you back $69,900, but that version also has a less powerful motor and is about a second slower to 60. Soon Tesla plans to offer a 60-kWh version for $59,900, which will be a few more ticks slower. Finally, a 40-kWh version will arrive for $49,900, with half of our test car’s range, a 110-mph top speed, and a claimed 0-to-60-mph acceleration in the mid sixes.

    It will be interesting to see if Tesla turns a profit at those prices. The Model S is a clean-sheet design that required far more investment than its first car, the Roadster, which was based on the Lotus Elise and cost well over $100,000 but still lost money. Not that we own any Tesla stock, but a car company that doesn’t make money won’t be in business for long—and its eight-year battery warranty won’t be worth anything if the company goes under.

    If we were hot for Tesla’s electric car, we wouldn’t consider anything less than the 60-kWh model. Who, after all, wants range anxiety? But remember that even with the bigger batteries, the Model S’s range is too short and its recharging time too long for extended highway trips.

    But in a city, even a sprawling one like Detroit or Los Angeles, the Model S gets the job done. It’s attractive, comfortable, fast, practical, technically fascinating, and not overpriced. Most important, it’s not just a good electric vehicle, it’s a good car.

    Specifications >

    VEHICLE TYPE: rear-motor, rear-wheel-drive, 5+2-passenger, 5-door wagon

    PRICE AS TESTED: $109,600

    BASE PRICE: $105,400

    MOTOR TYPE: AC permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor

    Redline: 16,000 rpm

    Power: 416 hp @ 8600 rpm
    Torque: 443 lb-ft @ 0 rpm

    TRANSMISSION: 1-speed direct drive

    DIMENSIONS:
    Wheelbase: 116.5 in


    Length: 196.0 in

    Width: 77.3 in
    Height: 56.5 in

    Curb weight: 4785 lb

    C/D TEST RESULTS:
    Zero to 60 mph: 4.6 sec
    Zero to 100 mph: 12.1 sec
    Zero to 120 mph: 21.4 sec
    Street start, 5–60 mph: 4.5 sec
    Top gear, 30–50 mph: 1.8 sec
    Top gear, 50–70 mph: 2.3 sec
    Standing ¼-mile: 13.3 sec @ 104 mph

    Top speed (governor limited): 134 mph
    Braking, 70–0 mph: 160 ft
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.91 g

    FUEL ECONOMY:
    EPA city/highway: 88/90 MPGe
    C/D observed: 74 MPGe

    TEST NOTES: Not a hint of launch wheelspin. During repeated acceleration runs, there is some loss of performance that’s likely attributable to heat build-up in the motor, the power controller, and the battery pack.

    View Photo Gallery

    By CSABA CSERE

  • Tesla Now Building 400 Cars Per Week – 20,000 Per Year



    Tesla Motors, as a fledgling automaker, has a few advantages the established leviathans just don`t have. One of these is flexibility, and the fact that when a change is made, its effect is felt immediately, as there is not that much to change.

    Taking advantage of this, company CEO and co-founder Elon Musk has been able to up weekly production numbers by 100%, compared to last year`s figures. This means that they are now churning out Model S all-electric sedans at a rate of 400 per week, which roughly equates to 20,000 units per year.

    Upping the production will help the California-based company begin to turn a profit, as they reportedly lost some $110-million, while revenue was less than half that, at just over $50-million, in the third quarter of 2012.

    They do plan to achieve a profit, this year, but it has not been specified when they plan on achieving that goal. However, the need to build on last year’s 3,000-or-so cars manufactured, is evident, and if they will be able to deliver, the monetary benefits will be quick to follow.

    Via autonews.com

    By Andrei Nedelea

    Tesla’s Elon Musk Shares Thoughts, Data Logs to Refute NY Times Model S Review

    Tesla’s Elon Musk Shares Thoughts, Data Logs to Refute NY Times Model S Review

    The controversy continues surrounding the recent The New York Times article written by reporter John M. Broder, who was left stranded when the Model S he was driving ran out of charge before reaching a charging station. Since then, his review has received lots of attention, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently provided his side of the ordeal and shared extensive data from the Model S driven by Broder.

    2012 Tesla Model S interior2 300x187 imageThe controversy began when Tesla approached Broder to evaluate a Model S (with an 85 kilowatt-hour battery that provides 265 miles of EPA-rated range) and two new charging stations installed in Newark, Delaware and in Milford, Connecticut. These stations are 200 miles apart and include the company’s new Supercharger, which can recharge batteries at a much faster rate than a typical charging unit (Tesla says the Supercharger can provide up to 150-160 miles of range in just 30 minutes).

    In fact, in a February 12 update, Broder says the test was intended to evaluate the Supercharger network on the East Coast, not the Model S, explaining why he didn’t plug in the car overnight in Connecticut.

    “This evaluation was intended to demonstrate its practicality as a ‘normal use,’ no-compromise car, as Tesla markets it. Now that Tesla is striving to be a mass-market automaker, it cannot realistically expect all 20,000 buyers a year (the Model S sales goal) to be electric-car acolytes who will plug in at every Walmart stop,” Broder wrote.

    Broders Tesla Model S speed log 300x187 image

    Broder’s Tesla Model S speed log

    Broder’s trip began at the Delaware station with 242 miles of range (he was unaware of a “max charge” feature that would’ve topped the battery off at 265 miles). He claims to have experienced fluctuations in the battery’s claimed range, which may have been affected by the colder temperatures. Still, Broder claims to have properly charged the battery, drove at reasonable speeds, and even reduced the cabin temperature, all in an attempt to increase range. In the end, however, Broder says he ran out of charge before reaching Connecticut, and the Model S was consequently towed to the charging station.

    Since then, Tesla has compared Broder’s account to the data log from the Model S test car he drove. Yesterday, Musk published an extensive blog with that data, which points out a number of claimed discrepancies in the highway speeds at which Broder said he was traveling, charging times, as well as possible errors in his article’s math. Musk also suggested the evaluation was a lost battle for Tesla in the first place, pointing to a March 2012 article by Broder in which he says “the state of the electric car is dismal.”

    Check out Musk’s full February 13 blog here, and Broder’s February 12 follow-up here.

    Source: NY Times, Tesla Motors

    By Erick Ayapana