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Feature Flick: News Round Up, Including C7, Mercedes AMGs, Tesla Model X – Rumor Central

Feature Flick: News Round Up, Including C7, Mercedes AMGs, Tesla Model X

The Motor Trend Channel’s Wide Open Throttle news show kicks off its fourth episode, starting out with more than a dozen models coming from AMG in the next few years, electric-powered BMWs, and spy shots of the upcoming seventh-generation Corvette just around the corner, and Tesla’s sporty new Model X electric crossover.

We’re all fans of high-performance models, so whenever we hear more are coming, we get excited. Among the most intriguing is the rumored Porsche 911-fighter, the new SLC model in 2014, expected to be powered by a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 producing 550 horsepower with a rear-mounted transaxle.

Corvette traditionalists will be relieved that the C7 Corvette will still be front-engine, rear-drive, and V-8-powered. But the biggest news, other than the direct-injected fifth-generation small block V-8 under the hood, is a dramatically improved interior.

Stay tuned to the Motor Trend YouTube channel for fresh automotive content, updated daily.

By Edward A. Sanchez

AWD Tesla Model S Coming Soon? (Warning: Pure Speculation)

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

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With the delay of its Model X crossover until “late in 2014,” it may look as if Tesla’s product pipeline is running dry.

But we suspect the Silicon Valley startup electric-car company will offer a few new variants on its sole product, the Model S luxury sport sedan.

And an obvious next step for Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] would be to add the option of all-wheel drive to the Model S.

The company has already revealed that the Model X crossover–built on the same underpinnings as today’s Model S sedan–will have the option of all-wheel drive.

Tesla has engineered the car’s floorpan and suspension to allow a second electric motor to be added to the front axle, with power delivery between front and rear motors controlled electronically.

Moreover, all-wheel drive is becoming a must-have feature for large luxury vehicles.

In markets like the Northeast and affluent mountainous states like Colorado, a large majority of Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz sedans (as well as sport-utility vehicles) are sold with all-wheel drive.

Jaguar, in fact, retrofitted all-wheel drive into both its XJ large luxury sedan and its XF mid-size sport sedan, neither of which had been designed to accommodate the hardware, for the 2013 model year.

Meanwhile, Tesla’s sole product offerings have fallen from three to two with the cancellation of the 40-kilowatt-hour version of the Model S–due, the company said, to lack of demand.

So if Tesla’s customers can afford the pricier 60-kWh and 85-kWh versions of the Model S, perhaps there’s more per-car profit to be made in adding all-wheel drive?

Remember, the company’s engineers are designing all-wheel drive for the Model X anyway.

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

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

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And there’s more than enough space under the Model S hood to fit in a second motor. Right now, that space serves as the front trunk–which Tesla insists on calling a “frunk.”

We think there’s a strong chance that at some point over the next 18 months–perhaps this fall, for the long 2014 model year during which the Model X will not arrive–Tesla will announce a new all-wheel-drive option for the Model S.

We’re not going to hazard any guesses about performance, pricing, or other options.

But that’s our semi-informed prediction for today: Watch for the 2014 Tesla Model S to offer all-wheel drive.

[NOTE: Our ready AReddy notes that Tesla CEO Elon Musk answered a question on this topic when he spoke at the Tesla Store in Norway last month.

At about 41:15 in the video, an audience member asks whether “four-wheel drive” for the Model S will “ever be a reality.”

Musk responds, “It’s not going to happen soon; that I could rule out” and then segues into a discussion of how well the traction control on the rear-wheel-drive Model S works on snow and ice.

“Unless you’re going to go off-road,” Musk concludes, “I would say you probably don’t [need it].”]

What do you think? Is this a logical next step for Tesla, until the Model X arrives? Or will the company offer some other options first?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.

[hat tip: Seeking Alpha]


By John Voelcker

Will the Tesla Model S Get Poor Range in Cold Weather?

Ia question asked by David Noland, a Tesla Model S reservation holder who is also a freelance writer. He posted an article on greencarreports.com, asking whether to go for the $10,000 more expensive 60 kWh battery pack for his car, factoring in his daily commute needs, as well as batteries’ loss of capacity during extremely cold weather.

And thus, he has discovered that there is no real data available to answer his question, as Tesla’s range-calculating application only goes as low as 0°C (32°F), so it’s not really helpful, given the low temperatures often recorded in his home state of New York and its surroundings. He reportedly got an email from Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, saying that the drop in capacity would be closer to 20%, not 40.

If the Model S would suffer from the same drop in range as the Chevrolet Volt, which can lose up to 40% of its battery capacity in really cold weather, then a 40 kWh battery pack would leave him stranded, with around 32 km (20 miles) from his destination, as its range would drop significantly. This has prompted us to ask ourselves the same question, having realized that nobody has really mentioned the problem of cold weather range for the Model S, despite reports that it could actually exceed its predicted range.

By Andrei Nedelea

September Plug-In Electric Car Sales Surge, As Tesla Sells 200 (Or So)

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

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Sales of plug-in electric cars surged in September, after setting a new record in August.

And this month’s notable event was the projected delivery of 200 or more 2012 Tesla Model S all-electric luxury sport sedans to buyers.

Tesla refuses to release monthly sales figures, as every other automaker does, but the company said it would deliver between 200 and 225 Model S cars by the end of the month.

That figure came from a quarterly report filed by Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] with the Securities & Exchange Commission. Tesla has not provided an exact total of the cars it sold last month.

Even without confirmed Tesla numbers, plug-in sales in September totaled more than 5,550 cars. That gives last month the highest total since modern electric cars went on sale in December 2010.

The Chevrolet Volt continued its recent strong sales, with 2,851 Volts delivered in September.

That number is just a fraction higher than previous highest-ever number of 2,831, registered last month, and it brings total sales for the year to 16,348 of Chevy’s range-extended electric car.

New incentives and lower lease rates on the Nissan Leaf helped its September sales, which rose to 984 from 685 in August–the Leaf’s best single-month sales total since September 2011.

Total sales this year for Nissan’s all-electric hatchback are still only 5,212, fewer than the 7,199 that had been sold at the same time last year.

Sales of the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, the third of the three high-volume plug-in cars this year, were 1,652–just two units shy of its best month ever, which was this past April.

The September total is a huge increase from the 1.047 of its plug-in Prius sold in August, and Toyota has now sold 50 percent more plug-in Priuses (7,734) than Nissan has Leafs (5,212) so far this year.

Continuing its recent trend, 36 Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric minicars also found buyers. Ford Focus Electric sales numbers won’t be available until tomorrow.

There were 16 sales of the 2013 Honda Fit EV, and no fewer than 61 copies of the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EVs sold in its inaugural month as well–though both models are still only limited-volume compliance cars.

Of the other makers of plug-in electric cars, Coda Automotive and Fisker Automotive decline to provide any monthly sales data.


By John Voelcker

Feature Flick: Los Angeles to Las Vegas on One Charge in a Tesla Model S – Rumor Central

Feature Flick: Los Angeles to Las Vegas on One Charge in a Tesla Model S

The Tesla Model S can go almost 300 miles on a full change, but is that enough to make the drive from Los Angeles, California to Las Vegas, Nevada in relative comfort? Frank Markus and Jessi Lang found out in this episode of Wide Open Throttle.

The EPA has rated the Model S at a range of 265 miles when equipped with the largest, 85-kWh battery. For those of you keeping count, the drive from L.A. to Vegas is 280 miles, one way. If that wasn’t already a bit of a headache, when MT tested the full range of the Model S, it found that the luxury hatchback came up 27 miles shy of its EPA rating.

As Markus mentions in the video, the road-tripping duo may have cheated a little bit: they started out from eastern edge of the L.A. basin, some 65 miles closer to their destination than downtown L.A.; however, the 215-mile trip still loomed dangerously close to the Model S’ range limit. To help get every possible mile of range out of the battery pack, Lang and Markus opted to keep the air conditioning off for most of the trip.

Even with the air off, it didn’t keep the intrepid duo from rocking out to some MC Hammer and playing some of the usual road trip games. Did the Tesla make it to The Strip on one charge? Check out the video below to find out. (Hammer pants and poker chips not required.)

Source: YouTube

By Donny Nordlicht

Videos: Tesla Model S Hits Indicated 133 MPH, Fits Kindergarten Class

Videos: Tesla Model S Hits Indicated 133 MPH, Fits Kindergarten Class

We’re not the only ones interested in putting the Tesla Model S through its paces, as these videos from amateur testers show. In one video, a driver attempts to determine the real-world top speed of a Model S, while a kindergarten class tests the EV’s pint-sized passenger capacity in another.

Tesla Model S kindergarten class rear hatch 300x199 imageWe’ve demonstrated in our tests that the Tesla Model S can out-accelerate a number of powerful sports sedans, and this new video gives us an idea of how fast it will go if you keep your foot on the gas pedal. The video shows a man driving his Model S Signature Performance equipped with the 85-kW-hr battery on a sparsely populated highway. As he mashes the “throttle,” there’s a subtle hum but otherwise the cabin is eerily quiet. There’s no physical needle to peg, but the digital display finally tops out at an indicated 133 mph.

In the second video, a group of kindergartners questions the Model S’ seven-passenger capacity. The five- to six-year-olds, who are all naturals in front of the camera, count out loud as they appear out of the car’s cargo area, cabin, and frunk. By the end of the video, a total of 16 kindergartners are found stuffed in the Model S’ various orifices.

Check out both videos below.

Source: YouTube

By Alex Nishimoto

Tesla Motors To Be Profitable Selling Electric Cars By April, It Says

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

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Tesla Motors announced its fourth-quarter and full-year results late yesterday, and offered some good news to the company’s shareholders.

That would be the projection that Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] will operate at a profit in the current quarter, which ends March 31.

“We expect to be slightly profitable (excluding only non-cash option and warrant-related expenses) in Q1 2013,” it wrote in a letter to shareholders on its financial results just after the stock market closed yesterday afternoon.

The prediction advances by almost a whole year the company’s timeline for profitability, which had previously been set for the fourth quarter of 2013.

The company lost $90 million in the quarter on revenue of $306.3 million. Its losses per share were $0.65. And it repaid another $12.7 million of its $465 million low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Tesla said it built 2,750 cars and delivered 2,400 to customers from October 1 through December 31; it expects to deliver about 4,500 in the first quarter.

The company’s stock, which had opened the day at $39.30, closed down slightly at $38.54 before the results were released.

[UPDATE: Shortly after the market opened this morning, Tesla shares fell below $35–tripping a so-called “circuit breaker” designed to slow short sales of falling stocks.]

After releasing the numbers, Tesla also held a conference call in which CEO Elon Musk, CEO Deepak Ahuja, and George Blankenship, vice president of sales and ownership experience, responded to questions from industry analysts and offered additional color on several issues.

‘Cautiously optimistic’

Musk summarized the company’s achievements and prospects this year as follows.

“We promised to do three things: We said we would start production in July (it was actually June), deliver 20,000 units in 2013, and by the end of 2013, we will exceed 25 percent gross margin–not including regulatory credits,” Musk added.

He said at the end of the call that he wouldn’t commit to being profitable in all quarters this year until he knew more about how the company’s production, deliveries, and sales rolled out during the first half of the year.

“Maybe I’m hedging too much, but I don’t want to be overconfident,” said the usually quite confident Musk.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk with Tesla Roadster

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk with Tesla Roadster

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“In the absence of some force majeure event–a giant earthquake, for instance–I’m confident that we will be profitable this quarter, and it’s our aspiration to be profitable in subsequent quarters as well.”

“I do think we’ll be profitable in the second quarter, and subsequent quarters too. I’m cautiously optimistic about that.”

The following points summarize other topics discussed on the call.

Reservations and waiting time

The company said it added 6,000 additional reservations for the Model S (and also Model X) during the fourth quarter, compared to 2,900 added the previous quarter.

Asked about reports that it was possible to get certain Model S configurations through a Tesla Store in about a month, Musk responded that the average wait time for a car is now about five months.

But, he said, certain high-end Model S configurations–the 85-kilowatt-hour battery model with air suspension, not in the new red paint–were available in six to eight weeks.

“If we were to close all of our stores worldwide right now,” he said, “We would still sell out for the entire year.”

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

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And, he noted, early deliveries have been of more lavishly specified cars than the company had projected.

More than half of Model S orders have specified the 85-kilowatt-hour battery pack, and less than 10 percent are for the 40-kWh version–though, he acknowledged, “that could change in the future.”

Expansion into Europe and Asia

Outside North America, the company has done a limited amount of marketing in Europe–right now, Musk said, it only has two cars there. And it has done essentially nothing in Asia.

That will change “dramatically” this year, Musk said.

Reservations are rolling in steadily from Europe, Blankenship said, despite not having cars to display and stores just clearing out the last remaining Roadsters. Asia is even less advanced.

About 25 percent of the company’s reservations now come from outside North America, according to Blankenship, and that will increase. The North American stores saw 1.6 million visitors, he said.

In December, Tesla opened a distribution center in the Netherlands and also announced European pricing for the Model S electric luxury sport sedan.

“We’ve said it before,” Musk noted, “but we expect that ultimately, we will deliver 10,000 to 15,000 cars in North America, 10,000 in Europe, and 10,000 to 15,000 in Asia–but that will take time to build up, especially China.

The export drive “doesn’t affect us this year all that much,” Musk noted. “I’m quite sure we can deliver more than 20,000 cars this year, but we want to make sure we’ve laid the groundwork for improvements above 20K for 2014.”

“It’s not really a question of demand generation for this year,” he concluded. The question is more, “How to exceed that next year?”

Quality control data

One question caught CEO Musk off-guard: What were the stats on the number of Model S cars required post-production touching up or rectification of other quality-control issues?

“I don’t have that handy,” said an obviously surprised Musk. “I wasn’t expecting that question.”

The percentage, he said, has dropped dramatically since the start of production last June. Cars that have to be pulled off the end of the line to have something fixed are now a “fairly small percentage.”

And, he pointed out, any issues related to the cars’ software can be addressed by deploying over-the-air software updates–which no other carmaker can do. That, he said, “has worked quite well.”

Reservations and waiting times

In its shareholder letter, Tesla wrote:

After deliveries and cancellations, our net reservations at year end, were over  15,000, up from about 13,000 at the end of Q3. New reservations continue at a steady, although slower pace in Q1 2013, as compared to December, due in part to the pull ahead of reservations into Q4 by customers seeking to  avoid the price increase.

Q1 cancellations are likely to remain elevated as the remaining older reservation holders are invited to configure their vehicles within a set timeframe or pay the higher price just like new reservation holders. 

'Revenge of the Electric Car' premiere: Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk on red carpet

‘Revenge of the Electric Car’ premiere: Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk on red carpet

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Asked by an analyst whether the net reservations number would fall during the first two quarters as deliveries ramped up, Musk indicated that it might well do so.

In raising the price of the Model S and asking reservation holders to confirm their orders if they wanted the old price, Musk said, “we were trying to clean out anyone who wasn’t serious about buying the car.”

Tesla expects its reservation numbers to stabilize, he said, though it has “a lot of demand in North America”–more than half its production target of 20,000 cars a year.

“Our intention is not to have people wait six months for a car,” he said. “We much prefer that demand generation and production are better synced, so customers can order a car, get it in a few weeks.

“It’s not our intent to have a long waiting list,” he said. “That’s pretty inconvenient for people.”

Factory efficiency

But, he said, the company’s production numbers have been constrained solely by its ability to achieve ‘steady-state production in an efficient way”–not by demand–which he called “a really important point.”

“If we wanted to, we could raise production to 500 units a week,” Musk boasted, “but it would have a lot of expense for overtime and so on.”

It’s far more important for Tesla Motors to improve the efficiency of the assembly process at the current level of 400 cars a week, he said.

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

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“This is our very first quarter when we’re at our target production rate,” Musk said, which has really been “very little time to work on production efficiencies.”

Those efficiencies include reducing the number of staff hours per car produced, and cutting the number of temporary employees at the Fremont, California plant.

Factory workers averaged almost 70 hours a week in December, which Musk noted cost the company a great deal of money. “It’s over time above 40 hours a week,” he said, “but it’s double time above 60 hours.”

Today, workers average almost a 50-hour week, and Tesla’s goal is to drive that down to the mid-40s during March.

“The labor hours per car are dropping dramatically,” Musk said, saying that “may be the single biggest factor” in the company’s drive to Q1 profitability.

Tires from the Czech Republic

Close behind cutting staff hours per car are improvements in logistics, and efficiencies in the parts from suppliers for the Model S.

“We had to fly in a lot of parts in December,” Musk said ruefully, at a cost up to 10 times the standard price. “We had to do dumb things like fly in tires from the Czech Republic.”

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

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Tesla had to fly in the 21-inch tires from Europe because it took longer than 30 days for the tires to arrive from the maker–which required payment in 30 days.

The company, unwilling to pay for goods it hadn’t received yet, held its payments until the tires arrived–which caused the tire maker to cancel its credit line. Mayhem ensued.

Once the situation got sorted out, the halt in sea shipments meant Tesla had to pay to fly in the tires to keep its production lines rolling.

“I wanted to punch myself in the face for that one,” Musk said.

Slamming an analyst

And he had specially harsh words for one industry analyst, IHS Automotive, which had projected that Tesla would build 1,500 cars a year–not the 20,000 it projected and is now working toward.

With Tesla an unknown quantity to the auto industry’s parts suppliers, those companies tended to rely more on third-party estimates than on the volumes of their parts Tesla had actually ordered.

“Suppliers looked at that forecast, and tooled up for some puny number of parts,” Musk said, and were “caught flatfooted when we said, ‘No, we really did mean the order we sent you’.”

Tesla Motors had a number of conversations with suppliers where they “realized we really weren’t kidding about that.”

Now, Musk said, suppliers are more ready to believe that the company’s production goals are serious–and price breaks for higher volumes of parts are kicking in as well.

That includes the price of the lithium-ion cells for its battery packs, supplied by Panasonic (which also owns part of Tesla Motors).

The cost of its cells will fall this spring, Musk said, which will have a beneficial effect on profitability for all Model S variants.

Leasing eventually

While Tesla already has a leasing partner–Athlon–lined up for its European customers, in North America, all deliveries are now outright purchases.

Leasing is something the company wants to offer, Musk said, and it could arrive in the second half of this year. Tesla wants to make sure the terms of the lease are “compelling,” and talks with financial institutions are “progressing in a good direction.”

Large banks, he noted wryly, tend to like the notion that Tesla will be profitable in Q1–it gives them “greater confidence” that the startup carmaker is a company they would want to partner with.

Next year, Musk concluded, “leasing will be a big factor” for Tesla. In Europe, it will be “at least a moderate factor” this year.

Tesla Road Trip from MD to CT, Feb 2013 - Tesla Model S cars at Delaware SuperCharger location

Tesla Road Trip from MD to CT, Feb 2013 – Tesla Model S cars at Delaware SuperCharger location

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SuperCharger announcement coming

Musk nodded briefly to the existence of the controversial review in The New York Times, in which a Model S ended up on the back of a flatbed truck.

He acknowledged that in colder regions, the SuperChargers should be more closely spaced–120 to 150 miles apart, perhaps, rather than the current 200-mile separation between SuperCharger locations in Delaware and Connecticut.

The company is rapidly deploying more SuperCharger stations, he said, including in Texas, the Chicago area, and other East Coast locations.

And he hinted at future upgrades to the SuperCharger system. “We’ve got a fairly meaningful announcement about a step change in SuperCharger technology coming later this year,” he said.

That had originally been what the company wanted to have the New York Times review cover–so, Musk said, “Who knows?” Tesla might invite the Times to do another review later in the year.

Acknowledging hard work

During the call, Musk paid tribute to the hard work of the entire Tesla Motors team.

The results being reported today, he said, are due to “an enormous amount of hard work by a really dedicated group of people. We’re going to be profitable, which is a pretty big deal, but it took an enormous amount of blood, sweat, and tears to get there.”

“It’s difficult for me to overstate the level of difficulty,” he said, “but we’re going to do it. I’m really proud of that–and we can say that with confidence.”


By John Voelcker

Tesla Takes Steps to Take Service, Warranty From “OK” to “Great”

Tesla Takes Steps to Take Service, Warranty From “OK” to “Great”

Tesla Motors has just announced its plans to revamp the way the automaker provides service and maintenance. CEO Elon Musk recent hosted a live Q&A webcast outlining the new plans, highlighted by intriguing trade-in options with service loaners and a nearly-owner-proof battery warranty.

2013 Tesla Model S right rear side 300x187 imageMusk said his goal is to transform Tesla’s service experience from “OK” to “great.” To start that process, a fleet of loaded Model S cars (and in some markets, Roadsters) will be offered as loaner cars while owners have their vehicles serviced. The company can have the loaner car delivered to owners for no extra fee. Additionally, Tesla hopes to keep the service fleet fresh and new by allowing customers to purchase the loaner if they like it better than their current car. Tesla says the loaner cars will depreciate at a rate of 1 percent per month and $1 per mile. The cars traded in will simply be put up for sale as a used vehicle.

Tesla also hopes to wipe out any doubt potential electric-car owners have surrounding its batteries. The automaker will replace a defective battery regardless of cause, even if the owner is found to be at fault. That means if the battery fails due to improper charging habits, Tesla will still replace it. Obvious attempts at abuse won’t be covered (one of Tesla’s examples: “lighting the pack on fire with a blowtorch is not covered”). The battery warranty (eight years or 125,000 miles, whichever comes first) won’t change and Tesla will used a refurbished battery pack with equal or better battery capacity than the original.

2013 Tesla Model S interior view 300x187 imageThat said, Tesla is now making the $600 annual checkup completely optional. The automaker points to the fact that its cars require very little service. Brake pads in a Tesla, for example, don’t wear as quickly as those in gas-powered car thanks to the regenerative braking system that recaptures energy while simultaneously slowing down the car. In all, Musk hopes the updates to his automaker’s service and warranty methods will provide customers added peace of mind, even those who have never opened the manual.

“Any product that needs a manual to work is broken,” Musk said in the webcast.

Earlier this month Tesla announced a new financing option that makes owning a Model S more affordable.

Source: Tesla

By Erick Ayapana

Tesla Model S Production Line Now Running At Full Capacity

2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

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For fans of the Tesla Model S all-electric sport sedan, the past few weeks have been full of good news.

Deliveries of top-of-the-line 85-kilowatt-hour models now number in the thousands, the 60-kWh model will go into production this month–and has been rated at 208 miles of range–and no major safety or quality issues seem to have surfaced thus far.

But buried in a news item last week that appeared in trade journal Automotive News was a little nugget we missed during our coverage of last week’s Detroit Auto Show.

Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has now achieved its full production rate of 400 Model S cars a week, said the company’s director of Model S programs, Jerome Guillen.

That means that Tesla should be able to chew steadily away at its list of 15,000 or more reservations for the electric luxury sport sedan, which represents most of a year’s production of 20,000 vehicles.

The number of Tesla Model S cars that were actually built last year, and how many were sold, remains a mystery.

So does the company’s cashflow and balance sheet, and whether the company is suffering a cash crunch, as a few analysts have suggested based on third-quarter data.

As it ramped up Model S production late last year, Tesla Motors chewed through its cash reserves–including drawing on the last of its $465 million in low-interest loans from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The numbers of cars built and sold, and the revenues and expenses associated with them, will only be public when the company reveals its year-end financials.

2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

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That will happen in an investor call that’s expected to take place sometime next month.

But meanwhile, if Guillen’s statement is accurate, producing 400 plug-in electric cars a week puts Tesla in the same league as General Motors.

That company is now producing similar numbers (or a bit more) of its Chevy Volt range-extended electric car.

Not bad for a Silicon Valley startup carmaker that didn’t exist 10 years ago.

Can the company survive on its own, or will it be sold to a huge global automaker?

We’ll be waiting for those financial results to see what they say.


By John Voelcker

Tesla Motors CEO reveals vehicle data from NY Times test


After taking to Twitter in response to a negative review of the Model S and Supercharger charging stations in the New York Times, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has released information, which he says came from the car’s onboard data logger, that contradicts some of the statements made by Times reporter John Broder.

To recap, Broder picked up a fully charged Model S in Washington, D.C. and ended up on a tow truck somewhere in Connecticut. Despite stopping at both East Coast Supercharger stations (in Newark, Delaware and Milford, Connecticut), Broder had trouble maintaining the car’s charge, resorting to cruising at 54 mph on a 65 mph highway, and turning down the heat.

Broder’s article, and some subsequent commentary, blames the 30-degree weather for ruining the Model S’ range. However, Musk says the problem was a case of operator error. Tesla has logged all data from its press drives since the company got into a scuffle with Top Gear over a test of the Roadster, and Musk is using it to substantiate his earlier claims that the Times article was faked.

On the final leg of the trip, Musk says Broder disconnected the Model S’ charger while the range said 32 miles, even though he had 61 miles to go. He also says Broder wasted energy by driving in circles in the parking lot next to the Connecticut Supercharger station.

One of the major points of contention has been whether Broder fully charged the Model S in Delaware. Here, both parties appear to be in agreement. Broder says the display read “Fully Charged,” with the battery reading 90 percent and 242 miles of range. Tesla’s graphs show the same thing.

However, Musk says Broder stopped charging prematurely in Milford, Connecticut and at a public station in Norwich. He also says Broder drove past at least one other public charging station, although since the point of the story was to test Tesla’s Supercharger network, this may have been intentional.

In the article, Broder says at one point in the journey he set the cruise control to 54 mph and turned the heater down to preserve the car’s batteries. However, Musk says the cruise control was never set to 54 mph, and that Broder “in fact drove at speeds from 65 mph to 81 mph for a majority of the trip and at an average cabin temperature setting of 72 F.” According to the data, when Broder said he turned the temperature down, he actually turned it up to 74 degrees.

This evidence appears quite damning, but Musk didn’t stop there. He’s accusing Broder of deliberately screwing up the test because of a preexisting bias against the electric car.

“We assumed that the reporter would be fair and impartial, as has been our experience with The New York Times, an organization that prides itself on journalistic integrity,” Musk wrote. “As a result, we did not think to read his past articles and were unaware of his outright disdain for electric cars. We were played for a fool and as a result, let down the cause of electric vehicles. For that, I am deeply sorry.”

Musk’s evidence of a media conspiracy is a 2012 article Broder wrote on the state of the electric car. In the article, Broder called the electric car a “victim of hyped expectations, technological flops, high costs and a hostile political climate,” although he also gave space to Who Killed the Electric Car? Director Chris Paine.

“When the facts didn’t suit his opinion, he simply changed the facts,” Musk said of Broder.

Musk is asking the New York Times to investigate the story. As far as we know, neither Broder nor the Times has responded.

By Stephen Edelstein