Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk wants his electric-car company to work with Google on developing autonomous cars. Bloomberg reports that Tesla is discussing driverless technology with Google, even though Musk asserts Tesla will probably create its own system.
Tesla CEO Musk said he believes the driverless or autonomous technologies are the next big development for the car because they could dramatically improve road safety. “I like the word autopilot more than I like the word self-driving,” he told Bloomberg. “Autopilot is a good thing to have in planes, and we should have it in cars.”
Although Tesla has been in “technical discussions” with Google about its driverless cars, Musk believes the roof-mounted laser-scanning system used by Google is too costly and inefficient to make sense for production cars. He reportedly favors a cheaper camera-based system, “with software that is able to figure out what’s going on just by looking at things.” Musk told Bloomberg that although it is possible that Tesla will cooperate with Google, it’s more likely that the startup will engineer its own unique autonomous-car technologies.
Google has a fleet of Toyota Prius hybrids (pictured), as well as a Lexus RX450h, that can drive without a human’s input. Lawmakers have granted the Internet company permission to test its autonomous cars in Nevada and California. Lexus demonstrated a semi-autonomous LS sedan at the Consumer Electronics Show, where Audi also showed off self-parking systems.
Self-driving Teslas are some time off, however: Musk says Tesla will focus on launching electric cars, including the Model S sedan and upcoming Model X SUV, before focusing on bringing autonomous technology to production. “Autopilot is not as important as accelerating the transition to electric cars, or to sustainable transport,” he told Bloomberg.
By Jake Holmes
Tesla Motors Inc. boss Elon Musk has accused a New York Times reporter of faking a Model S road test and claiming the electric automaker is misreporting the vehicle's estimated driving range.
To give you a glimpse of the background, New York Times' Tesla Model S review that was published last week said the car got around 200 miles on a single charge, instead of the 265 mile range advertised by the EV company.
It didn't take too much for Elon Musk to respond, the Tesla CEO calling the New York Times story a fake and slamming the writer's report in an interview with Bloomberg.
"[...] He then took an unplanned detour through downtown Manhattan, through heavy traffic, instead of going on the interstate to the charging station. He also exceeded the speed limit quite substantially, which decreased his range. If you do all those three things, which we were clear should not be done and obviously common sense suggests should not be done, then you will not be able to go as far," said Musk.
To back up his claims, Tesla's boss threatens to publish official telemetry data that proves that the New York Times didn't used the car according to its user manual.
For those who don't know, each Tesla vehicle has the option of logging data such as speed and GPS coordinates. While this is only enabled at the owners request, the reviewers' cars are always coming with active logging that transfers all the data directly to Tesla.
New York Times denied any of Musk's accusations, so now we'll just have to wait for that official telemetry blog post to arrive to find out who's right in this year's biggest automotive scandal yet.
Tesla’s little stand at Cobo Hall, squeezed into a corner near Bentley and Volvo, was mobbed during the company’s press conference, which seemed to serve multiple purposes: to show the Model X crossover concept for the first time at an auto show; to allow the company to gloat over the resounding critical success of its Model S, including the fact that it is the 2013 Automobile Magazine Automobile of the Year; and for company executives to spread the gospel of Tesla.
Tesla’s supreme leader, Elon Musk, was nowhere in sight, but George Blankenship, the former Apple executive who is Tesla’s Vice President of worldwide sales and customer experience, took to the stage wearing jeans, a blazer, and a wool scarf casually draped around his neck. “Our vision is to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission vehicles,” he said, aping similar comments we’ve heard from his boss. “It’s not about building a car.” But it is, George, it is. Blankenship is particularly pleased with the growing reputation of Tesla, noting that a whopping 1.6 million people traipsed through 19 of the company’s 23 U.S. company stores [Tesla doesn't have traditional dealerships] in the fourth quarter of last year. Tesla will open 25 more company stores in 2013, half of them in the United States. The first store in China opens this spring.
The never-ending question about electric cars, of course, is where and how to recharge them, but Tesla is optimistic about its plans to allow owners to do so easily with its Supercharging stations, which provide a full battery recharge in about 30 minutes and will allow Tesla drivers to travel from San Diego to Vancouver on the West Coast and from Miami to Boston on the East Coast. “In a couple of years, you’re going to be able to drive from San Diego to Maine [using our Supercharging system],” Blankenship promises. “Our charging is FREE, so people will be eager to adopt our technology. [Tesla] is about a bright future for your children and grandchildren,” he concluded, a little too sweetly, before turning the microphone over to design chief Franz von Holzhausen, who was also wearing jeans but no scarf.
Von Holzhausen, who designed the Pontiac Solstice and served as Mazda’s North American design chief, turned to the Model X concept sitting behind him. “We want to transfer our [electric vehicle] technology into a segment [SUVs] that is presently horribly inefficient,” he said. “Minivans are incredibly practical, but you kind of sell your soul to get that practicality. With the Model X, you get practicality in a sexy vehicle.” Von Holzhausen opened the Model X’s Falcon Wing doors, which pivot in two places to open vertically before they swing out, so the Model X can be parked in conventional parking spaces. “Creating the second hinge at the cant rail was the big innovation,” Von Holzhausen told us after the press conference. “When the doors are open, they are seven feet, four inches tall, and most garages are about eight feet tall. There will be sensors to prevent the doors from hitting anything.”
With all of its doors open on the show floor, the white-over-black Model X looked like a multi-winged bird. We wondered if all those huge apertures would compromise structural integrity, but Von Holzhausen reminded us that “the Model S sedan’s structure is equally porous, but both have 60 hertz of structural rigidity. The battery pack is an integral part of the structure.” The front “hood” opens to reveal a huge, wide cargo cavity, and the rear hatch also exposes a considerable amount of storage space. We climbed inside the Model X and found a decent amount of room in the second row, if considerably less in the third row, but all three seats in the second row move back and forth independently, and headroom is good in both rows. The Model X concept’s body is constructed of fiberglass, but the production vehicle, which is expected sometime in late 2014, will have aluminum body panels just like the Model S. The all-wheel-drive Model X will have 60-kw and 85-kw battery packs but no entry-level 40-kw pack like the Model S offers. Tesla promises a 0-to-60-mph time of 5.0 seconds.
Looking even farther into the future, Von Holzhausen is most excited about the prospect of Tesla’s third-generation car, which will, he says, “be an Audi A4, BMW 3-series, Volkswagen Jetta type of vehicle that will offer everything: range, affordability, and performance. We’re confident we can do it at a starting price of $30,000, which is the break-in point, where we can bring all this excitement and technology to the average customer.”
By Joe DeMatio
On this episode of Wide Open Throttle, Angus MacKenzie and other Motor Trend hosts discuss the Tesla Model S controversy stemming from a review in The New York Times after discussing the unexpected popularity of the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. Additionally, Ed Loh, Carlos Lago, Arthur St. Antoine and Mike Floyd ponder the possibility of diesel-powered sports cars in the U.S.
The hosts begin by discussing the relevance of the F-150 SVT Raptor with its high base price and increasing fuel prices. St. Antoine points out how sales of the “do-anything truck” are above Ford’s projections. While Lago is surprised that Ford built the truck, he says the Raptor makes him “feel like a kid in a sand box.” Still, some owners have had issues after taking jumps too fast or too high. While the panel believes most Raptor buyers pay for its off-road capability, some buyers go for the image and the compliant on-road ride as well.
Next, the discussion switches gears to the controversy surrounding the Tesla Model S regarding its range after a reporter from The New York Times said that during an East Coast trip his tester ran out of range before reaching the next EV Supercharger, to which Tesla CEO Elon Musk fired back saying the test was flawed. Floyd notes Loh’s Model S range test from the Las Vegas strip back to Los Angeles, during which he exceeded the EPA-rated range estimate. Previous to that trip, Motor Trend took the Model S from L.A. to San Diego and back on a single charge and Frank Markus and Jessi Lang drive the car to Las Vegas.
Finally, the hosts discuss the possible future of diesel-powered sporty cars in the U.S., such as the Volkswagen Golf GTD and BMW 335d, and whether the low redline is fit for a sporty car. Watch the full discussion below.
By Jason Udy
Tesla Model ST wagon render by Theophilus Chin
High-performance wagons are easy to appreciate. Plenty of utility, but none of the sacrifices that practicality usually implies.
If they look great and run on electricity, like Theophilus Chin‘s render of a Tesla Model ‘ST’, then all the better.
Chin’s render (via Autoblog Green) is so slick you’d think it came from Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] itself.
The long, elegant body of the regular Model S lends itself to the wagon shape, and the end result isn’t dissimilar from the recent Jaguar XF Sportbrake, one of the best-looking wagons on the road.
In fact, we’ve a nagging feeling it looks even better than the regular Model S. There’s little doubt it’d add to that car’s practicality too, perhaps enough to swap the two small booster seats for a full rear bench.
The Model S’s wind-cheating aerodynamics might suffer, and we’d expect a weight increase too–but it’d be a small price to pay for such an elegant “sport tourer”.
Tesla Model ST wagon render by Theophilus Chin
It’s unlikely to see the light of day, though–Tesla already has a larger seven-seat vehicle on the way, in the shape of the falcon-winged Model X crossover.
What other vehicles would you like to see from Tesla? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
With deliveries of the all-electric Model S set to begin on June 22nd, Tesla is apparently making a really big deal of this and they will even have live coverage of the first delivery, as opposed to more mainstream manufacturers for whom their first mass-market electric car was delivered to the first customer in a parking lot with (almost) nobody watching.
Also, if you thought that Teslas were built in the American equivalent of a shed, well, think again! They employ very modern technology in the making of their cars, like robots and hydraulic presses, among others, in order for them to reach their target of 5000 cars per year.
Worth mentioning is the fact that Tesla “is one of the few companies in the world producing a steel-reinforced aluminum car." This material gives exactly the benefits you have come to expect from unusual materials used in the auto industry, less weight and more strength – both being an important factor in the making of the Model S, as it needs to be light so that it doesn’t use up its juice too quickly while also maintaining its structural rigidity under the weight of all those batteries.
Technophiles often want to own the newest technology, but don’t always have something to do with yesterday’s device. Tesla, however, will be making it easy for current Roadster owners to upgrade to a Model S.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Tesla has created a buyback program for current Roadster owners who are looking to move into a new Model S. Tesla’s program works just as any other trade-in deal would work, and has been created to help simplify the process for Model S/Roadster customers, according to Tesla representative Christina Ra. Since some Model S variants are actually priced well below the Roadster, it is possible for an owner to receive more on a trade than the cost of the new car. “In that case, we’d write you a check,” vonReichbauer, Tesla’s director of finance, told the Chronicle.
Pricing for the Model S hatchback starts at $57,400 for the 40 kWh battery, steps up to $67,400 for the 60 kWh car, and $77,400 for the 85 kWh model (all prices are before any government tax rebates). The EPA has already rated the 85-kWh Model S at 89 MPGe and a range of 265 miles. Currently, the only Model S versions being built are the top-spec Signature Performance models that use the 85-kWh battery; an upgraded interior, suspension, and wheels; and the exclusivity of being just one of 1000 units built. Once all the Signature models are built, the automaker will begin to produce the Model S and Model S Performance versions.
Having a cache of Roadsters will also help Tesla, the Chronicle points out. Having another vehicle to sell alongside the Model S until the Model X crossover debuts will help the automaker keep retail sales going. It’s expected that a Roadster would be resold for anywhere around $73,000 to $94,000 depending on age and mileage of the car.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
Electric vehicle automaker Tesla Motors announced that it has paid off the entire loan awarded by the Department of Energy (DOE) in 2010. By wiring the final $451.8 million yesterday, Tesla has repaid its whole debt, including interest, nine years early.
The payment was possible after the company raised more than one million dollars in last week’s stock sale. Following Tesla’s first ever profit in first quarter 2013, the California-based EV manufacturer’s stock climbed as high as $92.
“I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staffs that worked hard to create the ATVM program, and particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate,” said Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive officer. “I hope we did you proud.”
Tesla claims that it has become the only American car company to have fully repaid the government.
"When you're talking about cutting-edge clean energy technologies, not every investment will succeed – but today's repayment is the latest indication that the Energy Department's portfolio of more than 30 loans is delivering big results for the American economy while costing far less than anticipated,” said US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in a press statement.
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It isn’t easy to impress Consumer Reports.
Fisker Automotive knows this better than most, after its Karma range-extended sedan was savaged by the magazine earlier this year.
In contrast, the 2012 Tesla Model S looks to have gone down rather well, CR describing it as “a revelation”.
High praise indeed, and it’s sure to join Motor Trend‘s ‘Car of the Year’ verdict on a list of things Tesla should be proud of.
2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive
In their test of the model, Consumer Reports describes the Model S as “the electric car that shatters every myth”–adding that range anxiety is effectively “gone” thanks to the 265-mile range.
The quick charging times, vivid performance and interior room also got plenty of praise. Only a lack of interior storage space, and the flashy but occasionally impractical door handles came in for criticism.
Of course, this test is only a brief look at the Model S, and the magazine’s normal practice is to buy a model itself–just like it did with the Fisker Karma.
Only then will we know CR‘s full verdict on the car–but we’d be surprised if it’s anything less than similarly-praised after longer exposure.
Putting a Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid against the Tesla Model S on a drag strip is not a very good idea if you're looking to check you're own Chevy's performance. It works just for the fun of it, but the Volt is no match for the Tesla Model S' performance.
Someone did go through with it, and, after beating a Dodge Viper SRT10 almost two weeks ago, Tesla's EV took an easy win against the Chevrolet Volt in a recent quarter-mile race that's not actually fair when comparing the two participant cars.
The Model S took the lead right away and arrived at the finish line in just 12.562 seconds at 108.34 mph, while the Volt needed 17.201 seconds to cover the same distance and barely reached 80 mph.
If you need one more argument to why this race is all but fair, the same Tesla Model S set a quarter-mile speed record for a production vehicle with a time of 12.371 seconds at 110.84 mph about a week ago.