Tesla Blasts New York Times for "Ethics Violation"



It's been two weeks since we last reported about the Elon Musk vs. New York Times feud, and it seems like the infamous Tesla S review debate is far from over.

After claiming that the erroneous review could cost Tesla no less than $100 million in company shares, Musk came back to slam NYT's John Broder for "low-grade ethics violation".

"I would call it a low-grade ethics violation," Musk said on Saturday. "Not a Jayson Blair-crazy-fabrication variety, but I would call it low-grade. It was not in good faith – that's an important point."

"I have no problem with negative feedback, nor do I have a problem with critical reviews," Musk added. "I have a problem with false reviews."

Tesla Motors Inc. has accused New York Times reporter John Broder of faking a Model S road test and claiming the EV automaker is misreporting the vehicle's estimated driving range. Musk's company immediately backed its story by releasing the vehicle's driving logs, which actually did prove that the New York Times editor's review was not based on real facts.

Story via Automotive News

By Ciprian Florea

Tesla Model S Driving On Sunlight: Amateur Video Not So Amateur


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The right car can inspire people.

Whether it’s the poetic beauty of an Italian sports car or the noise of the race track, that inspiration takes many forms.

For some, the all-electric Tesla Model S is their inspiration. The sleek electric sedan has certainly attracted attention far beyond that of most electric vehicles, but it’s the die-hard fans who are most inspired–and this fan-made commercial is proof.

Every second of footage looks professionally produced, as if Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] itself is promoting the car.

Filmed on January 3rd, the one-minute commercial follows the Knapp family, whose road trip using solar-powered Tesla Supercharger stations–hence “Gallons of light”–highlights how such a trip doesn’t need a drop of fossil fuels, in the right kind of car.

Created by Jordan Bloch, who Autoblog Green says has also made videos for Nike, British Airways and Nissan, the ad is perhaps a little saccharine for some.

That shouldn’t detract from what has been achieved on a tight budget though–nor that only 61 seconds of footage is enough to effectively highlight the joys of driving electric–something the carmakers themselves have occasionally struggled to do.

In fact, it leaves us wondering why some adverts have done so little to convey the real benefits of driving an electric car–the silence, the ease of use, and the spirit of the community of like-minded owners.

It’ll make you want to drive the car too–which is what a good advert should do.

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By Antony Ingram

Tesla Model S Gets European Price Tag – Will Be Considerably More Expensive than US Version



After announcing that all their Europe-bound Model S sedans would be manufactured and distributed from The Netherlands, Tesla has now released the official pricing information for the car – in euros. One thing needs to be mentioned first, though, and that is the fact that they have revealed that they will only be selling the higher end versions of the car first, in order to turn a profit.

This means only cars with the top two battery packs (60- and 85-kWh) will be available. Now, they have announced the base price for the cheapest car they will offer on the Old Continent, and it is €71,400, or $94,370. That makes it exactly $26,970 more expensive than it is in the US.

Next up is the Signature Performance model, which gets the larger 85 kWh battery pack, as well as extra power from the electric motors. In Europe, it will set you back €109,150, or $144,680, which makes it $39,280 more expensive than the US version.

The price difference is justified through the high regional VAT (Value-Added Tax), as well as the numerous local laws, rules and regulations and the shipping costs. However, the actual value will go down, once all the local tax rebates are taken into account, yet it will still be quite expensive and still very much a niche product.

By Andrei Nedelea

Tesla Offers Roadster Customers a New Leasing Option

Tesla Offers Roadster Customers a New Leasing Option

Since the automaker’s inception, the only way would-be Tesla Roadster drivers could get the electric sports car in their garages was to purchase one outright. But all that’s about to change with Tesla’s new vehicle leasing program.

Purchasing any car — let alone a two-seat all-electric sports car that runs over $100,000 — is a big decision. In order to get more people behind the wheel of its Roadsters, Tesla launched its Tesla Motors Leasing program. Leases last 36 months, and require a $12,453 at signing, along with a $9900 down payment. With this lease plan, monthly payments are estimated to be in the neighborhood of $1658 — in comparison, Tesla’s purchase plan, offered through Bank of America, would run customers an extra $1200 each month.

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To add some icing on the cake, Tesla’s new “Tesla Rangers” service is included in the cost of the lease. As previously reported, the “Rangers” can perform service and maintenance tasks at the owner’s home in lieu of bringing it to a dealership. Normally, this service costs at least $1 per round-trip mile traveled.

Tesla’s lease program begins today, and according to the company, it’s ordered a handful of Roadsters with the most popular colors and options in order to prepare for customer demand.

Be sure to check out our comparison test that pits a 2010 Tesla Roadster against the 2010 Porsche Boxster Spyder (complete with video!).

Source: Tesla

By Michael Floyd

Life With 2013 Tesla Model S: ‘Vampire’ Thirst For Electricity At Night?

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]

Enlarge Photo

A couple of weeks ago, shortly after I took delivery of my 2013 Tesla Model S, I noticed that my home electric meter seemed to be running a bit faster than normal.

I keep a close eye on my meter, but that seemed odd.

After all, the long-awaited new luxury sport sedan delivered to my house in February by Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] was simply replacing electric miles I had been driving in my Chevrolet Volt.

The two cars have about the same efficiency in winter. So it shouldn’t have taken notably more power to run the Model S than the Volt, right?

I decided to try an experiment. Unplugging my 60-kilowatt-hour Model S for the night at 9 p.m., I made a note of the Rated Range display, which read 169 miles.

Next morning, the range had dropped to 153 miles.

I left the car unplugged again the next night. (Temperature was in the 20s, a bit colder than the previous night.) Range dropped  from 89 miles to 66, a loss of 23 miles. 

What was going on here? Many days, I don’t drive even 23 miles.

Was the Model S actually a “vampire” that used more electrical power just sitting overnight in my driveway than it might use during a typical day’s driving for me?

Two more unplugged tests confirmed the pattern: 10 miles range lost in 9 hours, then 23 miles lost over 22 hours. On average, I’d been losing roughly a mile of range for every hour the car sat unplugged.

This was different: It wasn’t just a design quirk, like the good and the bad points of the Model S that I wrote about recently.

This was taking money out of my pocket and putting carbon into the atmosphere.

No State-of-Charge Readout

Unfortunately, the Tesla Model S has no direct readout of the battery state of charge (SoC). There’s just an undelineated bar graph that gives you a rough idea of remaining charge.

With no direct SoC readout (either as a percentage or in actual kWh), the only way to estimate vampire losses is to extrapolate from the lost range. 

In normal driving, the Model S uses about one-third of a kilowatt-hour per mile.  My apparent 24-mile-per-day loss thus translated into about 8 kWh of electricity.  That’s about a third of my total daily home electrical consumption, not counting the two electric cars.

If those mileage-loss numbers were correct, my Model S’s apparent vampire losses would amount to almost 9,000 miles of driving a year. 

Delusional Owner’s Manual?

My numbers were wildly contradicted by the Model S owner’s manual.

“When you’re not driving Model S,” it purrs reassuringly, “the Battery discharges very slowly to power the onboard electronics. On average the battery discharges at a rate of 1 percent per day.”

One percent? Based on my unplugged mileage-loss numbers, my battery appeared to be discharging at about 12 percent per day.

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]

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Hotline to the rescue

Tesla has recently established a hotline phone number for Model S owners with problems or questions, so I decided to give it a call.

The guy on the phone quickly confirmed the vampire problem.  It seems that the “sleep mode” in the original Model S software–the basis for the owner’s manual statements–had caused so many glitches in other car functions that it had been disabled.

With sleep mode missing from the current v4.2 software, he said, I could expect to lose about 8-10 miles of range per day when unplugged.

Using the rough three-to-one conversion ratio, that worked out to about 3 kWh per day.

He assured me Tesla was working  to come up with new sleep-mode software as soon as possible, but he offered no estimate of how long it might take.

Last week, Elon Musk addressed the vampire/sleep-mode issue in a meeting with Norwegian Model S buyers in Oslo. Musk promised that the new sleep mode would reduce vampire losses to a mere 0.2 percent–a miniscule 170 watt-hours–per day.

And, he said, the new sleep-mode software would be installed by the time the Model S was introduced in Norway–currently set, he said, for July.

Faulty mileage readings

But my apparent vampire losses were more than double what the hotline rep said they should be. Did I have a special problem?



2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]

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No, he told me, the problem was faulty range calculations. In the current software version 4.2, the  range readings are inaccurate when the battery is cold.

“When the range software makes its prediction, it takes into account the current battery temperature,” explained the hotline guy.

“It’s not smart enough to know that the battery will warm up as you drive, and so your range will increase.”

“The range numbers you see on a cold morning are too low,” he went on. “That means the range ‘loss’ you think you see is too high.”

Some Model S owners have indeed reported gaining back some of their “lost” miles as they drive. I haven’t noticed this, however.

I did notice that on one cold unplugged morning the range was 18 miles–less than 10 percent of the max range–but the battery-state-of-charge bar graph showed somewhere around 25 or 30 percent.

“If there’s a discrepancy between the range number and the bar graph,” he said, “trust the bar graph.”

New software to improve the accuracy of the range numbers reportedly started  downloading to a few Model S cars last week.

Due to bandwidth limitations, however, only a limited number of cars can be updated per day–so it will take a while to update the entire Model S fleet.

No Battery Warming

Surprisingly, my hotline guy said that temperature has no effect on  Model S vampire loads.  Contrary to what I believed–along with many other Model S owners, I suspect–he said that no power is used to keep the battery warm. It all goes to the electronics.

“There’s no additional loss due to battery thermal management,” he told me. “The Model S does not keep its battery at any particular temperature when the car’s off. In fact, lithium-ion batteries actually last longer if they’re cold when not in use.”

(Musk confirmed this in his Oslo talk.)

On the other hand, the Model S owner’s manual says that when you plug in the car to charge, “If the battery requires heating or cooling, you may notice a delay before charging begins.

“Heating or cooling starts automatically when you plug in, and charging begins when the Battery reaches the appropriate temperature.”

Now I’m totally confused.

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan on delivery day, with owner David Noland

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan on delivery day, with owner David Noland

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How many kWh really?

Despite the Tesla rep’s claim of 8 to 10 miles of range loss per day, I still didn’t know how many actual kilowatt-hours of  vampire power my Model S was using.

So I asked an electrical engineer friend to cobble together a kilowatt-hour meter that would be compatible with the 240-Volt NEMA 14-50 outlet I use to charge the Model S.

The device would measure precisely how much total electric energy passed through the outlet into the car: No guesswork.

With battery fully charged and the range readout at 189 miles, I plugged the Tesla mobile connector into the NEMA 14-50 outlet, with the 240V kilowatt-hour meter attached, and went to bed.

Next morning, fully 12 hours later … surprise!

The meter read zero, and I’d lost 12 miles of range. Even though it had been plugged in, the car had used its own battery energy rather than grid power. The actual electricity it had used was unknown.

Charging Kick-start

On a hunch, I unplugged the charge cable from the car, then plugged it back in.  The green ring around the charge port immediately began to pulse, indicating that charging had begun.

About 15 minutes later, the battery was full again.

The meter said  it had taken 1.6 kWh to top off the night’s losses. That worked out to a vampire power draw of 3.2 kWh per day.

Interestingly, the range now read 183 miles–at the same full charge level that had indicated 189 miles last night.  (Warmer battery then, presumably.)

The next night I replayed the same scenario, hoping to leave the car plugged in long enough to trigger the auto-transition to grid power to recharge.

But the next day, after 18 hours, the kWh-meter still hadn’t budged. I needed to drive the car.

So again I kick-started the recharging process. This time the meter read 3.5 kWh to refill the battery after 18 hours. That works out to 4.7 kWh per day. 



2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]

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A third 11-hour test session showed 5.7 kWh per day, a fourth 24-hour session consumed 4.5 kWh. During the 24-hour test, the car did switch to grid power sometime between 18 and 24 hours.

Overall average of the four test sessions:  4.5 kWh per day.

That’s the equivalent of a steady drain of 188 Watts, or three incandescent light bulbs left burning 24 hours a day. That may not sound like much, but over the course of a year, it’s enough juice to drive about 5,000 miles.

Losing 4.5 kWh per day, my battery would be totally exhausted from full in about 13 days.

Suddenly, leaving the Tesla parked at the airport for a ten-day trip looks a bit sketchy, to say the least.

If my car is typical, the Model S fleet–now about 5,000 strong– wasted 22.5 megawatt-hours of vampire power yesterday. 

Conclusions

My little experiment taught me three things.

First, with sleep mode disabled, my car uses an average of 4.5 kWh per day, or enough to drive about 14 miles–significantly more than Tesla’s hotline reps currently tell owners.

Second, instead of trickle-charging when plugged in, the Model S consumes its own battery power for periods of 18 to 24 hours before briefly switching to grid power to top off its  battery. Thus it can lose 10 to 15 miles of range overnight even when it’s plugged in.

[UPDATE: According to a Tesla spokesman who responded to the author after this article was first published, the Model S starts the topping-off process when the battery charge level drops by more than 3 percent.]

Third, owners can kick-start the topping-off process by removing and re-inserting the charge cord. Doing so 10 or 15 minutes before driving has the further advantage of preheating the battery, which increases range and maintains the regenerative braking, which is otherwise limited when the battery is cold.

Solutions

In my opinion, Tesla needs to do three things:

(1) Get the new sleep-mode software out as fast as humanly possible.

And I’m sure they’re already working hard to do just that.

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]

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(2) Along with estimated-range readout, give us an actual battery state-of-charge indication–either percentage of charge, or total kWh remaining. (Better yet: a choice of either.)

No matter how sophisticated, range-estimating software cannot predict the future or read the driver’s mind. 

Am I about to begin a long uphill or downhill stretch? Will I be be driving fast or slow? Lead-footing it or feather-footing it? Blasting the A/C or sweating it out? 

I know those things. The software doesn’t. So tell me precisely how much juice I have left in the battery, and let me figure it out. 

(3) Do a better job of communicating with us. 

The owner’s hotline is a good start, but it only tells us what we know we don’t know. What about those pesky “unknown unknowns”?

If the owner’s manual tells us the battery loses 1 percent a day, shouldn’t Tesla inform us that the actual number is closer to 5 percent? 

And if you know the range readouts are inaccurate, shouldn’t you let owners know that, too?

Send a freaking e-mail.

David Noland is a Tesla Model S owner and freelance writer who lives north of New York City.

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By David Noland

A Lamborghini with a Flaming Exhaust Never Gets Old



Lamborghini has released the second facelift for the Gallardo at last year’s Paris Motor Show. Despite not even getting close to the first one in terms of complexity, this still brings new aprons that change the aspect of the car.

Thus, owners of the first Gallardos may be concerned that their supercars don’t looks as fresh as they used to. Well, we’ve got an idea for you – a Gallardo with a flaming exhaust never gets old!

Gift your V10 Lambo with a custom exhaust that shoots flames and you’ll be safe.

Photo via: Michael Eastway on Flickr

By Andrei Tutu

Tesla Revises Warranty, Service Plan – Rumor Central

Tesla Revises Warranty, Service Plan

Servicing a vehicle can easily mar the ownership experience, but Tesla Motors is taking steps to ensure its customers are satisfied. Tesla recently revealed improvements to the manner in which the automaker provides service.

Musk 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 2013 Tesla Model S front left side1 300x187 imageallowing 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.

That 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

Update: Tesla Says No Pending Completed Loan Applications with DOE

Update: Tesla Says No Pending Completed Loan Applications with DOE

Following the bankruptcy of solar-panel maker Solyndra, the House Republicans are eager to cut green-jobs programs. – The ill-fated solar panel manufacturer was the first company to receive money from the Obama administration’s green-tech stimulus loan. One of the other programs under scrutiny is the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Program (ATVM). The same program loaned Tesla Motors $465 million back in June 2009.

Tesla used the ATVM loan to open an electric powertrain facility at its Palo Alto headquarters and revamp the former NUMMI plant to build the Model S electric sedan.

Earlier this week the automaker posted a blog on its website defending the program. Tesla says it employed 400 people before the original loan. The loan helped add 1000 jobs and plans to add another 1000 jobs in the next year.

Tesla’s website doesn’t specify how much in additional loans the company needs or what it would be used for. It does say that the electric automaker “has raised an additional $620 million in private investment capital.”

The last line on the blog post says, “Tesla has no pending completed applications with the DOE.”

In light of government spending cuts and a bankrupt solar-panel manufacturer, do you think Tesla should be asking for another loan from the federal government?

Update 09/28/2011, 10:40 a.m.
A follow up call to Tesla spokeswoman Khobi Brooklyn confirmed the last line of the company’s blog post: “Tesla has no pending completed applications with the DOE.”

Source: SF Gate, Tesla

By Jason Udy

Just as we predicted, Tesla Model S wins 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year award

Tesla Model S

After picking up Automobile Magazine’s 2013 Car of the Year award, we predicted lat last week  Tesla Motors and its ambitious EV, the Model S, would invariably snatch up Motor Trend’s 2013 Car of the Year Award. And it would appear that the stars don’t lie, as the Model S has indeed been handed the coveted award, marking what is undoubtedly an exciting and significant day for electric vehicle enthusiasts and no doubt the folks over at Tesla.

For a quick recap, and for those living under a rock, the Tesla Model S is a luxury sports sedan built from the ground up by Tesla Motors, which is spearheaded by PayPal co-founder and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, and marks the first time a vehicle not powered by an internal combustion engine has won Car of the Year since the award’s inception 64 years ago.

In addition to the Model S’ electric motor, Motor Trend cited the vehicles impressive design both exterior and interior, superb handling, and outstanding performance. The California-based automotive startup managed to beat out a host of other established vehicles from the likes of BMW (3 Series), Acura (ILX), two offerings from Cadillac (ATS and XTS), Dodge (Dart), and another pure EV in the form of the Coda Sedan. Other notable contenders included the Scion/Subaru (FRS/BRZ) as well as other green vehicles like the Toyota Prius C and Ford C-Max hybrid.

By Amir Iliaifar

Tesla Triples Supercharger Network, Eyeing Entire Country

2013 Tesla Model S CAPTIONS ON | OFF

In response to an EV infrastructure that has basically failed to improve at all in the past five years, Tesla Motors will immediately triple the network of their Supercharger stations and could have hundreds of stations running by the end of 2013.

By the end of June, Tesla expects to have new locations in California, plus the Pacific Northwest, Texas, Illinois and Colorado and four locations on the East Coast for the first time. In six months they expect range to increase into Canada, plus Arizona, South Carolina and Georgia. By then, Tesla says, it will be possible to drive a Tesla Model S from New York to Los Angeles. The big news here is not the triumph for Tesla, but rather the utter embarrassment for every other automaker in the world.

Infrastructure and driving range have always been two of the largest obstacles in convincing the public to buy Electric Vehicles. They are two of the chief reasons, in fact, that automakers like the Big Three dragged their feet and refused to build EVs for many years. People have often looked at Tesla sideways, because no matter how good their cars are, it means nothing without infrastructure.

But where the auto industry saw disaster, Tesla saw opportunity. They are now the leaders in the largest EV infrastructure project ever, and will reap all of the benefits. The Tesla Supercharger systems work only for Tesla vehicles, meaning that owners of the Chevrolet Volt or Nissan Leaf or any other EV that isn’t the Tesla Model S can’t use them. Essentially, Tesla figured out how to open the country up to their customers while leaving the door shut on the competition.

This will hurt the auto industry much more than it helps Tesla, and it’s no one’s fault but their own. The prospect of building a nationwide EV infrastructure seems incredibly daunting – and true, we have to wait and see whether it actually all works out – but someone saw fit to make it possible. If GM or Honda or a Toyota-Ford partnership to build similar charging stations had begun five years ago, infrastructure and driving range wouldn’t even be an issue by now. Instead, they didn’t take initiative and are still reluctant to build electric cars. That’s just fine by Tesla.

Today’s announcement forces us to consider whether automakers that have griped about lack of infrastructure and technology costs couldn’t build electric cars, or simply wouldn’t.

It would appear to be the latter, and they’re paying for it now.

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Visit theautoMedia.comTesla Research Centerfor quick access to reviews, pricing, photos, mpg and more. Make sure to followautoMedia.comonTwitterandFacebook.

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By Ryan ZumMallen

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