Toyota, Tesla Come Together, Companies Seal $100 Million RAV4 EV Deal

Toyota, Tesla Come Together, Companies Seal $100 Million RAV4 EV Deal

Toyota and Tesla have joined forces in producing battery packs and motors for the upcoming electric RAV4 in what was previously a $60 million deal, but now, the Japanese automaker is forking over more money and officially making it a $100 million deal.

The RAV4 EV, set to go into production next year, was rumored to only be available for fleet sales, but we shed light on those claims earlier this week. Toyota said in a press release that the electric SUV would be available to the public.

The EV SUV was first introduced some 14 years ago, but never fared well, like most other electrics during that time. But this time around may be different, considering more customers are taking the electric path, not to mention battery technology has improved exponentially since then.  Toyota anticipates learning from the electric vehicle start-up company’s savviness in electric battery technology, while perhaps having the Tesla-touch boost sales. As part of the give-and-take deal, the Japanese automaker will assist the electric roadster company with its expertise in mass production.

The agreement will run until 2014, in which Tesla, together with Toyota, will build lithium-ion battery packs for the RAV4 at the NUMMI auto assembly plant in Fremont, California. Tesla’s new Model S electric sedan will also be produced at the same facility.

Source: Bloomberg

By Karla Sanchez

Tesla Model S: More New Versions Coming, Says CEO Elon Musk

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

Enlarge Photo

Tesla being what it is–a venture-funded startup battery-electric automaker in Silicon Valley–every utterance from its CEO Elon Musk becomes newsworthy.

So a generalized hint at future development of its main product, the 2012 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan, becomes fodder for news stories.

In this case, the brief mention came during Monday’s earning call covering the third-quarter financial results of Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA].

As noted by AutoblogGreen, CEO Musk said, “There are a few other variants of the Model S that we’ll come out with next year that I think are going to be pretty exciting.”

He also then mentioned ongoing work on the company’s next new vehicle, the 2014 Tesla Model X electric crossover, as well as the start of work on the third-generation car it hopes to launch later in the decade.

Frankly, we suspect that Musk may have been talking about an upcoming handling package for the Model S, already widely discussed as an option on the Performance model.

But speculation runs rampant around any Tesla news, so a few other possibilities might include:

  • An all-wheel drive version of the Model S, using the optional AWD being developed for the Model X
  • An even higher-capacity battery pack, to take the highest-range Model S above its current 265-mile EPA range estimate
  • Additional electronic features, some of which could be retroactively downloaded into existing Model S cars.

If we had to guess, we’d put our money on all-wheel drive.

It’s become a necessity in the high-end luxury market, included on more than 80 percent of Mercedes-Benz S Class sedans ordered in snowy markets.

And Jaguar’s addition of an all-wheel drive option to its XF mid-size and XJ full-size luxury sedans shows just how important it is.

To retrofit AWD into existing cars, much less those already two to four years into their model cycle, is no small task–but Jaguar says the sales gain will be well worth it.

So let’s start the guessing games here: How much should Tesla charge for an AWD option on, say, the high-end 2014 Model S electric sport sedan?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.

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By John Voelcker

Cocktail Chatter: February 22, 2013 – Rumor Central

Cocktail Chatter: February 22, 2013

What cocktails go best with all this car chatter? Automobilemag.com is here to help with weekly recipes. Remember, this is for talking about cars, not driving — always designate a driver. This week’s cocktail comes by way of Automobile Magazine contributor Bob Merlis, who served The Christie at his Palm Springs pool party this past week. The Christie is made my mixing vodka and fresh grapefruit juice (Merlis recommends plucking a grapefruit from a tree and giving it a squeeze, since they grow all over Palm Springs); the proportions between juice and liquor and use of ice are up to the drinker’s discretion. Top with sparkling water, a splash of pomegranate juice, and a squeeze of lime. Read more about Merlis’ party below.

Ready for Bed: It actually has lights! Who wouldn’t want to tuck their kids in this Corvette bed? Now if only they made it an adult-size.

Tom Hang, Graphic Designer

BaT Hits the Big Time: We’ve long been fans of Bring A Trailer, the daily email with picks of the most interesting vintage cars for sale. We’ve even interviewed its founder, Randy Nonnenberg. Recently, BaT received the endorsement of bona fide celebrity car guy Jerry Seinfeld, in his recent appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman.

Seinfeld suggests that BaT might be the place to find a vintage ride for Dave, for Seinfeld’s web series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” The question is, what would be the right car for Letterman?

Joe Lorio, Senior Editor

Review Sparks Outrage: John Broder’s review in The New York Times of the Tesla Model S, our Automobile of the Year, drew nasty tweets from the automaker’s chief, Elon Musk. Public reaction seems to favor Musk and his electric car, though I have no doubt that Broder followed Tesla’s instructions in his test of the company’s East Coast Supercharger network, resulting in a dead car. The Model S is a high-tech wonder, with an impressive electric-car range. It’s not for the uninformed, uninvolved customer, even the rich ones, who plans to drive it every day, in all conditions. Musk may be a visionary, but he’s a thin-skinned one, used to sycophantic press clips from an adoring Silicon Valley press corps. Buck up, Elon; new car reviews, like the car business, aren’t easy.

Todd Lassa, Executive Editor

German NASCAR: We got fired up for the sports car racing season last week at Daytona Int’l Speedway as BMW introduced its new car for the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), the BMW Z4 GTE. It looks like the snakiest Z4 in captivity with its unique, wide-body aero bodywork for the U.S., plus it has a 480-hp version of the latest 4.4-liter BMW V-8. Compared to the former M3 GT’s V-8 with its 180-degree crankshaft, this new BMW V-8, with its even-fire crankshaft, sounds like a NASCAR engine. In fact, NASCAR exec Mike Helton made a brief appearance in pit 1961 cadillac coupedeville r34 224x300 imagelane to see the program, and as the BMW Z4 GTE roared past on the banking, he said, “Now that sounds like a proper racing car.”

Mid-Century Magnificence: This weekend Palm Springs wraps up Modernism Week, which is the annual celebration of Mid-Century Modern design in the resort town in the California desert. Last Monday the Modernism Week car show took place in front of the convention center, a modest event of about 60 cars. Contributor Bob Merlis was predictably one of the ringleaders, as he knows everyone in Palm Springs who owns a cool car from the 1950s and 1960s. Merlis and his wife even hosted a pool party where Modernism Week performer Lou Christie – famous for his three-octave singing in the early 1960s — was the honored guest. Now that it’s cool to own a car that you might see in Mad Men, our Connecticut-bred Merlis wears a 1950s porkpie hat like he was born to it.

All in the Family: Contributor Ronald Ahrens was at Daytona Int’l Speedway last weekend as the 2014 Chevrolet SS was presented to the public. It made sense, since the rear-wheel-drive SS is the template for Chevrolet’s new-generation NASCAR racer that will appear in the Daytona 500 on Sunday. GM North America president Mark Reuss was the key spokesman, which seems only fair, since he was the general manager of Holden in Australia when the platform beneath the SS was first developed for the Pontiac G8. Some noticed that many wore a T-shirt emblazoned, “L. Reuss Garage: Excellent Used Cars, Darmstadt, Ill.”  This is the car lot owned by Reuss’s grandfather, and Reuss’s father grew up there to become first an important GM engineer and then president of the whole corporation. This might seem like vanity move by Mark Reuss, but today Detroit feels like a family enterprise more than ever, because every person on every street depends on the car business for a livelihood and lives and dies with its successes and failures more than ever. Grandsons on the assembly line and daughters in the engineering office – everyone. It’s no longer fashionable at Chrysler, Ford and GM to be a Wall Street bagman and pretend it’s all just about business. In Detroit, it’s not just business. It’s personal.

Michael Jordan, Senior Editor

The End of Road Rage?: After I stumbled upon some illustrations of hovering cars the other week, I’m just now reading about Google’s new driverless car and the impacts it could have on roads, legislation and, really, how we live our everyday lives. The advent of these cars raises an important question: what happens when a driverless car is in an accident that might normally provoke road rage? It’s easy enough to get angry with the driver of a fellow car, but when it’s actually the car and not the driver that’s responsible for the accident, do you instead unleash your furry on an inanimate object?

John Kalmar, Graphic Designer

AWD AMG: Realizing that its E-Class needed major work, Mercedes-Benz implemented some serious changes for the mid-cycle face-lift of its high-volume mid-size car. The change that strikes me most is the move to standard all-wheel drive (sorry, 4Matic) for the AMG performance edition. Mercedes-AMG will soon go from offering zero all-wheel-drive cars to four (E63, CLS63, A45, and CLA45), in addition to the quartet of all-wheel drive SUVs already for sale. Is this a good thing? That depends on whether you’d rather get superb lap times on track days or perform sensational powerslides for magazine covers. BMW says that its M cars will remain rear-wheel drive, but German car companies often behave like lemmings, so I wouldn’t be surprised if BMW follows Mercedes, which followed Audi anyway.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

Million Dollar Rides: It turns out that Will.i.am from The Black Eyed Peas is the owner of that crazy $900,000 Dick Tracy from the future car. Yeesh.

Kelly Murphy, Creative Director

Marketing Madness: Driving a Chrysler 300 Glacier Edition, I couldn’t help but to wonder why someone would buy one of these over the 300 S. The Glacier is based on the S, but eschews things like full leather seats and 19-inch wheels, while adding little more than one unique paint color, special floormats, and not-even-trying-to-look real carbon fiber interior trim. Unless you’re jones-ing for a 300 painted in Glacier Blue Pearl with 17-inch wheels, there’s little reason to opt for the special-edition car over the 300 S. We get it Chrysler – you’re trying to remind us that you have an all-wheel drive sedan in your dealerships, but I think your marketing money might be better spent just reminding people that the 300 is quite a good car, no special edition needed.

Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor

Navigation Niggles: I spent Monday and Tuesday driving a Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible from Las Vegas to San Francisco. It was a spectacular car that handled Death Valley as well as it did a blizzard (thanks to the snow tires). But the navigation system is severely lacking. The Hyundai Azera I’m driving around Los Angeles has a faster, more logical navigation system. Then again, I suppose anyone driving a Bentley has already arrived.

Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor

CDs? What are Those? I’m generally a fan of services like Rdio and Pandora to stream music, but I was recently reminded how good CDs—derided as relics of a bygone era—still are. I purchased Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” with my Sunday morning Starbucks and popped it into the Buick Regal GS’ optional Harmon/Kardon stereo; the combination of high-quality audio, surround sound algorithms, and about 500 watts of power turned “When It’s All Over” (one of the album’s most adventurous, and most satisfying, tracks) into an aural masterpiece. I’m sure that I could have replicated the experience in some cars with Bluetooth, or HD Radio, but CDs remain the most consistently awesome medium for listening to high-quality tunes.

Ben Timmins, Associate Web Editor

World’s Worst Drivers? There was no shortage of video footage of the asteroid that hit Russia last week thanks to the fact that so many drivers in that country have dash-mounted video cameras in their cars. Curious as to why this is so, The Washington Post  looked into it and reports that the dash cams are there as a reaction to Russia’s high incidence of hit-and-run crashes and false accident-liability claims. One result of all those dash cams is that the internet is chockfull of compilations of Russian traffic accidents. Go to YouTube or Google and type in “Russian car crash” and you’ll find scores of video compilations of Russian traffic accidents. You’ll be alternately entertained by the crazy driving maneuvers and the fender benders that result and dismayed by the widespread disregard for public safety. But once you start watching, you might not be able to stop. It is, literally, like watching a train wreck – er, make that a car crash.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

Bling Bling: If that spiffy new 2013 GL in your driveway lacks a certain something, Mercedes-Benz has something that might literally light up your life. The automaker’s accessories wing is now selling kits that illuminate the gigantic three-pointed star grille emblem with LEDs at night. Pricing remains unknown, as does the illuma-star’s compliance with federal safety standards. Part of me kind of hopes Mercedes-Benz develops this for its European Actros semi truck, as that emblem is about the size of an extra-large pizza.

Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor

Mulling Over Mercedes: Mercedes-Benz USA product planners and PR reps visited this week and gave me a few things to think about:

They talked more about the upcoming CLA250, the so-called baby CLS four-door coupe that will have a price point just below $30K (before destination charge) when it goes on sale later this year, thus undercutting the current least expensive Mercedes-Benz, the C-class sedan, by some five or six thousand dollars. The CLA appears to be a beautiful car (I’ve seen it only in photos), and I don’t think the target buyers in the United States will give a fig that it’s built on a front-wheel-drive platform rather than rear-wheel drive. (All-wheel drive will arrive early in 2014.) But it got me thinking about this difficult business of premium brands reaching down the price scale. I thought about the BMW 318 hatchback of the mid-90s, which started in the low to mid $20,000s. I thought about the early-2000s C-Class, which was heavily advertised as being a Mercedes for less than $30,000. Neither one of those cars really did much for their brands. I think the jury is still out on whether a premium brand like Mercedes can dip this low in the American market without losing its cachet.

Mercedes-Benz USA’s head of product planning, when asked about the recent announcements of a Chevrolet Cruze diesel and a Mazda 6 diesel, was ecstatic, telling us that nothing can be better for acceptance of diesel automobiles in America than affordable, mass-market diesel sedans. Mercedes, which has been selling BlueTec versions of its E-Class and S-Class sedans and its M-Class and GL-Class SUVs, has done everything it can to educate Americans that modern diesel engines are smooth, powerful, reliable, and efficient, but they’ve had a very difficult time spreading the message beyond a core group of true believers. So it was interesting to me to see a representative of a premium brand so excited about what’s going on at two mass-market brands.

Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor

XL1ent: The news that Volkswagen will put its XL1 into limited production is great for the auto industry. Sure, the teensy, slow, and likely very expensive car is nowhere near as thrilling as the latest supercar from Europe — but it involves just as much clever engineering. The challenges needed to build a car that can drive 261 miles on a single gallon of diesel fuel are just as (or perhaps more) interesting than those needed to build a 900-horsepower supercar. Just like a supercar, the Volkswagen XL1 will be somewhat expensive and thus will have limited appeal, but also like a supercar, lessons learned from the XL1 will eventually trickle down to other models. This car is the future — and I would love to drive it.

Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor

88 MPH: Universal Studios recently announced that a crack team of geeks restored a DeLorean from the Back to the Future franchise. This “Time Machine Restoration Team” reminds me of when a Midwestern DeLorean club visited my high school.

I woke up early on a Saturday morning and drove to our garage to clean and paint suspension components for a 1965 Ford Mustang. About an hour after I arrived, the first one pulled up. Then the next one. Then the next. The stainless-steel locusts filled the lot adjacent to the garage. I studied the cars only until I saw their owners. “88 MPH” t-shirts tucked into the elastic waistbands of 99-cent sweatpants. One guy silently walked around with a clipboard. One guy put his car up on a two-post lift, looked at its underside for a few minutes, then decided to cut a line that subsequently spilled transmission fluid all over the floor. One guy enthusiastically gloated that he’d installed a clear, neon-lit steering wheel in his car.

I’ve seen my hell, and it’s full of aspiring “Time Machine Restoration Team” members.

Chris Nelson, Road Test Editor

Extreme Makeover: Lots of new cars have claustrophobic interiors. In some cases, like that of the Chevrolet Camaro, this is driven by conscious (if not quite wise) design. But even family cars like the Chevy Malibu and Ford Fusion—vehicles put on earth to haul people and things—seem to have oppressively big dashboards, door panels, and roof pillars. The real culprit is all the stuff that’s found its way into our cars in the last few decades—airbags, touchscreens, multi-zone climate control, super-strong roof pillars. No wonder people think they need big crossovers.

Enter the Visteon e-Bee concept. The supplier essentially gutted a Nissan Leaf and rebuilt it with some new components and new thinking. The climate control hardware is smaller and has been relocated from under the dashboard to the nose of the car. The front airbags move into the ceiling.

All this obviates the need for a big dashboard, which as one Visteon designer reminded me, exists solely to hide ugly parts like the A/C blower motor. This opens up space for the front passenger. That passenger, in turn, sits on a fixed seat, saving the weight and cost of rails. Capacitive screens replace just about every physical control, something we’re already seeing on production cars with mixed results. Here, two small screens are placed on either side of the steering wheel, almost like shift paddles. This placement theoretically reduces the hands-off-wheel time and replaces the bulky center stack. Visteon is also working on software that “learns” a driver’s climate and media preferences, so one wouldn’t constantly need to dig through menus to flip on seat heaters and tune to a favorite radio station.

Some of Visteon’s ideas are a bit radical. I don’t think, for instance, most American buyers would give up floor carpeting (saves weight) or a rear window (ditto). But the general direction is brilliant. Car interiors cannot continue to look exactly like they did twenty years ago, only with more stuff, because the stuff is crowding out the passengers.

David Zenlea, Associate Editor

By Automobile Staff

EV Expansion: Tesla Preparing New Sports Car and BMW X3 Fighter – Rumor Central

EV Expansion: Tesla Preparing New Sports Car and BMW X3 Fighter

If Tesla’s future plans actually come true, by 2016 the company will offer the Model S, Model X as well as a premium entry-level four-door, BMW X3 fighter, and new sports car. That’s the news from a Wired report, quoting CEO Elon Musk.

Before Tesla can think about launching a midsize crossover and roadster in the 2016 calendar year, however, the company also has the upcoming Model X crossover, not to mention the BMW 3 Series challenger that could arrive in 2015 after the Model X arrives in dealerships early in 2014.

“We’ll do the X3 equivalent and then a Roadster follow-up in parallel,” Musk said to Wired.

Higher-volume models like the midsize crossover and the entry-level four-door — said to carry a base price around $30,000 when it debuts — will help Tesla reach the sales levels necessary to make a profit on its vehicle architecture. Musk notes that the car will have a similar hatchback design as the Model S, perhaps a similar arrangement found between the Fisker Karma and Atlantic models.

While Musk didn’t specify whether the new crossover model will have the Model X’s flashy, outward-opening doors, we wouldn’t be surprised to see them dropped to help the model reach a lower base price. Speaking of price, Musk hints that Tesla’s next sports car may see a price drop compared to the Roadster.

Which upcoming Tesla would you most like to drive, the Model X, the BMW X3 sized crossover, entry-level four-door, or sports car.

Source: Wired






By Zach Gale

Tesla Boss Hints at New Plant in Texas, EV Truck

Tesla Boss Hints at New Plant in Texas, EV Truck

Tesla Motors is in the middle of a spat with the Texas Automobile Dealers Association, but that isn’t stopping CEO Elon Musk from mapping out his future plans in Texas. If Musk has his way, Texas could be home to Tesla’s second assembly plant, he told Automotive News. And if that weren’t enough, he said the new plant could produce an EV truck, if the company ever offers pickups.

Musk didn’t specify which cities he’s considering for the new plant, but he did say the process could start as soon as three years from now. “When we do establish a manufacturing plant outside of California, Texas would be a leading candidate for that,” Musk 2012 Tesla Model S side profile 300x187 imagetold Automotive News. California is currently Tesla’s biggest market and Texas has the potential of becoming the automaker’s second-largest money maker.

In addition to the logistical benefits for Tesla, the new plant will produce thousands of new jobs for the state. Musk also hinted that the new location could build an EV truck. “I have this idea for a really advanced electric truck that has the performance of a sports car but actually more towing power and more carrying capacity than a gasoline or diesel truck of comparable size,” Musk said.

First, though, Tesla must determine how it will sell cars in the state. As previously reported, only franchised dealers are allowed to sell cars in Texas, which means Tesla’s factory-owned stores (one in Austin and another in Houston) are prohibited from conducting any sales-related activity including test drives, financial transactions, or deliveries. The same applies for service work. Current owners must initiate service-related requests outside of the state before going to a subcontracted garage in Texas.

Tesla is attempting to gain exemption from the state, but is facing resistance from the Texas Automobile Dealers Association. The automaker faced a similar battle in Minnesota, but has temporarily earned an exemption around that state’s franchise law.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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By Erick Ayapana

Tesla Model S Deliveries Poised to Begin



To quench its investors’ thirst for blood after it announced a first-quarter net loss of $89.9 million, Tesla Motors has announced that the Model S electric sedan will begin its delivery schedule next month. This comes move seems like a brash decision taken by the company bosses to secure a bit of profit, as the original schedule was for the EV sedan to arrive later in the year.

“Once we complete and document the tests, we will be able to sell our vehicles in the United States,” Chief Executive Elon Musk said in a letter to shareholders, according to MSNBC.

But deliveries will only start after the US regulators deem the Model S sedan is safe to put on the road, following a series of crash tests. Of course, we’re more concerned with the safety of the battery pack!

Despite the somewhat boring looks of the car, Tesla says they already have 10,000 orders for the Model S.

By Mihnea Radu

How You Can Buy a 2013 Tesla Model S Now, With No Waiting

2013 Tesla Model S

Good news for rich, impatient, picky Tesla Model S electric-car wannabes!

If you’re looking to buy right now–but can’t abide a car sullied by a few thousand miles of loaner-car duty under the recently announced buy-it-now program–Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] now offers a new but little-known option.

Yes, you can purchase a brand new, top-of-the-line Model S with no waiting.

Today, if you order an 85-kWh 2013 Tesla Model S Performance version through normal channels, you’re looking at a waiting time of about two months, according to the company’s website.

(The wait is closer to three months if you want a more prosaic standard 85-kWh or 60-kWh Model S.)

But Tesla has a few dozen lavishly-equipped Performance models available in stock, for immediate delivery. 

Some of these $110,000  “inventory cars” were either orphaned by buyers who couldn’t come up with the money once delivery day arrived.

Others were built as display cars for Tesla Stores, or to be used for other marketing purposes.

A small number of 85-kWh cars without the Performance package are also available, at lower prices, from inventory.

These cars are all new, with only a few break-in miles on the odometer. They carry a full new-car warranty.

The downside? You can’t pick and choose your options, and the specific paint/interior color combination you want may not be available.

All inventory cars have been preconfigured with 21-inch wheels, the Performance Plus handling package, the panoramic roof, the technology package, and a premium sound system.

All colors are available–including the long-awaited multicoat red.

Most interior and decor accent options are also available, although not necessarily in all combinations.

As they say, “Buy now, while supplies last!”

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

Second-Generation Tesla Roadster Delayed to 2015



The Tesla Roadster was pushed off the sales arena last year when Lotus stopped supplying its chassis, as the British carmaker ended production of the platform, used by the Elise and Exige.

Tesla is currently focusing on the Model S sedan, which is almost ready to hit the market, as well as on the Model X crossover, which will be shown to the public for the first time soon. However, the company hasn’t forgotten the Roadster and is planning to give us a second generation of the car.

This was expected to arrive in 2014, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk has now announced that the launched will be pushed back to late 2015. This is because the company will also be busy preparing the introduction of the promised affordable electric sedan, which will ride on the carmaker’s third-generation electric platform and should arrive in the first half of 2015.

Via: Inside Line

By Andrei Tutu

Oh, Tesla: Your ‘Lease’ Is Smart, But That Calculator Wasn’t

'Revenge of the Electric Car' premiere: Elon Musk arrives in a Tesla Roadster

‘Revenge of the Electric Car’ premiere: Elon Musk arrives in a Tesla Roadster

Enlarge Photo

Well, that didn’t take long.

Yesterday, just before 5 pm Eastern time, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] released details of its new “lease-like” financing product.

The general consensus in the media (we read a lot of Tesla coverage here, folks) has been that it’s smart for Tesla to offer financing for its Model S electric luxury sport sedan. It will expand the pool of potential owners.

But the press release, and a subsequent media call with CEO Elon Musk, mentioned a cost calculator on the company’s website that purports to let users calculate the true net out-of-pocket cost for a 2013 Tesla Model S under the new financing.

As details of the calculator became visible, however, its assumptions and calculations were widely savaged.

Motor Authority, for example, went through the online tool and critiqued each line, concluding that under even average assumptions, a 60-kWh Tesla Model S would likely cost an “effective” $764 per month–but require an out-of-pocket monthly payment of $1,051.

There have been other critiques: for instance, here, and here (“its own calculator demonstrates acrobatics rarely seen outside a Cirque de Soleil show to reach that number”).

Discussion has even centered on the hourly value of time saved not spent in traffic. Yes, there’s data: the average value is $32/hour, though Tesla might counter that its buyers are hardly average, justifying its $100/hour default value.

Our favorite conclusion, tweeted by Automotive News reporter Nick Bunkley: “According to Tesla website, if you live in Calif. and make $2 million/year, driving a Model S has an effective monthly cost of minus-$2,000.”

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

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

Enlarge Photo

The whole affair leads us to wonder why Tesla continues to push the boundaries of its communications when actual facts so often cast their assertions in a different light.

We’ve noted before that CEO Musk sometimes says things that prove not to be exactly true, or haven’t yet happened, or need major asterisks to explain the context.

He’s hardly alone in that regard among CEOs. Some even argue that it’s the job of a startup CEO to talk about the reality he intends to achieve, rather than the world as it actually exists.

We’ve long criticized the pathetic practice of “net pricing”–quoting a price that doesn’t reflect the cash a buyer must spend out-of-pocket, but instead nets out a Federal income-tax credit that not all buyers qualify for and that can take up to 15 months to be realized.

At least in that case, Tesla is no more guilty than any other plug-in electric carmaker; they’re all culpable.

But the financing announcement would have gone off smoothly and met with widespread acclaim if the bizarre financial gyrations of the “cost calculator” hadn’t largely overshadowed them.

Tesla Model S with DISRUPT license plate, March 2013 [photo: Sam Villella]

Tesla Model S with DISRUPT license plate, March 2013 [photo: Sam Villella]

Enlarge Photo

And it didn’t help that the press release said that the financing product “was created from the ground up to provide maximum benefit to consumers, rather than simply duplicating other financing programs that tend to favor companies at the expense of the individual.”

Yet the associated Tesla calculator goes through contortions to support Musk’s statement that you can drive a Model S for “$500 or $600 a month,” favoring Tesla’s assertion at the expense of interested buyers.

We note that Tesla Motors now has its fourth VP of Communications in a bit more than four years: Welcome, Sarah Meron.

As Tesla matures, sells more cars, and slowly persuades more of its critics and detractors that it’s a legitimate carmaker, is it too much to hope that it will think twice before acting–and leave these kind of amateur stunts to more desperate carmakers?

Perhaps the company will even release specific, legitimate monthly sales figures.

Nah. Never gonna happen. They’re far too special for that.

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By John Voelcker

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By Greg Mombert