Father and Son Take Tesla Model S for 423.5-Mile Ride on One Charge!



While some manufacturers are being investigated by the EPA for declaring false efficiency numbers, the Tesla Model S seems to be exceeding them. A Model S owner from Florida decided to try and see just how far he could travel with the juice stored in the car’s 85 kWh battery pack.

The owner, David Metcalf took his son Adam on a 423.5-mile or 681 km drive aboard the top-spec electric sedan, before it finally ran out of juice and had to be towed back home. This may seem far-fetched, but Elon Musk has said before that he thinks the car is capable of breaking the 400-mile barrier, and while this information may be unofficial, the Tesla CEO has already posted on his Twitter account, congratulating David on his achievement.

Now, the EPA has just rated the Model S, fitted with the lower capacity 60 kWh battery pack, at 208 miles autonomy, yet it is also a few MPGe more efficient, so breaking the 300-mile barrier should not be a problem, with the necessary preparation, and suitable roads – the tires also need to be pumped up more, to reduce rolling resistance, but that`s pretty much the only thing the owner can do before attempting a run like this.

By Andrei Nedelea

Tesla Motors revamps warranty and service program

tesla-model-s

Tesla Motors is used to doing things in a big way. Its Model S sedan owns nearly every superlative in the EV realm and gets recharged from something called a “Supercharger.” The company also invented a radical new way to sell these cars, so radical that it’s illegal in many states.

Given that, it’s not surprising that Tesla is extending that same mentality and excellence to one of the less sexy aspects of car ownership: warranties and dealer service.

Tesla says Model S owners will benefit from the “world’s best service and warranty program,” but what does that actually mean?

First off, Tesla is making maintenance cheaper and more convenient. The $600 annual service contract required to preserve warranty coverage is no longer mandatory. Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk had to admit that it was a bit excessive for a car that doesn’t need oil changes.

“We made a slight mistake,” Musk said in a recent press conference, ”in making the service fee mandatory.”

Tesla will also offer valet service and loaner cars free of charge when Model S owners do need to bring their cars in for maintenance.

The loaners will be top-of-the-line 85-kWh Performance models, and each Tesla Service Center will have between two and 10 of the cars. The Service Centers are standalone facilities, separate from Tesla’s mall-based showrooms.

If owners decide they prefer the loaner car to their own, Tesla will sell it to them for its MSRP minus one percent for each month it’s been in service and $1 for each mile on the odometer.

This may sound excessive, but dealers do sometimes have problems getting customers to return loaner cars that are the same as, or in newer condition than, the cars they sent in to be serviced. Tesla might even get a few owners of lesser Model Ss to upgrade.

Critically, Tesla is also expanding its warranty coverage to include “user error,” a complete about-face from the company’s response to the “bricking” of Roadsters, in which battery packs were accidentally allowed to fully drain and were destroyed, rendering the cars immobile.

At the time, Tesla stated that “bricking” was the equivalent of an internal combustion car being run without its oil changed, clearly placing the problem into the “user error” category.

While Musk did not explicitly mention the Roadster bricking problem in his remarks, he did say that the changes to the warranty were made to address concerns over battery packs.

“We want to say, don’t worry about the battery, it’s going to be fine,” Musk said.

It’s hard to say what makes an automotive warranty the “world’s best,” but Tesla’s changes to it coverage and service programs should make people feel more comfortable owning the company’s cars, which is no small feat for vehicles packed with technology that is about as new as new gets.

By Stephen Edelstein

Ford Focus Electric EPA Rating: 105 MPGe and 76-Mile Range



The Ford Focus Electric has now received its EPA rating and things are looking great for the green compact, as its 105 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) and 76 mile range make it the most efficient five-seater on the US market.

To be more specific, the electron-driven focus gets and EPA rating of 110MPG3 on urban roads and 99 MPG3 on the highway. To get an idea of what that means, we’ll tell you that the 2012 Chevy VOlt gets 94 MPGe, the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid offeres 95 MPGe, the Mitsubishi sits at 112 MPGe, the Nissan Leaf retursn 99 MPGe, while the Tesla Roadster offers 119 MPGe.

Ford highlights the fact that the Focus Electric beats the Nissan Leaf both in terms of efficiency and range, but we also have to keep in mind that while the Blue Oval’s vehicle will set you back $39,200, the Leaf can be yours for $35,200.

By Andrei Tutu

Tesla Posts First-Ever Quarterly Profit, Raises Global Sales Target

Tesla Posts First-Ever Quarterly Profit, Raises Global Sales Target

Tesla CEO Elon Musk must be smiling, because the startup company has made a profit for the first time in its 10-year history. Tesla reported revenue of $562 million, resulting in an $11.2-million net income.

2013 Tesla Model S front right side1 300x187 imageThe Model S, which we named the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year, plays a huge part in this, as the company sold 4900 vehicles in the first quarter, exceeding the original 4500-unit goal. Tesla said it produced 400 or more cars a week, totaling 5000 for the first quarter. The company also raised its full-year forecast to about 21,000 worldwide deliveries (from 20,000), which seems like a realistic goal since the company has reduced the number of hours it takes to build a Model S. The automaker estimates U.S. demand this year for the Model S at 15,000 units.

Tesla now offers an improved finance plan and longer-term loans, which should make it easier for more people to consider a Model S. The automaker also improved its service experience, though the dealer network continues to expand. Over the last 30 days, Tesla’s stock has jumped from around $42 to about $55 a share. Whether the Model X can repeat the Model S’ success remains to be seen.

In other Tesla news, the Model S has also earned Consumer Reports‘ highest rating of 99 out of 100, performing better than any other vehicle except the Lexus LS 460L, which earned the almost-perfect score in 2007. The electric sedan was lauded for its quick acceleration, precise handling, and quiet interior. The publication didn’t like the limited range and long charging times.

Source: Tesla, Consumer Reports

By Karla Sanchez

Renault-Nissan to Open New Research Office in Silicon Valley, Fourth Major Automaker in Area

Renault-Nissan to Open New Research Office in Silicon Valley, Fourth Major Automaker in Area

Attention all college grads with an engineering degree (and a slight interest in cars): add the Renault-Nissan Alliance to your job hunting list of automotive companies that have been actively  seeking and hiring talent to fill engineering and technology jobs. The group announced that in a few weeks it will open its doors to a new research office in Silicon Valley, which is home to a number of high-tech giants.

According to a prepared statement yesterday, the new Northern California office will play an important role in ensuring the group stays “ahead of trends that are reshaping the way people interact with their cars.” The office will research and develop upcoming in-car tech including advanced display interfaces and Internet connectivity. And as one the most prominent manufacturers of electric vehicles, Nissan will use the office to advance its influence in green technology.

Speaking yesterday at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, said, “The Alliance is at the vanguard of the auto industry’s shift to sustainable transportation. Having a greater footprint in one of the world’s headquarters for clean tech research will extend our lead further.” Ghosn also stated that green-tech research is having a positive impact on the economy as well as the job market in the auto industry.

Last year, more than 32,000 jobs were created in the industry including thousands of engineering positions. At the 2011 Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress held last month, more than 10,000 attendees had the opportunity to check out and seek possible employment from 35 companies in the engineering field, including Chyrsler, Ford and General Motors. Back in March, we reported that the Detroit three were recruiting newly minted engineering grads for new tech jobs.  Attracting graduates to apply has been a challenge, however, mainly due to the low starting wages in Detroit, especially when compared to similar positions Silicon Valley.

In addition to Renault-Nissan’s new office, a number of automakers also have a presence in the high-tech hotspot. BMW’s Technology Office in Palo Alto, California, for example, opened over a decade ago and played a big role in the inception and subsequent revisions to the automaker’s iDrive interface system. Mercedes-Benz has a Silicon Valley-based Group and Advanced Engineering office, which recently developed the smart drive app for the iPhone and has been involved in the testing of fuel-cell vehicles. The Volkswagen Group recently opened an Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) in Belmont, California, which will develop future infotainment platforms and driver assistance systems. Lastly, Tesla Motors, makers of the all-electric roadster and the upcoming Tesla S sedan, is headquartered in Northern California, and took over the GM/Toyota NUMMI joint-venture assembly plant in Fremont.

Is the future of the U.S. car industry moving away from Detroit to high-tech areas like Silicon Valley?

Source: Nissan, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Tesla

By Erick Ayapana

Staff Picks: The Best and Worst Cars We Drove in 2012

Staff Picks: The Best and Worst Cars We Drove in 2012

And just like that, we’re closing the book on 2012 and preparing to start 2013. Motor Trend staffers were lucky enough to drive a wide assortment of fantastic cars, with everything from the 74-hp Volkswagen Up! to the 691-hp Lamborghini Aventador passing through our garage. Of the hundreds of cars we’ve driven this year, these are the cars that stood out most to our editors in 2012, for better and for worse.

Erick Ayapana, Associate Online Editor:

2013 Porsche Boxster S PDK front end in motion 3 300x187 imageBest: 2013 Porsche Boxster S

I only needed a few minutes in the 2013 Porsche Boxster S before feeling completely comfortable driving the car at its limits. No other car I’ve driven this year has felt as perfect or as fun to drive as the Boxster. And how about that back side? The Boxster’s spoiler (and how it blends into the taillight units) is hands down the sexiest automotive design feature I’ve seen all year.

2012 Volkswagen Routan front three quarter 300x187 imageWorst: 2012 Volkswagen Routan

The VW logo on the steering wheels said I was driving a Volkswagen, but it sure didn’t feel like it. Again, this is nothing more than a rebadged Chrysler Town & Country and nothing about the minivan feels remotely German. Case in point: we all know that German carmakers treat cup holders like the plague, yet the Routan’s Getränkehalter (cup holder) count totals 15.

Mike Febbo, Associate Editor:

2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S side turn in motion1 300x187 imageBest: Porsche 911 Carrera S

I proclaimed the beginning of the end when the 996 replaced the air-cooled 993, but became a believer again after first driving the 997. As for the 991, the car has restored my faith in Porsche as the best sports car builder on the planet. From driving position, to steering, to the new PDK gearbox, everything about the 991 is exceptional.

BMW M5 E39 front 300x219 imageWorst: BMW e39 M5 at the Nurburgring

While the e39 M5 is one of the best sedans ever built, this particular car was on its factory tires — the tires fitted when it was built. After a few years of hard use and then being put into storage, these near slick chunks of carbon offered just slightly more grip than the wheels they were mounted on. On a rain-soaked track in just over freezing temperatures, this was one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve had as a journalist.

Mike Floyd, Senior Digital Content Director:

2013 Cadillac ATS Turbo front three quarter in motion 300x187 imageBest: Cadillac ATS

Other than our esteemed 2013 Car of the Year — the out-of-this-world Tesla Model S — the car I was most impressed with in 2012 was the Cadillac ATS. Anyone who thinks General Motors can’t build world-class cars needs to beat feet down to a Cadillac dealer and get behind the wheel of the ATS. Both the turbo-four and V-6 powertrains are impressive, and while we had some issues with the manual (they assure us it’s being adjusted), the fact that they offer one at all was a huge bonus point in any enthusiast’s book — and mine as well. It looks good, handles great, moves out with authority and while a little fussy at times, its CUE telematics system is among the most impressive of its type out there. Bravo Cadillac, a sport sedan that truly has what it takes to compete with all comers.

2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ front three quarters in motion 300x187 imageWorst: Chevrolet Malibu

Conversely, the Chevrolet Malibu also shows how far GM has to go in some segments. At this year’s Car of the Year event, we had some of the heaviest hitters in the midsize sedan category out for evaluation, and the Malibu was literally crushed by the weight of new Accord, Fusion, and Altima. Its engine/transmission was underpowered and lazy, its steering was vague and suspension unsettled and its interior (at least the car we had at the event) was no match for its competitors. To put it bluntly, it simply cannot compete with the best the segment has to offer. We hear now that Chevrolet is rushing changes to the Malibu much as Honda did with the Civic. Let’s hope it helps, because the present Malibu is going to need all the massaging it can get to stay off the rental car lots.

Zach Gale, Online News Director:

2013 Mercedes Benz SLS AMG GT front three quarters static 300x187 imageBest: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG coupe

The Aston Martin DBS is more attractive than the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, but at least the German car doesn’t have a small, folding Garmin navigation screen at the top of its otherwise pleasing cabin. What excites me about the SLS AMG is its engine note. No modern supercar can be fully exploited safely on open-to-the-public winding roads, so I especially appreciate the SLS AMG’s engine sound and the wild appeal provided by the long hood and gullwing doors. My honorable mention might go to the Lexus GS 350, with its surprisingly good interior and decent driving dynamics.

2012 Coda front three quarters 300x187 imageWorst: Coda EV sedan

It must be a tough time to be a small electric-automaker, competing with well-funded entries from companies like Nissan and Chevrolet, but that doesn’t mean we can overlook the Coda EV sedan’s shortcomings. Though I love an underdog, this electric sedan has too many impossible-to-ignore shortcomings. Despite the bold five-spoke wheels, there’s the dated exterior styling and the interior’s center stack that’s simply not up to the class standard, with an ultra-low-mounted central screen and a general feeling that’s more “economy car” than “special electric sedan.” We want to like the Coda but, at least for me, I found it difficult to get past the packaging that helps keep costs down.

Jonny Lieberman, Senior Features Editor:

2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S side in motion1 300x187 imageBest: Porsche 911 Carrera S

Yeah, the car that won the 2012 Best Drivers Car also won my heart. Other cars are faster, flashier, more practical, etc., but no car is as fun to throw around on your favorite mountain road. A huge improvement over what I thought was already nearly perfect (the old 997), the new 991 is a revelation. I can’t even imagine what the follow-up versions (Turbo, GT3, 50th Anniversary edition, etc.) will be like, but I can imagine how much I’ll like them. Runners up this year include the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Black Series Coupe, Mercedes-Benz CL65, Tesla Model S, Cadillac ATS 3.6, Toyota Avalon, and Morgan 3-Wheeler.

2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ front end in motion 300x187 imageWorst: Chevrolet Malibu

Really GM? You knock one out of the park with the Caddy ATS and then revert back to your bad old ways with this… well, you can’t call it a car so much as a collection of bad things people associate with rental cars. Slow, bad brakes, clueless transmission, an engine that sounds like a vacuum cleaner sucking up a T-shirt, poor suspension, tight back seat, poor NVH, etc. I refer to the new Malibu around the office as “Dumpster Fire.” It’s that bad. Don’t believe me? GM is rushing the refresh. Runners up: Dodge Dart, Toyota Prius C, Lexus ES 350.

Ed Loh, Editor-in-Chief:

Ed Loh in Tesla Model S 300x187 imageBest: Tesla Model S

Obviously our COTY! Everyone who has driven it comes away impressed; I have yet to find anyone who has not been “converted.” It also ranks as the most surprising for me. I remember flying to Las Vegas for the third long-distance test we did and feeling the weight of expectation as I approached it in the parking garage of the Aria casino. I remember feeling somewhat confused and lost when the valet handed me the key, because I had been so busy up until that moment of truth, I hadn’t paid much attention to the testing we had done, the feedback from colleagues Kim, Frank, Jessi, and Benson — in fact, I had no idea about how to open the car door or start it up, save the verbal instructions I had received the day before. And to my surprise – everything worked as promised. The door handle popped out when I pushed on it, the car magically came to life when I got it inside, and a minute later, as I pulled out of the darkness of the garage and into the bright daylight of Las Vegas, I forgot I was in an electric car. It was that seamless and smooth. Shocking really.

2013 BMW M5 front left view 2 300x187 imageWorst/Most Disappointing: BMW M5

I was probably most disappointed by the BMW M5. Fast yes, but so much of the purity, of what made that car special, seems to have disappeared. It’s still fast, but its feels artificially enhanced and unnatural. On an industry level, I’m really sad to see Suzuki exit the U.S. market; they have a great sedan here (Kizashi) but that clearly wasn’t enough. Would have loved to see Swift and Jimny here, but those are fringe products; Suzuki went after mainstream volume and failed. Hyundai’s 40 MPG debacle is also incredibly disappointing, but only stands to highlight how important fuel economy is right now and will continue to be in the future.

Frank Markus, Technical Director:

Lamborghini Aventador LP700 4 front three quarter in motion 300x187 imageMost Memorable: Lamborghini Aventador

To be clear, the best car I drove this year was Elon Musk’s personal Tesla Model S, which conveyed myself and Jessi Lang from L.A. to Vegas with no extension cord. But my most memorable drive of 2012 was a 2107-kilometer (1310 mile) trek from Sant’Agata Bolonese, Italy to Zaragoza Spain in Lamborghini’s new Aventador for a visit to the very bullring where its namesake, an 1118-pound toro bravo fought so bravely in 1993. Scaling the spectacularly scenic Col de la Bonnette in the Maritime Alps, and the Col d’Aspin in the Pyrenees was almost as memorable as threading the seemingly 9-foot wide spaceship through tourist-choked medieval cart-paths of Monte Carlo, Nice, and Arles. Watching the descendants of the Gallardo line of fighting bulls charge this orange missile and then using the Aventador to charge matador Tomas Luna on the very same Albero sand where the brave bull perished are permanently etched in my automotive memory banks.

2012 Coda front three quarter in motion turn 300x187 imageWorst: Coda EV sedan

This is really a case of inopportune time-shifting. The Coda is a 1990s car trying to compete in 2012, and as such it doesn’t stand a chance. The Chinese, bless their hearts, cannot design a new car to save their lives. (Yet.) So they engage in their own brand of R & D (receive and duplicate) or, as in the case of Hafei, start with ancient hand-me-down Mitsubishi architecture and pass the design-cost savings along. Getting the car itself for super-cheap was understandably important to Coda, which planned to stuff it full of 20 or 30 grand’s worth of batteries. The result is a stiff riding, tinny sounding, poorly appointed, noisy, mean conveyance that does—on the upside—offer plenty of get-up-n-go and reasonable range. Just try super hard to avoid the sort of wrecks that NHTSA and others subject cars to, as the Coda performs like an ancient Mitsubishi in such tests.

Alex Nishimoto, Associate Online Editor:

McLaren MP4 12C front three quarter in motion 300x187 imageBest: McLaren 12C

During our 2012 Best Driver’s Car competition, I had the good fortune to take home the McLaren for a night. Needless to say, it was a good night. The racy exterior design, low-H-point seating position, and 592-hp twin-turbo V-8 all contributed to a VIP-like driving experience. Though it sometimes took multiple finger swipes of the touch sensors to open the handle-less scissor doors, there are few things I can think of that impart swagger better than getting in or out of a $200,000-plus supercar.

2013 Mitsubishi Lancer GT rear three quarters 300x187 imageMost Disappointing: Mitsubishi Lancer GT

Going into my test of the Lancer GT, I was actually excited to see what the sporty-looking compact had to offer. On paper, the GT trim level looks like a decent sport compact for budget-minded enthusiasts. But a poorly appointed cabin (especially for our $25,000 as-tested price), nasal-sounding engine note, and un-engaging paddle-shifted CVT held the car back from being anything other than basic transportation.

Kirill Ougarov, Production Manager:

2012 Mercedes Benz G550 front three quarters 300x187 imageBest: Mercedes-Benz G550

We had one hell of a year when it comes to Benzes, what with getting every AMG extant and every S-Class, but my favorite was easy the red G550 for the simple reason it was a G-Wagen, and thus awesome. There’s also that whole thing about us Russians loving G-Wagens. Honorary mention to the matte-white E63 AMG. Now to combine the two and get my hands on a G63…

2013 Ford Taurus Limited AWD front three quarters 300x187 imageWorst: Ford Taurus

There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the car itself, but I’m putting it down here because MyFord Touch froze up on me while I was trying to switch audio sources and wouldn’t reset until the car power-cycled once I parked it at my destination, which happened to be some 45 miles away. Merely turning it off then back on, on the side of the freeway didn’t do the trick. As a result, I had limited controls over the audio, no ability to control the climate control, and no navigation during the whole drive.

Kim Reynolds, Testing Director:

2012 Tesla Model S front motion on PCH 300x187 imageBest: Tesla Model S

This pick sounds a bit obvious now, but before anyone had a chance to drive the Tesla there were lots of reasons to be apprehensive. It was their first from-the-ground-up design. They had zero experience in building a complete car. And after the Volt battery-fire incident, also good reason to worry about its enormous lithium-ion battery. So the Model S’ subsequent competence is just short of miraculous. By comparison, we still see cars from very established, highly experienced car companies that contain absolutely remarkable mistakes. Such as my Worst pick of the year.

2013 Mercedes Benz SLS AMG GT front three quarter turn 300x187 imageWorst: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

Understand, this isn’t my worst car of the year, but rather the one that most surprised me (in a negative way) compared to my expectations. The SLS AMG’s limit handling is very difficult for me to comprehend from a company with this experience. Defeat its stability nannies and its rear can slip away like a squeezed pumpkin seed and is about as easy to wrangle back behind you as a frightened rabbit. Driven with abandon, the SLS AMG can quickly make you look like a complete idiot.

Christian Seabaugh, Associate Online Editor:

2013 Subaru BRZ side in motion 300x187 imageBest: Subaru BRZ

I drove a lot of fantastic (and expensive) cars and trucks this year including the Tesla Model S and the Porsche Boxster S, but the car I keep coming back to is the Subaru BRZ. I can’t get enough of this car. Every time I get out of it I want nothing more than to go back out and have another go. It’s just such a rewarding car to drive, with so much personality; the engine is rev-happy, the gearbox is a delight, the pedals are perfectly spaced, and the handling is some of the best I’ve experienced this side of a Ferrari 458 Italia. I simply adore this thing. Honorable mentions: Chevrolet Spark, Ford Raptor, Mazda Miata Super 20, Porsche 911 Carrera, Tesla Model S.

2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ rear three quarters 300x187 imageWorst: Chevrolet Malibu

I never thought I’d more miserable driving than I was earlier this year trying to get 40 mpg out of our old long-term Hyundai Elantra. Then I drove the Chevrolet Malibu. The Malibu is just such a disappointing car to drive, especially compared to the new Honda Accord and Ford Fusion. From the transmission constantly hunting for gears, to the underpowered, drone-y engine, to the complete disconnect between the wheels and the road – the Malibu just disappointed on all fronts. I can honestly say that I’ve never been so eager to stop driving than I was in the Malibu. Here’s hoping GM can step its game up with the next one. Dishonorable mentions: BMW 528i, Cadillac Escalade, Dodge Dart, Nissan Sentra, Toyota Camry, Toyota Prius C

Melissa Spiering, Online Editor, Truck Trend:

XPLORE 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon front three quarters 300x187 imageBest: XPLORE Adventure Series’ 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

I got to take XPLORE‘s custom built Adventure Series’ 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon off-roading in Johnson Valley, California, to watch the Sixth Annual Griffin King of the Hammers off-road race. It had the right modifications mechanically and visually to stand out in the crowd without looking over done. The all-new 3.6-liter V-6 Pentastar was a blast to drive on the trails and hillsides to get to the best viewpoints for the race.

2013 Jeep Compass Latitude 4X4 front view15 300x187 imageWorst: 2013 Jeep Compass Latitude 4X4

Is it dead yet? Two weeks in the 2013 Jeep Compass Latitude and I couldn’t get one staffer to trade me vehicles. The noisy CVT was nerve wrecking and the 2.4-liter engine was gutless. The most heartbreaking thing about the Compass is that it poses itself to be a real Jeep but sadly lacks the true heart and soul of what the Jeep brand is. My dog enjoyed the ride though – she was able to hold her balance in the back seat due to the lack of torque.

Jason Udy, Associate Online Editor:

2013 Nissan GT R Black Edition front end1 300x187 imageBest: Nissan GT-R Black Edition

After putting more than 1700 miles on our long-term Nissan GT-R Black Edition in four days, including onramp blasts for the enjoyment of 30 friends and family members, I came away impressed by Godzilla’s ride quality, fuel mileage, and sheer acceleration. In fact, my 60-year-old aunt who traveled with me commented that it was the most enjoyable road trip she had ever made. Points for the Recaro seats and suspension’s comfort mode. Overall the GT-R returned 19.1 mpg (19.9 mpg not including the tank of fuel used for onramp runs) at an average of 10 mph above posted speeds. Let’s not forget the as-tested 2.8-second 0-60 mph time.

2012 Coda front three quarter in motion 300x187 imageWorst: Coda EV sedan

While the Coda may not be the most disappointing car I drove in 2012 (my expectations were too low for disappointment), it was by far the worst car I drove all year. The interior is cheap and handling is downright scary. Part of what makes the Coda feel cheap are its Chinese economy car roots – basically a modified and rebadged Hafei Saibao that has been on the market for years.

What were the best and worst cars you’ve driven in 2012?

By Motor Trend Staff

New Tesla Testing Technique From Staid Consumer Reports: Drifting!

We’d not normally advise getting information directly from Wikipedia, but its opening line on the sport of drifting is as good as any other definition you’ll find:

“Drifting is a driving technique where the driver intentionally oversteers, causing loss of traction in the rear wheels, while maintaining control from entry to exit of a corner.”

Compare that definition with the Consumer Reports video above and what you see is pretty clear: it really is a 4,600-pound Tesla Model S being drifted.

Following their highest-ever rating since 2007, the guys at Consumer Reports decided to have some fun.

After all, when you spend the day doing sensible, objective tests–measuring luggage space, recording noise, counting cupholders–it’s natural that you’d want to unwind a little.

Anyway, their opinions on the car’s fun factor are as high as its overall rating.

“Driving a Tesla Model S is like having your own private amusement park,” said CR.

“Not that we advocate tire-smoking, tail-sliding turns on any public road–ever! But such drifting can be a measure of a car’s great-handling chops, as well as its available power. And boy, can the Tesla drift!”

While the car’s stability systems (wisely) cannot be switched off entirely, the traction control can. The laws of physics always win in the end, and with enough provocation and judicious use of the accelerator pedal it’s apparently possible to get the Model S to wag its tail.

It’s not something you’d do on the road (drifting is bad, mmmkay?) but on the track it’s just another string to the car’s bow.

______________________________________________

By Antony Ingram

Tesla Considers Pickup Truck Plant for Texas – Rumor Central

Tesla Considers Pickup Truck Plant for Texas

It’s been a little while since Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk made any interesting declarations about product or development, which means we shouldn’t be surprised that Mr. Musk spoke of a future with Tesla Motors making pickup trucks in Texas.

For what it’s worth, Tesla neither makes pickup trucks now, nor does it make vehicles in Texas. At this point the experiment of making electric sport sedans in California has been a relative success: Tesla says that it’s now making a profit after years of red balance sheets. One of the more significant problems at this point–beyond the occasional question of range or creative accounting–is that Tesla’s unique method of selling cars might be under fire.

Dealers in Massachusetts and New York have already filed suit against Tesla, saying that Tesla’s retail setup, which uses corporate owned “galleries” that show off cars and allow people to place deposits via the internet, violates existing automotive franchise laws. In Texas, Tesla galleries are not allowed to plan test drives or talk car sales at all, and Tesla service centers can’t process warranty work in the same manner as a franchised dealer.

Musk and Tesla received two gifts this week, however, in the form of a bill in the Texas legislature that would allow Tesla (and other EV manufacturers with no pre-existing dealer network) to sell and service its own cars. Meanwhile in New York, a judge struck down the lawsuit against Tesla, saying that “dealers cannot utilize the Franchised Dealer Act as a means to sue their competitors.”

Where does Tesla go from here? South, and not in the metaphorical sense. Musk said on Wednesday, while he was in Texas supporting the bills, that Texas has the potential to become one of the company’s biggest markets, selling perhaps 1500-2000 Model Ss a year. Musk thinks that success for the Model S in Texas could pave the road for a new production plant there.

What will the plant make? If Musk gets his way, the as-yet-unbuilt Texas plant could make the as-yet-undeveloped Tesla pickup truck we’ve heard about before. Musk told Automotive News “I have this idea for a really advanced truck that has…more towing power and more carrying capacity than a gasoline or diesel truck of comparable size.” That makes Musk the second Tesla exec (behind designer Franz von Holzhausen) to mention the truck in one year. Does it mean that this will happen? Not necessarily, but we do like the sound of it.

Source: Tesla via Twitter, Automotive News (Subscription required)



By Ben Timmins

Tesla Explains Model S Price Hike – Also Announces Battery Pack Prices



The recent announcement made by Tesla, that they would be adding an additional $2,500 to the $57,400 base price of the Model S sedan. While price changes are common in the automotive industry, the increase operated by Tesla seems a bit steep, if one does not have the appropriate background information.

In order to clear up at least some of the questions posed by those who have already ordered the car, as well as the prospective buyers who are thinking of ordering the EV, Tesla VP of worldwide sales and ownership experience, George Blanenship gave additional explanations on the matter.

He noted that with the increase in price, owners will be getting extra stuff, like 12-way adjustable heated front seats, which will become standard, as of 2013, while the Performance Package will include 19-inch rims as standard, while 21-inch wheels will still be sold as an optional extra.

They have also added a 50,000-mile Four-Year Extended Warranty pack, which costs an additional $2,500, while a Four-Year 50,000-mile Prepaid Maintenance program is now available for $1,900. Another important piece of information, shared by Blanenship is the pricing information for the three battery packs.

The 40 kWh pack will cost $8,000 to replace, while the 60 kWh pack costs $2,000 more and the largest pack, the 85 kWh variant adds 2000 more dollars to that. More information will be made available soon, according to the official information.

By Andrei Nedelea

Tesla Dealer License Rejected in Virginia



Some say the State of Virginia isn’t that friendly when it comes to electric cars. Given the fact that EVs have arrived a little late in the “Old Dominion”, that might be true but for obvious reasons we wouldn’t want to wager on that.

However, one particular electric car manufacturer just got a big “NO!” from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) after placing a bid for a dealership license. Since Fisker has other things to worry about, the specific company we’re talking about is Tesla, who, according to Automotive News, was denied by the DMV to open up its own dealership in Tysons Corner, Virginia.

“We welcome Tesla to Virginia, but they too must abide by the laws like all other manufacturers and Virginia new car and truck dealers," said Don Hall, president of the dealer association, who argued that giving Tesla license for a company-owned dealership would violate Virginia franchise law.

In short, the law states that an automaker can open a factory-owned store only if no independent dealer is available to operate the franchise “in a manner consistent with the public interest”.

Meanwhile, Tesla Motors is “still figuring out next steps” and whether to take Virginia DMV to Court, with the successful Boston case in mind. The company has 33 days to appeal the decision.

Story via Automotive News

By Ciprian Florea