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2012 Tesla Model S Drives From L.A. To Las Vegas On A Single Charge


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The MotorTrend editorial team must have spent more time behind the wheel of the 2012 Tesla Model S than any other automotive journalists to date.

Not only did MotorTrend get to borrow the personal 2012 Tesla Model S Signature Sport belonging to Tesla CEO Elon Musk for a few days to test the real-world range of the $100,000 luxury sedan, but it took it on a road-trip from Los Angeles, California to Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Setting out from the Los Angeles basin, Motor Trend’s Jessi Lang and Frank Markus set out on their 210-mile trip, aiming to get to Sin City on a single charge. 

Range anxiety

Even though Lang and Markus knew the flagship Tesla sedan had the theoretical range to easily drive 210 miles, the first part of their trip included two 4,000 foot mountain passes, giving Markus some serious range anxiety.

After some serious calculations using Tesla’s own energy-use curves for the Sedan, the duo deduced the best option would be to drive the first part of the trip at a sedate 55 mph, with the air conditioning switched off. 

The result? a blistering 104-degrees Fahrenheit inside the luxury sedan, and numerous frustrated drivers piling up behind as they paced themselves up the mountain passes at the slowest legal freeway speed. 

More than enough

L.A. to Las Vegas In Tesla Model S (MotorTrend)

L.A. to Las Vegas In Tesla Model S (MotorTrend)

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After several hours of what we assume was fairly tortuous driving, Lang and Markus hit the top of the second mountain pass, having used around one half of the Model S’s 85-kilowatt-hour battery pack. 

With only 75-miles to go to their destination, the pair started to relax, increasing their speed and making use of the car’s welcome air conditioning on the final part of the trip.

The result? Lang and Markus arrived in Las Vegas with an estimated 65 miles of range to spare, proving that it was at least possible to drive the Tesla Model S between the two cities on a single charge. 

Possible, but would you do it?

MotorTrend’s resulting video of the trip is entertaining enough, but as Lang and Markus admitted to camera several times during the experiment, the journey was hardly an everyday occurrence. 

For a start, we can’t think of that many car drivers, who would be content driving along in blistering 100+ degree heat without air conditioning on. 

Then the’s the matter of speed. As we’ve asked before, just who would drive a 2012 Tesla Model S at 55mph? 

Ultimately, Tesla expects to install its superchargers on regular inter-city routes, allowing Tesla Model S owners to drive at 80 mph instead of an embarrassingly-slow 55mph, stopping for a 30-minute, 90-kilowatt rapid top-up charge mid-way.

For now then, if you’ve got a 2012 Tesla Model S Signature Sport, we recommend that you don’t attempt the drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on a single drive. 

Unless you’re really fond of saunas and truck lanes, that is. 

Would you have made this trip? Did it prove anything, or did it do more harm than good for electric cars? 

Let us know your thoughts in the Comments below.

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By Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield

Tesla Model S Update: 3,000th Electric Sedan Delivered In CA

Tesla Model S parked in Menlo Park, California, March 2013 [photo: Eugene Lee]

Tesla Model S parked in Menlo Park, California, March 2013 [photo: Eugene Lee]

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In the last few weeks, it’s almost become a cliche: drivers in Silicon Valley say they see as many Tesla Model S electric luxury sedans on the roads as they do Nissan Leafs or Chevrolet Volts.

With a likely total production of perhaps 6,000 cars thus far, the Model S is outnumbered on U.S. roads by both Volts (34,000-plus) and Leafs (11,000-plus).

But Model S owners may be disproportionately concentrated in California, as a new piece of random data tossed out by Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] goes to show.

In a post last night on the “Inside Tesla” blog, the company’s George Blankenship notes that, “today we registered our 3,000th Model S in the Golden State.”

If random sightings, blog posts, and our own observations are to be believed, large numbers of those cars seem to be concentrated in a 50-mile radius of Tesla’s Palo Alto headquarters in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Right outside our own High Gear Media headquarters in downtown Menlo Park, it’s now common to see not just one but sometimes two Model S sedans at stoplights.

The photo above was snapped by one High Gear Media staffer en route to lunch: just another $80,000-plus Tesla Model S all-electric luxury sport sedan parked at a public meter.

In any case, the industry and electric-car advocates alike will be waiting eagerly to see what sales numbers Tesla provides for the first quarter of 2013.

Those numbers won’t arrive until Tesla files its quarterly 10K statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission in late April or early May, since (as we note routinely) Tesla doesn’t see fit to provide monthly sales numbers like every other operating automaker.

We’ll also see if Tesla provides an actual number or continues with the practice it started last quarter of stating “approximate” deliveries.

In any case, industry analysts who watch Tesla data obsessively can take note: The company says there are now 3,000 Model S cars on California roads.

Which is clearly a laudable accomplishment.

Now we’ll wait for those first-quarter delivery numbers.

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By John Voelcker

Tesla Model S Loaners For Tesla Model S Owners, Elon Musk Says

2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

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Loaners cars are now routinely provided by luxury carmakers when their customers have cars in for servicing.

Now Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] is joining the crowd, providing Model S luxury sports sedans to its Model S (and Roadster) owners while their cars are in the shop.

But according to CEO Elon  Musk, these aren’t just any Model S: All the loaners will be the top-end, most luxurious Model S Performance version with the 85-kilowatt-hour battery pack and punchier acceleration than lesser models.

Road testers have logged the Tesla Model S Performance accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds (the original factory quote was 4.6 seconds).

That’s a number that exceeds most luxury sedans on the market today, although to be fair, repeated use of that acceleration is likely to have a negative effect on the car’s EPA-rated range of 265 miles.

Musk discussed the loaner plan in an interview with USA Today, in which he also promised that Tesla employees would drop the temporary Model S cars wherever the customer requested–rather than requiring the owner to bring the car in to a Tesla service center.

Initially, the loaner fleet will number about 80 vehicles spread among Tesla’s 21 current service centers.

The fleet will expand as Tesla opens more stores and service centers across the country; the company lists another 13 service centers as “coming soon.”

Musk noted that the idea for luxury loaners hadn’t originated with Tesla. He attributed it, instead, to Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus.

But a top-of-the-line loaner–nicer, in many cases, than the Model S that’s in for service–is certainly a step up from hearing the service guy yell, “Hey, Manny, whadda we got in the back for this guy?”

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By John Voelcker

Tesla Model X Electric Crossover New Interior: Detroit Auto Show Live Pictures

Tesla Model X at 2013 Detroit Auto Show

HI-RES GALLERY: Tesla Model X at 2013 Detroit Auto Show

  • Tesla Model X at 2013 Detroit Auto Show

  • Tesla Model X at 2013 Detroit Auto Show

  • Tesla Model X at 2013 Detroit Auto Show

  • Tesla Model X at 2013 Detroit Auto Show

  • Tesla Model X at 2013 Detroit Auto Show

  • Tesla Model X at 2013 Detroit Auto Show

  • Tesla Model X at 2013 Detroit Auto Show


  • Tesla Model X at 2013 Detroit Auto Show

    • Tesla Model X at 2013 Detroit Auto Show

    • Tesla Model X at 2013 Detroit Auto Show

    • Tesla Model X at 2013 Detroit Auto Show

    • Tesla Model X at 2013 Detroit Auto Show

    • Tesla Model X at 2013 Detroit Auto Show

    • Tesla Model X at 2013 Detroit Auto Show

    • Tesla Model X at 2013 Detroit Auto Show

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Unveiled live at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] is giving us new ideas as to what the interior of its Model X crossover may look like.

Tesla calls it an “interior exploration”, giving a hint as to the different colors and trim materials you can expect from the production Model X.

The work has been done by Tesla Design Studio, and uses a mix of white and black leathers to bring contrast to the three rows of seats–the back rows, of course, accessed via the unusual ‘falcon wing’ rear doors.

The black and white theme continues to the dashboard facia, dominated by the same huge touchscreen display you’ll find in the Model S sedan–albeit mounted proud of the dashboard.

The exterior, also contrasting in black and white, is unchanged from the last time we saw the Model X.

Much of the Model X’s hardware is based on that in the Model S, with 60 kWh and 85 kWh battery options. Befitting its crossover body, the Model X will also offer electric all-wheel drive. Production is expected to begin in late 2013.

For more live photos, news and specifications from the show floor, head over to our Detroit Auto Show page.

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By Antony Ingram

The Tesla Model S Electric Wagon We Wish They’d Build

Tesla Model ST wagon render by Theophilus Chin

Tesla Model ST wagon render by Theophilus Chin

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High-performance wagons are easy to appreciate. Plenty of utility, but none of the sacrifices that practicality usually implies.

If they look great and run on electricity, like Theophilus Chin‘s render of a Tesla Model ‘ST’, then all the better.

Chin’s render (via Autoblog Green) is so slick you’d think it came from Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] itself.

The long, elegant body of the regular Model S lends itself to the wagon shape, and the end result isn’t dissimilar from the recent Jaguar XF Sportbrake, one of the best-looking wagons on the road.

In fact, we’ve a nagging feeling it looks even better than the regular Model S. There’s little doubt it’d add  to that car’s practicality too, perhaps enough to swap the two small booster seats for a full rear bench.

The Model S’s wind-cheating aerodynamics might suffer, and we’d expect a weight increase too–but it’d be a small price to pay for such an elegant “sport tourer”.

Tesla Model ST wagon render by Theophilus Chin

Tesla Model ST wagon render by Theophilus Chin

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It’s unlikely to see the light of day, though–Tesla already has a larger seven-seat vehicle on the way, in the shape of the falcon-winged Model X crossover.

What other vehicles would you like to see from Tesla? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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By Antony Ingram

2012 Tesla Model S Signature Series: Is It Worth The Premium?

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

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The first 1,000 or so 2012 Tesla Model S electric sport sedans to be delivered to U.S. customers will be fully-loaded, limited-edition “Signature” cars.

But as delivery dates slip due to early production snags, some owners of Signature cars–called “Sigs” within the Tesla clan–grumble that they’re not getting much value for the extra money they had to shell out.

Is the “Sig tax”–the premium price and the hefty $40,000 deposit–worth its benefits? 

Let’s look at the numbers.

The Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] list price for a Signature Model S is $87,900.

A comparably-equipped standard Model S–with an 85-kWh battery and all available options except the moon roof–lists for $84,350. That’s a $3,550 difference.

For the Performance version of the car, the comparable numbers are $97,900  and $92,850–or a $5,050 difference.

Interest adds up, too

The effective “Sig tax” can be higher if an owner wouldn’t otherwise have ordered a particular option. Downgrades aren’t allowed; Signature owners pay for all the options and the premium paint job whether they want them or not.

Then there’s the interest on the $40,000 deposit. In effect, Tesla has received interest-free loans totaling more than $40 million from its Signature owners.

Early depositors put down their money more than three years ago. At current corporate bond rates  (about 6 percent), that amounts to about $8,000 in foregone interest.

So, roughly speaking, the typical Signature owner has paid a “Sig tax” of $3,500 to $13,000. 

What does he or she get for the money?

  • The option of a special red paint job unavailable on the standard car
  • The option of a special white interior, also unavailable on the standard car
  • Two small external “Signature” badges
  • Free 3-G connectivity for one year

In addition, Signature Performance models get some added minor interior and exterior accents that the standard Performance car lacks.

Ironically, the Signature Model S lacks some interior and paint options available on the standard car.

If you happen to prefer green paint to red, or a silver interior rather than white, the first two Signature “benefits” become penalties.

Is that all there is?

At first glance, these Signature benefits may not impress. 

2012 Tesla Model S, brief test drive, New York City, July 2012

2012 Tesla Model S, brief test drive, New York City, July 2012

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“I don’t think I’m getting anywhere near the value for the money,” griped one owner in a lengthy thread on the Tesla Motor Club forum.

“I too think the Sig is a disappointment in terms of value,” chimed in another. “But I can’t bring myself to switch (to a standard car).”

For most Sig owners, however, the “Big Bennie” is not the car itself. It’s the timing.

Sig owners automatically go to the front of the queue to own what is, by all accounts, an extraordinary, ground-breaking car. 

But recent production delays and the rapid anticipated ramp-up in production of standard cars as soon as the Signature cars are built has blunted this hoped-for time advantage. 

“I was willing to pay the premium (begrudgingly) to jump the line by three months,” says one Sig owner whose car has been delayed by four to six weeks. “But for one month, it’s an absurd premium to pay.”

“Delivery during the summer would actually have had some value,” echoed another.

Earliest cars delivered

The very earliest adopters at the head of the Sig line already have the pleasure of driving their cars three to six months ahead of the rabble, starting in June with venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson, who’s on the Tesla board.

(At this writing, Tesla will only say that “more than 250″ Model S cars have been delivered.)

Last-minute Signature buyers also reaped a huge bonus in delivery time. If you signed up for one of the last few remaining Sigs in August, you’re probably looking at a December delivery.



2012 Tesla Model S Signature

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

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But if you’d chosen a standard car instead, your number in the queue would have been about 12,000–and you’d be getting delivery next summer at the earliest.  Is that a benefit worth $5,000? For a lot of people, it is.

The frustrated Signature owners seem to be mostly those in the middle of the pack, who are now watching their early delivery advantage fade. 

Middle of the pack

One of them, Arnold Panz, of Miami, Fla., had this to say on the Tesla Motor Club forum:

The fact that we, as Sig holders, have gotten absolutely no special treatment has been a huge miss. (We) were mostly Tesla’s truest of true believers, plunking down $40,000 for a car that we had no guarantee would ever be made, let alone be a great car. How was that blind faith rewarded? I’m still trying to figure that out.

A lot of this is basic psychology. Why are people who are paying almost six figures for a car complaining about $600/year in maintenance? The same reason high rollers who gamble  $1,000 a hand in Vegas demand free rooms, tickets to shows, and free meals….and choose their hotel on who provides the best “perks”.

BMW bakes the cost of maintenance into the cost of the car and everyone thinks they’re getting “free” service! Tesla…just didn’t understand the basic psychology that makes BMW’s program so popular.

The same is true for Sigs…Additional swag, ‘insider’ informational e-mails, free satellite radio, and free maintenance (still) wouldn’t make the Sig premium cost-effective…..But (it) would have psychologically given us all the warm and fuzzies…We would have felt like we were getting special treatment that made the excess cost worthwhile.

 

A role in history

In the end, the Signature program has proven to be a good deal for Tesla.

It got the company $40 million cash up front, and assured that the first 1,000 cars out the door would be maxed out with options, bringing in nearly $100,000 each.  (That’s $100 million in badly needed cash.)

2012 Tesla Model S, brief test drive, New York City, July 2012

2012 Tesla Model S, brief test drive, New York City, July 2012

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Tesla clearly could have done a better job making its Signature buyers feel special. But all 1,000-odd available Sig cars have sold out.

At some level, the market proves that the “Sig tax” is perceived as value for money–by at least 1,000 or so people.

“Definitely worth it,” explained one Sig depositor. “I feel I am playing a minor role in history….I am proud to be helping, in a small way, [to] usher in the age of vehicle electrification.”

On a less philosophical note, an envious non-Signature Model S depositor summed it up nicely: “The value is simple: They are getting cars right now. The rest of us are waiting.”

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

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By David Noland

Tesla Model S ‘Get Amped’ Tour: 5,000 Test Drives In Sight

Six 2012 Tesla Model S cars at “Get Amped” introductory drive event [photo: George Parrott]


Six 2012 Tesla Model S cars at "Get Amped" introductory drive event [photo: George Parrott]

Six 2012 Tesla Model S cars at “Get Amped” introductory drive event [photo: George Parrott]

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From Los Angeles to Toronto, from Miami to Seattle, Tesla has been taking a fleet of its new 2012 Model S sedans around the country to offer short test drives to 5,000 current depositors and potential owners.

Those individuals have to be patient as the company slowly ramps up production of the all-electric luxury sport sedan, following delivery of the very first production car in early June.

But the short drives should keep many potential Model S buyers interested in the promise of the electric car with a 265-mile range rating from the EPA.

Fourteen of the planned sixteen cities on the “Getting Amped Tour” have now been completed. The tour started in Fremont, California, at the assembly plant that Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] bought two years ago from Toyota.

Last weekend, the tour returned to Palo Alto, California–the heart of Silicon Valley–before finishing up in Austin (August 15-16) and, finally, Dallas (August 18-19).

Depositors are scheduled in groups of four to six at about half-hour intervals. Each driver may bring up to two guests for the test drive, but every drive has a Tesla chaperone in the front passenger seat. 

The drive itself is limited to about 7 or 8 miles, but is preceded by a brief and well-done group introductory lecture that introduces the emotional experience of electric driving.

Potential buyers can review their color and option choices with better color renditions than on the company internet site.

Tesla even offers refreshments, ice cream, and a play area for children at its venues.

At the recent Palo Alto venue, at least eight early production cars were available for inspection. Two cars were inside the display building for full viewing and inspection, and another six cars made up the ride-and-drive fleet.

Interested depositors were offered the choice of the standard or performance powertrains when they took their test drive. The Tesla chaperones encouraged getting drivers to take advantage of the “full feel” of the car’s torque and power after almost every stop sign. 

It was far too short a real driving experience for a proper assessment, of course, but there is no question that this vehicle has real power off the line, and corners well.

Is the current version of the 2012 Tesla Model S a $100,000 car? 

It still needs some refinement if it wants to be truly feature-competitive with the established players in the luxury performance category.

But there is no other car that offers combination of luxury, performance and environmental consciousness.

George Parrott is an emeritus professor of psychology at California State University in Sacramento. He owns a Nissan Leaf and a Chevrolet Volt that are recharged largely on solar power, and is considering the purchase of a Tesla Model S.

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By george parrott

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 60-kWh Version: EPA Range Rated At 208 Miles

2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

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Without any fanfare, the EPA has released its range rating for the second version of the Tesla Model S to come to market.

The 2013 Tesla Model S fitted with a 60-kilowatt-hour battery pack has a rated range of 208 miles.

That compares to 265 miles for the Model S version with the largest 85-kWh battery pack.

The new 60-kWh Model S has a higher efficiency rating (95 MPGe versus 89 MPGe) and uses slightly less energy to cover 100 miles: 35 kWh versus 38 kWh.

The Miles-Per-Gallon-equivalent (MPGe) rating measures how far a vehicle can travel on the amount of electricity equivalent to the energy content of one gallon of gasoline.

The 85-kWh Tesla Model S received its 265-mile range rating in June.

The new model’s 95-MPGe efficiency rating is close to the 99-MPGe rating of the 2012 Nissan Leaf, an impressive number for a larger, heavier, more capacious, and faster luxury sport sedan.

The differences in the two Model S versions may be attributable to the 60-kWh version’s lighter weight and some differences in standard features.

Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] will begin delivering the 60-kWh Model S versions early next year.

The final and lowest-range version of the Model S, fitted with a 40-kWh lithium-ion battery, will be the last to enter production–by March, Tesla has said.

That version has not yet been rated by the EPA.

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By John Voelcker

Tesla Tunes Up Model S Warranty, Loaner Cars, Service Plan

2013 Tesla Model S before DC-to-Boston road trip, Feb 2013 [photo: Aaron Schildkraut]

2013 Tesla Model S before DC-to-Boston road trip, Feb 2013 [photo: Aaron Schildkraut]

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On Friday, Tesla held a media call to reveal another in the series of announcements touted in tweets by CEO Elon Musk.

This time, the news covered enhancements to the warranty and service experience on its Tesla Model S electric luxury sport sedan.

Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] is now delivering several hundred Model Ses each week and, Musk said, taking feedback from buyers to heart.

Its goal has always been to create “the world’s best service and warranty program” for any car on the market, he said, with the “overriding principle” being, “I want give people peace of mind” to ensure they have “the happiest possible transport experience.”

The revisions to Tesla’s service and warranty policies include three main points.

The $600-per-year service plan is now optional rather than mandatory.

This had been a source of considerable grumbling among Model S owners forced to pay $600 each year for a service plan on a car that, at least in theory, should need only wiper blades and tires replaced.

“We made a slight mistake,” said Musk in a rare admission, “in making the service fee mandatory.”

And, he revealed, unlike current automakers, his charge to the Tesla service department is “never to make a profit” from owners–just to break even.

That varies from today’s conventional model, in which new cars are sold at relatively little profit by dealerships, which makes the bulk of their profits through service work and the sale of used cars.

Musk even quoted what he termed an adage in the car business: “Sales sells the first car, but service sells all the subsequent ones.”

Any battery failure for any reason (within reason) is covered for the warranty term.

The goal here is not to require Model S buyers to read their owner manuals to understand how best to take care of their battery, Musk said.

“Any product that needs an owner’s manual to work is broken,” he said–a much-repeated Silicon Valley belief not always actually taken to heart by designers of consumer products.

And the company specifically included “user error” in its list of things that are now covered.

“This is to address electric-car concerns like, What if my battery dies?” said Musk.

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

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

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

Whether that includes leaving the car for long periods without plugging it in was not addressed on the company’s call, but a notorious “bricking” incident with a Tesla Roadster received much coverage a couple of years ago.

Coverage excludes deliberate damage–owners attacking their battery packs with sledgehammers are likely not covered–but it seems a smart move on Tesla’s part.

Loaner cars at Tesla Service Centers will be new top-of-the-line 85-kilowatt-hour Model S Performance versions.

And if owners decide they prefer the driving experience of the loaner to their own Model S, they can buy that car on the spot. Its price will be the new-car price minus 1 percent for each month it’s been in service plus $1 for each mile it’s covered.

Musk said that each service center will have two to 10 such cars, depending on its service volume. The fleet altogether would number about 100 cars.

These loaner cars will also be delivered to whatever destination the Model S owner specifies, by a valet service, and the company will pick up the car to be serviced wherever it’s located.

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By John Voelcker

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