Archives for Green Cars
The Tesla Model S is brilliant. While we’re smitten with the quick electric car – the Motor Trend 2013 Car of the Year – Tesla CEO Elon Musk tells us there’s much more to come, including the Model X, an electric truck, and possibly self-driving cars. Musk also reaffirmed that the more affordable and higher-volume Tesla car is on the way.
In an interview with Motor Trend, Musk has revealed a bit more about the company’s future, looking past the production version of the Model X prototype — a three-row, seven-passenger SUV with gullwing style doors. We’ve also previously reported Tesla is planning a BMW 3 Series challenger that could arrive in 2015 after the Model X rolls into dealerships early in 2014. What Musk calls “an electric supercar” is part of Tesla’s plans as well, perhaps as a loose successor to the original Tesla Roadster. Most surprisingly, Musk admits he’s also been thinking about producing an electric truck. “We have this idea for an electric truck that could really be a big improvement in truck technology.”
Musk would also like to dip into autonomous cars. “I do think it will be interesting to do self-driving cars, perhaps working in conjunction with Google…” With the reelection of President Barack Obama, Musk hopes hybrids and electric cars will continue to become more affordable. He told Reuters that he would support tax credits of up to $10,000 on electric cars.
Read the full Motor Trend interview with Tesla’s Elon Musk right here.
Source: Motor Trend, Reuters
Tesla has left us enamored with its Lotus-bodied Roadster but if we want to see the next-generation drop-top, the California-based electric-vehicle maker has to roll out its mass-market Model S sedan first. Set to launch in 2012, the Model S is Tesla’s first fully home-brewed vehicle and will be manufactured at its new, unannounced facility on the West Coast.
While details on the Model S broke early last year, Tesla has yet to announce where its electric sedan and next-generation Roadster will be built. Rumors speculate the plant will be located in Southern California — however, Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently told Automotive News that the formal announcement will be coming in the next few weeks.
BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class when tuning the ride and handling.
post on the Tesla Model S for more vehicle details.
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By Benson Kong
Porsche may not be the first name that comes to mind when you think electric vehicles. However Ferdinand Porsche developed what is believed to be the first hybrid car in 1906 for Austrian car builder Lohner. In the last few years, Porsche has begun using modern hybrid technology to increase efficiency in their SUVs and even a few race cars. The forward thinking company is again looking forward by building three full electric Boxsters to test the practicality of the drivetrain and current state of infrastructure in place for the use of electric powertrains.
Details are still scarce, but the vehicles are said to have one or two electric motors with as much as 180KW or roughly 240 horsepower. While this is 15 horsepower short of a standard gas-powered Boxster, the electric version undoubtedly stomps it in torque output. Porsche claims the Boxster E is capable of performance figures that match a Boxster S.
The three Boxster E’s are currently just rolling laboratories for testing the propulsion technology and the infrastructure needed to maintain electric vehicles. Porsche currently has no plans of a full electric production vehicle. However with hybrids currently for sale and possibility of their next super car using a kinetic energy recovery system, this work surely won’t go to waste. If at some point in the future we are all forced to commute in electric vehicles, wouldn’t you rather it rolled out of a factory known for building race cars rather than refrigerators?
Give us your opinion on this; are electric vehicles the way forward, and if so, do you want manufacturers to make them as entertaining as possible, or should we just throw in the shop towel?
Source: Porsche AG
By Mike Febbo
The Tesla Model S has never been marketed or positioned as a mass-market volume play along the lines of the Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Volt, but despite the car’s not-insignificant purchase price, the Palo Alto, California-based company is expected to report first-quarter sales of the Model S surpassing the Leaf and Volt, making the Model S the best-selling plug-in vehicle for the quarter, according to Bloomberg.
Tesla is expected to report 4750 deliveries of the Model S when it releases first-quarter sales and financial results. The Volt sold 4421 units and the leaf sold 3695 units in the same period. This accomplishment follows the company’s earlier announcement of a new fleet of loaner vehicles and a “no-fault” battery warranty, as well as the expectation it will post its first-ever quarterly profit.
General Motors spokesperson Jim Cain lauded Tesla’s apparent victory, saying, “Any success for a company in this space is helpful for all other makers of plug-in vehicles.”
Although the Model S has taken the lead for this quarter, both the Volt and the Leaf have been on-sale longer than the Model S, and have more affordable starting prices than the premium Model S, which can crest six figures in top-of-the-line trim. Despite Tesla’s apparent successes, many auto industry analysts remain skeptical of the company’s long-term viability.
The Zero Race, an appropriately named zero-emissions race designed to raise awareness about environmentally friendly vehicles, started its 18,000-mile, 80-day journey in Switzerland earlier this week.
Zero Race began in Geneva, Switzerland, and the competitors — four small teams that specially designed their electric vehicles — will make their way through Berlin to Shanghai, China. After their trip to the Far East, they’ll resume the race in Vancouver, Canada, and then on to Cancun, Mexico, in time for the World Climate Change Conference that starts November 29.
Over the course of the next few months, the competitors will cover more than 18,000 miles and travel for more than 80 days. All four of the competing vehicles are powered by electricity acquired from renewable resources, such as wind or the sun. Each vehicle can achieve a minimum speed of 55 mph and travel 155 miles between charges. In this fashion, the teams will travel the world without the vehicles ever emitting a pollutant from exhaust or from an electrical source. However, as the vehicles need to be shipped across several oceans, the event won’t be completely emissions-free.
Although called a race, time is anything but the determining factor in who wins. The competitors are scored on their reliability during the race, energy efficiency, safety, performance, and design popularity as scored by spectators along the way. At the end of the race, the competitor with the highest score wins.
“Such a clean technology initiative underscores the importance of individual efforts in building a green, low-carbon future for the world,” said United Nations Environment Program executive director Achim Steiner.
The race reflects growing interest in low-emissions vehicles. This interest, along with government incentives and regulations, has pushed automotive manufacturers to investigate hybrid and electric vehicles, such as the upcoming Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf. The small, startup automaker Tesla only builds electric vehicles, such as its Roadster and planned Model S sedan.
Head over to Zero Race’s Web site to view the competitors’ progress as they make their way around the world and look for the race to end at the World Climate Change Conference in November.
Source: Zero Race, Bloomberg
Tesla Motors and Group Lotus have recently announced an extension of their partnership designed to help the EV automaker avoid a potential shortage of its only model, the Roadster.
Tesla was facing at least a one-year hiatus in Roadster production,mostly because oftooling changes at one of its suppliers. In order to help bridge the gap, Tesla approached Lotus about extending the initial production run. As a result, the Lotus factory in Hethel, England, will continue to assemble the Roadster through December of 2011, ultimately producing another 700 cars for a total of 2,400 units. The move will help Tesla fulfill Roadster orders between 2011 and 2012.
As has always been the case, Lotus will continue to produce “gliders” for Tesla. Roadsters are shipped from Hethel to Tesla’s facility in Menlo Park, California, where the batteries, motor, and other powertrain components are installed as part of final assembly.
Although the company will eventually take a break in Roadster production to focus on launching its Model S electric sedan, the Roadster won’t fade into the background. Tesla plans on launching a revised Roadster most likely based on the next-generation Elise, but only after the Model S makes its way into production, which Tesla is targeting for sometime 2012. Of course, they’re going to need to find a factory, first…
Early sales of electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV may have proved underwhelming, but don’t count out the zero-emissions vehicles yet. At the Washington Auto Show, the Department of Energy announced the Workplace Charging Challenge signed by 13 companies including GM, Ford, Chrysler, Tesla, and Google. These companies have pledged to introduce a plan for workplace charging in at least one major company location. The DOE says the ultimate goal over the next five years is to increase tenfold the number of U.S. employers offering charging.
Also ambitious is the related EV-Everywhere Challenge. By the year 2022, the DOE hopes to see companies in the U.S. be the first to manufacture a five-passenger American electric vehicle that’s affordable and has a payback time of less than five years, yet still have a decent range so that families can use it without compromise. Helping to complete that picture will be additional fast-charging options scattered in various urban spaces.
“Having a robust charging infrastructure helps build range confidence, which boosts interest in and use of electric vehicles,” said Brendan Jones, Nissan’s director of electric vehicle marketing and sales strategy.
We’ve already reported on Tesla’s so-called Superchargers, and Nissan this week has announced its plans to add at least 500 quick-charging stations in the U.S. over the next 18 months, starting with 40 eVgo Freedom Station sites in Washington D.C. The sites can provide a Nissan Leaf an 80-percent charge in less than 30 minutes. Service plans offered by eVgo allow users to pay a monthly fee for unlimited charging.
Considering the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year is the all-electric Tesla Model S, and the “extended-range electric” Chevrolet Volt earned the golden calipers in 2011, increasing charging infrastructure sounds like a good idea to us. Before a national hydrogen refueling infrastructure gets any traction, perhaps the Workplace Charging Challenge and EV-Everywhere Challenge will help boost sales of electric vehicles.
Source: DOT, GM, Ford, Nissan
By Zach Gale
Last week we reported that Tesla Motors, maker of the of the 2-seater all-electric Tesla Roadster, is serving Top Gear with a libel suit claiming that an episode featuring the sports car contained false and exaggerated criticisms, some of which included failed brakes and an overheated and immobilized motor. A complete explanation of the claim is posted on Tesla’s website.
Recently, Top Gear’s executive producer Andy Wilman responded to the suit in a blog post on the show’s website, providing a detailed counterpoint to each claim.
He starts with the Roadster’s range, claiming the show never refuted the company’s advertised range of 211 miles, but instead boasted a short 55-mile range based on hard track use. He points out that Tesla engineers back in California confirmed their calculations. And when the engine overheated from their testing, Wilman says the show stated the car had “reduced power” while Tesla maintains that they said it was “completely immobilized.” Lastly, Tesla claims that Top Gear lied when they stated the brakes were broken. Though a failed vacuum pump fuse required the driver to push the brake pedal harder than normal, the brakes were still operable. Wilman argues that broken is broken, especially if something requires a visit to the shop for repair.
Wilman says the BBC normally stays quiet while preparing their defense for court, but took the unprecedented step of fighting back since Tesla is “being quite noisy with their views” of the show’s conduct.
Shortly after Wilman issued his take on the matter, Tesla issued its own response.
“Mr. Wilman seems to want Top Gear to be judged neither by what it says, nor by what it does,” corporate representatives wrote on Tesla’s official website. “Top Gear needs to provide its viewers, and Tesla, straightforward answers to these questions.”
Tesla insists it “wants people to know the truth, and correct the public’s misperceptions” of its electric two-seater. Since the episode first aired on December 14, 2008, it has been re-broadcasted on both the BBC, syndication, and several dozen websites. Tesla wants the episode to disappear for good, and is banking on the courts to agree.
At this point, it seems the only point both sides can agree on is this may prove to be a lengthy legal argument…
Source: Tesla, Top Gear
Tesla is hoping to outdo its record-setting EV 240-mile range once again at this year’s Monte Carlo Alternative Energy Rally. The three-day event challenges the range and performance of the world’s top electric vehicles.
At the end of last year’s rally, the competing Tesla Roadster still had 38 miles left on its range indicator. For 2010, the California-based brand will bring two cars, each piloted by accomplished racers and gearheads Rudi Tuisk (shown) and Erik Comas. When he’s not rallying, Tuisk is Tesla’s Australian general manager, while Comas is a former F1 ace and Formula 3000 champ.
So far, more than 100 entries have been recorded for the event. Competitors have the chance to traverse some of France and Monte Carlo’s most scenic driving routes.
The rally coincides with the automaker’s “Odyssey of Pioneers” EV globetrotting adventure.
Source: Tesla, Automobile Club de Monaco
Green Cars, Tesla
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In one of the quickest turnarounds we’ve seen in years, the Toyota RAV4 EV that Tesla only agreed to build for the Japanese giant four months ago will make its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show next week.
To be fair, by the time the companies announced the project, they already had a prototype built. Still, considering how fast they got a show car together, it’s likely that the drivetrain and battery system are very similar, if not identical, to the Tesla Roadster’s. All either company has said is that Tesla has been contracted to develop a battery, motor, gearbox and all related electronics for the RAV4 EV, for which Toyota will pay them a cool $60 million.
For the moment, Toyota’s only released these two teaser images of their nifty new badge and shout-out to Tesla on the speedometer. Further, the company has simply announced that the RAV4 EV will be at LA, but has kept all other details to itself. That means we won’t know the vehicle’s range, charge time, launch date or price until next week at the earliest. Unless more images are released, we won’t know what it’ll look like until next week either, though if the original RAV4 EV is any indication, the changes won’t be too radical save perhaps some aerodynamic improvements.
Stay tuned to MotorTrend.com next week for our complete live coverage of the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show.
By Scott Evans