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The 2013 Tesla Model S electric luxury sedan is offered with several different battery packs, and now the Environmental Protection Agency has rated the energy efficiency of the Tesla’s middle option, a 60-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The EPA says that Model S sedans equipped with the 60-kWh battery average 94/97 mpge (city/highway) for a combined rating of 95 mpge, and can travel 208 miles on a single battery charge.
The estimates show that the 2013 Tesla Model S is slightly more energy efficient when equipped with its smaller, lighter battery pack. The EPA says the top-spec 85-kWh model averages 89 mpge combined and travels 265 miles on a charge. The range estimates vary significantly from Tesla’s predictions: Tesla hoped the two cars would travel 300 and 230 miles, respectively, compared to the EPA’s more conservative 265- and 208-mile ratings. The cheapest battery pack, rated at 40-kWH, has yet to be tested by the EPA.
The Tesla Model S is slightly less powerful when equipped with its 60-kWh battery, which also contributes to the higher energy efficiency. The company says the car’s electric motor provides 302 hp and a 5.9-second 0-to-60-mph time with the 60-kWh battery pack. Stepping up to the 85-kWh battery unlocks 362 hp and a 5.6-second acceleration time; the pricey Model S Performance version uses the same battery but offers 416 hp and a claimed 4.4-second 0-to-60-mph sprint.
The 95 mpge rating is lower than many other all-electric cars, but that’s primarily because the Tesla is larger, more powerful, and more luxurious than most other EVs. According to the EPA, the Ford Focus Electric manages 105 mpge combined, the Nissan Leaf averages 99 mpge combined, and the Honda Fit EV achieves 118 mpge combined.
Pricing for the 2013 Tesla Model S recently jumped by $2500. A sedan with the base 40-kWh battery pack now starts at $59,900, one with the 60-kWh battery is $69,900, and opting for the 85-kWh battery will set buyers back $79,900. A fully-loaded Tesla Model S Performance carries a sticker price of $94,900.
We named the 2013 Tesla Model S our 2013 Automobile of the Year,. Despite losing money for years, Tesla now expects to make a slight profit by the end of this year. The company hopes to deliver another 20,000 vehicles in 2013.
Sources: EPA, Tesla
By Jake Holmes
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk wants his electric-car company to work with Google on developing autonomous cars. Bloomberg reports that Tesla is discussing driverless technology with Google, even though Musk asserts Tesla will probably create its own system.
Tesla CEO Musk said he believes the driverless or autonomous technologies are the next big development for the car because they could dramatically improve road safety. “I like the word autopilot more than I like the word self-driving,” he told Bloomberg. “Autopilot is a good thing to have in planes, and we should have it in cars.”
Although Tesla has been in “technical discussions” with Google about its driverless cars, Musk believes the roof-mounted laser-scanning system used by Google is too costly and inefficient to make sense for production cars. He reportedly favors a cheaper camera-based system, “with software that is able to figure out what’s going on just by looking at things.” Musk told Bloomberg that although it is possible that Tesla will cooperate with Google, it’s more likely that the startup will engineer its own unique autonomous-car technologies.
Google has a fleet of Toyota Prius hybrids (pictured), as well as a Lexus RX450h, that can drive without a human’s input. Lawmakers have granted the Internet company permission to test its autonomous cars in Nevada and California. Lexus demonstrated a semi-autonomous LS sedan at the Consumer Electronics Show, where Audi also showed off self-parking systems.
Self-driving Teslas are some time off, however: Musk says Tesla will focus on launching electric cars, including the Model S sedan and upcoming Model X SUV, before focusing on bringing autonomous technology to production. “Autopilot is not as important as accelerating the transition to electric cars, or to sustainable transport,” he told Bloomberg.
By Jake Holmes
The Tesla Model X electric crossover won’t start production until late 2014, a major delay as the car was slated to go into production this year. Tesla had initially promised the Model X would debut in late 2013 with “volume” production beginning in earnest by 2014, but now it appears the Tesla factory won’t even start building the crossover until the end of next year.
The Tesla Model X is a three-row crossover with upward-opening “Falcon Wing” doors that is based on the company’s Model S all-electric sedan. It was originally slated to go on sale in limited numbers by the end of 2013, with production ramping up significantly by 2014. In fact, the automaker’s website still indicates that, “Deliveries begin 2014.”
Tesla appears to have quietly delayed the introduction of the Model X by about a year. The company’s latest SEC Filing, which also revealed Tesla will repay government loans early, confirmed the new production date. “We currently plan to start production of Model X in late 2014,” the filing reads. “We currently intend to target an annual production rate of approximately 10,000-15,000 cars per year.”
That means the car probably wouldn’t reach more than a handful of customers until early 2015. The company previously reported it would have total production capacity of 20,000 units in 2013.
Tesla warned in its filing that development of the Model X hasn’t been completed, signaling that production couldn’t start for some time. “The Model X design is not yet finalized and we may be unable to use the adaptable Model S platform to the extent we currently intend,” the filing reads.”We may experience… delays, cost overruns and adverse publicity… We are in the initial design and development stages of Model X. Furthermore, we have not yet evaluated, qualified or selected all of our suppliers for the planned production of Model X.”
A Tesla representative told us, “Tesla has been intensely focused on Model S, its production and product enhancements and believe there is increased volume potential for Model S. As a result, we are pushing back the development and timing of Model X to 2014. ”
By Jake Holmes
Electric carmaker Tesla Motors will soon launch a new SUV called the Model X. The company has released a dark teaser photo of the new car along with the tagline “Utility meets performance,” and promises the Model X will be revealed next Thursday, February 9, in California.
We don’t really know anything about the Model X, although lightening the teaser image with Photoshop reveals a curved hooded, sloping roofline, and oval front grille opening. The Model X’s lines are reminiscent of those found on the company’s forthcoming Model S large hatchback. Furthermore, Tesla CEO Elon Musk wrote on his Twitter feed that, “Most cars are pretty blah. This is not.”
As with the company’s Lotus-based Roadster and long-awaited Model S, we expect the Model X to use a proprietary all-electric powertrain developed by Tesla. This won’t be the first time Tesla has dabbled with building an SUV: the company previously partnered with Toyota to build an electrified RAV4.
Sources: Tesla, Twitter
By Jake Holmes
Tesla’s little stand at Cobo Hall, squeezed into a corner near Bentley and Volvo, was mobbed during the company’s press conference, which seemed to serve multiple purposes: to show the Model X crossover concept for the first time at an auto show; to allow the company to gloat over the resounding critical success of its Model S, including the fact that it is the 2013 Automobile Magazine Automobile of the Year; and for company executives to spread the gospel of Tesla.
Tesla’s supreme leader, Elon Musk, was nowhere in sight, but George Blankenship, the former Apple executive who is Tesla’s Vice President of worldwide sales and customer experience, took to the stage wearing jeans, a blazer, and a wool scarf casually draped around his neck. “Our vision is to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission vehicles,” he said, aping similar comments we’ve heard from his boss. “It’s not about building a car.” But it is, George, it is. Blankenship is particularly pleased with the growing reputation of Tesla, noting that a whopping 1.6 million people traipsed through 19 of the company’s 23 U.S. company stores [Tesla doesn't have traditional dealerships] in the fourth quarter of last year. Tesla will open 25 more company stores in 2013, half of them in the United States. The first store in China opens this spring.
The never-ending question about electric cars, of course, is where and how to recharge them, but Tesla is optimistic about its plans to allow owners to do so easily with its Supercharging stations, which provide a full battery recharge in about 30 minutes and will allow Tesla drivers to travel from San Diego to Vancouver on the West Coast and from Miami to Boston on the East Coast. “In a couple of years, you’re going to be able to drive from San Diego to Maine [using our Supercharging system],” Blankenship promises. “Our charging is FREE, so people will be eager to adopt our technology. [Tesla] is about a bright future for your children and grandchildren,” he concluded, a little too sweetly, before turning the microphone over to design chief Franz von Holzhausen, who was also wearing jeans but no scarf.
Von Holzhausen, who designed the Pontiac Solstice and served as Mazda’s North American design chief, turned to the Model X concept sitting behind him. “We want to transfer our [electric vehicle] technology into a segment [SUVs] that is presently horribly inefficient,” he said. “Minivans are incredibly practical, but you kind of sell your soul to get that practicality. With the Model X, you get practicality in a sexy vehicle.” Von Holzhausen opened the Model X’s Falcon Wing doors, which pivot in two places to open vertically before they swing out, so the Model X can be parked in conventional parking spaces. “Creating the second hinge at the cant rail was the big innovation,” Von Holzhausen told us after the press conference. “When the doors are open, they are seven feet, four inches tall, and most garages are about eight feet tall. There will be sensors to prevent the doors from hitting anything.”
With all of its doors open on the show floor, the white-over-black Model X looked like a multi-winged bird. We wondered if all those huge apertures would compromise structural integrity, but Von Holzhausen reminded us that “the Model S sedan’s structure is equally porous, but both have 60 hertz of structural rigidity. The battery pack is an integral part of the structure.” The front “hood” opens to reveal a huge, wide cargo cavity, and the rear hatch also exposes a considerable amount of storage space. We climbed inside the Model X and found a decent amount of room in the second row, if considerably less in the third row, but all three seats in the second row move back and forth independently, and headroom is good in both rows. The Model X concept’s body is constructed of fiberglass, but the production vehicle, which is expected sometime in late 2014, will have aluminum body panels just like the Model S. The all-wheel-drive Model X will have 60-kw and 85-kw battery packs but no entry-level 40-kw pack like the Model S offers. Tesla promises a 0-to-60-mph time of 5.0 seconds.
Looking even farther into the future, Von Holzhausen is most excited about the prospect of Tesla’s third-generation car, which will, he says, “be an Audi A4, BMW 3-series, Volkswagen Jetta type of vehicle that will offer everything: range, affordability, and performance. We’re confident we can do it at a starting price of $30,000, which is the break-in point, where we can bring all this excitement and technology to the average customer.”
By Joe DeMatio
The Tesla Model S is officially showroom ready, at least according to the U.S. government: after passing initial Environmental Protection Agency tests, the car has also reportedly passed crash testing at the hands of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Not one to waste time, Tesla Motors subsequently announced the car’s initial delivery date is June 22nd, 2012.
The crash test announcement comes from the personal Twitter account of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who took a break from observing his SpaceX rocket launch to tweet that the Model S finished NHTSA crash testing. Musk claims that the car completed all tests with five-star scores, although we were unable to independently confirm that claim with NHTSA by press time.
With crash testing completed, along with the aforementioned EPA certification, it appears to be full-speed ahead for Tesla’s next model launch. The company plans on handing over keys to early production models to owners within the confines of its assembly plant in Freemont, California, but then intends on quickly ramping up volume. Tesla hopes to deliver 5000 Model S sedans by the end of the year, but claims that the waiting list for one of the five- or seven-passenger (depending on options) EVs stretches some 10,000 names. Those names should be satisfied by the middle of next year, as Tesla is shooting for a 20,000-unit year in 2013.
As to-be owners anxiously wait for their cars, Tesla also announced that customer cars will receive some special finishing touches. Tesla VP George Blankenship announced via blog post this week that Model S sedans will now come with adjustable steering effort, suspension height, and regenerative braking settings – all of which are configurable through a menu accessed by way of the 17-inch touchscreen center stack.
The Model S will go on sale this year and cost between $57,400 and $105,400, not including a possible $7500 federal income tax credit.
By Ben Timmins
The NUMMI venture between Toyota and General Motors may be long gone, but some of that partnership’s parts and equipment will live on with Tesla.
The electric vehicle company just bought $15 million worth of assets from the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California.
This follows Tesla’s agreement to purchase the plant for about $42 million. In July, Tesla and Toyota announced an electric version of the 2012 Toyota RAV4 SUV would be produced.
It’s possible the purchase of this equipment will help Tesla meet its deadlines for the Model S five-door. The car, according to Tesla, will head from 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds and last 300 miles to a charge.
Shares of Tesla’s stock, which opened at $17 a share, closed at $19.10 on August 20.
Source: The Street, Tesla
By Zach Gale
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
We’ve already seen Tesla’s Model S and Model X, but we now hear that the electric automaker is working on a midsize sedan to take on the BMW 3 Series, and may also have its sights set on the pickup truck market.
So far, Tesla has only produced the Lotus-Elise-based Roadster and Model S large hatchback, but with the latter car’s bespoke platform done, the sky’s the limit. The Model X all-electric sport utility vehicle is already planned with its crazy falcon wing-style door and is slated to start production late in 2013, reaching dealers early in 2014.
We hear from Autocar that Tesla’s followup to the Model X will be a midsize premium sedan, in the vein of the BMW 3 Series. The car would be smaller than the Model S and also have a smaller price tag than the current car’s $49,000 sticker — Tesla design chief Franz Von Holzhausen said that company bosses are shooting for the car to have a $30,000 price on the base model.
The addition of a 3-Series-sized car to the Tesla EV range makes sense — it would give Tesla a larger customer base — but what Von Holzhausen said next was a bit more puzzling. “There will be a time and place for us to develop something around a pickup,” he told Autocar.
At first glance, the idea of Tesla leaving its eco-luxury roots and making a workhorse pickup truck seems odd, but Von Holzhausen did say that the Tesla’s electric powertrain would have suitable torque to make a good pickup truck. If Tesla could make an all-electric pickup at or near the same $30,000 price point as the upcoming 3 Series fighter, it would be an interesting entrant into the shrinking market of fuel-efficient pickups, especially now that midsize pickups like the Ram Dakota and Ford Ranger have died.
The 3 Series rival could bow as early as 2015, with the pickup following some time later.
By Ben Timmins
A new option pack for the Tesla Model S electric car is supposed to give it “supercar handling.” The Performance Plus option is a $6500 suspension upgrade for the Model S that is designed to improve the car’s handling.
The upgrade package is available only for the Tesla Model S Performance, which has an 85-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Its electric drive motor is rated for 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, and Tesla says the 0-to-60-mph run takes just 4.2 seconds. (We found that a car so equipped can even outrun a BMW M5.)
Opting for Performance Plus adds Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires on 21-inch wheels; 19-inch all-season tires are standard on the Model S and 21-inch Continental ExtremeContact DW tires are optional. In addition, the Performance Plus rear tires have a 265 section width, 20 millimeters (0.8 inch) wider than the standard 21-inch tires. Tesla also installs upgraded suspension dampers, bushings, and anti-roll bars to further improve handling. The upgrades are said to add between six and twelve miles of driving range to a Tesla Model S Performance; according to the EPA, the luxury sedan can normally drive about 265 miles on a full charge, so adding the Performance Plus treatment pushes the range to as much as 277 miles.
Tesla recently enhanced its warranty program to cover the lithium-ion battery pack no matter how the owner charges the car, for eight years or 125,000 miles. Owners can borrow a Roadster or Model S loaner car while their Model S is being serviced. Tesla also announced a unique leasing program for the car earlier this spring, which makes the car available for between $1051 and $1199, depending on trim level and before various discounts.
By Jake Holmes