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Akio Toyoda Talks EV with Tesla, Hints at New-Age Supra

Akio Toyoda Talks EV with Tesla, Hints at New-Age Supra

NAGOYA, JAPAN — What will Toyota Motor Company get out of its recent minor investment in Tesla Motors? Perhaps an electric vehicle prototype, Toyota President and CEO Akio Toyoda told a group of American reporters Friday. Toyoda expressed enthusiasm for working with a new, Silicon Valley-based high-technology company and said through an interpreter they can “join hands and develop cars, in terms of being a joint-venture.”

Toyoda said his company is “building a prototype EV unit,” but would announce details to the press at a later date. When asked to clarify whether the EV car is a joint venture with Tesla, Toyota Executive Vice President Shinichi Sasaki said there are two Toyota EVs in the works. One car is from Toyota alone and the other is with Tesla. Bottom line is that Toyota will work with Tesla on something. Whether it ever goes public will depend on its engineering success.

Earlier, Sasaki expressed enthusiasm for Tesla’s use of household personal computer lithium-ion batteries, but conceded that “reliability goes down” when you string thousands of them together to power a car.

And, of course, one thing Toyota doesn’t need these days is a new reliability problem. The whole point of the American automotive and business journalists’ visit to Japan, ending Friday, was a deep dive into Toyota’s quality and safety operations.

Toyoda said that its investigation of more than 3600 unintended acceleration claims found no problem with its electronic throttle control systems. He also said Toyota has no intention of blaming customers for accidents caused by what the drivers claimed were unintended acceleration problems.

Toyoda skirted the issue of whether Toyota’s new quality and safety initiative is eating into its resources to build more interesting cars. His hints that Toyota might build a new-age Supra were no more than hints, and Toyoda acknowledged it will take the approval of the whole company to build such a car; that it’s not simply his decision. Watch for more detail and analysis coming presently in the Motor City Blogman blog.

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Auto News, Tesla, Toyota

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2011 Aston Martin DB9, Vantage N420 Details, Pricing Released

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By Todd Lassa

Quick-Charging EV Charging Infrastucture: Ford, GM, Nissan, Chrysler, Tesla Sign DOT Pledge

Quick-Charging EV Charging Infrastucture: Ford, GM, Nissan, Chrysler, Tesla Sign DOT Pledge

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.

2013 Chevrolet Volt plugged in 300x187 imageAlso 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

Tesla Model S Pricing Details Surface, Larger Battery Capacities to Cost an Extra $10,000-$20,000

Tesla Model S Pricing Details Surface, Larger Battery Capacities to Cost an Extra $10,000-$20,000

George Blankenship, Tesla’s VP of worldwide sales and ownership experience, recently took the opportunity to allay future Model S customer concerns with an update on the electric family sedan.

With production scheduled to commence in mid-2012, the first 1000 units built will be part of the North American Model S Signature Series. In acknowledgment of these initial models, they’ve been deemed “limited edition” and will come with their own unique badges and special options. All North American Model S Signature Series sedans will have the big 300-mile batteries.

We’ve long heard the Model S will start at $57,400 with the smallest 160-mile battery. Blankenship also disclosed the 230-mile battery will add another $10,000 to that cost, while the 300-mile battery will be a not unsubstantial $20,000 on top of the base price. As an incentive, a federal $7500 tax credit is being touted, and state governments may have their own financial perks for supporting alternative propulsion. Final MSRP and option prices are due this summer.

With the 300-mile packs expected off the line first, the 160- and 230-mile batteries will follow later in 2012. Left-hand drive deliveries to Europe will also begin in late 2012 and right-hand drive applications for Europe and Asia will follow suit in mid-2013. Tesla anticipates a grand total of 5000 sedans produced in 2012 at the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California. By 2013, the EV builder will be targeting an annual total of 20,000.

A few months ago, we found that Tesla expects the 20,000-unit production mark to bring them to profits. Stay tuned as we continue to follow the progress of this much-hyped electric sedan from Silicon Valley.

Source: Tesla

By Benson Kong

Designers on Design: Franz von Holzhausen on the McLaren P1

Designers on Design: Franz von Holzhausen on the McLaren P1

I ran into Tesla Model S design chief Franz von Holzhausen at the Paris Motor Show as we were both on the way to the unveiling of the McLaren P1 supercar. After graduating from Art Center College of Design with a bachelor’s degree in Transportation Design, Von Holzhausen began his career with Volkswagen under J Mays and worked on such seminal projects as the Concept One (which became the new Beetle). He then moved to GM, and drew critical acclaim for his Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky roadster. In 2005, Mazda hired von Holzhausen as its North American design chief. Under his watch, the company developed the Nagare design language, revised the style of the RX-8 and Mazda5, and launched the 2009 Mazda6 and Mazda3.

Mazda Furai front three quarter 300x187 imageOne of my favorite concept cars of all time was executed by Franz and his team; the rotary-powered, LMP1-based Mazda Furai. Why do I still love it so? Because unlike most concept cars, it wasn’t just a pretty face, but a full runner that I got to experience around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Franz obviously knows something about fast cars and great designs, so just after McLaren boss Ron Dennis and Managing Director Antony Sheriff raised the sheet on McLaren’s all-new P1 supercar, I asked him for his first impressions:

FvH: Makes the 12C kind of old and tired. It’s got a great stance, it sits well, reminds of the F1 [McLaren’s first street legal sports car]. Yeah, I like it. It’s definitely got a menacing feel to it – a pissed-off face. It has a BIG greenhouse and I’m wondering about that proportion – but it’s hard to tell from here.

I love the sculpture on the body side. Reminds of stuff that we were doing in the past. Apparently it’s very functional as well, with the intakes going right from the door into the engine. So I can appreciate that, the form and the function kinda working together. It’s awesome.

Yeah, but it makes the 12C dated for sure.

McLaren P1 profile.jpeg 300x187 image

MT: Have you ever worked with [McLaren head of design] Frank Stephenson before?

FvH: No, I haven’t. I was looking for him on the stage, but I just know of him from, you know, the designer crowd, and but I think he did a pretty solid job. In general I think the car is cool. Way better than in pictures, sits way better on its wheels, from here. I’ll have to come back later, tomorrow, when there is less people to get a better view. But you know it’s awesome, Ron Dennis is up there — you don’t see that every day. Seeing Ron in person is very cool.

And I appreciate them continuing to just go for it.

MT: What do you think about the orange color?

FvH: I’m wondering about it. There must something about it I’m just not aware of. Is it the brand color…?  I love the simplicity of the stand with the orange and white, it’s super cool. But is it the right color for the car?

MT: Well, everyone knows you designer types only like light gray or silver for your concepts so you can show off the lines…

McLaren P1 rear view 300x187 imageFvH: [Laughs] Actually, orange is one of my more favorite colors, but this shade seems a bit, um, overly mature. I think a car like this, if you could get some screaming colors on it, it would be all that more impressive.

I do see a lot of reference from the F1 in the side feature. Hard to tell about the silhouette but from what I’ve seen, the silhouette is pretty similar.

MT: I noticed that the McLaren logo seems to be used as a throughout the car – in the headlights, hood scoops, etc. You know, the upside-down swoosh, punctuation mark…too much repetition? What do you think?

FvH: Oh as an element on the car – front, rear, everywhere – the “boomerang.” It reminds me of the Kumho tire logo. But you know it’s subtle enough that you know it’s not too overt.

It doesn’t punch you in the face…and you know the car does look fantastic.

MT: Thanks Franz!

By Edward Loh

2013 Automobile Of The Year: Let The Testing Begin – Rumor Central

2013 Automobile Of The Year: Let The Testing Begin

It’s that time again. No, we’re not talking college football, major-league baseball post-season action, or even habitual trips to the cider mill for freshly-pressed juice and sugary treats. It’s time for Automobile’s editors and contributors to break out of the offices, retreat to a secretive spot in western Michigan, sample some of the latest and greatest sheetmetal on the market, and ultimately name one vehicle as the 2013 Automobile Of The Year.

Our testing and deliberation runs this entire week, and here’s a quick peek at what cars we’re bringing along in tow. One of these contenders will ultimately be named the 2013 Automobile of the Year. We won’t publicly name a winner until November, but if you want to keep tabs on our testing and thought process, you’re in luck. Turn to Automobile’s Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter (look for the #AMAoY hashtag) to come along for the ride!

2013 Acura ILX Premium

The manual transmission is one of the best to come from Honda to date — the clutch is perfectly weighted and boasts linear take-up, and shift throws are smooth, short, and positive.”

Engine: 2.4-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 201 hp @7000 rpm

Torque: 170 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $30,095

As-tested: $30,095

 

2013 Audi RS5 Coupe

“With its silky engine, lively differential, and stout brakes, the RS5 is every bit worthy of the RS badge.”

Engine: 4.2-liter DOHC V-8

Power: 450 hp @8250 rpm

Torque: 317 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Drive: 4-wheel

Base price: $69,795

As-tested: $75,820

2013 Audi S7

“Luxury, performance, and style — the S7 delivers everything the A7 does, only with a sportier edge. We’re still smitten with the less powerful, more efficient supercharged V-6 in the A7, but the twin-turbo V-8 is similarly sweet for those who demand more.”

Engine: Twin-turbo, 4.0-liter DOHC V-8

Power: 420 hp @ 6400 rpm

Torque: 406 lb-ft @ 1400 rpm

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Drive: 4-wheel

Base price: $79,695

As tested: $86,170

 

2013 BMW 335i Sport Line

“In the 335i, you revel in the engine’s noise. Its broad, flat torque curve means you don’t have to rev the engine — but you want to. You want to hear it, you want to feel it, and you wind up loving it. More so than ever, it’s an emotional decision rather than a rational one — but with three pedals in the driver’s footwell, there’s still no sport sedan better than a BMW 335i.”

Engine: Turbocharged 3.0-liter DOHC I-6

Power: 300 hp @ 5800 rpm

Torque: 300 lb-ft @ 1200 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $43,295

As tested: $55,745 

 

 

2012 BMW M5

“The M5′s got almost all of the refinement of the current 5-series, all of the tech features, gorgeous styling, and elegant interior. And then it’s got razor-sharp handling and the best steering we’ve seen in a 5-series in a long time, if not ever. And then it’ll rip that smile off your face with outrageous acceleration.”

Engine: Twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter DOHC V-8

Power: 560 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 500 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $92,095

As tested: $106,695

 

2013 BMW X1 xDrive 28i

“Getting some seat time in the X1 reminded us just how much better the old 3-series worked. Sure, it doesn’t have quite as many gadgets and gizmos — and neither the 1-series, the X1, nor the old 3-series is as pretty as the new 3-series — but those earlier cars have a fundamental, built-in “just right” factor. The steering, the brakes, the ride, the handling, and all the secondary controls and instruments just feel perfect.”

Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 240 hp @ 5000 rpm

Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 1250 rpm

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Drive: 4-wheel

Base price: $33,245

As tested: $45,095

 

2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T Premium

“The ATS is a solid effort that at last puts a Cadillac on par with the German competitors it has fixated on for so long.”

Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter

Power: 272 hp @ 5500 rpm

Torque: 260 hp @ 1700 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $44,315

As tested: $45,910

2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 Premium

Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC V-6

Power: 321 hp @ 6800 rpm

Torque: 275 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $44,315

As tested: $45,910

 

2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

“By the spec sheet alone, the result of the engineers’ efforts reads much like a CTS-V: 6.2-liter supercharged LSA V-8, magnetorheological dampers, limited-slip differential, and a tad too much weight. But with the Camaro, engineers sacrificed some of the Cadillac’s civility to place greater emphasis on tuning the ZL1 for days at the track and nights at the drag strip.”

Engine: Supercharged 6.2-liter OHV V-8

Power: 580 hp @ 6100 rpm

Torque: 556 lb-ft @ 3800 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $56,295

As tested: $58,335

 

2013 Dodge Dart Limited

“The Dart’s Italian DNA is perhaps most visible to the driver. While the steering rack isn’t especially communicative, it makes up for it with a quick ratio, a natural feeling of heft, and excellent straight-line stability.”

Engine: Turbocharged 1.4-liter SOHC I-4

Power: 160 hp @ 6400 rpm

Torque: 148 lb-ft @ 4600 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $21,785

As tested: $25,065

2012 Fiat 500 Abarth

“The turbo four blats to life with a distinct and characterful exhaust note (fitting, given that aftermarket exhaust kits were one of the Abarth company’s earliest and most successful products). The exhaust is quite loud under acceleration but the noise fades almost completely when you’re just cruising.”

Engine: Turbocharged 1.4-liter SOHC I-4

Power: 160 hp @ 5500 rpm

Torque: 170 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm

Transmission: 5-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $22,700

As tested: $25,200

2013 Ford Focus ST

“The Focus ST is not exactly a world-beater in terms of refinement, handling balance, or ergonomics. But it does offer a lot of car and performance for the money, it scores an undisputed ten on the entertainment scale, and it won’t fall apart when pushed to the limit.”

Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 252 hp @ 5500 rpm

Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $24,495

As tested: $28,170

 

2013 Ford Fusion SE

“Much has been made of the new Fusion’s styling, which completely walked away from the previous version, instead embracing elements from Aston Martin (the front end), the Audi A7 (the tapered tail), and the Hyundai Sonata (the side view). That may be a disparate trio, but the result is a cohesive whole, and one with an undeniable family resemblance to other recent Fords.”

Engine: Turbocharged 1.6-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 178 hp @ 5700 rpm

Torque: 184 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $24,495

As tested: $26,040

2013 Ford Fusion Titanium AWD

Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 240 hp @ 5500 rpm

Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Drive: 4-wheel

Base price: $32,995

As tested: $37,670

 

2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid

“Ford understands that in the hybrid arena, it’s all about the MPGs. Thus, the company is justifiably proud that the new Fusion Hybrid brought home EPA ratings of 47 mpg city and 47 mpg highway, numbers that not only well surpass the 41/36 mpg ratings of the previous model but, more importantly, solidly beat the target Toyota Camry Hybrid’s 43/39 mpg—not to mention the also-ran Hyundai Sonata Hybrid’s 35/40 mpg.”

Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC I-4 w/ electric motor

Power(engine/ electric motor): 141 hp @ 6000 rpm/ 118 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque (engine/ electric motor) 129 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm/ 117 lb-ft

Transmission: Continuously variable

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $27,995

As tested: $30,975

 

2013 Honda Accord Sport sedan

The four-cylinder Honda Accord, despite its copycat styling, suffers from very little in the way of drawbacks. In fact, it’s good enough for us to say it has squeaked past the Toyota Camry and regained its spot at the top of the class.

Engine: 2.4-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 185 hp @ 6400 rpm

Torque: 181 lb-ft @ 3900 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $24,180

As tested: $24,180

 

2013 Honda Accord EX-L Coupe

Engine: 3.5-liter SOHC V-6

Power: 278 hp @ 6200 rpm

Torque: 252 lb-ft @ 4900 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $33,140

As tested: $33,140

 

2013 Lexus GS350 F Sport

“The new GS350, particularly the F Sport, shows real progress in making a more rewarding driver’s car.” 

Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC V-8

Power: 303 hp @ 6200 rpm

Torque: 274 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $47,745

As tested: $55,869 

 

2013 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring

“The CX-5 is a flexible, thoughtful, sharp-looking vehicle that has been crafted from the ground up to give its all in the service of those who love to drive.”

Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 155 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 150 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $27,840

As tested: $29,165

 

2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550

“The new SL’s interior is more opulent than that of any previous SL; every last piece is high-style, from the dash vents to the small, leather-lined, embossed shifter. The aging Comand system feels unnecessarily complicated compared with newer systems from other makers, and the gauges themselves look slightly plasticky and cheap, but overall, this is Benz’s most glamorous and well-constructed interior.”

Engine: Twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter DOHC V-8

Power: 429 hp @ 5250 rpm

Torque: 516 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $106,405

As tested: $123,445

 

2012 Mini Cooper S Roadster

“Turbo lag is not an issue, and this engine gleefully zings the Roadster down urban freeways and rural two-lanes, accompanied by a snarling exhaust note — and the occasional racy popping through the exhaust on throttle lift-off.”

Engine: Turbocharged 1.6-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 181 hp @ 5500 rpm

Torque: 177 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $28,050

As tested: $33,650

2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV

It’s the Altima’s bells and whistles that Nissan hopes will lure customers away from the Camry — and this new Nissan is packed full of tech goodies aped from more expensive vehicles. All Altimas are equipped with a keyless push-button ignition, and most trim levels include remote starting.

Engine: 2.5-liter DOHC I-4

Power: 182 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 180 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm

Transmission: Continuously variable

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $24,880

As tested: $27,005 

2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL

Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC V-6

Power: 270 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 251 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm

Transmission: Continuously variable

Drive: Front-wheel

Base price: $31,580

As tested: $32,135

 

2013 Porsche Boxster S

“The Boxster is still a very connected, very visceral drive, no matter what all the improvements to ride quality and refinement might lead you to expect. We’re left unsupervised on the track for a couple of hours and, frankly, it’s gut-wrenching to hand back the keys.”

Engine: 3.4-liter DOHC flat-six

Power: 315 hp @ 6700 rpm

Torque: 266 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $61,850

As tested: $85,410 

 

2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S

“If you’ve ever driven a Porsche 911, you’ll immediately know that the 991 is different. In quantifiable terms, it’s leaps and bounds better than any previous 911. It sounds even better, it rides even better, it feels even better, it’s even more comfortable, better equipped, and it’s far better looking.”

Engine: 3.8-liter DOHC flat-six

Power: 400 hp @ 7400 rpm

Torque: 325 lb-ft @ 5600 rpm

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $97,350

As tested: $124,910 

 

2013 Subaru BRZ Premium

The Subaru BRZ, however, is very much a sports car, and it’s the kind we don’t see much anymore: light, lithe, fun, and affordable. That’s an unusual formula in this age of overpriced, overpowered image machines. The BRZ offers a world of usable, accessible performance with a straightforward purity that’s rare today, and the car itself should be accessible to a broad swath of enthusiast drivers.

Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC flat-four

Power: 200 hp @ 7000 rpm

Torque: 151 lb-ft @ 6400 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $26,265

As tested: $26,265

 

2012 Tesla Model S Performance

“Pulling this handle, we slid into our red car, inhaling the rich aroma of Nappa leather upholstery and noting the low seating position. We gaped at the most overpowering feature, namely, the glossy, sports-bar-sized central touchscreen, which has more graphical modes than magicians have hats and rabbits. The driver’s instrument display also made us blink and gape. There are no bezels, indicators, counters, gauges, or needles. Watchmaker Edmond Jaeger would weep at the sight.”

Battery: 85-kWh, Lithium-ion

Motor: Three-phase, four pole AC induction motor with copper rotor

Power: 416 hp @ 5000 rpm

Torque: 443 lb-ft

Transmission: Single-speed transaxle

Drive: Rear-wheel

Base price: $93,570

As tested: $102,270 

 

By Automobile Staff

Tesla to Issue New Stock and Pay Off Government Loan – Rumor Central

Tesla to Issue New Stock and Pay Off Government Loan

Tesla plans to offer 2,703,027 shares of common stock and $450 million in convertible senior notes due in 2018 to raise money toward its outstanding loan from the Department of Energy.

Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk will purchase $100 million worth of the shares himself, with $45 million purchased from the common stock offering and $55 million bought directly from Tesla in a private sale. The underwriters will have a 30-day option to purchase up to 405,454 additional shares and $67.5 million worth of convertible notes, which can be converted into cash or shares of Tesla stock when they mature.

Tesla stock ended trading on Wednesday at $84.84 a share, up significantly from last week’s price in the mid- to high $50 range. The surge in price is attributable to Tesla posting its first quarterly profit, with the company generating $11.2 million net income in the first quarter of 2013.

Though Tesla’s revised financing option may have lead to higher consideration among luxury buyers, the brand is still only selling variations of one vehicle. Whether Tesla can maintain its momentum remains to be seen.

Source: Tesla




By Alex Nishimoto

Alpha Testing: Tesla Details Engineering Advances of Model S Development

Alpha Testing: Tesla Details Engineering Advances of Model S Development

Tesla’s out to prove its electric Model S luxury hatchback is unique in its technological advancement. To make that happen, the company has released three videos featuring Peter Rawlinson, Tesla’s vice president of vehicle engineering, talking about the car’s structure.

We’re expecting to find more information about the Model S at the Detroit Auto Show next week but, for now, we’ve got these videos highlighting the aluminum structure.

“We’re particularly pleased with this,” Rawlinson says, “it’s a very advanced form of architecture, which is a combination of castings, extrusions, and stampings.”

Currently, the Model S is in its Alpha testing and development stage. In other words, it’s in stage one of two. As though having an electric powertrain wasn’t enough, the Model S will also distinguish itself from other luxury vehicles with its seven-passenger seating.

“Model S has such extraordinary package efficiency, it’s possible to endow it with a third row of occupants,” Rawlinson says.

Underneath that third row you’ll find the compact electric motor and rear suspension — we’re eager to see just how comfortable that third row will truly be.

Rawlinson continues in the third video, discussing how the battery pack helps increase torsional rigidity. Many still doubt whether Tesla will be capable of introducing the Model S quickly enough and selling it at a reasonable price.

“We have a very lean team,” Rawlinson says. “We have people from different disciplines sitting right next to each other and sharing the collective experience of designing and packaging the car.”

Source: Tesla

Tags:

Auto News, Detroit Auto Show, Future/Spied, Green Cars, Hatchback, Hybrid Car/EV, Luxury Car, Tesla, Video Find

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By Zach Gale

MT Poll: Is the $49,800 Toyota RAV4 EV Priced Right?

MT Poll: Is the $49,800 Toyota RAV4 EV Priced Right?

Lots of car doors open when you have $50,000 to spend. A 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca and a base 2013 Porsche Boxster cost about $50,000, but if an electric-powered crossover is more your style, then you’ll also have enough to afford the Toyota RAV4 EV, set to go on sale later this summer with an asking price of $49,800, before credits.

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV instrument panel 300x187 imageIs that asking too much? Toyota doesn’t think so. Ed Larocque, Toyota USA’s national marketing manager for advanced technology vehicles, defended the RAV4 EV’s price point to WardsAuto: “All things considered, [including] what you’re getting with the product, we think it’s priced right for the market in California.” Following the initial launch in California, Toyota will decide what U.S. markets will get the RAV4 EV.

The RAV4 EV includes a powertrain developed with Tesla Motors. Toyota claims it will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 7.0 seconds in sport mode and 8.6 seconds in normal mode, while reaching a top speed of 100 mph. Its lithium-ion battery pack will need about 6 hours to charge (level 2, 240V), providing a range of 92-113 miles, depending on driving modes and conditions. Standard creature comforts include navigation, heated front seats, and seating surfaces wrapped in Toyota’s new Neutron fabric.

Last but not least are the tax credits. Combining the federal tax credit of $7500 with California’s $2500 credit and the RAV4 EV’s price was knocked down to about $39,990. By comparison, the all-electric Nissan Leaf hatchback is $36,050 (before credits), while a fully loaded 2012 RAV4 Limited AWD V-6 is priced at $32,820.

Source: WardsAuto, Toyota

By Erick Ayapana

Report: Tesla Letting Roadster Owners Trade In For Model S – Rumor Central

Report: Tesla Letting Roadster Owners Trade In For Model S

Technophiles often want to own the newest technology, but don’t always have something to do with yesterday’s device. Tesla, however, will be making it easy for current Roadster owners to upgrade to a Model S.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Tesla has created a buyback program for current Roadster owners who are looking to move into a new Model S. Tesla’s program works just as any other trade-in deal would work, and has been created to help simplify the process for Model S/Roadster customers, according to Tesla representative Christina Ra. Since some Model S variants are actually priced well below the Roadster, it is possible for an owner to receive more on a trade than the cost of the new car. “In that case, we’d write you a check,” vonReichbauer, Tesla’s director of finance, told the Chronicle.

Pricing for the Model S hatchback starts at $57,400 for the 40 kWh battery, steps up to $67,400 for the 60 kWh car, and $77,400 for the 85 kWh model (all prices are before any government tax rebates). The EPA has already rated the 85-kWh Model S at 89 MPGe and a range of 265 miles. Currently, the only Model S versions being built are the top-spec Signature Performance models that use the 85-kWh battery; an upgraded interior, suspension, and wheels; and the exclusivity of being just one of 1000 units built. Once all the Signature models are built, the automaker will begin to produce the Model S and Model S Performance versions.

Having a cache of Roadsters will also help Tesla, the Chronicle points out. Having another vehicle to sell alongside the Model S until the Model X crossover debuts will help the automaker keep retail sales going. It’s expected that a Roadster would be resold for anywhere around $73,000 to $94,000 depending on age and mileage of the car.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle





By Donny Nordlicht

Sell Outs: No More Orders for 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Tesla Model S Signature – Rumor Central

Sell Outs: No More Orders for 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Tesla Model S Signature

Fiat’s newest hot hatch is proving to be quite popular, as Chrysler has informed dealers that it’s no longer taking orders for the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth. Meanwhile, Tesla is not accepting any additional reservations for the limited-edition Model S Signature.

Those who place an order now for the scorpion-badged Abarth will be forced to wait until next fall to slip behind the wheel of next year’s model, which won’t begin to ship until next fall. Customers who put their deposits down as early as March will also have to wait until the 2013 batch arrives in September.

By the time the Abarth started trickling into Fiat showrooms in April, The Detroit News reports the company already had more than 1000 cash deposits from customers. The automaker originally planned to build about 1000 vehicles at the company’s factory in Toluca, Mexico, but after receiving a flurry of orders, the automaker bumped up production to the factory’s maximum output of 3000 units a year.

Thanks in part to a small dealer network, Fiat sales didn’t hit the initial target of moving 50,000 cars by the end of 2011, selling only 19,769. The picture appears to be improving, however, as 16,702 Fiat 500s have already been sold through May 2012.

As for the Tesla Model S, the automaker tells us no more reservations are being taken on the Signature model — which has a claimed 300-mile range. The top trim of the Model S which has a claimed 300-mile range. The top trim of the Model S is expected to earn an EPA range rating of 265 miles, and is limited to 1000 units.

Source: The Detroit News, Tesla





By Karla Sanchez

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