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Tesla’s 2012 Model S rolls off the production line and into customer’s hands tomorrow, and we now know that those customer cars will get the equivalent of 89 mpg and have a 265-mile range on one battery charge.
The 2012 Model S had already been crash-tested and cleared for public sale, and we were waiting for confirmation from the EPA. Now we have it: top-spec Tesla Model S electric sedans with an 85-kWh battery will get the equivalent of 89 miles per gallon. That may be 10 fewer miles than the combined 99-MPGe figure of the 2012 Nissan Leaf, currently the country’s most popular battery electric vehicle, but the Model S does have a bigger interior and a lot more power: it hits 60 mph within 4.4 and 6.5 seconds, depending on specification, compared to the Leaf’s 9.7 second sprint.
While Tesla has long said that it was shooting for its 85-kWh models to travel a full 300 miles on one charge, the final EPA-estimated range is 265 miles. As we previously reported, Tesla says this is the result of differing testing methods: Tesla’s range estimates are at 55 mph, while the EPA’s methodology combines city and highway driving and is much more rigorous.
With the 85-kWh Tesla Model S getting an estimated 265 miles of range, it’s still anyone’s guess as to what less-expensive models will do. The Model S’ initial 1000-car production run will all be 85-kWh Signature Series models, but later models will have available 40- or 60-kWh battery packs that will allow the Model S to go a Tesla-estimated 160 or 230 miles, respectively. Neither Tesla nor the EPA have released those numbers, but expect EPA testing to temper those estimates a bit.
Still, the Model S easily takes the crown of the electric-only car with the furthest range, dwarfing the Mitsubishi i and Nissan Leaf, up to a respective 98 and 100 miles.
By Ben Timmins
Electric carmaker Tesla delivered a bittersweet announcement today. First the good news – the upcoming Tesla Model S will go on sale next month, ahead of schedule. Bad news? The automaker posted a loss of $89.9 million during the first quarter of this year, which is significantly more than the $48.9 million it lost during the first quarter of 2011.
Despite that, Automotive News reports that Tesla is expecting its total revenue for 2012 to be at least $560 million. It originally predicted $550 million in revenue, but boosted the forecast due to the early launch of the Model S. Looking even further ahead, CEO Elon Musk is optimistic that his company will be profitable in 2013, predicting a 25 percent gross margin.
The arrival of the Model S can’t come soon enough for the automaker. Production of the Tesla Roadster ended last year and according to The Detroit News, only a couple hundred Tesla Roadsters remain in Asian and European showrooms. Additionally, Tesla expects it will soon exhaust the $465 million loan it received from the Department of Energy.
Despite the lack of vehicles available for test drives, Tesla says that there has been much interest in the Model S. According to The Detroit News¸ there are at least 10,000 pre-order requests for the upcoming EV, which will be built at Tesla’s assembly plant in Northern California.
Compared to the Tesla Roadster, which carried a price tag that neared six figures, the Model S will be relatively affordable with a base price of $49,000 following tax credits. It will be offered with three battery options that offer ranges between 160 to 300 miles per charge. Additionally, the Model S will have the ability to recharge its battery to 80 percent capacity when plugged into a fast charger. Among its long list of notable features is its rear-facing, third-row seats (boosting passenger capacity to seven) and its 17-inch, touchscreen infotainment display.
Tesla hopes to sell 5000 units by the end of 2012 and plans to produce 20,000 units annually once its plant is running at full speed. The automaker will start selling the Model S after it clears the required crash tests.
“I do not know where we are in the [NHTSA testing] queue, Musk told the Automotive News. “We are very confident that it will be a five-star safety rating, the safest car on the road. We have certain architectural advantages, like a much longer crumple zone in the front because we don’t have to make room for an engine.”
Source: Automotive News (subscription required), The Detroit News
Tesla is preparing to deliver its first Model S electric sedans to customers next month, but in the spirit of full disclosure, has outlined why it anticipates its 300-mile version will be rated by the EPA for 265 miles.
The Model S’ drawn-out unveiling has ingrained three specific driving ranges related to battery size – 160, 230, and 300 miles – but the EPA will have its own stamp of approval. An official blog bylined by CEO Elon Musk and CTO JB Straubel dives right into the matter, presumably foreseeing questions and concerns about the 35-mile disparity with the farthest-traveling selection.
The difference between 265 and 300 miles extracted from the Model S’ substantial 85-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery comes down to the EPA’s testing methodology. The stated 300-mile range with the highest-capacity battery was always Tesla’s target. From one perspective, it has actually exceeded the mark, claiming 320 miles under the EPA’s old 2-cycle fuel economy evaluation. It’s when the EPA’s updated 5-cycle test enters frame that “265 miles” rears its head. For comparison, the 245-mile-rated Roadster and Roadster 2.5 endured the elder cycle while the Nissan Leaf has a 73-mile range under the 5-cycle assessment.
Going from the 2- to 5-cycle test can drastically impact vehicle ratings. The simpler 2-cycle had an approximate weighting of 55-percent city and 45-percent highway use; the more comprehensive 5-cycle is more representative of 43-percent city and 57-percent highway driving. The certifications are run on dynamometers, and the specifics are as follows:
1) Federal Test Procedure: 2-cycle, 5-cycle
2) Highway Fuel Economy Driving Schedule: 2-cycle, 5-cycle
3) Cold Federal Test Procedure (run at ambient 20 vs. 75 degrees Fahrenheit in standard FTP): 5-cycle
4) SC03 (air conditioning test at ambient 95 degrees F): 5-cycle
5) US06 (aggressive acceleration test, up to 80 mph): 5-cycle
Exactly how much the 85-kW-hr battery’s claimed range figures matters will likely be determined as Model S driving impressions roll in from customers and media outlets.
Tesla hasn’t disclosed its anticipated EPA ranges for the 160- and 230-mile batteries, but a 12-percent loss like the 300-mile option would peg them at a predicted 141 and 203 miles under the EPA 5-cycle, respectively. The 160- and 230-mile estimates from the respective 40- and 60-kW-hr packs can be achieved from a steady 55-mph cruise, per Tesla spokesperson KC Simon.
Interestingly, the blog gives insight into the Model S’ range and electricity consumption behavior with graphs. These graphs often have little bearing on the real world since Main Street USA is not a laboratory with fixed inputs. Nevertheless, considering the less expensive Model S is considerably heavier, it’s reassuring to see the family-friendly electric four-door head and shoulders above the Roadster from an efficiency standpoint.
The Model S costs from $57,400 (160-mile battery) to $105,400 (Signature Performance model with 300-mile battery) depending on battery size and trim, excluding the highly touted $7500 federal tax credit that gets applied to your income tax return. Depending on your state of domicile, there may be additional state and local tax credits or rebates as well.
By Benson Kong
Although initially slated to go on sale this year, the Tesla Model S seems to be inching closer to production. The electric car maker has just released new pictures of its Model S Alpha pre-production test vehicle, and, at least on styling alone, it looks ready to take on the competition in the midsize luxury market.
Looking similar to the silver Alpha test car Tesla showed us a while back, this sinewy black model sharpens its sheetmetal with sleek headlamps, chrome detailing, and smoked taillights. Compared to the original concept car we first saw back in early 2009, the latest rendition of the Model S has exchanged many of its rounded edges for taught creases and a more aggressive front clip. More traditional air inlets on the lower front fascia, wheels that look production-ready, and squarer side mirrors help to better bring into focus what the final car will look like.
The Model S won’t go on sale until late next year, starting at $57,000 before a $7500 federal tax credit. That is for the 160-mile range battery pack – a 230-mile pack will run buyers $67,000, and the 300-mile range Model S will start at a cool $77,000. The first cars to roll off of the Freemont, California assembly line will all be limited-edition Model S Signature versions with the 300-mile range pack, each of which required a $40,000 refundable deposit from prospective customers; all other Model S versions require $5000 down to save a spot. As of May 2009, Tesla already had over 1000 orders for the car.
According to Tesla’s website, the second phase of the testing for the Model S — called Beta — will begin this fall with will be production-intent vehicles built at the factory, and full series production will begin in the middle of 2012.
We’ve tested the Tesla Model S and driven Elon Musk’s personal car to test its range — what else is left to evaluate about the fully electric premium four-door? A drag race with a new BMW M5 would be a good place to start, and that’s exactly what Automobile magazine has done in a new video.
The contender with an internal combustion engine is the new BMW M5 sedan, which is powered by a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 producing 560 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. Though the 2013 M5 still carries a gas guzzler tax, the eight-cylinder super-sedan is EPA-rated at 14/20 city/highway with the twin-clutch automatic and 15/22 with a six-speed manual — marked improvements over the last-generation M5′s 11/17 mpg with its V-10 engine.
Then there’s the Tesla Model S, which has “just” 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque from its electric powertrain but, in top P85 trim, is more expensive than the German four-door. The Tesla is EPA-rated at 88/90 MPGe. While the Model S of course lacks an engine note, the car can launch off the line far quicker than the M5.
Though one of the four-doors is clearly ahead by the time they reach the finish line, the other appears to be closing in. Watch the video below to find out which car wins in Automobile magazine’s drag race.
Source: Automobile magazine via YouTube
By Zach Gale
Starting a new car company is hard. Tesla has been finding that out, and it has reported larger losses in 2012 than it did in 2013. It’s not all bad, though – the company is now building 400 Model S cars per day and is on track to produce 20,000 of them this year.
Indeed, the automaker says much of its red ink stems directly from ramping up production of the Model S, the company’s sole product at this point in time. The company says it is now churning out 400 units a day, and is allegedly on track to build roughly 20,000 copies by the end of 2013.
The negative numbers don’t seem to have placed a damper on Tesla’s outlook. CEO Elon Musk stated during the company’s earnings call on Wednesday, “We really have a very high confidence that we will have a profitable first quarter, and this is the very first quarter that we have been at our target production rate.” It’s because Tesla has only just got up and running with its 400-unit-per-day rate that we don’t have full sales numbers yet; the company is still working through a backlog of orders on the Model S – unsurprising, given how impressed we were when we named the Model S our Car of the Year. That said, it still reported sales of 2400 cars in the fourth quarter of 2012 and has grown its international store total to 32. A total of 2650 Model S cars were sold in 2012.
Tesla is aiming to increase its global retail footprint to 52 stores by the end of this year, and also hopes to roll out a leasing program for the Model S and to continue expanding its Supercharger network. Musk stated that the expansion plans will only help to propel the company’s growth, as it currently has “over 15,000″ reservations for the Model S and expect to post a quarterly profit for Q1 of 2013. Ambitious goals, and we’ll have to wait and see how they shake out over the course of 2013.
Sources: Telsa, Automotive News (Subscription required)
Servicing a vehicle can easily mar the ownership experience, but Tesla Motors is taking steps to ensure its customers are satisfied. Tesla recently revealed improvements to the manner in which the automaker provides service.
Musk said his goal is to transform Tesla’s service experience from “OK” to “great.” To start that process, a fleet of loaded Model S cars(and in some markets, Roadsters) will be offered as loaner cars while owners have their vehicles serviced. The company can have the loaner car delivered to owners for no extra fee. Additionally, Tesla hopes to keep the service fleet fresh and new by allowing customers to purchase the loaner if they like it better than their current car. Tesla says the loaner cars will depreciate at a rate of 1 percent per month and $1 per mile. The cars traded in will simply be put up for sale as a used vehicle.
Tesla also hopes to wipe out any doubt potential electric-car owners have surrounding its batteries. The automaker will replace a defective battery regardless of cause, even if the owner is found to be at fault. That means if the battery fails due to improper charging habits, Tesla will still replace it. Obvious attempts at abuse won’t be covered (one of Tesla’s examples: “lighting the pack on fire with a blowtorch is not covered”). The battery warranty (eight years or 125,000 miles, whichever comes first) won’t change and Tesla will used a refurbished battery pack with equal or better battery capacity than the original.
That said, Tesla is now making the $600 annual checkup completely optional. The automaker points to the fact that its cars require very little service. Brake pads in a Tesla, for example, don’t wear as quickly as those in gas-powered car thanks to the regenerative braking system that recaptures energy while simultaneously slowing down the car. In all, Musk hopes the updates to his automaker’s service and warranty methods will provide customers added peace of mind, even those who have never opened the manual.
“Any product that needs a manual to work is broken,” Musk said in the webcast.
Earlier this month Tesla announced a new financing option that makes owning a Model S more affordable.
Just how far can you drive an electric car? That’s the subject of a mild argument between Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk and The New York Times, after the latter published a story claiming a Tesla Model S electric car couldn’t drive as far as its range estimates predict.
Reporter John M. Broder planned to test Tesla’s new Supercharger network by driving a Model S with an 85-kWh battery from a Supercharger point in Newark, Delaware, to Milford, Connecticut — a distance of 206 miles. Yet Broder says that the car arrived at the Supercharger point with its range readout pointing to 0 miles, because parking the car overnight in cold weather had apparently sapped 21 miles of battery range.
Eventually Broder ran out of charge on a highway exit ramp, and the Tesla Model S had to be towed to a charging station. “If this is Tesla’s vision of long-distance travel in America’s future,” he wrote, “it needs some work.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, however, was less than pleased with this story. He publicly accused the Times of manipulating the story and providing an unfair verdict on Model S driving ranges. Musk’s assertion was based, in part, on checking vehicle charging logs that are available through the Tesla’s in-car telematics system.
“NYTimes article about Tesla range in cold is fake. Vehicle logs tell true story that he didn’t actually charge to max & took a long detour,” Musk wrote on Twitter. “Am not against NYTimes in general. They’re usually fair & their own prev Tesla test drive got 300+ miles of range!”
A spokeswoman for The New York Times told Reuters that the paper denies Tesla’s claims. She said that Broder, “followed the instructions he was given in multiple conversations with Tesla personnel” and that his account of the road trip, “was completely factual, describing the trip in detail exactly as it occurred. Any suggestion that the account was ‘fake’ is, of course, flatly untrue.”
Tesla predicts versions of the Model S equipped with an 85-kWH lithium-ion battery can drive 300 miles on single charge, although the EPA said the cars can manage just 265 miles on a single charge. While Tesla acknowledges that battery life can degrade by about 10 percent in cold weather, the automaker still believes its car should have traveled than Broder managed in his road trip.
It’s worth noting that our colleagues at Motor Trend managed to drive a Tesla Model S from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, a distance of 212 miles, even despite crossing tall mountain ranges and occasionally using the car’s air conditioning. And subsequently, editor in chief Ed Loh drove the same Model S 285 miles on a return trip to southern California.
We named the Tesla Model S our 2013 Automobile of the Year. Motor Trend also selected the electric sedan as its 2013 Car Of The Year.
Sources: The New York Times, Reuters
By Jake Holmes
One of the advantages of being the new kid on the block in business is that you often get to approach things in a different way than the more established players in the market, even down to how your products are sold. That’s the approach Tesla took in selling its vehicles, adopting a manufacturer-direct, company-owned store model. But that approach did not sit well with established, franchise model dealers, claiming the company’s model skirts the car dealer franchise laws in some states. The Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association in particular took issue with Tesla, and took the automaker to court after it opened a showroom in the Natick Mall.
But Massachusetts Judge Kenneth J. Fishman dismissed the suit, stating “The court is unconvinced that the 2002 amendment to Chapter 93B expanded the purpose of the statute to protect the motor vehicle franchise system,” Bloomberg reports.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk addressed the legal victory by Tesla in a statement: “We are delighted by the outright dismissal of this case, and the validation that we are operating our business in compliance with the laws and expectations of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”
But the dealer association hasn’t given up its fight against Tesla entirely, saying it is considering an appeal. “It’s just another bump in the road we have to address,” Robert O’Koniewski, executive vice president of the state dealer association said.
If Tesla’s future plans actually come true, by 2016 the company will offer the Model S, Model X as well as a premium entry-level four-door, BMW X3 fighter, and new sports car. That’s the news from a Wired report, quoting CEO Elon Musk.
Before Tesla can think about launching a midsize crossover and roadster in the 2016 calendar year, however, the company also has the upcoming Model X crossover, not to mention the BMW 3 Series challenger that could arrive in 2015 after the Model X arrives in dealerships early in 2014.
“We’ll do the X3 equivalent and then a Roadster follow-up in parallel,” Musk said to Wired.
Higher-volume models like the midsize crossover and the entry-level four-door — said to carry a base price around $30,000 when it debuts — will help Tesla reach the sales levels necessary to make a profit on its vehicle architecture. Musk notes that the car will have a similar hatchback design as the Model S, perhaps a similar arrangement found between the Fisker Karma and Atlantic models.
While Musk didn’t specify whether the new crossover model will have the Model X’s flashy, outward-opening doors, we wouldn’t be surprised to see them dropped to help the model reach a lower base price. Speaking of price, Musk hints that Tesla’s next sports car may see a price drop compared to the Roadster.
Which upcoming Tesla would you most like to drive, the Model X, the BMW X3 sized crossover, entry-level four-door, or sports car.
By Zach Gale