Tag archives for Crossover/SUV

“Utility Meets Performance”: Tesla Teases New Model X SUV

“Utility Meets Performance”: Tesla Teases New Model X SUV

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

Ready Already: Toyota Rav4 EV by Tesla to Debut in Los Angeles

Ready Already: Toyota Rav4 EV by Tesla to Debut in Los Angeles

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.

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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.

Source: Toyota

By Scott Evans

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

Toyota, Tesla Come Together, Companies Seal $100 Million RAV4 EV Deal

Toyota, Tesla Come Together, Companies Seal $100 Million RAV4 EV Deal

Toyota and Tesla have joined forces in producing battery packs and motors for the upcoming electric RAV4 in what was previously a $60 million deal, but now, the Japanese automaker is forking over more money and officially making it a $100 million deal.

The RAV4 EV, set to go into production next year, was rumored to only be available for fleet sales, but we shed light on those claims earlier this week. Toyota said in a press release that the electric SUV would be available to the public.

The EV SUV was first introduced some 14 years ago, but never fared well, like most other electrics during that time. But this time around may be different, considering more customers are taking the electric path, not to mention battery technology has improved exponentially since then.  Toyota anticipates learning from the electric vehicle start-up company’s savviness in electric battery technology, while perhaps having the Tesla-touch boost sales. As part of the give-and-take deal, the Japanese automaker will assist the electric roadster company with its expertise in mass production.

The agreement will run until 2014, in which Tesla, together with Toyota, will build lithium-ion battery packs for the RAV4 at the NUMMI auto assembly plant in Fremont, California. Tesla’s new Model S electric sedan will also be produced at the same facility.

Source: Bloomberg

By Karla Sanchez

MT Then and Now: Tesla Roadster, Model S, Model X Prototype

MT Then and Now: Tesla Roadster, Model S, Model X Prototype

When Tesla Motors was founded in the early 2000s, many would never have guessed the company would last long enough to produce a car like the Model S. The first car to arrive was the Tesla Roadster, followed by the just-released Model S and, before long, the Model X. As we share the results of our exclusive range test of the Model S, WOT is taking a look back at the Tesla models we’ve driven and tested over the years.

Roadster

Based on the Lotus Elise chassis, the Tesla Roadster replaced the Toyota-sourced four-cylinder gasoline engine with a 248-hp AC motor that generated 211 lb-ft of torque at 0 rpm. Juice supplied by a 6831-cell lithium-ion battery pack powered the electric motor that sent power to the rear wheels via a two-speed dual-clutch transmission. We were impressed during our First Drive of the Tesla Roadster in 2008.

2008 Tesla Roadster cockpit 1 300x187 image“I’m almost grimacing as I release the brake and pound the accelerator to the floor. Whrrrrrrr…30 mph, 40 mph, 50…in the four seconds it’s taken to read this sentence, the Roadster has shrieked to 60 mph (Tesla’s claimed 3.9 seconds would seem entirely plausible in a controlled setting). There’s no wheelspin, axle tramp, shutter, jutter, smoke whiff, cowl shake, nothing. I’m being eerily teleported down the barrel of a rail gun, head pulled back by a hard, steady acceleration. Bizarre.”

During the following months, Tesla failed to deliver the first Roadsters on time and the car began to look like vaporware. After a long delay, deliveries began. The Roadster now used a one-speed transmission, which cured the ills that plagued the two-speed unit – that along with financial difficulties slowed development. Though horsepower remained the same, torque grew to 278 lb-ft of torque. The battery pack gave the Roadster a 227-mile range.

2010 Tesla Roadster Sport side static 300x187 image“Yeah, OK and driving it as intended, as a true sports car, ain’t great for range either. But boy does it lift the spirits. You know the drill: aluminum chassis, double wishbones, carbon fiber body, about 2750 pounds, excellent mass distribution and — oh joy! — unassisted rack and pinion steering. The Roadster delivers on the promises of its spec.”

In 2010, we finally tested a Tesla Roadster. Our tester came in Sport form, which bumped power to 288 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. “…its acceleration is breathtaking. Make that breath-extracting. At the track, we confirmed the car’s 3.7-second scream to 60 mph — but, that’s just a number. Three-point-seven — what’s that mean? Felt, it’s such an unnatural thrust that it actually brings to mind that hokey Star Trek star-smear of warp-speed. The quick, linear accumulation of velocity makes you smile and hold on, shake your head, and eventually learn to carve unimaginable moves through traffic that’s populated by completely flat-footed internal-combustion cars.”

2010 Tesla Roadster with 2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder front view 300x187 imageWe compared that same Tesla Roadster against the 2011 Porsche Boxster S. In the end, we handed the win to the Boxster, but noted that “the Tesla is now a genuine car to reckon with on the world stage, despite its extraordinary price and limited range. Now if only it could better communicate its handling intentions.”

Model S

Unlike the Lotus-derived Roadster, the Model S four-door was fully developed by Tesla. The flat battery pack sits below the floor and the 306-hp electric motor powers the rear wheels. With no combustion engine or transmission to worry about, the design allows a small front trunk and a large rear hatch area. Optional rear-facing jump seats increase passenger seating to seven.

2012 Tesla Model S right frong motion during testing 300x187 image“The car’s acceleration — claimed to be 5.6 seconds to 60 mph — is a continuous press-the-seat-back surge that only a single-speed, big electric motor can provide. Interestingly, while the motor is quiet, its growly roar is a very different acoustic signature than the frenetic whine in the Roadster. Tesla claims that’s just how it sounds, and no acoustic modifications have been attempted. Bumps were nicely absorbed amid muted tire-impact noises, and the lateral grip seemed considerable for a car over 4000 pounds. That low battery location and compact powertrain are very helpful.”

Recently, we got another drive in the Model S. Horsepower has climbed since our first drive in the Model S, now at 362 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque while Performance versions make 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. Depending on the size of the battery pack, the Model S’ driving range is said to be 160, 230, and 300 miles, the last of which was EPA-rated at 265 miles. “I’d advocate for a bit more rear seat space, comfort, and lateral support, and of course more range for less money would be nice,” Frank Markus concluded after his stint in the car. “But the dynamic performance, equipment level, and style nearly justify the price — even if you don’t care about the electric drivetrain. I don’t. And I want one.”

2012 Tesla Model S cockpit and center screen 300x187 imageWe traveled 233.7 miles during a recent trip in a Tesla Model S from Los Angeles to San Diego and back before stopping to recharge when the onboard range meter said we would be 1.7 miles short of reaching the office. Despite that, we were impressed by the energy cost to make the journey, “During our drive, we used 78.2 kW-hrs of electricity (93 percent of the battery’s rated capacity). What does that mean? It’s the energy equivalent of 2.32 gasoline gallons, or 100.7 mpg-e before charging losses. That BMW 528i following us consumed 7.9 gallons of gas for a rate of 30.1 mpg. The Tesla’s electrical energy cost for the trip was $10.17; the BMW’s drive cost $34.55. The 528i emitted 152 lbs of CO2; the Model S, 52 — from the state’s power plants.”

In our latest real-world range test of the Model S, we drove the electric car from the edge of Los Angeles to Las Vegas, then back to our El Segundo office. After these tests – which used Musk’s personal car, we developed some conclusions about the Model S.

Tesla Model X left rear doors open 300x187 image“The take home message isn’t whether or not the Model S meets the EPA’s range rating of 265 miles. We’ve proven that it does and does not. The takeaway is that the Tesla Model S is not a real electric car, it’s a real car that just happens to be electric.”

Model X Prototype

If all goes well with the Model S, a production version of the Model X prototype — a three-row, seven-passenger SUV with gullwing style doors — is next from Tesla. Before volume delivery of that car begins in the 2014 calendar year, though, Tesla will depend on the sales of the Model S, a car that’s progressed quite a bit from the company’s beginnings with the Roadster.

By Jason Udy

Tesla Announces Early Repayment of Loans, Annual Report Correction

Tesla Announces Early Repayment of Loans, Annual Report Correction

In what could prove to be a symbolic moment for the strength and potential of the electric vehicle industry, Tesla Motors, on its company blog, announced its intention to re-pay its Department of Energy Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan five years ahead of schedule, with the last payment being on 2017, instead of 2022 the original deadline for payback of the loans.

In the heated political climate surrounding government-subsidized green energy initiatives, the company was quick to point out the that ATVM loans were initiated and approved under the Bush administration, and were completely separate from the federal bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, as well as being the smallest of the ATVM loans granted, the others being Ford at $5.9 billion, Nissan at $1.4 billion, and Fisker at $529 million. Tesla’s loan was for $465 million.

In the blog post, Tesla VP of Business Development, Diarmuid O’Connell, said the company expected to show a modest profit in the first quarter of 2013, excluding non-cash option and warrant-related expenses.

The company’s upcoming models were briefly mentioned in the post, including the Model X crossover, and the third-generation model, described as a high-volume, low-price model, sometimes referred to as the “Blue Star.” During its development, the Model S was coined the “White Star” by many automotive media outlets.

However, being a publicly-traded company, Tesla is under the scrutiny of investors and regulators, and announced that its annual report would be delayed due to errors in its filing, according to Bloomberg. Some unpaid capital expenditures from 2011 and 2012 will be re-classified as operating activities in the revised report.

Source: Bloomberg, Tesla

By Edward A. Sanchez

Tesla Model X Production Pushed Back to Late 2014

Tesla Model X Production Pushed Back to Late 2014

Production of the Tesla Model X crossover has been pushed back from the end of this year to the end of 2014. A Tesla representative told the Los Angeles Times that the wait for the electric crossover has increased as the company focuses on filling orders for the Model S four-door, which could reach 20,000 units this year.

Tesla Model X Rear Three Quarter Doors Open1 300x187 imageThe original Tesla Model X was supposed to go on sale early in 2014, but now deliveries will likely begin early 2015. While Tesla focuses on Model S sales and delays the Model X, the company has pledged to pay back its Department of Energy Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan by 2017 – five years earlier than the original deadline.

We’ve taken a ride in a Tesla Model X prototype, which has flashy “falcon doors” that Elon Musk said will make installing child seats easier. At the time, Musk estimated that the Model X would weigh 10-15 percent more than the Model S, or about 4700 pounds.

Tesla also expects to make a modest profit for the first quarter of 2013. The company has also raised $40.5 million from sales of zero-emission vehicle credits and greenhouse gas credits to other undisclosed companies, according to its annual report. The next Tesla model in the pipeline is a smaller electric sedan at a lower price point to appeal to broader range of customers.

Source: Los Angeles Times, Tesla

By Jason Udy

Thread of the Day: Which 2013 Of-the-Year Winner Would You Park in Your Driveway?

Thread of the Day: Which 2013 Of-the-Year Winner Would You Park in Your Driveway?

We named the 2013 Ram 1500 our 2013 Truck of the Year winner this morning, wrapping up our 2013 Motor Trend “Of-The-Year” season. Joining the Ram 1500 with Golden Calipers of their own is our 2013 Sport/Utility of the year 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, and our 2013 Car of the Year, the 2013 Tesla Model S.

For today’s Thread of the Day, we’d like to know which of the 2013 Golden Caliper-recipients you’d most want to own. Each award-winner brings plenty to the table; we loved the Mercedes GL’s segment-busting interior and dynamics; the Tesla Model S’ eco-cred, long legs, and speed; and the Ram 1500′s segment-first eight-speed automatic and towing capability. To make things more interesting, we’re going to include as an option the winner of our coveted Best Driver’s Car award: the 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S.

So again, which of the following would you rather park in your driveway:

2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, our Sport/Utility of the Year

2013 Tesla Model S, our Car of the Year

2013 Ram 1500, our Truck of the Year

2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S, our Best Driver’s Car

Tell us your choice and why in the comments below.

By Christian Seabaugh

Toyota to Pay Tesla $60 Million to Develop RAV4 EVs

Toyota to Pay Tesla $60 Million to Develop RAV4 EVs

In July of this year, we brought you news that Silicon Valley electric vehicle start-up Tesla and Japanese automotive powerhouse Toyota had inked a deal to build electric Toyota RAV4s and today we have more details about the partnership.

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In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tesla has revealed more details about the nature of its partnership with Toyota. Under the terms of the agreement, Tesla will develop a battery, motor, gearbox, “power electronics module” and all the necessary software for an all-electric version of Toyota’s RAV4 compact SUV.

For their services, Tesla will be paid by Toyota some $60 million over the term of the agreement. Both parties will agree on the final specifications, payment amounts and schedule and the expected results and their schedule within the next 60 days. Toyota announced when the project began in July that the RAV4 EV would reach the market in 2012.

That sum comes in addition to the stake Toyota has already acquired in Tesla. Prior to the initial deal in announced in July, Toyota had agreed to buy $50 million of Tesla’s common stock in a private placement transaction that took effect when Tesla filed its Initial Public Offering, which netted the EV-maker $226 million. Depending on the amount of preferred and common stock offered, Toyota may own up to 22-percent of Tesla now, though the companies have not disclosed the exact ownership arrangement.

As part of the deal, Toyota also sold a portion of its shuttered NUMMI factory in Fremont, California, where the two companies will produce the RAV4 EV together. Tesla also plans to use the plant to produce its upcoming Model S electric sedan.

Source: Tesla

By Scott Evans

Toyota Chooses Canada for RAV4 EV Production

Toyota Chooses Canada for RAV4 EV Production

Toyota will build the upcoming electric-powered RAV4 alongside the gasoline-powered variant at its Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Inc. (TMMC) in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada. Production is slated to begin in 2012.

Many plants were being considered for RAV4 EV production, including the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California. Tesla Motors, which has been assisting in the development of the electric-powered SUV, will build its 2012 Model S family sedan at NUMMI. Toyota says building the electric version of the RAV4 alongside the gasoline version will “maximize production efficiencies and quality control.”

“The Tesla-Toyota joint development team has agreed that building the vehicle at the Woodstock plant on the same line as the gasoline-powered RAV4, will streamline and simplify the production process and guarantee the highest level of quality control,” said Ray Tanguay, TMMC Chairman, in a press release. “This is a great example of Toyota’s determination to collaborate with companies with leading edge technology.”

Toyota will pay Tesla $100 million for the RAV4 EV’s electric powertrain, which includes the battery module, electric motor, gearbox, and electronic components. Tesla will gain insight into Toyota’s manufacturing and engineering processes.

Tesla will build RAV4 EV powertrains at a smaller plant in Palo Alto, California, and then ship them to TMMC for installation in the compact SUVs. Tesla is busy retooling the NUMMI plant preparing for Model S production.

Toyota will announce volume and pricing of the RAV4 EV at a later time.

Source: Toyota

By Jason Udy