Tag archives for electric vehicles

Tesla Model S Controversy: Who's Really At Fault?

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The conflict between the New York Times and Tesla Motors over a stranded Tesla Model Sis getting complicated.

The row started after reporter John M. Broderreviewed the cold weather, long distance driving capabilities of the Model S. In his article on the Times’ Automobiles section, Broder remarks that the vehicle went dead after only 185 miles, 80 miles less than its EPA estimated range of 265 miles per battery charge. Broder went on to blame the lithium-ion battery, which are reported to have problems holding charges in lower temperatures. Coming from a prominent publication such as the Times, this mostly negative review was a significant blow for Tesla, causing the company’s stock to dip. Tesla CEO Elon Musk reacted with a scathing series of rebuttal tweets, providing screenshots of contrasting data logs from the reviewed Model S’ computer, and calling Broder’s review completely “fake.”

So, who is actually wrong here?

According to both Tesla and Broder, Tesla provided specific instructions on how to drive the Model S for 200 miles between supercharging stations; namely, to keep the speedometer at 55 mph and minimize use of the battery-draining climate control. Broder states that he complied with Tesla’s requirements — setting the cruise control at 54 mph and turning down the heat despite the chilly temps. However, 29 miles from the Norwich, Connecticut charging station, he claims the Model S was “limping along at 45 mph” before it came to a complete halt five miles short of the station.

However, Musk argues that the car’s logs prove a different story. According to Musk and Tesla, the data indicates that Broder drove between 65 to 81 mph, never reaching the 45 mph snail’s pace he claimed. Also, the cabin was kept at a comfortable 72 degrees, even increased to 74 degrees at a later point in the trip. Musk also remarks that Broder did not fully charge the vehicle during any of his three charging station visits, even disconnecting the Model S when it showed an expected range of 32 miles, when Broder planned to drive 61 miles.

Today, the Atlantic Wire is questioning the validity of the logs provided by Musk and Tesla Motors. In a blog post published this morning, Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan tried to reach Elon Musk for comment on these accusations, as well as a request to “open source the driving logs” and other data. Musk was unavailable at the time.

Wanting to be an alleviator of our gas guzzling ways, utilitarianism has been one of Tesla’s main goals. Wired contributor and EV1 engineer Chelsea Sexton remarks, “The day-to-day experience EVs offer is so much better than gas cars for 95% of driving. Long-distance road trips are among the last 5% of usage scenarios.”

Ironically, it was a little over a century ago that this circumstance was reversed. Steam and electric cars that appeared at the beginning of the automobile age outsold all petrol-powered vehicles, until combustion engines became more stable and gas became more abundant for long distance trips. Now, at its resurgence, the electric vehicle has to face a similar challenge as its early gas-fueled cousins.

Even if Broder’s review turns out to be false, Tesla Motors may have already shot itself in the foot. What perhaps is most intriguing about this fiasco was the amount of care required (not merely recommended) by Tesla in order to drive the Model S the 500 miles it initially logged. By just taking this into consideration, Broder correctly reports that Tesla billing the Model S as a “casual car” ready for a road trip is a bit of a stretch. If the typical road-tripping consumer needs as much detailed instruction as seen in both Tesla and Broder’s account, the extinction of the gas-powered car might be a little further off.

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By Jessica Matsumoto

Tesla Model S Sales Pass Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf

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The little car company that could, Tesla Motors Inc., is now the domestic leader in electric car sales. The Model S recently surpassed sales of the Chevrolet Volt, a vehicle that led regional sales of rechargeable cars in 2012. This news is an undeniable blow to General Motors, though representatives for the Detroit based automaker remain optimistic.

“Any success for a company in this space is helpful for all other makers of plug-in vehicles,” said Jim Cain, a General Motors spokesman. “The single most important thing we can do for plug-ins, to encourage sales, is to have them on the road.”

The sales ranking for the Model S coincides with Tesla saying it would report a first-quarter profit, the first in its ten-year history. When it releases first quarter results, Tesla expects 4,750 deliveries of the electric Models S in North America – compared to GM’s 4,421 sales of the Chevy Volt. The all-electric Nissan Leaf also expects smaller sales figures.

Despite its high base price ($69,900) and its exclusivity in North America, the Model S has been extraordinarily successful and is a critical darling. Always attempting to outdo itself, Tesla has pledged to sell over 20,000 vehicles this year.

GM sold about 30,000 of their respective rechargeable models worldwide last year, but has declined sharing its volume-targets for 2013.

At the North American International Auto Show in January, retired GM executive Bob Lutz spoke with a hologram of inventor Thomas Edison, who was the former employer and later adversary of Nikola Tesla. Edison was revered for generations while Tesla faded into obscurity, despite the fact that cities abandoned Edison’s dangerous direct current electricity system in favor of Tesla’s safer alternating current system.

Perhaps Tesla Motors success is history’s vindication for the brilliant, but ill-fated engineer, or perhaps Tesla Motors just created a better product. Either way, it’s clear to GM that Tesla Motors is more than a novelty – it’s serious competition.

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By Jessica Matsumoto

Video: 2013 Tesla Model S Electric Car To Start At $49,900

For a small company, Telsa Motors has been making big ripples in the automotive industry with its electric roadster, Toyota partnership, and soon its electric luxury sedan. Even though the first Alpha-build Model S began road evaluations in December 2010, and it won’t be delivered to customers until mid 2012, the company has stated that pricing will begin at $49,900, after a $7,500 federal tax incentive.

Breaking News: Tesla Model S Scores 99 Rating from Consumer Reports

Pricing is tiered based on the storage capacity for the lithium-ion battery pack and projected range, climbing in $10,000 increments. The base car will promise a 160-mile range. The middle model touts a 230-mile range for $59,900, and the top model will give 300 miles for $69,900.

Tesla Motors says the first 1,000 cars off the production line will be the North American Model S Signature Series. Those vehicles will be equipped with a 300-mile battery. Being special-edition sedans, they will wear unique badging and an extensive complement of options. And it is expected early adopters will pay a price premium.

The rear-drive sedan will reported sprint from 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds and have a 125 mph top speed.

Reservations are now being taken.

Learn more about fuel economy and driving green in our Green Corner.

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By Jeff Prescott

Tesla Repays $465 Million Government Loan Ahead of Schedule

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In the biggest win for the Obama administration’s plan to fund alternative fuel technologies, Tesla Motors today paid off the final $451.8 million in their government loan – nine years ahead of schedule. What does this mean for the future of government funding and the EV industry in the future?

“I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staffs that worked hard to create the ATVM program, and particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk. “I hope we did you proud.”

Tesla also made smaller payments in 2012 and earlier this year, fulfilling the entire $465 million loan entirely with today’s payment. The electric automaker is riding a wave of momentum, as its stock price rocketed after posting their first quarterly profit and receiving a 99/100 score from Consumer Report on their new Model S sedan.

The success of Tesla is due to many factors, especially when compared to recent failures like that of Fisker and Coda. For one, Tesla has the private backing of Musk, who pumped hundreds of millions of his own money into the company during rough times. For another, the Model S has been a massive hit since its release last summer. But vehicle sales alone have not been enough to offset the massive costs of auto production.

Several shrewd business moves proved to take Tesla to the top, from outfitting an old Toyota plant to produce cars rather than buying and building a brand new facility, to a partnership with companies like Mercedes-Benz to develop and sell battery component for use in their future cars.

Tesla seems to be on solid ground for the first time in its ten-year history, thanks to sounds business decisions and, yes, a quality product. Past disasters may have cooled government loans for the time being, but Telsa proves that investing in the right company can go a long way. Their place in the industry now solidified, we have a bright future ahead that includes not only Tesla vehicles, but other brands making better cars thanks to their work.

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By Ryan ZumMallen

Tesla Model S Adds Optional $6,500 Performance Package Plus

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Tesla Motors has set out to prove that their Model S is not just a great electric car, but a great car, period, since it hit the market. They’ve taken the next step with today’s announcement that a new handling setup with summer tires, called the Performance Package Plus, will be available for $6,500.

Tesla says the package will bring “supercar handling” to the Model S, which is a frightening thought for any other sub-$100,000 luxury sedan on the market. The Model S has already proven itself to have impressive acceleration and is obviously loaded with tech. Plus, nearly a year after its release there haven’t been any major issues with its futuristic powertrain. Will a new handling package elevate the Model S even further in the minds of luxury buyers?

Available only on the top 85kWh Performance trim, the Performance Package Plus includes 21-inch Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires and improvements to the suspension dampers, bushings and anti-roll bars. Normally, the 85kWh Model S offers 19-inch all-season tires or optional 21-inch Continental ExtremeContact DW tires – the PS2 set will provide a noticeable improvement.

The advantages don’t boil down exclusively to the handling, though. Tesla also says that the Performance Package Plus will increase the driving range of the Model S. Somehow, the setup that will help the Model S attack hairpin turns will also take it from 265 miles to 277 miles on a single charge.

We’re patiently waiting for more information to come out on the new package, and can’t wait to test it out for ourselves. The Model S has been a smashing sales success thus far, already besting the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, and this new setup could convert the last remaining non-believers.

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By Ryan ZumMallen