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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.
The 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
Despite being called vaporware by some, the Tesla Model S electric sedan is apparently well under way in its development, and this video shows an in-the-sheetmetal Model S mule undergoing testing in the snowy landscape of Baudette, Minn.
The video starts like an intro to a spy movie, with a satellite image of the testing location complete with info about the region and graphics simulating instrument readings. From this, we learn the temperature range of the test area is -10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The Model S prototype, which Tesla tells us is a second-gen, Beta-phase unit, is next shown conducting various maneuvers in the snow. We see the Model S quietly running a 600-foot slalom, making a quick lane change at speeds up to 60 mph, and giving its suspension and steering a workout running through a snow-covered autocross course. The EV appears to handle pretty well in the powdery stuff, though it does spin out at one point, despite the edited footage making it look like a well-executed drift.
While we don’t get to see anything new when it comes to Tesla’s upcoming sedan, it’s encouraging to see the electric automaker is hard at work testing its latest product. But Tesla had better be, if it hopes to deliver its first production models by this summer. As we previously reported, that first batch will consist of Model S sedans equipped with the 85-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, good for a claimed range of 300 miles. While we’re taking a “we’ll-believe-it-when-we-see-it” stance on those range claims, this video could mean a test of the Model S isn’t too far away.
Check out the video below to see a Tesla Model S being put through its paces.
Cold Weather Climate Testing the Model S from Tesla Motors on Vimeo.
There you have it. Tesla, the much-hyped purveyor of all-electric vehicles, has set the bar: sell 20,000 units of its coming Model S sedan and profits will come.
Next year will be the current generation Roadster’s final year of production. So far, some 1400 models have been delivered to at least 30 countries in North America, Asia, and Europe. While the Roadster has been both an impressive engineering exercise and brand awareness builder, the publicly traded Silicon Valley firm has yet to start raking in the dough. And that’s exactly why it’s betting big on the Model S, which it believes will put it in the black.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Tesla chief technology officer J.B. Straudel asserts the niche carmaker needs to move 20,000 Model S sedans per year to be profitable, citing lower battery pack costs and a $56,500 entry MSRP as the primary enablers.
Tesla’s 18560 cell battery pack, which is similar to our everyday laptop battery, has the benefits of preexisting R&D from major tech companies (Panasonic has invested $30 million in Tesla) and advanced economies of scale, not to mention enviable energy density. According to Martin Eberhard, Tesla’s co-founder who later left the company and has famously sparred with Tesla CEO Elon Musk since, the 18560-cell packs likely cost $200 per kilowatt-hour, which is 71- to 75-percent cheaper than large-form cell lithium-ion packs at current analyses. Additionally, the cells have already diverged onto a dedicated EV development route and are expected to see further year-over-year price drops from 6 to 8 percent.
The same Bloomberg report also cites Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn stating Nissan and Renault may need to sell 500,000 electric vehicles per year for their own program to stay in the black without government aid. At $32,780, the Leaf is considerably cheaper than the Model S and has a head start, having already gone on sale in select launch markets.
Scheduled to start production at the NUMMI factory line in Fremont, California, by mid-2012, the Model S plans to offer three battery pack sizes with varying ranges, a 5.6-second 0-60 mph time, seven seats (extra two for children only), and a futuristic design. Tesla has hired the staff, is doing the homework, and we can now only wait to see how well the finished product turns out.
Future/Spied, Green Cars, Hybrid Car/EV, Sedan, Tesla
Beating the Dead Horse – Top 10 Overused Automotive Cliches
By Benson Kong
Peter Rawlinson, Tesla’s vice president of vehicle engineering, has given a tutorial in series of videos on the electric Model S sedan, in which he highlights the aluminum structure, the rear suspension system, and the battery pack that ultimately makes the electric luxury sedan so unique. But this alpha testing video isn’t just another tutorial – we finally get to see Model S triplets in action as they hit the test track.
These playful Beta cars mean Tesla has finally moved onto the second development stage of the electric sedan, and with plans to start production in the second quarter of 2012, let’s hope testing continues to go as smoothly as it does in the video.
The Model S has been the center of the electric hype, and more than 3000 reservations have been placed for the sedan so far in North American and Europe. When it goes on sale, it will start at $57,000 (before a $7500 federal tax credit) 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.
With its third row – the first in a sedan – the Model S may pose a serious threat to the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class, and the Porsche Panamera. But unfortunately, we can’t really see the interior in this video, which leaves how any person, or child, will fit back there, a mystery.
Source: Tesla Motors
We’ve tested the 2013 Tesla Model S’ range on three single-charge road trips, but how will the car perform on the track? In this episode of Ignition, associate road test editor Carlos Lago puts the Model S through our standard battery of tests to see just how fast and fun the electric car is to drive.
At the test track the Model S reached 60 mph in 4.0 seconds and finished the quarter-mile in 12.4 seconds at 112.5 mph while it stopped from 60 mph took 113 feet. Despite its hefty weight, the Model S handles well because the battery pack’s mass sits low in the chassis.
Lago then takes the Model S to the streets to see how the electric car behaves in the real world. Check out the video below to hear Lago’s conclusion about the Model S and whether he thinks it’s a viable alternative to traditional gas-powered cars. And if you haven’t seen it, watch the Tesla Model S vs. BMW M5 drag race here.
By Jason Udy
During a presentation for his company’s upcoming Initial Public Offering, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk revealed that Tesla is working on three new models based on the Model S architecture, including a convertible, a van, and a crossover.
The new models will use the Model S’ underlying platform and powertrain with new bodies on top. Sketches revealed in the Road Show presentation to potential Wall Street investors included a two-door Cabriolet that bears a strong resemblance to the Model S, but with more aggressive styling; a van similar to the Ford Transit Connect; and a crossover that looks like a beefed-up Model S wagon. Tesla is also working on liquid-cooled batteries and electronics for the Model S to boost efficiency and component life.
Along with the Road Show, Tesla’s complete IPO filing with the SEC is available now and reveals some interesting facts about the company and its products. As we learned last week, Tesla has been losing money since its inception, and its IPO shows that the company is heavily dependent on selling carbon credits to other automakers, a $450 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy, and the money it hopes to raise in its IPO. The company also receives funds from a deal to supply batteries to Daimler’s Smart brand, but will lose that income when Daimler brings its battery development in-house. Further, the company expects to continue losing money until the Model S actually starts selling in significant quantities.
The company is also dependent on its unfinished agreement with Toyota to buy a portion of the closed NUMMI plant in California for production of the Model S. Should the deal fail to germinate by December 31, 2011, it is null and void. Even if it goes through, it only covers the building, not the equipment, which Tesla will have to secure on its own.
Tesla’s concerns run deeper than that. As of March 31, the company had only 110 outstanding orders for its Roadster model, of which 1063 had been sold to that date. Most of Tesla’s sales have been fulfilling orders that have been on the books for months or even years. Despite the limited orders, the company has an agreement with Lotus to purchase 2400 Roadster chassis. The company currently has 2200 non-binding reservations for the Model S as well, a car that the company says won’t see production until at least 2012 with deliveries following months later.
Some experts have questioned that timeline, given that the IPO also notes that the company has only a driveable prototype built at this point, not a production-intent car, and has not selected its suppliers yet. The filing also reveals that Tesla acknowledges having no experience with designing or using a common platform, and design of the Model S platform isn’t even complete yet. Other technical limitations include an admission that no facility yet exists that can swap out the Model S’ battery pack as the company has suggested in the past, and that the company realizes its current Roadster battery pack will lose up to 40 percent of its capacity, and therefore the vehicle’s range, after 100,000 miles, or about seven years.
On the non-technical side, Tesla also faces pressure from regulators, customers, and competitors. Tesla’s model of company-owned retail outlets and Internet sales is unproven and could run afoul of dealer franchise laws in some U.S. states and European countries. Its service program, with its mobile service technicians, is also unproven. Any new crash, safety or other regulations could slow development of the Model S and its mainstream competitors are better equipped financially to face the burden of developing an all-new car.
If the company has overestimated the market for its expensive, high-end models, it will make it harder to turn a profit and invest in more affordable models. And of course, the company will be without a source of revenue after 2011 when the first-generation Roadster ceases production along with the Lotus Elise it’s based on. Production of a second-generation car won’t begin until after the Model S is on sale.
While Tesla is clearly optimistic as it continues to expand its brick-and-mortar stores and product, there’s no telling how Wall Street will react. The company is hoping to pull in $178 million in its IPO in the next few weeks, but even if it’s successful in that endeavor, it still faces a number of challenges over the next several years as it struggles to reach financial stability on the backs of its products rather than temporary deals like carbon credit swaps.
What do think will happen?
By Scott Evans
With news of upcoming expansion plans, Tesla appears to be continuing its journey from just barely surviving to thriving. In a Wired report, Tesla CEO Elon Musk admits the company is planning a BMW X3 fighter as well as a sports car successor to the original Tesla, the Roadster.
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. In a comparison test involving a Tesla Roadster Sport along with a Porsche Boxster Spyder, we called the Tesla “a genuine car to reckon with on the world stage” but knocked it for having an “extraordinary price” and limited range.
By Zach Gale
Once we begin our year-long test of the Tesla Model S, the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year, we may not have to visit the dealership to perform most software updates. The automaker has just implemented a new, cloud-based system that will allow owners to view and install software updates from their vehicle’s infotainment screen.
It’s hard to imagine that the Model S needs any updating at this point, considering the amount of impressive technology already packed in the EV. During a recent adventure with the Model S in Las Vegas, Editor-in-Chief Ed Loh said the EV “delivers a bit of magic and a sense of occasion thanks to its myriad touch, proximity, and weight sensors. Touch the chromed door handle and it pops out for a good yank.” However, a recent over-the-air update makes those flush-mounted doors handles a bit more magical — now, they pop out as the driver approaches the vehicle, Automotive News reports. Other updates include voice command and an option for the Model S to “creep” forward when the driver lifts his foot off the brake pedal, similar to what gas-powered cars already do.
The updates will appear on the vehicle’s screen and owners have the option to schedule the install at a future time. Details of the updates are included in “release notes,” similar to the update process consumers are accustomed to with their phones or laptops. The process can save owners time and battery charge needed to visit the dealership.
In addition to the cloud-based update system, the Model S now sports a slightly tweaked front nose and a revised jump seat with better ergonomics. Tesla’s director of Model S programs Jerome Guillen credits these recent updates to the automaker’s relatively small size. Guillen, who previously worked at Daimler AG, told the Automotive News “we are doing things in a couple weeks that, at my previous employer, would have taken two years.”
Automotive News also reports that the Tesla’s plant in Northern California is running at full capacity, with the ability to produce 20,000 units a year. Additionally, Tesla will start building cars equipped with 60kWh battery packs, which will join the range-topping models with the 85 kWh battery packs that were first to launch. A value-priced 40 kWh-model is available, and Model S prices increased for the 2013 calendar year. Also in the pipeline is the Tesla Model X, which Guillen says is still scheduled to go into production sometime next year.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)