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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

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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

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

Tesla Improves Resale Value Guarantee, Adds Longer Term Loans

Tesla Improves Resale Value Guarantee, Adds Longer Term Loans

In response to criticism surrounding Tesla’s announcement on its new financing option, CEO Elon Musk has revised the terms by offering a new resale guarantee and longer-term loans, both of which should make owning a Model S a little easier.

2013 Tesla Model S left view 300x187 image“When we first did the financing option, we didn’t get it quite right,” said Musk during a live webcast on the subject. We found Tesla’s claimed savings were too exaggerated when we broke down the numbers last month, but Tesla says they’ll make more sense now. To start, the company now guarantees a resale value of 50 percent after three years (ratings by ALG), up from the previous 43 percent. That figure will be adjusted in the future to keep it above its luxury sedan competition. “If we really believe we’re making the best car, we believe it should have the best resale value,” Musk said. That means Tesla’s guarantee should assure the residual value will be higher than premium sedans from Mercedes-Benz BMW, Audi, Jaguar, and Lexus.

In addition, the company has extended loans to 72 months instead of 63 months. The 12,000-mile annual limit has also been increased to 15,000 miles. Tesla’s True Cost of Ownership Model S Calculator online is a bit more conservative now, as well.

After the first financing option was announced, Tesla has seen more interest in the 60 kW-hr model, but most buyers still go with the 85 kW-hr car. “What we’re saying is you’ll get 20 percent more cash in three years,” Musk said.

With Tesla’s ultimate goal of making the Model S more accessible to interested consumers, we’re thinking the best way to accomplish that goal is to simply introduce a less expensive car.

Source: Tesla

By Karla Sanchez

Big-Battery 2012 Tesla Model S Gets EPA Ratings of 89 MPGe, 265-Mile Range

Big-Battery 2012 Tesla Model S Gets EPA Ratings of 89 MPGe, 265-Mile Range

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.

Source: EPA

By Ben Timmins

Tesla Releases New Photos of Model S Sedan as Production Nears

Tesla Releases New Photos of Model S Sedan as Production Nears

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.

Source: Tesla

By Donny Nordlicht

Thread of the Day: Tesla Model S, BMW M5, Mercedes CLS63 AMG, or Porsche Panamera Turbo S?

Thread of the Day: Tesla Model S, BMW M5, Mercedes CLS63 AMG, or Porsche Panamera Turbo S?

It may be an electric car, but the 2012 Tesla Model S is fast. Stupid fast. In our exclusive First Test and Range Verification, a 2012 Model S Signature Performance 85 accelerated from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds, and completed the quarter mile in 12.5 seconds at 110.9 mph, making it the fastest American sedan we’ve ever tested.

The Tesla Model S’ performance numbers become even more impressive once you realize that there isn’t a huge rumbling V-8 under the hood, but a 416-hp/443-lb-ft AC electric motor in back powering the rear wheels. Also impressive is the fact that the very same Model S that recorded those numbers traveled from Los Angeles, to San Diego, and back without recharging.

Ignoring its green credentials, the Tesla Model S’ performance figures puts it in German super sedan territory, right up against the gas-guzzling BMW M5, Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG, and Porsche Panamera Turbo S. All three sedans have twin-turbo V-8s making upwards of 550 hp under the hood. Check out the chart to see how they all break down:

Base Price Weight Power 0-60 mph 60-0 mph Lateral Grip
BMW M5 $92,095 4384 lb 560 hp 3.7 sec 110 ft 0.94 g
Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG $96,805 4256 lb 550 hp 3.9 sec 113 ft 0.92 g
Porsche Panamera Turbo S $176,275 4388 lb 550 hp 3.5 sec 105 ft 1.00 g
Tesla Model S P85 $105,400 4766 lb 416 hp 3.9 sec 105 ft 0.92 g

That brings us to today’s Thread of the Day. If you had to choose between the M5, CLS63 AMG, Panamera Turbo S, and Tesla Model S, which would you choose and why? Sound off in the comments below.

By Christian Seabaugh

Update: Tesla Says No Pending Completed Loan Applications with DOE

Update: Tesla Says No Pending Completed Loan Applications with DOE

Following the bankruptcy of solar-panel maker Solyndra, the House Republicans are eager to cut green-jobs programs. – The ill-fated solar panel manufacturer was the first company to receive money from the Obama administration’s green-tech stimulus loan. One of the other programs under scrutiny is the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Program (ATVM). The same program loaned Tesla Motors $465 million back in June 2009.

Tesla used the ATVM loan to open an electric powertrain facility at its Palo Alto headquarters and revamp the former NUMMI plant to build the Model S electric sedan.

Earlier this week the automaker posted a blog on its website defending the program. Tesla says it employed 400 people before the original loan. The loan helped add 1000 jobs and plans to add another 1000 jobs in the next year.

Tesla’s website doesn’t specify how much in additional loans the company needs or what it would be used for. It does say that the electric automaker “has raised an additional $620 million in private investment capital.”

The last line on the blog post says, “Tesla has no pending completed applications with the DOE.”

In light of government spending cuts and a bankrupt solar-panel manufacturer, do you think Tesla should be asking for another loan from the federal government?

Update 09/28/2011, 10:40 a.m.
A follow up call to Tesla spokeswoman Khobi Brooklyn confirmed the last line of the company’s blog post: “Tesla has no pending completed applications with the DOE.”

Source: SF Gate, Tesla

By Jason Udy

Tesla Expanding Supercharger Network, Introducing Faster Charging Tech

Tesla Expanding Supercharger Network, Introducing Faster Charging Tech

With sales of the Tesla Model S exceeding expectations, the automaker has been busy increasing production of the electric sedan and paying back its Department of Energy loans nine years early. While the EV maker has built just under 10 Supercharger charging stations along major corridors in California and the East Coast, this week, Tesla announced a substantial increase in the number of planned Supercharger stations.

Tesla Supercharger station 1 300x167 imageBy the end of next month, the number of operational Supercharger stations will triple, and the company claims that within six months, there will be enough Superchargers to service most major metro areas in North America. A year from now, the company says, Superchargers will provide coverage to 80 percent of the population of North America and 98 percent a year later.

The automaker also announced that new technology will significantly cut charging times. While the chargers at 120 kW are in beta test mode (versus 90 kW currently), the faster chargers will be ready this summer. At 120 kW, Tesla claims it will only take 20 minutes to replenish three hours of driving in the Model S.

Some Tesla Supercharger stations have roof-mounted solar panels (from Musk-owned SolarCity) that are said to pump more electricity back into the grid than what is used to recharge cars. Since the Tesla Supercharger has a unique charger receptacle, the stations can’t charge other EVs. Currently, Model S cars with the 85 kW-hr batteries can recharge for free, while those with the 60 kW-hr model can do the same once they purchase Supercharger capability. Musk says all future Teslas will be capable of using the Superchargers.

So what’s next for Tesla? The company is still kicking around the idea of a sub-$40,000 electric sedan as well as a high-torque electric truck and a second production plant in Texas. Of course, those models would likely arrive after the Model X crossover goes on sale around late 2014 and early 2015.

Source: Tesla

By Jason Udy

It’s Coming: Tesla’s Model S Beginning Deliveries in Second Quarter of 2012

It’s Coming: Tesla’s Model S Beginning Deliveries in Second Quarter of 2012

Tesla is only in the first of two development stages for the electric Model S four-door hatchback, but it might not be long before we see a four-door Tesla rolling through Beverly Hills. Production of the Model S, Tesla announced at the Detroit Auto Show, will start in the second quarter of 2012.

Tesla Model S interior 300x187 imageThe all-electric Model S is claimed to have a range of 300 miles and accelerate from 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds. Tesla hopes to build 20,000 Model S cars a year, and has taken more than 3000 reservations so far in North America and Europe. After a federal tax credit, the base price is expected to be $49,000, unless Tesla’s research and engineering budget requires a price bump. That below-$50,000 price likely includes the battery pack that allows for 160 miles of driving between charges. The Model S will also offer 230- and 300-mile-per-charge battery packs.

A 17-inch touchscreen is part of the dash layout, meaning even those in the small third row of seating might be able to see the navigation display. Top speed of the Model S is limited to about 121 mph. We’ll be keeping an eye on Tesla as we approach its target on-sale date. What do you think: Will Tesla find 20,000 buyers a year for the Model S sedan?

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

By Zach Gale

Coda Offers $552 Charging Rebate for California Buyers in October

Coda Offers $552 Charging Rebate for California Buyers in October

Coda Automotive is offering a $552 rebate to buyers in California during the month of October. The automaker says the rebate is equal to the cost of electricity it would take to propel the Coda sedan 10,000 miles in the Sunshine State, based on current electricity costs and the EV’s 88-mile range.

CODA cockpit 1 300x187 imageThe rebate is also being used to draw attention to the lower cost of electrical energy compared to gasoline and diesel. Using figures from the EPA and AAA, the automaker suggests that a gas- or diesel-powered vehicle averaging 22 mpg costs about $1700 to travel 10,000 miles at the national average fuel cost, while drivers in California will pay more than $2000 to drive the same distance.

Coda also says that EVs help protect owners from fluctuating fuel prices that have increased 106 percent on average since 1992, while electrical rates have declined on average 12 percent in the same time period.

The Coda sedan EV has a base price of $37,250 though federal and state incentives could amount to as much as $10,000 in savings, bringing the price to $27,250 before the manufacturer’s rebate.

Would 10,000 miles’ worth of electricity be enough to get you behind the wheel of a Coda? Tell us in the comments section below.

Source: Coda

By Jason Udy

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