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Tesla Now Delivering 60-kWh Versions Of Model S Electric Car

2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

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It’s now clear: Volume deliveries of the second version of the 2013 Tesla Model S began this month.

That would be the version fitted with the middle of three battery-pack sizes, with a stated energy capacity of 60 kilowatt-hours.

The news does not come from Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA], a company that can be bafflingly opaque about standard business metrics like production and deliveries.

Instead, it comes from scanning the “Delivery Update” thread of the Tesla Motors Club forum (that thread now runs to 400 pages, by the way).

Multiple reports have been posted during the month of owners taking delivery of their 60-kWh Model S cars.

While one such delivery might be an anomaly, it’s clear from the postings, photos, and general level of glee that Tesla is now chewing away at its reservation list for 60-kWh models.

Owner “Hans,” for instance, posted that he took delivery of his 60-kWh Model S at the Fremont, California, factory on Saturday, January 19.

He noted that everything was in order save for a missing piece of chrome trim on the charging cord, and attached a photo showing the chrome-free handle.

This is, his specialist told him, a supplier problem, and numerous Model S cars are being delivered without it.

The 60-kWh Model S was rated in December at 208 miles of electric range by the EPA, versus a 265-mile range for the 85-kWh version.

Once Tesla has blended production of 60-kWh and 85-kWh models into its line, next up will be the lowest-capacity Model S, with a 40-kWh battery pack.

That model hasn’t yet been rated for range, but its 160-mile range (at a steady 55 mph) stated by Tesla is likely to translate to an EPA rating of something like 140 to 145 miles.

Those deliveries are expected to start sometime between April and June.

One eager new owner of a 60-kWh Model S will be our own writer David Noland, who is slated to take delivery of his car within weeks.

Noland has written numerous pieces about the Model S delivery process and other aspects of the car.

His latest piece summarized minor quirks and issues identified in Model S cars delivered thus far.

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By John Voelcker

2012 Tesla Model S Shows Up On eBay, Will Owner Profit?

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

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Well, that didn’t take long, did it?

It’s not unusual to see rare and exclusive cars pre-sold to buyers before cars are delivered–the practice has been going on for decades, every time the latest supercar hits the streets.

We didn’t expect to see a 2012 Tesla Model S sold so soon, though–and with a Buy It Now price on the eBay auction of $145,000, the seller stands to make a healthy little profit should they find a buyer.

The model being sold is one of the thousand limited edition Signature models, and the buyer will get the actual car, rather than a reservation slot–something Tesla will not allow.

With Signature Red paint, a white leather interior and the 85 kWh, EPA-rated 265-mile battery pack–as well as other Signature edition features–the car will certainly be to a high specification.

It also features an upgraded tech package, Dolby 7.1 premium sound system, and other Model S amenities.

The car is already being built, and is set to be delivered on October 14. The auction itself runs until 10:18 PDT on September 20, provided someone doesn’t pay the full price–over $47,000 more than MSRP–to end the auction early.

So why is the car for sale so soon? The seller doesn’t say, but it’s not beyond possibility that they were banking on pre-selling it all along, hoping to make a tidy little profit in the process from someone wishing to jump the queue.

It also has us wondering–how long until more Model S Signature editions appear on the market? And what price would you pay to get behind the wheel?…

Hat tip to Martin at eCars.bg

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By Antony Ingram

Tesla Model S To Be Evaluated By Consumer Reports

2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

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Let’s hope that the Tesla Model S fares better than the Fisker Karma did.

That’s the first thought that sprang to mind when we heard the news that Consumer Reports had bought its very own Model S all-electric sport sedan to test.

The respected consumer testing magazine notoriously savaged the Fisker Karma in a review last September.

Specifically, the $106,000 range-extended electric luxury sport sedan died on the test track and otherwise proved to be badly built, with confusing controls and minimal interior space for such a large and heavy car.

The magazine was more impressed with the Tesla Model S following an early drive in a borrowed car last November.

The Model S “shatters every myth,” it wrote, and redefined the experience of traveling on all-electric power.

Two weeks ago today, after waiting more than two years following its $5,000 deposit, CR took delivery of its 2012 Tesla Model S.

It specified the Model S with the largest 85-kilowatt-hour battery pack and the $1,500 additional charger to bring charging capacity up to 20 kilowatts.

As an early-build car, the magazine’s Model S also comes with the air suspension, along with a large sunroof, and tan Nappa leather upholstery.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

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The total price was $89,650, roughly in line with the Audi A7 or Porsche Panamera luxury sport sedans.

Confronted with the option to pick up its Model S at Tesla’s Queens service center or have it delivered to the door on a flatbed truck, the magazine chose the latter alternative.

As usual, Consumer Reports masked the identity of the buyer so that Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] likely didn’t know that the magazine was actually buying the car.

As CR’s Gabe Shenhar says, “We can’t wait to pile some break-in miles on our Model S and start testing it.”

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By John Voelcker

Tesla Model S Top Speed: More Than 130 MPH, Emission-Free

Top speeds are more relevant than many people think.

That even applies to cars like the Tesla Model S, though perhaps more for bragging rights than any practical purpose. And as bragging rights go, 133 mph isn’t too bad for an electric car.

While there aren’t many places you can legally explore a modern car’s top speed, those three-figure numbers are usually a good indication of how well your car will cruise at freeway speeds.

A car designed to travel two or three times the speed limit will generally be relaxed, quiet and economical at the limit itself.

The Tesla Model S Performance is relaxed and quiet at pretty much any speed.

In fact, as you’ll see (and hear) in the video above (via our sister site Motor Authority), wind and road noise are only really audible on camera at 90-100 mph, more than most people will regularly cruise at.

Acceleration only starts to tail off as the car breaks into the 120s, and it’s all done at 133 mph. We make no guesses as to what the range might be at that sort of speed, even with the 85 kW battery pack–not that the Model S’s gasoline-powered rivals will be particularly economical at 133 mph and above…

What’ll be most remarkable to anyone unfamiliar with the Model S is just how quickly it reaches its top speed. Motor Authority measures it at 12 seconds to 100 mph (it could be less, as the driver appears to pull away fairly gently at first) and 26 seconds to 133 mph.

We don’t condone exploring your car’s top speed on the roads, of course, but it’s nice knowing the Model S has plenty in reserve when you’re at a steady highway cruise.

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By Antony Ingram

Tesla Model S: More New Versions Coming, Says CEO Elon Musk

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

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Tesla being what it is–a venture-funded startup battery-electric automaker in Silicon Valley–every utterance from its CEO Elon Musk becomes newsworthy.

So a generalized hint at future development of its main product, the 2012 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan, becomes fodder for news stories.

In this case, the brief mention came during Monday’s earning call covering the third-quarter financial results of Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA].

As noted by AutoblogGreen, CEO Musk said, “There are a few other variants of the Model S that we’ll come out with next year that I think are going to be pretty exciting.”

He also then mentioned ongoing work on the company’s next new vehicle, the 2014 Tesla Model X electric crossover, as well as the start of work on the third-generation car it hopes to launch later in the decade.

Frankly, we suspect that Musk may have been talking about an upcoming handling package for the Model S, already widely discussed as an option on the Performance model.

But speculation runs rampant around any Tesla news, so a few other possibilities might include:

  • An all-wheel drive version of the Model S, using the optional AWD being developed for the Model X
  • An even higher-capacity battery pack, to take the highest-range Model S above its current 265-mile EPA range estimate
  • Additional electronic features, some of which could be retroactively downloaded into existing Model S cars.

If we had to guess, we’d put our money on all-wheel drive.

It’s become a necessity in the high-end luxury market, included on more than 80 percent of Mercedes-Benz S Class sedans ordered in snowy markets.

And Jaguar’s addition of an all-wheel drive option to its XF mid-size and XJ full-size luxury sedans shows just how important it is.

To retrofit AWD into existing cars, much less those already two to four years into their model cycle, is no small task–but Jaguar says the sales gain will be well worth it.

So let’s start the guessing games here: How much should Tesla charge for an AWD option on, say, the high-end 2014 Model S electric sport sedan?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.

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By John Voelcker

2012 Tesla Model S: Consumer Reports Joins Chorus Of Praise (Unofficially)


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It isn’t easy to impress Consumer Reports.

Fisker Automotive knows this better than most, after its Karma range-extended sedan was savaged by the magazine earlier this year.

In contrast, the 2012 Tesla Model S looks to have gone down rather well, CR describing it as “a revelation”.

High praise indeed, and it’s sure to join Motor Trend‘s ‘Car of the Year’ verdict on a list of things Tesla should be proud of.

2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive

In their test of the model, Consumer Reports describes the Model S as “the electric car that shatters every myth”–adding that range anxiety is effectively “gone” thanks to the 265-mile range.

The quick charging times, vivid performance and interior room also got plenty of praise. Only a lack of interior storage space, and the flashy but occasionally impractical door handles came in for criticism.

Of course, this test is only a brief look at the Model S, and the magazine’s normal practice is to buy a model itself–just like it did with the Fisker Karma.

Only then will we know CR‘s full verdict on the car–but we’d be surprised if it’s anything less than similarly-praised after longer exposure.

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By Antony Ingram

2012 Tesla Model S: Will Winter Weather Ruin Its Range?

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

HI-RES GALLERY: 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

  • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

  • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

  • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

  • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

  • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

  • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

  • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

  • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

  • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

  • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

  • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

  • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

  • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

  • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011


  • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

    • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

    • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

    • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

    • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

    • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

    • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

    • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

    • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

    • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

    • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

    • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

    • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

    • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

    • 2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

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The first two 2012 Tesla Model S all-electric sport sedans to roll off the Tesla production line last month were shipped to Chicago, where they’re presumably now tooling around in the Midwest’s record-setting summer heat.

But how will the cars’ impressive EPA range of 268 miles hold up six months from now, when the Windy City turns bitterly cold?

For now, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] isn’t answering that question.  A company spokesperson told us that “we’re not yet fully ready to discuss” the car’s range in seriously cold weather.

Tesla’s range-calculator program  (available at its retail stores, but not yet on its website) offers some hints–but it only goes down to a temperature of 32 degrees. That’s fine for the lucky folks in California, but for many of us, 32 degrees in January would be a heat wave.

For a variety of reasons, electric cars suffer a significant loss of range in cold weather. When the temperature hits the teens, my Chevy Volt’s summer range of 40-plus miles drops to about 25 miles–a loss of 40 percent. Nissan Leaf owners report similar numbers.

Will the Model S suffer the same fate, or does Tesla know something that Nissan and Chevy don’t?

For me, that’s not just an academic question. I’m Model S owner number P 717, hoping to take delivery late this year.

I’m currently debating between the basic 40-kWh battery pack (good for 160 miles) and the $10,000-more-expensive 60-kWh battery, good for 230 miles. Those range estimates are both Tesla numbers; the official EPA ratings for range on those two battery-pack capacities have yet to be announced.

My minimum travel requirement is to New York City and back without recharging, which is about 120 miles. At  first, I assumed the 160-mile battery would be enough.

But after living through a winter with the Volt, I’m not so sure.  If the Model S suffers the same 40-percent loss as the Volt, I’m looking at a cold-weather range of 100 miles–which would leave me stranded somewhere on the Palisades Parkway in New Jersey or lower New York state.

So the $10,000 question becomes: In seriously cold weather, will the 2012 Tesla Model S suffer range losses similar to those of the Volt and Leaf?

A few months ago, Elon Musk assured me in a personal e-mail that “we are probably closer to a 20-percent drop than a 40-percent drop.”  (Pretty cool that the CEO will respond in two hours to a customer query out of the blue.)

A blog on Tesla’s website by Musk and company CTO J.B. Straubel says that under “very cold” conditions, range at 55 mph may be reduced by 10 to 15 percent.

Tesla’s Model S range calculator, which I tried out in the Tesla store in White Plains, New York, predicts a loss of  about 8 percent at 50 degrees and 15 percent at 32 degrees. But that’s as low as it goes.

2012 Tesla Model S display screen [Photo: Flickr user jurvetson]

2012 Tesla Model S display screen [Photo: Flickr user jurvetson]

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If we extrapolate that curve (actually, it’s a straight line) down to 17 degrees, we get a range loss of 21 percent–only about half that of the Volt. Take the curve down to 0 degrees, and we have a 27 percent loss–giving a range of about 118 miles on the 40-kWh, “160-mile” battery. 

But how accurate is that extrapolation?  I’d rather make my $10,000 decision on the basis of real-world testing and experience. And at the moment, almost none of that is publicly available.

According to Tesla’s range calculator, cabin heating causes most of the Model S range loss in cold weather. At 55 mph, the model I’m considering has a range of 170 miles at the ideal 70 degrees.

When the temperature drops to freezing, that range goes down to 145 miles. But if you’re willing to  turn off the heater, range jumps back up to 162 miles.

So what do you think? Should I pony up the extra $10,000 for the bigger battery? Or just bundle up for my winter trips to New York City? Or, maybe just burn some gasoline in the Volt?

Leave me your thoughts in the Comments below.

David Noland is a Tesla Model S reservation holder and freelance writer who lives north of New York City. This is his first article for High Gear Media.

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By David Noland

UPDATED: Tesla Motors Q1 Earnings: What To Look For (Video)

Elon Musk Speaks

Elon Musk Speaks

Within the next hour, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] will release its first-quarter financial results.

We already know the company will be profitable, and that it sold “more than 4,750″ Model S electric luxury sport sedans from January through March.

CEO Elon Musk has also said that Tesla is targeting a 25-percent gross margin on sales by the end of the year.

But here are some other things to look for:

  • Per-share profit: The consensus number on the Street is $0.04 [ACTUAL EARNINGS PER SHARE: $0.12]
  • Revenue: Expectations are that this will come in at about $500 million [ACTUAL REVENUE: $562 million]
  • Reservations: How much did the total number of U.S. reservations for Tesla cars fall?
  • Europe: As the company prepares to start selling in multiple European countries, how many reservations has it booked from there so far?
  • Revenue sources: Did Tesla break even on building and selling cars? Or was it profitable only because of two other sources of income: making electric powertrains for other car companies, and selling zero-emission vehicle credits?

We were asked to come on CNBC today to discuss the company before its earning call at 5 pm today.

The first couple of minutes of the video below shows CNBC automotive correspondent Phil LeBeau discussing some of the financials.

Then your faithful correspondent appears at the 1:44 mark, to talk more broadly about the challenges Tesla faces and what it’s accomplished to date.

Meanwhile, if you’re a Tesla Motors fan–and we know many of you are–stay tuned to the news tickers after the market closes today.

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By John Voelcker

2014 Tesla Model X Vs. 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV: Electric SUV Showdown?

2014 Tesla Model X all-electric crossover with 'Falcon Doors' open

2014 Tesla Model X all-electric crossover with ‘Falcon Doors’ open

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The 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV is unique, the only all-electric compact sport-utility vehicle sold by a major automaker in the U.S.

Behind the wheel, its Tesla-developed powertrain makes it peppy but quiet, while it maintains all the cargo and people space of the original gasoline version.

There’s really only one vehicle that’s even close to comparable, and that doesn’t exist yet: the 2014 Tesla Model X all-electric crossover, of which prototypes were unveiled in February.

Comparing a real car to a hypothetical one is an exercise in speculation.

But spurred on by a review on TheStreet.com that suggests buyers view the Toyota RAV4 EV as a Tesla for half the price, we decided to do it anyway.

SIZE:The 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV is a compact crossover, in the popular segment that includes the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Nissan Rogue. The 2014 Tesla Model X, on the other hand, is a segment larger, competing with the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, and undoubtedly pricier and more luxurious import-brand SUVs like the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Range Rover, and Mercedes-Benz GL. Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] says the Model X has the dimensions of the Audi Q7 but 40 percent more interior space.

SEATING: The RAV4 EV seats four comfortably, five in a pinch. The electric Tesla sport utility, on the other hand, will offer seven seats (as does the Model S sedan with its optional jump seats, though the last two are only child-sized).

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, Newport Beach, California, July 2012

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, Newport Beach, California, July 2012

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WEIGHT: The electric RAV4 weighs 4,030 pounds, while no weight has been given for the Model X. Since it’s larger, we’d expect it to be rather heavier than the Model S sedan on which it’s based, which comes in at 4,650 pounds for the 40-kWh version.

BATTERY SIZE: The RAV4 EV has 41.8 kilowatt-hours of usable pack capacity, though oddly Toyota won’t give the total pack size. The Model X will offer 60-kWh and 85-kWh options, though unlike the Model S sedan, it won’t have a 40-kWh version.

POWER: The Toyota RAV4 EV uses the same electric motor as the Tesla Model S sedan, but its power is limited to 115 kilowatts (154 horsepower) by the battery pack output.The Tesla Model X will likely use the Model S motor–with peak power of 270 kW (362 hp)–in the standard version, and two electric motors (one per axle) of unspecified power for the all-wheel drive model. Tesla says there will be a Model X Performance edition as well.

DRIVE WHEELS: Toyota’s electric RAV4 is offered only in front-wheel drive, although Toyota’s program leader Sheldon Brown said that at least one all-wheel drive prototype was built, adding a second motor at the rear to complement the existing one up front. The Model X will be offered with rear-wheel drive standard, plus an optional all-wheel drive version that adds a second motor for the front wheels.

VOLUME: Toyota will build only 2,600 RAV4 EVs for the 2012 through 2014 model years. Tesla has said it could sell 10,000 to 15,000 Model X crossovers a year once full production levels are reached.

Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

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PRICE: The list price of the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV is $49,800, with a $2,500 California purchase rebate, and buyers may qualify for a $7,500 Federal tax credit. No price has been announced for the 2014 Model X, but Tesla says prices will be “comparable” to the base prices of the Model S sedans with equivalent battery packs–which are presently $67,400 and $77,400.

In the end, we think we agree with TheStreet.com writer Anton Wahlman, who suggests that (California) buyers who are eager to drive a Tesla as soon as possible consider the less glamorous, far less sexy RAV4 EV for its powertrain and electric performance.

He also suggests that it would be the perfect complement for the Model S owner who doesn’t want to wait two years for a Model X.

Ah, if only we lived in THAT world ….

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By John Voelcker

Self-Driving Tesla Electric Cars Coming, Courtesy Of Google?

Google's Self-Driving Toyota Prius

Google’s Self-Driving Toyota Prius

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Love or hate Tesla Motors (NSDQ:TSLA) and its CEO Elon Musk, it’s hard to deny that he’s ahead of the curve when it comes to developing new cars.

So when Musk says self-driving or autonomous technology is the next logical step in the evolution of the car, you take notice.

According to Bloomberg, Musk is considering the potential of driverless technology for Tesla’s vehicles, and has even spoken with Google about it.

Google’s own self-driving fleet of cars have hit headlines worldwide over the last few years, the technology now advanced enough that some states have legislation in place for the cars to drive without drivers, even though no production model is currently available.

Musk says he prefers the term ‘autopilot’ to self-driving, though.

“I like the word autopilot more than I like the word self- driving,” he said in an interview.

“Self-driving sounds like it’s going to do something you don’t want it to do. Autopilot is a good thing to have in planes, and we should have it in cars.” He added, “Self-driving cars are the natural extension of active safety and obviously something we should do.”

He hasn’t made it overly clear that Tesla is working on such a system–with or without Google–but it’s certainly a possibility. “I think Tesla will most likely develop its own autopilot system for the car… However, it is also possible that we do something jointly with Google” he said in an email to Bloomberg.

Affordable electric cars: More important

At the same time, it’s unlikely to appear any time soon. He later tweeted, “Creating an autopilot for cars at Tesla is an important, but not yet top priority. Still a few years from production”

“Am a fan of Larry, Sergey & Google in general, but self-driving cars comments to Bloomberg were just off-the-cuff… No big announcement here.”

If Tesla goes its own way with autonomous technology, it’s because Musk prefers a more cost-effective camera-based system, rather than the LIDAR (effectively light-based radar) used by Google.

He deems the sensor system “too expensive”, at a time when Tesla’s priority is to bring down the cost of its electric cars to make them more accessible–a plan which also involves bringing a smaller, $30,000 electric sedan to the market in the next few years.

The company is also thought to be developing interim technologies like lane departure warning, blind spot detection and cruise control, as revealed on a Tesla Model S menu graphic.

The prospect of an autopilot mode on Tesla’s products is certainly an interesting one–but not quite as interesting as the company’s future product line…

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By Antony Ingram

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