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Hot Items: Chrysler Stops Taking Orders for 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Tesla Model S Signature Sold Out

Hot Items: Chrysler Stops Taking Orders for 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Tesla Model S Signature Sold Out

It appears hot Romanian model Catrinel Menghia and Charlie Sheen were effective at publicizing Fiat’s hot hatch. Chrysler can’t keep up with all the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth orders, and the automaker has informed dealers that orders for the 500 Abarth for the 2012 model year are currently not being accepted.

2012 Fiat 500 profile passenger side 300x187 imageThose who place an order now for the scorpion-badged Abarth will be forced to wait until next fall to slip behind the wheel of next year’s model, which won’t begin to ship until next fall. Customers who put their deposits down as early as March will also have to wait until the 2013 batch arrives in September.

By the time the Abarth started trickling into Fiat showrooms in April, The Detroit News reports the company already had more than 1000 cash deposits from customers. The automaker originally planned to build about 1000 vehicles at the company’s factory in Toluca, Mexico, but after receiving a flurry of orders, the automaker bumped up production to the factory’s maximum output of 3000 units a year.

Thanks in part to a small dealer network, Fiat sales didn’t hit the initial target of moving 50,000 cars by the end of 2011, selling only 19,769. The picture appears to be improving, however, as 16,702 Fiat 500s have already been sold through May 2012.

As for the Tesla Model S, the automaker tells us no more reservations are being taken on the Signature model — which has a claimed 300-mile range. The top trim of the Model S which has a claimed 300-mile range. The top trim of the Model S is expected to earn an EPA range rating of 265 miles, and is limited to 1000 units.

Source: The Detroit News, Tesla

By Karla Sanchez

Life With 2013 Tesla Model S: Some Bikes Don’t Fit

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan on delivery day, with owner David Noland

I’ve now had my 2013 Tesla Model S for six weeks since it was delivered in late February, and I’m getting used to living with it.

I’ve recharged at the Supercharger network, measured its vampire current usage at night, tested the impact of speed on range, and even experienced my first software update.

According to Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA], one of the original clean-sheet-of-paper design criteria for the Model S was that the rear cargo area–with seats folded down–should be able to accommodate a bicycle without removing the front wheel.

As an avid cyclist, this was one of many factors in my purchase of the car.

But it doesn’t apply to my bicycles, it turns out.

At 6’2″, I’m a tall guy, and both my road bike and my mountain bike have large frames and high seat posts. 

With a bit of carefully choreographed manipulation and the passenger’s seat pushed all the way forward, each bike just barely fits into the back of my Chevrolet Volt.

But to my surprise, the rear hatch opening of the much larger Model S is actually a smidgin narrower than the Volt’s. That smidgin makes the difference.

Unless I want to push the bike forcefully against the Model S’s soft interior material–and risk ripping it–the bikes simply won’t fit in the back without removing the front wheels.

The road bike has a quick-release front wheel that pops off in a second or two, so it’s no big deal to remove it.  But my mountain bike’s front wheel is maddeningly designed to be virtually impossible to remove by hand, apparently for liability reasons.

So no mountain-bike excursions in the Model S.

Maybe that’s not so bad after all. Do I really want to be loading a greasy, muddy mountain bike into the back of my pristine Tesla? Not really.

At least not until the new-pet-car syndrome wears off.

If it ever does.

David Noland is a Tesla Model S owner and freelance writer who lives north of New York City.

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By David Noland

Tesla Model S 60-kW-h Version Rated at 94/97 MPGe, Goes 208 Miles

Tesla Model S 60-kW-h Version Rated at 94/97 MPGe, Goes 208 Miles

The EPA has released official ratings for the mid-range Tesla Model S with the 60-kw-h battery, which scores a rating of 94/97 mpge city/highway, and 95 mpge combined. In addition, the government agency has rated the mid-level battery pack’s range at 208 miles. Although the 60-kW-h battery provides less range than the 85-kW-h unit, found in our 2013 Car of the Year, the mid-range model uses less energy to travel 100 miles.

Where it takes 38 kW-h of electricity to travel 100 miles in the Model S equipped with the larger battery pack, it requires 35 kW-h of energy to travel 100 miles in the mid-range model. Model S models equipped with the 85-kW-h battery are estimated to travel 265 miles on a single charge while achieving 88/90 mpge, according to the EPA.

Tesla Model S cockpit 300x187 imageDuring three different range verification tests, we were able to travel 233.7 (with an indicated four miles of range left), 211 (74 miles of range left), and 285 miles (three miles of range left) on a single charge in a Model S with the 85-kW-h battery. That equates to 100.7-123.4 mpge – well above the EPA ratings. Just like fossil fuel-powered vehicles, the Model S’ mileage varied depending on load, driving style, terrain, and environmental conditions.

The Model S proved to be efficient in testing, but that’s not all the EV is good at. At the test track, we were able to reach 60 mph in 5.0 seconds with the standard 85-kW-h Model S, and 4.0 seconds in the performance-tuned version.

One more Model S variant is on the way with a 40-kW-h battery pack under the floor. Tesla expects that model to have a range of 160 miles, though that number may come down as the automaker initially expected the 85-kW-h and 60-kW-h batteries to provide 300 mile and 230 miles of range, respectively.

Source: EPA

By Jason Udy

Feature Flick: Los Angeles to Las Vegas on One Charge in a Tesla Model S – Rumor Central

Feature Flick: Los Angeles to Las Vegas on One Charge in a Tesla Model S

The Tesla Model S can go almost 300 miles on a full change, but is that enough to make the drive from Los Angeles, California to Las Vegas, Nevada in relative comfort? Frank Markus and Jessi Lang found out in this episode of Wide Open Throttle.

The EPA has rated the Model S at a range of 265 miles when equipped with the largest, 85-kWh battery. For those of you keeping count, the drive from L.A. to Vegas is 280 miles, one way. If that wasn’t already a bit of a headache, when MT tested the full range of the Model S, it found that the luxury hatchback came up 27 miles shy of its EPA rating.

As Markus mentions in the video, the road-tripping duo may have cheated a little bit: they started out from eastern edge of the L.A. basin, some 65 miles closer to their destination than downtown L.A.; however, the 215-mile trip still loomed dangerously close to the Model S’ range limit. To help get every possible mile of range out of the battery pack, Lang and Markus opted to keep the air conditioning off for most of the trip.

Even with the air off, it didn’t keep the intrepid duo from rocking out to some MC Hammer and playing some of the usual road trip games. Did the Tesla make it to The Strip on one charge? Check out the video below to find out. (Hammer pants and poker chips not required.)

Source: YouTube




By Donny Nordlicht

Tesla Offers Additional 2.7 Million Shares, Plans to Repay DOE Loan Early

Tesla Offers Additional 2.7 Million Shares, Plans to Repay DOE Loan Early

Tesla has announced it will offer 2,703,027 shares of common stock along with $450 million worth of convertible senior notes that mature by 2018. The money raised from this public offering will primarily be used to pay off Tesla’s Department of Energy loan with interest.

Tesla Model S rear side view 300x187 imageTesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk will purchase $100 million worth of the shares himself, with $45 million purchased from the common stock offering and $55 million bought directly from Tesla in a private sale. The underwriters will have a 30-day option to purchase up to 405,454 additional shares and $67.5 million worth of convertible notes, which can be converted into cash or shares of Tesla stock when they mature.

Tesla stock ended trading today at $84.84 a share, up significantly from last week’s price in the mid- to high $50 range. The surge in price is attributable to Tesla posting its first quarterly profit, with the company generating $11.2 million net income in the first quarter of 2013.

Though Tesla’s revised financing option may have lead to higher consideration among luxury buyers, the brand is still only selling variations of one vehicle. Whether Tesla can maintain its momentum remains to be seen.

Source: Tesla

By Alex Nishimoto

Report: Tesla Under Fire Over Factory-Owned Stores – Rumor Central

Report: Tesla Under Fire Over Factory-Owned Stores

Haven’t we heard this one before? An auto manufacturer opens a dealership owned by them (and not a franchise) and gets called out by various dealer organizations and state governments for violating franchise laws. Tesla is now coming under fire for that very reason.

Automotive News is reporting that the manufacturer-owned stores that Tesla has been opening up across the country are in a direct violation of various states’ franchise laws. Some states completely prohibit dealerships run by automakers, while others – like California – require a certain amount of distance between factory-owned and dealer-owned stores.

Dealer groups are worried that “If a manufacturer sees that Tesla is successful with this kind of business model, who’s to say they don’t break out their own EV product lines and create a separate system that bypasses dealers?” Bob O’Koniewski, the executive vice president of the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, told AN.

Despite saying that it does not want to revolutionize the car-buying experience, Tesla has taken a different tack from other automakers. The upstart automaker hired George Blankenship as the VP of sales to head up the retail experience – Blankenship previously created the look and feel of Apple’s retail stores and has given Tesla’s in-mall retail shops a similar feel. Litigation against Tesla is currently being pursued in Oregon, Massachusetts, and New York; however, some states (such as Texas) has no laws regulation car dealership ownership.

Chrysler faced the same kind of scrutiny that Tesla is now facing when it opened a factory-owned dealership in California last year. After a legal battle, Chrysler acquiesced and sold the retail store to a local dealer.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)





By Donny Nordlicht

Wide Open Throttle Previews Audi A3 e-tron, Discusses Tesla Visit

Wide Open Throttle Previews Audi A3 e-tron, Discusses Tesla Visit

Audi is getting its feet wet in the electric-vehicle market by launching the new A3 e-tron. On this week’s Wide Open Throttle, host Jessi Lang checks out Audi’s new EV and speaks with Jeff Curry, Audi’s E-Mobility Marketing and Strategy representative.

Curry tells us that 17 A3 e-tron test vehicles are being launched in four select cities to see how they perform in real-world driving conditions. The production version should be ready in two years and will be based on the upcoming all-new A3. A plug-in hybrid should also arrive around the same time. In addition to the A3 e-tron, Audi is planning to test out the R8 e-tron later this year.

Lang also discusses her recent tour of Tesla Motors’ factory, where drove the new Model S. She highlights a few viewer comments that show EVs still have a polarizing effect on the American public but mentions other deemed-to-fail technologies that have become an integral part of our lives. Watch the video and let us know if you agree with the comparisons Lang makes to the electric car.

By Erick Ayapana

Tesla Announces More Superchargers, Quicker Recharging Times – Rumor Central

Tesla Announces More Superchargers, Quicker Recharging Times

The Tesla Model S has exceeded sales forecasts, which has helped the company pay back its Department of Energy loans years in advance. To encourage long-distance travel, the automaker is speeding up its plan to install Supercharger charging stations all over the U.S. and today we got a first look at Tesla’s plans.

By 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

The 10 Best Sports-Oriented Family Cars – Rumor Central

The 10 Best Sports-Oriented Family Cars

Just because you’ve grown up, settled down, and had a kid or two doesn’t mean you can’t have fun anymore. While you may have to take a pass on that late-night partying you once did, you can stay in touch with your younger self with a car that’s fun to drive and can double as a family vehicle. However, finding a vehicle that appeals to you both as an enthusiast and a head of household isn’t always easy, because compromises will have to be made both in packaging and in handling.

To help the gearhead parents out there, Automobile Magazine has put together a list of the 10 Best Sports-Oriented Family Cars. These are cars that you might consider when you’re looking for something that will fit your spouse and children but you don’t want to join the herd and settle for a boring crossover or minivan. You want something that reminds you of that two-seater you traded in for the car seat. It’s doable, as evidenced by these exciting four-doors.

By Donny Nordlicht

First Look at the Audi A3 e-tron in Latest WOT Video – Rumor Central

First Look at the Audi A3 e-tron in Latest WOT Video

Get the full details on the new Audi A3 e-tron electric car on the latest episode of Wide Open Throttle. Jeff Curry, Audi’s E-Mobility Marketing and Strategy representative, discusses Audi’s new EV.

Curry tells us that 17 A3 e-tron test vehicles are being launched in four select cities to see how they perform in real-world driving conditions. The production version should be ready in two years and will be based on the upcoming all-new A3. A plug-in hybrid should also arrive around the same time. In addition to the A3 e-tron, Audi is planning to test out the R8 e-tron later this year.

Lang also discusses her recent tour of Tesla Motors’ factory, where she  drove the new Model S. She highlights a few viewer comments that show EVs still have a polarizing effect on the American public but mentions other deemed-to-fail technologies that have become an integral part of our lives. Watch the video and let us know if you agree with the comparisons Lang makes to the electric car.





By Erick Ayapana