Tag archives for Hybrid Car/EV
Electric carmaker Tesla Motors will soon launch a new SUV called the Model X. The company has released a dark teaser photo of the new car along with the tagline “Utility meets performance,” and promises the Model X will be revealed next Thursday, February 9, in California.
We don’t really know anything about the Model X, although lightening the teaser image with Photoshop reveals a curved hooded, sloping roofline, and oval front grille opening. The Model X’s lines are reminiscent of those found on the company’s forthcoming Model S large hatchback. Furthermore, Tesla CEO Elon Musk wrote on his Twitter feed that, “Most cars are pretty blah. This is not.”
As with the company’s Lotus-based Roadster and long-awaited Model S, we expect the Model X to use a proprietary all-electric powertrain developed by Tesla. This won’t be the first time Tesla has dabbled with building an SUV: the company previously partnered with Toyota to build an electrified RAV4.
Sources: Tesla, Twitter
By Jake Holmes
On this episode of Wide Open Throttle, Angus MacKenzie and other Motor Trend hosts discuss the Tesla Model S controversy stemming from a review in The New York Times after discussing the unexpected popularity of the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. Additionally, Ed Loh, Carlos Lago, Arthur St. Antoine and Mike Floyd ponder the possibility of diesel-powered sports cars in the U.S.
The hosts begin by discussing the relevance of the F-150 SVT Raptor with its high base price and increasing fuel prices. St. Antoine points out how sales of the “do-anything truck” are above Ford’s projections. While Lago is surprised that Ford built the truck, he says the Raptor makes him “feel like a kid in a sand box.” Still, some owners have had issues after taking jumps too fast or too high. While the panel believes most Raptor buyers pay for its off-road capability, some buyers go for the image and the compliant on-road ride as well.
Next, the discussion switches gears to the controversy surrounding the Tesla Model S regarding its range after a reporter from The New York Times said that during an East Coast trip his tester ran out of range before reaching the next EV Supercharger, to which Tesla CEO Elon Musk fired back saying the test was flawed. Floyd notes Loh’s Model S range test from the Las Vegas strip back to Los Angeles, during which he exceeded the EPA-rated range estimate. Previous to that trip, Motor Trend took the Model S from L.A. to San Diego and back on a single charge and Frank Markus and Jessi Lang drive the car to Las Vegas.
Finally, the hosts discuss the possible future of diesel-powered sporty cars in the U.S., such as the Volkswagen Golf GTD and BMW 335d, and whether the low redline is fit for a sporty car. Watch the full discussion below.
By Jason Udy
The Tesla Model S is brilliant. While we’re smitten with the quick electric car – the Motor Trend 2013 Car of the Year – Tesla CEO Elon Musk tells us there’s much more to come, including the Model X, an electric truck, and possibly self-driving cars. Musk also reaffirmed that the more affordable and higher-volume Tesla car is on the way.
In an interview with Motor Trend, Musk has revealed a bit more about the company’s future, looking past the production version of the Model X prototype — a three-row, seven-passenger SUV with gullwing style doors. We’ve also previously reported Tesla is planning a BMW 3 Series challenger that could arrive in 2015 after the Model X rolls into dealerships early in 2014. What Musk calls “an electric supercar” is part of Tesla’s plans as well, perhaps as a loose successor to the original Tesla Roadster. Most surprisingly, Musk admits he’s also been thinking about producing an electric truck. “We have this idea for an electric truck that could really be a big improvement in truck technology.”
Musk would also like to dip into autonomous cars. “I do think it will be interesting to do self-driving cars, perhaps working in conjunction with Google…” With the reelection of President Barack Obama, Musk hopes hybrids and electric cars will continue to become more affordable. He told Reuters that he would support tax credits of up to $10,000 on electric cars.
Read the full Motor Trend interview with Tesla’s Elon Musk right here.
Source: Motor Trend, Reuters
The Tesla Model S has never been marketed or positioned as a mass-market volume play along the lines of the Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Volt, but despite the car’s not-insignificant purchase price, the Palo Alto, California-based company is expected to report first-quarter sales of the Model S surpassing the Leaf and Volt, making the Model S the best-selling plug-in vehicle for the quarter, according to Bloomberg.
Tesla is expected to report 4750 deliveries of the Model S when it releases first-quarter sales and financial results. The Volt sold 4421 units and the leaf sold 3695 units in the same period. This accomplishment follows the company’s earlier announcement of a new fleet of loaner vehicles and a “no-fault” battery warranty, as well as the expectation it will post its first-ever quarterly profit.
General Motors spokesperson Jim Cain lauded Tesla’s apparent victory, saying, “Any success for a company in this space is helpful for all other makers of plug-in vehicles.”
Although the Model S has taken the lead for this quarter, both the Volt and the Leaf have been on-sale longer than the Model S, and have more affordable starting prices than the premium Model S, which can crest six figures in top-of-the-line trim. Despite Tesla’s apparent successes, many auto industry analysts remain skeptical of the company’s long-term viability.
Greg Emmerson of European Car joins the roundtable discussion on this episode of Wide Open Throttle to discuss his recent Head 2 Head comparison of the BMW E30 M3, Scion FR-S, and Volkswagen GTI. Jessi Lang, Jonny Lieberman, Angus MacKenzie, and Ron Kiino also discuss the crowded entry-luxury segment as well as the future of new and existing electric vehicle manufacturers.
Despite the classic BMW’s high cost of entry when it was new and similar performance to the more affordable FR-S, Emmerson defends the E30 M3 and GTI against the rear-drive Scion sports car. Next, the conversation moves to the entry-luxury market with Scion and Mazda wanting to move up and Mercedes-Benz and Audi strengthening their entry-level presence with the CLA and A3 four-doors. After talking about Scion’s original purpose of bringing younger buyers into the Toyota fold and then move them into Toyota and Lexus products, Lieberman questions how the youth brand can move upmarket. The panel then debates what constitutes luxury.
Just a day after Fisker executives were questioned by a government committee about the company’s $529 million loan, the latest Wide Open Throttle video crew discuss the fate of struggling Fisker, profitable Tesla, and newcomer Detroit Electric. Emmerson notes that BMW will soon introduce the i3 and i8 electric vehicles, and wonders how it will affect other mainstream brands as well as the newer EV makers.
Check out the video below to hear the full discussion.
By Jason Udy
The Zero Race, an appropriately named zero-emissions race designed to raise awareness about environmentally friendly vehicles, started its 18,000-mile, 80-day journey in Switzerland earlier this week.
Zero Race began in Geneva, Switzerland, and the competitors — four small teams that specially designed their electric vehicles — will make their way through Berlin to Shanghai, China. After their trip to the Far East, they’ll resume the race in Vancouver, Canada, and then on to Cancun, Mexico, in time for the World Climate Change Conference that starts November 29.
Over the course of the next few months, the competitors will cover more than 18,000 miles and travel for more than 80 days. All four of the competing vehicles are powered by electricity acquired from renewable resources, such as wind or the sun. Each vehicle can achieve a minimum speed of 55 mph and travel 155 miles between charges. In this fashion, the teams will travel the world without the vehicles ever emitting a pollutant from exhaust or from an electrical source. However, as the vehicles need to be shipped across several oceans, the event won’t be completely emissions-free.
Although called a race, time is anything but the determining factor in who wins. The competitors are scored on their reliability during the race, energy efficiency, safety, performance, and design popularity as scored by spectators along the way. At the end of the race, the competitor with the highest score wins.
“Such a clean technology initiative underscores the importance of individual efforts in building a green, low-carbon future for the world,” said United Nations Environment Program executive director Achim Steiner.
The race reflects growing interest in low-emissions vehicles. This interest, along with government incentives and regulations, has pushed automotive manufacturers to investigate hybrid and electric vehicles, such as the upcoming Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf. The small, startup automaker Tesla only builds electric vehicles, such as its Roadster and planned Model S sedan.
Head over to Zero Race’s Web site to view the competitors’ progress as they make their way around the world and look for the race to end at the World Climate Change Conference in November.
Source: Zero Race, Bloomberg
Since the automaker’s inception, the only way would-be Tesla Roadster drivers could get the electric sports car in their garages was to purchase one outright. But all that’s about to change with Tesla’s new vehicle leasing program.
Purchasing any car — let alone a two-seat all-electric sports car that runs over $100,000 — is a big decision. In order to get more people behind the wheel of its Roadsters, Tesla launched its Tesla Motors Leasing program. Leases last 36 months, and require a $12,453 at signing, along with a $9900 down payment. With this lease plan, monthly payments are estimated to be in the neighborhood of $1658 — in comparison, Tesla’s purchase plan, offered through Bank of America, would run customers an extra $1200 each month.
To add some icing on the cake, Tesla’s new “Tesla Rangers” service is included in the cost of the lease. As previously reported, the “Rangers” can perform service and maintenance tasks at the owner’s home in lieu of bringing it to a dealership. Normally, this service costs at least $1 per round-trip mile traveled.
Tesla’s lease program begins today, and according to the company, it’s ordered a handful of Roadsters with the most popular colors and options in order to prepare for customer demand.
Be sure to check out our comparison test that pits a 2010 Tesla Roadster against the 2010 Porsche Boxster Spyder (complete with video!).
Early sales of electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV may have proved underwhelming, but don’t count out the zero-emissions vehicles yet. At the Washington Auto Show, the Department of Energy announced the Workplace Charging Challenge signed by 13 companies including GM, Ford, Chrysler, Tesla, and Google. These companies have pledged to introduce a plan for workplace charging in at least one major company location. The DOE says the ultimate goal over the next five years is to increase tenfold the number of U.S. employers offering charging.
Also ambitious is the related EV-Everywhere Challenge. By the year 2022, the DOE hopes to see companies in the U.S. be the first to manufacture a five-passenger American electric vehicle that’s affordable and has a payback time of less than five years, yet still have a decent range so that families can use it without compromise. Helping to complete that picture will be additional fast-charging options scattered in various urban spaces.
“Having a robust charging infrastructure helps build range confidence, which boosts interest in and use of electric vehicles,” said Brendan Jones, Nissan’s director of electric vehicle marketing and sales strategy.
We’ve already reported on Tesla’s so-called Superchargers, and Nissan this week has announced its plans to add at least 500 quick-charging stations in the U.S. over the next 18 months, starting with 40 eVgo Freedom Station sites in Washington D.C. The sites can provide a Nissan Leaf an 80-percent charge in less than 30 minutes. Service plans offered by eVgo allow users to pay a monthly fee for unlimited charging.
Considering the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year is the all-electric Tesla Model S, and the “extended-range electric” Chevrolet Volt earned the golden calipers in 2011, increasing charging infrastructure sounds like a good idea to us. Before a national hydrogen refueling infrastructure gets any traction, perhaps the Workplace Charging Challenge and EV-Everywhere Challenge will help boost sales of electric vehicles.
Source: DOT, GM, Ford, Nissan
By Zach Gale
George Blankenship, Tesla’s VP of worldwide sales and ownership experience, recently took the opportunity to allay future Model S customer concerns with an update on the electric family sedan.
With production scheduled to commence in mid-2012, the first 1000 units built will be part of the North American Model S Signature Series. In acknowledgment of these initial models, they’ve been deemed “limited edition” and will come with their own unique badges and special options. All North American Model S Signature Series sedans will have the big 300-mile batteries.
We’ve long heard the Model S will start at $57,400 with the smallest 160-mile battery. Blankenship also disclosed the 230-mile battery will add another $10,000 to that cost, while the 300-mile battery will be a not unsubstantial $20,000 on top of the base price. As an incentive, a federal $7500 tax credit is being touted, and state governments may have their own financial perks for supporting alternative propulsion. Final MSRP and option prices are due this summer.
With the 300-mile packs expected off the line first, the 160- and 230-mile batteries will follow later in 2012. Left-hand drive deliveries to Europe will also begin in late 2012 and right-hand drive applications for Europe and Asia will follow suit in mid-2013. Tesla anticipates a grand total of 5000 sedans produced in 2012 at the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California. By 2013, the EV builder will be targeting an annual total of 20,000.
A few months ago, we found that Tesla expects the 20,000-unit production mark to bring them to profits. Stay tuned as we continue to follow the progress of this much-hyped electric sedan from Silicon Valley.
By Benson Kong
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.”
Auto News, Detroit Auto Show, Future/Spied, Green Cars, Hatchback, Hybrid Car/EV, Luxury Car, Tesla, Video Find
Our Cars: 2010 Ram 2500 HD – Highway Cruising and Moving Duties
By Zach Gale