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Tesla Takes Steps to Take Service, Warranty From “OK” to “Great”

Tesla Takes Steps to Take Service, Warranty From “OK” to “Great”

Tesla Motors has just announced its plans to revamp the way the automaker provides service and maintenance. CEO Elon Musk recent hosted a live Q&A webcast outlining the new plans, highlighted by intriguing trade-in options with service loaners and a nearly-owner-proof battery warranty.

2013 Tesla Model S right rear side 300x187 imageMusk said his goal is to transform Tesla’s service experience from “OK” to “great.” To start that process, a fleet of loaded Model S cars (and in some markets, Roadsters) will be offered as loaner cars while owners have their vehicles serviced. The company can have the loaner car delivered to owners for no extra fee. Additionally, Tesla hopes to keep the service fleet fresh and new by allowing customers to purchase the loaner if they like it better than their current car. Tesla says the loaner cars will depreciate at a rate of 1 percent per month and $1 per mile. The cars traded in will simply be put up for sale as a used vehicle.

Tesla also hopes to wipe out any doubt potential electric-car owners have surrounding its batteries. The automaker will replace a defective battery regardless of cause, even if the owner is found to be at fault. That means if the battery fails due to improper charging habits, Tesla will still replace it. Obvious attempts at abuse won’t be covered (one of Tesla’s examples: “lighting the pack on fire with a blowtorch is not covered”). The battery warranty (eight years or 125,000 miles, whichever comes first) won’t change and Tesla will used a refurbished battery pack with equal or better battery capacity than the original.

2013 Tesla Model S interior view 300x187 imageThat said, Tesla is now making the $600 annual checkup completely optional. The automaker points to the fact that its cars require very little service. Brake pads in a Tesla, for example, don’t wear as quickly as those in gas-powered car thanks to the regenerative braking system that recaptures energy while simultaneously slowing down the car. In all, Musk hopes the updates to his automaker’s service and warranty methods will provide customers added peace of mind, even those who have never opened the manual.

“Any product that needs a manual to work is broken,” Musk said in the webcast.

Earlier this month Tesla announced a new financing option that makes owning a Model S more affordable.

Source: Tesla

By Erick Ayapana

Tesla Sues Top Gear; CEO Shrugs Off Takeover Talk

Tesla Sues Top Gear; CEO Shrugs Off Takeover Talk

Fans of the British Top Gear television program may remember the controversy surrounding a segment involving the Tesla Roadster.

First aired back on December 14, 2008, the Top Gear episode (season 12, episode 7) infamously depicted the electric sports car being rolled into a garage in an attempt to highlight the plight of using electricity to solely provide a vehicle’s motive force. A purportedly broken brake pedal was also brought to viewer attention, as was an overheated drive motor. Well-recognized host and all-around funnyman Jeremy Clarkson concluded his piece by saying the Roadster won’t work in the real world. Now, Tesla has sued Top Gear and the British Broadcasting Corporation for libel, claiming the show’s Roadster footage was scripted, produced, and shown in bad faith.

First and foremost, Tesla says the lawsuit isn’t about money and they’d like Top Gear and the BBC to set the record straight on the Roadster. Pulling the segment off all official channels would be a start. Given the popularity of the motoring show, Tesla asserts they’ve tried repeatedly to get the BBC to reconsider showing and reshowing the clip, affirming there’s been enough negativity publicity to warrant their actions. They’ve even set up a Web page dedicated to the litigation, viewable HERE. For now, we wait to see how these events will unfold.

Never one to shy from speaking his mind, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also gone on the offensive in a different matter, giving his two cents regarding a recent column that calls Tesla a “prime acquisition target.”

For as long as Tesla has been doing business, there have been deathwatches and critical analyses of the Palo Alto-based automaker. Recently, the Business Insider Web site hosted a column titled, “Why Electric Carmaker Tesla Motors Will Likely Be Acquired,” submitted by two University of Virginia students studying at the McIntire School of Commerce. Though the authors don’t appear to doubt Tesla’s products and ideals, they believe the company itself cannot carry on alone and would be ripe for takeover within the next three to five years.

Tesla boss Musk dismisses the Business Insider column, acknowledging the difficulty of entering the auto business, but stating Tesla can pull it off.

“Their analysis of Tesla is incredibly bad,” said Musk by e-mail to Automotive News. “Tesla is of course a potential takeover target, like almost all public companies. However, I’m also highly confident that we can succeed as an independent company.”

With the Model S in the pipeline and scheduled for full production in 2012, Tesla will need its all-electric family sedan to hit the ground running. Whether there’s a takeover or not, it’s simple really: no sales, no business.

Sources: Tesla, Automotive News (Subscription Required), Business Insider

By Benson Kong

Wide Open Throttle Drives Tesla Model S, Explores Tesla Factory

Wide Open Throttle Drives Tesla Model S, Explores Tesla Factory

The 2012 Tesla Model S is a make-or-break car for electric car manufacturer Tesla. On this week’s Wide Open Throttle, host Jessi Lang takes us on a tour of Tesla’s Silicon Valley factory, while Frank Markus brings us along for his interview with Elon Musk and drive of the 2012 Tesla Model S.

Lang starts with 2012 Tesla Model S specs. The Model S will be available with 40-, 60- and 85-kWh battery capacities, with an estimated range of up to 265 miles. The Model S is powered by a rear AC induction motor producing 362 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque in the base model, and 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque in the performance model.

After Lang hands things off to Markus, he chats with co-founder and CEO Elon Musk and takes the Model S out for a spin in the city, on the highway, and in the twisties.

Check out the latest episode of Wide Open Throttle for yourself below for Markus’ full driving impressions, and make sure you check out our exclusive First Drive and breakdown of the Model S’ factory.

By Christian Seabaugh

Creative Math: Tesla Says Model S True Net Cost Is Under $500/Month With New Financing Option

Creative Math: Tesla Says Model S True Net Cost Is Under $500/Month With New Financing Option

Tesla has announced a new, more affordable way to get behind the wheel of a Model S. Essentially a leasing program, Tesla’s new financing is designed to make it more affordable than ever to buy a Model S. How affordable? Tesla is tossing around a $500-per-month figure with no money down, though that’s with a bit of creative math, which we’ll explain below.

2013 Tesla Model S front side 300x187 imageThe program, a collaboration with U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, works by having the banks pick up the Model S’ 10-percent down payment. The down payment is covered by federal and state tax credits, which range from $7500 to as high as $15,000, if you live in West Virginia. Essentially, the banks are using as a down payment the tax credit Model S buyers would otherwise receive further down the line.

The buyer, who Tesla chief Elon Musk says must have excellent credit, then makes a monthly payment based on a 2.95-percent interest rate. According to Tesla’s math, that could amount to about $500 per month for 66 months for a buyer of a 65 kWh Model S. That figure is all smoke and mirrors, though, as the automaker is taking into account intangibles like the time you save by using the carpool lane or avoiding the gas station.

2013 Tesla Model S left profile 300x187 imageFor example, say you’re a wealthy West Virginian business owner who’s purchasing a new 65 kWh Model S, who drives 15,000 miles per year, and is getting out of a BMW 550i, which nets 20 mpg combined on the EPA test cycle. Right there, Tesla says you’ve netted $267 per month in energy savings if you figure the average price of premium gas over the next three years will be $5 a gallon. Drive your car for business? Deduct at least $200 per month off. Is your time worth $100 per hour? Then you’ve essentially saved $167 by cutting your commute by five minutes every day, using the carpool lane. Under all those conditions, according to Tesla, your monthly payment amounts to just $184 per month. Except it doesn’t. This West Virginian businessman will actually be paying $1051 per month for his Model S. An 85 kWh Model S Performance, the quickest American four-door we’ve ever tested, would really cost $1421 per month, and the regular 85 kWh model goes for $1199 a month. It’s worth noting that the costs of driving a $1400-per-month Model S will almost certainly be less than driving a comparable $1400 per month gas-powered car.

After three years of owning the Model S the owner will have the opportunity to sell the car back to Tesla, for at least the same residual value of an equivalent-year Mercedes-Benz S-Class. At the moment, that value is 43 percent, as long you drive less than 12,000 miles a year. For those concerned about the viability of Tesla in the long run, Elon Musk will pick up the tab in the unlikely case Tesla doesn’t exist after those three years.

Ultimately, this program looks to be a win for Tesla and a way for those who might not otherwise be able to afford a Model S to get their hands on one of our favorite electric cars. As for what’s next from Tesla, Musk promised the automaker would begin holding weekly phone conferences with the press, so stay tuned.

Play with Tesla’s True Cost of Ownership Model S calculator here.

Source: Tesla

By Christian Seabaugh

We Hear: Tesla Still Considering “Compelling” EV Under $40,000

We Hear: Tesla Still Considering “Compelling” EV Under $40,000

Before Elon Musk even begins to consider letting Tesla be acquired by a larger company, expect a “compelling” electric vehicle with a starting price under $40,000. That’s the latest news from Tesla, which recently paid back its DOE loans nine years early and has seen its stock shoot up past $100 a share.

2012 Tesla Model S rear three quarter 1 300x187 imageThe last time we heard about a more affordable Tesla, the entry-level four-door was to carry a base price around $30,000 and sell at much higher volumes than the Model S, whose production will be around 20,000-21,000 units globally in 2013. The less-expensive Tesla could reach consumers in three to four years, Musk said to Bloomberg, though the Model X’s debut has been pushed back to late 2014.

Musk acknowledged the Model S is priced too high for most consumers to consider, and described the Nissan Leaf as cheap but not great.

“What the world needs is a great, affordable electric car,” Musk said to Bloomberg. “I’m not going to let anything go, no matter what people offer, until I complete that mission.”

The Nissan Leaf has had a slow start, but with 62,000 units sold worldwide and a significantly lowered base price, the car has started to catch on a bit in the U.S. The Tesla Model S has sold well in spite of the lowest-range 40-kWh model the company said only four percent of customers asked for. Musk claims the more affordable electric car will have a range of about 200 miles, and we’re sure models with more range will easily pass the $50,000 mark.

Whether Tesla can bring to market in three to four years a compelling $40,000 electric four-door with a 200-mile range remains to be seen — the company’s next challenge will be the Model X’s launch.

Source: Bloomberg

By Zach Gale

Video Find: Tesla Model S Alpha Triplets Play on the Track

Video Find: Tesla Model S Alpha Triplets Play on the Track

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

By Karla Sanchez

2013 Tesla Model S Tested at the Track and on the Streets in New Ignition

2013 Tesla Model S Tested at the Track and on the Streets in New Ignition

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.

2013 Tesla Model S on Ignition image 6 300x187 imageAt 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

Pikes Peak “Monster” Meets and Drives the Tesla Model S

Pikes Peak “Monster” Meets and Drives the Tesla Model S

We’ve spent lots of time behind the wheel of the Tesla Model S, driving gently to test its range. We would have gladly taken the Model S closer to its limit, but Tesla had another driver in mind for that task: Nobuhiro ‘Monster” Tajima, nine-time winner of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

While the drive doesn’t occur on the famed Colorado mountain, Tesla found a local Northern California road that worked just fine for the Model S and the Monster. In our testing, the Model S P85 accelerated from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds, tying the time of the Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG. So what did he think? Watch the video below to find out and revisit our Tesla Model S L.A. to Las Vegas road trip video as well.

Source: Tesla

By Erick Ayapana

Top 10 Road Trip Cars with 400 Horsepower or More and Room for Four

Top 10 Road Trip Cars with 400 Horsepower or More and Room for Four

With the holidays fast approaching and enthusiasts planning road trips to visit family and friends, we’ve put together this list of the top 10 coolest road trip cars with 400 hp or more that can accommodate at least four full-size adults. From four-wheel-drive SUVs for those who may traverse deep snow to rear-drive sedans and a wagon for those whose travels will feature sunshine and dry roads, we’ve got the field covered for drivers who demand 400 hp or more.

Click through to read our picks for the top 10 road trip cars with 400 horsepower or more and room for four.

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Audi, Crossover/SUV, Dodge, Features, Hybrid Car/EV, Hyundai, Land Rover, Luxury Car, Sedan, Tesla, Top 10 Lists

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By Jason Udy

We Hear: Tesla Sets Up Roadster-to-Model S Trade-In Program

We Hear: Tesla Sets Up Roadster-to-Model S Trade-In Program

Tesla is ready to help out those owners who feel that their Roadsters aren’t new and shiny enough. According to a new report, the electric car maker will be giving owners a credit when they trade in a Roadster for a new Model S.

2012 Tesla Model S rear three quarter 2 300x187 imageThe San Francisco Chronicle reports that Tesla has created a buyback program for current Roadster owners who are looking to move into a new Model S. Tesla’s program works just as any other trade-in deal would work, and has been created to help simplify the process for Model S/Roadster customers, according to Tesla representative Christina Ra. Since some Model S variants are actually priced well below the Roadster, it is possible for an owner to receive more on a trade than the cost of the new car. “In that case, we’d write you a check,” Tom vonReichbauer, Tesla’s director of finance, told the Chronicle.

Pricing for the Model S hatchback starts at $57,400 for the 40 kWh battery, steps up to $67,400 for the 60 kWh car, and $77,400 for the 85 kWh model (all prices are before any government tax rebates). The EPA has already rated the 85-kWh Model S at 89 MPGe and a range of 265 miles. Currently, the only Model S versions being built are the top-spec Signature Performance models that use the 85-kWh battery; an upgraded interior, suspension, and wheels; and the exclusivity of being just one of 1000 units built. Once all the Signature models are built, the automaker will begin to produce the Model S and Model S Performance versions.

Having a cache of Roadsters will also help Tesla, the Chronicle points out. Having another vehicle to sell alongside the Model S until the Model X crossover debuts will help the automaker keep retail sales going. It’s expected that a Roadster would be resold for anywhere around $73,000 to $94,000 depending on age and mileage of the car.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

By Donny Nordlicht

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