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A less-than-positive review in the New York Times has unleashed the ire of Tesla Motors founder and CEO Elon Musk. After Times reviewer was unable to duplicate Tesla’s range claims for the 85-kWh Model S on a drive from Washington, D.C. to New England, Musk threw out a few choice words on Twitter and CNBC.
It all started with John M. Broder’s review, which was published in the New York Times this past Sunday. In the article, Broder says he had to power down the Model S’ heating and crawl along at 54 mph on a highway with a 65 mph speed limit to keep his Model S from dying.
This was despite the fact that Broder stopped at Tesla’s two East Coast Supercharger stations (in Newark, Delaware and Milford, Connecticut) to recharge. When he left Newark, the battery meter said he had a full charge, which should have been enough to complete the trip. Instead, Broder spent part of his return trip on the back of a tow truck.
Musk responded to the article with a tweet stating that “NYTimes article about Tesla range in cold is fake. Vehicle logs tell true story that he didn’t actually charge to max & took a long detour.”
The Tesla CEO went on to say that his company had verified the state of charge and the route Broder took with the car’s onboard data logger.
“Tesla data logging is only turned on with explicit written permission from customers, but after Top Gear BS, we always keep it on for media,” Musk tweeted. Tesla sued the popular BBC car show over a supposedly libelous review of its Roadster sports car. The original suit and Tesla’s appeal were both thrown out.
Musk also went on CNBC and called the Times article “something of a set-up.”
“If you had a gasoline car,” Musk said, and “if you only filled the tank part way, and instead of driving to your destination, you meandered through downtown Manhattan, and through all the traffic and everything, and then raced to where you were originally supposed to go, and you ran out of gas, people would just think you’re a fool.”
Broder responded to Musk’s attacks with a blog post. He said the meandering detour Musk described in his CNBC interview was actually a two-mile course correction through Manhattan that was meant to increase the Model S’ range by using its regenerative brakes in stop-and-go traffic. Broder said occasional braking (as opposed to straight highway driving on cruise control) was recommended to him as a range-increasing strategy by a Tesla employee.
In his article, Broder also describes several Tesla employees who said the Model S’ diminishing range was the result of low temperatures. After the article ran, Broder was told, by both Tesla employees and random Internet commenters, that he should have left the car plugged in overnight at the Connecticut Supercharger station to compensate.
The Supercharger also has a “Max Range” setting, which can add 25 miles to a Model S’ range, but takes longer and can damage the battery if overused. Despite contacting Tesla numerous times over the course of his trip, Broder says he was not instructed to use the Max Range setting.
Clear your mind for a second and ask yourself this: when does a new brand become well established? We'll tell you. It's when people start calling whatever it makes "classic".
We've looked at the Tesla Model S from every angle, and by God it's a classic. The company has weathered the storm, establishing itself with a new car formula that we didn't understand very well at first.
This sinister black example of the sedan is absolutely an eye-catcher. It deserves just as much attention as any of the big German names on the market, especially now that it reeived a custom treatment like no other.
Like a black hole sucking in all the light, the sinister Tesla will cruise the streets drawing in people's gazes. It has tinted glass, black door handles and best of all, brushed titanium HRE wheel.
Editor's note: Who needs trapezoidal exhaust pipes when you have door handles that come out!
❐ Check out the Tesla Model S on HRE Wheels photo gallery
By Mihnea Radu
The iPhone 5 isn’t the only new high-tech toy to pop up on eBay for exorbitant prices, as one industrious individual has taken to the online auction site in order to sell their soon-to-be-delivered all-electric luxury sedan.
The seller, a reservation holder based in Portland, Maine, placed his Tesla Model S Signature Series on eBay for a staggering $145,000 with an entry bid requirement of $138,500. The vehicle is scheduled to arrive on October 14.
So did anyone actually place a bid? Nope. And we can’t say we’re all that surprised. While a few enterprising folks are likely to sell the iPhone 5 for some ridiculous, inflated price, this seller’s Tesla didn’t fare so well, garnering zero bids.
As a quick recap, the near top-of-the-line Model S ordered directly from Tesla starts at about $95,400 (excluding a $7,500 federal tax credit). In addition to being your neighborhood’s electric car cock of the walk, that $100,000 will nab you a Model S Signature Series with an 85 kWh battery, zero to 60 mpg in 5.6 seconds, and an estimated range of 300 miles. You’ll also get the second most powerful version (the Model S Signature Performance takes that crown with 362 horsepower, 32 pound feet of torque, and a top speed of 125 mph).
“This may be the only chance in the next few years to acquire one of these amazing, limited edition, game changing vehicles,” the seller wrote on his auction post. But rather than turn to eBay, simply placing a $5,000 deposit will reserve you a spot in line for a Model S. Of course that will require a degree of patience as there is currently a 6-12 month waiting list.
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The Tesla Model S Performance looks great on paper.
Not only does the 85 kWh Model S have an impressive 265-mile EPA-rated range, but it’ll do the benchmark 0-60 mph sprint in only 4.4 seconds.
That means the all-electric luxury sport sedan from Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] is at least as fast as V-8 German super sedans like the BMW M5.
But how do you quantify that sort of speed in the real world? If you’re Drag Times, you put it on the strip, preferably head to head against an American legend like the Dodge Viper SRT10. And then you beat it.
Yup, the near-silent Tesla made a mockery of the shiny red sports car–posting a quarter-mile time of little over 12 seconds in the process.
A second video shows the Tesla’s fastest pass, at 12.371 seconds and 110.84 mph. There aren’t a great many production cars which would do better–mostly vehicles well into the “supercar” or “hypercar” brackets, and at even higher cost than the Model S.
Some of the other statistics are outstanding too.
Drag Times recorded a 3.9-second 0-60 mph time on their VBOX timing gear. Given the Tesla’s hefty weight at the curb of 4,690 lbs, it’s even more impressive–weight is typically the enemy of speed.
Huge low-down torque helps, of course–the 416-hp Model S Performance develops 443 lbs-ft from zero to 5,100rpm, and power delivery is much smoother too.
While that driver in the Viper had to manage wheelspin and shift gears, the Tesla driver just has to sink the right pedal and keep it on the floor until he passes the 1/4-mile mark.
We’d love to see what other car giants the Model S is capable of killing.
With zero emissions and supercar-slaying acceleration, it seems you can really have your cake and eat it too.
Other than range concerns, one of the things that makes consumers most anxious about electric cars is the durability and replacement cost of their spendy battery packs.
Rumor has it that Tesla Motors is working on a solution to that problem: modular battery packs that can be quickly and easily swapped out of a car. Tesla said it was working on this idea in a May 10 filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission.
On page 38, Tesla addressed consumer concerns that limit EVs’ appeal, including bad press from the 2011 Chevrolet Volt fires, and the concern that battery packs that aren’t properly charged will become unstable and need replacement.
Also on the list was Tesla’s “capability to rapidly swap out the Model S battery pack and the development of specialized public facilities to perform such swapping, which do not currently exist but which we plan to introduce in the near future (emphasis ours).”
How near that future is unclear, though. According to Green Car Reports, Tesla has been discussing a battery-swapping setup for the Model S since 2009, and discussed implementing the technology sometime in 2013 in an annual report filed in March.
Battery swapping is exactly what it sounds like: a depleted battery is switched out for a fully-charged one, just like a pair of AAs in a flashlight, but obviously on a much larger scale.
Better Place has been implementing this idea in Israel since 2008, using Renault Fluence Z.E. electric cars and a network of battery swapping stations. Car buyers are primarily buying access to the charging station network, just as cell phone users are primarily buying access to providers’ networks when they purchase a phone.
Under both the Tesla and Better Place schemes, drivers pull their cars into a bay where machines removed the battery pack from underneath a car’s floor and replace it with a new one.
Tesla owners could potentially pay for the service through their Model S’ touch screens, making the whole process fully automated. Unlike Better Place, they may also have to return for their cars’ original battery packs once they are charged up.
This system could not only curb range anxiety by eliminating long charging times, it could also make replacing the most expensive part of an electric car incredibly easy. Imagine removing the engine from a gasoline-powered car in a few minutes and you’ll get an idea of where this is going.
So far, though, battery swapping hasn’t worked out well for Better Place. The company only delivered 518 cars in 2012, with 100 reserved for internal use. Granted, Better Place is only operating in Israel.
Tesla seems to have the magic touch when it comes to electric cars, so we’re eager to see how it implements rapid battery swapping, whenever that happens.
Tesla Model S launch
Tesla Motors said today it would cut the third-quarter production target for its 2012 Model S all-electric sport sedan, according to a stock analyst who follows the company.
A report by Wunderlich Securities analyst Theodore O’Neill notes that Tesla is now saying it would probably only deliver 500 cars through the end of September, down from a previous target of 1,000.
It still expects to deliver about 5,000 cars by the end of 2012, meaning an average of 1,500 cars a month from October through December.
The delays were attributed to unspecified production execution issues.
Green Car Reports has asked Tesla for confirmation of the report, and will update this story if we receive further information.
[UPDATE: In response to a question asking for confirmation of the report, Tesla spokesperson Shanna Hendriks replied, “Tesla’s plan has been and continues to be a focus on quality while ramping up production of Model S. This plan has not changed, and there have been no unexpected challenges or issues.”
That translates to “no comment”; you may draw your own conclusions.]
Tesla delivered its first production Model S in late June, and is now slowly ramping up production of the pioneering electric luxury sedan.
It has said it expects to deliver 15,000 cars during 2013, once its assembly plant in Fremont, California, is up to a steady production rate.
The news caused Wunderlich to downgrade Tesla Motors stock and change its recommendation to Sell, setting a new target price of $28 per share–down from its previous target of $49.
Two other analysts, Jefferies Group and Maxim Group, left their Buy ratings for Tesla stock unchanged.
Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] stock declined steadily throughout yesterday; today the stock price climbed until about 1 pm and then began to fall.
With a little over two weeks left to go until Tesla finally launch their long-awaited Model S, officials have announced that they will be holding 5,000 test drives, in the 45 days immediately after the car’s June 22nd launch. The test drive, which is part of the 'Get AmpedModel S Tour', will be available for anyone who’s ‘pre-ordered’ a Model S, and it will last for around 8 minutes per customer.
The course of the test drive is specially designed to allow the driver to experience the Model S in a wide range of driving environments, located around Tesla’s Freemont, California factory. Drivers will see how the car behaves during highway driving, while tackling various types of bends and roads of varying smoothness with a dash of in-town driving thrown in as well.
The announcement for the test drive comes along with another official video from Tesla, now showing us their ‘Body Center’, how the various bits of the car’s body come together and how they are welded up by robotic arms as they move along the production line, with the caption at the end of the video reading “They’re coming…”
We think that’s a lot to process in only 8 minutes, and those who have reserved their car may be disappointed that the test drive is so short – we know we would!
❐ Check out the Map of the Model S Test Drive Tour photo gallery
Electric car company Tesla Motors officially revealed on Saturday a “beta” version of its Model S sedan to customers who pre-ordered the long-awaited car, at its factory in Fremont, California. Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk also announced the planned production of a faster version of the Model S, which is capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 MPH in just 4.5 seconds.
The elite group of customers invited to the event were asked to proselytize the benefits of electric car technology while they wait for their vehicles to be delivered next year. Essentially a start-up car company, Tesla faces incredible odds in competing against far larger and more-established brands, like Chevrolet and Toyota.
Prior to production of the Model S, Tesla had only produced one vehicle, the speedy Tesla Roadster sports car, which sells for around $100,000. With the Roadster, Tesla was able to garner praise within the industry and enthusiasm from electric car early-adopters, but sales of the vehicle have yet to turn a profit for Tesla. The Model S, by comparison, will cost around $57,400. The 6,000-vehicle-strong 2012 production run of the Model S is already sold out.
Tesla will offer the Model S with three different battery options, one with a maximum range of 160-miles-per-charge, one with a 230-mile range and one with a 300-mile range. Musk said that it will also offer the option of custom wheels that reduce drag, and give the car a range of up to 320 miles on a single charge.
The sportier Model S will reportedly include an upgraded powertrain that allows the car to reach 60 MPH in 4.5 seconds, as opposed to the 5.6-second time it takes the current Model S sedan. With that kind of speed, the Model S sports version is faster than a Porche 911 Carrera.
By Andrew Couts
Range anxiety is one of the main points against the current crop of EVs, as they simply lack the battery capacity to be used anywhere else, aside from a city environment. However, Tesla set out to change that, by not only offering the highest-capacity battery packs on the market, for their cars, but also through their network of ‘Superchargers’.
There are currently six such stations, all of which are in California, and now open to the public, as well. They are placed at ‘strategic’ points, near malls, restaurants and other places where people gather, and offer an extra 150 miles (240 km), free of charge, for all Tesla owners.
The plan is to cover the entire country with Superchargers, in about two years’ time, with the increase in coverage being guided by the number of Tesla drivers in a particular area of the country. However, with the launch of the Model X and the all-electric 3-Series rival, as well as an increase in the production of the Model S, there will be quite a few of these cars on US roads in coming years – they’d best be prepared.