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MT Then and Now: Tesla Roadster, Model S, Model X Prototype

MT Then and Now: Tesla Roadster, Model S, Model X Prototype

When Tesla Motors was founded in the early 2000s, many would never have guessed the company would last long enough to produce a car like the Model S. The first car to arrive was the Tesla Roadster, followed by the just-released Model S and, before long, the Model X. As we share the results of our exclusive range test of the Model S, WOT is taking a look back at the Tesla models we’ve driven and tested over the years.

Roadster

Based on the Lotus Elise chassis, the Tesla Roadster replaced the Toyota-sourced four-cylinder gasoline engine with a 248-hp AC motor that generated 211 lb-ft of torque at 0 rpm. Juice supplied by a 6831-cell lithium-ion battery pack powered the electric motor that sent power to the rear wheels via a two-speed dual-clutch transmission. We were impressed during our First Drive of the Tesla Roadster in 2008.

2008 Tesla Roadster cockpit 1 300x187 image“I’m almost grimacing as I release the brake and pound the accelerator to the floor. Whrrrrrrr…30 mph, 40 mph, 50…in the four seconds it’s taken to read this sentence, the Roadster has shrieked to 60 mph (Tesla’s claimed 3.9 seconds would seem entirely plausible in a controlled setting). There’s no wheelspin, axle tramp, shutter, jutter, smoke whiff, cowl shake, nothing. I’m being eerily teleported down the barrel of a rail gun, head pulled back by a hard, steady acceleration. Bizarre.”

During the following months, Tesla failed to deliver the first Roadsters on time and the car began to look like vaporware. After a long delay, deliveries began. The Roadster now used a one-speed transmission, which cured the ills that plagued the two-speed unit – that along with financial difficulties slowed development. Though horsepower remained the same, torque grew to 278 lb-ft of torque. The battery pack gave the Roadster a 227-mile range.

2010 Tesla Roadster Sport side static 300x187 image“Yeah, OK and driving it as intended, as a true sports car, ain’t great for range either. But boy does it lift the spirits. You know the drill: aluminum chassis, double wishbones, carbon fiber body, about 2750 pounds, excellent mass distribution and — oh joy! — unassisted rack and pinion steering. The Roadster delivers on the promises of its spec.”

In 2010, we finally tested a Tesla Roadster. Our tester came in Sport form, which bumped power to 288 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. “…its acceleration is breathtaking. Make that breath-extracting. At the track, we confirmed the car’s 3.7-second scream to 60 mph — but, that’s just a number. Three-point-seven — what’s that mean? Felt, it’s such an unnatural thrust that it actually brings to mind that hokey Star Trek star-smear of warp-speed. The quick, linear accumulation of velocity makes you smile and hold on, shake your head, and eventually learn to carve unimaginable moves through traffic that’s populated by completely flat-footed internal-combustion cars.”

2010 Tesla Roadster with 2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder front view 300x187 imageWe compared that same Tesla Roadster against the 2011 Porsche Boxster S. In the end, we handed the win to the Boxster, but noted that “the Tesla is now a genuine car to reckon with on the world stage, despite its extraordinary price and limited range. Now if only it could better communicate its handling intentions.”

Model S

Unlike the Lotus-derived Roadster, the Model S four-door was fully developed by Tesla. The flat battery pack sits below the floor and the 306-hp electric motor powers the rear wheels. With no combustion engine or transmission to worry about, the design allows a small front trunk and a large rear hatch area. Optional rear-facing jump seats increase passenger seating to seven.

2012 Tesla Model S right frong motion during testing 300x187 image“The car’s acceleration — claimed to be 5.6 seconds to 60 mph — is a continuous press-the-seat-back surge that only a single-speed, big electric motor can provide. Interestingly, while the motor is quiet, its growly roar is a very different acoustic signature than the frenetic whine in the Roadster. Tesla claims that’s just how it sounds, and no acoustic modifications have been attempted. Bumps were nicely absorbed amid muted tire-impact noises, and the lateral grip seemed considerable for a car over 4000 pounds. That low battery location and compact powertrain are very helpful.”

Recently, we got another drive in the Model S. Horsepower has climbed since our first drive in the Model S, now at 362 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque while Performance versions make 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. Depending on the size of the battery pack, the Model S’ driving range is said to be 160, 230, and 300 miles, the last of which was EPA-rated at 265 miles. “I’d advocate for a bit more rear seat space, comfort, and lateral support, and of course more range for less money would be nice,” Frank Markus concluded after his stint in the car. “But the dynamic performance, equipment level, and style nearly justify the price — even if you don’t care about the electric drivetrain. I don’t. And I want one.”

2012 Tesla Model S cockpit and center screen 300x187 imageWe traveled 233.7 miles during a recent trip in a Tesla Model S from Los Angeles to San Diego and back before stopping to recharge when the onboard range meter said we would be 1.7 miles short of reaching the office. Despite that, we were impressed by the energy cost to make the journey, “During our drive, we used 78.2 kW-hrs of electricity (93 percent of the battery’s rated capacity). What does that mean? It’s the energy equivalent of 2.32 gasoline gallons, or 100.7 mpg-e before charging losses. That BMW 528i following us consumed 7.9 gallons of gas for a rate of 30.1 mpg. The Tesla’s electrical energy cost for the trip was $10.17; the BMW’s drive cost $34.55. The 528i emitted 152 lbs of CO2; the Model S, 52 — from the state’s power plants.”

In our latest real-world range test of the Model S, we drove the electric car from the edge of Los Angeles to Las Vegas, then back to our El Segundo office. After these tests – which used Musk’s personal car, we developed some conclusions about the Model S.

Tesla Model X left rear doors open 300x187 image“The take home message isn’t whether or not the Model S meets the EPA’s range rating of 265 miles. We’ve proven that it does and does not. The takeaway is that the Tesla Model S is not a real electric car, it’s a real car that just happens to be electric.”

Model X Prototype

If all goes well with the Model S, a production version of the Model X prototype — a three-row, seven-passenger SUV with gullwing style doors — is next from Tesla. Before volume delivery of that car begins in the 2014 calendar year, though, Tesla will depend on the sales of the Model S, a car that’s progressed quite a bit from the company’s beginnings with the Roadster.

By Jason Udy

Tesla Model S Sales Exceed Expectations, Low-Range Model Axed

Tesla Model S Sales Exceed Expectations, Low-Range Model Axed

Tesla Motors announced today that it will report profitability for the first quarter, after sales of the Model S electric sedan exceeded expectations. Tesla has sold 4750 units of the car thus far, up from the 4500 units previously planned.

The announcement is good news for Tesla after a disappointing year in 2012, when the company lost almost $400 million. Last year, Tesla sold just 2650 units of the Model S while it ramped up production of the car.

Tesla Model S interior 300x187 image“There have been many car startups over the past several decades, but profitability is what makes a company real. Tesla is here to stay and keep fighting for the electric car revolution,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a statement.

The company also announced two changes to the model lineup. First, Tesla has killed the low-range, 40-kWh version of the Model S. Only four percent of customers asked for the smallest battery, making it financially difficult for Tesla to build that version. Customers will receive the next largest battery pack, with a capacity of 60 kWh, but the car’s software will keep range equivalent to that of the 40-kWh pack unless owners pay for an upgrade.

In addition, Tesla revealed what it calls an Easter egg in the new Model S. Although the hardware to use Tesla’s Supercharger fast-charging network was supposed to be optional, it has actually been included in all versions of the Model S. Customers can simply pay for a software update to “unlock” the function if they need to use the Supercharger network.

Source: Tesla Motors

By Jake Holmes

Tesla Posts First-Ever Quarterly Profit, Raises Global Sales Target

Tesla Posts First-Ever Quarterly Profit, Raises Global Sales Target

Tesla CEO Elon Musk must be smiling, because the startup company has made a profit for the first time in its 10-year history. Tesla reported revenue of $562 million, resulting in an $11.2-million net income.

2013 Tesla Model S front right side1 300x187 imageThe Model S, which we named the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year, plays a huge part in this, as the company sold 4900 vehicles in the first quarter, exceeding the original 4500-unit goal. Tesla said it produced 400 or more cars a week, totaling 5000 for the first quarter. The company also raised its full-year forecast to about 21,000 worldwide deliveries (from 20,000), which seems like a realistic goal since the company has reduced the number of hours it takes to build a Model S. The automaker estimates U.S. demand this year for the Model S at 15,000 units.

Tesla now offers an improved finance plan and longer-term loans, which should make it easier for more people to consider a Model S. The automaker also improved its service experience, though the dealer network continues to expand. Over the last 30 days, Tesla’s stock has jumped from around $42 to about $55 a share. Whether the Model X can repeat the Model S’ success remains to be seen.

In other Tesla news, the Model S has also earned Consumer Reports‘ highest rating of 99 out of 100, performing better than any other vehicle except the Lexus LS 460L, which earned the almost-perfect score in 2007. The electric sedan was lauded for its quick acceleration, precise handling, and quiet interior. The publication didn’t like the limited range and long charging times.

Source: Tesla, Consumer Reports

By Karla Sanchez

Consumer Reports Rates Tesla Model S 99 Out Of 100 – Rumor Central

Consumer Reports Rates Tesla Model S 99 Out Of 100

The Tesla Model S now has another strong endorsement. Product-review publication Consumer Reports gave the electric car 99 out of 100 possible points — a rating matched by only one other car in Consumer Reports’ history, the 2007 Lexus LS460L.

The Tesla Model S received the ringing endorsement from Consumer Reports because, “It accelerates, handles and brakes like a sports car, it has the ride and quietness of a luxury car and is far more energy efficient than the best hybrid cars,” automotive testing director Jake Fisher said in a statement. The publication called the Model S “the most practical” electric car on sale today, compared its handling to that of Porsche models, and said it is the quietest car CR has tested since the aforementioned Lexus LS460L.

Nonetheless, CR dinged the Tesla for its high price, long charging times, and low rear-seat headroom. The publication also warned that Tesla doesn’t yet have a proven track record of building high volumes of cars, and because so few have been sold, CR doesn’t yet have enough reliability data to give the Model S its coveted “Recommended” label.CR‘s test car is apparently averaging between 180 and 225 miles per charge; the EPA says versions with the 85-kWh battery pack have a driving range of about 265 miles.

This is just the latest in a long line of endorsements for the Tesla Model S electric car, the brainchild of entrepreneur Elon Musk. We named it our 2013 Automobile of the Year, and Motor Trend selected it as its 2013 Car of the Year.

The glowing review comes on the heels of news that Tesla posted its first profitable quarter to date, with a profit of about $11 million in the first quarter of 2013. The company said it had built 5000 units of the Model S in the first quarter, putting it on track to meet its goal of building (and, hopefully, selling) 20,000 cars this year. This news caused Tesla’s stock price to surge; as of writing, according to Tesla data, it was trading for $68, up from a closing price of $55.79 yesterday.

Sources: Consumer Reports, Tesla




By Jake Holmes

Coda Offers $552 Charging Rebate for California Buyers in October

Coda Offers $552 Charging Rebate for California Buyers in October

Coda Automotive is offering a $552 rebate to buyers in California during the month of October. The automaker says the rebate is equal to the cost of electricity it would take to propel the Coda sedan 10,000 miles in the Sunshine State, based on current electricity costs and the EV’s 88-mile range.

CODA cockpit 1 300x187 imageThe rebate is also being used to draw attention to the lower cost of electrical energy compared to gasoline and diesel. Using figures from the EPA and AAA, the automaker suggests that a gas- or diesel-powered vehicle averaging 22 mpg costs about $1700 to travel 10,000 miles at the national average fuel cost, while drivers in California will pay more than $2000 to drive the same distance.

Coda also says that EVs help protect owners from fluctuating fuel prices that have increased 106 percent on average since 1992, while electrical rates have declined on average 12 percent in the same time period.

The Coda sedan EV has a base price of $37,250 though federal and state incentives could amount to as much as $10,000 in savings, bringing the price to $27,250 before the manufacturer’s rebate.

Would 10,000 miles’ worth of electricity be enough to get you behind the wheel of a Coda? Tell us in the comments section below.

Source: Coda

By Jason Udy

Tesla CEO Elon Musk Discusses Fisker Karma and Company’s Health in New Interview

Tesla CEO Elon Musk Discusses Fisker Karma and Company’s Health in New Interview

It’s almost impossible to imagine what goes through the mind of someone who simultaneously runs a space exploration and electric car company, but the editors at Automobile recently interviewed CEO Elon Musk to get an insightful look at his two ventures, Tesla Motors and SpaceX.

Today, Tesla Motors appears to be in much better shape than it appeared when the Roadster was first hitting the streets. The automaker has partnered with Toyota for development on EVs and high demand is keeping its new plant in Northern California busy. But getting to this point has been anything but easy. During the interview, Musk discusses 2008, a critical period in Tesla factory 2 300x187 imageTesla’s timeline when he came close to shutting the doors for good.

He also has strong words about Henrick Fisker and why he thinks the company – and the Fisker Karma – is flawed. Musk suggests that Fisker prioritizes design too much over electric-car engineering. “He thinks the reason we don’t have electric cars is for lack of styling. This is not the reason. It’s fundamentally a technology problem.”

The interview includes a response from Fisker that reads, in part: “Obviously, Tesla and Fisker are appealing to two different customer bases with two totally different technologies. Tesla has pure EV and Fisker has a range-extended offering with no compromise on range.”

Musk also discusses Tesla’s extensive testing procedures and points out that none of his cars have caught fire, regardless if they were involved in an accident. Lastly, he discusses the possibility of a smaller sedan to slot below the Model S in terms of size and price.

Click here for the full interview at Automobile magazine and head here to read about our tour of a Tesla factory.

By Erick Ayapana

Nine Road Trip-Ready Vehicles – Rumor Central

Nine Road Trip-Ready Vehicles

Memorial Day weekend means many things to many people, but it universally signals the start of one summer tradition: road trips. Regardless of if you’re heading to see family, escape into the great outdoors, or simply crisscross the country, we’ve rounded up some ideal road trip vehicles for those seeking to hit the road this summer.

Volkswagen Passat TDI front three quarters view 2 300x199 imageI want to…go there and back on a single tank.

Volkswagen Passat TDI

Base Price: $26,225
EPA mileage: 30 mpg city/ 40 highway

There are a number of thrifty, diesel-burning vehicles offered in North America – and plenty from the Volkswagen Group, at that – but few strike us as ideal for long-distance road tripping when compared to the Passat TDI. Volkswagen’s diesel-sipping midsize sedan is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-diesel, which cranks out 140 hp. What it lacks in sheer power, however, it delivers in impressive fuel economy. Fitted with the optional six-speed automatic transmission, a 2013 Passat is rated at 30 mpg city, 40 mpg highway.

These numbers are incredible when you consider the size of the Passat. Yes, it’s deemed a midsize sedan, but at 191.6 inches long, it’s on the larger end of that spectrum. That extra size results in plus-sized interior, with enough space for large adults to sit in both the front and rear seats. Think you sacrifice on cargo space? Wrong again – there’s 15.9 cubic feet with the rear seats up, allowing the trunk to resemble Mammoth Cave – albeit with a bit more plastic trim and carpeting.

Mercedes Benz Sprinter passenger van front three quarters view 300x199 imageI want to…bring the entire family. And I do mean the ENTIRE family.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Base price: $41,315

EPA mileage: not tested by EPA

If the tired stereotype of precocious in-laws and annoying extended family members applies to you, skip this section. If not – and you’d actually like to travel with your large family using as few vehicles as possible – there’s really only one option shy of picking up a used transit bus at public auction: the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. In its passenger form, the Sprinter seats up to twelve fairly comfortably, and even more comfortably if equipped with the cathedral-spec, 107.5-inch tall “high roof” option. The 140-inch wheelbase provides plenty of space (23.7 cubic feet) aft of that rear bench, but the elongated 170-inch model provides up to 31.2 cubic feet. We’ve seen (and lived) in urban apartment dwellings with less usable space than a Sprinter.

Yes, the sliding door rattles a bit over bumps; no, interior materials aren’t the fanciest; and yes, the price tag – especially if you go crazy with stand-alone options – isn’t inexpensive – but that’s beside the point. For such a gargantuan people mover, the Sprinter is surprisingly easy to drive – and it’s also incredibly efficient. Its weight class allows it to sidestep EPA testing, but we’ve frequently seen combined averages around the 19-20-mpg mark. For a vehicle that has the aerodynamic profile of a two-story house, that’s impressive.

Tesla Model S front view on road 300x199 imageI want to…use no gasoline, diesel, or combustible fuel at all.

Tesla Model S

Base price: $71,070

EPA rating: 88 mpge city/ 90 highway
Yeah, we get it – electric cars aren’t necessarily road-trip vehicles, or if they are, they’re only so when paired with a range-extending internal combustion engine. Still, if you insist on using a battery-powered vehicle for a road trip, it’s hard to best the Tesla Model S. Why? Space, for starters. There’s room for five passengers within the Model S, although that number grows to seven if you opt for the small, rear-facing jump seat. We’d skip that, as it frees up the rear cargo area for your luggage and other belongings. Between that area and the “frunk” beneath the hood, there’s nearly 31.6 cubic feet of storage available.

Range? That’s still a hot-button topic, but the top-tier Model S Performance comes with a 85-kWh battery that theoretically provides as much as 265 miles on a single charge. Of course, your distance will vary based on temperature, terrain, and your own temperament – but compared to the EPA-rated range of, say, a Ford Focus Electric, it’s fairly sizable. Depending on your journey, we’d still recommend ensuring your planned drive regularly passes charging stations, and that you do budget time for a recharge or two along the way.

Mercedes Benz S350 Bluetec front three quarters view 300x199 imageI want to…travel as far as possible in the lap of luxury.

Mercedes-Benz S350 Bluetec 4Matic

Base price: $93.905

EPA rating: 21/31 mpg

Diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz sedans have long been sold in North America, but until the launch of the S350 Bluetec in 2012, Mercedes always shied away from selling a diesel-powered flagship here. We’re just glad the S350 finally made the trek from Germany, as it blends first-world luxuries with first-rate fuel economy.  Despite tipping the scales at 4784 pounds and being paired with an all-wheel-drive system, its 3.0-liter, turbo-diesel V-6 and seven-speed automatic help the S350 attain an EPA rating of 21 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway. With a full 23.8- gallon tank of diesel, the S350 can cruise over 730 miles without refueling.

That cruise will be quite comfortable, given the S Class is arguably one of the most refined, comfortable, and luxurious sedans this side of a Rolls-Royce. Benz’s premium leather interior boasts attractive hand-stitched accents on virtually every surface, including the dash and door panels. Rear seat occupants are already gifted with 42.3 inches of legroom, but an optional package allows those in the outboard seats to heat, cool, and recline their seats. Add power sunshades, a DVD entertainment system, and a Bang & Olufsen audio system, and you’ll be cruising in unimpeached comfort.

Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT front three quarters view1 300x199 imageI want to…haul the family, cargo, and ass.

Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

Base price: $63,990

EPA rating: 13 mpg city/ 19 highway

We wanted to throw a muscle car on this list, but last we tried, packing a family of four and their cargo into a Camaro or Mustang is essentially impossible. Or if it is possible, it doesn’t make for a very comfortable (or tolerable) four-hour drive. But what if there were a way to blend the power of a muscle car with the packaging of a family vehicle? Enter Jeep’s SRT-tuned Grand Cherokee. Seating for five? 35.1 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up? 470 hp on tap? 0-60 mph in about five seconds? Check, check, check, and check.

Unlike the first generation model, today’s Grand Cherokee SRT is a comfortable chimera that walks the line between performance and civility with few qualms. Adaptive Bilstein dampers at all four corners provide a surprisingly compliant ride quality for long hauls, but stiffen up to snuff out body roll on twisty back roads. The 6.1-liter V-8 slams passengers into seatbacks like a Mercury Redstone rocket, but idles four cylinders under light loads to reduce fuel consumption. Better yet, this latest iteration of SRT Grand Cherokee can tow up to 7200 pounds – perfect for dragging a speedboat behind your speed wagon.

Audi S5 Cabriolet front three quarters view static 300x199 imageI want to…soak up the sun.

Audi S5 Cabriolet

Base Price $60,195

EPA Rating 17 mpg city/ 26 highway


Nothing says summer like soaking up UV rays while behind the wheel of a convertible. Several drop-top models are on sale in the United States, but the Audi S5 is one of the most well-rounded choices available. There’s room for four, with rear seats that are larger than the glorified parcel shelves found in many convertibles. There’s adequate trunk space – 12.2 cubic feet, with the top up, or 10.2 with the top down. There’s the sophisticated interior (note the rear-seat reading lamps integrated into the convertible top) and handsome exterior styling. And, for those who might want to plan a road trip to a ski resort come winter, the S5 is one of the few convertibles offered with all-wheel-drive.

Better yet, the S5 is a blast to drive. Audi’s supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 serves up 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, and emits a delectable growl at wide open throttle. Although S5 coupes are offered with a six-speed manual transmission, S5 cabriolets feature Audi’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic as standard equipment.  No matter – it’s still happy to snap off lightning-quick gearchanges in either sport or manual mode. Do make sure to opt for the so-called “sports differential,” which replaces the standard rear diff with a torque-vectoring unit that helps the car rotate into corners.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited front view in woods 300x199 imageI want to…stray from the beaten path.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Base Price: $26,790

EPA rating: 16 mpg city/ 20-21 mpg highway

Road trips are great, but what if your destination isn’t exactly on a road? For those who want to journey far outside the beaten path, we can’t think of a better choice than Jeep’s eternal Wrangler. By modern SUV and crossover standards, the Wrangler may seem like a bit of a crude anachronism, but in truth, it’s better than ever. A new instrument panel design is more attractive than ever, but the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 tucked underhood finally delivers adequate power – something the JK Wrangler previously lacked.

Although it is possible to squeeze four into a two-door Wrangler, don’t count on bringing all their belongings along for the ride. For that reason – and to give rear-seat passengers legroom for long hauls – we’d go with the four-door Wrangler Unlimited, which still offers the same off-road prowess and open-air sensations but with additional versatility. That said, you’d better act quickly if you’re in the market for one – demand for four-door Wranglers is nearly double that of the two-door model, and dealer inventory is presently at 68 days supply.

Nissan NV Roadtrek NAV 6 front three quarters view 300x199 imageI want to…stay overnight, but not in a hotel.

Nissan NV Roadtrek N6 Active

Base price: $65,260

EPA rating: not rated by EPA

Remember the days when minivans could easily double as mobile camp sites? Decades ago, such vehicles ran rampant across this country, but ever since the Volkswagen Eurovan died in 2003 the good old pop-top camper was virtually extinct. Thanks to Roadtrek, an Ontario-based motorhome manufacturer, that’s no longer the case. The new N6 Active – which is also sold as the NAV-6 – converts a Nissan NV passenger van into a multipurpose camper.

In its van configuration, the N6 Active/ NAV-6 seats six. That’s roughly half that of a standard NV passenger wagon, but understandable when you see Roadtrek packs in everything including the kitchen sink. Cabinetry installed next to the two-passenger third-row bench houses a refrigerator, sink, microwave, and cupboards. Second-row captains chairs swivel to face the rear seat and a pop-up table. The optional pop-top roof increases headroom and provides an extra two berths for sleeping, yet still allows the NV to fit in most garages.

 

Mazda MX 5 Miata side view on road 300x199 imageI want to…take a road trip only using back roads.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

Base Price: $24,515

EPA Rating: 21-22 mpg city/ 28 mpg highway

Another convertible on this list? Yep. The Miata’s top – either made of fabric or metal — does fold and stow for top-down fun, but that’s not why we chose it for this group of cars. We revel in road trips that trade the hustle, bustle, and malaise of the interstate system in favor of winding, scenic, two-lane, back county roads. And for that, there’s virtually no way to best the MX-5. We should know – we adopted a MX-5 for a summer two years ago, and frequently sought the curvaceous road less taken instead of the quickest route between points A and B.

Yes, we know the Miata’s cabin is a bit tight, and that packing for a long trip may require you to invest in those vacuum space-saving bags seen on late-night infomercials. Still, if you’re looking to plan a long trip full of entertaining roads – i.e. PCH, Tail of the Dragon, OH-555, etc. – there’s not a better choice. As road test editor Chris Nelson wrote back in 2011, “you can find a lot of little things to complain about, but if you do, you’re missing the point. The Miata is, has been, and always will be a purpose-built automobile. That purpose is to be one of the purest, most enjoyable sports cars on the market. Give it a smooth road, good company, and great scenery, and the Miata takes care of the rest.”












By Evan McCausland

Report: Dealer Associations Challenge Legality of Factory-Owned Tesla Stores

Report: Dealer Associations Challenge Legality of Factory-Owned Tesla Stores

State laws may put a kink in Tesla Motors’ retail plans, as the EV automaker’s factory stores are being questioned by dealer associations and state regulators, reports Automotive News. Tesla hoped to recreate the Apple buying experience with its factory stores, but dealer associations in a number of states claim those stores create unfair competition for conventional dealerships.

2012 Tesla Model S interior dash and touchscreen 300x187 imageThe main complaint is that Tesla’s stores are in violation of state franchise laws, which bar factory ownership of dealerships. Tesla currently operates 17 stores in the U.S., with most located in shopping malls. Recently, the Secretary of State’s office in Illinois told Tesla officials the company was breaking state law by listing CEO and founder Elon Musk as the owner of its Chicago store. Tesla said it would comply and asked for 30 days to respond.

Elsewhere, dealer associations are challenging the legality of Tesla stores. In defense of its Boston store, Tesla told city officials that the store wouldn’t conduct sales.

“We do what we’re capable of doing, and we do whatever they let us do,” Tesla’s vice president of sales George Blankenship told Automotive News. “It’s unique for each location. If we can’t be a dealer in a mall, we won’t do reservations on-site. We tell people where to go on our website to make a reservation.”

But the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Associations has issues with Tesla’s plan, claiming product presentation and directing customers to Tesla’s website is part of the sale.

2012 Tesla Model S rear three quarter 300x187 imageTesla doesn’t face the same hurdles in all states, as the company operates within the limits of the law in California. In the Golden State, manufacturers can operate dealerships so long as they’re more than 10 miles away from a private-capital dealer selling the same brand. Since there are no private-capital Tesla dealers, the company is covered. That same law caused problems for Chrysler Group earlier this year, when the company’s new Motor Village in downtown Los Angeles was investigated for violations of state franchise law.

According to the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA), factory ownership of dealership is restricted or prohibited in 48 states. NADA said in a release:

“Tesla may not yet recognize the value of the independent, franchised dealer system, but as its sales increase, NADA is confident it will re-examine its business model.”

Six Tesla stores are scheduled to open this fall, and if the launch of the Model S is successful, don’t be surprised to see a few more popping up around the U.S. before long.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

By Alex Nishimoto

Tesla Model S Gains Performance Plus Package With Sportier Tires

Tesla Model S Gains Performance Plus Package With Sportier Tires

Tesla says that a new upgrade package for the Model S electric car will endow it with “supercar handling.” Whether that’s exaggeration remains to be seen, but the new $6500 Performance Plus pack does add stickier tires and other suspension enhancements to improve the car’s handling.

The upgrade package is available only for the Tesla Model S Performance, which has an 85-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Its electric drive motor is rated for 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, and Tesla says the 0-to-60-mph run takes just 4.2 seconds.

2013 Tesla Model S interior view1 300x187 imageOpting for Performance Plus adds Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires on 21-inch wheels; 19-inch all-season tires are standard on the Model S and 21-inch Continental ExtremeContact DW tires are optional. In addition, the Performance Plus rear tires have a 265 section width, 20 millimeters (0.8 inch) wider than the standard 21-inch tires. Tesla also installs upgraded suspension dampers, bushings, and anti-roll bars to further improve handling. The upgrades are said to add between six and twelve miles of driving range to a Tesla Model S Performance; according to the EPA, the luxury sedan can normally drive about 265 miles on a full charge, so adding the Performance Plus treatment pushes the range to as much as 277 miles.

Tesla recently enhanced its warranty program to cover the lithium-ion battery pack no matter how the owner charges the car, for eight years or 125,000 miles. Owners can borrow a Roadster or Model S loaner car while their Model S is being serviced. Tesla also announced a unique leasing program for the car earlier this spring, which makes the car available for between $1051 and $1199, depending on trim level and before various discounts.

Source: Tesla

By Jake Holmes

Tesla Confirms Plans to Increase Model S Prices

Tesla Confirms Plans to Increase Model S Prices

The price of a Tesla Model S will be increasing soon — but the company hasn’t yet disclosed by how much prices will rise. However, Tesla did confirm that some features that were previously standard on the Model S will become paid options.

The Tesla Model S is an all-electric sedan built in California by billionaire visionary Elon Musk. The car is Motor Trend’s 2013 Car of the Year. Prices currently range from $57,400 for an entry model with a 40-kWh battery pack (before any tax rebates), to $105,400 for the loaded Signature Performance model with an 85-kWh battery.

Tesla Model S interior1 300x187 imageTesla confirmed in a blog post that it will raise prices on the cars in the near future, but noted that customers who have already placed a reservation for the electric car won’t have to pay the higher price. Musk mentioned in August that over 12,000 people had placed a $5000 deposit for a Model S. Only customers who order after the price increases take effect will be locked into the higher prices.

When the price increases take effect, Tesla may also reorganize the car’s equipment list. Tesla warns that some items that are currently standard on the Model S may become paid options. That could mean a double-whammy when prices increase, as customers must not only pay a higher entry price, but must also cough up extra for features that used to be included for free.

It’s unclear why Tesla plans to increase Model S prices so early in the car’s production run. The decision could be important to increase profitability on the electric sedan, or could be a reflection of higher than anticipated customer demand. But raising prices would seem unlikely to help Tesla reach its publicly stated goal of selling 20,000 cars in 2013.

Tesla’s blog post says the company will announce the new prices and options lists within two to three weeks.

Sources: Tesla, Forbes

By Jake Holmes

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