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Elon Musk has published a thorough blog countering some of the results in a recently published, controversial Tesla Model S review in The New York Times. The review has received plenty of attention, and this week Musk prepared his reply — complete with charts to illustrate his points — on Tesla’s site.
The controversy began when Tesla approached Broder to evaluate a Model S (with an 85 kilowatt-hour battery that provides 265 miles of EPA-rated range) and two new charging stations installed in Newark, Delaware and in Milford, Connecticut. These stations are 200 miles apart and include the company’s new Supercharger, which can recharge batteries at a much faster rate than a typical charging unit (Tesla says the Supercharger can provide up to 150-160 miles of range in just 30 minutes).
In fact, in a February 12 update, Broder says the test was intended to evaluate the Supercharger network on the East Coast, not the Model S, explaining why he didn’t plug in the car overnight in Connecticut.
“This evaluation was intended to demonstrate its practicality as a ‘normal use,’ no-compromise car, as Tesla markets it. Now that Tesla is striving to be a mass-market automaker, it cannot realistically expect all 20,000 buyers a year (the Model S sales goal) to be electric-car acolytes who will plug in at every Walmart stop,” Broder wrote.
Broders Tesla Model S speed log 300×187 image
Broder’s trip began at the Delaware station with 242 miles of range (he was unaware of a “max charge” feature that would’ve topped the battery off at 265 miles). He claims to have experienced fluctuations in the battery’s claimed range, which may have
been affected by the colder temperatures. Still, Broder claims to have properly charged the battery, drove at reasonable speeds, and even reduced the cabin temperature, all in an attempt to increase range. In the end, however, Broder says he ran out of charge before reaching Connecticut, and the Model S was consequently towed to the charging station.
Since then, Tesla has compared Broder’s account to the data log from the Model S test car he drove. Earlier this week, Musk published an extensive blog with that data, which points out a number of claimed discrepancies in the highway speeds at which Broder said he was traveling, charging times, as well as possible errors in his article’s math. Musk also suggested the evaluation was a lost battle for Tesla in the first place, pointing to a March 2012 article by Broder in which he says “the state of the electric car is dismal.”
Check out Musk’s full February 13 blog here, and Broder’s February 12 follow-up here.
Source: NY Times, Tesla Motors
Once we begin our year-long test of the Tesla Model S, the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year, we may not have to visit the dealership to perform most software updates. The automaker has just implemented a new, cloud-based system that will allow owners to view and install software updates from their vehicle’s infotainment screen.
It’s hard to imagine that the Model S needs any updating at this point, considering the amount of impressive technology already packed in the EV. During a recent adventure with the Model S in Las Vegas, Editor-in-Chief Ed Loh said the EV “delivers a bit of magic and a sense of occasion thanks to its myriad touch, proximity, and weight sensors. Touch the chromed door handle and it pops out for a good yank.” However, a recent over-the-air update makes those flush-mounted doors handles a bit more magical — now, they pop out as the driver approaches the vehicle, Automotive News reports. Other updates include voice command and an option for the Model S to “creep” forward when the driver lifts his foot off the brake pedal, similar to what gas-powered cars already do.
The updates will appear on the vehicle’s screen and owners have the option to schedule the install at a future time. Details of the updates are included in “release notes,” similar to the update process consumers are accustomed to with their phones or laptops. The process can save owners time and battery charge needed to visit the dealership.
In addition to the cloud-based update system, the Model S now sports a slightly tweaked front nose and a revised jump seat with better ergonomics. Tesla’s director of Model S programs Jerome Guillen credits these recent updates to the automaker’s relatively small size. Guillen, who previously worked at Daimler AG, told the Automotive News “we are doing things in a couple weeks that, at my previous employer, would have taken two years.”
Automotive News also reports that the Tesla’s plant in Northern California is running at full capacity, with the ability to produce 20,000 units a year. Additionally, Tesla will start building cars equipped with 60kWh battery packs, which will join the range-topping models with the 85 kWh battery packs that were first to launch. A value-priced 40 kWh-model is available, and Model S prices increased for the 2013 calendar year. Also in the pipeline is the Tesla Model X, which Guillen says is still scheduled to go into production sometime next year.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)
Tesla announced it will start selling its Model S electric car in June, earlier than originally planned. The news, however, was tempered a bit due to the company’s reported first-quarter loss of $89.9 million, almost double the $48.9 million loss reported during the same period last year.
Despite that, Automotive News reports that Tesla is expecting its total revenue for 2012 to be at least $560 million. It originally predicted $550 million in revenue, but boosted the forecast due to the early launch of the Model S. Looking even further ahead, CEO Elon Musk is optimistic that his company will be profitable in 2013, predicting a 25 percent gross margin.
The arrival of the Model S can’t come soon enough for the automaker. Production of the Tesla Roadster ended last year and according to The Detroit News, only a couple hundred Tesla Roadsters remain in Asian and European showrooms. Additionally, Tesla expects it will soon exhaust the $465 million loan it received from the Department of Energy.
Despite the lack of vehicles available for test drives, Tesla says that there has been much interest in the Model S. According to The Detroit News¸ there are at least 10,000 pre-order requests for the upcoming EV, which will be built at Tesla’s assembly plant in Northern California.
Compared to the Tesla Roadster, which carried a price tag that neared six figures, the Model S will be relatively affordable with a base price of $49,000 following tax credits. It will be offered with three battery options that offer ranges between 160 to 300 miles per charge. Additionally, the Model S will have the ability to recharge its battery to 80 percent capacity when plugged into a fast charger. Among its long list of notable features is its rear-facing, third-row seats (boosting passenger capacity to seven) and its 17-inch, touchscreen infotainment display.
Tesla hopes to sell 5000 units by the end of 2012 and plans to produce 20,000 units annually once its plant is running at full speed. The automaker will start selling the Model S after it clears the required crash tests.
“I do not know where we are in the [NHTSA testing] queue, Musk told the Automotive News. “We are very confident that it will be a five-star safety rating, the safest car on the road. We have certain architectural advantages, like a much longer crumple zone in the front because we don’t have to make room for an engine.”
Source: Automotive News (subscription required), The Detroit News