Tag archives for Tesla Model S News - Page 2

2013 Tesla Model S: Green Car Reports’ Best Car To Buy 2013

Related Photo Galleries



See more photos »

2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

Two years ago, our first-ever Green Car Reports Best Car To Buy award went to the first modern battery-electric car sold in the U.S.

How far we’ve come.

This year, our third annual winner is the 2013 Tesla Model S, a car that takes the all-electric vehicle to a new and far more elevated level.

But that’s far from the only reason it won. The Tesla Model S is an impressive new entry in the luxury sport sedan field for its performance, its looks, its capabilities, and its digital infotainment and control system.

NOTE: In December 2012, we gave this award to the 2013 Tesla Model S based on the availability of a base model with a 40-kilowatt-hour battery pack at a price of $59,900. That complied with our requirement that the Best Car To Buy Award go to a car priced at $60,000 or less.

In early April 2013, Tesla announced that it had canceled that 40-kWh model, due to lack of demand. According to the company, just 4 percent of its Model S depositors had specified the smallest battery size. The company said that for those customers who had put down deposits on the 40-kWh car, it would sell them a 60-kWh Model S with software that limited the car’s range to the range that the 40-kWh car would have delivered.

Electric power secondary?

Silicon Valley startup carmaker Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has pulled off an almost inconceivable feat: It’s designed and put into production a car that competes across the board with some of the most storied brands in the industry.

And that car is the first volume production vehicle from a company that didn’t even exist eight years ago.

From styling that many onlookers assumed was the newest, latest, sleekest Jaguar–a compliment indeed for a new carmaker–to smooth, silent acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds (in the Performance version), the Tesla Model S is more than an impressive new green car.

It’s an impressive car. Period. The fact that it’s green is almost secondary.

2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

Its 17-inch touchscreen display, for instance, is so fast, so crisp, and so relatively intuitive that it makes all other such control systems seem pathetically outdated.

That even applies to the brand-new Cadillac CUE system, whose deficiencies cost the otherwise excellent 2013 Cadillac ATS the same title from Motor Authority, our sister site.

‘Buff books’ converted

The Tesla Model S has won awards all over the place. It’s attracted 14,000 or more buyers to put down deposits before the company’s built more than 2,000 or 3,000 vehicles.

And it’s completely seduced some of the most hard-core gasoline proponents of all: the “buff book” car magazines whose judgments that it was a car of the year sealed Tesla’s emergence into the ranks of carmakers to whom attention must be paid.

Two of the three versions of the 2013 Tesla Model S have now been certified by the EPA for electric range: 265 miles for the 85-kilowatt-hour version, and just last week, 208 miles for the 60-kWh model.

The third and final version, with a 40-kWh battery pack and a reduced set of features and options, will go into production in the next few months.

Useful real-world range

Electric range, of course, depends greatly on speed, acceleration, driving style, outside temperature, and other factors.

One owner made news last week, for example, when he managed to drive his Model S more than 400 miles on a single charge.



2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

The 85-kWh model has a practical real-world range of at least 200 or so miles, no matter how it’s driven.

We’ll see what the comparable figures are for the other two, but even the entry-level Model S is likely to deliver the 120-plus miles that many observers feel is the minimum acceptable for owners to avoid range anxiety.

For longer trips, Tesla is rapidly opening a network of Supercharger quick-charge stations–and the power they provide is absolutely free.

Not cheap

The Tesla sport sedan, mind you, is hardly a cheap car.

Prices for the 2013 Model S start at $59,900 for the lowest-range version and rise in $10,000 increments from there, with the Performance version adding $10,000 more on top of the cost for the 85-kWh version.

On the other hand, almost no advanced automotive technology enters the market at the low end–and electric propulsion is just one reason to buy a Model S.

2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

It holds four people comfortably, five people adequately, and Tesla promises a pair of optional child-sized rear-facing jump seats to fit into the load bay at some future point.

No guarantees

Our award is no guarantee that Tesla Motors will survive, that the Model S will provide durable electric transportation for decades to come, or even that battery-electric cars will take noticeable market share any time soon.

But the disbelief, criticism, and sneering that often confronts startup companies with radical new ideas has, in the case of Tesla, already given way to grudging acknowledgment even by skeptics that the 2013 Tesla Model S is a viable, well-built, functional, and competent car that’s also fun to drive.

For that reason, there was really little other competition for our Best Car To Buy Award for 2013.

Congratulations, Tesla.

+++++++++++

By John Voelcker

Tesla Opens Distribution & Assembly Center In The Netherlands

2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

As the first cars are set to arrive in European dealers next year, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has announced its new European distribution center in Tilburg, Netherlands.

The facility will serve as a final assembly point for European vehicles, as well as acting as Tesla’s distribution hub and regional service center.

The 62,000 square-foot facility will be central to Tesla’s roll-out of Model S cars through Europe. The first European Model S will enter production at Tesla’s Fremont plant in March 2013, before being shipped to Tilburg for final assembly.

As well as distribution and servicing, Tesla will use the facility for training, importing operations, parts remanufacturing, collision repair and more. Tesla expects up to 50 new jobs to be created in the next few years.

Many European Tesla dealerships have already begun taking orders for the electric sedan, while some still have stocks of the Roadster left.

Official pricing hasn’t yet been announced, though as with the U.S, European buyers can choose between standard and Signature Edition Model S.

Also in common with the U.S, many European countries offer tax incentives and rebates for the purchase of electric cars, plus exemptions from local vehicle taxes, parking charges and inner-city congestion charging.

+++++++++++

By Antony Ingram

Free Supercharging For 60-kWh Tesla Model S: How A Lucky Few Got It

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

2012 Tesla Model S Signature

Enlarge Photo

It looks like Tesla may just have done it again.

Compared to Nissan’s challenged public responses to hot-weather range-loss problems in its Leaf electric car, a recent move by Tesla to offer free Supercharging to early buyers of the 60-kWh version of its 2012 Model S looks like brilliant customer relations.

Or at least it looks brilliant to me. I’m set to take delivery in December of my own all-electric Tesla Model S luxury sport sedan.

And after a surprise e-mail from Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] earlier this week, I’m a really, really happy customer right now.

Here’s the story.

I put down my deposit more than three years ago, so I’m pretty early in the queue (reservation P 717, out of 13,000 outstanding as of last week).

My number came up in August, and I chose my battery size (60 kWh, the middle of three alternatives) and color (green), specified the options I wanted, and signed my purchase agreement on September 5.

One of the options supposedly available to me at that time was Supercharging: the onboard hardware and software required to use the network of ultra-fast charging stations that Tesla had been teasing for months–though it hadn’t then officially unveiled any details.

According to Tesla’s website, Supercharging was to be standard on the 85-kWh Model S, optional at a price “to be determined” on 60-kWh cars like mine, and unavailable on the base 40-kWh version.

But I didn’t see a Supercharger box to check on my purchase agreement. No problem: Since I knew little about Supercharging, and the price had not yet been determined,  I wouldn’t have opted for it any case.

Then, on September 24, Tesla officially unveiled the Supercharger system. The big news was that the charging service would be free for all Model S owners equipped with the hardware to handle it.

Four days later, I got an e-mail announcing the price of the Supercharger option for my 60-kWh car: $1,000 for the hardware, plus $1,000 for software testing and calibration.

But, the e-mail continued, “Since you are an early reservation holder and booked your 60-kWh Model S before complete Supercharging information was available, we planned ahead to build your Model S with Supercharger hardware at no additional cost to you.”

2012 Tesla Model S Charging Connector

2012 Tesla Model S Charging Connector

Enlarge Photo

The testing and calibration, however, would still cost $1,000. Did I want my Supercharging hardware enabled at that price?

I mulled that one for a while. Though I don’t often make long cross-country trips, it would be nice to have the option.

It seemed a waste to have the Supercharging hardware in the car, but unusable. And, frankly, I didn’t want to miss out on the full Tesla experience.

So, what the hell? I clicked the “Add Supercharging ” box.

Four days later came the e-mail that shocked and delighted me.

“After revisiting some of the explanations we used on our website and in our Design Studio the past few months, we feel as though it was not as clear as it should have been regarding the requirement to activate Supercharging on 60-kWh battery cars.”

“As a result, we are going to waive the entire fee to enable Supercharging on your 60-kWh Model S. You will now receive free, unlimited Supercharging on your car at no additional cost.”

Tesla Supercharger fast-charging system for electric cars

Tesla Supercharger fast-charging system for electric cars

Enlarge Photo

“We apologize for the confusion. We thought our explanations were clear, but they were not clear enough.”

To be honest, I was never confused about the Supercharger option.

But I will happily accept Tesla’s largesse, and take it as a very positive sign for the future: This is a company that clearly wants to keep its customers happy.

Now, about that Model S service program….

David Noland is a Tesla Model S reservation holder and freelance writer who lives north of New York City. This is his fifth article for High Gear Media.

+++++++++++

By David Noland

Tesla Model S Road Trip Ends Without A Hitch In NYC

2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

Well, they made it!

Tesla Model S-driving trio Peter Soukup, Tina Thomas and Luba Roytburd successfully arrived in New York City after almost five thousand miles of driving coast-to-coast.

After starting in Portland, Oregon on December 26, the team drove down the West Coast, before cutting across Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina, and then up the East Coast.

They announced their arrival in NYC with a Tweet on Monday.

“If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere and we made it! Electric Road Trip S successfully finished in NYC, final mileage 4887!”

The team then thanked Tesla and Elon Musk for “an amazing car”.

Over the course of the journey, the team made use of several different charging stations, including Tesla’s own Supercharger network, for speedy charging and shorter stops.

Musk himself tweeted about the trip, suggesting that by the end of 2013, “it will be Superchargers all the way!”.

Congratulations to the team for reaching their goal. With a few more rapid chargers along the way and electric car range rising all the time, we doubt it’s the last such trip we’ll be hearing about over the next few years…

You can read the team’s own report on the Electric Road Trip S blog.

+++++++++++

By Antony Ingram

Tesla CEO Musk: Boeing 787 Batteries ‘Inherently Unsafe’

'Revenge of the Electric Car' premiere: Elon Musk arrives in a Tesla Roadster

‘Revenge of the Electric Car’ premiere: Elon Musk arrives in a Tesla Roadster

Enlarge Photo

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is hardly shy and retiring.

He tweets out random financial results, states as fact things that haven’t quite happened yet, and regularly speaks his mind.

Yesterday, he described the troubled Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s battery pack design as ‘inherently unsafe,’ which could add fuel to the…ahem…fire.

It came just one day after his offer to help Boeing resolve its problem with fires in the 787′s lithium-ion packs, designed by Japanese battery-cell company GS Yuasa.

(It’s worth noting that SpaceX, the other company Musk runs, competes directly with Boeing for certain government contracts for space-launch vehicles.)

Musk, who has run Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] for several years, laid out his thoughts on battery design in a detailed e-mail to the website Flightglobal.

In it, he termed the architecture of the GS Yuasa battery packs supplied to Boeing “inherent unsafe,” and predicted more fires from the same causes due to its design.

Specifically, Musk criticized the use of large-format lithium-ion cells “without enough space between them to isolate against the cell-to-cell thermal domino effect.”

He also noted that when thermal runaway occurs in the larger cells, more energy is released by the single cell than comes from a small-format “commodity” cell, of the type used by the thousands in Tesla battery packs.

And he went on to highlight what he viewed as the dangers of batteries using those large-format cells, saying they have a “fundamental safety issue” because it’s harder to keep the internal temperature of a large-format cell consistent from the center to the edges.

Not surprisingly, Mike Sinnett–Boeing’s chief engineer for the 787 project–counters that the company designed the pack to cope with not only a single cell failure but to contain runaway thermal events as well.

The 787 battery problems have sparked a deluge of news coverage, with the Seattle Times noting yesterday that Boeing had numerous problems with the batteries before the fires that led to the grounding of all 787 planes worldwide.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Enlarge Photo

The chemistry used in the Boeing 787 cells is not the same as that used in today’s electric cars, a point largely overlooked by many reporters.

But Musk’s comments highlight a second issue: the use of large-format lithium-ion cells (some roughly the size of a very thin paperback book) versus the smaller commodity cells (somewhat larger than a AA battery) that Tesla uses.

Musk’s critique, although he didn’t explicitly say so, could be extended beyond the 787 Dreamliner to indict the pack design of all electric cars that use large-format lithium-ion cells.

Those include, oh, every single modern plug-in electric car except the Tesla Model S.

Tesla Motors is the sole maker that builds its packs out of thousands of small ‘commodity’ lithium-ion cells (from Panasonic, for the Model S) rather than using hundreds of large-format cells.

Battery-pack engineering is a complex, multifaceted art.

There’s the physical design of a large, heavy component that must be engineered into the vehicle’s structural design.

There’s positioning of the cells inside the pack to protect against thermal runaway.

Tesla Motors - Model S lithium-ion battery pack

Tesla Motors – Model S lithium-ion battery pack

Enlarge Photo

There’s thermal conditioning, in which a pack is passively or actively heated or cooled to keep its cells within a desired temperature range, both extending their life and reducing the chance of catastrophic cell failure.

Each electric-car maker takes a somewhat different approach: Nissan uses just passive cooling in its Leaf battery electric car, but has had no recorded fire incidents at all to date.

It has, however, had problems with reduction in energy capacity early in the life of cars that cover high mileages in high temperatures.

The Chevrolet Volt, on the other hand, uses only two-thirds of its pack energy and has active liquid cooling for its pack (as does the Model S).

So has Musk has implicitly slammed the pack designs of the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, and a host of other electric cars with battery packs of 16 kilowatt-hours or more?

If so, is this a good strategy for the CEO of a startup electric-car maker?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.

+++++++++++

By John Voelcker

Had To Happen: Tesla Model S Spawns ‘Teslacessories’ Startup

Tesla Model S with DISRUPT license plate, March 2013 [photo: Sam Villella]

Tesla Model S with DISRUPT license plate, March 2013 [photo: Sam Villella]

Enlarge Photo

Accessories are a huge part of the auto business, and for every car, somewhere there’s a business (or a few dozen) offering aftermarket items the manufacturer hasn’t, can’t, or won’t provide.

And so it turns out to be for the Tesla Model S, the all-electric sport sedan from Silicon Valley startup Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA].

Founded by Tesla owner Roger Pressman, who took delivery of a very early Model S with serial number 00184, Teslaccessories.com plans to offer aftermarket add-ons for the Model S.

The company’s first product is the Center Console Insert, which slides into the empty center tray on the floor of the Model S just ahead of the front seats.

The Console Insert has stitched leather sides and a carbon-fiber pattern top surface, and it contained both a cupholder and a closeable compartment with a sliding tambour door.

The pricing is not given on the company’s website, although there’s a signup procedure to get on a priority waiting list for the item (which the company says was released last week).

Signing up on a waiting list is a process Model S owners will be familiar with, since Tesla took deposits for Model S reservations up to three years before it delivered the cars.

With something like 5,000 cars delivered to date (Tesla won’t say), and production at 400 cars a week, the pool of Model S owners is growing every day.

Center Console Insert for Tesla Model S offered by Teslaccessories.com

Center Console Insert for Tesla Model S offered by Teslaccessories.com

Enlarge Photo

And you can view the arrival of a dedicated aftermarket firm exclusively for the vehicle as another tiny indicator of success for Tesla Motors.

It won’t make any difference to the company’s viability as a global auto business, of course.

But the launch of Teslaccessories.com can be viewed as yet another bit of validation by a member of what have to be some of the most enthusiastic–if occasionally critical, or at inquisitive–owner bodies of any new car in the world.

We look forward to hearing about additional aftermarket accessories for the Tesla Model S.

+++++++++++

By John Voelcker

Tesla Model S To Get Adaptive Cruise, Lane-Departure Warning, More?


Related Photo Galleries



See more photos »

Drivers of the Tesla Model S are generally pretty happy with their cars, but as with any new product there are always a few ways it could be improved.

Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] is one of few companies that can execute those improvements without you having to lift a finger, as software updates can be achieved via the internet.

Whether lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and blind spot detection will be software updates is a different matter, but all have been discovered deep within the car’s menus by an enterprising owner (via Autoblog).

None are currently available on the Model S but all have appeared in a video of the car’s menu settings, located behind an access code off the car’s main menu.

It’s likely that all are simply menu provisions for hardware changes coming in later Model S, unless Tesla has hidden the required sensors in each car already.  ‘Right Hand Drive’ also appears on the menu, suggesting that Tesla has designed in a bunch of features not yet tested, but expected at a later date.

What itt does imply is that the car will be getting a few of the options some owners have been asking for, already standard on many competing vehicles.

Other screens within the coded menus include power usage data, not just between battery, motor and wheels but also through the battery temperature systems, heating and ventilation and more.

Another menu shows not-yet-available apps, light-hearted applications like a sketchpad rubbing shoulders with test apps for the screen colors, audio and others. A further menu illustrates speed and torque-limiting option sliders.

One thing is for sure: There are still plenty of interesting features in the pipeline for Model S owners.

+++++++++++

By Antony Ingram

Official: 2012 Tesla Model S To Be Given Creep Option

2012 Tesla Model S, brief test drive, New York City, July 2012

2012 Tesla Model S, brief test drive, New York City, July 2012

Enlarge Photo

To creep or not to creep? That is the question.

As many hardened electric car fans will tell you, unlike gasoline cars with automatic gearboxes, not all electric cars move forward — or creep — when you release the foot brake. 

When Tesla launched the 2012 Model S, it, like unlike the two-seat Tesla Roadster which preceded it, did not come with creep function enabled. 

But after numerous requests from its customers, Tesla has announced it will soon be offering a remote software update to all 2012 Tesla Model S cars which will enable the function.

Without visiting their local service center, Tesla customers will be notified of the update to their Model S’ operating system. 

Once installed, it will add a new option to the car’s preferences, allowing customers to enable or disable automatic creep. 

2012 Tesla Model S, brief test drive, New York City, July 2012

2012 Tesla Model S, brief test drive, New York City, July 2012

Enlarge Photo

Tesla’s creep function upgrade was quietly announced in a recent webpage update covering its 2012 Model S servicing plans

“By default, Model S does not slowly move forward when you release the brake pedal like cars equipped with automatic transmissions,” Tesla says on its webpage. “With an electric motor there’s no need for this, but some early customers miss it. Using software updates, we can upgrade every Model S with a ‘creep’ option which customers can enable using the 17 inch touchscreen.”

Tesla hasn’t detailed how long Tesla owners will have to wait for the update, or if it will come standard on Model S cars which have yet to leave the factory, but we assume the additional optional feature will be made available to existing customers shortly. 

For those who are used to driving gasoline automatic cars, the option of creep simulation will be a welcome addition to first-time electric car drivers. 

But would you like to choose if your electric car has it or not?

Let us know in the Comments below. 

+++++++++++

By Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield

New Tesla Model S Pricing Announced For Jan 1, Battery Pack Costs Too

2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

As of January 1, it’ll cost you more to buy a 2013 Tesla Model S–as the company said last week.

Now, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has released the details of the price increases on the different versions of the Model S all-electric luxury sport sedan.

The new prices are $59,900 for the base version with a 40-kilowatt-hour battery pack, $69,900 for the mid-range 60-kWh model, $79,900 for the top-end 85-kWh level, and $94,900 for the Performance model, which also uses the 85-kWh pack.

That means each car has risen by $2,500. Tesla says that figure is half of what an inflation-adjusted figure might be, given that the company priced the Model S way back in 2009.

Those prices will apply only to buyers who put down a deposit starting January 1 or later.

To sweeten the deal, all Model S cars from January 1 get 12-way adjustable, heated front seats for no extra cost.

Performance Package cars get 19-inch wheels as standard, with 21-inch wheels for $3,500 extra. A new red multi-coat paint shade is also available, for $1,500. Production of the new red shade starts in March 2013.

Any rush by uncommitted buyers to put down deposits on or before December 31 of this year can only help Tesla’s quarterly and annual financial results, which will be announced in January.

With European pricing announced very soon, Tesla will also deduct 1,700 Euros (or its equivalent in other European countries) from the base price of a Model S, for any European buyer putting down a deposit by end of day on December 31, 2012.

Batteries from $8,000

Tesla also released pricing for replacement battery packs, giving current and future owners a better sense of what it will cost to own their electric sport sedans over a decade or more.

The price of a 40 kWh pack is $8,000. Another $2,000 gets the 60 kWh pack, and the 85 kWh pack costs another $2,000 on top of that.

The company suffered some criticism by owners and depositors who disliked its mandatory $600-per-year service requirement in order to keep their Model S warranties valid, since battery electric cars require little maintenance beyond inspections and new tires and wiper blades.

But now owners can calculate the cost of potentially replacing a battery pack over the car’s longer term life.

Extended warranties, servicing

Long-term ownership costs can be calculated further with the introduction of a new four-year, 50,000-mile extended warranty. This joins the standard four-year, 50,000-mile warranty, and costs an extra $2,500.

Likewise, buyers can purchase an extra four years and 50,000 miles of prepaid maintenance–to add to the previous $600-per-year service package–for an additional $1,900.

Price increases are rarely something to celebrate, but with new features and extended peace-of-mind options, 2013 will still be a good year for Model S buyers.

+++++++++++

By Antony Ingram

Tesla Now Delivering 60-kWh Versions Of Model S Electric Car

2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

It’s now clear: Volume deliveries of the second version of the 2013 Tesla Model S began this month.

That would be the version fitted with the middle of three battery-pack sizes, with a stated energy capacity of 60 kilowatt-hours.

The news does not come from Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA], a company that can be bafflingly opaque about standard business metrics like production and deliveries.

Instead, it comes from scanning the “Delivery Update” thread of the Tesla Motors Club forum (that thread now runs to 400 pages, by the way).

Multiple reports have been posted during the month of owners taking delivery of their 60-kWh Model S cars.

While one such delivery might be an anomaly, it’s clear from the postings, photos, and general level of glee that Tesla is now chewing away at its reservation list for 60-kWh models.

Owner “Hans,” for instance, posted that he took delivery of his 60-kWh Model S at the Fremont, California, factory on Saturday, January 19.

He noted that everything was in order save for a missing piece of chrome trim on the charging cord, and attached a photo showing the chrome-free handle.

This is, his specialist told him, a supplier problem, and numerous Model S cars are being delivered without it.

The 60-kWh Model S was rated in December at 208 miles of electric range by the EPA, versus a 265-mile range for the 85-kWh version.

Once Tesla has blended production of 60-kWh and 85-kWh models into its line, next up will be the lowest-capacity Model S, with a 40-kWh battery pack.

That model hasn’t yet been rated for range, but its 160-mile range (at a steady 55 mph) stated by Tesla is likely to translate to an EPA rating of something like 140 to 145 miles.

Those deliveries are expected to start sometime between April and June.

One eager new owner of a 60-kWh Model S will be our own writer David Noland, who is slated to take delivery of his car within weeks.

Noland has written numerous pieces about the Model S delivery process and other aspects of the car.

His latest piece summarized minor quirks and issues identified in Model S cars delivered thus far.

+++++++++++

By John Voelcker

1 2 3 4 10