Archives for June, 2013
Just because you’ve grown up, settled down, and had a kid or two doesn’t mean you can’t have fun anymore. While you may have to take a pass on that late-night partying you once did, you can stay in touch with your younger self with a car that’s fun to drive and can double as a family vehicle. However, finding a vehicle that appeals to you both as an enthusiast and a head of household isn’t always easy, because compromises will have to be made both in packaging and in handling.
To help the gearhead parents out there, Automobile Magazine has put together a list of the 10 Best Sports-Oriented Family Cars. These are cars that you might consider when you’re looking for something that will fit your spouse and children but you don’t want to join the herd and settle for a boring crossover or minivan. You want something that reminds you of that two-seater you traded in for the car seat. It’s doable, as evidenced by these exciting four-doors.
We’re not the only ones interested in putting the Tesla Model S through its paces, as these videos from amateur testers show. In one video, a driver attempts to determine the real-world top speed of a Model S, while a kindergarten class tests the EV’s pint-sized passenger capacity in another.
We’ve demonstrated in our tests that the Tesla Model S can out-accelerate a number of powerful sports sedans, and this new video gives us an idea of how fast it will go if you keep your foot on the gas pedal. The video shows a man driving his Model S Signature Performance equipped with the 85-kW-hr battery on a sparsely populated highway. As he mashes the “throttle,” there’s a subtle hum but otherwise the cabin is eerily quiet. There’s no physical needle to peg, but the digital display finally tops out at an indicated 133 mph.
In the second video, a group of kindergartners questions the Model S’ seven-passenger capacity. The five- to six-year-olds, who are all naturals in front of the camera, count out loud as they appear out of the car’s cargo area, cabin, and frunk. By the end of the video, a total of 16 kindergartners are found stuffed in the Model S’ various orifices.
Check out both videos below.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently spoke to Fox Business about the state of Model S production, and to hear the CEO tell it, things are going very well. Assembly line production has been climbing every week; the interview was conducted on September 13, and Musk said when asked how many cars they’d build, “I think it’s probably going to be around 80 cars this week.” If they hit that number it would represent double the production of the week before.
Tesla’s Model S production goal this year is 5,000 units, and the outside estimate is that
400* have been built so far. To make the target in the roughly 14 weeks left in the year, Tesla would need to – as of this week – quadruple last week’s production to a little more than 320 units. That’s a steep climb, but the numbers so far point to it being still being possible. Musk said that orders continue to come in and the company is working through its backlog, and he expects an annual profit to come in 2013. You’ll find both parts of the interview in the videos below.
*UPDATE: Tesla spokeswoman Christina Ra pointed out that the last publicly confirmed number is just 100 Model S units, and that Tesla will “likely make another announcement on that front soon.” She added, “400 is really inaccurate.”
Since the automaker’s inception, the only way would-be Tesla Roadster drivers could get the electric sports car in their garages was to purchase one outright. But all that’s about to change with Tesla’s new vehicle leasing program.
Purchasing any car — let alone a two-seat all-electric sports car that runs over $100,000 — is a big decision. In order to get more people behind the wheel of its Roadsters, Tesla launched its Tesla Motors Leasing program. Leases last 36 months, and require a $12,453 at signing, along with a $9900 down payment. With this lease plan, monthly payments are estimated to be in the neighborhood of $1658 — in comparison, Tesla’s purchase plan, offered through Bank of America, would run customers an extra $1200 each month.
To add some icing on the cake, Tesla’s new “Tesla Rangers” service is included in the cost of the lease. As previously reported, the “Rangers” can perform service and maintenance tasks at the owner’s home in lieu of bringing it to a dealership. Normally, this service costs at least $1 per round-trip mile traveled.
Tesla’s lease program begins today, and according to the company, it’s ordered a handful of Roadsters with the most popular colors and options in order to prepare for customer demand.
Be sure to check out our comparison test that pits a 2010 Tesla Roadster against the 2010 Porsche Boxster Spyder (complete with video!).
Unlike typical dealers, Tesla has a network of “stores” and “retail stores.” While reservations can be made for a new Model S or Roadster at the retail store, Tesla says other versions of the store merely direct potential customers to make their reservation online. Most of these boutique-style stores are in shopping malls, and Tesla asserts that they are not sales facilities. It’s an assertion with which traditional auto dealers are taking issue.
Dealers associations and networks across the country are doubling down their efforts to make Tesla’s OEM showroom network illegal. Tesla has opened 17 stores in 10 states, as well as the District of Columbia.
Dealership associations contend Tesla’s notion that sales are not made at these stores, stating that the showroom experience is still part of the sales process. To that end, dealer groups across the country have embarked in legal battles with the electric carmaker. The Illinois Secretary of State has informed Tesla that it is illegal to list CEO Elon Musk as the owner of its Chicago store. The Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association is looking into legal options against Telsa’s Westchester store, as well as two others in New York. In Massachusetts, the opening of a store in the suburban Natick Mall is having its legality challenged by the dealer association in that state. California has laws in place that allow for a manufacturer to run its own dealership, as long as it is not within 10 miles of an existing dealer. That practice caught the ire of Chrysler dealers when the American automaker opened its own multi-brand showroom near downtown Los Angeles.
Tesla says the way that its stores are run are unique to each location. According to George Blankenship, Tesla’s VP of sales, “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.” Blankenship is the former Apple retail guru and the mind behind the Apple Stores – an experience Tesla hopes to recreate in its own sales network. In the eyes of many dealers, that is a threat to their own dealership model. As Tesla seeks to open more stores in more states, this is unlikely to be the end of the pushback against the electric automaker.
Tesla has announced that due to apparent lack of demand, it will not offer a 40 kWh battery in the Model S sedan.
Originally, there was three options that customers could choose from, either a 40, 60 or 85 kWh. Now, Tesla says that the 40 kWh won’t enter production, as only four percent of pre-ordered Model S’s were purchased with the small battery pack.
The Model S got a price bump for 2013, which put a base Model S at $59,900 before federal tax credits. Now that the small battery has been foregone, a base Model S will sell for $69,900, assuming pricing stays the same.
SEE ALSO: Tesla Model S Gets $2,500 Price Increase
Those customers that did opt for the 40 kWh battery will be delivered cars with a 60 kWh battery pack that is electronically limited to a range of 160 miles, the same as what would have been delivered by the smaller battery. Those customers will benefit from improved torque and top speed, and can pay to have the range brought back up to the 230 mile range of the 60 kWh battery.
SEE ALSO: Tesla Supercharger Network Launched for Fast Charging
The announcement came as part of a sales announcement, in which Tesla said that vehicle deliveries exceeded 4,750 units last year. The company also said that all 60 kWh equipped cars will now come with built in supercharger hardware.
Discuss this story at gasstinks.com
One of the largest hurdles Tesla has faced is the lack of electric charging points for its electric cars. Now, the company is working to resolve that issue by opening up a network of quick chargers across the country.
Dubbed the Supercharger, Tesla’s new charger not only helps to expand the current network of electric-car charging stations, but it can also help feed electricity back into the current power grid. The Supercharger works as such: the charging station has been designed to create more energy from solar power than will be used by a plugged-in vehicle; the leftover juice is then put back into the current power grid for use at another time. In just 30 minutes, the Supercharger can give a Model S enough power to drive at 60 mph for three hours.
With the announcement of the Supercharger, Tesla revealed that it has already set up six of the stations across California that will allow drivers to travel almost the entirety of the state and parts of Nevada and Arizona. By the end of next year, the company hopes to install Superchargers throughout high-traffic corridors across the country: from Vancouver, British Columbia to San Diego, California; from Miami, Quebec to New York, New York; and from Los Angeles, California to New York, New York. Starting in the second half of next year, Tesla will also begin installing Superchargers in Europe and Asia.
The performance abilities – and even the burnout potential – of the Tesla Model S has already been well documented, but, surprisingly, we haven’t yet seen the all-electric luxury hatchback strapped to a dyno. Fortunately, the crew over at Dragtimes has posted a video that finally gave us some real-world numbers for the family- and environmentally friendly Tesla.
As the article points out, the results might be off a little (on the low side) due to the run not starting from a dead stop, but the numbers are impressive nonetheless. Immediately upon throttle application, the dyno records almost 300 horsepower at zero miles per hour, and power peaks at 368 hp at around 55 mph (we imagine the “386HP” quoted on the video title is a typo) before trailing off to around 220 hp closer to the car’s limited 130-mph top speed. This compares quite favorably to the power numbers provided by Tesla putting max output at 416 hp; the dyno provided no torque figures for the car. Dragtimes also believes this number bodes well for the car on the track, too, quoting a quarter-mile time of 12.2 seconds at 112 mph.
The video of the quiet, zero-emission dyno session is posted below, so check it out.
Despite the old chestnut that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, there’s always a cost incurred – sometimes it’s hidden, and sometimes it’s front and center. Enigmatic Tesla CEO Elon Musk seems to think his company’s now-infamous Model S range dustup with The New York Times is falling squarely into the latter category. According to Musk, fallout from the back-and-forth battle over the newspaper’s cold-weather road trip story may have decimated Tesla’s stock value by as much as $100 million. Musk believes the report resulted in a lot of cancelled orders, probably costing Tesla “a few hundred” Model S purchases.
According to the report, Tesla’s shares have tumbled some 12 percent (going from $39.24 to $34.38) since the report was published. Bloomberg further notes that the company’s market capitalization has skidded by around $553 million over that same period. With the company’s stock-market value pegged at $3.91 billion, $100m represents a not insignificant chunk of money to Tesla.
So how does Musk feel about embattled Times writer John Broder, whose controversial report he previously called “fake”? During the interview with Bloomberg TV, which you can watch below, Musk opines, “I don’t think it should be the end of his career – I don’t even think necessarily he should be fired – but I do think he fudged an article.” No word has surfaced about any actions taken against Broder after the Times’ public editor admitted he did “not especially” exercise “good judgement” in the course of his reporting.
There’s a lot of interesting ground covered in the Musk interview, including a discussion on the impact of early adopters on Model S sales, as well as how demand might be affected if the federal $7,500 tax credit were to end, so check it out by scrolling below.
It’s been a while since we’ve paid attention to Fox News attacking electric cars, but has it really been long enough for them to forget some pretty salient details? Looks like it has, according to a new video from Media Matters, which splices together clips from before Tesla Motors made its big profit announcement and the company’s other recent items of good news.
In all the “before” clips, the hosts and commentators just can’t seem to mention Tesla without also saying something about taxpayer money and losers (ring a bell?). In the “after” parts, well, just watch. It’d be funny if it wasn’t so depressing. See how it all comes together below.