Archives for September 2nd, 2013
Production of the Tesla Model X crossover has been pushed back from the end of this year to the end of 2014. A Tesla representative told the Los Angeles Times that the wait for the electric crossover has increased as the company focuses on filling orders for the Model S four-door, which could reach 20,000 units this year.
The original Tesla Model X was supposed to go on sale early in 2014, but now deliveries will likely begin early 2015. While Tesla focuses on Model S sales and delays the Model X, the company has pledged to pay back its Department of Energy Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan by 2017 – five years earlier than the original deadline.
We’ve taken a ride in a Tesla Model X prototype, which has flashy “falcon doors” that Elon Musk said will make installing child seats easier. At the time, Musk estimated that the Model X would weigh 10-15 percent more than the Model S, or about 4700 pounds.
Tesla also expects to make a modest profit for the first quarter of 2013. The company has also raised $40.5 million from sales of zero-emission vehicle credits and greenhouse gas credits to other undisclosed companies, according to its annual report. The next Tesla model in the pipeline is a smaller electric sedan at a lower price point to appeal to broader range of customers.
Source: Los Angeles Times, Tesla
By Jason Udy
Tesla is preparing to deliver its first Model S electric sedans to customers next month, but in the spirit of full disclosure, has outlined why it anticipates its 300-mile version will be rated by the EPA for 265 miles.
The Model S’ drawn-out unveiling has ingrained three specific driving ranges related to battery size – 160, 230, and 300 miles – but the EPA will have its own stamp of approval. An official blog bylined by CEO Elon Musk and CTO JB Straubel dives right into the matter, presumably foreseeing questions and concerns about the 35-mile disparity with the farthest-traveling selection.
The difference between 265 and 300 miles extracted from the Model S’ substantial 85-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery comes down to the EPA’s testing methodology. The stated 300-mile range with the highest-capacity battery was always Tesla’s target. From one perspective, it has actually exceeded the mark, claiming 320 miles under the EPA’s old 2-cycle fuel economy evaluation. It’s when the EPA’s updated 5-cycle test enters frame that “265 miles” rears its head. For comparison, the 245-mile-rated Roadster and Roadster 2.5 endured the elder cycle while the Nissan Leaf has a 73-mile range under the 5-cycle assessment.
Going from the 2- to 5-cycle test can drastically impact vehicle ratings. The simpler 2-cycle had an approximate weighting of 55-percent city and 45-percent highway use; the more comprehensive 5-cycle is more representative of 43-percent city and 57-percent highway driving. The certifications are run on dynamometers, and the specifics are as follows:
1) Federal Test Procedure: 2-cycle, 5-cycle
2) Highway Fuel Economy Driving Schedule: 2-cycle, 5-cycle
3) Cold Federal Test Procedure (run at ambient 20 vs. 75 degrees Fahrenheit in standard FTP): 5-cycle
4) SC03 (air conditioning test at ambient 95 degrees F): 5-cycle
5) US06 (aggressive acceleration test, up to 80 mph): 5-cycle
Exactly how much the 85-kW-hr battery’s claimed range figures matters will likely be determined as Model S driving impressions roll in from customers and media outlets.
Tesla hasn’t disclosed its anticipated EPA ranges for the 160- and 230-mile batteries, but a 12-percent loss like the 300-mile option would peg them at a predicted 141 and 203 miles under the EPA 5-cycle, respectively. The 160- and 230-mile estimates from the respective 40- and 60-kW-hr packs can be achieved from a steady 55-mph cruise, per Tesla spokesperson KC Simon.
Interestingly, the blog gives insight into the Model S’ range and electricity consumption behavior with graphs. These graphs often have little bearing on the real world since Main Street USA is not a laboratory with fixed inputs. Nevertheless, considering the less expensive Model S is considerably heavier, it’s reassuring to see the family-friendly electric four-door head and shoulders above the Roadster from an efficiency standpoint.
The Model S costs from $57,400 (160-mile battery) to $105,400 (Signature Performance model with 300-mile battery) depending on battery size and trim, excluding the highly touted $7500 federal tax credit that gets applied to your income tax return. Depending on your state of domicile, there may be additional state and local tax credits or rebates as well.
By Benson Kong
Tesla Motors has just revealed the latest edition of it 5-part announcement trilogy. Whereas the previous first installment had to do with the company’s new leasing program, this episode is all about service and warranty, comes gift-wrapped in the glittery descriptor of “World’s Best,” and is accompanied by hints of a future battery upgrade.
The new plan improves on the California automaker’s service program by adding a valet service that brings you a top-spec Model S Performance – or a Tesla Roadster, if you prefer – to temporarily replace your personal vehicle while it’s being serviced. CEO Elon Musk states that this fleet of Model S service vehicles, which will initially number about 100, will ideally be less than three months old and also be available for immediate sale. Like your loaner more than your own car? You can keep it, paying “a price that is lower by 1% per month of age and $1 per mile” for your new ride and taking, likely, a similar hit on your trade-in.
Musk hinted that a 500-mile battery would not be an unreasonable thing to expect in four or five years.
Not only should the purchase scheme keep the loaner fleet nice and fresh, it may also create a cache of certified pre-owned inventory for buyers who are looking for a deal on a Tesla that starts at $69,900 from the factory, or who would rather not wait a couple months for a new, made-to-order car.
As well as no-travel hassle, Tesla has also made its $600 annual service optional without effecting the standard 5-year/50,000-mile warranty. The company has also made the battery portion of the warranty unconditional, meaning that, if you manage to somehow turn it into a useless brick (something that should be quite difficult to accomplish with the Model S), you will get a replacement unit of equal capacity free of charge.
Speaking of battery capacity, during the media call, Mr. Musk also offered some hope for those anxious for packs that hold more energy than the current EPA-estimated 265-mile/85 kilowatt-hour packs now available. In response to a question about upcoming technology improvements, he hinted that a 500-mile battery would not be an unreasonable thing to expect in four or five years. He then added that, eventually, Tesla would likely offer owners the opportunity to upgrade their vehicles with longer-range capabilities.
It all sounds pretty good to us, and we can’t help but think if this upstart company keeps it up, surpassing sales of the Chevy Volt might seem a minor accomplishment. For more details on this newest warranty arrangement, you can get more details in a blog post on the Tesla website.
Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive
In which we bring you motoring news from around the Web:
• Under scrutiny for bypassing a traditional, dealership-oriented retail model in favor of manufacturer-owned stores, Elon Musk, chairman of Tesla Motors, defended his company’s strategy in a blog post on Monday. Mr. Musk said Tesla products would be undermined in the setting of a traditional dealership, where a salesperson would be unable “to explain the advantages of going electric without simultaneously undermining their traditional business.” Mr. Musk said two lawsuits asserting Tesla circumvented state laws aimed at protecting franchisees were baseless because Tesla has not granted any franchises. (Tesla Motors)
• Facing a crisis of overcapacity at its plants in Europe and a projected loss of more than $1 billion in the region this year, Ford has called a meeting for Wednesday with union leaders to discuss the status of its plant in Genk, Belgium. Some media outlets, including the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, have reported that Ford intended to close the plant outright. (Bloomberg)
• On Monday, the eve of the São Paulo auto show, BMW announced its intention to build a production plant in the southern state of Santa Catarina, Brazil. Plans for the facility are subject to government approval, but BMW has aggressive targets, saying it would inaugurate the plant in 2014 with capacity to produce 30,000 vehicles annually. (BMW)
• Chevrolet said it would introduce the next generation of the Silverado 1500 full-size pickup truck on Dec. 13, a month ahead of the 2013 Detroit auto show. The automaker has not disclosed pricing or powertrain information for the truck, but emphasized it would have progressive design elements, including “jewel-like, projector beam headlamps.” (General Motors)
For a while there, Tesla CEO Elon Musk was having a kumbaya moment after the public editor The New York Times, Margaret Sullivan, wrote that her publication may have been overzealous in its criticism of the Tesla Model S and admitted that Times reporter John Broder was not entirely precise with his mileage or speed logs.
Musk, writing on the official Tesla blog post, thanked Sullivan and the Times for the response and also singled out CNN, CNBC and Consumer Reports for duplicating Broder’s test (without running dry, of course). Musk also sent a shout out to Tesla owners who wrote the Times to tell the publication it may have been off base with its findings. The Tesla chief also used the post to pitch the fact that Tesla’s installing more fast chargers along the East Coast and improving the model’s software.
That was on the blog. On Twitter, thing have been a bit more heated. The New York Times automotive editor, James Cobb, wrote a series of tweets to Elon, which we get into below.
Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive
Cobb praised Musk for what he’s done for plug-in cars but then defended Broder, saying that Musk calling the original post “fake” was “over the line & impugned reputation of a good man and a consummate pro.”
To which Musk responded that there were, “enough sour grapes … to start a winery. Can we just bury hatchet & move on?”
Earlier this month, the Times started the entire brouhaha with a report that a Model S fell well short of its advertised single-charge range during an East Coast drive between Superchargers. Musk responded by calling the article “fake” in a tweet and said the car in question wasn’t fully charged and was driven at faster speeds than reported. As Twitter shows, this story continues to inflame passion on both sides. Check out Musk’s official blog post here.
By Danny King
Richard Drew/Associated Press
Introduced on Wednesday, March 27: 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive compact.
2013 New York Auto Show
What is it? A fully electric version of the B-Class luxury compact.
Is it real? Very definitely.
What they said: “While others are still talking about electric cars, we are building them and selling them,” said Joachim Schmidt, executive vice president of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “We are truly committed to emissions-free driving, and providing this in a car that offers all the comfort, quality and safety of a Mercedes-Benz.”
What they didn’t say: While many automakers have canceled or pulled back on plans to produce electric vehicles, Mercedes-Benz may have passed the point of no return – especially financially – in terms of E.V. development and is going full speed ahead. The company’s E.V. line now comprises vehicles from the tiny Smart E.V. to the 750-horsepower SLS AMG Electric Drive.
What makes it tick? A power plant, developed in conjunction with Tesla, that generates 135 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque, and provides a range of 115 miles on a single charge. Mercedes promises recharging in less than four hours. 0-60? “Under 10 seconds,” Mr. Schmidt said.
How much? How soon? Available in the United States starting in early 2014, apparently through dealer order. Mr. Schmidt said orders would be accepted beginning this fall. No pricing was announced.
How’s it look? Not greatly different from the standard B-Class hatchback. The stubby B-Class styling as a whole, to the American eye, may take some getting used to.
Add one more feather to the proverbial cap of the Tesla Model S. Road & Track West Coast Editor Jason Cammisa figured out how to make the electric luxury sedan extra frisky and then set about nuking the rear tires with electric-motor torque.
“Holy hell there’s a lot of torque here,” Cammisa wrote in his notes after pulling a fuse that took the ABS, stability control and traction control offline. That fuse also took out the speedometer and air suspension – no big deal – but power steering and brake assist went out, too, making hooning a parking-lot-only affair.
The best part is that they shot a video to accompany the hijinks, so you can see for yourself how the Model S does. If you want to try it for yourself, just be careful.
“There’s no rev-limiter to contend with,” notes Cammisa, and that means “you’ll be spinning tire up to the car’s 132-mph top speed.” That makes the Model S capable of blowing tires very effectively. The upside to disabling the assistance systems is that the raw dynamics of the car show through, and Cammisa reports that the underlying car is very good, indeed. You’ve waited long enough, scroll down for the video.
By Dan Roth
It appears that Tesla’s new $600-per-year service program for its Model S is not going over well with some of the owners and wait-listers. David Noland, a Model S reservation holder and freelance writer, has dug into it the details and clarified the one he’s finding most annoying. And as it turns out, he’s not the only one taking issue with the program.
According to Green Car Reports, Noland owns a 2011 Chevrolet Volt and likes the service coverage for the plug-in hybrid’s electric motor and battery thermal-management system. It only needs minimal maintenance – a $49 annual system check at a local dealer and a $35 oil change every two years. That’s $84 for two years of routine maintenance. For the Model S, it’s a lot higher: $600 per year, and that electric car doesn’t even need the oil change.
Tesla’s official website says that the annual fee includes an inspection, replacement parts such as brakes and windshield wipers, roadside assistance, system monitoring, remote diagnostics and software updates, so it is more comprehensive. Looking for more detailed information, Noland contacted Tesla’s public relations department but reportedly never heard back. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, though, did eventually respond to Noland’s questions. “We are matching service cost to be less than a Mercedes of comparable purchase price,” Musk wrote. “This basically amounts to $50/month and covers all software upgrades as well as concierge level service.”
When Noland responded with a question about whether Tesla owners who opt out of the service program won’t receive software upgrades, Musk apparently didn’t respond.
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Further investigation showed that the matter is even more serious. In a recent blog post on Tesla Motor Club forum, Tesla’s vice president, George Blankenship, made the policy more clear in comments on a post about the new service plans: failure to pay $600 for an annual inspection voids the warranty. Plus, any visit to a non-Tesla shop for any type of service will void the warranty, a provision that could run afoul of the law.
This isn’t going over well with Model S owners. In a Tesla Motors Club forum survey, 12 percent agreed that Tesla had “screwed the pooch,” and would cancel their orders. About 48 percent think the price is too high but will reluctantly pay it since they don’t think they have another choice. Only nine percent think it’s a great deal worth every dollar.
Noland thinks it’s odd that Tesla is taking what looks like the opposite approach with the Supercharger, offering the fast charging for free. He’d like to see Tesla do something similar with its Model S maintenance plan, or at least follow the example of BMW, where every one of its luxury cars comes with four years/50,000 miles of included service.
By Jon LeSage
Paul Sancya/Associated Press
Tesla Motors has confirmed that production of its all-wheel-drive Model X electric crossover will begin in late 2014, a year later than the company had originally announced. The revised timing was described in the company’s Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission last Thursday.
When Tesla first revealed the Model X in February 2012, the company said production would begin at the end of 2013, with deliveries following in 2014. Nearly a year later, at the Detroit auto show last January, Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, made the first public statement about the shift in the schedule. Mr. Musk said production of the Model X would begin in the second half of 2014, according to Reuters.
While Tesla has been saying since the Detroit auto show in January that Model X production would begin in 2014, “our recent 10-K was the first written verification of that,” Shanna Hendricks, a Tesla spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.
“I almost have trouble calling this a delay in Model X, because that makes it sound like we’ve run into problems with Model X, and it’s taking longer than we thought, and it’s out of our control,” Ms. Hendricks wrote. “When, really, we’re consciously pushing back timing to allow ourselves to focus on its production and product enhancements in Model S.”
While Tesla did encounter production delays and problems with its first car, the Roadster, deliveries of the first Tesla Model S sedans were made in early June 2012, a few weeks earlier than originally projected. But in the first few months of Model S production, the company fell short of its own targets, delivering only about 250 cars. By the end of last year, the pace had picked up.
Converting customers with reservations into actual deliveries is critical for the company’s financial health. Tesla reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $81.5 million but says it expects to be profitable sometime in 2013. “We are very focused on achieving profitability and maintaining that profitability,” Ms. Hendricks said.
Tesla has not started putting alpha or beta versions of the Model X on the road for testing, Ms. Hendricks said. Tesla is “still finalizing the design prototype that has been on display at both Detroit and Geneva motor shows,” she wrote. The crossover’s most prominent design feature is the use of “falcon doors,” which are hinged at the top and rise like wings.
The Model X is built on the same platform as the Model S sedan. Tesla’s 10-K document provides this description of the Model X: “This unique vehicle has been designed to fill the niche between the roominess of a minivan and the style of an S.U.V., while having high-performance features such as a dual-motor all-wheel-drive system.”
Reservations for the standard Model X require a $5,000 deposit, while the Signature version requires a $40,000 deposit.
Prices for the Model X have not been announced. Tesla’s 10-K document states: “We anticipate that we will make Model X available with 60 kWh and 85 kWh battery pack options, with pricing of each version similar to those of a comparably equipped Model S.” Prices for the Model S sedan include a standard 60-kilowatt-hour version for $69,900 and an 85-kilowatt-hour model for $79,900. Many buyers are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit.
The company continues to state Model X production targets of 10,000 to 15,000 cars a year. There is still some wiggle room on the actual start of production with Mr. Musk stating “the second half of 2014” at the Detroit auto show while the S.E.C. documents state “late 2014.” Tesla’s Web site simply says, “Deliveries begin 2014.”
George Blankenship, Tesla’s VP of worldwide sales and ownership experience, recently took the opportunity to allay future Model S customer concerns with an update on the electric family sedan.
With production scheduled to commence in mid-2012, the first 1000 units built will be part of the North American Model S Signature Series. In acknowledgment of these initial models, they’ve been deemed “limited edition” and will come with their own unique badges and special options. All North American Model S Signature Series sedans will have the big 300-mile batteries.
We’ve long heard the Model S will start at $57,400 with the smallest 160-mile battery. Blankenship also disclosed the 230-mile battery will add another $10,000 to that cost, while the 300-mile battery will be a not unsubstantial $20,000 on top of the base price. As an incentive, a federal $7500 tax credit is being touted, and state governments may have their own financial perks for supporting alternative propulsion. Final MSRP and option prices are due this summer.
With the 300-mile packs expected off the line first, the 160- and 230-mile batteries will follow later in 2012. Left-hand drive deliveries to Europe will also begin in late 2012 and right-hand drive applications for Europe and Asia will follow suit in mid-2013. Tesla anticipates a grand total of 5000 sedans produced in 2012 at the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California. By 2013, the EV builder will be targeting an annual total of 20,000.
A few months ago, we found that Tesla expects the 20,000-unit production mark to bring them to profits. Stay tuned as we continue to follow the progress of this much-hyped electric sedan from Silicon Valley.
By Benson Kong