Archives for September 3rd, 2013
Tesla is ready to help out those owners who feel that their Roadsters aren’t new and shiny enough. According to a new report, the electric car maker will be giving owners a credit when they trade in a Roadster for a new Model S.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Tesla has created a buyback program for current Roadster owners who are looking to move into a new Model S. Tesla’s program works just as any other trade-in deal would work, and has been created to help simplify the process for Model S/Roadster customers, according to Tesla representative Christina Ra. Since some Model S variants are actually priced well below the Roadster, it is possible for an owner to receive more on a trade than the cost of the new car. “In that case, we’d write you a check,” Tom vonReichbauer, Tesla’s director of finance, told the Chronicle.
Pricing for the Model S hatchback starts at $57,400 for the 40 kWh battery, steps up to $67,400 for the 60 kWh car, and $77,400 for the 85 kWh model (all prices are before any government tax rebates). The EPA has already rated the 85-kWh Model S at 89 MPGe and a range of 265 miles. Currently, the only Model S versions being built are the top-spec Signature Performance models that use the 85-kWh battery; an upgraded interior, suspension, and wheels; and the exclusivity of being just one of 1000 units built. Once all the Signature models are built, the automaker will begin to produce the Model S and Model S Performance versions.
Having a cache of Roadsters will also help Tesla, the Chronicle points out. Having another vehicle to sell alongside the Model S until the Model X crossover debuts will help the automaker keep retail sales going. It’s expected that a Roadster would be resold for anywhere around $73,000 to $94,000 depending on age and mileage of the car.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk recently sat down with Motor Trend for an interview, and hinted that the company has plans for an all-electric supercar, as well as an electric truck.
When asked about future products, Musk said “we’d like to do an electric supercar. We have this idea for an electric truck that could really be a big improvement in truck technology.”
Tesla’s next vehicle that will hit the market is the Model X SUV, followed by a 3 series competitor that the brand hopes will be there first large quantity seller. Tesla is looking to become “more experimental as a brand,” says Tesla’s chief designer, Franz von Holzhausen.
SEE ALSO: Tesla Developing Third Model to Take on 3-Series
Also in the experimental category are autonomous vehicles, another area that Musk touched on. “I do think it will be interesting to do self-driving cars, perhaps working in conjunction with Google, who’s quite close to us in Silicon Valley,” he finished.
[Source: Motor Trend]
In which we bring you motoring news from around the Web:
• If Consumer Reports’ recent review of the Tesla Model S is anything to go by, the electric carmaker has produced quite the phenomenal ride. But the big drawback with fully electric cars is, of course, the fact that drivers have to sit around and wait while the car charges. But that may change. Tesla Motors has revived discussion of swappable battery packs, which could be installed at customer service centers. Tesla would not be the first to employ such technology. Better Place unveiled E.V. battery swap technology in 2009, even setting up a network of stations in Israel and Denmark. The company failed to make a splash in America and Australia, but with its supercharger infrastructure already in place, Tesla may be better positioned to make battery swapping feasible. (Green Car Reports)
• Honda unveiled the 2012 Acura NSX concept at the Detroit auto show last year, but now it’s official. The company announced plans Tuesday to produce the cars at a former logistics center in Marysville, Ohio, next to a plant that manufactures Honda Accords. The company said it planned to invest about $70 million in the new factory, which would employ 100 people. Honda produced the original NSX from 1990 to 2005. Pricing for the revived sports car nameplate has not been announced. (The Columbus Dispatch)
• In other Tesla news, the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association is pushing for legislation that will ban automakers from selling their own cars in the state. The bid to protect the business interests of conventional third party dealers flies in the face of Elon Musk’s business plan. Mr. Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, has kept sales of his company’s electric luxury cars streamlined by cutting out the middle man, so to speak. Dealership advocates say they’re protecting consumer interests and fair competition, while Tesla counters that it is difficult for an automotive start-up to do business within the established dealership network model. (Slate)
• Although Toyota agreed upon a settlement last year in the 2010 class-action lawsuit connected with claims of sudden unintended acceleration of its vehicles, a federal judge will rule on the amount next month in a “fairness hearing.” The settlement could pay as much as $1.63 billion to nearly 22 million current and former Toyota, Scion and Lexus owners. The settlement will pay $200 million in lawyer fees and another $27 million in unspecified costs. (Automobile Magazine)
• Ray LaHood, secretary of the Transportation Department, discussed talking cars at a connected vehicle convention news conference in Ann Arbor, Mich., this week. Mr. LaHood said the bottom line for vehicles that communicate with one another to avoid crashes is, well, the bottom line. He noted that while technologically advanced vehicles are safer, consumers’ acceptance of them will boil down to how much they cost. Researchers from the Transportation Department and the University of Michigan have been studying connected vehicles since August with the aim of providing information for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as it develops guidelines for avoidance technology on new vehicles. (Reuters)
Tesla Motors is in the middle of a spat with the Texas Automobile Dealers Association, but that isn’t stopping CEO Elon Musk from mapping out his future plans in Texas. If Musk has his way, Texas could be home to Tesla’s second assembly plant, he told Automotive News. And if that weren’t enough, he said the new plant could produce an EV truck, if the company ever offers pickups.
Musk didn’t specify which cities he’s considering for the new plant, but he did say the process could start as soon as three years from now. “When we do establish a manufacturing plant outside of California, Texas would be a leading candidate for that,” Musk told Automotive News. California is currently Tesla’s biggest market and Texas has the potential of becoming the automaker’s second-largest money maker.
In addition to the logistical benefits for Tesla, the new plant will produce thousands of new jobs for the state. Musk also hinted that the new location could build an EV truck. “I have this idea for a really advanced electric truck that has the performance of a sports car but actually more towing power and more carrying capacity than a gasoline or diesel truck of comparable size,” Musk said.
First, though, Tesla must determine how it will sell cars in the state. As previously reported, only franchised dealers are allowed to sell cars in Texas, which means Tesla’s factory-owned stores (one in Austin and another in Houston) are prohibited from conducting any sales-related activity including test drives, financial transactions, or deliveries. The same applies for service work. Current owners must initiate service-related requests outside of the state before going to a subcontracted garage in Texas.
Tesla is attempting to gain exemption from the state, but is facing resistance from the Texas Automobile Dealers Association. The automaker faced a similar battle in Minnesota, but has temporarily earned an exemption around that state’s franchise law.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)
Auto News, Dealers, Government, Hybrid Car/EV, Tesla
Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse is World’s Fastest Convertible, Hits 254 MPH
When is $20 million not equal to $20 million? When, for some, it’s an interest payment and, for others, it’s all someone else thinks they’re worth. Here’s how that one number means two totally different things to two different green car companies.
Speaking to Bloomberg Television about the early repayment of Tesla Motors’ DOE loan, CEO Elon Musk said today that, “ultimately, the US taxpayer actually made a profit above $20 million on this loan. For this loan at least, people’s tax bill actually went slightly down.”
Musk said that, now that the loan has been paid back, more people might take a look at Tesla. “We were attacked a lot in certain quarters for having some government debt,” he said. “I think that actually matters to some consumers out there, whether or not a company actually does have government debt, and being able to say we fully repaid that debt with interest, I think it is helpful to some number of people out there in thinking about buying a car.” So, for Tesla, which recently raised over a billion dollars, $20 million is an easy price to pay to potentially sell more EVs.
Now, let’s look at Fisker Automotive, which is still fending off bankruptcy. We learned this week that VL Automotive and Wanxiang made an offer to buy the troubled automaker for an undisclosed sum. Word out today is that the amount that the two companies are willing to pay for Fisker is, you guessed it, $20 million. That’s about one percent of Fisker’s $2 billion-plus value back when the Karma plug-in hybrid was launched, according to Reuters. It’s unclear how a potential Fisker buyer will have to deal with the outstanding DOE loan amount of $171 million and other issues, but the $20-million offer a striking contrasts to Musk’s statement on Bloomberg Television, which you can watch in the video below.
I ran into Tesla Model S design chief Franz von Holzhausen at the Paris Motor Show as we were both on the way to the unveiling of the McLaren P1 supercar. After graduating from Art Center College of Design with a bachelor’s degree in Transportation Design, Von Holzhausen began his career with Volkswagen under J Mays and worked on such seminal projects as the Concept One (which became the new Beetle). He then moved to GM, and drew critical acclaim for his Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky roadster. In 2005, Mazda hired von Holzhausen as its North American design chief. Under his watch, the company developed the Nagare design language, revised the style of the RX-8 and Mazda5, and launched the 2009 Mazda6 and Mazda3.
One of my favorite concept cars of all time was executed by Franz and his team; the rotary-powered, LMP1-based Mazda Furai. Why do I still love it so? Because unlike most concept cars, it wasn’t just a pretty face, but a full runner that I got to experience around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Franz obviously knows something about fast cars and great designs, so just after McLaren boss Ron Dennis and Managing Director Antony Sheriff raised the sheet on McLaren’s all-new P1 supercar, I asked him for his first impressions:
FvH: Makes the 12C kind of old and tired. It’s got a great stance, it sits well, reminds of the F1 [McLaren’s first street legal sports car]. Yeah, I like it. It’s definitely got a menacing feel to it – a pissed-off face. It has a BIG greenhouse and I’m wondering about that proportion – but it’s hard to tell from here.
I love the sculpture on the body side. Reminds of stuff that we were doing in the past. Apparently it’s very functional as well, with the intakes going right from the door into the engine. So I can appreciate that, the form and the function kinda working together. It’s awesome.
Yeah, but it makes the 12C dated for sure.
MT: Have you ever worked with [McLaren head of design] Frank Stephenson before?
FvH: No, I haven’t. I was looking for him on the stage, but I just know of him from, you know, the designer crowd, and but I think he did a pretty solid job. In general I think the car is cool. Way better than in pictures, sits way better on its wheels, from here. I’ll have to come back later, tomorrow, when there is less people to get a better view. But you know it’s awesome, Ron Dennis is up there — you don’t see that every day. Seeing Ron in person is very cool.
And I appreciate them continuing to just go for it.
MT: What do you think about the orange color?
FvH: I’m wondering about it. There must something about it I’m just not aware of. Is it the brand color…? I love the simplicity of the stand with the orange and white, it’s super cool. But is it the right color for the car?
MT: Well, everyone knows you designer types only like light gray or silver for your concepts so you can show off the lines…
FvH: [Laughs] Actually, orange is one of my more favorite colors, but this shade seems a bit, um, overly mature. I think a car like this, if you could get some screaming colors on it, it would be all that more impressive.
I do see a lot of reference from the F1 in the side feature. Hard to tell about the silhouette but from what I’ve seen, the silhouette is pretty similar.
MT: I noticed that the McLaren logo seems to be used as a throughout the car – in the headlights, hood scoops, etc. You know, the upside-down swoosh, punctuation mark…too much repetition? What do you think?
FvH: Oh as an element on the car – front, rear, everywhere – the “boomerang.” It reminds me of the Kumho tire logo. But you know it’s subtle enough that you know it’s not too overt.
It doesn’t punch you in the face…and you know the car does look fantastic.
MT: Thanks Franz!
By Edward Loh
Fisker Automotive has hired Joel Ewanick, the former head of marketing at General Motors, as its interim chief of global sales and marketing, the company said on Monday. Fisker informed its retailers on Monday that Richard Beattie, who had been the company’s chief commercial officer, was retiring.
Mr. Ewanick will face the daunting task of building a positive image for Fisker, the maker of the $103,000 Karma luxury plug-in hybrid. The company has sustained a sequence of mishaps since the cars were first delivered to customers last December.
Russell Datz, a spokesman for Fisker, declined to comment on what Mr. Ewanick would encounter. “Anytime you start a car company, you’re in for challenge after challenge,” Mr. Datz said Tuesday.
Mr. Ewanick is a seasoned auto industry executive who has held top marketing positions at G.M. and Hyundai. He is a somewhat controversial figure: G.M. ousted him in July after he reportedly failed to disclose the full cost of a multimillion-dollar sponsorship deal with the English soccer team Manchester United. Mr. Ewanick’s hiring by G.M. in May 2010 was also considered unusual, because he took the position only six weeks after being hired by Nissan North America to head its marketing efforts.
Mr. Datz confirmed that the Fisker Karma has been recalled twice. He said the problems were “small compared to other things that could have happened.” He pointed to competitors that encountered similar problems. “A lot of people forget that the Tesla Roadster was recalled several times, and they had a lawsuit with a supplier, and sales challenges,” he said. “These problems are nothing new.”
Mr. Ewanick, who is not accepting requests for interviews, has been working as a consultant to Fisker for the last few weeks. The company is continuing its search for a long-term marketing chief; in the interim, Mr. Ewanick will serve under Tony Posawatz, Fisker’s chief executive, who is also a transplant from G.M. Mr. Posawatz was named to lead Fisker in August, after serving as the chief engineer for the Chevrolet Volt. The Volt and the Fisker Karma are both plug-in hybrids, which operate mostly like an electric car but use a gasoline engine to extend driving ranges hundreds of miles.
In a company statement, Mr. Posawatz praised Mr. Ewanick for his “wealth of motor industry experience and knowledge to guide us through this interim period.”
Mr. Ewanick’s and Mr. Posawatz’s experience with marketing the Volt should prove useful as Fisker tries to find its footing in the emerging electric vehicle market. The company had planned to produce a second, more affordable family-oriented vehicle, but the project is on hold as the company seeks additional financing. In the meantime, it will need to counterbalance negative stories about the Karma, a sedan designed by Henrik Fisker.
Sales of the Karma were originally scheduled to begin in 2010, but were repeatedly delayed. Soon after its first deliveries in late 2011, the company announced that some of its components were faulty and needed to be replaced. But the most embarrassing incident occurred in March, when Consumer Reports said the Karma became inoperable while being evaluated. To date, Fisker has sold more than 1,500 units of the Fisker Karma, Mr. Datz said.
Despite its technical problems, the Fisker Karma is an attractive automobile, with an A-list of celebrity owners, including the former secretary of State, Colin Powell, the actor Leonardo DiCaprio and the teen idol Justin Bieber.
Check it out: according to Silex Power, it’s a force of nature,” a “fluid form… the pinnacle of technological innovation. It’s the epitome of elegance and luxury, a synopsis of the superior class… the most technologically vehicle ever conceived. It’s the dawn of a new era in electric mobility – the Chreos.
Yes, the Chreos boasts 640 horsepower and 4,400 Nm (about 3,245 in pound-foot) of torque. The Chreos can reach 300 kilometers per hour (about 186 miles per hour) and goes zero to 100 km/h (about 62 mph) in under 2.9 seconds. Oh, and a car this fast leaves range anxiety in the dust: it can go 1,000 kilometers on a single charge – that’s about 621 miles. One last thing: the Chreos has the Tesla Model S and its Supercharger beat hands down since it can fullly charge in less than 10 minutes using its HyperCharge Technology!
There must be a catch in there somewhere. Oh yeah, it isn’t here yet. It’s a concept vehicle being designed by Silex Power, which has worked for a few years in the renewable energy and sustainable development markets. According to a company source, it will take about three years to make it to production. There’s a video below offering a rendered look at the concept car.
By Jon LeSage