Archives for September 9th, 2013
Tesla Motors is expected to release quarterly earnings figures within the next few days, and the Silicon Valley automaker is thought to have attained profitability for the first time ever. As it turns out, a good bit of that profit will reportedly come from the State of California.
According to an article from the LA Times, Tesla, which is reportedly on pace to sell 20,000 vehicles in 2013, receives as much as $35,000 in environmental credits from California for each Model S it sells. These credits can then be sold to other automakers that do business in the state but don’t sell zero-emission vehicles of their own. Some experts believe Tesla could earn up to $250 million from such ZEV credits.
While profits from ZEV credits equals good news for Tesla, some experts and rival automakers aren’t very pleased with California’s strong-arm tactics when it comes to the sales of electric vehicles. “At the end of the day, other carmakers are subsidizing Tesla,” said Thilo Koslowski, an analyst at Gartner Inc.
Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, counters by saying, “We are in the air pollution business, not the car business… There is some jealously of Tesla going on here.” Check out the entire article from the LA Times here, it’s an interesting look into the inner-workings of the business side of the eco-friendly automotive marketplace.
Related GalleryTesla Model S
With news of upcoming expansion plans, Tesla appears to be continuing its journey from just barely surviving to thriving. In a Wired report, Tesla CEO Elon Musk admits the company is planning a BMW X3 fighter as well as a sports car successor to the original Tesla, the Roadster.
Before Tesla can think about launching a midsize crossover and roadster in the 2016 calendar year, however, the company also has the upcoming Model X crossover, not to mention the BMW 3 Series challenger that could arrive in 2015 after the Model X arrives in dealerships early in 2014.
“We’ll do the X3 equivalent and then a Roadster follow-up in parallel,” Musk said to Wired.
Higher-volume models like the midsize crossover and the entry-level four-door — said to carry a base price around $30,000 when it debuts — will help Tesla reach the sales levels necessary to make a profit on its vehicle architecture. Musk notes that the car will have a similar hatchback design as the Model S, perhaps a similar arrangement found between the Fisker Karma and Atlantic models.
While Musk didn’t specify whether the new crossover model will have the Model X’s flashy, outward-opening doors, we wouldn’t be surprised to see them dropped to help the model reach a lower base price. Speaking of price, Musk hints that Tesla’s next sports car may see a price drop compared to the Roadster. In a comparison test involving a Tesla Roadster Sport along with a Porsche Boxster Spyder, we called the Tesla “a genuine car to reckon with on the world stage” but knocked it for having an “extraordinary price” and limited range.
By Zach Gale
Tesla Motors turned the “penny wise, dollar foolish” axiom on its head by staking its lithium-ion battery technology on a more expensive and more complex layout than its competitors, according to Tesla Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel in an interview with Bloomberg News.
Instead of using battery packs with hundreds of larger cells for its Roaster, Tesla deployed thousands of smaller lithium-ion cells for its inaugural model in 2006. This made the battery pack more expensive to produce, but this costlier architecture was considered safer and less prone to breakdowns. Straubel said. Since then, Tesla has cut the cost of its battery packs in half during the past seven years while avoiding any recalls or reports of breakdowns due to the packs.
Earlier this month, Tesla said it delivered its first quarterly profit during the first quarter, boosting its sales 83 percent from a year earlier to $562 million and selling 4,900 Model S EVs, which was more than what the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in and Nissan Leaf battery-electric achieved.
Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive
By Danny King
We’ve heard initial reviews of the Tesla Model S from the media as the “Get Amped” tour – a multi-city test-drive opportunity for reservation holders – kicked off at the company’s Fremont, CA factory. But what about the people who really matter? You know, the folks who’ve been waiting for as long as two years, having plunked down as much as $40,000 for a place in line. What did they think of the shiny new machines?
After reading many first-person accounts and watching a good number of in-car videos, we think it’s fair to say they absolutely love it. The sexy fastback looks, the smooth, rocket-like acceleration, the comfortable ride, and confident handling. Love, love, love, and love!
But don’t take our word for it. Scroll down for a handful of videos, starting with a relatively short one from Tesla Motors featuring footage from the official launch and customer test-drive reactions (the last in the Tesla Tuesday series), followed by full length (12-13 minutes) clips from individuals.
Hybrid and electric vehicles pose a special problem for first responders. Unlike traditional gas or diesel-powered vehicles, hybrids and EVs use high voltage battery packs that can potentially electrocute firefighters when responding to an accident, if the first responders are unaware of the location of the cables that carry electricity through the car. Realizing the potential hazards, Tesla has released a video with a Model S being torn apart by the Jaws of Life to teach firefighters how to safely rescue someone from an EV.
If you want to skip the video’s drier bits, the Tesla Model S destruction starts at the 27:45 mark in the video below. Firefighters begin by ripping off the door and front quarter panel, before ripping into the A-pillar. The firefighters then dig into the dashboard and completely separate the dashboard section from the rest of the Model S, causing complete destruction of the electric car.
Watch the Tesla Model S get torn to shreds in the video below.
Source: Brock Archer via YouTube
The Tesla Model S is officially showroom ready, at least according to the U.S. government: after passing initial Environmental Protection Agency tests, the car has also reportedly passed crash testing at the hands of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Not one to waste time, Tesla Motors subsequently announced the car’s initial delivery date is June 22nd, 2012.
The crash test announcement comes from the personal Twitter account of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who took a break from observing his SpaceX rocket launch to tweet that the Model S finished NHTSA crash testing. Musk claims that the car completed all tests with five-star scores, although we were unable to independently confirm that claim with NHTSA by press time.
With crash testing completed, along with the aforementioned EPA certification, it appears to be full-speed ahead for Tesla’s next model launch. The company plans on handing over keys to early production models to owners within the confines of its assembly plant in Freemont, California, but then intends on quickly ramping up volume. Tesla hopes to deliver 5000 Model S sedans by the end of the year, but claims that the waiting list for one of the five- or seven-passenger (depending on options) EVs stretches some 10,000 names. Those names should be satisfied by the middle of next year, as Tesla is shooting for a 20,000-unit year in 2013.
As to-be owners anxiously wait for their cars, Tesla also announced that customer cars will receive some special finishing touches. Tesla VP George Blankenship announced via blog post this week that Model S sedans will now come with adjustable steering effort, suspension height, and regenerative braking settings – all of which are configurable through a menu accessed by way of the 17-inch touchscreen center stack.
The Model S will go on sale this year and cost between $57,400 and $105,400, not including a possible $7500 federal income tax credit.
By Ben Timmins
Tesla Motors is no stranger to resistance from state dealer associations, which oppose the electric automaker’s factory-owned store approach. The best-documented standoff has been between Tesla and the Massachusetts Dealer Association, but has court or legislative battles happening in several states. The latest state dealer association the company is facing off with is the Texas Automobile Dealers Association, according to Automotive News.
Tesla VP of business development, Diarmuid O’Connell has among the highest barriers in the nation for the operation of a factory-owned store. Tesla currently operates two “galleries” in Austin and Houston, but in order to comply with current state franchise law, representatives cannot initiate or complete a sales transaction or deliver a vehicle on-site. Customers must contact a representative in California to complete the sales transaction, as well as arrange their own transport and delivery arrangements. Even in the area of service and warranty work, requests have to be routed through California, which then sub-contracts the work to the service centers in Texas.
To combat the contorted, Goldbergian work-arounds to sell and service vehicles in the state, Tesla is backing a bill in the Texas legislature that would change the states inflexible franchise laws to make it easier to operate factory-owned dealerships and service centers. But the state dealer association has been actively lobbying legislators and has participated in hearings, claiming that the traditional franchise dealer model is the best way to sell and service vehicles. The association is predicting failure of the Tesla-sponsored legislation that would allow them to operate, calling Tesla’s request for an exemption from existing franchise law “arrogant.”
Tesla continues to battle the Massachusetts dealer association with proposed legislation that would change the state’s dealer franchise law. The state’s dealer association is backing its own separate bill thwarting Tesla’s efforts. The one bright spot for Tesla lately has been Minnesota, where the state dealer association has temporarily suspended its pursuit of franchise law legislation that would have prevented Tesla from opening retail outlets in the state.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
Technophiles often want to own the newest technology, but don’t always have something to do with yesterday’s device. Tesla, however, will be making it easy for current Roadster owners to upgrade to a 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,” 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