A software update to the Tesla Model S will add a few extra miles of range according to the brand.
The update will bring a few changes, the largest of which is a new “sleep” setting. When in use, the new “sleep” setting will power down the cars display and vehicle electronics when the owner exits the vehicle, which will add about 8 miles of range a day. The trade off is that now the screens will take longer to power up when the car is started, though Tesla says it is only a ”modest increase” in wait time.
SEE ALSO: Tesla Model S Gets $2,500 Price Increase
Along with the new screen sleep function, owners will get enhanced synchronized door handles, new voice commands, enhanced throttle response and a few other small changes.
as an interesting side note, the best part about Tesla’s software updates is that they happen over a 3G connection with minimal effort by the owner.
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
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.
Tesla has just announced a new finance program, making it easier than ever for prospective buyers to get into a new Model S with no money down and a smaller-than-expected monthly payment.
The program, a collaboration with U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, works by having the banks pick up the Model S’ 10-percent down payment. The down payment is covered by federal and state tax credits, which range from $7500 to as high was $15,000, if you live in West Virginia. Essentially, the banks are using as a down payment the tax credit Model S buyers would otherwise receive further down the line.
The buyer, who Tesla chief Elon Musk says must have excellent credit, then makes a monthly payment based on a 2.95-percent interest rate. According to Tesla’s math, that could amount to about $500 per month for 66 months for a buyer of a 65 kWh Model S. That figure is all smoke and mirrors, though, as the automaker is taking into account intangibles like the time you save by using the carpool lane or avoiding the gas station.
For example, say you’re a wealthy West Virginian business owner who’s purchasing a new 65 kWh Model S, who drives 15,000 miles per year, and is getting out of a BMW 550i, which nets 20 mpg combined on the EPA test cycle. Right there, Tesla says you’ve netted $267 per month in energy savings if you figure the average price of premium gas over the next three years will be $5 a gallon. Drive your car for business? Deduct at least $200 per month off. Is your time worth $100 per hour? Then you’ve essentially saved $167 by cutting your commute by five minutes every day, using the carpool lane. Under all those conditions, according to Tesla, your monthly payment amounts to just $184 per month. Except it doesn’t. This West Virginian businessman will actually be paying $1051 per month for his Model S. An 85 kWh Model S Performance, the quickest American four-door we’ve ever tested, would really cost $1421 per month, and the regular 85 kWh model goes for $1199 a month. It’s worth noting that the costs of driving a $1400-per-month Model S will almost certainly be less than driving a comparable $1400 per month gas-powered car.
After three years of owning the Model S the owner will have the opportunity to sell the car back to Tesla, for at least the same residual value of an equivalent-year Mercedes-Benz S-Class. At the moment, that value is 43 percent, as long you drive less than 12,000 miles a year. For those concerned about the viability of Tesla in the long run, Elon Musk will pick up the tab in the unlikely case Tesla doesn’t exist after those three years.
Ultimately, this program looks to be a win for Tesla and a way for those who might not otherwise be able to afford a Model S to get their hands on one of our favorite electric cars. As for what’s next from Tesla, Musk promised the automaker would begin holding weekly phone conferences with the press, so stay tuned.
Play with Tesla’s True Cost of Ownership Model S calculator here.
Tesla Motors gained a legal victory in its continuing efforts to expand sales across the US now that New York Supreme Court Justice Raymond J. Elliott III decided that local dealers will not be allowed to cite the Franchised Dealer Act as a reason to sue competitors, Automotive News reports.
Tesla has been embroiled in a legal tussle in the Empire State (and others) since last October, when New York dealers sued Tesla in an effort to get the California-based company to shutter the state’s company-owned stores. Tesla operates three stores and two service centers in New York.
Tesla has long argued that it should be allowed to operate its own stores because of the different nature of cars like its Model S and the fact that servicing those vehicles is simply different than working on conventional vehicles. Traditional laws dictate that car sellers be franchises that are independent from automakers.
Tesla chief Elon Musk was in Texas this week lobbying for a law that would allow electric vehicle companies to sell their cars directly to the public. He hinted Tesla could build a factory in Texas, the state with the second-highest number of publicly accessible charging stations to (after California), at some point in the future.
Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive
By Danny King
Tesla has opened up about the Model S four-door’s recently announced price bumps: for all reservations placed after the end of 2012, Tesla Model S prices will increase by $2500. Before federal tax credits, that means the 40 kW-hr model will now cost $59,900, add $10,000 for the 60 kW-hr model and $20,000 for the 85 kW-hr model, while the 85 kW-hr Performance model will carry an MSRP of $94,900.
All Tesla Model S cars with the revised pricing will add as standard equipment 12-way power seats and heated front seats. At a constant 55 mph, Tesla estimates the ranges of the three different motor choices at 160, 230, 300 miles. Claimed acceleration from 0-60 mph times take from 4.4 to 6.5 seconds, though we tested a Performance model completing the sprint in 3.9 seconds.
Tesla notes that the $2500 price increase is half the rate of inflation, and with plenty of press — it was the Motor Trend 2013 Car of the Year, after all — luxury customers may still be willing to pay the premium. Speaking of premiums, Tesla is also offering a four-year/50,000-mile extended warranty above the car’s standard four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty.
The automaker has also revealed pricing for battery replacements. Taking the mystery out of the one maintenance detail that scares many about electric cars, Tesla says that $8000 will buy 40 kW-hr Model S customers a new battery to be installed at any time after the eighth year of ownership. The cost rises to $10,000 for the 60 kW-hr battery and $12,000 for the 85 kW-hr battery.
Those battery replacement option prices cover the battery and all installation labor and parts needed to make a Model S whole again. Customers who don’t select the option at time of order will have up to 90 days from date of delivery to choose it, and the prepaid battery will apply to second and subsequent owners even if the original owner sells their car. And while it states the fresh battery reprieve comes after the magic 8-year mark, there “will likely be economic outcomes (incentives or drawbacks) tied to early or late exercise options,” per a Tesla spokesperson.
Considering Tesla’s vehicle servicing strategy, we had to ask if a mobile battery swap was foreseeable in the year 2020. Representatives seemed amused by our image of an electric-powered box truck with enclosed lift being the 2020 version of the electric-car maker’s Service Ranger, but it appears the B&M route is the safe bet for the time being.
Read more about the Tesla Model S in our First Test and Range Verification article.
Benson Kong contributed to this post.
By Zach Gale
Is Fisker Automotive on the ropes? Listening to cofounder and executive chairman Henrik Fisker speak at the Economic Club of Chicago luncheon at the Chicago Auto Show this week, you certainly wouldn’t think so. In an overwhelmingly optimistic speech, Fisker described his company’s ethos and plan to sell green cars around the world.
He wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, though, as he talked about his company to the assembled ECC members and media. Fisker said that the company’s first (and thus far only) model, the Karma, was specifically designed to not look like any other luxury vehicle on the market. He admits this choice both limits the appeal and makes a statement, thereby attracting a specific type of buyer. “[The style] means you’re going to have a smaller market, because you appeal to people who dare to be different, who dare to show that they are buying a new type of brand, a new type of technology,” he said.
“There is not a lot of demand for pure electric cars, and I think plug-in hybrids will be the next big step.”
Whatever it looks like, Fisker believes plug-in powertrains are the right mix for today’s market. A plug-in hybrid with around 50 miles of range can drive without any gas on a daily basis but still take you for long trips on the weekends, he notes. “There is not a lot of demand for pure electric cars, but I think you can see hybrids are on the rise and I think plug-in hybrids will be the next big step,” he said. Since he wants Fisker to be a lifestyle brand that doesn’t compete with traditional automakers, there are no plans to make a gas-powered Karma (quirky aftermarket Destino venture aside). “We want to stay in a segment where there is less competition,” he said, not mentioning the upcoming Cadillac ELR.
“You might be able to go, let’s say, 250 miles, but then when you’re out of battery you might need to recharge for a couple days or find a charging station.”
Fisker also astutely managed to not mention Tesla Motors by name, even when he alluded to the company’s star vehicle, the Model S. Fisker argues a plug-in hybrid beats a pure electric for many reasons, including a cheaper battery. “When you’re carrying around a giant battery, it costs a lot of money on your daily commute and then when you really want to go far, you can’t do it anyway. You might be able to go, let’s say, 250 miles, but then when you’re out of battery, you might need to recharge for a couple days or find a charging station. Whereas our way is, you have a smaller battery and, when you really want to go far, you can go as far as you want.”
This limitation affects all EVs, he said. “In the pure electric car market, my prediction is we’re going to have too many models for too few buyers. And the reason is that every big car company is making one little electric car, mostly to satisfy the overall fleet average,” he said. “With plug-in hybrids, there’s a lot fewer cars on the market, and I think a lot more buyers.”
“In the pure electric car market, my prediction is we’re going to have too many models for too few buyers.”
Speaking of buyers, though, we’re still not sure what the status of Karma sales is. Fisker doesn’t announce its production numbers, but we can look at the numbers that have been publicly disclosed and calculate out from there. In late 2012, Fisker said his company had built a little more than 2,000 Karmas, and we know that it’s been over seven months since any new examples rolled off the line. So, let’s guesstimate that there are 2,200 Karmas in existence, and that’s all that have been around for seven months. In January, a Fisker spokesman said there was a “sufficient supply” to meet demand. This week, Fisker said his company had sold 2,000 Karmas, but that number has been bandied about for months now. In any case, those steady numbers imply that most Karmas that have been built have been sold and that the “sufficient” supply suggests demand is very low. When asked after the speech when Fisker would start making cars again, all Fisker would say was, “Soon.”
Tesla has reported its first-ever quarterly profit as Model S production hits full swing.
The company said it made about $11 million dollars in the first quarter of 2013. A huge chunk of that came from a bit of accounting magic: Tesla was able to eliminate from its balance sheet some $10.7 million in liabilities relating to its Department of Energy loans. It also benefited from the state of California’s cap-and-trade system, selling some $68 million in zero-emission-vehicle credits to other automakers.
Still, the profit marks a milestone for the start-up company given the enormous costs involved in introducing its first independently developed product. Even when Automobile Magazine named the Model S Automobile of the Year, we cautioned that we weren’t certain Tesla would survive to produce it in significant volumes. Tesla says it built more than 5000 copies of the Model S in the first quarter of 2013, putting it on target for its annual production goal of 20,000 vehicles.
Tesla says demand for the Model S has kept pace with the supply, thanks in part to its new financing deal. Later this year, it will start selling the car outside North America. CEO Elon Musk predicts Tesla can sell 10,000 vehicles per year in Europe and 5000 per year in Asia.
Tesla’s next challenge will be reducing how much it spends building the Model S. Its profit margin on the car is presently a slim five percent. Musk says production costs will continue to fall as Tesla gets better deals from suppliers—a result of higher-volume production—and improves the car’s design.
Tesla’s stock has risen to nearly thirteen percent, to nearly $70 per share, in afterhours trading.
By David Zenlea
It’s another step closer to having Tesla Model S cars in customer hands: the manufacturer announced that the car has finished crash testing with the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration, and that the car is cleared for a June 22 initial delivery date.
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
The argument can now be made that Tesla Motors has come up with a sleeker alternative to the Amtrak lines that run along the Eastern Seaboard. The California-based electric vehicle company has installed the first East Coast fast-charging stations, allowing Model S owners to make the 450-mile trek between Boston and Washington DC without worrying about having sufficient juice.
Last week, Tesla added two fast-charging stations: one in Wilmington, DE, which is about 30 miles southwest of Philadelphia, and the other in Milford, CT, which is slightly southwest of the halfway point between New York City and Boston, the New York Times reports. Both 480-volt stations are at rest stops along I-95.
Granted, only Tesla Model S owners will be able to celebrate, as the stations are built specifically for those vehicles and can’t be used for, say, a Nissan Leaf or even a Tesla Roadster. That said, the stations can add 150 miles or range, or more than half the 265-mile single-charge range of a Model S with an 85-kw battery pack, in about 30 minutes. That’s just enough time to knock down a waffle sundae from Friendly’s, actually.
In October, Tesla had its official “Supercharging Day,” in which the company opened its first six fast chargers in the Western US. The complete package stations come with solar panels to power the cars, and cost around $250,000 to install. Model S drivers can charge their vehicles for free.
By Danny King