Tesla Roadster Trumps Supercars in Drag Race

Plenty of exotic supercars made their way to Russ Beach Smith Falls Airport to take part in the ‘Race the Runway 2012′ charity event that raises money for the Russ Beach Smith Falls-Montague Aviation Museum. At the event, millions of dollars worth of exotics took part in a 1/4-mile drag race on the paved runway, with an electric Tesla Roadster turning in the best time of the day.

The Tesla Roadster ran an impressive 10.39 seconds in the quarter mile and bested the likes of a Nissan GT-R (11.536), Ford GT (11.691), Dodge Viper ACR (12.023), a Porsche Carrera GT (12.273), and even a Ferrari Cailfornia (12.639). Of course most of those vehicles listed aren’t made to go fast in a straight line, but other things to take into account is driver experience and traction, two main components of a fast e.t. in drag racing.

That’s not to say the time wasn’t impressive for the electric convertible. Any 10-second car is a fast one, but let’s not jump to any hasty conclusions that the Tesla Roadster would outperform a GT-R or a Viper on a road course.

By Jason Siu

Nissan Leaf races Tesla Roadster at Sportsland

nissan leaf nismo rc racer

Give Nissan some credit, here: the company is proudly publicizing coming in second.

The Japanese automaker entered a souped-up Nissan Leaf in an all-electric-vehicle race at Japan’s Sportsland Sugo earlier this month, with hopes of knocking off proverbial favorite Tesla in the 50-kilometer race.

The Nissan Leaf Nismo RC was customized with a groovy, sleeker body as well as having its motor shifter around to make the car rear-wheel drive. The battery pack was moved to the middle for better handling. Additionally, Nissan added more crumple zones and automatic electric-power shut-down capabilities the event that the car got munched.

The good news as that the car didn’t. The bad news is that it finished second to a Tesla Roadster.

“Tesla’s speed on the straights was much more impressive than we anticipated,” driver Tsugio Matsuda said (in translation). The racer did look like he enjoyed the challenge, though, as you can see in Nissan’s six-minute video below.

By Danny King

Bloomberg says buyers, not automakers, should get more federal funding for plug-in vehicles

money ludad

The U.S. government would be more effective at spurring plug-in vehicle sales if it provided more financial incentives to consumers instead of automakers. At least, that’s the opinion in a Bloomberg News editorial.

Saying that finding alternatives to gasoline “a worthy public goal,” Bloomberg says the government should expand purchasing incentives beyond the $7,500 it provides for buyers of some plug-ins and hybrids. President Obama has said he wants 1 million plug-in vehicles to be on U.S. roads by 2015; the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards he proposed last year would mandate about a 70 percent fuel economy improvement by 2025. Bloomberg figures the government should hand out money to buyers, not companies, to encourage sales:

Providing loans to companies that can get their own financing in the capital markets is a questionable way to reach [the goal]. A better use of government money would be to encourage consumer demand – by continuing, and expanding, tax credits or other incentives for people who buy vehicles that use little or no gas.

During the past three years, U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Financing Bank has made more than $8 billion in loans at about a 1 percent interest rate to established automakers such as Ford and Nissan as well as advanced powertrain specialists like Fisker and Tesla, strictly for the purpose of developing electric-drive vehicles. Bloomberg called such a strategy “questionable.” Such automaker loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Energy.

By Danny King

Tesla Model S burnout: short, sweet and sort of silent

tesla models s burn out

We’ll keep this short, since the video in question is only 22 seconds long (and if you watch it below, go ahead and shorten it up by skipping six seconds of b-roll at the beginning). Still, if you’ve ever wanted to see a Tesla Model S spin out and smoke some tires, then be jealous of Road & Track west coast editor Jason Cammisa, who decided to see if electrons can go in circles recently in Palm Springs.

Yes, we’re jealous.

By Sebastian Blanco

Mercedes to market Tesla-powered 2014 B-Class EV in U.S.

2012 Mercedes-Benz B-Class - white - front three-quarter static view

Looks like another Tesla Motors investor will be looking to cash in on their connection. Autoweek reports Mercedes-Benz will offer their B-Class in the U.S. with Tesla propulsion.

The magazine says their source at the German automaker confirms plans for a B-Class electric-only vehicle. While Tesla already provides battery packs for the battery-powered Smart ForTwo, the B-Class EV will reportedly have Tesla batteries, motor and other components. U.S. residents should be able to procure one sometime in 2014.

The same Mercedes source says plans for a hybrid B-Class have been postponed for now. Adding a range-extending, gasoline-powered engine to an electric vehicle would put the car into a different class for which rebates and incentives aren’t as favorable in the States.

Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler owns a 4.7-percent share of Tesla. Toyota also owns part of the electric-car company with which it builds electric RAV4 crossovers.

By Chris Tutor

Tesla Model S battery swap announcement coming soon?

Sure, your first response to the idea of Tesla introducing a battery swap system might be, “what, this again?” After all, we heard in 2009 that the Model S was built with battery swaps in mind and, in 2011, Tesla CEO Elon Musk explained the Model S battery swap idea this way: “When people take an occasional two-way long distance trip, they’ll get a replacement pack and then pick up their original one on the way back. The issue of giving up your one-year old pack for a three-year old one goes away.” The Supercharger network, too, was at one point supposed to feature battery swapping robots that could get the job done in as little as one minute.

But the Supercharger stations – as they exist today – don’t have that feature. And Musk has recently been much more excited about the benefits of quick charging than battery swaps. Which is why we forgive any ongoing skepticism that Tesla will introduce batter swaps to the Model S.

Except that the other day, Musk Tweeted, “There is a way for the Tesla Model S to be recharged throughout the country faster than you could fill a gas tank.” And our friends at Green Car Reports noticed this line from Tesla’s latest quarterly report (PDF):

Other factors that may influence the adoption of alternative fuel vehicles, and specifically electric vehicles, include … our capability to rapidly swap out the Model S battery pack and the development of specialized public facilities to perform such swapping, which do not currently exist but which we plan to introduce in the near future.

So, yeah. Now what? We asked Tesla directly, and Sarah Meron, VP of communications for Tesla Motors, told AutoblogGreen, “We don’t have any comment on battery swapping right now or timing of further announcements. But we’ll let you know when we do!”

Tesla has already announced replacement costs for its battery packs ($10,000 for the 60-kWh and $12,000 for the 85-kWh pack), but that’s if you need an entirely new pack and you purchased the warranty. This is something else entirely. Is Tesla going to make actual battery swaps available soon?

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By Sebastian Blanco

Hagerty predicts this year’s future classics

Hagerty Insurance, which specializes in covering cars already deemed classics, is out with its annual Hot List predicting this year’s ten cars that will be future collectibles. Even though it stays under $100,000, it spans almost $74,000 in MSRPs starting with the $23,700 Ford Focus ST on the affordable end and peaking with the $97,395 SRT Viper.

Other notables include the Chevrolet Corvette Convertible 427, what with 2013 being both the 60th anniversary of the brand and the last year of the C6, the 505-horsepower 427 special edition being a send-off to the sports car that always does well in the last model year of a particular generation. The Tesla Model S collects yet another award for delivering a welcome and overdue shock to the electric-car game and is the only sedan to make the list, and the Subaru BRZ also adds to its trophy chest, the lightweight coupe doing so much with so little that it might be worth a packet after Father Time has waved his staff a few times.

You can check out the rest of Hagerty’s picks in the press release below.

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By Jonathon Ramsey

Tesla Model X makes auto show debut in Detroit

Tesla Model X Detroit 2013

Tesla isn’t holding its Detroit Auto Show press conference until tomorrow, but there’s a new Model X on the stand today. This one is white – and, in a nice touch, it’s simply called “white” – and has an updated interior and new wheels. We doubt those wheels will ever make it to production, since they have carbon fiber spokes that are pure flair, not structural.

Inside, the surfaces, materials and colors are updated from the silver/gray model unveiled almost a year ago, with black and white featured in alternating fashion. The big touch screen in the dashboard is the same as in the Model S, but it “floats” (as you can see here) instead of being flush (see this). What we hadn’t noticed before is the tight squeeze third-row occupants will feel on their knees (see this).

Tesla representatives told AutoblogGreen that this Model X is an updated design prototype, not even a beta version (the first beta is expected in 2014). That said, the minor evolution that we see here is getting closer to what the production model will look like.

Speaking of tomorrow’s press conference, we were told it will mostly be a review of what Tesla accomplished in 2012, even though some of the numbers we’re most interested in (i.e., sales) won’t be revealed until February. Still, we did hear that the way pre-orders and production rates are going, Tesla is on track to sell 20,000 Model S vehicles in 2013. That’s calendar year 2013, by the way, which for Tesla matches the Model Year. We like it when companies keep things simple.

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By Sebastian Blanco

Monster Tajima Test Drives Tesla Model S – Video

Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima knows a thing or two about cars having conquered the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb multiple times. 

Recently, he has become a spokesperson for electric vehicles, campaigning a Monster Sport E-Runner EV at the famous event this year.

So it’s natural that a driver like Tajima would want to hop into an EV, but at the same time, boring can’t possibly be acceptable for a man with his resume. He was the first driver to break the ’10 minute barrier’ at Pikes Peak, and after achieving a record nine career wins at the event, Tajima hopped behind the wheels of a Tesla Model S to put it to the test.

Not surprisingly, Tajima was impressed with the Model S’ performance, going so far as to say “the car I test drove today was extremely well tuned and balanced.” He went on to comment that the quality of handling was incredible in the Model S, and believes that no other car model like it will be available any time soon.

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By Jason Siu

Tesla Superchargers to Connect NY with LA Within Six Months


Making EVs more practical is one of the biggest challenges still facing the electric-vehicle market, and Tesla is once again expanding its network of fast-charging Supercharger stations. 

Tesla plans on tripling the number of free-to-use Supercharger stations by the end of the month, and within two years, Tesla Model S owners will be able to travel from New York to Los Angeles using nothing but Superchargers. There are currently only nine active Superchargers, but the brand will have over 100 by 2015, as seen by the map shown above.

Within a month, Superchargers will be added to link Vancouver to Portland, Austin to Dallas, and Illinois to Colorado. Within six months, California will receive more stations, along with Texas, Florida and the Midwest. More importantly, in that time Model S owners will be able to drive from New York to Los Angeles relying exclusively on Superchargers.

In Canada, Ottawa will be linked to Montreal. Tesla says that one year from now, the Supercharger network will cover almost the entire population of the U.S. and Canada, and within two years, 98 percent of the population will be covered.

A half-hour stop off at a Supercharger will fill an 85 kWh battery pack with 150-miles worth of range, though Tesla is working on new tech that will allow the Model S to replenish three hours of drive-time in just over 20 minutes of charging.

Each Supercharger is placed close to some kind of attraction or restaurant to try and keep those 20-30 minute stops from being too boring, as a trip across the country will still require several stops.

 Discuss this story at Tesla-Forums.com

By Stephen Elmer