Tesla in the Black: CEO Says

Anyone close to the industry would probably agree that Tesla, of all the small EV makers, is making the biggest strides toward leaving its start-up status behind.

Agree or disagree, it sounds like that might finally be the case. Company CEO Elon Musk released a statement today through Twitter suggesting the company is in the black.

“Am happy to report that Tesla was narrowly cash flow positive last week. Continued improvement expected through year end,” Musk said. 

With orders stacked for months worth of production, and a publicized price increase that helped to clinch last-minute buyers, Tesla seems to have the formula for success figured out. In fact, Musk predicted in early October that the company would reach this target.

SEE ALSO: Tesla Model S Gets $2,500 Price Increase

It probably wasn’t very hard, though. The brand doesn’t build cars before they’re sold. Instead, it takes orders and deals with scheduling a backlog of scheduled builds. That would give a guaranteed income figure the brand can leverage.

It’s also important to remember that while Tesla might be in the black now, there isn’t any promise it will stay there. The company operates on a one-car model, building a run of vehicles before moving on to something else.

There is a buyback program for people who purchased the Roadster, but production is concluded which means buying a used one.

Provided the brand sticks to its formula for the Model X, it wouldn’t be terribly surprising to see a similar dip into debt while the brand’s crossover bites chunks out of the company’s coffers. Ideally, the Model S will sell with enough success to fund the next car without that becoming an issue, but there are many factors at play.

By Luke Vandezande

First Ride: 2012 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S Front Motion

2012 Tesla Model S Passengers Side Front Three Quarters

2012 Tesla Model S Interior View

2012 Tesla Model S Front Three Quarters In Motion

See All 16 Photos

2012 Tesla Model S Passengers Side Front Three Quarters


As a handful of journalists snapped pictures, poked at touch screens, and flipped open the charging ports on the trio of preproduction (Betas, they call them) Model S’s parked outside the Tesla (ex-NUMMI) factory in Fremont, California, I had one solitary thought:

This is it.

2012 Tesla Model S Interior View

The future of the 100-percent battery-powered electric automobile could very well pivot on what’s in front of me. If you’re one of those who’s enchanted by an Tomorrowland-like, electric-car future, you’d better hope the Tesla Model S succeeds. If you’re among its detractors, well, now’s the time to start pressing pins into your knitted Model S doll. But no matter what, the Model S is going to be a very difficult electric car to dismiss.

Because it’s a real car. Let me explain that statement. Remember GM’s EV1? It was a brilliant car…that was drastically undermined by its 1990′s battery technology (I actually pushed one down a street when its battery died). In most people’s eyes, it was simply not a “real car.” Battery technology hasn’t been nearly as problematic for the more recent Tesla Roadster — lithium-ion chemistry allows it to travel 200-plus miles between charges and be fast as heck — but it regularly gets dismissed as too expensive to be a “real car.” And ironically, the new Nissan Leaf — neither expensive nor archaic — seems to have come full circle, finding itself batted aside by some critics because of the EV1′s old Achilles heel: limited range. (Roughly 75 mile range in this case.) Too little to be a “real car.”

2012 Tesla Model S Front Three Quarters In Motion

2012 Tesla Model S Rear Three Quarters In Motion

2012 Tesla Model S Dash View

None of this can be said about the Model S. In its base version, it’ll cost $57,400 (add about $1950 for destination) and be eligible for a federal $7500 tax credit (and depending on where you live, additional local ones). Here in California, for instance, that means the price will be about $49,350 (after including our state $2500 tax credit as well). Not cheap, but there’s a whole lot of vastly less interesting sedans out there that regularly sell for $49,350. (Don’t make me name names.) Moreover, unlike the Volt and Leaf, the Model S’s charger is part of the deal, built right into car.

2012 Tesla Model S Drivers Side Front Three Quarters

For that sum you’ll get the standard battery pack capable of a 160-mile range, a crummy distance in conventional gas car terms. But I’d reckon that 160 miles (more than twice the Leaf’s) would eliminate the daily-driving range phobia I’ve occasionally felt behind the wheel of the otherwise likeable little Nissan. And to get off on the right foot, the kickoff 1000 ‘Signature’ Model S’s will all carry the big, optional 300-mile range battery, which does tack a fat $20K onto the price. (The intermediate choice is a 230-mile range battery pegged at an additional $10,000). A little pencil work suggests Tesla is consequently charging $504 per kW-hr of energy storage — which is actually an attractive price at the moment.

2012 Tesla Model S Rear View In Motion

Plugged into high-amperage, 240-volt juice, the Model S recharges at a massive rate of 62 miles per hour — meaning 2.6 hours for the 160-mile battery, about five hours for the 300-mile version (120-volt charging should be regarded as an emergency measure). Fast charging can replenish 80 % of the battery’s capacity in 45 minutes. A problem Tesla has faced as a pioneer is that it’s constantly a step ahead of international standards. With the Roadster, Tesla had to create its own version of what’s now called a level 2 charging receptacle before an SAE standard was established; when the J1772 plug appeared, it had to create an adaptor. It’s happening again as Tesla now has to come up with its own integrated levels 1, 2, and 3 (direct current, 400-plus volts) receptacle before the SAE version was ready. (The Leaf’s optional level 3 port is separate from its J1772 standard, and an awkward solution). Tesla defends its proprietary plug as better than trying to chase independent standards employed in Europe, the U.S., and Asia. Consequently, if you want to plug a Model S into, say, a ChargePoint station in the U.S., you’ll first need to attach an adapter.

2012 Tesla Model S Front Three Quarters In Motion View

2012 Tesla Model S Front View In Motion

2012 Tesla Model S Front Three Quarters View In Motion

While the Tesla Roadster has been unfairly labeled an electric Lotus (derived, perhaps), that won’t happen with the Model S as virtually every spec of it is original. Overall, its presence struck me as something like a more organic Audi A7, meaning it’s a stylishly windswept four-door fastback with a clear accent on performance. Parked side-by-side with the Audi, they’re just about the same length, with the Tesla measuring an inch taller and wider. And like the Audi, the Model S is almost entirely aluminum, with bolding via adhesives, rivets, and welds, depending on the circumstance.

2012 Tesla Model S Side View

At this moment, I’m one of Earth’s few inhabitants to have ridden in both Fisker’s Karma and Tesla’s Model S (at least in this pre-production guise), and maybe the most startling difference between them is space efficiency. The Karma’s vastly smaller, 20 kW-hr battery runs down the car’s spine, dividing the interior so utterly that there’s not only room for just two in back, but I’d advise them to be 12 years old. Its trunk? Don’t play golf. However, the Model S’s battery — despite being more than four times bigger — is sort of like a 3- or 4-inch-thick sheet of plywood bolted under the car (and said to be removable in minutes). As the rear-mounted motor and reduction gears are quite small, the result is astonishing.

2012 Tesla Model S Passengers Side Front Three Quarters View

Like a big Porsche Cayman, there’s trunks both front (8.1 cubic feet) and rear (a giant 28.7, rising to 58.1 with the aft seats collapsed). There’s room for five, offering more space than the A7 in just about every dimension except rear headroom (the same) and rear shoulder room (0.9 inch less). What with the sloping roofline — as well as mechanisms needed for the large retractable glass panoramic roof (standard equipment) — I had to watch my noggin getting in and out (I’m 6 foot 1 inch), but it’s not much different than the A7. On the other hand, there’s a thoughtful cut-out for feet beneath the front seat bottom, something that’s amazingly neglected in too many cars. And oh, about those two little optional rear-facing seats (seats 6 and 7)…

In fact, they’re removable, five-belt child affairs, so their occupants’ size is literally restricted by law. I actually climbed back there, but being considerably past child-seat age (when I was a kid, I used to stand on a front bench seat, for heaven’s sake) all I could judge is that they’re definitely close to the rear bumper. But no more so than the third row of many minivans. Would I put a kid there? Well, the seats do provide some flexibility in a pinch…and that’s about it.2012 Tesla Model S Front View

A funny thing about the Model S is that I suspect its biggest talking point might not be its range and recharge times, but the 17-inch, high-res, full-color display in the middle of the dash. I don’t often mutter “Cool…” anymore, but mutter it I did as I began to tap my way through its configurations. Like the iPad? This is an iPad on steroids, offering access to the Web, climate controls, and a Google maps navigation presentation that is simply terrific. It’s so good (judging from the prototype screen) that it might be a considerable driver distraction. (It isn’t clear how web connectivity while driving will be handled.) However, I’d suggest that its extraordinary size could actually become a safety benefit if what’s displayed on the screen was greatly enlarged so it’s easy to read and touch-sensitive taps don’t need to be well-targeted. This might be the first time a display’s size and high-quality graphics actually add to the attractively modern interior design. Of the three cars available to us, one was described as representative of fit and finish, and while it was very nicely, and expensively, executed, it’s really impossible to judge any of this until we see a production — rather than a hand-built — example.

My ride in the Model S was a brief circuit around the factory grounds and the banked corners that punctuate the ends of the tiny test track left over from the NUMMI days. But I was quickly surprised by a couple of things. The car’s acceleration — claimed to be 5.6 seconds to 60 mph — is a continuous press-the-seat-back surge that only a single-speed, big electric motor can provide. (Top speed is 130 mph, and a sub-5-second, 320-mile range has been mentioned for a sport variant.) Aided by liquid cooling, the motor generates 306 hp at 7000 rpm and 362 lb-ft of torque between 6500-10,000 rpm (redline is 14k!). Interestingly, while the motor is quiet, its growly roar is a very different acoustic signature than the frenetic whine in the Roadster. Tesla claims that’s just how it sounds, and no acoustic modifications have been attempted. Bumps were nicely absorbed amid muted tire-impact noises, and the lateral grip seemed considerable for a car over 4000 pounds. That low battery location and compact powertrain are very helpful.

2012 Tesla Model S Drivers Side View


Selfishly, I’ll admit that during our tour of the ex-NUMMI digs, I was thinking it’s sure nice to be taking a tour of a car factory without being jet lagged. Tesla’s digs are 350 miles north of our spacious cubicles in El Segundo. Not 5000 miles east or 7000 miles east. What a novelty.

Of course, what’s much more important here is the pundit-defying reality of all the shiny new industrial decoration surrounding me. For all I know, Tesla may suddenly go all Solyndra on us. But at this particular time-stamp in history, I’m standing in the middle of a genuine electric car factory.

2012 Tesla Model S Front Three Quarters View

There’s the smell of fresh paint. Gleaming painted floors. Gigantic (I mean “Transformers”-scale) stamping machines that were shipped from Detroit in pieces, requiring numerous trucks and train cars to transport (a 20-foot-deep concrete-lined subterranean pit was created to support them). And everywhere you look are brigades of brand-new robots busily showing off their dexterity by swiveling their wrists and doing a pantomime of handing body parts to one another. Eerily, they’re actually handling nothing but pieces of air, as the stamping dies needed to make those parts won’t be showing up a few more weeks, but they’re practicing nonetheless. Curiously, not that much of the pre-existing machinery is being used — at least yet.

I’ve listened to endless auto industry wags dismissively bellow that it’s one thing to make some high-priced electric sports cars by piggybacking on low-production Lotus know-how. But real car-making, they harrumph, is beyond those helpless, Silicon Valley know-nothings. Search engines and social networks are not automobiles. I’m wondering if it isn’t a strength.

2012 Tesla Model S Side Profile

For instance, one unusual twist is the degree to which automated die changes are part of the production process. Those giant stamping machines are frightfully expensive, so it’s cheaper to robotically switch dies in and out of them. Another is the plant’s micro re-envisioning of a Rouge River-esque, soup-to-nuts manufacturing strategy. Counter to the conventional wisdom to subcontract just about everything — with car companies doing not much more than final assembly — nearly the entire Model S will be created onsite. The motors will be wound in one place, the batteries assembled nearby, the stamping happens over there. There’s an injection molding center with sparkling new presses, likewise a paint line that’s almost entirely robotic. Even the leather works (a separate company) will be co-located on site. Gilbert Passin, VP of Manufacturing, explained that given the gigantic sprawl of the virtually free facility (Tesla paid $47 million dollars for the property and $18 million for the existing machinery — after which Toyota invested $50 million in Tesla), and how remote California is from the suppliers surrounding Detroit, it just make sense. In its prime, NUMMI produced about 500,000 Toyota and GM cars. Right now, Tesla is employing somewhere between 15 to 20 percent of the main building (the rest is simply mothballed). Indeed, being that the cars are electric and can be driven indoors, the final evaluation track — speed bumps, road ripples, etc — is within the same massive space as the final assembly line. Why not? There’s room.

Despite its innovative nature, Tesla’s key positions are all populated by guys who have a clue: CTO J.B. Straubel co-founded the aerospace company Volacom; the Model S’s designer is Franz Von Holzhausen, previously Director of Design at Mazda and creator of the Saturn Solstice and Sky while at GM; the chief engineer is Peter Rawlinson, who did the same for Lotus’ Advanced Engineering, previously worked on Jaguars and BMWs, and is an expert in aluminum construction; and there’s Passin, who lords over the manufacturing facility and was previously general manager of production engineering for Toyota North America. Even the guys responsible for the German-made presses are Germans, hired directly from the factory for their knowhow. (I’m also told there’s also a guy named Elon Musk who’s somehow involved.)

And all of this expertise, money, property, buildings, robots, and hopes is now focused on a batch (well under 100) of Beta 2 Model S’s for final, production-line evaluation. After that, the plan is to build about 5000 cars in 2012, with the numbers ramping up to 20K per year after that. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in the middle of next year. And at that point we might finally see if the Model S is the car that makes the electric automobile a force — or kills it forever.

2012 Tesla Model S
Base price $59,350 – $79,350 (est)
Vehicle layout Rear-motor, RWD, 5-7 pass, 4-door sedan
Motor Liquid-cooled, AC induction, 306-hp/362-lb-ft
Transmission 1-speed
Curb weight (F/R dist) 4200 lb (est)
Wheelbase 116.5 in
Length x width x height 196.0 x 77.3 x 56.5 in
0-60 mph 5.6 sec (est)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 112 combined mpg-e (est)
Energy cons, combined city/hwy 30 kW-hrs/100 miles (est)
CO2 emissions 0.00 lb/mile (at the tailpipe)
On sale in U.S. Mid 2012

By Kim Reynolds

E-miglia 2012 racers sped on electrons through Europe, chasing Tesla

e-miglia 2012 tesla roadster

The third annual electric cross-country, 800-kilometer race known as E-miglia took place from August 12 to 16 through the mountains of Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland. Thirty-two participants lined up to demonstrate the possibilities of electric propulsion and, for 31 of them, the mission was to knock Tesla Motors out of first place. The California-based EV maker provided the cars that took first place in the past two years, so the big question was: could Tesla be beat this time?

In the car class, the Mini E, Mercedes E-Cell, Nissan Leaf, Peugeot iOn took on the Tesla Roadster. As for e-motorcycles, Zerotracer, Zero Motorcycles and others raced for the title.

Their first stop, after a 72-km prologue, was in Salzburg, where competitors were provided with solar-powered recharging at the city’s Convention Centre. The second phase of the race covered 120 km and was eco-focused, where drivers earned points for being energy efficient. During the course of the race, cars and bikes traveled an average of 200 km per day to make it through to the finish line.

And the winner was? Well, the same model as last year: LG Solar’s Tesla Roadster, followed by the Mercedes A-Class E-Cell and then a Mini E. The best bike was a 2012 Zero Motorcycles DS, which finished eighth overall. A video of the event is available below.

By Jon LeSage

Texas Tesla Store Favored by Residents: Poll Shows


Residents in Austin, Texas are overwhelmingly in favor of electric vehicle maker Tesla being allowed to sell its Model S sedan according to a web poll by the Austin Business Journal.

“We hope that legislators will consider the overwhelming support shown in this poll…” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said of the bill, which would allow EV makers to sell straight from factory to consumer.

In the poll, which isn’t a scientific sampling and is still open, 86 percent are in favor of Tesla being allowed to bypass Texas dealership regulations while 12 percent are against while two percent are are undecided. At the time of writing, 1,718 votes had been cast.

SEE ALSO: Tesla CEO Visits Texas, Talks About Electric Truck

Tesla’s direct-to-customer business model raises problems where laws block manufacturers from selling directly to customers. It’s a problem Tesla successfully defeated in other parts of the country including a Boston suburb where the brand found similar opposition from the local dealer association. Musk travelled to Austin two weeks ago and lobbied to bypass Texas dealership regulations.

SEE ALSO: Tesla Wins License to Sell Cars in Boston Suburb

“For the Auto Dealer Association to claim that restricting competition is in the best interests of the public is wrong and defies obvious common sense,” Musk said. Job creation, and the allusion of an electric pickup truck were among the items he discussed at the time.

Opening a store in Austin could mena big business for Tesla. Musk said he thought Texas could prove to be the brand’s second-largest market behind California.

By Luke Vandezande

Tesla sends CEO to Texas to defend direct-to-customer electric vehicle sales

Tesla is no stranger to strong resistance, shall we say, from auto dealers to its unusual method of selling the all-electric Model S in certain parts of the US. A lawsuit by the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association was thrown out late last year, but it was later appealed. Tesla has also been sued in New York. The company has staunchly defended its right to sell cars via its company-owned stores – or, at least, to use the stores as a way to direct potential customers to its website to order a vehicle – but it’s facing its biggest hurdle yet in Texas. The size of the problem is so Texas-sized that CEO Elon Musk spoke at the state capitol in Austin yesterday.

“Franchise dealers have an inherent conflict of interest between selling gasoline cars and electric cars.”

At issue is House Bill 3351, which was filed by State Representative Eddie Rodriguez (D), that would allow electric vehicle companies to sell their wares directly to the public and not have to go through a dealer. Musk said the issue was a matter of “life or death” for Tesla, according to the Austin Business Journal. Tesla says the testimony at a hearing on the bill was “overwhelming … in favor of Tesla.”

Musk’s point is that selling an electric vehicle is different than selling a traditional gas-powered car, and that direct sales are “the best chance a new electric car company has of succeeding.” The company’s official statement continues:

Electric vehicles simply cannot be sold side by side with gas vehicles because they will always be a minority item in terms of sales and service volume. Existing franchise dealers have an inherent conflict of interest between selling gasoline cars, which constitute the vast majority of their business, and selling the new technology of electric cars. It is impossible for them to explain the advantages of going electric without simultaneously undermining their traditional business. Simple math shows no traditional dealer is incented to sell an electric vehicle with the same enthusiasm as the rest of their inventory.

The way things stand in Texas now, the Tesla stores – excuse us, galleries – cannot offer test drives, cannot discuss the price of the car (or any financing terms) and cannot refer potential customers to out-of-state stores to actually order their cars. Tesla employees can’t be on hand when its cars are delivered in Texas and registering a new Model S sounds like a frustrating experience, if Tesla’s description is accurate, with the sales tax not being rolled into the financing payments. Oh, and there’s even a special subsidiary, Tesla Motors TX, with service centers in Austin and Houston that, “cannot advertise that they do warranty repairs nor can they discuss any additional repair needs or concerns with the customer. Tesla Motors TX then bills Texas Motors, Inc. for the work. If customers have additional warranty concerns, Tesla Motors TX cannot discuss them with the customer – the customer would need to call Tesla Motors, Inc. back and go through the process again.” Despite all the hassles, Tesla has delivered more than 400 Model S and Roadster EVs in Texas, “with more arriving every week.”

Tesla has put up an informational page as well as Musk’s blog post on the issue, if you’d like to read more. For an interesting look at why car dealerships exist the way they do in the US today, listen to this Planet Money story.

By Sebastian Blanco

Motor Trend giving away Tesla Model S…. sorta

Motor Trend's

Our initial response to Motor Trend saying it was “giving away” a Tesla Model S, was “we’ll take it.” Alas, it’s only a simulated version.

The publication, which last November named the all-electric luxury sedan its Car of the Year, is hooking up with social-networking game Car Town by offering to “give” a (theoretical) Model S to game players who want to win fake races and score fake dates in the process. Hey, the 50 million people who play Car Town on Facebook can’t be wrong. If this sounds like something you’d be into, go here to sign up for the contest.

Meantime, back in the real world, Tesla said last week that the company has ramped up to full production capacity of 400 Model S vehicles a week and delivered about 2,400 Model S vehicles during the fourth quarter. Those sales were about equal with the Ford C-Max Energi Plug-in Hybrid and trailed only the Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius Plug-in and Nissan Leaf among US plug-in vehicle sales.

By Danny King

Tesla Model S Sets Quarter Mile Record for Production Electric Vehicle – Video

The Tesla Model S packing 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque has garnered another accolade: World Record for the Quickest Production Electric Car.

Out at Palm Beach International Raceway (PBIR), the Model S turned in a best time of 12.371 @ 110.84 mph in the quarter mile, running the sprint to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds. On hand was the National Electric Drag Racing Association (NEDRA) to confirm that the Tesla Model S did indeed set a new world record for the quickest production electric vehicle in the quarter mile.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Tesla Model S Review

The test car was even equipped with the 21-inch wheel and tire package, which weigh more than the standard 19-inch offering. The Model S weighed in at 4,690 pounds at the weight scale at PBIR, sans driver.

Watch a video of the Tesla Model S battling it out with a Dodge Viper SRT10 below.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

[Source: Drag Times]

Discuss this story at Tesla-Buzz.com

By Jason Siu

Tesla’s Elon Musk Shares Thoughts, Data Logs to Refute NY Times Model S Review

Tesla’s Elon Musk Shares Thoughts, Data Logs to Refute NY Times Model S Review

The controversy continues surrounding the recent The New York Times article written by reporter John M. Broder, who was left stranded when the Model S he was driving ran out of charge before reaching a charging station. Since then, his review has received lots of attention, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently provided his side of the ordeal and shared extensive data from the Model S driven by Broder.

2012 Tesla Model S interior2 300x187 imageThe controversy began when Tesla approached Broder to evaluate a Model S (with an 85 kilowatt-hour battery that provides 265 miles of EPA-rated range) and two new charging stations installed in Newark, Delaware and in Milford, Connecticut. These stations are 200 miles apart and include the company’s new Supercharger, which can recharge batteries at a much faster rate than a typical charging unit (Tesla says the Supercharger can provide up to 150-160 miles of range in just 30 minutes).

In fact, in a February 12 update, Broder says the test was intended to evaluate the Supercharger network on the East Coast, not the Model S, explaining why he didn’t plug in the car overnight in Connecticut.

“This evaluation was intended to demonstrate its practicality as a ‘normal use,’ no-compromise car, as Tesla markets it. Now that Tesla is striving to be a mass-market automaker, it cannot realistically expect all 20,000 buyers a year (the Model S sales goal) to be electric-car acolytes who will plug in at every Walmart stop,” Broder wrote.

Broders Tesla Model S speed log 300x187 image

Broder’s Tesla Model S speed log

Broder’s trip began at the Delaware station with 242 miles of range (he was unaware of a “max charge” feature that would’ve topped the battery off at 265 miles). He claims to have experienced fluctuations in the battery’s claimed range, which may have been affected by the colder temperatures. Still, Broder claims to have properly charged the battery, drove at reasonable speeds, and even reduced the cabin temperature, all in an attempt to increase range. In the end, however, Broder says he ran out of charge before reaching Connecticut, and the Model S was consequently towed to the charging station.

Since then, Tesla has compared Broder’s account to the data log from the Model S test car he drove. Yesterday, Musk published an extensive blog with that data, which points out a number of claimed discrepancies in the highway speeds at which Broder said he was traveling, charging times, as well as possible errors in his article’s math. Musk also suggested the evaluation was a lost battle for Tesla in the first place, pointing to a March 2012 article by Broder in which he says “the state of the electric car is dismal.”

Check out Musk’s full February 13 blog here, and Broder’s February 12 follow-up here.

Source: NY Times, Tesla Motors

By Erick Ayapana

Bailout and gas prices hot buttons in Presidential debate

The pros and cons of the auto bailout and concerns about the rising price of gasoline have been a political football throughout this election season. So, it should come as no surprise that the auto industry was brought up more than a few times in last night’s heated presidential debate.

Roughly a minute into the debate, the subject was raised by President Obama when asked a question about unemployment. The President’s answer: “I want to build manufacturing jobs in this country again. Now when Gov. Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt, I said we’re going to bet on American workers and the American auto industry and it’s coming back.”

Romney countered by pointing out that Obama followed the Governor’s advice offered in his New York Times editorial “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” from 2008. Romney stated that the President did, in fact, let Chrysler go bankrupt, and pointed out, “My plan was to have the company go through bankruptcy… and come out stronger.” Obama retorted that Romney’s view of taking the automakers into bankruptcy did not provide them with any way to stay open, and would have lost a million jobs in the process.

The candidates also spoke on energy and oil production, primarily in response to questions of recently spiking gas prices. The President pointed out that oil production on federal land is at its highest in 16 years and natural gas production is at its highest levels in decades. Romney responded by saying that overall oil production is down 14 percent as a result of cutting licenses for drilling. Additionally, Romney criticized Obama for blockage of the Keystone oil pipeline.

Surprisingly, yesterday’s bankruptcy filing of A123 Systems was not brought up, though Republicans, including Romney, have criticized the Obama administration’s investment in electric cars as well as grants and loans for battery makers. If Tuesday’s Chapter 11 filing was not mentioned last night, it will most certainly come up in the days and weeks to come.

By George Kennedy

NYT’s Tesla Model S trouble report is “fake,” says Elon Musk [UPDATE]

Tesla Model S

Remember that episode of Top Gear, where the notoriously anti-EV crew pushed a Tesla Roadster to show what would happen if the car’s battery had run out of juice? And then Tesla got all litigious and filed suit (which the company eventually lost)? Well, we might be in for another public scuffle about the merits of electric vehicles.

The New York Times recently sent John Broder out in a Model S between the two new Superchargers on the east coast, located in Newark, DE and Milford, CT. Since, as Broder notes, the stations are “some 200 miles apart” the 85-kWh battery in the Model S should be able to make the drive. The EPA rates this model at 265 miles, after all. Heck, even the 60-kWh mid-range model has a 208-mile range. The trick, as we all know, is that your mileage may vary.

Following a 49-minute visit to the Supercharger in Delaware for a full charge (well, at least seeing a screen that read “charge complete”), Broder kept on driving, but discovered that, after 68 miles of driving, he had lost 85 miles of estimated range. He shifted over to energy conservation mode (driving slow, turning off the cabin heat, etc.). He writes:

Nearing New York, I made the first of several calls to Tesla officials about my creeping range anxiety. The woman who had delivered the car told me to turn off the cruise control; company executives later told me that advice was wrong. All the while, my feet were freezing and my knuckles were turning white.

The report caused TSLA to drop 2.5 percent to $38.27 (it has since regained some ground and sits at $38.42) and got a response from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who tweeted that, “NYTimes article about Tesla range in cold is fake. Vehicle logs tell true story that he didn’t actually charge to max & took a long detour.”

Tesla has promised it will post an article later today that “will refute Broder’s version of what happened, with data points pulled from the car’s logs.” Stay tuned for an update after that report is published.

*UPDATE: Tesla still hasn’t published a response article, but Musk did talk to Bloomberg West about the situation, and you can find the audio and transcript of that discussion below.

Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive

2012 Tesla Model S2012 Tesla Model S2012 Tesla Model S2012 Tesla Model S2012 Tesla Model S2012 Tesla Model S2012 Tesla Model S2012 Tesla Model S

By Sebastian Blanco