Tesla adds $6,500 ‘Performance Plus’ option to Model S; adds range, improves handling

Tesla Model S

Tesla Motors is adding a special performance package for its all-electric Model S that not only will add miles of single-charge range, but will make sure those miles aren’t driven sideways.

The automaker is charging $6,500 for its new “Performance Plus” option, which includes wider rear tires, upgraded stabilizer bars and bushings, among other goodies. Tesla says it took “hundreds of iterations affecting every detail of the suspension,” but “our vehicle dynamics team was able to achieve the rare outcome of simultaneously improving performance, comfort and efficiency.” The new rear Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires are 20 mm wider than previous tires and are “staggered for improved acceleration on low grip surfaces.” Folks will also be able to get between six and 12 miles of range from those new tires.

Tesla continues to move its already up-market car into the proverbial stratosphere, and for good reason. The company, which beat its first-quarter sales targets, discontinued its cheapest variant of the Model S because of lack of demand even as it has improved the financing options for the EV.

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 Danny King

Tesla Model S goes road tripping, drivers experience variety of charging methods

The Tesla Model S is on another cross country road trip. It’s not being driven by a Tesla team, like last year – this time it’s a long, winding tour for old friends Peter, Luba and Tina, making their way from Portland, OR, to New York. It’s been a sightseeing drive – as of day six, they’d only made it to Albuquerque from Oregon and still had a couple thousand miles to cover. Thankfully, they’re writing up their journey, so we can ride along with words.

The Model S was picked up by Peter three years and 273 days after his deposit was placed. Jared, the Tesla store manager in Portland, walked him through delivery of the new car, which was given the name “Sunrise” by the road trip crew. Even though Peter is an engineer who’s done a lot of homework on the Model S, Jared was able to teach him a few things.

An hour after picking up Sunrise, Peter drove to the airport and picked up Tina. The initial trip plan was changed on the spot, as they decided to spend some time enjoying the sunshine of Portland, along with breaking in the new car and verifying charging stations.

On day two, heading out of Portland to San Francisco, they tested out charging networks. On a ChargePoint station in Forest Park, just south of Portland, they got an error message after swiping the card, informing them to call ChargePoint. The charging station customer service rep quickly got back to them and fixed the problem – an incorrect zip code was initially entered.

In Corvallis, OR, they pulled into a local RV park, where Peter decided to test out his custom designed electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE) multi-input unit. It was his first time plugging the EVSE into a Model S, so he took it slow. He was more than pleased to see it working right away, and was able to charge at 50 amps and 240 volts.

Stopping at the Tesla factory in Fremont, CA, was almost like Charlie Bucket exploring Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory for the road trip team. Far from being a car enthusiast like Peter, Tina found herself fascinated by the size, scope, organization, teamwork and technology at plant building the Model S. As a group, they were fully entranced for about 30 minutes as they witnessed the assembly line in action.

Luba joined her friends on day five of the road trip, in the Los Angeles area, where they visited a Tesla supercharger in Hawthorne, CA, for a quick charging “top off.” Peter ended up having a fascinating conversation with Larry, a navy pilot who flew F14s and who’d also graduated from University of Maryland and owned a Model S. It was so fascinating, Peter didn’t realize until about 40 minutes later that their Model S wasn’t even charging at all. Oops! Oh, well – they’ve still got a lot of miles to drive, things to see and lots of chances to learn something new every day about Sunrise.

By Jon LeSage

Video Find: Watch a Tesla Model S Get Torn Apart by the Jaws of Life

Video Find: Watch a Tesla Model S Get Torn Apart by the Jaws of Life

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

By Christian Seabaugh

Tesla Model S Now Offers Wireless Vehicle Updates, Plant Running at Full Capacity

Tesla Model S Now Offers Wireless Vehicle Updates, Plant Running at Full Capacity

Once we begin our year-long test of the Tesla Model S, the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year, we may not have to visit the dealership to perform most software updates. The automaker has just implemented a new, cloud-based system that will allow owners to view and install software updates from their vehicle’s infotainment screen.

Tesla Model S distance display 300x187 imageIt’s hard to imagine that the Model S needs any updating at this point, considering the amount of impressive technology already packed in the EV. During a recent adventure with the Model S in Las Vegas, Editor-in-Chief Ed Loh said the EV “delivers a bit of magic and a sense of occasion thanks to its myriad touch, proximity, and weight sensors. Touch the chromed door handle and it pops out for a good yank.” However, a recent over-the-air update makes those flush-mounted doors handles a bit more magical — now, they pop out as the driver approaches the vehicle, Automotive News reports.   Other updates include voice command and an option for the Model S to “creep” forward when the driver lifts his foot off the brake pedal, similar to what gas-powered cars already do.

The updates will appear on the vehicle’s screen and owners have the option to schedule the install at a future time. Details of the updates are included in “release notes,” similar to the update process consumers are accustomed to with their phones or laptops. The process can save owners time and battery charge needed to visit the dealership.

In addition to the cloud-based update system, the Model S now sports a slightly tweaked front nose and a revised jump seat with better ergonomics. Tesla’s director of Model S programs Jerome Guillen credits these recent updates to the automaker’s relatively small size. Guillen, who previously worked at Daimler AG, told the Automotive News “we are doing things in a couple weeks that, at my previous employer, would have taken two years.”

tesla model X prototype rear left side view 300x187 imageAutomotive News also reports that the Tesla’s plant in Northern California is running at full capacity, with the ability to produce 20,000 units a year. Additionally, Tesla will start building cars equipped with 60kWh battery packs, which will join the range-topping models with the 85 kWh battery packs that were first to launch. A value-priced 40 kWh-model is available, and Model S prices increased for the 2013 calendar year. Also in the pipeline is the Tesla Model X, which Guillen says is still scheduled to go into production sometime next year.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

By Erick Ayapana

Tesla Raises $226 Million Through IPO

Tesla Raises $226 Million Through IPO

Tesla has become the first American car company to go public in 54 years, and has raised some $226 million in the process. The electric vehicle producer is the first automaker since Ford in 1956 to have an initial public offering (IPO).


Initially, Tesla planned on offering 11.1 million shares at $14-$16 each, but later increased that figure to 13.3 million. According to Bloomberg data and a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Tesla also increased the share price to $17 each for a total around $226 million. The company will trade under the symbol TSLA. Tesla CEO Elon Musk rang the NASDAQ Stock Market opening bell today.

Going public may seem like a good way for several Tesla affiliates, as well as Musk — who has reportedly gone broke after spending more than $70 million of his own money — to recoup their losses.

The cash infusion from the IPO comes at a good time for the company yet to turn a profit after seven years. Tesla will use the funds from its IPO along with a $465 million federal loan to buy a factory in which to produce the Model S sedan and put the sedan into production. Toyota and Tesla have already been in talks about reopening the now abandoned New United Motor Manufacturing Incorporated plant in Fremont, Calif.

The federal government, however, has put a few measures in place with its loan to ensure that Musk, along with a few other key players, remain Tesla investors. In order for Tesla to secure the loan, Musk and other certain unnamed Tesla affiliates must retain 65 percent of their stock in Tesla for at least one year after completing the Model S project.

As part of the deal to reopen NUMMI, both Tesla and Toyota would produce an electric vehicle there in 2012. Tesla’s plan: a production version of the Model S, as well as possible Model S derivatives and a new Roadster. Toyota’s EV plans for NUMMI, however, remain less clear. In addition to reopening the NUMMI plant together, Tesla and Toyota also came to a deal in which the Japanese giant invested $50 million in the American startup and would later be granted common stock. Following the IPO, Toyota now owns roughly 2 percent of Tesla.

Source: Bloomberg

By Andrew Peterson

Tesla Improves Resale Value Guarantee, Adds Longer Term Loans

Tesla Improves Resale Value Guarantee, Adds Longer Term Loans

In response to criticism surrounding Tesla’s announcement on its new financing option, CEO Elon Musk has revised the terms by offering a new resale guarantee and longer-term loans, both of which should make owning a Model S a little easier.

2013 Tesla Model S left view 300x187 image“When we first did the financing option, we didn’t get it quite right,” said Musk during a live webcast on the subject. We found Tesla’s claimed savings were too exaggerated when we broke down the numbers last month, but Tesla says they’ll make more sense now. To start, the company now guarantees a resale value of 50 percent after three years (ratings by ALG), up from the previous 43 percent. That figure will be adjusted in the future to keep it above its luxury sedan competition. “If we really believe we’re making the best car, we believe it should have the best resale value,” Musk said. That means Tesla’s guarantee should assure the residual value will be higher than premium sedans from Mercedes-Benz BMW, Audi, Jaguar, and Lexus.

In addition, the company has extended loans to 72 months instead of 63 months. The 12,000-mile annual limit has also been increased to 15,000 miles. Tesla’s True Cost of Ownership Model S Calculator online is a bit more conservative now, as well.

After the first financing option was announced, Tesla has seen more interest in the 60 kW-hr model, but most buyers still go with the 85 kW-hr car. “What we’re saying is you’ll get 20 percent more cash in three years,” Musk said.

With Tesla’s ultimate goal of making the Model S more accessible to interested consumers, we’re thinking the best way to accomplish that goal is to simply introduce a less expensive car.

Source: Tesla

By Karla Sanchez

Tesla Predicts $178 Million for Initial Public Offering

Tesla Predicts $178 Million for Initial Public Offering

Get your checkbooks out: Tesla is now planning to file an initial public offering at an estimated $178 million.


Well, not quite yet.

Tesla, which has lost money hand over fist since inception, believes it can make an IPO of $178 million, up from a January estimate of $100 million. The automaker plans to sell just over 11 million shares, at $14 to $16 each, and will be bolstered by a planned $50 million investment from Toyota.

Currently, Tesla’s earnings stand at $147.6 million since 2003, contrasted against losses of more than $290 million. So far, the money comes from the sales of its one and only offering, the Tesla Roadster, though Tesla has teased a sedan called the Model S.

Tesla is working on the sedan in collaboration with Toyota and expects it to compete in the $50,000 range. It will be built in Toyota’s shuttered NUMMI manufacturing facility in Fremont, California, pending the finalization of an agreement between the two companies. We’ve already reported on the two brands working together, and are curious to see if Tesla can make good on the deal.

Source: Detroit News

By Motor Trend Staff

Forbes gives three reasons to be skeptical of Tesla’s success

The future’s cloudy, but you should still buy the stock. That’s the message Forbes is sending about Tesla Motors.

Tesla’s stock price may rise another 50 percent or so, but the electric-vehicle maker’s steep ramp up, potential competition and dependence on a single model for its success (for now) pose risks to the automaker’s future, Forbes writes.

The company, which has more than 12,000 reservations for its Model S sedan so far, is planning on ramping up to build as many as 20,000 units next year. Earlier this year, it was making around 10 units a week (this past Thursday, Tesla confirmed that it made its 100th production Model S), and to ramp up that quickly creates the potential for quality control and supplier performance issues, said Forbes. Nonetheless, Forbes has a $41 price target on the stock; Tesla was trading at about $29 a share on Friday.

Tesla started deliveries of the Model S in June and said last month that its second-quarter loss widened by 84 percent to $106.5 million because expenses jumped and revenue fell as the company prepared for the car’s debut.

Additionally, with companies like BMW and Audi jumping into the advanced-powertrain fray, Tesla can expect to see increased competition just as it looks to expand production of the Model S.

Related GalleryFirst Ride: 2012 Tesla Model S Beta

By Danny King

Electric Cars Rally on Connecticut’s Back Roads

Gordon Joseloff, left, the first selectman of Westport, and Leo Cirino, the president of the Westport Electric Car Club, with the BMW ActiveE that won the club's EV Road Rally on Saturday.Miggs Burroughs Gordon Joseloff, left, the first selectman of Westport, and Leo Cirino, the president of the Westport Electric Car Club, with the BMW ActiveE that won the club’s EV Road Rally on Saturday.

WESTPORT, Conn. — “What a day, sparks all over the place,” said Leo Cirino, president of the Westport Electric Car Club, at the club’s EV Road Rally here, where on Saturday some 33 electric and plug-in hybrid cars took part in an approximately 40-mile drive.

If the event had been a straightforward race, it would likely have seen a victory by one of the dozen Teslas that participated. But it was the odometer and not the speedometer that mattered, as drivers followed a set of sometimes arcane directional clues and tried to stay on a circuitous route.

Each car had a driver and a navigator. My original plan was to gather color for the article by riding in the back of a Chevrolet Volt driven by Leo Karl III, a New Canaan Chevrolet dealer, but he was short a navigator, so I somewhat reluctantly volunteered. Some of the directions were a bit cryptic — the “street made famous by Chrysler Corp.” was Imperial Avenue – But we managed to stay on the route.

The first-place winner was Bruce Becker, an architect and developer who lives in Westport, driving a BMW ActiveE with Dennis Andrews as navigator. Mr. Becker’s team covered the route in 37.5 miles, which Mr. Cirino said was close to the ideal distance. “I followed the course very, very precisely and made sure I didn’t take any unnecessary detours,” said Mr. Becker in an interview.

The second-place winner was, surprise, Mr. Karl and myself, with an odometer reading a few tenths of a mile off that of Mr. Becker and his co-pilot. It helped that I grew up in Westport and live in Fairfield, so the roads were familiar. In the interest of full disclosure, I took home nothing more than a T-shirt (though Mr. Karl got a restaurant gift certificate).

Among the models entered in the Westport Electric Car Club's EV Road Rally were the Tesla Model S, the Prius, the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt.Jim Motavalli Among the models entered in the Westport Electric Car Club’s EV Road Rally were the Tesla Model S, the Prius, the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt.

“It was mind-boggling to see that many electric cars in one place,” said Mr. Karl, who has sold from 65 to 70 Volts at his dealership.

The rally took off from the eastbound side of the Westport train station. Steven Smith, a town building official and a founding member of the car club, was a force behind the 27-kilowatt solar array on the station building’s roof, as well the four electric vehicle chargers connected to it.

“They’re all in use right now,” he said.

The rally attracted entrants from beyond Fairfield County. Gary LaChance, a dentist of Guilford, brought his Tesla Model S, which was equipped with a 60-kilowatt-hour battery pack, the lesser of two setups offered by Tesla. Despite the car’s E.P.A.-certified range of 208 miles, Mr. LaChance, who took delivery in February, said in an interview that he had successfully completed a round trip to Washington recently, stopping along the way at Tesla Supercharger locations in Connecticut and Delaware, and at the Tesla Store in White Plains.

The rally included a stop at Fairfield’s Earth Day celebration and ended at the Blu Parrot restaurant in Westport, where Dragone Classic Motorcars had displayed two antique electrics – a very tall and two-toned 1913 Broc and a 1907 Columbia.

“The main thing is to raise awareness that electric vehicles are here now and here to stay,” said Scott Thompson a Fairfield-based environmental engineer who entered in his Nissan Leaf.

This 1913 Broc E.V. was displayed at the rally's lunch stop.Jim Motavalli This 1913 Broc E.V. was displayed at the rally’s lunch stop.