Ford, GM Promoting Workplace EV Charging

Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Nissan, and Tesla are among 13 companies joining together as founding Partners of the Department of Energy’s Workplace Charging Challenge.

“The market for electric vehicles is expanding dramatically, giving drivers more options to save money on gasoline while reducing carbon pollution,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

The mission of DOE’s Workplace Charging Challenge is to increase the number of employers with workplace charging by tenfold within the next five years in hopes of strengthening the nation’s electric-vehicle infrastructure while increasing consumer exposure to plug-in electric vehicles.

Joining those automakers are 3M, Duke Energy, Eli Lilly and Company, General Electric, Google, San Diego Gas & Electric, Siemens, and Verizon. The DOE will be providing technical assistance and establishing a network where Partners and Ambassadors can share their best practices.

“These 13 companies are taking strong steps to make charging infrastructure more broadly available to their workforce – setting an example for others to follow and helping America lead the global race for a growing industry,” Chu said.

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By Jason Siu

George Clooney auctioning off his Tesla Roadster for charity

George Clooney's Tesla Roadster



Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach auction set for next month just got a little more interesting, with George Clooney’s very own Tesla Roadster added to the docket. Finished in Obsidian Black Metallic paint, Clooney’s Tesla is number eight of the original “Signature 100″ built in 2008 and comes with the premium two-tone leather interior.



Clooney isn’t selling the electric roadster to get some extra cash, though. The Academy Award-winning actor is well known for his philanthropic exploits, and the full proceeds from the auction will be given to one of his charities, the Satellite Sentinel Project. Co-founded by Clooney and human rights activist John Prendergast, the non-profit organization aims to prevent a return to civil war between Northern and Southern Sudan.



“We admire and respect Mr. Clooney’s talent and dedication to making a difference in our international community, and hope his fantastic car will attract great support for the Satellite Sentinel Project and recognition of the lives his work saves every day,” said company president David Gooding.



The auction house estimates the value of the Tesla Roadster at $100,000 to $125,000. Scroll down to read the official announcement from Gooding & Company.

By Drew Phillips

Tesla Model X Interior is Shockingly Nice: 2013 Detroit Auto Show

While we’ve seen the Model X electric crossover concept before, the vehicle sitting at the Tesla booth at this year’s Detroit Auto Show is sporting a few modifications.

The main changes to the Model X are with the interior. Tesla calls the vehicle’s cabin an exploration in interior design, and it really is stunning with gorgeous black and white contrasting colors. The black-and-white look is reflected both in the three-rows of seats, as well as the stylish exterior, which features black and chrome accents that show off the white paint. The theme carries over to the vehicles dashboard which  is equipped with the same huge touch-screen that was first seen in the Model S sedan.

SEE MORE: Complete 2013 Detroit Auto Show Coverage

The Model X still has those very cool ‘Falcon doors’ and with production slated for late this year, its likely that design will be final.

The electric-only crossover will be available with either a 60 kWh and 85 kWh battery, as well as a handy all-wheel drive mode.

GALLERY: TESLA MODEL X

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By Sami Haj-Assaad

Tesla Supercharger Network Launched for Fast Charging

Tesla just launched its network of “Superchargers,” speeding up one of the most important aspects of its EVs, but it might not be what you think. 

“Tesla’s Supercharger network is a game changer for electric vehicles, providing long distance travel that has a level of convenience equivalent to gasoline cars for all practical purposes,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk Said. “However, by making electric long distance travel at no cost, an impossibility for gasoline cars, Tesla is demonstrating just how fundamentally better electric transport can be.”

Where the term “Supercharger” would conventionally refer to a belt-driven device that crams air into an engine, the Tesla Supercharger crams electricity into the car’s battery pack at a greatly accelerated rate. While it doesn’t make the car any more powerful, the system is
capable of replenishing enough power to carry the car for three hours at 60 mph in 30 minutes.

Tesla constructed the units in secret before revealing their locations scattered across California and reaching to Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. The automaker worked in conjunction with California’s Solar City to power its charging stations through solar panels, making them capable of offering Tesla owners charging at not cost.

“We are giving Model S the ability to drive almost anywhere for free on pure sunlight,” Musk said.

Each of the charging stations is designed to absorb just over the amount of power consumed by Tesla vehicles over the course of a year, adding a small percentage of energy into the grid.

By Luke Vandezande

Toyota sending RAV4 EV on Charge-to-Charge Tour of California





Anyone who’s California Dreamin’ about test-driving the battery-electric version of the Toyota RAV4 can now get their chance.



The Japanese automaker is taking the EV on a tour of the Golden State with its Charge-to-Charge Tour, complete with a web series hosted by Treehugger founder Graham Hill.



The tour started this past weekend in Richmond, just across the bay from San Francisco, and will work its way south through the end of the month. The RAV4 will be exhibited at events such as 40th Annual EAA Electric Vehicle Rally and Show in Cupertino before finishing up at the AltCar Expo in Santa Monica, which takes place at the end of next week, September 28-29.



Last week, Toyota outlined its loan and lease options while disclosing that the EPA put a single-charge range rating of 103 miles on the Vehicle. The Japanese automaker, which will start sales of the model at some California dealers starting next week, will offer a 36-month lease option for $599 a month with a $3,499 downpayment. For buyers, Toyota will offer an APR loan at 1.9 percent.



In May, Toyota said it would price the EV at $49,800 and would make about 2,600 of them through 2014. And late last month, Toyota released a couple videos elaborating on Toyota’s work with Tesla Motors on the vehicle and on efforts to cut the RAV4 EV’s wind drag as a way to help boost range. Find more Charge-to-Charge Tour details in the press release below.

Related GalleryToyota RAV4 EV

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By Danny King

The Greenest and Meanest Cars in 2013

2013 Toyota Prius C.Toyota Motor Sales 2013 Toyota Prius C.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has produced an annual list of the “greenest” and “meanest” vehicles for 15 years. Its 2013 Greenest winner is the downsized Toyota Prius C.

The council gives cars and trucks a green score derived from Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy and emissions data. The Prius C’s score of 58 (with fuel economy at 53 city/46 highway) just topped the 57 rating of the battery electric Honda Fit EV.

The Fit was among two low-volume electric cars that made the Greenest list. The other was the Ford Focus Electric. Critics have called low-volume battery electrics “compliance cars,” built in relatively low numbers mainly to satisfy California’s zero-emission mandates.

Shruti Vaidyanathan, the council’s lead vehicle analyst, said in an interview that the annual list was intended to exclude cars with limited production, which is one reason the highly regarded Tesla Model S, whose production is just being started, was not included in the ratings. (Ms. Vaidyanathan also said that the council did not get relevant Tesla data from the E.P.A.) But Honda’s intended Fit EV delivery is definitely low volume. “Our stated plan is 1,100 Fit EVs over two years,” Chris Naughton, a Honda spokesman, said in an e-mail. The car will be available for lease only, with no purchase option.

Ms. Vaidyanathan said that including the Fit EV was a judgment call, based on the popularity of the standard Honda Fit and future expectations. The Ford Focus Electric, which is 10th on the Greenest list with a score of 52, has also been distributed in relatively low numbers, but Ms. Vaidyanathan cited research indicating that it would become a mass market vehicle.

Robyn Eagles, a spokeswoman for Honda, said that the Fit EV was not a compliance car. “We’re trying to understand the market,” she said in an interview. “For the first few years, production may appear low, but we’re simply gauging consumers’ interest in these vehicles and will adjust volumes as needed.”

Wes Sherwood, a Ford spokesman, said that 693 Focus electric cars were delivered through December.

“Our intent is to make fuel economy mass-market,” he said in an interview. “We expect that for a considerable amount of time our electric battery car sales will be less than our hybrid and plug-in hybrid sales. We think we’ve gotten hybrids to the sweet spot where they make sense for more customers, but all-electrics will take longer, and it’s clearly tied to the cost of the batteries.” He said the electric Focus would soon be available in 50 states.

Therese Langer, the council’s transportation program director, said in an interview that her organization did not have a rule about what constitutes a mass-market vehicle. “We try to avoid putting on our Greenest list those vehicles that are clearly not relevant to the consumer market,” she said.

The council said in a statement that the battery-powered Mitsubishi I-MiEV, Scion iQ and Smart Electric Drive were also not included in the survey “because of anticipated modest sales volumes.”

Despite somewhat disappointing sales, the Nissan Leaf battery car is clearly aiming for the mass market, but it is not in this year’s council ratings. Ms. Langer said that the group lacked relevant E.P.A. data on the 2013 Leaf. A Nissan spokesman, Steve Oldham, said in an e-mail that the new Leaf, as shown at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit with a lower-price base model, is still being tested. Reports say the 2013 Leaf is expected to have a longer range.

The Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid received an “above average” class ranking, but its green score of 49 was not high enough to make the Greenest list.

The council also scores what it calls the “meanest” vehicles for the environment, and three Ford models tied for the lowest score of 17: the flex-fuel F-350, the flex-fuel F-250 (both in their four-wheel-drive versions) and the E-350 Wagon (a van). Supercars made the list, too, including the Bugatti Veyron and Bentley Mulsanne.

By JIM MOTAVALLI

First Tesla Model S delivered to board member Steve Jurvetson

first tesla model s delivery



We noted yesterday that some 2012 Tesla Model S buyers have already received their cars even though deliveries won’t officially begin until June 22. Now we’ve got video proof.



The very first Model S, decked-out with license plate TSLA S1, left the Fremont, CA factory this past weekend, Green Car Reports believes, in the hands of venture capitalist – and Tesla board member – Steve Jurvetson. Now that the U.S. government has fully homologated the car, people who invested early are getting their just desserts. Jurvetson is one of those and made sure he would get the first Model S during a board meeting back in 2010. “Regular” deliveries will reportedly start in two weeks. The entire first batch of Model S vehicles is made up of the sold-out Signature Series that offers the best performance (0-60 in 4.4 seconds, a top speed of 130 miles per hour) and range (up to 320 miles).



The video of the first key handover, available below, is unfortunately filled with low-quality audio, but it does offer pretty enthusiastic evidence that scribe Dan Neil is a big step closer to owing $1,000 to charity. We expect there will be a lot more of this sort of excitement as Tesla’s new premiere EV makes its way market.





By Sebastian Blanco

Tesla looking at smaller CUV, Roadster successor for 2016





Five models doesn’t quite equal GM, but it’s pretty impressive for a startup.



And five models is exactly what Tesla Motors chief Elon Musk is shooting for. Musk says the battery-electric luxury vehicle maker will have five models by 2016, when Tesla will add a small crossover and a sports car to the mix at around the same time, according to Wired. Of course, we’ve heard similar predictions over the years (remember when there were hints that the next-gen Roadster would be coming in 2013?), but it appears that Musk is getting ready to talk about his four-year plan.



Having debuted the Model S sedan in June, Tesla will add the Model X crossover in 2014 and an “entry level” $30,000 sedan the following year (we knew this). That model will be similar in design to the Model S, but about 25 percent smaller, according to Musk. Also, it will not be called the Model E, as that was just a joke he made online recently. The smaller crossover will compete with models such as the BMW X3 while the sports car will be a successor of sorts to the convertible Roadster.



Musk, who has long forecast deliveries of 5,000 Model S vehicles for this year, told Automotive News in June that Tesla will boost sales to 20,000 units next year and to 35,000 in 2014.



Tesla said in July that its second-quarter loss widened by 84 percent to $106.5 million because expenses revenue fell and expenses surged in advance of the debut of the Model S, whose first deliveries were made in June.

By Danny King

Elon Musk: ‘The credit for saving Tesla should go to Daimler’

tesla daimler deal



Back in 2009, the plug-in vehicle world was surprised to learn that Daimler had invested $50 million in Tesla Motors. What we didn’t know at the time was that the money came deus ex machina style just before the EV startup reaper was about to knock. Turns out, Tesla’s financial situation was much worse back then than anyone realized.



We recently spent an hour interviewing Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and when we asked about the money, Musk said, “The credit for saving Tesla should go to Daimler. It was the Daimler investment that saved Tesla in early 2009. … 2007 and 2008 were especially bad for us. … There were a couple of near-death situations.”



Those near-death situations include the time Musk needed to funnel a lot of his personal capital into Tesla – “I literally had to borrow money for rent” – in order to get through 2008 and early 2009. Having run through a lot of his own money, he appreciated Daimler was investing in Tesla even though Daimler itself was cash strapped. “When someone is hungry themselves and they give you a bit of food, you’ve got to be grateful for that.”



Musk added that Tesla’s financial situation today is “pretty good,” and that the company has “a couple hundred million dollars” in reserve. As long as there aren’t a “bunch of screw-ups,” then the automaker should be in good financial shape, he said.



Stay tuned for more from our one-on-one interview, including the full transcript, later this week.

Related GalleryDaimler Tesla press conference

By Sebastian Blanco

Tesla CEO Releases Official Rebuttal to NY Times Story

Tesla spokeswoman Shanna Hendriks’ world turned upside down on Monday after CEO Elon Musk issued a stiff rebuke over an article in the New York Times he called fake.

Shortly after the controversy began, the paper responded, saying “any suggestion that the account was ‘fake’ is, of course, flatly untrue.” But Musk wasn’t finished. At the height of his heated Twitter salvo, he vowed to reveal the details behind the article. Tesla turns data logging on for all media drives after Top Gear’s “BS” report on the Roadster. Musk’s official response is now available, days after the initial flare-up.

In a blog post released late Wednesday, Musk attacks several points from the story in question. One of several issues is that John Broder, the story’s author, reported setting cruise control at 54 mph. According to charts released in the blog cruise control was actually set at 60 mph.

SEE ALSO: Elon Musk Calls NY Times Piece on Tesla Model S a ‘Fake’

Another chart from Tesla shows Broder increasing cabin temperature while reporting that he decreased it.

But perhaps the most concerning part of what the data log reveals is that Broder seems to have misrepresented how far the car actually travelled and how long he spent charging the car. The car’s log shows it actually exceeded its stated range rather than falling short as he reported.

Musks blog suggests that Broder carried a vendetta against electric cars.

“We were played for a fool and as a result, let down the cause of electric vehicles. For that, I am deeply sorry,” Musk wrote.

GALLERY: Tesla Model S Data Log

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By Luke Vandezande