The Roadster Sport is a $19,500 upgrade package to the basic $110,950 Tesla Roadster. The differences: new drivetrain software and a hand-wound stator in the Sport’s 375-volt AC induction motor with higher winding density and lower resistance, bumping the motor’s torque from 273 pound-feet to 295. Horsepower is now 288 for both base and Sport models. In the suspension, remote-reservoir shocks offer 10 stiffness settings and three positions for the anti-roll bars. Black, forged alloy wheels wear stickier Yokohama Advan A048s.
Is the Sport Worth It?
The Sport picks off the 60-mph mark 0.1 second quicker than the base Roadster, or in four seconds flat. This may be the most expensive 0.1 second of your life, though the Sport also demonstrates a reduced tendency for its air-cooled motor to overheat while jet-whining to high speed. It’s firmly, er, grounded and changes direction with the merest palm impulses. But at the limit, the steering turns slack under acceleration as the front axle goes light and loses bite. It won’t lay a patch owing to the control software, and in the middle setting, the shocks are tolerably soft. The Sport looks extreme, but it still works best as an errand-running pussycat. All Roadsters now have a fancier center console.
What’s the Cost?
The base Sport runs $130,450, though this example was a staggering $155,850 due to optional equipment. If you’ve stopped breathing, at least you’re not emitting CO2.
POWERTRAIN: AC permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor; 288 hp, 295 lb-ft; 1-speed direct drive
EPA CITY/HIGHWAY: 29/32 kWh per 100 miles
C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 4.0 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 12.9 sec @ 102 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 178 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.90 g
View Photo Gallery
The U.K. institution known as the British Broadcasting Corporation recently embarked on a near 500-mile trip with one of Mini’s experimental Mini E fleet, which was arranged in part to highlight the inconveniences of electric vehicles. Not surprisingly, things got pretty inconvenient.
The BBC’s story, airing on English television, chronicles journalist Brian Milligan’s drive from London to Edinburgh, a journey of some 484 miles. According to the automaker, the Mini E’s range is roughly 100 miles, but driving habits, traffic conditions, and ambient temperatures can have an effect on that number — potentially whittling it down to as little as 60 miles. Not surprisingly, charging stations were few and far between along the route and Milligan was forced to wait for hours at a time for the electrified Mini to charge before continuing.
After Milligan published his frustrations on both his blog and Twitter feed, EV advocates started to cry foul. British EV fan David Peilow was so incensed, he arranged a publicity stunt with Tesla Motors to counter the BBC story. Borrowing a new Roadster Sport and leaving after Milligan had a two-day lead, Peilow set out to beat the BBC to Edinburgh.
He did just that. The Roadster, equipped with a lithium-ion battery pack offering roughly 245 miles of range (and, importantly, a 3.5-hour recharge time on a 240-volt charger), managed to make the trek in a single day. Pielow needed to stop only twice, and, having left in the wee hours of the morning, managed to sneak into Edinburgh hours before Milligan did.
The BBC is crying foul, noting the sporty Roadster’s range is nearly twice that of the “practical” Mini E. But beyond the obvious PR stunt for Tesla, Pielow’s counter drive did serve to notice that despite the significant obstacles, the hurdles to widespread EV may yet be overcome someday.
Source: Tesla, BBC
Concurrent with its legislative battle in Texas for its right to have factory-direct dealerships, the California-based electric car maker received some welcome news in the form of ruling from the New York state supreme court, in which a justice ruled that franchised dealers could not prove sufficient injury from the presence of Tesla’s factory-owned stores, Automotive News reports.
Naturally, the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association voiced its displeasure at the ruling, claiming Tesla’s factory-owned model is “clearly prohibited” by state franchise dealer law. The dealer association has not yet said whether it will appeal the case, or seek recourse by other means. Tesla currently operates three stores and two service centers in the state.
The fear of state dealership associations across the country is that an exemption granted to Tesla would open the door to existing automakers to circumvent the independent franchise model and start opening factory-owned stores in competition with independently-owned dealerships. Franchise laws vary from state-to-state, from outright prohibition, to non-compete language preventing factory-owned stores from opening within a specified distance from an independent franchise.
Chrysler was forced to sell its Motor Village concept store in Los Angeles, after area dealers petitioned the DMV, alleging violations of state franchise law. Tesla’s case is unique in that it is creating a network of new stores for an all-new brand, not opening new outlets for an existing brand.
Source: Automotive News (subscription required)
noooooooooo!!!!!! game over! +++ I’m fine!!!!
That’s how Rafael de Mestre let his fans know that his attempt to be the first to drive around the world in a standard all-electric car, a Tesla Roadster, had come to an end. De Mestre posted the above picture to Facebook along with a short video of “the black day of the race” showing the crash and some of the aftereffects (see it below). The Roadster rear-ended a Toyota Auris in Germany and de Mestre says, “First findings: crash was initiated by a BMW driving 7 cars in front of [the Roadster], who crashed into the ahead driving car.”
In the long-distance race, De Mestre was competing against the Electric Odyssey crew, which is supposed to get back to their starting point some time in October after circumnavigating the world in a Citroen C-Zero EV (the Mitsubishi i’s sister vehicle). The French engineers in the C-Zero started their trip in February 2012, and de Mestre took off in May with the goal to overtake the shorter-range EV somewhere along the way. He managed to do that, but now it looks like the slow and steady duo will be able to claim the record, as long as their luck holds.
*UPDATE: De Mestre says on Facebook that, “Tesla is repairing [the Roadster] with 5 technicians in parallel!” See the picture below.
For the past few years, Switzerland-based Mindset Holding AG had been planning a sports-car EV that would rival Tesla. You can stop waiting now, since Mindset is declaring bankruptcy after its funding possibilities dried up.
At one time, Mindset was talking about a launch date for the E-Motion in early 2012 – which passed without incident – but as recently as this past February, Mindset was still talking about making a battery pack that delivered about the same power as the one in the Tesla Roadster but weighed half as much. The Mindset E-Motion was supposed to have a base price of about $93,000 and up to 272 horsepower. The whole plan is no more, according to an Aug. 31 statement from the company:
This step has become unavoidable after the group was not able to secure financing towards serial production of the electric vehicle mindset over the last months and years. It has to be stated that conventional investments are preferred to a highly innovative project in the present stock market environment.
Read the whole thing below.
Related GalleryMindset electric car
By Danny King
Tesla Motors, the electric-car manufacturer launched by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, may finally be on the way to turning a profit. In a message posted to Twitter on Monday, company CEO Musk said that, “Tesla was narrowly cash flow positive last week. Continued improvement expected through year end.”
If true, the message is good news for Tesla, which has heretofore struggled to turn a profit despite receiving millions of dollars in private funding, as well as a $465 million loan from the Department of Energy. For the third quarter of 2012, Tesla reported a net loss of $111 million. However, the company predicts a positive operating margin of about 12 percent by the end of 2012.
Tesla sold 2400 copies of its first car, the Lotus Elise-based Roadster, and is now ramping up production of the Model S luxury sedan. We named the Tesla Model S our 2013 Automobile Of The Year, and our colleagues at Motor Trend concurred by naming named it Car Of The Year.
Sales of the car, however, have been anything but brisk. More than 13,200 people have placed reservations for the Model S so far, but as of November 5 the company had only built 350 cars and delivered just 250 to paying customers. That didn’t stop the automaker from raising prices of the Model S by $2500, effective January 1, although Tesla defended the price bump as equaling only half the national inflation rate.
If Tesla really is on track to profitability, that bodes well for the company achieving its fourth-quarter goals. Before the end of 2012, Tesla hopes to open ten more retail outlets (for a total of 24 domestically and 34 globally) and deliver another 2500-3000 vehicles. Then in 2013, Tesla says it will continue to ramp up production and deliver 20,000 cars. We’ll see whether Tesla’s financials can stay in the black long enough for the company to hit those benchmarks.
Sources: Twitter, Tesla
By Jake Holmes
Tesla claims it has 250 patents covering its Model S sedan, with more pending. The electric motor sits between the rear wheels, contributing greatly to the car’s 47/53-percent front/rear weight distribution.
Tesla offers three lithium-ion battery packs for the Model S — 40-kW-hr, 60-kW-hr, and 85-kW-hr — that are claimed to provide ranges of 140, 200, and 265 miles, respectively. The base 85-kW-hr powertrain delivers a stout 362 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, while the performance version makes 416 hp and 443 lb-ft.
Read more about the Model S: 2012 Tesla Model S Test and Range Verification
Guest judge Wayne Cherry, a former GM design boss, summed up the exterior design theme of the Model S as “somewhat safe and conservative.” His only criticism? “The front end is a missed opportunity to establish brand identity.”
A number of the interior design solutions need more polish. However, all judges were impressed with the Tesla’s unique user interface, courtesy of the giant touch screen in the center of the car that controls everything from the air-conditioning to the nav system to the sound system to the car’s steering, suspension, and brake regeneration settings.
For the 313 miles of road loops during the COTY evaluation, where the car was driven at normal speeds by all the judges with the air-conditioning running, it averaged 74.5 mpg-e. Impressive numbers, especially considering the 4766-pound Tesla Model S Signature Performance version will nail 60 mph in 4.0 seconds and the quarter in 12.4 seconds at 112.5 mph, with a top speed of 133 mph.
Other Car of the Year Contender WOT Posts:
BMW 3 Series
CODA EV Sedan
Toyota Prius C
To compete for the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year title, contenders must be all new or significantly revised 2013-model-year cars or 2012-model-year cars that went on sale too late for 2012 COTY consideration. All eligible vehicles are invited to compete. Check back to MotorTrend.com on November 12 at 3:30 p.m. PST / 6:30 p.m. EST to discover what will become the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year!
Continuing to push the envelope on electric vehicle technology, Tesla will be unveiling its ‘supercharger’ on September 24th, which the American automaker claims will charge the Model S to full charge in one hour.
According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk in a recent tweet, the Tesla Supercharger will “feel like alien spaceships landed at highway rest stops.” Quite the image to depict, but Musk has always been known for his vibrant statements. Though the misnomer might have you believe that the Model S was getting some form of forced induction, the Tesla Supercharger is in fact a quick-electric charger for the electric sedan.
The American automaker hopes to quell range anxiety for electric vehicle owners interested in taking long trips with its supercharger. Details on Tesla’s deployment plans will also come on the date of its unveiling, but it’s not expected for home use but rather on the road. According to some media reports, the stations could be solar powered and can charge up the Tesla Model S in as little as 45 minutes.
By Jason Siu
John M. Broder/The New York Times
Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla Motors, has now responded in detail to the account of my test drive of his Model S electric car, using the company’s new East Coast Superchargers, that was published in The Times on Feb. 10. His broadest charge is that I consciously set out to sabotage the test. That is not so. I was delighted to receive the assignment to try out the company’s new East Coast Supercharger network and as I previously noted in no way anticipated – or deliberately caused – the troubles I encountered.
The test was initially proposed by Tesla to Times editors, and the company arranged the timing, which came during a cold snap on the East Coast. It is fair to say that when I set out I did not fully appreciate how much of an effect the freezing temperatures would have on the travel range of the car.
Since 2009, I have been the Washington bureau reporter responsible for coverage of energy, environment and climate change. I have written numerous articles about the auto industry and several vehicle reviews for the Automobiles pages. (In my 16 years at The Times I have served as White House correspondent, Washington editor, Los Angeles bureau chief and a political correspondent.)
Before I set out in the Model S, I did speak with the company’s chief technology officer, J B Straubel, about the charging network and some of the car’s features and peculiarities. Neither he nor the Tesla representative who delivered the car to me provided detailed instructions on maximizing the driving range, the impact of cold weather on battery strength or how to get the most out of the Superchargers or the publicly available lower-power charging ports along the route.
About three hours into the trip, I placed the first of about a dozen calls to Tesla personnel expressing concern about the car’s declining range and asking how to reach the Supercharger station in Milford, Conn. I was given battery-conservation advice at that time (turn off the cruise control; alternately slow down and speed up to take advantage of regenerative braking) that was later contradicted by other Tesla personnel. I was on the phone with a Tesla engineer in California when I arrived, with zero miles showing on the range meter, at the Milford Supercharger.
Beginning early in the morning of my second day with the car, after the projected range had dropped precipitously while parked overnight, I spoke numerous times with Christina Ra, Tesla’s spokeswoman at the time, and Ted Merendino, a Tesla product planner at the company’s headquarters in California. They told me that the loss of battery power when parked overnight could be restored by properly “conditioning” the battery, a half-hour process, which I undertook by sitting in the car with the heat on low, as they instructed. That proved ineffective; the conditioning process actually reduced the range by 24 percent (to 19 miles, from 25 miles).
It was also Tesla that told me that an hour of charging (at a lower power level) at a public utility in Norwich, Conn., would give me adequate range to reach the Supercharger 61 miles away, even though the car’s range estimator read 32 miles – because, again, I was told that moderate-speed driving would “restore” the battery power lost overnight. That also proved overly optimistic, as I ran out of power about 14 miles shy of the Milford Supercharger and about five miles from the public charging station in East Haven that I was trying to reach.
To reiterate: Tesla personnel told me over the phone that they were able to monitor the state of the battery. It was they who cleared me to leave Norwich after an hour of charging. I spoke at some length with Mr. Straubel and Ms. Ra six days after the trip, and asked for the data they had collected from my drive, to compare against my notes and recollections. Mr. Straubel said they were able to monitor “certain things” remotely and that the company could store and retrieve “typical diagnostic information on the powertrain.”
Mr. Straubel said Tesla did not store data on exact locations where their cars were driven because of privacy concerns, although Tesla seemed to know that I had driven six-tenths of a mile “in a tiny 100-space parking lot.” While Mr. Musk has accused me of doing this to drain the battery, I was in fact driving around the Milford service plaza on Interstate 95, in the dark, trying to find the unlighted and poorly marked Tesla Supercharger. He did not share that data, which Tesla has now posted online, with me at the time.
Here are point-by-point responses to specific assertions Mr. Musk has made:
• “As the State of Charge log shows, the Model S battery never ran out of energy at any time, including when Broder called the flatbed truck.”
The car’s display screen said the car was shutting down, and it did. The car did not have enough power to move, or even enough to release the electrically operated parking brake. The tow truck driver was on the phone with Tesla’s New York service manager, Adam Williams, for 15 or 20 minutes as he was trying to move the car onto a flatbed truck.
• “The final leg of his trip was 61 miles and yet he disconnected the charge cable when the range display stated 32 miles. He did so expressly against the advice of Tesla personnel and in obvious violation of common sense.”
The Tesla personnel whom I consulted over the phone – Ms. Ra and Mr. Merendino – told me to leave it connected for an hour, and after that the lost range would be restored. I did not ignore their advice.
• “In his article, Broder claims that ‘the car fell short of its projected range on the final leg.’ Then he bizarrely states that the screen showed ‘Est. remaining range: 32 miles’ and the car traveled ‘51 miles’ contradicting his own statement (see images below). The car actually did an admirable job exceeding its projected range. Had he not insisted on doing a nonstop 61-mile trip while staring at a screen that estimated half that range, all would have been well. He constructed a no-win scenario for any vehicle, electric or gasoline.”
The phrase “the car fell short of its projected range” appeared in a caption with an accompanying map; it was not in the article. What that referred to (and admittedly could have been more precise) was that the car fell short of the projected range, 90 miles, that it showed when I parked it overnight at a hotel in Groton, Conn.
Tesla is correct that the car did exceed the projected range of 32 miles when I left Norwich, as I was driving slowly, and it gave me hope that the Tesla employee I’d consulted was correct that the mileage lost overnight was being restored. It wasn’t enough, however, to get to Milford.
• “On that leg, he drove right past a public charge station while the car repeatedly warned him that it was very low on range.”
If there was a public charging station nearby, no one made me aware of it. The Tesla person with whom I was in contact located on the Internet a public charging station in East Haven, Conn., and that is the one I was trying to reach when the car stalled in Branford, about five miles shy of East Haven.
• “Cruise control was never set to 54 m.p.h. as claimed in the article, nor did he limp along at 45 m.p.h. Broder in fact drove at speeds from 65 m.p.h. to 81 m.p.h. for a majority of the trip, and at an average cabin temperature setting of 72 F.”
I drove normally (at the speed limit or with prevailing traffic) when I thought it was prudent to do so. I do recall setting the cruise control to about 54 m.p.h., as I wrote. The log shows the car traveling about 60 m.p.h. for a nearly 100-mile stretch on the New Jersey Turnpike. I cannot account for the discrepancy, nor for a later stretch in Connecticut where I recall driving about 45 m.p.h., but it may be the result of the car being delivered with 19-inch wheels and all-season tires, not the specified 21-inch wheels and summer tires. That just might have affected the recorded speed, range, rate of battery depletion or any number of other parameters. Tesla’s data suggests I was doing slightly more than 50 over a stretch where the speed limit was 65. The traffic was heavy in that part of Connecticut, so cruise control was not usable, and I tried to keep the speed at 50 or below without impeding traffic.
Certainly, and as Tesla’s logs clearly show, much of my driving was at or well below the 65 m.p.h. speed limit, with only a single momentary spike above 80. Most drivers are aware that cars can speed up, even sometimes when cruise control is engaged, on downhill stretches.
• “At the point in time that he claims to have turned the temperature down, he in fact turned the temperature up to 74 F.”
I raised and lowered the cabin heat in an effort to strike a balance between saving energy and staying somewhat comfortable. (It was 30 degrees outside when I began the trip, and the temperature plunged that night to 10 degrees.) Tesla jumped to the conclusion that I claimed to have lowered the cabin temperature “at 182 miles,” but I never wrote that. The data clearly indicates that I sharply lowered the temperature setting – twice – a little over 200 miles into the trip. After the battery was charged I tried to warm the cabin.
• “The charge time on his second stop was 47 minutes, going from —5 miles (reserve power) to 209 miles of Ideal or 185 miles of E.P.A. Rated Range, not 58 minutes as stated in the graphic attached to his article. Had Broder not deliberately turned off the Supercharger at 47 mins and actually spent 58 mins Supercharging, it would have been virtually impossible to run out of energy for the remainder of his stated journey.”
According to my notes, I plugged into the Milford Supercharger at 5:45 p.m. and disconnected at 6:43 p.m. The range reading was 185 miles.
• “For his first recharge, he charged the car to 90%. During the second Supercharge, despite almost running out of energy on the prior leg, he deliberately stopped charging at 72%. On the third leg, where he claimed the car ran out of energy, he stopped charging at 28%. Despite narrowly making each leg, he charged less and less each time. Why would anyone do that?”
I stopped at 72 percent because I had replenished more than enough energy for the miles I intended to drive the next day before fully recharging on my way back to New York. In Norwich, I charged for an hour on the lower-power charger, expressly on the instructions of Tesla personnel, to get enough range to reach the Supercharger station in Milford.
• “The above helps explain a unique peculiarity at the end of the second leg of Broder’s trip. When he first reached our Milford, Conn., Supercharger, having driven the car hard and after taking an unplanned detour through downtown Manhattan to give his brother a ride, the display said “0 miles remaining.” Instead of plugging in the car, he drove in circles for over half a mile in a tiny, 100-space parking lot. When the Model S valiantly refused to die, he eventually plugged it in. On the later legs, it is clear Broder was determined not to be foiled again.”
I drove around the Milford service plaza in the dark looking for the Supercharger, which is not prominently marked. I was not trying to drain the battery. (It was already on reserve power.) As soon as I found the Supercharger, I plugged the car in.
The stop in Manhattan was planned from the beginning and known to Tesla personnel all along. According to Google Maps, taking the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan (instead of crossing at the George Washington Bridge) and driving up the West Side Highway added only two miles to the overall distance from Newark, Del., to Milford, Conn.
Neither I nor the Model S ever visited “downtown Manhattan.”
• “When I first heard about what could at best be described as irregularities in Broder’s behavior during the test drive, I called to apologize for any inconvenience that he may have suffered and sought to put my concerns to rest, hoping that he had simply made honest mistakes. That was not the case.”
Mr. Musk not only apologized, he said the charging stations should be 60 miles closer together and offered me a second test drive when additional stations were built.
If there’s a hip, trendy-looking Apple Store in your town, you probably have George Blankenship to thank for it. Now, he’s hoping to do the same thing for Tesla.
The spunky electric car-maker announced today that Blankenship, 57, will join the company as vice president of Design and Store Development. He’ll be in charge of further developing Tesla’s boutique dealerships, creating a long-term strategy for retail development and expanding the network beyond its 13 current stores globally. Mimicking his work with Apple, Tesla hopes Blankenship will help draw more customers with showrooms that are “stylish and inviting,” or as Tesla’s press release implies, the opposite of traditional dealerships. Blankenship’s first task will be to open three new stores in Tokyo, Japan, Toronto, Canada, and Washington D.C.
“George has a record of building customer-focused stores that revolutionize their industries, and he does it on time and on budget. There is simply no one better; he is the ideal candidate for Tesla,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk. “With George’s leadership, I have no doubt Tesla will have the best retail experience in the auto industry as we continue to grow and prepare to launch the Model S.”
Blankenship, based on the limited biographical information available, apparently got his start at clothing retailer Gap, where he spent 20 years and eventually became the company’s vice president for Real Estate Strategy. Proving himself exceptional at identifying and acquiring prime retail locations, Blankenship was stolen away by Apple Computer in 2000, where he was made vice president of Real Estate. Apple opened its first store a year later and Blankenship’s “Smart Growth Hit List” soon had Apple Stores popping up all over the world. He left Apple in 2007 and most recently consulted with Microsoft on creating a competing network of retail stores for that company’s products.
“Joining Tesla allows me to work with some of the boldest and brightest people on the planet while changing the world for the better,” said Blankenship. “I’m excited to create a retail experience that is as thrilling as my first drive of the Tesla Roadster.”
Tesla’s stock price rose more than 10 percent in after-hours trading to $17.46, rebounding from yesterday when the stock closed at $15.80, well below its IPO price of $17.
By Scott Evans