Tesla Model S Named to TIME Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2012 List

By all accounts, the Tesla Model S is a formidable offering in the electric vehicle world, a market that’s still considered to be in its infant stage.

Recently, the American automaker’s newest sedan landed on TIME Magazine‘s Best Invention of the Year 2012 list. The publication went so far as to say that the Tesla “has the lines of a Jaguar” but was mostly impressed by its range of 200-plus miles.

Of course, we loved the fact that the Model S delivers 362 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque and in our review commented that; “This might not just be the future of the electric car. The Tesla Model S could be the future of the American auto industry.”

By Jason Siu

DOE still has $16.6 billion left in ATVM loan program

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) is questioning why Department of Energy (DOE) loan funds are not paying out as planned. The participation hurdle is high, and there’s about $16.6 billion in green vehicle loan appropriations going unused, the GAO found.

The funds come from DOE’s 2005 Loan Guarantee Program and its Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program from 2007. These programs were a directive from Congress, but now House and Senate lawmakers on the powerful appropriations committee are hearing about the programs stalling out. The GAO report also told legislators that the DOE hasn’t “closed on a loan or loan guarantee or conditionally committed to do so under either program since September 2011.”

The GAO had interviewed applicants for the loan programs to evaluate the DOE’s performance and found that it the “costs of participating outweigh the benefits.” Those costs include a “lengthy and burdensome” application and review process and lots of documents needed to apply. The failure of the solar energy company Solyndra was also mentioned as making participants skittish about working with DOE and the Obama administration. It’s not just green car money that’s sitting unused. There is $34.8 billion left in various renewable energy project loans, but here, at least, there are 13 “active” applications.

The DOE might be finished issuing funds through the programs automotive. While the funds don’t have an expiration date, DOE says it will continue to receive applications and it doesn’t plan to use the remainder of the appropriated funds.

Ford, Nissan, Tesla and Fisker did receive ATVM program funds. Tesla is doing well enough to pay the loan off early but Fisker had its funding cut short and is not in a good position to pay it back any time soon.

By Jon LeSage

Tesla confirms production of 100 Model S vehicles, 74 for customers

white tesla model s

In the latest official Tesla blog post, George Blankenship, Tesla’s vice president of worldwide sales and ownership experience has got some fresh Model S numbers for us. Specifically, the company has now made 100 production Model S vehicles, with 74 of those destined for reservation holders. The rest, Blankenship writes, are “being used for test drive cars, in-store displays, engineering tests and for service team training. We plan to continue to increase production in the upcoming weeks.”

That increased production target for the rest of the year is 5,000, with 20-30,000 in 2013.

To put all these numbers in perspective, in early August, Tesla had only made 50 Model S vehicles, 29 for customers.

Blankenship was one of the people who is now driving a new Model S. He writes, “And for those of you who are wondering, yes, my wife and I got our Model S on Saturday! It was delivered to our house at 10 a.m. sharp by one of our Tesla Delivery Experience Specialists. Some things really are priceless.”

Related GalleryTesla Model S

Tesla Model Stesla model sTesla Model STesla Model STesla Model STesla Model STesla Model STesla Model S

By Sebastian Blanco

Autoblog Podcast #308

Motor Trend Car of the Year, 2013 Honda Civic, 2014 Ford Mustang, Global Ford Ranger wins award

autoblog podcast logo

Episode #308 of the Autoblog Podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Zach Bowman and Jeff Ross talk about the Tesla Model S being named Motor Trend Car of the Year, the 2013 Honda Civic and the new hybrid systems and Micro Commuter concept also coming out of Honda, the 2014 Ford Mustang and the departure of the Boss 302, and the global Ford Ranger winning an International Truck award. For those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. Keep reading for our Q&A module for you to scroll through and follow along, too. Thanks for listening!

Autoblog Podcast #308:



  • 2013 Honda Civic, plus new hybrid systems and Micro Commuter concept
  • Rest-of-World Ford Ranger wins International Truck award
  • Motor Trend Car of the Year
  • 2014 Ford Mustang details and the departure of the Boss 302

In the Autoblog Garage:

2013 Volvo S80 T6 AWD Inscription

2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe

2013 Infiniti FX37

Hosts: Dan Roth, Zach Bowman, Jeff Ross

Runtime: 01:17:54

Get the podcast

[UStream] Listen live on Mondays at 10PM Eastern at UStream

[iTunes] Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes

[RSS] Add the Autoblog Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator

[MP3] Download the MP3 directly


Email: Podcast at Autoblog dot com

Review the show in iTunes

By Dan Roth

Popular Science magazine’s Best Of What’s New 2012 all ate up with cars

Popular Science has named the winners in its Best of What’s New awards, the victors coming in the categories of aerospace, automotive, engineering, entertainment, gadgets, green, hardware, health, home, recreation, security and software. The automotive category did not go wanting for lauded advancements:

  • Tesla Model S: the Grand Award winner for being “the standard by which all future electric vehicles will be measured.”
  • BMW 328i: it’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gets called out for being more powerful and frugal than the six-cylinder it replaces.
  • Ferrari F12 Berlinetta: towering power, towering top speed, 30 percent more fuel efficient than the 599 Fiorano it replaces.
  • Toyota RAV4 EV: the all-electric SUV accelerates better than many conventional SUVs, goes 100 mph and actually beats EPA mileage estimates.
  • Porsche Cayenne Diesel: 406 pound-feet of torque, 33 highway mpg, up to 800 miles from a single tank and Cayenne style, give ‘em a trophy.
  • 2013 Ford Fusion: its three flavors – standard, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid – “are the most efficient models in their classes,” that latter one expected to outdo the Chevrolet Volt’s EPA mileage rating.
  • The DeltaWing: gets kudos for being “the most efficient racecar in history.”
  • Mercedes-Benz Magic Vision Control: a holistic solution to keeping your windshield clean and clear year-round.
  • General Motors’ MyLink: takes the in-car computer out of the car, puts it in the driver’s smartphone.
  • Infiniti Back-Up Collision Intervention: rear-mounted radar and sonar keep track of what’s behind you and brake automatically if an obstacle is detected so you don’t hit things when you back that Infiniti up.

The automotive category tied with categories like aerospace and health for the number of awards. Congratulations to all the winners, head on over to PopSci for the full details on each of them.

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 Jonathon Ramsey

Tesla lowers Model S financing costs, guarantees highest resale value of any luxury sedan

tesla model s

“We decided we were wrong and other people were right and we decided to fix it.”

A month ago, Tesla Motors announced what it called a “revolutionary” financing option, and waved some magic pixie dust around to come up with a monthly cost of like $500. Today, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced a bunch of changes to the financing options and to Tesla’s online calculator to be more realistic and better represent people’s real-world costs. Despite an early reshuffling of the numbers, Tesla got a lot of negative feedback regarding the pixie dust and today, Musk said, “We decided we were wrong and other people were right and we decided to fix it.”

Here are some of the changes:

  • Most importantly, Tesla has raised the guaranteed resale value to be the highest of any luxury sedan made in volume. That means that a “leased” Model S will be worth more than the average resale value of all Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Lexus or Jaguar vehicles in the same price range (based on ALG resale value numbers).
  • In the online calculator, where Tesla talks about the “true cost of ownership,” many defaults have been changed. The “time saved” option is now turned off, the expected gas price has been lowered, the MPG of the gas car has been raised. In short, the defaults are more conservative, but anyone can still enter any values that apply to them.

Tesla financing partners are now also offering longer-term loans (72 months instead of 63) that will “reduce the monthly payment considerably,” Tesla says. Tesla’s new numbers, featuring less pixie dust, are “a monthly rate of $580 taking only gasoline savings into account” and, if you buy the car for business and we assume that 70 percent of the miles are for business use, the “effective monthly cost” is just $315. Musk said he believes that financing (or leasing, as most of us call it) is the right way to buy an electric car because, “it really highlights the savings you get form gasoline every month.”

Musk said that so far, around 20-25 percent of the Model S vehicles sold since the financing options were announced have been financed, and that he expects this number to jump to 60 percent or more in the future. Early birds who jumped at the chance in April don’t need to fret, since the improvements to the financial offering will be retroactive to anyone who already took advantage of the Tesla financing.

As before, the value guarantee is backed by Musk’s personal money and he remains as confident as ever that his company is on the right track. “If we really believe we are making the best car, it should have the best resale value,” he said.

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

Tesla CEO Elon Musk makes just $33,280 a year; has option to buy 5.27 million shares

Depending on when Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is speaking, he’s either pointing out that his electric vehicle company has a rough road ahead or that everything will be fine. Both lines can be kind of true, which is one reason that Tesla is such a fascinating company. It’s also potentially a very profitable endeavor for Musk, depending.

Business Week is reporting that Musk’s compensation package, designed “to keep him at the company,” included an option to buy 5.27 million TSLA shares at $31.17 a share over the next ten years. That would cost $164 million and could be worth way more than his official $33,280 annual salary. Perhaps that’s why he’s already said he plans to stay at Tesla for “several more years.” Right now, BW says, Musk controls 25.8 percent of Tesla and is the largest shareholder. TSLA shares are currently trading at $29.40.

Related GalleryTesla Model S

Tesla Model Stesla model sTesla Model STesla Model STesla Model STesla Model STesla Model STesla Model S

By Sebastian Blanco

A New Electric Car With an Old Name

Detroit Electric's SP:01, a limited-edition electric sports car.Detroit Electric, via Associated Press Detroit Electric’s SP:01, a limited-edition electric sports car.

The fledgling Detroit Electric car company introduced its first product, the fully electric SP:01 two-seat roadster, on Wednesday. Like the Tesla Roadster, the SP:01 will be built on a Lotus Elise chassis. Detroit Electric will handle only final assembly of an initial production run of 999 vehicles.

The Detroit Electric name is familiar to automotive historians. The early 20th century electric-vehicle manufacturer produced about 13,000 cars in its nearly 30-year history. This new venture, which has its headquarters in Detroit’s Fisher Building, acquired the brand name from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Detroit Electric is assembling SP:01 prototypes in Europe. The car’s top speed is 155 miles per hour and its time from zero to 62 m.p.h. is 3.7 seconds, the company said.

The SP:01 is powered by a 201 horsepower (150 kW) electric motor mounted behind the passenger cabin. The Lotus Elise donor car’s manual gearbox delivers the power to the rear wheels. In the Lotus, the manual gearbox has six forward speeds, but in the torque-rich electric car only four are used, with fifth and sixth gears blocked off. However, to achieve that 155 m.p.h. top speed, fifth gear must be reinstated. That fifth ratio can be added as an option at the time of purchase. A two-speed automatic will also be available. Steering and suspension components are similar to those of the Lotus, but have been modified to better suit the SP:01’s weight distribution.

Two lithium-polymer batteries provide electricity. According to a Detroit Electric media release, the SP:01 achieved a range of 180 miles on the European driving cycle. The company said a 7.7 kWh home charging unit could fully charge the car in about four hours.

The car’s body is carbon fiber, which sits on Lotus’s aluminum tub-style chassis. The company said the car weighed 2,400 pounds.

Detroit Electric said the SP:01 would go on sale in several markets in the United States by the end of August. Pricing will start at $135,000, but will vary depending on vehicle specifications and local taxes.

This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 14, 2013

A report in a roundup of Wheels blog posts last Sunday about a new electric roadster misstated the process by which the Detroit Electric car company obtained rights to its name, which was abandoned when the original automaker of that name went out of business in 1939. The United States Patent and Trademark Office authorized the new use; the name was not purchased from a previous owner.

A version of this article appeared in print on 04/07/2013, on page AU8 of the NewYork edition with the headline: A New Electric Car With an Old Name.


Tesla will hold 5,000 test drives in 45 days, but there’s trouble in MA

Get Amped Model S Tour

Two steps forward, one step back. Or maybe that should be 5,000 steps forward, a few steps back.

In just 16 days, Tesla Motors plans on delivering the first Model S vehicles to customers (which, we believe, will end up costing Dan Neil $1,000, but no one is responding to our questions about that bet. In any case, CEO Elon Musk and other big investors are already driving theirs). Today, Tesla has got more good news in its latest “Tesla Tuesday” video, and the headline number is that the company plans to offer 5,000 test drives in 45 days during the “Get Amped Model S Tour.”

Anyone who has reserved a Model S will get first crack at these drives, which start the day after deliveries begin. Each test drive will last around eight minutes and, at the first stop near the Tesla factory in Fremont, CA, anyway, “the course offers a variety of experiences that include freeway driving, long sweepers, tight turns, smooth and rough roads, and general urban driving.” Reservation holders will be getting emails about the tour soon.

In the video below, you can see the Model S being made, picking up where last week’s video left off. Moving from the stamping are, the Model S bodies are put together in the Tesla Body Center. Like last week, there are mechanical workers involved:

At each station, robots build a unique sub-assembly and then transfer it to the Body Framing Line where it is joined with other sub-assemblies from parallel stations. The robotic arms of our Body Framing Line bond, rivet and weld sub-assemblies into the iconic form of Model S.

It’s not all good news in Teslaville, though. In Natick, MA, the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association and some Natick auto dealerships are questioning whether Tesla’s store license there “should be revoked because the company has not met relevant state laws.” The rub is that Tesla is not planning to offer any service at the Natick Mall location, since that location will be more a showroom than a dealership. Tesla has always wanted a more hands-on approach to selling cars, opting to set up a network of Apple Store-like dealerships and showrooms. An attorney for the dealers wrote to the town, saying, “We want to ensure that Tesla complies with all the same requirements that our new car dealership members are required to comply with. We want to work with the town to make sure everyone is treated fairly.” The store would be Tesla’s first Massachusetts location.

Welcome to “Inside Tesla.” This series of Tuesday updates is designed to take you behind the scenes of Model S production as we count down the days to our first deliveries.

For more information, visit www.teslamotors.com/model-s-has-arrived

By Sebastian Blanco

Tesla Planning Compact Crossover


Tesla is looking to expand its product lineup, and besides a BMW 3 Series competitor with a Nissan Leaf price tag, the brand is also planning on bringing a compact crossover to market, both of which will ride on the same platform.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk says that both of these new vehicles will arrive ”in the next three to four years.” Both models will be significantly cheaper than Tesla’s current offering, the Model S, which carries a price tag of about $70,000.

SEE ALSO: Tesla Wants Lower Cost Car to Take on Nissan Leaf

Both are known internally as “gen 3″ because this is the brand’s third generation platform. Musk says that the small sedan will be targetted at the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series, though it will carry a price tag around $30,000.

As for the compact crossover, it is likely to take its styling cues from the Model X, and may even incorporate the same gull-wing door design. It will look to take on the BMW X1 and Audi Q3.

[Source: Automotive News]

Discuss this story at Tesla-Buzz.com 

By Stephen Elmer