At first glance, the two competitors of this Head 2 Head may appear as though they were picked randomly from a hat, but that’s not the case. Host Jonny Lieberman put the 2013 Tesla Model S and 1956 Citroen DS-19 together because he felt that they share one important commonality: innovation.
Lieberman argues that the Citroen might be the most innovative car in the 20th century for many reasons. For starters, the car’s futuristic body is constructed of fiberglass and aluminum, and its oleo-pneumatic, auto-leveling suspension was unlike anything the public had seen back in the 1950s. And the list of innovations continues: its Citromatic transmission (which Lieberman explains in the video), high-mounted brake lights, and lightweight chassis construction.
Next is the Model S, which was the recipient of our 2013 Car of the Year award. Most of you are probably well versed when it comes to this innovative Tesla, which provides drivers with road-trip-worthy range and supercar-like acceleration, all while producing zero emissions. Both cars are impressive indeed, but only one is declared a winner in this Head 2 Head. Watch the video, and let us know which car you’d rather own in the comments below.
Attention all college grads with an engineering degree (and a slight interest in cars): add the Renault-Nissan Alliance to your job hunting list of automotive companies that have been actively seeking and hiring talent to fill engineering and technology jobs. The group announced that in a few weeks it will open its doors to a new research office in Silicon Valley, which is home to a number of high-tech giants.
According to a prepared statement yesterday, the new Northern California office will play an important role in ensuring the group stays “ahead of trends that are reshaping the way people interact with their cars.” The office will research and develop upcoming in-car tech including advanced display interfaces and Internet connectivity. And as one the most prominent manufacturers of electric vehicles, Nissan will use the office to advance its influence in green technology.
Speaking yesterday at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, said, “The Alliance is at the vanguard of the auto industry’s shift to sustainable transportation. Having a greater footprint in one of the world’s headquarters for clean tech research will extend our lead further.” Ghosn also stated that green-tech research is having a positive impact on the economy as well as the job market in the auto industry.
Last year, more than 32,000 jobs were created in the industry including thousands of engineering positions. At the 2011 Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress held last month, more than 10,000 attendees had the opportunity to check out and seek possible employment from 35 companies in the engineering field, including Chyrsler, Ford and General Motors. Back in March, we reported that the Detroit three were recruiting newly minted engineering grads for new tech jobs. Attracting graduates to apply has been a challenge, however, mainly due to the low starting wages in Detroit, especially when compared to similar positions Silicon Valley.
In addition to Renault-Nissan’s new office, a number of automakers also have a presence in the high-tech hotspot. BMW’s Technology Office in Palo Alto, California, for example, opened over a decade ago and played a big role in the inception and subsequent revisions to the automaker’s iDrive interface system. Mercedes-Benz has a Silicon Valley-based Group and Advanced Engineering office, which recently developed the smart drive app for the iPhone and has been involved in the testing of fuel-cell vehicles. The Volkswagen Group recently opened an Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) in Belmont, California, which will develop future infotainment platforms and driver assistance systems. Lastly, Tesla Motors, makers of the all-electric roadster and the upcoming Tesla S sedan, is headquartered in Northern California, and took over the GM/Toyota NUMMI joint-venture assembly plant in Fremont.
Is the future of the U.S. car industry moving away from Detroit to high-tech areas like Silicon Valley?
Source: Nissan, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Tesla
In which we bring you motoring news from around the Web:
• If Consumer Reports’ recent review of the Tesla Model S is anything to go by, the electric carmaker has produced quite the phenomenal ride. But the big drawback with fully electric cars is, of course, the fact that drivers have to sit around and wait while the car charges. But that may change. Tesla Motors has revived discussion of swappable battery packs, which could be installed at customer service centers. Tesla would not be the first to employ such technology. Better Place unveiled E.V. battery swap technology in 2009, even setting up a network of stations in Israel and Denmark. The company failed to make a splash in America and Australia, but with its supercharger infrastructure already in place, Tesla may be better positioned to make battery swapping feasible. (Green Car Reports)
• Honda unveiled the 2012 Acura NSX concept at the Detroit auto show last year, but now it’s official. The company announced plans Tuesday to produce the cars at a former logistics center in Marysville, Ohio, next to a plant that manufactures Honda Accords. The company said it planned to invest about $70 million in the new factory, which would employ 100 people. Honda produced the original NSX from 1990 to 2005. Pricing for the revived sports car nameplate has not been announced. (The Columbus Dispatch)
• In other Tesla news, the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association is pushing for legislation that will ban automakers from selling their own cars in the state. The bid to protect the business interests of conventional third party dealers flies in the face of Elon Musk’s business plan. Mr. Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, has kept sales of his company’s electric luxury cars streamlined by cutting out the middle man, so to speak. Dealership advocates say they’re protecting consumer interests and fair competition, while Tesla counters that it is difficult for an automotive start-up to do business within the established dealership network model. (Slate)
• Although Toyota agreed upon a settlement last year in the 2010 class-action lawsuit connected with claims of sudden unintended acceleration of its vehicles, a federal judge will rule on the amount next month in a “fairness hearing.” The settlement could pay as much as $1.63 billion to nearly 22 million current and former Toyota, Scion and Lexus owners. The settlement will pay $200 million in lawyer fees and another $27 million in unspecified costs. (Automobile Magazine)
• Ray LaHood, secretary of the Transportation Department, discussed talking cars at a connected vehicle convention news conference in Ann Arbor, Mich., this week. Mr. LaHood said the bottom line for vehicles that communicate with one another to avoid crashes is, well, the bottom line. He noted that while technologically advanced vehicles are safer, consumers’ acceptance of them will boil down to how much they cost. Researchers from the Transportation Department and the University of Michigan have been studying connected vehicles since August with the aim of providing information for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as it develops guidelines for avoidance technology on new vehicles. (Reuters)
Not long after offering 2.7 million additional shares, Tesla has just announced that the company has fully repaid the Department of Energy loan that wasn’t due until late in 2022. The announcement follows a string of recent company updates, including how Tesla sells and warranties the Model S.
Tesla wired $451.8 million to fully repay the loan with interest, and in a release the automaker says it is the only American car company to have fully repaid the government. Then again, Tesla currently only offers one vehicle, the lauded Model S. The larger and delayed Model X (pictured at right) is set to arrive next year.
UPDATE: Tesla isn’t actually the only American automaker to pay back government loans. Chrysler points out that, about two years ago, it paid back government loans to the U.S. and Canadian governments in full. For another perspective on this issue, read this Forbes blog.
So far, Tesla has worked with Mercedes and Toyota, and offered the all-electric Lotus-based Roadster, a car the company says had a 30-percent gross margin. More recently, we’ve heard about the Model S’ improved financing terms as well as a resale guarantee and a lenient warranty update. Next week, Tesla will reveal details on a revised supercharger system. Company co-founder Elon Musk hinted at the announcement on Twitter, saying there may soon be a way to recharge a Model S throughout the country faster than you can fill a gas tank.
The Department of Energy loan fit into the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program of which Fisker was also a part. On the original $451.8 million loan, Bloomberg notes that taxpayers will make at least $12 million from the deal. Paying off the loan early was made possible thanks to the roughly $1 billion raised in last week’s new common stock and convertible senior note offerings.
While reaching truly stable financial ground is still anything but a certainty for Tesla, it appears the company is on the right track.
Source: Tesla, Bloomberg
By Zach Gale
A recent article published in the New York Times by John Broder about the Tesla Model S is creating some fuss today, as Tesla CEO Elon Musk says it is fake.
“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,” tweeted Musk.
Broder drove the car from Washington, DC to Boston to test Tesla’s new superchargers that have been set up at rest stops in Newark, Del., and Milford, Conn., about 200 miles apart from each other. He claims that the car barely made it between stops, and on one of the last legs of the trip, it didn’t make it at all and wound up on a flat bed.
Broder claims that after a cold night, his Model S test vehicle lost 65 miles of range. He was told by a Tesla representatives that he needed to “condition” the battery pack to restore lost energy, which consists of sitting in the car on low heat for about a half hour. After completing the process, he still didn’t have enough juice to make it where he was going.
SEE ALSO: Tesla Supercharger Network Launched for Fast Charging
“Tesla’s experts said that pumping in a little energy would help restore the power lost overnight as a result of the cold weather, and after an hour they cleared me to resume the trip to Milford,” claims Broder in the article. After setting out once again, Broder says that the car never displayed the amount of range he needed to get back to his destination, and that the Model S subsequently ran out of charge on the highway.
Each Model S is fitted with a data recorder that can be turned on at the owner’s request, though Musk says that every media vehicle is equipped with an active one. In this particular car, Tesla’s CEO says that Broder took a long detour which was not mentioned in the article, and that the car was not at full charge, according to the data recorded in Broder’s Model S.
The New York Times quickly issued a rebuttal: ”Any suggestion that the account was ‘fake’ is, of course, flatly untrue,” the statement said. “Our reporter followed the instructions he was given in multiple conversations with Tesla personnel. He described the entire drive in the story; there was no unreported detour. And he was never told to plug the car in overnight in cold weather, despite repeated contact with Tesla.”
A similar issue arose when Top Gear tested a Tesla and claimed that the Tesla Roadster ran out of juice. Elon Musk says that was also untrue, and that the Roadster still had 50 miles of available range.
[Source: New York Times, Twitter]
Discuss this story at gasstinks.com
Electrons are small. You may think that dead pixel on your computer screen is small, but it’s a city block compared to an electron. This may be why many people don’t understand how hard it is to store enough of them to power a car. Two companies with an intimate knowledge of the problem are electric car pioneer Tesla, and electronics giant Panasonic.
This week, the Japanese tech company announced it was investing $30 Million into Tesla to jointly develop new battery technology for its upcoming electric sedan and to be licensed by other manufacturers. Tesla currently uses Panasonic cells to power its Lotus-based Roadster and is working with Toyota on developing their next generation of hybrid and all-electric vehicles. The infusion of cash came in the form of Panasonic acquiring a 2-percent ownership stake in Tesla.
Panasonic recently announced its own joint-venture with Toyota, dubbed Primearth EV Energy Co. The goal is to develop more efficient nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries. Future plans involve the merger of Panasonic and current rival Sanyo to become a battery development powerhouse for the quickly expanding electric car market.
Factoid: Lithium-ion batteries are currently the most efficient type being used in electric vehicles and are roughly 64 times less energy dense than good ole gasoline. The best Li-ion cells are currently capable of roughly 0.72 MJ/Kg while gasoline is roughly 46.4 MJ/Kg.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)
Nissan North America
In which we bring you motoring news from around the Web:
Nissan North America
• Lucas Ordoñez, the winner of the 2008 Sony PlayStation GT Academy and current driver for the Greaves Motorsport team in the LMP2 class, was named to the test squad for the DeltaWing, the racecar prototype that had its debut in March. The vehicle, which is getting readied for its race debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, is partially financed by Nissan. Ordoñez entered the automaker’s driver development program after his gaming victory in 2008 and has reached podiums on multiple occasions. (Nissan)
• As an incentive to spur sales of its iQ supermini, Scion announced it would offer a Sony PlayStation Vita portable gaming system with every sale. Jack Hollis, vice president of Scion, said in a media release that the car and console were complimentary products, offering high technological content in small packages. Through April, the Toyota subsidiary had sold 3,485 iQs in 2012. (Scion)
• On Monday at the Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles, Toyota announced details of its RAV4 EV, a purely electric version of its compact crossover. With a powertrain co-developed by Tesla Motors, the RAV4 EV is expected to cost $49,800 before tax incentives and undisclosed delivery charges. Toyota estimates the vehicle, with a 115-kilowatt motor, roughly the equivalent of 154 horsepower, can travel up to 100 miles on a charge and recharge from a fully depleted state in six hours at a 240-volt station. Sales initially will be limited this summer to four metropolitan areas in California. (Toyota)
• Jaguar Land Rover is expected to invest £200 million, or $324 million, at its plant in Castle Bromwich, England, to accommodate production of the F-Type sports car, which was teased at the New York auto show in April. The plant was threatened with closure in 2009 amid depressed sales. Under the Indian conglomerate Tata Group, Jaguar Land Rover has recovered sales volume and increased its market valuation. (The Daily Telegraph)
Elon Musk has published a thorough blog countering some of the results in a recently published, controversial Tesla Model S review in The New York Times. The review has received plenty of attention, and this week Musk prepared his reply — complete with charts to illustrate his points — on Tesla’s site.
The 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 300×187 image
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. Earlier this week, 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
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk wants his electric-car company to work with Google on developing autonomous cars. Bloomberg reports that Tesla is discussing driverless technology with Google, even though Musk asserts Tesla will probably create its own system.
Tesla CEO Musk said he believes the driverless or autonomous technologies are the next big development for the car because they could dramatically improve road safety. “I like the word autopilot more than I like the word self-driving,” he told Bloomberg. “Autopilot is a good thing to have in planes, and we should have it in cars.”
Although Tesla has been in “technical discussions” with Google about its driverless cars, Musk believes the roof-mounted laser-scanning system used by Google is too costly and inefficient to make sense for production cars. He reportedly favors a cheaper camera-based system, “with software that is able to figure out what’s going on just by looking at things.” Musk told Bloomberg that although it is possible that Tesla will cooperate with Google, it’s more likely that the startup will engineer its own unique autonomous-car technologies.
Google has a fleet of Toyota Prius hybrids (pictured), as well as a Lexus RX450h, that can drive without a human’s input. Lawmakers have granted the Internet company permission to test its autonomous cars in Nevada and California. Lexus demonstrated a semi-autonomous LS sedan at the Consumer Electronics Show, where Audi also showed off self-parking systems.
Self-driving Teslas are some time off, however: Musk says Tesla will focus on launching electric cars, including the Model S sedan and upcoming Model X SUV, before focusing on bringing autonomous technology to production. “Autopilot is not as important as accelerating the transition to electric cars, or to sustainable transport,” he told Bloomberg.
By Jake Holmes
Time Magazine has released its list of the best inventions of 2012, and while a few automotive products made the cut, the Tesla Model S was the only vehicle to nab the honor this year. The magazine cites the electric sedan’s sexy aesthetics, lofty 265-mile range and touch-screen cabin controls as reasons for the laurel, though Tesla’s network of supercharger stations certainly factored in as well. This is just the latest in long list of accolades for the Model S. As you may recall, Motor Trend recently called the EV the most important car since the Ford Model T, and Automobile Magazine named the five-door its Automobile of the Year.
A total of 25 inventions made the Time list in all, including the self-inflating tires we saw from Goodyear earlier this year. From whimsical indoor clouds crafted by Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde to a potentially life-saving in-home HIV test, the selections showcase the diversity of human innovation. Check out the complete list here.
Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive
By Zach Bowman