Tesla Motors is expected to release quarterly earnings figures within the next few days, and the Silicon Valley automaker is thought to have attained profitability for the first time ever. As it turns out, a good bit of that profit will reportedly come from the State of California.
According to an article from the LA Times, Tesla, which is reportedly on pace to sell 20,000 vehicles in 2013, receives as much as $35,000 in environmental credits from California for each Model S it sells. These credits can then be sold to other automakers that do business in the state but don’t sell zero-emission vehicles of their own. Some experts believe Tesla could earn up to $250 million from such ZEV credits.
While profits from ZEV credits equals good news for Tesla, some experts and rival automakers aren’t very pleased with California’s strong-arm tactics when it comes to the sales of electric vehicles. “At the end of the day, other carmakers are subsidizing Tesla,” said Thilo Koslowski, an analyst at Gartner Inc.
Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, counters by saying, “We are in the air pollution business, not the car business… There is some jealously of Tesla going on here.” Check out the entire article from the LA Times here, it’s an interesting look into the inner-workings of the business side of the eco-friendly automotive marketplace.
Related GalleryTesla Model S
Though Tesla’s Model S electric sedan is considered by many to be merely a pipe dream, the four-door EV is apparently well into its development, as this video shows a Model S prototype conducting winter in Baudette, Minn.
The video starts like an intro to a spy movie, with a satellite image of the testing location complete with info about the region and graphics simulating instrument readings. From this, we learn the temperature range of the test area is -10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The Model S prototype, which Tesla tells us is a second-gen, Beta-phase unit, is next shown conducting various maneuvers in the snow. We see the Model S quietly running a 600-foot slalom, making a quick lane change at speeds up to 60 mph, and giving its suspension and steering a workout running through a snow-covered autocross course. The EV appears to handle pretty well in the powdery stuff, though it does spin out at one point, despite the edited footage making it look like a well-executed drift.
While we don’t get to see anything new when it comes to Tesla’s upcoming sedan, it’s encouraging to see the electric automaker is hard at work testing its latest product. But Tesla had better be, if it hopes to deliver its first production models by this summer. As we previously reported, that first batch will consist of Model S sedans equipped with the 85-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, good for a claimed range of 300 miles. While we’re taking a “we’ll-believe-it-when-we-see-it” stance on those range claims, this video could mean a test of the Model S isn’t too far away.
Check out the video below to see a Tesla Model S being put through its paces.
Cold Weather Climate Testing the Model S from Tesla Motors on Vimeo.
Cold Weather Climate Testing the Model S from Tesla Motors on Vimeo.
Richard Drew/Associated Press
Introduced on Wednesday, March 27: 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive compact.
2013 New York Auto Show
What is it? A fully electric version of the B-Class luxury compact.
Is it real? Very definitely.
What they said: “While others are still talking about electric cars, we are building them and selling them,” said Joachim Schmidt, executive vice president of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “We are truly committed to emissions-free driving, and providing this in a car that offers all the comfort, quality and safety of a Mercedes-Benz.”
What they didn’t say: While many automakers have canceled or pulled back on plans to produce electric vehicles, Mercedes-Benz may have passed the point of no return – especially financially – in terms of E.V. development and is going full speed ahead. The company’s E.V. line now comprises vehicles from the tiny Smart E.V. to the 750-horsepower SLS AMG Electric Drive.
What makes it tick? A power plant, developed in conjunction with Tesla, that generates 135 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque, and provides a range of 115 miles on a single charge. Mercedes promises recharging in less than four hours. 0-60? “Under 10 seconds,” Mr. Schmidt said.
How much? How soon? Available in the United States starting in early 2014, apparently through dealer order. Mr. Schmidt said orders would be accepted beginning this fall. No pricing was announced.
How’s it look? Not greatly different from the standard B-Class hatchback. The stubby B-Class styling as a whole, to the American eye, may take some getting used to.
Gran Turismo 6 is coming. In celebration of the franchise’s 15th anniversary, Sony today announced its signature racing game Gran Turismo 6 is in development, and will arrive on shelves this holiday season. A playable demo is scheduled to arrive in July.
Sony touts Gran Turismo 6 as bringing new levels of realism and authenticity to the sim racing genre. GT6 boasts an entirely new game and physics engine, the latter of which includes a new aerodynamic model, a new tire model, and a new suspension and kinematics model. Like its rivals at Forza 4 (which worked with Pirelli to help with its tire models), the GT6 team joined with Yokohama and KW Automotive to help develop a more realistic experience in the latest Gran Turismo game.
Gran Turismo 6 will reportedly be released this holiday season, though it’s probably worth noting that GT6′s predecessor, Gran Turismo 5, was the subject of multiple delays. Still, there are a few reasons to remain optimistic. For starters, all of the cars and tracks in GT5 will be carried over to GT6, which will include 1200 cars at launch (though as Motor Trend’s Kirill Ougarov joked on Twitter, “1100 of them will be Skylines”). The newest Gran Turismo will also include seven new tracks (including Silverstone), bringing the track total to 33. There will be 71 different track layouts in the game, with 19 of them new. If those grow old, the course maker function has been improved.
With the announcement of GT6, Sony is planning on continuing its collaboration with Nissan’s GT Academy, the program that turns Gran Turismo gamers into real-life racers. GT Academy returns this July, with the release of the GT6 Silverstone demo.
Speaking of the demo, Sony released a short teaser of the killer graphics and cars we can expect to see in GT6, including the 1986 Audi Quattro rally car, and the 2012 Tesla Model S Signature Performance.
Here are the cars you’ll be able to drive in the July demo. Bold text indicates the car is new to the Gran Turismo series:
- 1991 Acura NSX
- 2011 Alfa Romeo TZ3 Stradale
- 1968 Alpine a110 1600S
- 1986 Audi Quattro S1 rally car
- 2009 Ferrari 458 Italia
- 1971 Ferrari Dino 246 GT
- 2006 Ford GT
- 2012 KTM X-Bow R
- 1974 Lamborghini Countach LP400
- 2007 Light Car Company Rocket
- 2010 McLaren MP4-12C
- 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3
- 2008 Nissan 370Z (GT Academy Version)
- 2008 Nissan 370Z Tuned Car (GT Academy Version)
- 2012 Nissan GT-R Black Edition (GT Academy Version)
- Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 N24 Shulze Motorsport
- Nissan Leaf G (GT Academy Version)
- 2012 Tesla Model S Signature Performance
- 2012 Toyota 86 GT
To some, a recent offer by Tesla Motors to replace batteries in its Model S all-electric sedan for under $150 per kilowatt hour reflects an extremely futuristic view of improving EV technology. To Plug In Cars, though, the offer is more a reflection of the age-old “bird in hand” axiom.
Recently, Tesla outlined the replacement costs for the Model S batteries along with warranty options. Prices range from $8,000 for a 40-kWh battery to $12,000 for an 85-kWh battery. Division The latter cost implies a rate of about $141 per kWh, which is far lower than any automaker or analyst is predicting anytime soon.
General estimates for battery-production costs lie vaguely in the $550-per-kilowatt-hour range, with some far above and below that. Tesla declined requests from AutoblogGreen to elaborate on the cost-per-kWh for the Model S batteries, but the offer to sell batteries at less than a third of that rate – even if delivery is eight years away, as it has to be, PIC notes – is merely an effort to sell more cars today than to provide any sort of clarity on where battery costs will be by the end of the decade. Prospective buyers should look at the offer as more of a marketing expense used to generate immediate revenue than a technology forecast.
It’s not like the Model S needs all that much more exposure right now, after winning the Motor Trend Car of the Year Award and other COTY honors.
Related GalleryTesla Model S
By Danny King
Few automakers’ fortunes and CEOs are as intrinsically linked as Tesla Motors and Elon Musk. The boss of the full-electric automaker can influence the stock of his company with something as simple as an outlandish statement – exactly the sort of utterance the mercurial executive is fond of making. In the latest Musk news, it appears he has no plans to change any of that, saying that he will stay with Tesla for “several more years.”
Investors want him to remain at the company through – and past – the launch of the Model S. To leave now would potentially derail any momentum that the company can muster from the all-electric sedan.
Perhaps the investors like the idea of having a lighting rod like Musk around for when questions about cutting production – or when the company will make money – are asked.
Part of his duties through the rest of his tenure at Tesla will also reportedly include personally inspecting production examples of the Model S. To find out exactly what that entails, we reached out to the automaker for comment. According to Tesla spokesperson Christina Ra, Musk checks “Everything from functionality, to fit and finish. Anything from door handles to carpet to molding, to driving… The things we are potentially having to work on are not big things – 98-percent of the car is ready to go.”
Ra would not comment on exactly how many cars he checks at the Fremont, California facility, but tells us, “At a high level, he’s looking at everything.”
We’re still not exactly sure what that means, but its always refreshing to see a CEO down in the trenches – even if it might just be a publicity stunt.
Related GalleryFirst Ride: 2012 Tesla Model S Beta
It may have a sliver of Chevrolet muscle car heritage, but the plug-in hybrid Volt didn’t stand a chance of beating the Tesla Model S in a recent quarter-mile race.
As you can see in the video below, shown recently on That Racing Channel, the Model S took the lead in the race right away, hitting the finish line in 12.562 seconds at 108.34 miles per hour. The Volt took a leisurely 17.201 seconds and only reached 80.36 mph. “Hey, that one on the left was so quiet!” a member of the audience remarks about the Model S right after the race finishes. Yes, that’s part of its all-electric beauty.
About a week earlier, the same Model S set a quarter-mile speed record for a production vehicle, hitting a time of 12.371 seconds at 110.84 mph. Motor Trend has done better than 80.36 mph with a Volt – netting 16.8 seconds at 81.5 mph – but in a race against the much more powerful and much costlier Tesla, it’s just an unfair fight. Check out the video below.
By Jon LeSage
If you’re considering a Tesla Model S, now would be a wise time to place your order. The EV automaker has just announced that all reservations placed after the end of this year are subject to a price increase of $2500. The 40 kW-hr Model S, for example, will jump to $59,900. The 60 and 85 kW-hr models will cost $10,000 and $20,000 more respectively. The range-topping 85 kW-hr Performance model will carry a $94,900 price tag.
All Tesla Model S cars with the revised pricing will add as standard equipment 12-way power seats and heated front seats. At a constant 55 mph, Tesla estimates the ranges of the three different motor choices at 160, 230, 300 miles. Claimed acceleration from 0-60 mph times take from 4.4 to 6.5 seconds, though we tested a Performance model completing the sprint in 3.9 seconds.
Tesla notes that the $2500 price increase is half the rate of inflation, and with plenty of press — it was the 2013 Automobile of the Year, after all — luxury customers may still be willing to pay the premium. Speaking of premiums, Tesla is also offering a four-year/50,000-mile extended warranty above the car’s standard four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty.
The automaker has also revealed pricing for battery replacements. Taking the mystery out of the one maintenance detail that scares many about electric cars, Tesla says that $8000 will buy 40 kW-hr Model S customers a new battery to be installed at any time after the eighth year of ownership. The cost rises to $10,000 for the 60 kW-hr battery and $12,000 for the 85 kW-hr battery.
Those battery replacement option prices cover the battery and all installation labor and parts needed to make a Model S whole again. Customers who don’t select the option at time of order will have up to 90 days from date of delivery to choose it, and the prepaid battery will apply to second and subsequent owners even if the original owner sells their car. And while it states the fresh battery reprieve comes after the magic 8-year mark, there “will likely be economic outcomes (incentives or drawbacks) tied to early or late exercise options,” per a Tesla spokesperson.
Considering Tesla’s vehicle servicing strategy, we asked if a mobile battery swap was foreseeable in the year 2020. Representatives seemed amused by our image of an electric-powered box truck with enclosed lift being the 2020 version of the electric-car maker’s Service Ranger, but it appears the B&M route is the safest bet for now.
Benson Kong contributed to this post.
By Zach Gale
In what has turned into quite the battle between New York Times writer John Broder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Broder has issued a response to Musks’ most recent claims.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk accused Broder of purposely sabotaging the test, to which Broder has adamantly stated that isn’t the case. In his new blog, Broder gives more clarity as to what occurred – essentially his side of the story as to how he reached the conclusions that he originally reported.
SEE ALSO: Tesla CEO Releases Official Rebuttal to NY Times Story
Those that have been following the story know that Tesla has accused Broder of driving in a “tiny 100-space parking lot” to purposely drain the battery. According to Broder, that was him driving around the Milford plaza on Interstate 95 in the dark, trying to find the “unlighted and poorly marked Tesla Supercharger.”
Broder’s larger defense, however, against all of Musk’s claims is that the actions he took were a direct result of advice provided to him by Tesla staff, including engineers and PR reps.
If you’d like to read Broder’s full account, which offers plenty of responses to Musk’s statements, follow the source link below. Tesla has already stated that its response would be the American automaker’s last one, so we don’t expect a rebuttal from Tesla… for now.
[Source: New York Times]
Discuss this story at GasStinks.com
By Jason Siu
Get the full details on the new Audi A3 e-tron electric car on the latest episode of Wide Open Throttle. Jeff Curry, Audi’s E-Mobility Marketing and Strategy representative, discusses Audi’s new EV.
Curry tells us that 17 A3 e-tron test vehicles are being launched in four select cities to see how they perform in real-world driving conditions. The production version should be ready in two years and will be based on the upcoming all-new A3. A plug-in hybrid should also arrive around the same time. In addition to the A3 e-tron, Audi is planning to test out the R8 e-tron later this year.
Lang also discusses her recent tour of Tesla Motors’ factory, where she drove the new Model S. She highlights a few viewer comments that show EVs still have a polarizing effect on the American public but mentions other deemed-to-fail technologies that have become an integral part of our lives. Watch the video and let us know if you agree with the comparisons Lang makes to the electric car.