Archives for Electric Vehicle

Nissan Leaf races Tesla Roadster at Sportsland

nissan leaf nismo rc racer



Give Nissan some credit, here: the company is proudly publicizing coming in second.



The Japanese automaker entered a souped-up Nissan Leaf in an all-electric-vehicle race at Japan’s Sportsland Sugo earlier this month, with hopes of knocking off proverbial favorite Tesla in the 50-kilometer race.



The Nissan Leaf Nismo RC was customized with a groovy, sleeker body as well as having its motor shifter around to make the car rear-wheel drive. The battery pack was moved to the middle for better handling. Additionally, Nissan added more crumple zones and automatic electric-power shut-down capabilities the event that the car got munched.



The good news as that the car didn’t. The bad news is that it finished second to a Tesla Roadster.



“Tesla’s speed on the straights was much more impressive than we anticipated,” driver Tsugio Matsuda said (in translation). The racer did look like he enjoyed the challenge, though, as you can see in Nissan’s six-minute video below.





By Danny King

Tesla stock still climbing, despite federal subpoena asking about executive share trading

tesla motors logo



In recent days, Tesla Motors stock (TSLA) has been climbing and climbing, hitting a high of $58.18 earlier today before closing at a respectable $53.99. The rise comes amid a string of headline-making events – higher-than-expected sales, franchise dealer fights and a new warranty program, to name just three – but under all of the good news lies a potential problem. The Wall Street Journal revealed today that Tesla was served subpoenas from US federal prosecutors over details on the company’s trading plan for executives. There has been no hint of wrongdoing, the feds just want information, Reuters reports. A similar subpoena was sent to Cardiovascular Systems, which makes medical implements.



The question is how the executives can trade their shares. Reuters reports that it is fine by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules for executives to use something called a 10b5-1 plan to trade their own stock, “even when they have access to private information.” The subpoena does not seem to have anything to do with questions over whether Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s recent “overzealous” Tweet was in any way illegal.



This week, analysts at Longboard Asset Management said they believe Tesla common stock will hit $100 in the next 18 months on the way to $200 per share within five years. In any case, we’ll have more information ammunition for the debate when Tesla releases first quarter results May 8th.

Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive

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By Sebastian Blanco

Tesla Model S goes road tripping, drivers experience variety of charging methods





The Tesla Model S is on another cross country road trip. It’s not being driven by a Tesla team, like last year – this time it’s a long, winding tour for old friends Peter, Luba and Tina, making their way from Portland, OR, to New York. It’s been a sightseeing drive – as of day six, they’d only made it to Albuquerque from Oregon and still had a couple thousand miles to cover. Thankfully, they’re writing up their journey, so we can ride along with words.



The Model S was picked up by Peter three years and 273 days after his deposit was placed. Jared, the Tesla store manager in Portland, walked him through delivery of the new car, which was given the name “Sunrise” by the road trip crew. Even though Peter is an engineer who’s done a lot of homework on the Model S, Jared was able to teach him a few things.



An hour after picking up Sunrise, Peter drove to the airport and picked up Tina. The initial trip plan was changed on the spot, as they decided to spend some time enjoying the sunshine of Portland, along with breaking in the new car and verifying charging stations.



On day two, heading out of Portland to San Francisco, they tested out charging networks. On a ChargePoint station in Forest Park, just south of Portland, they got an error message after swiping the card, informing them to call ChargePoint. The charging station customer service rep quickly got back to them and fixed the problem – an incorrect zip code was initially entered.



In Corvallis, OR, they pulled into a local RV park, where Peter decided to test out his custom designed electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE) multi-input unit. It was his first time plugging the EVSE into a Model S, so he took it slow. He was more than pleased to see it working right away, and was able to charge at 50 amps and 240 volts.



Stopping at the Tesla factory in Fremont, CA, was almost like Charlie Bucket exploring Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory for the road trip team. Far from being a car enthusiast like Peter, Tina found herself fascinated by the size, scope, organization, teamwork and technology at plant building the Model S. As a group, they were fully entranced for about 30 minutes as they witnessed the assembly line in action.



Luba joined her friends on day five of the road trip, in the Los Angeles area, where they visited a Tesla supercharger in Hawthorne, CA, for a quick charging “top off.” Peter ended up having a fascinating conversation with Larry, a navy pilot who flew F14s and who’d also graduated from University of Maryland and owned a Model S. It was so fascinating, Peter didn’t realize until about 40 minutes later that their Model S wasn’t even charging at all. Oops! Oh, well – they’ve still got a lot of miles to drive, things to see and lots of chances to learn something new every day about Sunrise.

By Jon LeSage

Those Tesla Model S reservations on eBay? Not legal

tesla model s



You can sell the car, but not the reservation for it. That’s the gist of a Green Car Reports post about Tesla Model S reservation holders looking to “sell” their spots in line on eBay.



With the half-dozen or so reservations for the all-electric sedan being posted for sale on the auction site, Tesla confirmed to Green Car Reports that none of the approximately 14,000 reservations can be legally sold because the holders have signed an agreement saying that the reservations are non-transferable. In fact, the agreement specifically states that the only way the reservation is “transferable or assignable to another party” is with the written approval from an Tesla authorized representative. And Tesla says that no such approval has been given. That said, the car itself can be sold as soon as the reservation holder takes possession of it. Mere details.



Last month, the Model S won the Motor Trend Car of the Year Award. Tesla in November also announced that it hiked the Model S price for next year by $2,500 for US customers. That means the prices for the sedan will range from $59,900 for the base model to $94,400 for the top-end version.

Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive

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By Danny King

Tesla’s small cells helped solve big battery issues of range, cost

Tesla Model S



Tesla Motors turned the “penny wise, dollar foolish” axiom on its head by staking its lithium-ion battery technology on a more expensive and more complex layout than its competitors, according to Tesla Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel in an interview with Bloomberg News.



Instead of using battery packs with hundreds of larger cells for its Roaster, Tesla deployed thousands of smaller lithium-ion cells for its inaugural model in 2006. This made the battery pack more expensive to produce, but this costlier architecture was considered safer and less prone to breakdowns. Straubel said. Since then, Tesla has cut the cost of its battery packs in half during the past seven years while avoiding any recalls or reports of breakdowns due to the packs.



Earlier this month, Tesla said it delivered its first quarterly profit during the first quarter, boosting its sales 83 percent from a year earlier to $562 million and selling 4,900 Model S EVs, which was more than what the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in and Nissan Leaf battery-electric achieved.

Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive

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By Danny King

Elon Musk explains why Tesla has its own stores, defends service program





Elon Musk is taking his argument for a different kind of customer-dealer relationship directly to the people. In this case, the Tesla Motors CEO writes on his company’s blog to list the reasons why the luxury electric-vehicle maker decided to own all of its dealerships instead of offering franchises.



Musk, who said the Tesla Model S sedan aspires to be “the best car of any kind” in his new post, says that using the traditional dealer franchise model would have created conflicts of interest withing the salespeople. The reason is that any energy used to educate the public about electric vehicles would detract from conventional-vehicle sales. “It is impossible for them to explain the advantages of going electric without simultaneously undermining their traditional business,” Musk writes.



Additionally, most buyers purchase the same make as their previous vehicle, which means there are few buyers who would walk into a multi-brand dealership and be willing to take the time to learn about Tesla. Musk added that Tesla would have 19 dealership stores in the US by the end of the year, up from 10 at the beginning of the year.



While the Model S has been universally praised, its pricey service program has not. Earlier this month, David Noland, a Model S reservation holder, wrote that Tesla’s $600-a-year service program is more than 10 times the cost of the service program for the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in hybrid. Tesla has argued that its service plan is more comprehensive than usual because it includes an inspection, replacement parts such as brakes and windshield wipers, roadside assistance, system monitoring, remote diagnostics and software updates.



Finally, Musk addresses the recent lawsuits over Tesla’s stores. As you might expect, Musk doesn’t back down:

Regrettably, two lawsuits have nonetheless been filed against Tesla that we believe are starkly contrary to the spirit and the letter of the law. This is supported by the nature of the plaintiffs, where one is a Fisker dealer and the other is an auto group that has repeatedly demanded that it be granted a Tesla franchise. They will have considerable difficulty explaining to the court why Tesla opening a store in Boston is somehow contrary to the best interests of fair commerce or the public.

We’re sure the case will be made, though, and we’ll see how well it’s delivered.

Related GalleryTesla Model S

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By Danny King

Lawsuits filed against Tesla stores in NY, MA

tesla roadster in retail store



Questions about the legality of Tesla selling its electric vehicles in its own retail stores have been floating around since the days of the Roadster. Last week, the recent wranglings between auto dealer associations and Tesla stores in New York and Massachusetts were moved along in courts of law, proving once again that EVs won’t arrive without hassle.



Specifically, Automotive News reports, the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association (MSADA) has filed a complaint in the Norfolk County Superior Court over the Boston-area Matick Mall Tesla store. A hearing over a potential preliminary injunction is supposed to take place this week. In this state – and others that prevent factories from owning dealerships – you can’t technically purchase a Tesla in a Tesla store. Instead, potential buyers are told to place an order on the Tesla website. Tesla says this complies with local laws. Some local dealers obviously disagree. Robert O’Koniewski, MSADA executive vice president, told AN, “They claim they’re operating under the guise of a non-sales showroom, and we call that out as an outright scam.”



Over in the Empire State, Tesla was sued in New York State Supreme Court both by the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association and a dealer member. Here, one of the claims against Tesla is that stores owned by automakers are participating in an unfair fight, since small dealerships don’t have as big a budget for advertising and store improvements.



In 2010, the president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association said his feeling, “is that a manufacturer-owned store as a business model violates the spirit of the state law here. But not a single person is complaining about it, and it’s kind of a back-burner thing for us. I imagine that if we start getting complaints from our membership, we would move it up to a front-burner thing.” Guess which burner is turned on now?

By Sebastian Blanco

Tesla selling new stock, debt worth $830m in order to pay off DOE loan





Anyone paying attention to the electric vehicle scene for the last few weeks knows that the stock value of Tesla Motors has been climbing faster than a SpaceX rocket. As of this writing, TSLA is sitting pretty at $92 a share. Three weeks ago, it was at a then-record-high of $53.



In light of all the commotion, Tesla is going to make some money and pay back the government. The company announced yesterday it will sell 2.7 million shares (with a value of $229 million given the closing price of $84.84 yesterday) and $450 million in convertible senior notes. All told, Tesla will sell up to $830 million in shares and debt and use the money to pay back its $465-million Department of Energy loan. The DOE has agreed to let Tesla modify the terms of its loan and repay the money early., but the exact timeline of the repayment was not specified. As Tesla CEO Elon Musk put it to Bloomberg earlier this month, “Of all the car companies that got government funding, we got the least, and we’re going to pay it off first. That’s not bad.” Musk will also buy $100 million worth of shares, $45 million in common stock and $55 million to be be “purchased directly from Tesla in a subsequent private placement.”



The DOE handed out four loans through the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program: along with Tesla, Ford got $5.9 billion, Nissan got $1.6 billion and Fisker got $529 million. Tesla’s press release is available below.

Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive

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By Sebastian Blanco

CNN recreates infamous Tesla Model S drive with miles to spare, others to try this weekend [w/video]

white tesla model s



You knew this was coming, didn’t you? Even more prisms through which to look at the failed (or is that “failed”?) Tesla Model S drive up the East Coast that The New York Times reported on last weekend. We’re going to assume you know what’s been happening with this, but if not, then you can get caught up by reading this, this and this. All set? Good.



Today, CNN reporter Peter Valdes-Dapena easily completed all of the miles in a Tesla Model S that the Times’ John Broder reported he could not do. The takeaway line: “In the end, I made it – and it wasn’t that hard.” That Valdes-Dapena managed the trip is perhaps not that big of a surprise, but a small group of Model S owners will try to prove again that 200 miles is no problem, even in the winter cold, for an electric car that’s officially rated at 265 miles. The owner convoy is going to set out from the Tesla Service Center in Rockville, Maryland tomorrow morning and then spend the night in Groton, Connecticut, just like Broder did, before turning south again. If you want to follow along tomorrow, stay tuned to TeslaRoadTrip on Twitter. Think it’ll start trending?



Also today, Road & Track chimed in to suggest the whole affair is about way more than range, it’s about trust: “If you can’t fully trust Tesla, then you’ll continue to be a customer for the Times. Think for a moment about Broder’s article in that context: it’s an advertisement for his product at the expense of Tesla’s.” We’re not 100-percent on board with that line of thinking, but it does suggest that there is a lot of meat on the test-drive bones of the original article. Check out the CNN video of its bon voyage below for more.

Related GalleryTesla Model S

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By Sebastian Blanco

Bloomberg says buyers, not automakers, should get more federal funding for plug-in vehicles

money ludad



The U.S. government would be more effective at spurring plug-in vehicle sales if it provided more financial incentives to consumers instead of automakers. At least, that’s the opinion in a Bloomberg News editorial.



Saying that finding alternatives to gasoline “a worthy public goal,” Bloomberg says the government should expand purchasing incentives beyond the $7,500 it provides for buyers of some plug-ins and hybrids. President Obama has said he wants 1 million plug-in vehicles to be on U.S. roads by 2015; the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards he proposed last year would mandate about a 70 percent fuel economy improvement by 2025. Bloomberg figures the government should hand out money to buyers, not companies, to encourage sales:

Providing loans to companies that can get their own financing in the capital markets is a questionable way to reach [the goal]. A better use of government money would be to encourage consumer demand – by continuing, and expanding, tax credits or other incentives for people who buy vehicles that use little or no gas.

During the past three years, U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Financing Bank has made more than $8 billion in loans at about a 1 percent interest rate to established automakers such as Ford and Nissan as well as advanced powertrain specialists like Fisker and Tesla, strictly for the purpose of developing electric-drive vehicles. Bloomberg called such a strategy “questionable.” Such automaker loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Energy.

By Danny King

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