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Tesla has said the highest-end Model S has a range of 300 miles (at 55 miles per hour), but until recently, it’s been tremendously difficult for anyone outside the company to verify this number. When the EPA did its testing thing, it came up with a 265-mile range estimate for the version with the 85-kWh battery pack. Tesla is even offering a prize of some sort to anyone who drives a Model S over 400 miles on one charge.
Now, Motor Trend writers has had the chance to spend some time in Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s personal Performance Signature Model S to see just how far the electric car can be driven. The result? Your results may vary.
First, the good news. Motor Trend ran a battery of tests on the Model S, and its independent measurements discovered the following ways that their independent testing beat the manufacturer’s official numbers:
- 0-60 time: 3.9 seconds (Tesla official number is 4.4 seconds)
- Quarter mile: 12.5 seconds at 110.9 mph (12.6 seconds)
- 100.7 MPGe during a 200+ mile drive (EPA says 89 MPGe).
So, then, what’s the bad news? At roughly 65 mph with no A/C, MT “only” got 238 miles out of the battery. That’s less than advertised, but MT offers an important and reasonable take on this issue:
But the range that matters is really a psychological/perceptual one, not a specific number. Think about it: We drove from Fontana on the eastern edge of the L.A. basin to San Diego and all the way back to L.A.’s Pacific edge on one charge. Five hours of continuous driving. This is a breakthrough accomplishment that ought to knock down the range anxiety barrier that’s substantially limited EV sales.
Related GalleryTesla Model S
New Mexico may be The Land of Enchantment, but at least one developer from the state is less than charmed with Tesla Motors.
The electric-vehicle maker has been sued by Rio Real Estate Investment Opportunities for what the developer says was an agreed-upon deal for Tesla to produce its Model S battery-electric sedan in New Mexico, according to website Gigaom.
Tesla allegedly reached an agreement in early 2007 to have Rio Real Estate build a 150,000-square-foot factory and lease it out to the automaker for $1.35 million a year for 10 years. Instead, Tesla decided to start Model S production in California after reaching an agreement with Toyota in 2010 to make the cars at the old NUMMI Toyota-General Motors joint venture plant in the San Francisco Bay Area. We asked Tesla for comment on the matter, but Tesla spokeswoman Shanna Hendriks told AutoblogGreen that the company does not comment on pending litigation.
Tesla, which in June started deliveries of the Model S, said last week that its second-quarter loss widened by 84 percent to $106.5 million because expenses jumped and revenue fell as the company geared up for the car’s debut.
Related GalleryFirst Ride: 2012 Tesla Model S Beta
By Danny King
If a picture paints a thousand words, Toyota’s hoping that a couple videos do a little better than that for its RAV4 Electric Vehicle.
The Japanese automaker recently released a couple of videos touting the EV and its evolution through the company’s partnership with Tesla Motors. The first five-plus-minute video features engineers discussing the benefits of collaborating with Tesla, including software advancements and battery technology that complemented Toyota’s engine-packaging expertise.
The other video, clocking in at almost five minutes, delves into the issue of aerodynamics and how engineers cut drag coefficient in an effort to boost range and chip away at drivers’ potential feelings of “range anxiety.” Toyota used its sleekest wheels, tires and headlamp lenses while customizing the front facia, adding a rear spoiler, removing the roof rack and smoothing out the underbody in order to allow the SUV to better cut the wind.
Toyota, which first announced the RAV4 EV in 2010, said in May that the SUV will have a 100-mile single-charge range and will be priced at $49,800, with sales starting by the end of this year. Initial markets will be contained to California and Toyota is only expecting to make and sell around 2,600 vehicles during the first three years.
You can see the videos below.
Related GalleryToyota RAV4 EV
By Danny King
When is $20 million not equal to $20 million? When, for some, it’s an interest payment and, for others, it’s all someone else thinks they’re worth. Here’s how that one number means two totally different things to two different green car companies.
Speaking to Bloomberg Television about the early repayment of Tesla Motors’ DOE loan, CEO Elon Musk said today that, “ultimately, the US taxpayer actually made a profit above $20 million on this loan. For this loan at least, people’s tax bill actually went slightly down.”
Musk said that, now that the loan has been paid back, more people might take a look at Tesla. “We were attacked a lot in certain quarters for having some government debt,” he said. “I think that actually matters to some consumers out there, whether or not a company actually does have government debt, and being able to say we fully repaid that debt with interest, I think it is helpful to some number of people out there in thinking about buying a car.” So, for Tesla, which recently raised over a billion dollars, $20 million is an easy price to pay to potentially sell more EVs.
Now, let’s look at Fisker Automotive, which is still fending off bankruptcy. We learned this week that VL Automotive and Wanxiang made an offer to buy the troubled automaker for an undisclosed sum. Word out today is that the amount that the two companies are willing to pay for Fisker is, you guessed it, $20 million. That’s about one percent of Fisker’s $2 billion-plus value back when the Karma plug-in hybrid was launched, according to Reuters. It’s unclear how a potential Fisker buyer will have to deal with the outstanding DOE loan amount of $171 million and other issues, but the $20-million offer a striking contrasts to Musk’s statement on Bloomberg Television, which you can watch in the video below.
Check it out: according to Silex Power, it’s a force of nature,” a “fluid form… the pinnacle of technological innovation. It’s the epitome of elegance and luxury, a synopsis of the superior class… the most technologically vehicle ever conceived. It’s the dawn of a new era in electric mobility – the Chreos.
Yes, the Chreos boasts 640 horsepower and 4,400 Nm (about 3,245 in pound-foot) of torque. The Chreos can reach 300 kilometers per hour (about 186 miles per hour) and goes zero to 100 km/h (about 62 mph) in under 2.9 seconds. Oh, and a car this fast leaves range anxiety in the dust: it can go 1,000 kilometers on a single charge – that’s about 621 miles. One last thing: the Chreos has the Tesla Model S and its Supercharger beat hands down since it can fullly charge in less than 10 minutes using its HyperCharge Technology!
There must be a catch in there somewhere. Oh yeah, it isn’t here yet. It’s a concept vehicle being designed by Silex Power, which has worked for a few years in the renewable energy and sustainable development markets. According to a company source, it will take about three years to make it to production. There’s a video below offering a rendered look at the concept car.
By Jon LeSage
For a while there, Tesla CEO Elon Musk was having a kumbaya moment after the public editor The New York Times, Margaret Sullivan, wrote that her publication may have been overzealous in its criticism of the Tesla Model S and admitted that Times reporter John Broder was not entirely precise with his mileage or speed logs.
Musk, writing on the official Tesla blog post, thanked Sullivan and the Times for the response and also singled out CNN, CNBC and Consumer Reports for duplicating Broder’s test (without running dry, of course). Musk also sent a shout out to Tesla owners who wrote the Times to tell the publication it may have been off base with its findings. The Tesla chief also used the post to pitch the fact that Tesla’s installing more fast chargers along the East Coast and improving the model’s software.
That was on the blog. On Twitter, thing have been a bit more heated. The New York Times automotive editor, James Cobb, wrote a series of tweets to Elon, which we get into below.
Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive
Cobb praised Musk for what he’s done for plug-in cars but then defended Broder, saying that Musk calling the original post “fake” was “over the line & impugned reputation of a good man and a consummate pro.”
To which Musk responded that there were, “enough sour grapes … to start a winery. Can we just bury hatchet & move on?”
Earlier this month, the Times started the entire brouhaha with a report that a Model S fell well short of its advertised single-charge range during an East Coast drive between Superchargers. Musk responded by calling the article “fake” in a tweet and said the car in question wasn’t fully charged and was driven at faster speeds than reported. As Twitter shows, this story continues to inflame passion on both sides. Check out Musk’s official blog post here.
By Danny King
It appears that Tesla’s new $600-per-year service program for its Model S is not going over well with some of the owners and wait-listers. David Noland, a Model S reservation holder and freelance writer, has dug into it the details and clarified the one he’s finding most annoying. And as it turns out, he’s not the only one taking issue with the program.
According to Green Car Reports, Noland owns a 2011 Chevrolet Volt and likes the service coverage for the plug-in hybrid’s electric motor and battery thermal-management system. It only needs minimal maintenance – a $49 annual system check at a local dealer and a $35 oil change every two years. That’s $84 for two years of routine maintenance. For the Model S, it’s a lot higher: $600 per year, and that electric car doesn’t even need the oil change.
Tesla’s official website says that the annual fee includes an inspection, replacement parts such as brakes and windshield wipers, roadside assistance, system monitoring, remote diagnostics and software updates, so it is more comprehensive. Looking for more detailed information, Noland contacted Tesla’s public relations department but reportedly never heard back. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, though, did eventually respond to Noland’s questions. “We are matching service cost to be less than a Mercedes of comparable purchase price,” Musk wrote. “This basically amounts to $50/month and covers all software upgrades as well as concierge level service.”
When Noland responded with a question about whether Tesla owners who opt out of the service program won’t receive software upgrades, Musk apparently didn’t respond.
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Further investigation showed that the matter is even more serious. In a recent blog post on Tesla Motor Club forum, Tesla’s vice president, George Blankenship, made the policy more clear in comments on a post about the new service plans: failure to pay $600 for an annual inspection voids the warranty. Plus, any visit to a non-Tesla shop for any type of service will void the warranty, a provision that could run afoul of the law.
This isn’t going over well with Model S owners. In a Tesla Motors Club forum survey, 12 percent agreed that Tesla had “screwed the pooch,” and would cancel their orders. About 48 percent think the price is too high but will reluctantly pay it since they don’t think they have another choice. Only nine percent think it’s a great deal worth every dollar.
Noland thinks it’s odd that Tesla is taking what looks like the opposite approach with the Supercharger, offering the fast charging for free. He’d like to see Tesla do something similar with its Model S maintenance plan, or at least follow the example of BMW, where every one of its luxury cars comes with four years/50,000 miles of included service.
By Jon LeSage
Watching the video of last week’s Tesla Motors shareholder meeting was like eating a box of chocolates, to paraphrase a certain Mr. Gump. Besides finding chewy sales projections and crunchy Supercharger network tidbits, we also found something equally delicious, but with a more subtle texture.
During a brief discussion of its third generation of electric vehicles, one slide (pictured above) seems to reveal that the company plans on using that future platform for a crossover as well as a sedan. The different body types went unmentioned by CEO Elon Musk, but there it was on wall behind him for all the world to see.
Musk did say, however, that the company expects Gen III production to be an order of magnitude greater than that of the Model S sedan and its platform-sharing sister, the Model X SUV. As well as being smaller, we expect the upcoming cars to be about 40 percent less expensive, which should greatly help drive sales.
What we didn’t hear any news about during the presentation was the next generation of Tesla sports car. Previously rumored to be coming in 2014, it is still likely in the planning stages, though the focus is clearly now on high-volume vehicles. Hit us up in the comments below and tell us if there’s a vehicle type you’d like to see Tesla make.
At the big launch event Friday for the Tesla Model S, invited journalists were able to get just a few precious moments behind the wheel. The drives were far too short, everyone agreed (most were just 10 minutes long), but people made the best of it, including our companions over at Engadget, where Myriam Joire says, “you don’t have to be a car nut to appreciate all the innovation and technology that’s gone into Tesla’s sophomore vehicle.” She continues, “So what’s it like to drive the Model S? In a word: amazing. … The Model S is surprisingly nimble for such a large and heavy automobile, and it doesn’t sacrifice ride quality for the sake of dynamics – it handled rough roads with composure and just the right amount of stiffness.” Our favorite bit is this one: “Acceleration is where the Model S shines. The electric motor dishes out gobs of linear, head-snapping torque, quickly propelling you past the speed limit – you’ve been warned.”
We’re working on getting some real Autoblog seat time, but for now we look at other first impressions from around the internet, which are universally positive, something that’s darn hard to come by in this day and age:
- Motor Trend calls it, “an out-of-this-world sedan that happens to be electric” and adds that, “after a walk through the factory, a visit to a dealer showroom, and an hour-and-a-half spent driving the car on a mix of roads, my eyes are wide and my jaw has dropped.”
- CNet says that upon, “seeing a straight road ahead I … let the pedal meet the floor. The Model S felt like a freight train, with inexorable acceleration pushing forward without a break. There were no power peaks – it was all torque all the time.”
- GigaOm says, “The low center of gravity, smooth ride, and lack of vibration were pretty amazing.”
- Yahoo! News reports that, “the Tesla Model S successfully challenges a century of assumptions about what a great car can be” and that, “from behind the wheel of the Tesla Model S, you feel you’re driving the future, instead of burning increasingly limited gallons of the past.”
- Our old friend Damon Lavrinc, now at Wired, says, “if our brief seat time is any indication, Tesla hasn’t just delivered a functional, all-electric sedan – it’s made a luxury EV that can outpace and outclass the stalwarts of the premium sports sedan segment, while changing the perceptions of electric mobility. It’s also a complete hoot to drive.”
- USA Today makes it simple: “There’s no other way to put it: Tesla’s Model S luxury sedan is spectacular.”
What you read there, in other words, is a paradigm being shifted. We’ve got some video reviews below.
Related GalleryTesla Model S: Quick Spin
There were a lot of details left out of the late-night unveiling of the Tesla Supercharger network earlier this week. Sure, Tesla CEO Elon Musk explained the big picture, saying the Supercharger network is “the answer to the three major problems holding back electric vehicles.” Those problems? Long-distance EV driving, the “long tailpipe” argument and how much it costs to produce electricity. But how big of an impact can your fancy charging station have if it only works with a small fraction of the EVs on the market?
“The reason Supercharging is available only for Model S and not others (including Roadster) is that Model S was developed with Supercharging in mind.”
Right now, the Superchargers can only charge up a Model S, despite the fact that these stations will be built at the perfect locations to offer Level 2 or DC fast charge options for other plug-in vehicles as well. Tesla spokesperson Christina Ra tells AutoblogGreen that non-Tesla options do not exist today, but they are “being considered, as always.” That said, Ra confirmed that every future Tesla vehicle will be Supercharger compatible. So, Model X and next-gen Roadster drivers, don’t worry.
We asked if there has been any discussion of licensing the Supercharger technology to other OEMs (Daimler and Toyota would be the most obvious potential partners, since Tesla is already providing battery packs for some of their EVs). Ra said, “The reason Supercharging is available only for Model S and not others (including Roadster) is that Model S was developed with Supercharging in mind, so the capabilities are built into the battery and hardware. Time could definitely resolve compatibility.”
Each Supercharger station costs around $250,000 to install and can charge – for free, remember – either four or six cars at a time. Since Tesla plans to build 100 in the next three to four years, the total cost will be around $20-$30 million. The six chargers that have already been built in secret in California (in Barstow, Hawthorne, Lebec, Coalinga, Gilroy and Folsom) are all operational now, but not yet open to the public. Ra said Tesla needs to get government approval to open them, and that will come “soon.”
Currently, there are only two Supercharger stations that have batteries (to store solar energy, we assume), the ones in Lebec and Barstow. The plan is to install batteries at all Superchargers, though, as well as make them all solar-powered. “The vision is absolutely solar-powered,” Ra tells AutoblogGreen. “Not all will be in the immediate future, but that is the plan.”
Related GalleryTesla Supercharger