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2013 Tesla Model S Goes Head 2 Head With 1956 Citroen DS-19

2013 Tesla Model S Goes Head 2 Head With 1956 Citroen DS-19

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.

By Erick Ayapana

Tesla’s East Coast Superchargers Allow Boston to Washington Travel

Tesla’s East Coast Superchargers Allow Boston to Washington Travel

Tesla Motors’ range-extending Supercharger recharging stations have officially opened up on the East Coast allowing Boston to Washington, D.C. travel, The New York Times reports.

Tesla Supercharger station 300x167 imagePlaced along the highly-trafficked Northeast Corridor, the new Supercharger stations will allow a Tesla Model S with the 85 kW-h big battery (giving it an EPA-estimated 265 mile range) make the trip from Boston to Washington, D.C. As is the case on the West Coast, Tesla’s new East Coast Supercharger stations aren’t placed in big cities like New York or Baltimore; rather they’re placed along I-95 in Milford, Conn. and Wilmington, Del.

Owners of Model S’ with the mid-range 60 kw-h battery pack and 208-mile EPA-estimated range should have just enough juice to make it from Boston to D.C. utilizing the Supercharger network, though they’ll likely be cutting it rather close.

The new Milford and Wilmington Supercharger stations join Tesla’s five West Coast stations, which are strategically placed to allow all-electric travel between Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Tesla’s Supercharger stations allow Model S owners to add about 150 to 160 miles of range to their EVs in about 30 minutes. Owners of electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf or even the Tesla Roadster excited about making an emission-less trip from Beantown to the Beltway need not apply; the Supercharger stations use a proprietary plug that currently works only with the Model S sedan.

As is the case on the West Coast, Tesla’s Supercharger stations are free for Model S owners to use. Tesla reportedly hopes to expand its Supercharger footprint with a few more stations on the Northeast Corridor in the near future.

Source: The New York Times

By Christian Seabaugh

Tesla Plans on Early Repayment of DOE loans, Re-Files Annual Report – Rumor Central

Tesla Plans on Early Repayment of DOE loans, Re-Files Annual Report

In stark contrast to the woes faced by other upstart plugin auto brands Coda and Fisker, Tesla seems to be resolute and resilient in its business strategy. The company is so confident in its success, that it released a statement on the company blog that it intends to re-pay its Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loans five years ahead of schedule. This would put the final payment of the loan in 2017, as opposed to the original deadline of 2022.

In the heated political climate surrounding government-subsidized green energy initiatives, the company was quick to point out the that ATVM loans were initiated and approved under the Bush administration, and were completely separate from the federal bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, as well as being the smallest of the ATVM loans granted, the others being Ford at $5.9 billion, Nissan at $1.4 billion, and Fisker at $529 million. Tesla’s loan was for $465 million.

In the blog post, Tesla’s VP of Business Development, Diarmuid O’Connell, said the company expected to show a modest profit in the first quarter of 2013, excluding non-cash option and warrant-related expenses.

The company’s upcoming models were briefly mentioned in the post, including the Model X crossover, and the third-generation model, described as a high-volume, low-price model, sometimes referred to as the “Blue Star.” During its development, the Model S was coined the “White Star” by many automotive media outlets.

However, being a publicly-traded company, Tesla is under the scrutiny of investors and regulators, and announced that its annual report would be delayed due to errors in its filing, according to Bloomberg. Some unpaid capital expenditures from 2011 and 2012 will be re-classified as operating activities in the revised report.

Source: Bloomberg, Tesla




By Edward A. Sanchez

Renault-Nissan to Open New Research Office in Silicon Valley, Fourth Major Automaker in Area

Renault-Nissan to Open New Research Office in Silicon Valley, Fourth Major Automaker in Area

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

By Erick Ayapana

We Hear: Tesla Sets Up Roadster-to-Model S Trade-In Program

We Hear: Tesla Sets Up Roadster-to-Model S Trade-In Program

Tesla is ready to help out those owners who feel that their Roadsters aren’t new and shiny enough. According to a new report, the electric car maker will be giving owners a credit when they trade in a Roadster for a new Model S.

2012 Tesla Model S rear three quarter 2 300x187 imageThe San Francisco Chronicle reports that Tesla has created a buyback program for current Roadster owners who are looking to move into a new Model S. Tesla’s program works just as any other trade-in deal would work, and has been created to help simplify the process for Model S/Roadster customers, according to Tesla representative Christina Ra. Since some Model S variants are actually priced well below the Roadster, it is possible for an owner to receive more on a trade than the cost of the new car. “In that case, we’d write you a check,” Tom vonReichbauer, Tesla’s director of finance, told the Chronicle.

Pricing for the Model S hatchback starts at $57,400 for the 40 kWh battery, steps up to $67,400 for the 60 kWh car, and $77,400 for the 85 kWh model (all prices are before any government tax rebates). The EPA has already rated the 85-kWh Model S at 89 MPGe and a range of 265 miles. Currently, the only Model S versions being built are the top-spec Signature Performance models that use the 85-kWh battery; an upgraded interior, suspension, and wheels; and the exclusivity of being just one of 1000 units built. Once all the Signature models are built, the automaker will begin to produce the Model S and Model S Performance versions.

Having a cache of Roadsters will also help Tesla, the Chronicle points out. Having another vehicle to sell alongside the Model S until the Model X crossover debuts will help the automaker keep retail sales going. It’s expected that a Roadster would be resold for anywhere around $73,000 to $94,000 depending on age and mileage of the car.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

By Donny Nordlicht

Tesla Boss Hints at New Plant in Texas, EV Truck

Tesla Boss Hints at New Plant in Texas, EV Truck

Tesla Motors is in the middle of a spat with the Texas Automobile Dealers Association, but that isn’t stopping CEO Elon Musk from mapping out his future plans in Texas. If Musk has his way, Texas could be home to Tesla’s second assembly plant, he told Automotive News. And if that weren’t enough, he said the new plant could produce an EV truck, if the company ever offers pickups.

Musk didn’t specify which cities he’s considering for the new plant, but he did say the process could start as soon as three years from now. “When we do establish a manufacturing plant outside of California, Texas would be a leading candidate for that,” Musk 2012 Tesla Model S side profile 300x187 imagetold Automotive News. California is currently Tesla’s biggest market and Texas has the potential of becoming the automaker’s second-largest money maker.

In addition to the logistical benefits for Tesla, the new plant will produce thousands of new jobs for the state. Musk also hinted that the new location could build an EV truck. “I have this idea for a really advanced electric truck that has the performance of a sports car but actually more towing power and more carrying capacity than a gasoline or diesel truck of comparable size,” Musk said.

First, though, Tesla must determine how it will sell cars in the state. As previously reported, only franchised dealers are allowed to sell cars in Texas, which means Tesla’s factory-owned stores (one in Austin and another in Houston) are prohibited from conducting any sales-related activity including test drives, financial transactions, or deliveries. The same applies for service work. Current owners must initiate service-related requests outside of the state before going to a subcontracted garage in Texas.

Tesla is attempting to gain exemption from the state, but is facing resistance from the Texas Automobile Dealers Association. The automaker faced a similar battle in Minnesota, but has temporarily earned an exemption around that state’s franchise law.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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By Erick Ayapana

Designers on Design: Franz von Holzhausen on the McLaren P1

Designers on Design: Franz von Holzhausen on the McLaren P1

I ran into Tesla Model S design chief Franz von Holzhausen at the Paris Motor Show as we were both on the way to the unveiling of the McLaren P1 supercar. After graduating from Art Center College of Design with a bachelor’s degree in Transportation Design, Von Holzhausen began his career with Volkswagen under J Mays and worked on such seminal projects as the Concept One (which became the new Beetle). He then moved to GM, and drew critical acclaim for his Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky roadster. In 2005, Mazda hired von Holzhausen as its North American design chief. Under his watch, the company developed the Nagare design language, revised the style of the RX-8 and Mazda5, and launched the 2009 Mazda6 and Mazda3.

Mazda Furai front three quarter 300x187 imageOne of my favorite concept cars of all time was executed by Franz and his team; the rotary-powered, LMP1-based Mazda Furai. Why do I still love it so? Because unlike most concept cars, it wasn’t just a pretty face, but a full runner that I got to experience around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Franz obviously knows something about fast cars and great designs, so just after McLaren boss Ron Dennis and Managing Director Antony Sheriff raised the sheet on McLaren’s all-new P1 supercar, I asked him for his first impressions:

FvH: Makes the 12C kind of old and tired. It’s got a great stance, it sits well, reminds of the F1 [McLaren’s first street legal sports car]. Yeah, I like it. It’s definitely got a menacing feel to it – a pissed-off face. It has a BIG greenhouse and I’m wondering about that proportion – but it’s hard to tell from here.

I love the sculpture on the body side. Reminds of stuff that we were doing in the past. Apparently it’s very functional as well, with the intakes going right from the door into the engine. So I can appreciate that, the form and the function kinda working together. It’s awesome.

Yeah, but it makes the 12C dated for sure.

McLaren P1 profile.jpeg 300x187 image

MT: Have you ever worked with [McLaren head of design] Frank Stephenson before?

FvH: No, I haven’t. I was looking for him on the stage, but I just know of him from, you know, the designer crowd, and but I think he did a pretty solid job. In general I think the car is cool. Way better than in pictures, sits way better on its wheels, from here. I’ll have to come back later, tomorrow, when there is less people to get a better view. But you know it’s awesome, Ron Dennis is up there — you don’t see that every day. Seeing Ron in person is very cool.

And I appreciate them continuing to just go for it.

MT: What do you think about the orange color?

FvH: I’m wondering about it. There must something about it I’m just not aware of. Is it the brand color…?  I love the simplicity of the stand with the orange and white, it’s super cool. But is it the right color for the car?

MT: Well, everyone knows you designer types only like light gray or silver for your concepts so you can show off the lines…

McLaren P1 rear view 300x187 imageFvH: [Laughs] Actually, orange is one of my more favorite colors, but this shade seems a bit, um, overly mature. I think a car like this, if you could get some screaming colors on it, it would be all that more impressive.

I do see a lot of reference from the F1 in the side feature. Hard to tell about the silhouette but from what I’ve seen, the silhouette is pretty similar.

MT: I noticed that the McLaren logo seems to be used as a throughout the car – in the headlights, hood scoops, etc. You know, the upside-down swoosh, punctuation mark…too much repetition? What do you think?

FvH: Oh as an element on the car – front, rear, everywhere – the “boomerang.” It reminds me of the Kumho tire logo. But you know it’s subtle enough that you know it’s not too overt.

It doesn’t punch you in the face…and you know the car does look fantastic.

MT: Thanks Franz!

By Edward Loh

Tesla Model X Production Pushed Back to Late 2014

Tesla Model X Production Pushed Back to Late 2014

Production of the Tesla Model X crossover has been pushed back from the end of this year to the end of 2014. A Tesla representative told the Los Angeles Times that the wait for the electric crossover has increased as the company focuses on filling orders for the Model S four-door, which could reach 20,000 units this year.

Tesla Model X Rear Three Quarter Doors Open1 300x187 imageThe original Tesla Model X was supposed to go on sale early in 2014, but now deliveries will likely begin early 2015. While Tesla focuses on Model S sales and delays the Model X, the company has pledged to pay back its Department of Energy Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan by 2017 – five years earlier than the original deadline.

We’ve taken a ride in a Tesla Model X prototype, which has flashy “falcon doors” that Elon Musk said will make installing child seats easier. At the time, Musk estimated that the Model X would weigh 10-15 percent more than the Model S, or about 4700 pounds.

Tesla also expects to make a modest profit for the first quarter of 2013. The company has also raised $40.5 million from sales of zero-emission vehicle credits and greenhouse gas credits to other undisclosed companies, according to its annual report. The next Tesla model in the pipeline is a smaller electric sedan at a lower price point to appeal to broader range of customers.

Source: Los Angeles Times, Tesla

By Jason Udy

Full Disclosure: Tesla Anticipates 300-Mile Model S to Be EPA-Rated for 265 Miles – Rumor Central

Full Disclosure: Tesla Anticipates 300-Mile Model S to Be EPA-Rated for 265 Miles

Tesla is preparing to deliver its first Model S electric sedans to customers next month, but in the spirit of full disclosure, has outlined why it anticipates its 300-mile version will be rated by the EPA for 265 miles.

The Model S’ drawn-out unveiling has ingrained three specific driving ranges related to battery size – 160, 230, and 300 miles – but the EPA will have its own stamp of approval. An official blog bylined by CEO Elon Musk and CTO JB Straubel dives right into the matter, presumably foreseeing questions and concerns about the 35-mile disparity with the farthest-traveling selection.

The difference between 265 and 300 miles extracted from the Model S’ substantial 85-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery comes down to the EPA’s testing methodology. The stated 300-mile range with the highest-capacity battery was always Tesla’s target. From one perspective, it has actually exceeded the mark, claiming 320 miles under the EPA’s old 2-cycle fuel economy evaluation. It’s when the EPA’s updated 5-cycle test enters frame that “265 miles” rears its head. For comparison, the 245-mile-rated Roadster and Roadster 2.5 endured the elder cycle while the Nissan Leaf has a 73-mile range under the 5-cycle assessment.

Going from the 2- to 5-cycle test can drastically impact vehicle ratings. The simpler 2-cycle had an approximate weighting of 55-percent city and 45-percent highway use; the more comprehensive 5-cycle is more representative of 43-percent city and 57-percent highway driving. The certifications are run on dynamometers, and the specifics are as follows:

1)      Federal Test Procedure: 2-cycle, 5-cycle

2)      Highway Fuel Economy Driving Schedule: 2-cycle, 5-cycle

3)      Cold Federal Test Procedure (run at ambient 20 vs. 75 degrees Fahrenheit in standard FTP): 5-cycle

4)      SC03 (air conditioning test at ambient 95 degrees F): 5-cycle

5)      US06 (aggressive acceleration test, up to 80 mph): 5-cycle

Exactly how much the 85-kW-hr battery’s claimed range figures matters will likely be determined as Model S driving impressions roll in from customers and media outlets.

Tesla hasn’t disclosed its anticipated EPA ranges for the 160- and 230-mile batteries, but a 12-percent loss like the 300-mile option would peg them at a predicted 141 and 203 miles under the EPA 5-cycle, respectively. The 160- and 230-mile estimates from the respective 40- and 60-kW-hr packs can be achieved from a steady 55-mph cruise, per Tesla spokesperson KC Simon.

Interestingly, the blog gives insight into the Model S’ range and electricity consumption behavior with graphs. These graphs often have little bearing on the real world since Main Street USA is not a laboratory with fixed inputs. Nevertheless, considering the less expensive Model S is considerably heavier, it’s reassuring to see the family-friendly electric four-door head and shoulders above the Roadster from an efficiency standpoint.

The Model S costs from $57,400 (160-mile battery) to $105,400 (Signature Performance model with 300-mile battery) depending on battery size and trim, excluding the highly touted $7500 federal tax credit that gets applied to your income tax return. Depending on your state of domicile, there may be additional state and local tax credits or rebates as well.

Source: Tesla




By Benson Kong

Tesla Model S Pricing Details Surface, Larger Battery Capacities to Cost an Extra $10,000-$20,000

Tesla Model S Pricing Details Surface, Larger Battery Capacities to Cost an Extra $10,000-$20,000

George Blankenship, Tesla’s VP of worldwide sales and ownership experience, recently took the opportunity to allay future Model S customer concerns with an update on the electric family sedan.

With production scheduled to commence in mid-2012, the first 1000 units built will be part of the North American Model S Signature Series. In acknowledgment of these initial models, they’ve been deemed “limited edition” and will come with their own unique badges and special options. All North American Model S Signature Series sedans will have the big 300-mile batteries.

We’ve long heard the Model S will start at $57,400 with the smallest 160-mile battery. Blankenship also disclosed the 230-mile battery will add another $10,000 to that cost, while the 300-mile battery will be a not unsubstantial $20,000 on top of the base price. As an incentive, a federal $7500 tax credit is being touted, and state governments may have their own financial perks for supporting alternative propulsion. Final MSRP and option prices are due this summer.

With the 300-mile packs expected off the line first, the 160- and 230-mile batteries will follow later in 2012. Left-hand drive deliveries to Europe will also begin in late 2012 and right-hand drive applications for Europe and Asia will follow suit in mid-2013. Tesla anticipates a grand total of 5000 sedans produced in 2012 at the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California. By 2013, the EV builder will be targeting an annual total of 20,000.

A few months ago, we found that Tesla expects the 20,000-unit production mark to bring them to profits. Stay tuned as we continue to follow the progress of this much-hyped electric sedan from Silicon Valley.

Source: Tesla

By Benson Kong