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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.
By Benson Kong
The Zero Race, an appropriately named zero-emissions race designed to raise awareness about environmentally friendly vehicles, started its 18,000-mile, 80-day journey in Switzerland earlier this week.
Zero Race began in Geneva, Switzerland, and the competitors — four small teams that specially designed their electric vehicles — will make their way through Berlin to Shanghai, China. After their trip to the Far East, they’ll resume the race in Vancouver, Canada, and then on to Cancun, Mexico, in time for the World Climate Change Conference that starts November 29.
Over the course of the next few months, the competitors will cover more than 18,000 miles and travel for more than 80 days. All four of the competing vehicles are powered by electricity acquired from renewable resources, such as wind or the sun. Each vehicle can achieve a minimum speed of 55 mph and travel 155 miles between charges. In this fashion, the teams will travel the world without the vehicles ever emitting a pollutant from exhaust or from an electrical source. However, as the vehicles need to be shipped across several oceans, the event won’t be completely emissions-free.
Although called a race, time is anything but the determining factor in who wins. The competitors are scored on their reliability during the race, energy efficiency, safety, performance, and design popularity as scored by spectators along the way. At the end of the race, the competitor with the highest score wins.
“Such a clean technology initiative underscores the importance of individual efforts in building a green, low-carbon future for the world,” said United Nations Environment Program executive director Achim Steiner.
The race reflects growing interest in low-emissions vehicles. This interest, along with government incentives and regulations, has pushed automotive manufacturers to investigate hybrid and electric vehicles, such as the upcoming Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf. The small, startup automaker Tesla only builds electric vehicles, such as its Roadster and planned Model S sedan.
Head over to Zero Race’s Web site to view the competitors’ progress as they make their way around the world and look for the race to end at the World Climate Change Conference in November.
Source: Zero Race, Bloomberg
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
It’s Car of the Year time again! Over the past two weeks we’ve been teasing new 2013 Car of the Year contenders every day. With the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year announcement coming Monday, November 12 at 6:30 p.m. EST, we thought it’d be fun to ask which contender you think will take home the golden calipers.
But since we get this question at each Of The Year event, we’d like to provide a friendly reminder that Car of the Year is only open to new or significantly updated vehicles that cost $120,000 or less. That means that the 2013 Ford Fusion is eligible for Car of the Year because it’s a full update, while the 2013 Ford Focus ST isn’t, since only one trim level is new, not the whole car. With that cleared up, let’s take a look at the contenders.
Acura ILX – We Like: Available swift-shifting manual and Honda Civic Si drivetrain. We Don’t Like: Questionable value in certain trims.
BMW 3 Series – We Like: The developed and mature feel of the car; “amazing” handling. We Don’t Like: A bit softer than previous 3 Series cars
Cadillac ATS – We Like: Excellent steering, firm chassis and impressive dynamics. We Don’t Like: Balky manual transmission.
Cadillac XTS – We Like: Exceptionally smooth ride; rock solid at triple-digit speeds. We Don’t Like: 3.6-liter V-6 could use a bit more refinement.
Chevrolet Malibu – We Like: We generally liked the Malibu’s interior design. We Don’t Like: We found the backseat too cramped for adults.
Chevrolet Spark – We Like: Surprisingly fun to toss around; well-appointed interior. We Don’t Like: Low handling limits.
Coda EV Sedan – We Like: It’s a cheap and cheerful electric car, with a long range. We Don’t Like: Subpar interior, bland design.
Dodge Dart – We Like: Pleasant styling, excellent value. We Don’t Like: “Dead” steering feel.
Ford C-Max—We Like: Ease of electric-only driving, the fact that it’s a fun-to-drive hybrid. We Don’t Like: Tires lack the grip to live up to the chassis.
Ford Fusion – We Like: Excellent steering feedback on 1.6 EcoBoost model; vast array of engine, transmission, and drivetrain options. We Don’t Like: Not as fun to drive as the outgoing Fusion.
Honda Accord – We Like: Crisp handling, and buttoned-down interior. We Don’t Like: Surge-y, on-off throttle response at low speed with the CVT.
Hyundai Azera – We Like: Comfortable, roomy cabin with huge trunk. We Don’t Like: Polarizing styling.
Lexus ES – We Like: High-quality interior and roomy backseat. We Don’t Like: Hybrid suffered from a sloppy transition between regenerative and mechanical braking.
Lexus GS – We Like: Whole lineup was fun to drive – even the Hybrid; high-caliber interior design and materials. We Don’t Like: The haptic, mouse-like controller that operates the infotainment system.
Lexus LS – We Like: Comfortable and quiet ride; V-8 grunt. We Don’t Like: Not as much of a game-changer as the original LS.
Mercedes-Benz SL-Class – We Like: An excellent Grand Tourer; felt unflappable at high speeds. We Don’t Like: More horsepower than handling prowess.
Nissan Altima – We Like: Beautiful interior and comfortable seats. We Don’t Like: Could benefit from retuned steering.
Nissan Sentra – We Like: Baby Altima styling, and genuinely roomy interior. We Don’t Like: CVT and engine moan.
Porsche 911 – We Like: An incredibly usable supercar. We Don’t Like: Too obvious that Porsche spent more time developing the PDK than the manual.
Porsche Boxster – We Like: Exceptional build quality, beautiful balance. We Don’t Like: Poor value.
Scion FR-S – We Like: Incredibly fun to drive and an excellent value. We Don’t Like: Cheap-feeling interior.
Subaru BRZ – We Like: Terrific chassis; superb balance, and steering. We Don’t Like: We want more power.
Tesla Model S – We Like: Long range combined with excellent performance. We Don’t Like: Styling a bit safe.
Toyota Avalon – We Like: Great ride and handling; nicely appointed interior. We Don’t Like: A face only a mother could love.
Toyota Prius C – We Like: Cheap and cheerful appeal. We Don’t Like: This car is no fun.
Which contender do you think will take home the Golden Calipers as our 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year? Sound off in the poll and in the comments below.
To compete for the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year title, contenders must be all new or significantly revised 2013-model-year cars or 2012-model-year cars that went on sale too late for 2012 COTY consideration. All eligible vehicles are invited to compete. Check back to MotorTrend.com on November 12 at 3:30 p.m. PST / 6:30 p.m. EST to discover what will become the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year!
The Tesla Model X electric crossover won’t start production until late 2014, a major delay as the car was slated to go into production this year. Tesla had initially promised the Model X would debut in late 2013 with “volume” production beginning in earnest by 2014, but now it appears the Tesla factory won’t even start building the crossover until the end of next year.
The Tesla Model X is a three-row crossover with upward-opening “Falcon Wing” doors that is based on the company’s Model S all-electric sedan. It was originally slated to go on sale in limited numbers by the end of 2013, with production ramping up significantly by 2014. In fact, the automaker’s website still indicates that, “Deliveries begin 2014.”
Tesla appears to have quietly delayed the introduction of the Model X by about a year. The company’s latest SEC Filing, which also revealed Tesla will repay government loans early, confirmed the new production date. “We currently plan to start production of Model X in late 2014,” the filing reads. “We currently intend to target an annual production rate of approximately 10,000-15,000 cars per year.”
That means the car probably wouldn’t reach more than a handful of customers until early 2015. The company previously reported it would have total production capacity of 20,000 units in 2013.
Tesla warned in its filing that development of the Model X hasn’t been completed, signaling that production couldn’t start for some time. “The Model X design is not yet finalized and we may be unable to use the adaptable Model S platform to the extent we currently intend,” the filing reads.”We may experience… delays, cost overruns and adverse publicity… We are in the initial design and development stages of Model X. Furthermore, we have not yet evaluated, qualified or selected all of our suppliers for the planned production of Model X.”
A Tesla representative told us, “Tesla has been intensely focused on Model S, its production and product enhancements and believe there is increased volume potential for Model S. As a result, we are pushing back the development and timing of Model X to 2014. ”
By Jake Holmes
The New Year promises to bring lots of automotive cheer and new sheet metal to Motor Trend’s garage. Below is a list of more than a dozen new vehicles slated to hit the market in 2012, which should be more than enough to keep us busy with drives, tests, and reviews. The Motor Trend staff was tasked with the difficult job of picking their top three cars from the list below that they can’t wait to drive in 2012, and from there we tallied up the Top 5 vote getters. Do you agree with the winners? Sound off below.
2012 BMW M5
2013 Cadillac ATS
2013 Chevy Sonic RS
2013 Dodge Dart
2013 Ford Focus ST
2013 Ford Shelby GT500
2013 Mini Countryman JCW
2013 Porsche 911 Turbo
2013 SRT Viper
2013 Subaru BRZ/ Scion FR-S
2013 Subaru WRX/STI
2013 Tesla Model S
2013 Volkswagen Golf R
1. 2013 Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Toyota and Subaru have been hard at work jointly developing an affordable and fun-to-drive, rear-wheel drive sports car for the masses. And if you’ve been visiting www.motortrend.com, you’ve probably noticed both companies teasing us with sketches, specs, show cars, camouflaged cars, and on and on and on for years now. Well, 2012 is the year to find out if all the hard work and teasing has been worth the wait. And from our initial drives thus far, the BRZ and FR-S look very promising.
First Drive: 2013 Scion FR-S
First Drive: 2013 Subaru BRZ
2. 2013 SRT Viper
After a years-long hiatus, the Viper is coming back with its snake eyes set on the Corvette and Porsche 911. Expect many changes to the iconic American sports car, especially with Fiat now at the helm of Chrysler. We’ve heard the Italians, who know a little bit about sports cars, have been involved in the new Viper’s development. In addition, the 2013 Viper will be sold under the newly formed SRT brand, s0 it’s more critical than ever that the new Viper will be a world-class performer both on and off the track. As MT’s digital director Mike Floyd states, the 2013 SRT Viper is the “halo car SRT/Chrysler desperately needs if it’s going to be taken seriously as a true global performance brand.” And just to reiterate, “the pressure on this one is massive,” says editor-in-chief Ed Loh. “Looking forward to the return of the beast.”
3. Tied: 2012 BMW M5 and 2013 Cadillac ATS
2012 BMW M5
How will a turbocharged, eight-cylinder M5 perform on the road and on the track? That’s exactly what MT staffers are eager to find out. Road test editor Scott Mortara was among the first bunch of lucky journalists to drive the new M5 and he seemed to like it. “Without a doubt, the new 2012 BMW M5 is better than its predecessor in every way,” Mortara wrote in his first drive review of the 2012 M5. “Some say they’ll miss the high-rpm V-10 screaming under the hood. Not me. I’ll take this subtle torque monster any day. Much like a purveyor of fine spirits, when an automaker starts with quality components, and adds time, insight, and desire, it’s possible to create something amazing — a vintage that can truly be savored. With the new M5, BMW has done just that.”
2013 Cadillac ATS
“Every few years some car maker declares they’ve cracked the 3 Series code,” said senior features editor Jonny Lieberman. “None succeed. However, Caddy actually went to Germany, Bimmer’s home turf. So, maybe.”
Just maybe. So what is Lieberman talking about exactly? Well, as former editor-in-chief Angus MacKenzie adds, “the engineering team picked the delightful E46 3 Series as its dynamic benchmark for the new baby Caddy.” And as we’ve seen from the countless videos Cadillac has produced, the development team has spent countless hours and laps around the famed Nurburgring for testing. Given what we’ve seen so far, it’s hard to imagine what else General Motors could’ve done to develop its new 3 Series fighter. MacKenzie continues, “I can’t wait to find out if Detroit can really out-BMW BMW.” Neither can we.
4. Three-Way Tie: Ford Focus ST, Volkswagen Golf R, and Tesla Model S
2013 Ford Focus ST
With past generations of the Focus, we Americans have always lamented that the sportiest Focus models over the years were sadly out of our reach, available only in Europe and elsewhere. That all changes with the 2013 Focus ST. The 2012 Ford Focus has proven itself as having good bones; with the additional performance of the ST model, Ford may again have a real hot hatch competitor in the U.S. — if it’s not priced out of the market. So what are we looking forward to exactly? Basically, it’s the 2.0-liter, 250-hp, turbocharged, Ecoboost four banger wrapped around sleek sheetmetal. “After years of watered-down, rental-fleet Foci, Ford finally brings us a real contender in the ST,” said news director Ed Sanchez. “The VW GTI and Mazdaspeed 3 will have to make room in the sandbox for the new kid from Dearborn.”
2012 Volkswagen Golf R
We liked the first-gen Volkswagen R32, which was armed with the burbling 250-hp,VR6 engine and a manual transmission, and all-wheel-drive. The VR6 carried over in the second-gen R32, but it was only offered with the DSG transmission, which wasn’t a bad thing — unless you, like most of us in the office, are diehard fans of the third pedal. The 2013 Golf R is coming to America in manual transmission-form only and will be powered by a new 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder making 260-hp, and fitted with VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. Will we miss the VR6? Stay tuned to find out.
2012 Tesla Model S
Following the incredibly fast Tesla Roadster comes the Model S, the electric car for every (well off) man. Tesla recently confirmed a base price of $49,900, which includes a 40kWh battery and a range of 160 miles, which should be good enough for most Americans. “Sexy styling, cutting-edge tech. What’s not to like,” asks Sanchez. “Granted, Tesla has its share of skeptics and haters, but this could be the breakthrough car for the still-struggling electric upstart.”
5. Tied: 2013 Dodge Dart and 2013 Porsche 911 Turbo
2013 Dodge Dart
It’s been awhile since Dodge has produced a remotely memorable compact car (Dodge Neon anyone?). The 2013 Dodge Dart should change that. “As the Caliber retires, we might soon see an Elantra-like transformation here for Dodge in the compact car segment,” opined copy editor Zach Gale. “I can’t wait to discover whether that nine-speed automatic transmission performs smoothly or constantly hunts for gears.”
2013 Porsche 911 Turbo
Executive editor Ron Kiino recently had some wheel time behind the new 991 Porsche 911 and expects it to continue on as a sports car benchmark. “When we want to say just how quick a car is, or how well it handles, or how amazing its steering is, well, there’s one reference we turn to, Kiino wrote in his first drive of the 2012 Porsche 911. ‘”The new Evo corners as well as a 911!’ ‘This ‘Vette is even quicker than a 911!’ ‘The GT-R is so fast it can hang with a 911 Turbo!’ You get the point.” And like always, Porsche will keep things interesting with a number of variants such as the turbo. “The old 911 Turbo was Veyron-lite; delivering staggering acceleration and a swaggering sense of invincibility on the road,” said MacKenzie. “My wheeltime in the new Carrera S suggests this latest 911 is the best ever. If the new 911 Turbo delivers the same step-change, it’s going to be a helluva car.”
Tesla has just announced a new finance program, making it easier than ever for prospective buyers to get into a new Model S with no money down and a smaller-than-expected monthly payment.
The program, a collaboration with U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, works by having the banks pick up the Model S’ 10-percent down payment. The down payment is covered by federal and state tax credits, which range from $7500 to as high was $15,000, if you live in West Virginia. Essentially, the banks are using as a down payment the tax credit Model S buyers would otherwise receive further down the line.
The buyer, who Tesla chief Elon Musk says must have excellent credit, then makes a monthly payment based on a 2.95-percent interest rate. According to Tesla’s math, that could amount to about $500 per month for 66 months for a buyer of a 65 kWh Model S. That figure is all smoke and mirrors, though, as the automaker is taking into account intangibles like the time you save by using the carpool lane or avoiding the gas station.
For example, say you’re a wealthy West Virginian business owner who’s purchasing a new 65 kWh Model S, who drives 15,000 miles per year, and is getting out of a BMW 550i, which nets 20 mpg combined on the EPA test cycle. Right there, Tesla says you’ve netted $267 per month in energy savings if you figure the average price of premium gas over the next three years will be $5 a gallon. Drive your car for business? Deduct at least $200 per month off. Is your time worth $100 per hour? Then you’ve essentially saved $167 by cutting your commute by five minutes every day, using the carpool lane. Under all those conditions, according to Tesla, your monthly payment amounts to just $184 per month. Except it doesn’t. This West Virginian businessman will actually be paying $1051 per month for his Model S. An 85 kWh Model S Performance, the quickest American four-door we’ve ever tested, would really cost $1421 per month, and the regular 85 kWh model goes for $1199 a month. It’s worth noting that the costs of driving a $1400-per-month Model S will almost certainly be less than driving a comparable $1400 per month gas-powered car.
After three years of owning the Model S the owner will have the opportunity to sell the car back to Tesla, for at least the same residual value of an equivalent-year Mercedes-Benz S-Class. At the moment, that value is 43 percent, as long you drive less than 12,000 miles a year. For those concerned about the viability of Tesla in the long run, Elon Musk will pick up the tab in the unlikely case Tesla doesn’t exist after those three years.
Ultimately, this program looks to be a win for Tesla and a way for those who might not otherwise be able to afford a Model S to get their hands on one of our favorite electric cars. As for what’s next from Tesla, Musk promised the automaker would begin holding weekly phone conferences with the press, so stay tuned.
Play with Tesla’s True Cost of Ownership Model S calculator here.
Electric car purveyor Tesla filed paperwork for a $100 million IPO with the SEC earlier today, and after deeper perusal of the 173-page form S – 1, the company looks to be treading on extremely thin ice. The filing has revealed that not only will the company stop making its only car — the Lotus Elise-based Roadster — in 2011 because Lotus will be retooling its plant to make way for a new Elise/Exige line, but also that it has no solid agreements in place for further development or procurement of electric powertrain components with third-party suppliers. While the company hopes to have a new Roadster on the road by 2013, the discontinuation of the present car means Tesla would have no vehicle to sell for the better part of two years — unless of course its proposed Model S sedan magically appears in 2012.
The filing — specifically, the 39-page-long “Risk Factors” section — makes Tesla’s entire operation look quite shaky as it includes far more than the usual warnings about outside factors that could affect a company’s business.
It’s no secret that the future of the company rides on the success of the Model S and Tesla says that it already has 2000 orders. However, 2012 is less than two years away and the company still does not have a way of actually building the sedan. In fact, the company lists 11 assumptions that it’s operating under with regards to the launch of the Model S:
that we will be able to identify and secure an appropriate facility for the manufacturing of our Model S;
that we will be able to secure the funding necessary to build out and equip the manufacturing facilities in a timely manner, including meeting milestones and other conditions necessary to draw down funds under our loan facility with the DOE;
that we will able to develop and equip the manufacturing facilities for the Model S without exceeding our projected costs and on our projected timeline;
that the equipment we select will be able to accurately manufacture the vehicle within specified design tolerances;
that our computer aided design process can reduce the product development time by accurately predicting the performance of our vehicle for passing relevant safety standards, including standards that can only be met through expensive crash testing;
that we will be able to obtain the necessary permits and approvals, including those under the California Environmental Quality Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, as well as building and air quality permits, to comply with local zoning, environmental and similar regulations to operate our manufacturing facilities and our business on our projected timeline;
that we will be able to engage suppliers for the necessary components on terms and conditions acceptable to us and that we will be able to obtain components on a timely basis and in the necessary quantities;
that we will be able to deliver final component designs to our suppliers in a timely manner;
that we will be able to attract, recruit, hire and train skilled employees, including employees on the production line, to operate our Model S manufacturing facility;
that we will be able to maintain high quality controls as we transition to an in-house manufacturing process; and
that we will not experience any significant delays or disruptions in our supply chain.”
It generally takes established automakers that do not have to worry about supplier contracts, facility procurement, and government permits at least three years to bring a new vehicle to production, so we fail to see how Tesla is going to produce the Model S by 2012, barring a minor miracle. The company admits that it does “not have a full production intent prototype, a final design, a manufacturing facility or a manufacturing process.”
Furthermore, the production of the Model S also depends on Tesla finalizing a number of agreements with Daimler (which has a small stake in the company) that would result in the German automaker providing it with access to parts as well as engineering help. There are also clauses that would allow Daimler to terminate all of its agreements should current CEO Elon Musk leave the company or invest in another automaker.
Even if Tesla manages to overcome the multitude of hurdles in its way, it remains a mystery as to how it would make money in the time that passes between the end of the present Roadster and the launch of the Model S.
The full text of the SEC filing can be found HERE.
Lots of car doors open when you have $50,000 to spend. A 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca and a base 2013 Porsche Boxster cost about $50,000, but if an electric-powered crossover is more your style, then you’ll also have enough to afford the Toyota RAV4 EV, set to go on sale later this summer with an asking price of $49,800, before credits.
Is that asking too much? Toyota doesn’t think so. Ed Larocque, Toyota USA’s national marketing manager for advanced technology vehicles, defended the RAV4 EV’s price point to WardsAuto: “All things considered, [including] what you’re getting with the product, we think it’s priced right for the market in California.” Following the initial launch in California, Toyota will decide what U.S. markets will get the RAV4 EV.
The RAV4 EV includes a powertrain developed with Tesla Motors. Toyota claims it will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 7.0 seconds in sport mode and 8.6 seconds in normal mode, while reaching a top speed of 100 mph. Its lithium-ion battery pack will need about 6 hours to charge (level 2, 240V), providing a range of 92-113 miles, depending on driving modes and conditions. Standard creature comforts include navigation, heated front seats, and seating surfaces wrapped in Toyota’s new Neutron fabric.
Last but not least are the tax credits. Combining the federal tax credit of $7500 with California’s $2500 credit and the RAV4 EV’s price was knocked down to about $39,990. By comparison, the all-electric Nissan Leaf hatchback is $36,050 (before credits), while a fully loaded 2012 RAV4 Limited AWD V-6 is priced at $32,820.
Source: WardsAuto, Toyota
Once we begin our year-long test of the Tesla Model S, the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year, we may not have to visit the dealership to perform most software updates. The automaker has just implemented a new, cloud-based system that will allow owners to view and install software updates from their vehicle’s infotainment screen.
It’s hard to imagine that the Model S needs any updating at this point, considering the amount of impressive technology already packed in the EV. During a recent adventure with the Model S in Las Vegas, Editor-in-Chief Ed Loh said the EV “delivers a bit of magic and a sense of occasion thanks to its myriad touch, proximity, and weight sensors. Touch the chromed door handle and it pops out for a good yank.” However, a recent over-the-air update makes those flush-mounted doors handles a bit more magical — now, they pop out as the driver approaches the vehicle, Automotive News reports. Other updates include voice command and an option for the Model S to “creep” forward when the driver lifts his foot off the brake pedal, similar to what gas-powered cars already do.
The updates will appear on the vehicle’s screen and owners have the option to schedule the install at a future time. Details of the updates are included in “release notes,” similar to the update process consumers are accustomed to with their phones or laptops. The process can save owners time and battery charge needed to visit the dealership.
In addition to the cloud-based update system, the Model S now sports a slightly tweaked front nose and a revised jump seat with better ergonomics. Tesla’s director of Model S programs Jerome Guillen credits these recent updates to the automaker’s relatively small size. Guillen, who previously worked at Daimler AG, told the Automotive News “we are doing things in a couple weeks that, at my previous employer, would have taken two years.”
Automotive News also reports that the Tesla’s plant in Northern California is running at full capacity, with the ability to produce 20,000 units a year. Additionally, Tesla will start building cars equipped with 60kWh battery packs, which will join the range-topping models with the 85 kWh battery packs that were first to launch. A value-priced 40 kWh-model is available, and Model S prices increased for the 2013 calendar year. Also in the pipeline is the Tesla Model X, which Guillen says is still scheduled to go into production sometime next year.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)