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Tesla Roadster Trumps Supercars in Drag Race

Plenty of exotic supercars made their way to Russ Beach Smith Falls Airport to take part in the ‘Race the Runway 2012′ charity event that raises money for the Russ Beach Smith Falls-Montague Aviation Museum. At the event, millions of dollars worth of exotics took part in a 1/4-mile drag race on the paved runway, with an electric Tesla Roadster turning in the best time of the day.

The Tesla Roadster ran an impressive 10.39 seconds in the quarter mile and bested the likes of a Nissan GT-R (11.536), Ford GT (11.691), Dodge Viper ACR (12.023), a Porsche Carrera GT (12.273), and even a Ferrari Cailfornia (12.639). Of course most of those vehicles listed aren’t made to go fast in a straight line, but other things to take into account is driver experience and traction, two main components of a fast e.t. in drag racing.

That’s not to say the time wasn’t impressive for the electric convertible. Any 10-second car is a fast one, but let’s not jump to any hasty conclusions that the Tesla Roadster would outperform a GT-R or a Viper on a road course.

By Jason Siu

Tesla Roadster Successor Not a Guarantee

Despite earlier reports that Tesla would have a successor to its Roadster model set to debut sometime in 2015, the American electric automaker has confirmed that a decision on a new Roadster has not yet been made. 

The automaker is currently focusing on its new Model S and Model X, as well as a more mainstream BMW 3 Series rival that’s expected to be unveiled sometime in 2015-2016. Tesla hopes to have a couple of sedans and a compact SUV on the market before it returns to the drawing board on creating a successor to its Roadster model.

“It isn’t decided that we will build another Roadster, but that would be around the time we would look to have a real ‘halo’ model in the range,” said George Blankenship, vice-president of sales and ownership experience.

[Source: Autocar]

By Jason Siu

Electric Car Range Suffers in the Cold: Why it Happens and What’s Being Done About it

Nissan leaf driving in snow

Recently the New York Times and American electric car maker Tesla got in a highly publicized war of words over a review of the Model S electric car. Amongst other contentious issues, the range of the vehicle didn’t meet the Times’ writers expectations.

Tesla, as well as throngs of alternative fuel fans, were quick to point out that any hybrid or electric vehicle tested in the cold will suffer from lower performance.

Almost all batteries will suffer similar side effects in the cold, but unlike in your laptop or phone, the change in a car’s range could be the difference between making it to your destination… or waiting for AAA.

WHY DO EVS SUFFER IN THE COLD?

2011 Chevrolet Volt 16-kWH lithium-ion battery cutaway renderingThe simple explanation is that batteries use a chemical reaction to provide power. Chemical reactions are slower in the cold, and the battery doesn’t produce the same electrical current that it can at room temperature. As a result, EV batteries have to work harder as the mercury sinks, reducing range.

Each vehicle’s range will differ in the cold and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what to expect when dealing with a cold vehicle and driving range. The folks at TheCarElectric.com, a Consumer Electronics Advisory Group website specializing in EV news and advice, say a change of 10 degrees Fahrenheit can sap 50 percent of a battery’s output.

AVOIDING BATTERY-FREEZE

2013 Nissan LEAFAll EV batteries suffer from these issues. Hybrids do too, though due to smaller batteries the issue isn’t as severe. Also, hybrids are able to use their gasoline engine to warm the electric components.

Automakers are currently developing similar ways to achieve the same result in purely electric cars. For example, the Nissan LEAF is equipped with a battery heater that activates to help the car turn on if left unplugged in the cold. Without it, the battery would get too cold and the car wouldn’t start. This battery heater kicks in only when the Leaf is left in extremely cold weather (around 14 degrees Fahrenheit) and uses minimal power to avoid draining the battery.

HVAC IS THE ENEMY

Tesla-Snow-3It’s also worth mentioning that if the vehicle is cold, the driver will be too. Cranking up the HVAC system will put a larger drain on the battery and reduce range even further.

“Since battery range is much more important in fully electric vehicles like the Toyota RAV4 EV, we employ a number of HVAC strategies to help preserve driving range,” says Toyota spokeswoman Cindy Knight. “The RAV4 EV has a pre-conditioning system that can be activated before you get in to drive, while the car is still plugged in and using household electricity.”

That can be set up either through a smart-phone app that is registered with the vehicle, or through the car’s infotainment display. Furthermore, the RAV4 EV features a few different HVAC modes to help make the car comfortable without killing the battery. While a “Normal” mode works just what is expected in any other car, the “Eco-Lo” and “Eco-High” modes are far more conservative in regards to energy usage.

2012-Toyota-RAV4-EV-dash.jpg

“Eco-Lo balances cabin comfort with range improvement,” says Knight. “The blower level is slightly reduced and the compressor and electric heater operate at lower levels to reduce power consumption.” Additionally, the driver’s seat warmer is activated automatically and adjusted. The other setting, Eco-High, is much more serious about saving energy. “Eco-High maximizes driving range at the expense of cabin comfort,” says Knight. “It reduces the blower, compressor, and heater levels and does not activate the seat heaters.”

By using these different modes instead of the normal mode, the range of the Toyota RAV4 EV increases by 18 percent in Eco-Lo, and 40 percent in Eco-High.

Other EVs have features just like these, including the Nissan Leaf.

“For 2013, Nissan will be equipping all Leafs with a new hybrid cabin heating system that will keep the cabin warm while using significantly less energy than previous models,” says Nissan spokesman Steve Yaegar. This change might not make a big impact on the EPAs tested range, but Yaegar is confident that it will make a difference in real-world driving.

OTHER TIPS FOR THE COLD

Tesla-Snow-2There are some other ways to protect an EVs range in the cold.

“Generally speaking, the less use of HVAC, the better,” says Daniel Gray of MPGomatic.com. Gray’s site slogan is “Burn Rubber, Not Gasoline” and the site has a focus on fuel-friendly vehicles. He offered some tips on how to keep an EV going in colder weather.

“The defroster is a double-whammy, because it turns on the A/C,” he says. The best practice, according to Gray, is to turn it on, defrost and defog, then use it sparingly. Gray also advises owners to keep their car in a garage if possible.

In order to reduce the reliance on the HVAC systems, many EVs have seat warmers, and drivers are encouraged to use them.

“Seat heaters are much more efficient and faster at warming the driver and passenger than blasting the HVAC” says Knight.

CALCULATING THE COLD

2012-Toyota-RAV4-EV-electric.jpg

It’s important to recognize that all EVs are sensitive to cold weather, and are going to suffer from reduced range in those conditions. Through new innovations and owner initiative there are ways to reduce the impact, but if you’re considering buying an EV for daily driving, and live in an area where it gets really cold, you may not find the vehicle’s range enough when the winter weather hits.

By Sami Haj-Assaad

Top 10 Most Collectible Cars of 2013

10. Ford Focus ST

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Interested in nabbing yourself a future collectible? Hagerty Insurance specializes in classic cars and is predicting the top 10 most collectible cars of 2013 that are under $100,000.

Listed based on the vehicle’s MSRP, the Ford Focus ST kicks off the list in the number-10 spot with a starting price of $23,700. Powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine with 252 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, the American automaker’s hot hatch is an undeniable bargain at under $25,000. Hagerty believes its performance and price will make it an attractive collectible in years to come.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Ford Focus ST Review – Video


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By Jason Siu

Tesla Roadster Buyback Program Launched

Early adopters of the Tesla Roadster who may now be eyeing the American automaker’s more practical Model S can now trade in their convertible sports car towards a new sedan.

Tesla will buyback old Roadsters from current owners and resell them at its own stores, giving others an opportunity to own the electric convertible. Only 2,500 Roadsters were made since it first hit the market in 2008 and used ones will be much cheaper than the original $109,000 price.

The trade-in value for the Roadster will be based on its condition after the automaker takes a detailed look at the used vehicle. Though Tesla hasn’t released what it expects to buy back the vehicles for, it did estimate that a 2010 Roadster with around 2,900 miles will be resold for $93,500; while a 2008 model with 31,000 miles will be around $73,300.

Even better news though is that some Roadster owners may actually get money back if their vehicle is valued higher than the Model S they’re opting for.

“Someone who couldn’t reach all the way to a Roadster before, now may be able to get one at a lower price,” said Tom vonReichbauer, Tesla’s director of finance. “We’re able to set what I think are pretty competitive prices for these cars.”

[Source: SF Gate]

By Jason Siu