Tag archives for Detroit Auto Show
Tesla’s out to prove its electric Model S luxury hatchback is unique in its technological advancement. To make that happen, the company has released three videos featuring Peter Rawlinson, Tesla’s vice president of vehicle engineering, talking about the car’s structure.
We’re expecting to find more information about the Model S at the Detroit Auto Show next week but, for now, we’ve got these videos highlighting the aluminum structure.
“We’re particularly pleased with this,” Rawlinson says, “it’s a very advanced form of architecture, which is a combination of castings, extrusions, and stampings.”
Currently, the Model S is in its Alpha testing and development stage. In other words, it’s in stage one of two. As though having an electric powertrain wasn’t enough, the Model S will also distinguish itself from other luxury vehicles with its seven-passenger seating.
“Model S has such extraordinary package efficiency, it’s possible to endow it with a third row of occupants,” Rawlinson says.
Underneath that third row you’ll find the compact electric motor and rear suspension — we’re eager to see just how comfortable that third row will truly be.
Rawlinson continues in the third video, discussing how the battery pack helps increase torsional rigidity. Many still doubt whether Tesla will be capable of introducing the Model S quickly enough and selling it at a reasonable price.
“We have a very lean team,” Rawlinson says. “We have people from different disciplines sitting right next to each other and sharing the collective experience of designing and packaging the car.”
Auto News, Detroit Auto Show, Future/Spied, Green Cars, Hatchback, Hybrid Car/EV, Luxury Car, Tesla, Video Find
Our Cars: 2010 Ram 2500 HD – Highway Cruising and Moving Duties
By Zach Gale
The Tata Technologies electric mobility concept, or Emo, is a pure concept vehicle, with no clear path to production. So why was it built?
In a word, validation.
Nigel Giddons, the chief engineer who led much of the development of the electric vehicle from Tata Technologies’ American headquarters in Novi, Mich., said the car, which is to be parked at the Michelin Design Challenge display during the Detroit auto show next week, was made to “validate our own capabilities across the board.” Tata Technologies, a free-standing research, engineering and development company that is part of the India-based Tata Group, wanted to prove that the company could one day produce an affordable electric car for the American market that offered the same capabilities as the current crop of pricier E.V.’s.
The Emo was designed as a spartan wedge, with a glass top, seating for four and front doors measuring about twice as long as the rear ones. The few performance specifications released by the company would hardly send electric front-runners like Tesla and Nissan back to the drawing board — a 100-mile estimated range on a single charge and a top speed of 65 miles per hour — but the Emo is intended to impress on two fronts in particular.
First, it was designed to pass all federal safety requirements in the United States. “To do anything less would have made it a little too easy for us,” Mr. Giddons said. Second, it would sell for as little as $20,000, before subsidies, presuming Tata, best known for its $2,500 Tata Nano microcar, were to make it. Should current federal subsidies of up to $7,500 remain available, an Emo for $12,500 would drastically remap the entry point for E.V. shoppers.
In a telephone interview, Mr. Giddons called the project “very fulfilling.”
“We’ve done a lot of concept work like this, but it was always driven by customers,” he added.
Mr. Giddons said the Emo had no mechanical relation to the Nano, unveiled to much fanfare in 2008. “We certainly applied the word ‘minimalist’ in the way the Nano did,” he said. No creature comforts, in other words, like leather seats or dual-zone climate controls.
Because reducing weight was essential to hit the team’s performance targets, the Emo does not have a rear hatch or a beefy B-pillar, the brace that creates rigidity between the front and rear doors. Instead, the rear doors swing out from the back of the car. The set-up, commonly known as suicide doors, creates a large space for entering and exiting. And though the car has four seats, it is only in “rare instances” that all four seats would be occupied, Mr. Giddons said. The team anticipated the seats to double as the main cargo component.
“We found that when you design an electric vehicle, the architecture gives tremendous flexibility,” Mr. Giddons said. “By fixing the rear gate, that improves the rigidity and torsion, and that minimizes the weight needed to achieve the targets.”
The body structure is conventional steel, but the panels are made from a molded polymer and do not require a trip through a paint shop, a step that creates airborne particulates.
Mr. Giddons’s team, which included engineers in Novi as well as in Tata Technologies’ offices in Britain and India, went from conceptualizing the project to the final build in just eight months. The team contracted suppliers for components like the windshield wipers and power steering, but the intent was to generate internal lessons about how to make electric cars, Mr. Giddons said, so most fabrication was kept internal.
The endgame for the car is hardly clear. “We are very keen to reinforce that there is no intention to produce this car,” Mr. Giddons said. But if the Emo is a rolling showcase of Tata’s know-how, the question facing the company in Detroit may be, “Why not?”
Tesla is only in the first of two development stages for the electric Model S four-door hatchback, but it might not be long before we see a four-door Tesla rolling through Beverly Hills. Production of the Model S, Tesla announced at the Detroit Auto Show, will start in the second quarter of 2012.
The all-electric Model S is claimed to have a range of 300 miles and accelerate from 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds. Tesla hopes to build 20,000 Model S cars a year, and has taken more than 3000 reservations so far in North America and Europe. After a federal tax credit, the base price is expected to be $49,000, unless Tesla’s research and engineering budget requires a price bump. That below-$50,000 price likely includes the battery pack that allows for 160 miles of driving between charges. The Model S will also offer 230- and 300-mile-per-charge battery packs.
A 17-inch touchscreen is part of the dash layout, meaning even those in the small third row of seating might be able to see the navigation display. Top speed of the Model S is limited to about 121 mph. We’ll be keeping an eye on Tesla as we approach its target on-sale date. What do you think: Will Tesla find 20,000 buyers a year for the Model S sedan?
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)
By Zach Gale
Tesla’s little stand at Cobo Hall, squeezed into a corner near Bentley and Volvo, was mobbed during the company’s press conference, which seemed to serve multiple purposes: to show the Model X crossover concept for the first time at an auto show; to allow the company to gloat over the resounding critical success of its Model S, including the fact that it is the 2013 Automobile Magazine Automobile of the Year; and for company executives to spread the gospel of Tesla.
Tesla’s supreme leader, Elon Musk, was nowhere in sight, but George Blankenship, the former Apple executive who is Tesla’s Vice President of worldwide sales and customer experience, took to the stage wearing jeans, a blazer, and a wool scarf casually draped around his neck. “Our vision is to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission vehicles,” he said, aping similar comments we’ve heard from his boss. “It’s not about building a car.” But it is, George, it is. Blankenship is particularly pleased with the growing reputation of Tesla, noting that a whopping 1.6 million people traipsed through 19 of the company’s 23 U.S. company stores [Tesla doesn't have traditional dealerships] in the fourth quarter of last year. Tesla will open 25 more company stores in 2013, half of them in the United States. The first store in China opens this spring.
The never-ending question about electric cars, of course, is where and how to recharge them, but Tesla is optimistic about its plans to allow owners to do so easily with its Supercharging stations, which provide a full battery recharge in about 30 minutes and will allow Tesla drivers to travel from San Diego to Vancouver on the West Coast and from Miami to Boston on the East Coast. “In a couple of years, you’re going to be able to drive from San Diego to Maine [using our Supercharging system],” Blankenship promises. “Our charging is FREE, so people will be eager to adopt our technology. [Tesla] is about a bright future for your children and grandchildren,” he concluded, a little too sweetly, before turning the microphone over to design chief Franz von Holzhausen, who was also wearing jeans but no scarf.
Von Holzhausen, who designed the Pontiac Solstice and served as Mazda’s North American design chief, turned to the Model X concept sitting behind him. “We want to transfer our [electric vehicle] technology into a segment [SUVs] that is presently horribly inefficient,” he said. “Minivans are incredibly practical, but you kind of sell your soul to get that practicality. With the Model X, you get practicality in a sexy vehicle.” Von Holzhausen opened the Model X’s Falcon Wing doors, which pivot in two places to open vertically before they swing out, so the Model X can be parked in conventional parking spaces. “Creating the second hinge at the cant rail was the big innovation,” Von Holzhausen told us after the press conference. “When the doors are open, they are seven feet, four inches tall, and most garages are about eight feet tall. There will be sensors to prevent the doors from hitting anything.”
With all of its doors open on the show floor, the white-over-black Model X looked like a multi-winged bird. We wondered if all those huge apertures would compromise structural integrity, but Von Holzhausen reminded us that “the Model S sedan’s structure is equally porous, but both have 60 hertz of structural rigidity. The battery pack is an integral part of the structure.” The front “hood” opens to reveal a huge, wide cargo cavity, and the rear hatch also exposes a considerable amount of storage space. We climbed inside the Model X and found a decent amount of room in the second row, if considerably less in the third row, but all three seats in the second row move back and forth independently, and headroom is good in both rows. The Model X concept’s body is constructed of fiberglass, but the production vehicle, which is expected sometime in late 2014, will have aluminum body panels just like the Model S. The all-wheel-drive Model X will have 60-kw and 85-kw battery packs but no entry-level 40-kw pack like the Model S offers. Tesla promises a 0-to-60-mph time of 5.0 seconds.
Looking even farther into the future, Von Holzhausen is most excited about the prospect of Tesla’s third-generation car, which will, he says, “be an Audi A4, BMW 3-series, Volkswagen Jetta type of vehicle that will offer everything: range, affordability, and performance. We’re confident we can do it at a starting price of $30,000, which is the break-in point, where we can bring all this excitement and technology to the average customer.”
By Joe DeMatio