Tag archives for Green Cars

Return of the Sports Car: Tesla’s Future Includes BMW X3 Fighter, Roadster Successor

Return of the Sports Car: Tesla’s Future Includes BMW X3 Fighter, Roadster Successor

With news of upcoming expansion plans, Tesla appears to be continuing its journey from just barely surviving to thriving. In a Wired report, Tesla CEO Elon Musk admits the company is planning a BMW X3 fighter as well as a sports car successor to the original Tesla, the Roadster.

Before Tesla can think about launching a midsize crossover and roadster in the 2016 calendar year, however, the company also has the upcoming Model X crossover, not to mention the BMW 3 Series challenger that could arrive in 2015 after the Model X arrives in dealerships early in 2014.

Tesla Model X Rear Three Quarter Doors Open 300x187 image“We’ll do the X3 equivalent and then a Roadster follow-up in parallel,” Musk said to Wired.

Higher-volume models like the midsize crossover and the entry-level four-door — said to carry a base price around $30,000 when it debuts — will help Tesla reach the sales levels necessary to make a profit on its vehicle architecture. Musk notes that the car will have a similar hatchback design as the Model S, perhaps a similar arrangement found between the Fisker Karma and Atlantic models.

While Musk didn’t specify whether the new crossover model will have the Model X’s flashy, outward-opening doors, we wouldn’t be surprised to see them dropped to help the model reach a lower base price. Speaking of price, Musk hints that Tesla’s next sports car may see a price drop compared to the Roadster. In a comparison test involving a Tesla Roadster Sport along with a Porsche Boxster Spyder, we called the Tesla “a genuine car to reckon with on the world stage” but knocked it for having an “extraordinary price” and limited range.

Source: Wired

By Zach Gale

Video Find: Watch a Tesla Model S Get Torn Apart by the Jaws of Life

Video Find: Watch a Tesla Model S Get Torn Apart by the Jaws of Life

Hybrid and electric vehicles pose a special problem for first responders. Unlike traditional gas or diesel-powered vehicles, hybrids and EVs use high voltage battery packs that can potentially electrocute firefighters when responding to an accident, if the first responders are unaware of the location of the cables that carry electricity through the car. Realizing the potential hazards, Tesla has released a video with a Model S being torn apart by the Jaws of Life to teach firefighters how to safely rescue someone from an EV.

If you want to skip the video’s drier bits, the Tesla Model S destruction starts at the 27:45 mark in the video below. Firefighters begin by ripping off the door and front quarter panel, before ripping into the A-pillar. The firefighters then dig into the dashboard and completely separate the dashboard section from the rest of the Model S, causing complete destruction of the electric car.

Watch the Tesla Model S get torn to shreds in the video below.

Source: Brock Archer via YouTube

By Christian Seabaugh

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

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

Zero Race: Electric Car Race to Traverse the Globe in 80 Days

Zero Race: Electric Car Race to Traverse the Globe in 80 Days

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.

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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

By Andrew Peterson

AAA to Begin Testing of Electric Vehicle Charger Trucks

AAA to Begin Testing of Electric Vehicle Charger Trucks

AAA plans to roll out fleets of trucks equipped with fast chargers to better serve auto club members with EVs, according to Bloomberg. The trucks will be able to charge electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Roadster when their batteries run down on the road. This move follows that of AAA’s counterpart in Japan, the Japan Automobile Federation, earlier this month, where that organization announced a joint effort with Nissan to test charger trucks.

Speaking to Bloomberg, AAA spokesperson Christie Hyde said that the Florida-based organization will begin testing the trucks in August. According to Hyde, the initial test group will consist of six “mobile charging units,” testing in states such as California, Oregon, Washington, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia. Hyde declined to give specifics on the cost of the units and who will supply them, however, she did state that AAA will test chargers from multiple suppliers.

With a couple EV models already on the market, and more on the way, automakers’ increasing interest in electric vehicles has prompted the development of a charging infrastructure. Companies such as General Electric are developing roadside charging stations, while power companies are beginning to upgrade to smart grids – installing new meters and transformers to help ensure people can recharge their vehicles at home.

AAA is also preparing itself for the arrival of more electric cars on the road. “We know electric vehicles are coming and we’ve got to be ready for them,” said Hyde. This first batch of charging trucks is part of that plan to get ready. Hyde says that AAA will debut its first mobile charging unit at an electric vehicle conference in Raleigh, NC, next month.

Source: Bloomberg

By Alex Nishimoto

Positive Charge: Toyota, Tesla Formally Announce Details on New 2012 RAV4 EV

Positive Charge: Toyota, Tesla Formally Announce Details on New 2012 RAV4 EV

We’ve already reported on Toyota and Tesla Motors forming a partnership to develop electric vehicles, but now we’ve learned a little more about the program. According to an official release from Toyota, the two are working together to build a fleet of electric RAV4 compact SUVs, which are due to hit the market in the next two years.

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The official announcement is billed as the first of several “updates” on the project promised by Toyota Motor Company president Akio Toyoda. According to Toyoda’s statement, the first prototype of the new RAV4 EV has been completed and is currently undergoing a battery (no pun intended) of tests. Ultimately, the prototype will be the crest of a wave as Toyota and Tesla plan on building a fleet of the electric compact SUVs. According to the automaker, the first next-generation RAV4 EV will be pushed into the consumer market in 2012.

Toyota hopes the liason with Tesla, which was formally inked back in May, will help it develop, produce, and manufacture electric vehicles in a short time frame. In a very NUMMI-like twist, Tesla hopes to learn the ways of Toyota’s manufacturing process and gain from its engineering expertise, while Toyota reportedly aims to capitalize on Tesla’s “daring spirit,” along with its EV technology.

As previously reported, the RAV4 EV will utilize a lithium-ion battery pack supplied by Tesla, but officials at both companies have refrained from releasing more details on the new vehicle. Likewise, we haven’t heard any more information surrounding another electric vehicle, which has been reported to be based upon the Lexus RX.

Hopefully, we’ll learn more about the program in Toyota’s next update. Should all go well, look for the second iteration of the RAV4 EV to reach consumers in about two years.

Source: Toyota

By Andrew Peterson

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV Public Sales Still a Go, According to Official Statement

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV Public Sales Still a Go, According to Official Statement

A number of news outlets reported yesterday that the upcoming 2012 Toyota RAV4 electric vehicle would only be offered for fleet sales and not to the general public. Toyota has just released a statement refuting those claims and says the new EV will in fact be open to all.

The automaker didn’t provide an exact date on when we could expect the new all-electric RAV4, but it should arrive in showrooms by 2012. In addition to the RAV4 EV, Toyota will also release an EV version of the upcoming Scion iQ mini car.

The RAV4 EV, which debuted at last year’s Los Angeles International Auto Show, is a product of the collaboration between Toyota and Tesla Motors. Toyota would provide its manufacturing expertise while Tesla would share its experience in EV powertrains and battery technology.

Toyota previously sold an electric version of the first-gen RAV4 more than 14 years ago, but was never a sales hit due to a number of reasons.  The upcoming RAV4 should be a more robust EV and should do well in the current push for all things electric. Aside from a revised front fascia and badging, the electric RAV will look nearly identical to its gas-powered counterpart. It will be powered by a lithium metal oxide battery and will weigh 220 pounds more than a RAV4 equipped with the V6 engine, and should have the same 0-60 time, according to Toyota.

Source: Toyota

By Erick Ayapana

Tesla Model S Arrives June 22, Completes Crash Testing Successfully

Tesla Model S Arrives June 22, Completes Crash Testing Successfully

It’s another step closer to having Tesla Model S cars in customer hands: the manufacturer announced that the car has finished crash testing with the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration, and that the car is cleared for a June 22 initial delivery date.

The crash test announcement comes from the personal Twitter account of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who took a break from observing his SpaceX rocket launch to tweet that the Model S finished NHTSA crash testing. Musk claims that the car completed all tests with five-star scores, although we were unable to independently confirm that claim with NHTSA by press time.

2012 Tesla Model S rear three quarter 300x187 imageWith crash testing completed, along with the aforementioned EPA certification, it appears to be full-speed ahead for Tesla’s next model launch. The company plans on handing over keys to early production models to owners within the confines of its assembly plant in Freemont, California, but then intends on quickly ramping up volume. Tesla hopes to deliver 5000 Model S sedans by the end of the year, but claims that the waiting list for one of the five- or seven-passenger (depending on options) EVs stretches some 10,000 names. Those names should be satisfied by the middle of next year, as Tesla is shooting for a 20,000-unit year in 2013.

As to-be owners anxiously wait for their cars, Tesla also announced that customer cars will receive some special finishing touches. Tesla VP George Blankenship announced via blog post this week that Model S sedans will now come with adjustable steering effort, suspension height, and regenerative braking settings – all of which are configurable through a menu accessed by way of the 17-inch touchscreen center stack.

The Model S will go on sale this year and cost between $57,400 and $105,400, not including a possible $7500 federal income tax credit.

Source: Tesla

By Ben Timmins

Tesla Offers Additional 2.7 Million Shares, Plans to Repay DOE Loan Early

Tesla Offers Additional 2.7 Million Shares, Plans to Repay DOE Loan Early

Tesla has announced it will offer 2,703,027 shares of common stock along with $450 million worth of convertible senior notes that mature by 2018. The money raised from this public offering will primarily be used to pay off Tesla’s Department of Energy loan with interest.

Tesla Model S rear side view 300x187 imageTesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk will purchase $100 million worth of the shares himself, with $45 million purchased from the common stock offering and $55 million bought directly from Tesla in a private sale. The underwriters will have a 30-day option to purchase up to 405,454 additional shares and $67.5 million worth of convertible notes, which can be converted into cash or shares of Tesla stock when they mature.

Tesla stock ended trading today at $84.84 a share, up significantly from last week’s price in the mid- to high $50 range. The surge in price is attributable to Tesla posting its first quarterly profit, with the company generating $11.2 million net income in the first quarter of 2013.

Though Tesla’s revised financing option may have lead to higher consideration among luxury buyers, the brand is still only selling variations of one vehicle. Whether Tesla can maintain its momentum remains to be seen.

Source: Tesla

By Alex Nishimoto

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