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Toyota Chooses Canada for RAV4 EV Production

Toyota Chooses Canada for RAV4 EV Production

Toyota will build the upcoming electric-powered RAV4 alongside the gasoline-powered variant at its Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Inc. (TMMC) in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada. Production is slated to begin in 2012.

Many plants were being considered for RAV4 EV production, including the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California. Tesla Motors, which has been assisting in the development of the electric-powered SUV, will build its 2012 Model S family sedan at NUMMI. Toyota says building the electric version of the RAV4 alongside the gasoline version will “maximize production efficiencies and quality control.”

“The Tesla-Toyota joint development team has agreed that building the vehicle at the Woodstock plant on the same line as the gasoline-powered RAV4, will streamline and simplify the production process and guarantee the highest level of quality control,” said Ray Tanguay, TMMC Chairman, in a press release. “This is a great example of Toyota’s determination to collaborate with companies with leading edge technology.”

Toyota will pay Tesla $100 million for the RAV4 EV’s electric powertrain, which includes the battery module, electric motor, gearbox, and electronic components. Tesla will gain insight into Toyota’s manufacturing and engineering processes.

Tesla will build RAV4 EV powertrains at a smaller plant in Palo Alto, California, and then ship them to TMMC for installation in the compact SUVs. Tesla is busy retooling the NUMMI plant preparing for Model S production.

Toyota will announce volume and pricing of the RAV4 EV at a later time.

Source: Toyota

By Jason Udy

Tesla: 20,000 Annual Model S Sales Needed to Ring in Profits

Tesla: 20,000 Annual Model S Sales Needed to Ring in Profits

There you have it. Tesla, the much-hyped purveyor of all-electric vehicles, has set the bar: sell 20,000 units of its coming Model S sedan and profits will come.

Next year will be the current generation Roadster’s final year of production. So far, some 1400 models have been delivered to at least 30 countries in North America, Asia, and Europe. While the Roadster has been both an impressive engineering exercise and brand awareness builder, the publicly traded Silicon Valley firm has yet to start raking in the dough. And that’s exactly why it’s betting big on the Model S, which it believes will put it in the black.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Tesla chief technology officer J.B. Straudel asserts the niche carmaker needs to move 20,000 Model S sedans per year to be profitable, citing lower battery pack costs and a $56,500 entry MSRP as the primary enablers.

Tesla’s 18560 cell battery pack, which is similar to our everyday laptop battery, has the benefits of preexisting R&D from major tech companies (Panasonic has invested $30 million in Tesla) and advanced economies of scale, not to mention enviable energy density. According to Martin Eberhard, Tesla’s co-founder who later left the company and has famously sparred with Tesla CEO Elon Musk since, the 18560-cell packs likely cost $200 per kilowatt-hour, which is 71- to 75-percent cheaper than large-form cell lithium-ion packs at current analyses. Additionally, the cells have already diverged onto a dedicated EV development route and are expected to see further year-over-year price drops from 6 to 8 percent.

The same Bloomberg report also cites Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn stating Nissan and Renault may need to sell 500,000 electric vehicles per year for their own program to stay in the black without government aid. At $32,780, the Leaf is considerably cheaper than the Model S and has a head start, having already gone on sale in select launch markets.

Scheduled to start production at the NUMMI factory line in Fremont, California, by mid-2012, the Model S plans to offer three battery pack sizes with varying ranges, a 5.6-second 0-60 mph time, seven seats (extra two for children only), and a futuristic design. Tesla has hired the staff, is doing the homework, and we can now only wait to see how well the finished product turns out.

Source: Bloomberg

Tags:

Future/Spied, Green Cars, Hybrid Car/EV, Sedan, Tesla

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By Benson Kong

Alpha Testing: Tesla Details Engineering Advances of Model S Development

Alpha Testing: Tesla Details Engineering Advances of Model S Development

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.”

Source: Tesla

Tags:

Auto News, Detroit Auto Show, Future/Spied, Green Cars, Hatchback, Hybrid Car/EV, Luxury Car, Tesla, Video Find

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By Zach Gale

Toyota to Pay Tesla $60 Million to Develop RAV4 EVs

Toyota to Pay Tesla $60 Million to Develop RAV4 EVs

In July of this year, we brought you news that Silicon Valley electric vehicle start-up Tesla and Japanese automotive powerhouse Toyota had inked a deal to build electric Toyota RAV4s and today we have more details about the partnership.

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In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tesla has revealed more details about the nature of its partnership with Toyota. Under the terms of the agreement, Tesla will develop a battery, motor, gearbox, “power electronics module” and all the necessary software for an all-electric version of Toyota’s RAV4 compact SUV.

For their services, Tesla will be paid by Toyota some $60 million over the term of the agreement. Both parties will agree on the final specifications, payment amounts and schedule and the expected results and their schedule within the next 60 days. Toyota announced when the project began in July that the RAV4 EV would reach the market in 2012.

That sum comes in addition to the stake Toyota has already acquired in Tesla. Prior to the initial deal in announced in July, Toyota had agreed to buy $50 million of Tesla’s common stock in a private placement transaction that took effect when Tesla filed its Initial Public Offering, which netted the EV-maker $226 million. Depending on the amount of preferred and common stock offered, Toyota may own up to 22-percent of Tesla now, though the companies have not disclosed the exact ownership arrangement.

As part of the deal, Toyota also sold a portion of its shuttered NUMMI factory in Fremont, California, where the two companies will produce the RAV4 EV together. Tesla also plans to use the plant to produce its upcoming Model S electric sedan.

Source: Tesla

By Scott Evans

Video Find: Tesla Model S Alpha Triplets Play on the Track

Video Find: Tesla Model S Alpha Triplets Play on the Track

Peter Rawlinson, Tesla’s vice president of vehicle engineering, has given a tutorial in series of videos on the electric Model S sedan, in which he highlights the aluminum structure, the rear suspension system, and the battery pack that ultimately makes the electric luxury sedan so unique. But this alpha testing video isn’t just another tutorial – we finally get to see Model S triplets in action as they hit the test track.

These playful Beta cars mean Tesla has finally moved onto the second development stage of the electric sedan, and with plans to start production in the second quarter of 2012, let’s hope testing continues to go as smoothly as it does in the video.

The Model S has been the center of the electric hype, and more than 3000 reservations have been placed for the sedan so far in North American and Europe. When it goes on sale, it will start at $57,000 (before a $7500 federal tax credit)  for the 160-mile range battery pack – a 230-mile pack will run buyers $67,000, and the 300-mile range Model S will start at a cool $77,000.

With its third row – the first in a sedan – the Model S may pose a serious threat to the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class, and the Porsche Panamera. But unfortunately, we can’t really see the interior in this video, which leaves how any person, or child, will fit back there, a mystery.

Source: Tesla Motors

By Karla Sanchez

Tesla Sues Top Gear; CEO Shrugs Off Takeover Talk

Tesla Sues Top Gear; CEO Shrugs Off Takeover Talk

Fans of the British Top Gear television program may remember the controversy surrounding a segment involving the Tesla Roadster.

First aired back on December 14, 2008, the Top Gear episode (season 12, episode 7) infamously depicted the electric sports car being rolled into a garage in an attempt to highlight the plight of using electricity to solely provide a vehicle’s motive force. A purportedly broken brake pedal was also brought to viewer attention, as was an overheated drive motor. Well-recognized host and all-around funnyman Jeremy Clarkson concluded his piece by saying the Roadster won’t work in the real world. Now, Tesla has sued Top Gear and the British Broadcasting Corporation for libel, claiming the show’s Roadster footage was scripted, produced, and shown in bad faith.

First and foremost, Tesla says the lawsuit isn’t about money and they’d like Top Gear and the BBC to set the record straight on the Roadster. Pulling the segment off all official channels would be a start. Given the popularity of the motoring show, Tesla asserts they’ve tried repeatedly to get the BBC to reconsider showing and reshowing the clip, affirming there’s been enough negativity publicity to warrant their actions. They’ve even set up a Web page dedicated to the litigation, viewable HERE. For now, we wait to see how these events will unfold.

Never one to shy from speaking his mind, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also gone on the offensive in a different matter, giving his two cents regarding a recent column that calls Tesla a “prime acquisition target.”

For as long as Tesla has been doing business, there have been deathwatches and critical analyses of the Palo Alto-based automaker. Recently, the Business Insider Web site hosted a column titled, “Why Electric Carmaker Tesla Motors Will Likely Be Acquired,” submitted by two University of Virginia students studying at the McIntire School of Commerce. Though the authors don’t appear to doubt Tesla’s products and ideals, they believe the company itself cannot carry on alone and would be ripe for takeover within the next three to five years.

Tesla boss Musk dismisses the Business Insider column, acknowledging the difficulty of entering the auto business, but stating Tesla can pull it off.

“Their analysis of Tesla is incredibly bad,” said Musk by e-mail to Automotive News. “Tesla is of course a potential takeover target, like almost all public companies. However, I’m also highly confident that we can succeed as an independent company.”

With the Model S in the pipeline and scheduled for full production in 2012, Tesla will need its all-electric family sedan to hit the ground running. Whether there’s a takeover or not, it’s simple really: no sales, no business.

Sources: Tesla, Automotive News (Subscription Required), Business Insider

By Benson Kong

Thread of the Day: Tesla Model S, BMW M5, Mercedes CLS63 AMG, or Porsche Panamera Turbo S?

Thread of the Day: Tesla Model S, BMW M5, Mercedes CLS63 AMG, or Porsche Panamera Turbo S?

It may be an electric car, but the 2012 Tesla Model S is fast. Stupid fast. In our exclusive First Test and Range Verification, a 2012 Model S Signature Performance 85 accelerated from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds, and completed the quarter mile in 12.5 seconds at 110.9 mph, making it the fastest American sedan we’ve ever tested.

The Tesla Model S’ performance numbers become even more impressive once you realize that there isn’t a huge rumbling V-8 under the hood, but a 416-hp/443-lb-ft AC electric motor in back powering the rear wheels. Also impressive is the fact that the very same Model S that recorded those numbers traveled from Los Angeles, to San Diego, and back without recharging.

Ignoring its green credentials, the Tesla Model S’ performance figures puts it in German super sedan territory, right up against the gas-guzzling BMW M5, Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG, and Porsche Panamera Turbo S. All three sedans have twin-turbo V-8s making upwards of 550 hp under the hood. Check out the chart to see how they all break down:

Base Price Weight Power 0-60 mph 60-0 mph Lateral Grip
BMW M5 $92,095 4384 lb 560 hp 3.7 sec 110 ft 0.94 g
Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG $96,805 4256 lb 550 hp 3.9 sec 113 ft 0.92 g
Porsche Panamera Turbo S $176,275 4388 lb 550 hp 3.5 sec 105 ft 1.00 g
Tesla Model S P85 $105,400 4766 lb 416 hp 3.9 sec 105 ft 0.92 g

That brings us to today’s Thread of the Day. If you had to choose between the M5, CLS63 AMG, Panamera Turbo S, and Tesla Model S, which would you choose and why? Sound off in the comments below.

By Christian Seabaugh

Tesla Improves Resale Value Guarantee, Adds Longer Term Loans

Tesla Improves Resale Value Guarantee, Adds Longer Term Loans

In response to criticism surrounding Tesla’s announcement on its new financing option, CEO Elon Musk has revised the terms by offering a new resale guarantee and longer-term loans, both of which should make owning a Model S a little easier.

2013 Tesla Model S left view 300x187 image“When we first did the financing option, we didn’t get it quite right,” said Musk during a live webcast on the subject. We found Tesla’s claimed savings were too exaggerated when we broke down the numbers last month, but Tesla says they’ll make more sense now. To start, the company now guarantees a resale value of 50 percent after three years (ratings by ALG), up from the previous 43 percent. That figure will be adjusted in the future to keep it above its luxury sedan competition. “If we really believe we’re making the best car, we believe it should have the best resale value,” Musk said. That means Tesla’s guarantee should assure the residual value will be higher than premium sedans from Mercedes-Benz BMW, Audi, Jaguar, and Lexus.

In addition, the company has extended loans to 72 months instead of 63 months. The 12,000-mile annual limit has also been increased to 15,000 miles. Tesla’s True Cost of Ownership Model S Calculator online is a bit more conservative now, as well.

After the first financing option was announced, Tesla has seen more interest in the 60 kW-hr model, but most buyers still go with the 85 kW-hr car. “What we’re saying is you’ll get 20 percent more cash in three years,” Musk said.

With Tesla’s ultimate goal of making the Model S more accessible to interested consumers, we’re thinking the best way to accomplish that goal is to simply introduce a less expensive car.

Source: Tesla

By Karla Sanchez

Quick-Charging EV Charging Infrastucture: Ford, GM, Nissan, Chrysler, Tesla Sign DOT Pledge

Quick-Charging EV Charging Infrastucture: Ford, GM, Nissan, Chrysler, Tesla Sign DOT Pledge

Early sales of electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV may have proved underwhelming, but don’t count out the zero-emissions vehicles yet. At the Washington Auto Show, the Department of Energy announced the Workplace Charging Challenge signed by 13 companies including GM, Ford, Chrysler, Tesla, and Google. These companies have pledged to introduce a plan for workplace charging in at least one major company location. The DOE says the ultimate goal over the next five years is to increase tenfold the number of U.S. employers offering charging.

2013 Chevrolet Volt plugged in 300x187 imageAlso ambitious is the related EV-Everywhere Challenge. By the year 2022, the DOE hopes to see companies in the U.S. be the first to manufacture a five-passenger American electric vehicle that’s affordable and has a payback time of less than five years, yet still have a decent range so that families can use it without compromise. Helping to complete that picture will be additional fast-charging options scattered in various urban spaces.

“Having a robust charging infrastructure helps build range confidence, which boosts interest in and use of electric vehicles,” said Brendan Jones, Nissan’s director of electric vehicle marketing and sales strategy.

We’ve already reported on Tesla’s so-called Superchargers, and Nissan this week has announced its plans to add at least 500 quick-charging stations in the U.S. over the next 18 months, starting with 40 eVgo Freedom Station sites in Washington D.C. The sites can provide a Nissan Leaf an 80-percent charge in less than 30 minutes. Service plans offered by eVgo allow users to pay a monthly fee for unlimited charging.

Considering the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year is the all-electric Tesla Model S, and the “extended-range electric” Chevrolet Volt earned the golden calipers in 2011, increasing charging infrastructure sounds like a good idea to us. Before a national hydrogen refueling infrastructure gets any traction, perhaps the Workplace Charging Challenge and EV-Everywhere Challenge will help boost sales of electric vehicles.

Source: DOT, GM, Ford, Nissan

By Zach Gale

TAG Heuer Tesla Roadster Embarks on 24,000-Mile World Road Trip

TAG Heuer Tesla Roadster Embarks on 24,000-Mile World Road Trip

Missed seeing the TAG Heuer Tesla Roadster in person at the Geneva motor show? You may still have a chance to do so, as the car is about to embark on a 24,000-mile, eight-month drive around the world.

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Dubbed the “Odyssey of Pioneers,” the trip will be the first of its kind. Sure, EVs have made road trips before (in fact, a Roadster Sport recently made the trek from Los Angeles to Detroit), but never before has a zero emissions vehicle completed such a task. The car is poised to visit some 15 major cities and at least 150 smaller towns during the course of its journey.

The Roadster won’t be specially prepared for the journey. First shown at the Geneva motor show, the TAG Heuer car is primarily a cosmetic enhancement of the stock Roadster Sport. Apart from green and red mirrors, a swoopy grey paint scheme, and a special edition watchpiece mounted inside the car, the car is untouched.

The car is scheduled to embark on its first leg tomorrow, traveling 53 miles from Basel to Zurich in a convoy formed by 20 other Swiss Tesla owners. With a range of approximately 150 miles, the car will need to be charged nightly, which may create some issues in some remote parts of the world.

The journey is expected to take approximately eight months, and should it make it to Paris come October, it’ll be the star at a huge celebration.

Source: Tesla

By Steve Diehlman