Tag archives for Hybrid & EV
The Citroen DS-19 and the 2013 Tesla Model S duke it out in the latest Head 2 Head episode. The pairing seems odd at first, but host Jonny Lieberman argues that the Model S and the DS are packed with innovation, making both contenders worthy of a comparison.
Lieberman argues that the Citroen might be the most innovative car in the 20th century for many reasons. For starters, the car’s futuristic body is constructed of fiberglass and aluminum, and its oleo-pneumatic, auto-leveling suspension was unlike anything the public had seen back in the 1950s. And the list of innovations continues: its Citromatic transmission (which Lieberman explains in the video), high-mounted brake lights, and lightweight chassis construction.
Next is the Model S, which was the recipient of our 2013 Car of the Year award. Most of you are probably well versed when it comes to this innovative Tesla, which provides drivers with road-trip-worthy range and supercar-like acceleration, all while producing zero emissions. Both cars are impressive indeed, but only one is declared a winner in this Head 2 Head. Watch the video, and let us know which car you’d rather own in the comments below.
The Tesla Model S is officially showroom ready, at least according to the U.S. government: after passing initial Environmental Protection Agency tests, the car has also reportedly passed crash testing at the hands of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Not one to waste time, Tesla Motors subsequently announced the car’s initial delivery date is June 22nd, 2012.
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.
With 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.
By Ben Timmins
Technophiles often want to own the newest technology, but don’t always have something to do with yesterday’s device. Tesla, however, will be making it easy for current Roadster owners to upgrade to a Model S.
The 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,” 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
Though Tesla’s Model S electric sedan is considered by many to be merely a pipe dream, the four-door EV is apparently well into its development, as this video shows a Model S prototype conducting winter in Baudette, Minn.
The video starts like an intro to a spy movie, with a satellite image of the testing location complete with info about the region and graphics simulating instrument readings. From this, we learn the temperature range of the test area is -10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The Model S prototype, which Tesla tells us is a second-gen, Beta-phase unit, is next shown conducting various maneuvers in the snow. We see the Model S quietly running a 600-foot slalom, making a quick lane change at speeds up to 60 mph, and giving its suspension and steering a workout running through a snow-covered autocross course. The EV appears to handle pretty well in the powdery stuff, though it does spin out at one point, despite the edited footage making it look like a well-executed drift.
While we don’t get to see anything new when it comes to Tesla’s upcoming sedan, it’s encouraging to see the electric automaker is hard at work testing its latest product. But Tesla had better be, if it hopes to deliver its first production models by this summer. As we previously reported, that first batch will consist of Model S sedans equipped with the 85-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, good for a claimed range of 300 miles. While we’re taking a “we’ll-believe-it-when-we-see-it” stance on those range claims, this video could mean a test of the Model S isn’t too far away.
Check out the video below to see a Tesla Model S being put through its paces.
Cold Weather Climate Testing the Model S from Tesla Motors on Vimeo.
Cold Weather Climate Testing the Model S from Tesla Motors on Vimeo.
Electric cars like the Tesla Model S offer up a unique challenge to firefighters. Rather than engines, fuel tanks, and fuel lines, electric cars have motors, batteries, and high-voltage cables that can potentially electrocute someone trying to save an occupant after an accident. Because of the challenge, Tesla has just put out a video showing just how firefighters should dismantle a Model S in the event of an accident.
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
The 2012 loss grew some $141.8 million over the company’s 2011 losses, bringing the red ink to a total of $396.2 million. According to Automotive News, “manufacturing and supply chain inefficiencies” were behind the fourth-quarter loss of almost $90 million, which was up by $8.4 million over the same period in 2011.
Indeed, the automaker says much of its red ink stems directly from ramping up production of the Model S sedan, the company’s sole product at this point in time. The company says it is now churning out 400 units a day, and is allegedly on track to build roughly 20,000 copies by the end of 2013.
The negative numbers don’t seem to have placed a damper on Tesla’s outlook. CEO Elon Musk stated during the company’s earnings call on Wednesday, “We really have a very high confidence that we will have a profitable first quarter, and this is the very first quarter that we have been at our target production rate.” It’s because Tesla has only just gotten up and running with its 400-unit-per-day rate that we don’t have full sales numbers yet; the company is still working through a backlog of orders on the Model S – unsurprising, given how impressed we were when we named the Model S our Automobile of the Year. That said, it still reported sales of 2400 cars in the fourth quarter of 2012 and has grown its international store total to 32. A total of 2650 Model S cars were sold in 2012.
Tesla is aiming to increase its global retail footprint to 52 stores by the end of this year, and also hopes to roll out a leasing program for the Model S and to continue expanding its Supercharger network. Musk stated that the expansion plans will only help to propel the company’s growth, as it currently has “over 15,000″ reservations for the Model S and expect to post a quarterly profit for Q1 of 2013. Ambitious goals, and we’ll have to wait and see how they shake out over the course of 2013.
Sources: Telsa, Automotive News (Subscription required)
In stark contrast to the woes faced by other upstart plugin auto brands Coda and Fisker, Tesla seems to be resolute and resilient in its business strategy. The company is so confident in its success, that it released a statement on the company blog that it intends to re-pay its Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loans five years ahead of schedule. This would put the final payment of the loan in 2017, as opposed to the original deadline of 2022.
In the heated political climate surrounding government-subsidized green energy initiatives, the company was quick to point out the that ATVM loans were initiated and approved under the Bush administration, and were completely separate from the federal bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, as well as being the smallest of the ATVM loans granted, the others being Ford at $5.9 billion, Nissan at $1.4 billion, and Fisker at $529 million. Tesla’s loan was for $465 million.
In the blog post, Tesla’s VP of Business Development, Diarmuid O’Connell, said the company expected to show a modest profit in the first quarter of 2013, excluding non-cash option and warrant-related expenses.
The company’s upcoming models were briefly mentioned in the post, including the Model X crossover, and the third-generation model, described as a high-volume, low-price model, sometimes referred to as the “Blue Star.” During its development, the Model S was coined the “White Star” by many automotive media outlets.
However, being a publicly-traded company, Tesla is under the scrutiny of investors and regulators, and announced that its annual report would be delayed due to errors in its filing, according to Bloomberg. Some unpaid capital expenditures from 2011 and 2012 will be re-classified as operating activities in the revised report.
Source: Bloomberg, Tesla
Tesla is preparing to deliver its first Model S electric sedans to customers next month, but in the spirit of full disclosure, has outlined why it anticipates its 300-mile version will be rated by the EPA for 265 miles.
The Model S’ drawn-out unveiling has ingrained three specific driving ranges related to battery size – 160, 230, and 300 miles – but the EPA will have its own stamp of approval. An official blog bylined by CEO Elon Musk and CTO JB Straubel dives right into the matter, presumably foreseeing questions and concerns about the 35-mile disparity with the farthest-traveling selection.
The difference between 265 and 300 miles extracted from the Model S’ substantial 85-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery comes down to the EPA’s testing methodology. The stated 300-mile range with the highest-capacity battery was always Tesla’s target. From one perspective, it has actually exceeded the mark, claiming 320 miles under the EPA’s old 2-cycle fuel economy evaluation. It’s when the EPA’s updated 5-cycle test enters frame that “265 miles” rears its head. For comparison, the 245-mile-rated Roadster and Roadster 2.5 endured the elder cycle while the Nissan Leaf has a 73-mile range under the 5-cycle assessment.
Going from the 2- to 5-cycle test can drastically impact vehicle ratings. The simpler 2-cycle had an approximate weighting of 55-percent city and 45-percent highway use; the more comprehensive 5-cycle is more representative of 43-percent city and 57-percent highway driving. The certifications are run on dynamometers, and the specifics are as follows:
1) Federal Test Procedure: 2-cycle, 5-cycle
2) Highway Fuel Economy Driving Schedule: 2-cycle, 5-cycle
3) Cold Federal Test Procedure (run at ambient 20 vs. 75 degrees Fahrenheit in standard FTP): 5-cycle
4) SC03 (air conditioning test at ambient 95 degrees F): 5-cycle
5) US06 (aggressive acceleration test, up to 80 mph): 5-cycle
Exactly how much the 85-kW-hr battery’s claimed range figures matters will likely be determined as Model S driving impressions roll in from customers and media outlets.
Tesla hasn’t disclosed its anticipated EPA ranges for the 160- and 230-mile batteries, but a 12-percent loss like the 300-mile option would peg them at a predicted 141 and 203 miles under the EPA 5-cycle, respectively. The 160- and 230-mile estimates from the respective 40- and 60-kW-hr packs can be achieved from a steady 55-mph cruise, per Tesla spokesperson KC Simon.
Interestingly, the blog gives insight into the Model S’ range and electricity consumption behavior with graphs. These graphs often have little bearing on the real world since Main Street USA is not a laboratory with fixed inputs. Nevertheless, considering the less expensive Model S is considerably heavier, it’s reassuring to see the family-friendly electric four-door head and shoulders above the Roadster from an efficiency standpoint.
The Model S costs from $57,400 (160-mile battery) to $105,400 (Signature Performance model with 300-mile battery) depending on battery size and trim, excluding the highly touted $7500 federal tax credit that gets applied to your income tax return. Depending on your state of domicile, there may be additional state and local tax credits or rebates as well.
By Benson Kong
We’ve tested our 2013 Automobile of the Year, the Tesla Model S, extensively. But some people are curious to see what else the electric sedan is capable of, as these two amateur test videos show. In one clip, a driver tries to find the Model S’ top speed, while the other seeks to find out if you can squeeze a kindergarten class into the EV.
As we’ve seen in other videos, the Tesla Model S can out-accelerate such powerful sports sedans as the BMW M5, and this new video gives us an idea of how fast it will go if you keep your foot on the gas pedal. The video shows a man driving his Model S Signature Performance equipped with the 85-kW-hr battery on a sparsely populated highway. As he mashes the “throttle,” there’s a subtle hum but otherwise the cabin is eerily quiet. There’s no physical needle to peg, but the digital display finally tops out at an indicated 133 mph.
In the second video, a group of kindergartners questions the Model S’ seven-passenger capacity. The five- to six-year-olds, who are all naturals in front of the camera, count out loud as they appear out of the car’s cargo area, cabin, and frunk. By the end of the video, a total of 16 kindergartners are found stuffed in the Model S’ various orifices.
Check out both videos below.
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