Tag archives for Hybrid & EV - Page 2
Tesla has just announced a new finance program, making it easier than ever for prospective buyers to get into a new Model S with no money down and a smaller-than-expected monthly payment.
The program, a collaboration with U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, works by having the banks pick up the Model S’ 10-percent down payment. The down payment is covered by federal and state tax credits, which range from $7500 to as high was $15,000, if you live in West Virginia. Essentially, the banks are using as a down payment the tax credit Model S buyers would otherwise receive further down the line.
The buyer, who Tesla chief Elon Musk says must have excellent credit, then makes a monthly payment based on a 2.95-percent interest rate. According to Tesla’s math, that could amount to about $500 per month for 66 months for a buyer of a 65 kWh Model S. That figure is all smoke and mirrors, though, as the automaker is taking into account intangibles like the time you save by using the carpool lane or avoiding the gas station.
For example, say you’re a wealthy West Virginian business owner who’s purchasing a new 65 kWh Model S, who drives 15,000 miles per year, and is getting out of a BMW 550i, which nets 20 mpg combined on the EPA test cycle. Right there, Tesla says you’ve netted $267 per month in energy savings if you figure the average price of premium gas over the next three years will be $5 a gallon. Drive your car for business? Deduct at least $200 per month off. Is your time worth $100 per hour? Then you’ve essentially saved $167 by cutting your commute by five minutes every day, using the carpool lane. Under all those conditions, according to Tesla, your monthly payment amounts to just $184 per month. Except it doesn’t. This West Virginian businessman will actually be paying $1051 per month for his Model S. An 85 kWh Model S Performance, the quickest American four-door we’ve ever tested, would really cost $1421 per month, and the regular 85 kWh model goes for $1199 a month. It’s worth noting that the costs of driving a $1400-per-month Model S will almost certainly be less than driving a comparable $1400 per month gas-powered car.
After three years of owning the Model S the owner will have the opportunity to sell the car back to Tesla, for at least the same residual value of an equivalent-year Mercedes-Benz S-Class. At the moment, that value is 43 percent, as long you drive less than 12,000 miles a year. For those concerned about the viability of Tesla in the long run, Elon Musk will pick up the tab in the unlikely case Tesla doesn’t exist after those three years.
Ultimately, this program looks to be a win for Tesla and a way for those who might not otherwise be able to afford a Model S to get their hands on one of our favorite electric cars. As for what’s next from Tesla, Musk promised the automaker would begin holding weekly phone conferences with the press, so stay tuned.
Play with Tesla’s True Cost of Ownership Model S calculator here.
Are electric cars always slow, planet-saving vehicles? Not necessarily. Contributor Ezra Dyer recently pitted a Tesla Model S electric sedan against one of Germany’s hottest performance four-doors — the 2013 BMW M5 — in an impromptu drag race, and the result was closer than anyone expected.
Dyer subjected the two luxury sedans to a 0-to-100-mph drag race at Gingerman Raceway in western Michigan. While we won’t spoil the result, it’s worth looking at how the two cars compare on paper. The 2013 BMW M5 has a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 engine with 560 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission directs that power to the rear wheels. The EPA says the car swills gas at a rate of 14/20 mpg (city/highway).
The 2013 Tesla Model S Performance uses a rear-mounted electric motor rated for 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. That’s less grunt than the BMW, but the key is that the motor produces all of its torque instantly, whereas the M5′s torque band peaks at 1500 rpm. The Tesla’s electric motor is backed up by an 85-kWh lithium-ion battery that the company claims will allow for a driving range of about 300 miles per charge.
When it comes to price and weight, there’s little difference between the two. The BMW M5 seen here wears an as-tested sticker of $106,695 (after destination) and weighs 4387 lbs, while the Tesla Model S Performance costs $102,270 and tips the scales at 4640 lbs.
So, which will take the drag-racing crown: a twin-turbocharged gasoline performance sedan, or a futuristic electric luxury car? Watch the video below to find out.
By Jake Holmes
Tesla has reported its first-ever quarterly profit as Model S production hits full swing.
The company said it made about $11 million dollars in the first quarter of 2013. A huge chunk of that came from a bit of accounting magic: Tesla was able to eliminate from its balance sheet some $10.7 million in liabilities relating to its Department of Energy loans. It also benefited from the state of California’s cap-and-trade system, selling some $68 million in zero-emission-vehicle credits to other automakers.
Still, the profit marks a milestone for the start-up company given the enormous costs involved in introducing its first independently developed product. Even when Automobile Magazine named the Model S Automobile of the Year, we cautioned that we weren’t certain Tesla would survive to produce it in significant volumes. Tesla says it built more than 5000 copies of the Model S in the first quarter of 2013, putting it on target for its annual production goal of 20,000 vehicles.
Tesla says demand for the Model S has kept pace with the supply, thanks in part to its new financing deal. Later this year, it will start selling the car outside North America. CEO Elon Musk predicts Tesla can sell 10,000 vehicles per year in Europe and 5000 per year in Asia.
Tesla’s next challenge will be reducing how much it spends building the Model S. Its profit margin on the car is presently a slim five percent. Musk says production costs will continue to fall as Tesla gets better deals from suppliers—a result of higher-volume production—and improves the car’s design.
Tesla’s stock has risen to nearly thirteen percent, to nearly $70 per share, in afterhours trading.
By David Zenlea
It’s been a little while since Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk made any interesting declarations about product or development, which means we shouldn’t be surprised that Mr. Musk spoke of a future with Tesla Motors making pickup trucks in Texas.
For what it’s worth, Tesla neither makes pickup trucks now, nor does it make vehicles in Texas. At this point the experiment of making electric sport sedans in California has been a relative success: Tesla says that it’s now making a profit after years of red balance sheets. One of the more significant problems at this point–beyond the occasional question of range or creative accounting–is that Tesla’s unique method of selling cars might be under fire.
Dealers in Massachusetts and New York have already filed suit against Tesla, saying that Tesla’s retail setup, which uses corporate owned “galleries” that show off cars and allow people to place deposits via the internet, violates existing automotive franchise laws. In Texas, Tesla galleries are not allowed to plan test drives or talk car sales at all, and Tesla service centers can’t process warranty work in the same manner as a franchised dealer.
Musk and Tesla received two gifts this week, however, in the form of a bill in the Texas legislature that would allow Tesla (and other EV manufacturers with no pre-existing dealer network) to sell and service its own cars. Meanwhile in New York, a judge struck down the lawsuit against Tesla, saying that “dealers cannot utilize the Franchised Dealer Act as a means to sue their competitors.”
Where does Tesla go from here? South, and not in the metaphorical sense. Musk said on Wednesday, while he was in Texas supporting the bills, that Texas has the potential to become one of the company’s biggest markets, selling perhaps 1500-2000 Model Ss a year. Musk thinks that success for the Model S in Texas could pave the road for a new production plant there.
What will the plant make? If Musk gets his way, the as-yet-unbuilt Texas plant could make the as-yet-undeveloped Tesla pickup truck we’ve heard about before. Musk told Automotive News “I have this idea for a really advanced truck that has…more towing power and more carrying capacity than a gasoline or diesel truck of comparable size.” That makes Musk the second Tesla exec (behind designer Franz von Holzhausen) to mention the truck in one year. Does it mean that this will happen? Not necessarily, but we do like the sound of it.
Source: Tesla via Twitter, Automotive News (Subscription required)
By Ben Timmins
Tesla Motors wants to build a competitor to the Nissan Leaf, CEO Elon Musk told Bloomberg. Musk said that his electric-car company would develop a more affordable model that was nicer and more desirable than the Nissan Leaf.
Musk admitted to Bloomberg that his company’s only current offering, the Model S, has somewhat limited appeal because it is very expensive. He says Tesla will develop a more affordable model that would compete with — and beat — the Leaf (pictured).
“With the Model S, you have a compelling car that’s too expensive for most people… And you have the [Nissan] Leaf, which is cheap, but it’s not great. What the world really needs is a great, affordable electric car,” Muks told Bloomberg.
Musk said the more affordable Tesla would be priced below $40,000 and would have a range of about 200 miles per charge. It will reportedly go on sale within three or four years’ time. The 2013 Nissan Leaf starts at $29,650 (including an $850 destination charge), and has an EPA-rated 75-mile driving range.
In an interview last year, Musk told us that Tesla would launch a $30,000 electric car in three to four years’ time. He said the scaled-down Model S design would be “about the size of a BMW 3 Series or Audi A4,” both cars which are significantly larger than the Nissan Leaf hatchback. Still, he said that Tesla’s key market was, “for premium sedans above $50,000.”
Earlier this year, Tesla design chief Franz von Holzhausen reiterated that the company is preparing, “an Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Volkswagen Jetta type of vehicle that will offer everything: range, affordability, and performance.” He claimed the car would cost as little as $30,000.
However, Tesla’s confirmation that it will launch a cheaper car comes only a few months after the company eliminated the most affordable version of the Model S sedan. The company killed off the option for a 40-kWh battery pack because only four percent of Tesla Model S customers asked for it.
Tesla is also planning an electric crossover called the Model X, but the company says production of that model has been delayed until 2014. Tesla did, however, fully pay off its U.S. Department of Energy loan ahead of schedule.
By Jake Holmes
If you’re considering a Tesla Model S, now would be a wise time to place your order. The EV automaker has just announced that all reservations placed after the end of this year are subject to a price increase of $2500. The 40 kW-hr Model S, for example, will jump to $59,900. The 60 and 85 kW-hr models will cost $10,000 and $20,000 more respectively. The range-topping 85 kW-hr Performance model will carry a $94,900 price tag.
All Tesla Model S cars with the revised pricing will add as standard equipment 12-way power seats and heated front seats. At a constant 55 mph, Tesla estimates the ranges of the three different motor choices at 160, 230, 300 miles. Claimed acceleration from 0-60 mph times take from 4.4 to 6.5 seconds, though we tested a Performance model completing the sprint in 3.9 seconds.
Tesla notes that the $2500 price increase is half the rate of inflation, and with plenty of press — it was the 2013 Automobile of the Year, after all — luxury customers may still be willing to pay the premium. Speaking of premiums, Tesla is also offering a four-year/50,000-mile extended warranty above the car’s standard four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty.
The automaker has also revealed pricing for battery replacements. Taking the mystery out of the one maintenance detail that scares many about electric cars, Tesla says that $8000 will buy 40 kW-hr Model S customers a new battery to be installed at any time after the eighth year of ownership. The cost rises to $10,000 for the 60 kW-hr battery and $12,000 for the 85 kW-hr battery.
Those battery replacement option prices cover the battery and all installation labor and parts needed to make a Model S whole again. Customers who don’t select the option at time of order will have up to 90 days from date of delivery to choose it, and the prepaid battery will apply to second and subsequent owners even if the original owner sells their car. And while it states the fresh battery reprieve comes after the magic 8-year mark, there “will likely be economic outcomes (incentives or drawbacks) tied to early or late exercise options,” per a Tesla spokesperson.
Considering Tesla’s vehicle servicing strategy, we asked if a mobile battery swap was foreseeable in the year 2020. Representatives seemed amused by our image of an electric-powered box truck with enclosed lift being the 2020 version of the electric-car maker’s Service Ranger, but it appears the B&M route is the safest bet for now.
Benson Kong contributed to this post.
By Zach Gale
Tesla has been making news lately with changes designed to make the process of buying and maintaining a Model S as easy as possible, and now the company says it has completely paid off its Department of Energy loan nine years early. The company had nine more years to repay the loan.
Tesla wired $451.8 million to fully repay the loan with interest, and in a release the automaker says it is the only American car company to have fully repaid the government. Then again, Tesla currently only offers one vehicle, the lauded Model S. The larger and delayed Model X is set to arrive next year.
UPDATE: Tesla isn’t actually the only American automaker to pay back government loans. Chrysler points out that, about two years ago, it paid back government loans to the U.S. and Canadian governments in full. For another perspective on this issue, read this Forbes blog.
So far, Tesla has worked with Mercedes and Toyota, and offered the all-electric Lotus-based Roadster, a car the company says had a 30-percent gross margin. More recently, we’ve heard about the Model S’ improved financing terms as well as a resale guarantee and a lenient warranty update. Next week, Tesla will reveal details on a revised supercharger system. Company co-founder Elon Musk hinted at the announcement on Twitter, saying there may soon be a way to recharge a Model S throughout the country faster than you can fill a gas tank.
The Department of Energy loan fit into the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program of which Fisker was also a part. On the original $451.8 million loan, Bloomberg notes that taxpayers will make at least $12 million from the deal. Paying off the loan early was made possible thanks to the roughly $1 billion raised in last week’s new common stock and convertible senior note offerings.
While reaching truly stable financial ground is still anything but a certainty for Tesla, it appears the company is on the right track.
Source: Tesla, Bloomberg
By Zach Gale
In this week’s edition of the Rumors Video Roundup, we’ve got the Focus ST’s little brother, the Ford Fiesta ST, getting put through its paces in Belgium, a factory-fresh Tesla Model S getting chomped to pieces by the Jaws of Life in the interest of safety, and the owner of a Koenigsegg CCR get his keys out the same way us workin’ stiffs with Civics and F-150s do.
In addition, we take a look at some of the epic driving done by Porsche test driver Walter Röhrl, and ask if it’s possible that a front-drive hot hatch have too much power, in this case in the form of the Mazdaspeed 3. Check out our weekly video roundup below.
Feature Flick: Watch a 2014 Ford Fiesta ST on a Hot Lap
We’ve always though that the U.S. could use more pint-sized pocket rockets, and Ford seems to agree. The Blue Oval’s 2014 Fiesta ST will be joining the Fiat 500 Abarth here in the U.S. later this year. Ahead of its debut, Ford has just released a quick video of the new Ford Fiesta ST on a hot lap at its Belgian test facility.
Feature Flick: Tesla Model S Gets Ripped Up by the Jaws of Life
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.
Feature Flick: Koenigsegg Keys Locked in Car
It turns out that this “oops” moment doesn’t just happen to college students – it also happens to owners of Koenigsegg CCR supercars. Automotive blog Carscoops came across this video of said Koenigsegg owner fishing his keys out of his apparently locked car through a crack in the window — and, yes, that does seem to be a wire hanger he’s using.
Feature Flick: Celebrating Walter Rohrl’s 66th Birthday
Today marks the 66th birthday of Walter Röhrl, rally driver extraordinaire and present-day Porsche test driver. Born on this day in 1947, Röhrl grew up as a ski instructor and chauffeur, but at age 21 he tried his first rally. The rest is history: Röhrl became one of history’s most storied and accomplished rally drivers, immortalized on YouTube for his fancy footwork and daring driving.
Feature Flick: Does the 2013 Mazdaspeed3 Have Too Much Power?
The 2013 Mazdaspeed3 channels 263 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque to its front wheels, making for an entertaining drive. On this Feature Flick, Carlos Lago asks if the hot hatch, which is rough around the edges, is fun because of or in spite of its powertrain.
Get the full details on the new Audi A3 e-tron electric car on the latest episode of Wide Open Throttle. Jeff Curry, Audi’s E-Mobility Marketing and Strategy representative, discusses Audi’s new EV.
Curry tells us that 17 A3 e-tron test vehicles are being launched in four select cities to see how they perform in real-world driving conditions. The production version should be ready in two years and will be based on the upcoming all-new A3. A plug-in hybrid should also arrive around the same time. In addition to the A3 e-tron, Audi is planning to test out the R8 e-tron later this year.
Lang also discusses her recent tour of Tesla Motors’ factory, where she drove the new Model S. She highlights a few viewer comments that show EVs still have a polarizing effect on the American public but mentions other deemed-to-fail technologies that have become an integral part of our lives. Watch the video and let us know if you agree with the comparisons Lang makes to the electric car.
Elon Musk has published a thorough blog countering some of the results in a recently published, controversial Tesla Model S review in The New York Times. The review has received plenty of attention, and this week Musk prepared his reply — complete with charts to illustrate his points — on Tesla’s site.
The controversy began when Tesla approached Broder to evaluate a Model S (with an 85 kilowatt-hour battery that provides 265 miles of EPA-rated range) and two new charging stations installed in Newark, Delaware and in Milford, Connecticut. These stations are 200 miles apart and include the company’s new Supercharger, which can recharge batteries at a much faster rate than a typical charging unit (Tesla says the Supercharger can provide up to 150-160 miles of range in just 30 minutes).
In fact, in a February 12 update, Broder says the test was intended to evaluate the Supercharger network on the East Coast, not the Model S, explaining why he didn’t plug in the car overnight in Connecticut.
“This evaluation was intended to demonstrate its practicality as a ‘normal use,’ no-compromise car, as Tesla markets it. Now that Tesla is striving to be a mass-market automaker, it cannot realistically expect all 20,000 buyers a year (the Model S sales goal) to be electric-car acolytes who will plug in at every Walmart stop,” Broder wrote.
Broders Tesla Model S speed log 300×187 image
Broder’s trip began at the Delaware station with 242 miles of range (he was unaware of a “max charge” feature that would’ve topped the battery off at 265 miles). He claims to have experienced fluctuations in the battery’s claimed range, which may have
been affected by the colder temperatures. Still, Broder claims to have properly charged the battery, drove at reasonable speeds, and even reduced the cabin temperature, all in an attempt to increase range. In the end, however, Broder says he ran out of charge before reaching Connecticut, and the Model S was consequently towed to the charging station.
Since then, Tesla has compared Broder’s account to the data log from the Model S test car he drove. Earlier this week, Musk published an extensive blog with that data, which points out a number of claimed discrepancies in the highway speeds at which Broder said he was traveling, charging times, as well as possible errors in his article’s math. Musk also suggested the evaluation was a lost battle for Tesla in the first place, pointing to a March 2012 article by Broder in which he says “the state of the electric car is dismal.”
Check out Musk’s full February 13 blog here, and Broder’s February 12 follow-up here.
Source: NY Times, Tesla Motors