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Just how far can you drive an electric car? That’s the subject of a mild argument between Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk and The New York Times, after the latter published a story claiming a Tesla Model S electric car couldn’t drive as far as its range estimates predict.
Reporter John M. Broder planned to test Tesla’s new Supercharger network by driving a Model S with an 85-kWh battery from a Supercharger point in Newark, Delaware, to Milford, Connecticut — a distance of 206 miles. Yet Broder says that the car arrived at the Supercharger point with its range readout pointing to 0 miles, because parking the car overnight in cold weather had apparently sapped 21 miles of battery range.
Eventually Broder ran out of charge on a highway exit ramp, and the Tesla Model S had to be towed to a charging station. “If this is Tesla’s vision of long-distance travel in America’s future,” he wrote, “it needs some work.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, however, was less than pleased with this story. He publicly accused the Times of manipulating the story and providing an unfair verdict on Model S driving ranges. Musk’s assertion was based, in part, on checking vehicle charging logs that are available through the Tesla’s in-car telematics system.
“NYTimes article about Tesla range in cold is fake. Vehicle logs tell true story that he didn’t actually charge to max & took a long detour,” Musk wrote on Twitter. “Am not against NYTimes in general. They’re usually fair & their own prev Tesla test drive got 300+ miles of range!”
A spokeswoman for The New York Times told Reuters that the paper denies Tesla’s claims. She said that Broder, “followed the instructions he was given in multiple conversations with Tesla personnel” and that his account of the road trip, “was completely factual, describing the trip in detail exactly as it occurred. Any suggestion that the account was ‘fake’ is, of course, flatly untrue.”
Tesla predicts versions of the Model S equipped with an 85-kWH lithium-ion battery can drive 300 miles on single charge, although the EPA said the cars can manage just 265 miles on a single charge. While Tesla acknowledges that battery life can degrade by about 10 percent in cold weather, the automaker still believes its car should have traveled than Broder managed in his road trip.
It’s worth noting that our colleagues at Motor Trend managed to drive a Tesla Model S from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, a distance of 212 miles, even despite crossing tall mountain ranges and occasionally using the car’s air conditioning. And subsequently, editor in chief Ed Loh drove the same Model S 285 miles on a return trip to southern California.
We named the Tesla Model S our 2013 Automobile of the Year. Motor Trend also selected the electric sedan as its 2013 Car Of The Year.
Sources: The New York Times, Reuters
By Jake Holmes
Tesla and Space-X founder Elon Musk has a well-deserved reputation for being somewhat of an iconoclast, doing things his own way, and not being constrained by convention or tradition. That approach to business also extends to his model of selling cars, taking a factory-owned store approach with Tesla, a relative rarity in the U.S. market, and in some states may be illegal, at least according to car dealer trade associations. The Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association was so incensed at the building of a Tesla showroom in the Natick Mall, that it filed a suit against the electric car maker.
But Massachusetts Judge Kenneth J. Fishman dismissed the suit, stating “The court is unconvinced that the 2002 amendment to Chapter 93B expanded the purpose of the statute to protect the motor vehicle franchise system,” according to a Bloomberg report.
Musk addressed the legal victory by Tesla in a statement: “We are delighted by the outright dismissal of this case, and the validation that we are operating our business in compliance with the laws and expectations of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”
But the dealer association hasn’t given up its fight entirely, saying it is considering an appeal. “It’s just another bump in the road we have to address,” Robert O’Koniewski, executive vice president of the state dealer association said.
Lately, it seems Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been on tour around the country speaking in favor of his factory-direct sales model, against influential state dealer associations that see factory-direct car sales as a threat to the traditional dealership business model. Musk was most recently in Texas at a legislative hearing defending the factory-direct model. A New York Supreme Court justice ruled on Thursday that franchised dealers could not prove sufficient injury to prevent Tesla from operating factory-owned stores, Automotive News reports.
Naturally, the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association voiced its displeasure at the ruling, claiming Tesla’s factory-owned model is “clearly prohibited” by state franchise dealer law. The dealer association has not yet said whether it will appeal the case, or seek recourse by other means. Tesla currently operates three stores and two service centers in the state.
The fear of state dealership associations across the country is that an exemption granted to Tesla would open the door to existing automakers to circumvent the independent franchise model and start opening factory-owned stores in competition with independently-owned dealerships. Franchise laws vary from state-to-state, from outright prohibition, to non-compete language preventing factory-owned stores from opening within a specified distance from an independent franchise.
Chrysler was forced to sell its Motor Village concept store in Los Angeles, after area dealers petitioned the DMV, alleging violations of state franchise law. Tesla’s case is unique in that it is creating a network of new stores for an all-new brand, not opening new outlets for an existing brand.
Source: Automotive News (subscription required)
The 2012 Tesla Model S is a make-or-break car for electric car manufacturer Tesla. On this week’s Wide Open Throttle, host Jessi Lang takes us on a tour of Tesla’s Silicon Valley factory, while Frank Markus brings us along for his interview with Elon Musk and drive of the 2012 Tesla Model S.
Lang starts with 2012 Tesla Model S specs. The Model S will be available with 40-, 60- and 85-kWh battery capacities, with an estimated range of up to 265 miles. The Model S is powered by a rear AC induction motor producing 362 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque in the base model, and 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque in the performance model.
After Lang hands things off to Markus, he chats with co-founder and CEO Elon Musk and takes the Model S out for a spin in the city, on the highway, and in the twisties.
Check out the latest episode of Wide Open Throttle for yourself below for Markus’ full driving impressions, and make sure you check out our exclusive First Drive and breakdown of the Model S’ factory.
The Tesla Model S has exceeded sales forecasts, which has helped the company pay back its Department of Energy loans years in advance. To encourage long-distance travel, the automaker is speeding up its plan to install Supercharger charging stations all over the U.S. and today we got a first look at Tesla’s plans.
By the end of next month, the number of operational Supercharger stations will triple, and the company claims that within six months, there will be enough Superchargers to service most major metro areas in North America. A year from now, the company says, Superchargers will provide coverage to 80 percent of the population of North America and 98 percent a year later.
The automaker also announced that new technology will significantly cut charging times. While the chargers at 120 kW are in beta test mode (versus 90 kW currently), the faster chargers will be ready this summer. At 120 kW, Tesla claims it will only take 20 minutes to replenish three hours of driving in the Model S.
Some Tesla Supercharger stations have roof-mounted solar panels (from Musk-owned SolarCity) that are said to pump more electricity back into the grid than what is used to recharge cars. Since the Tesla Supercharger has a unique charger receptacle, the stations can’t charge other EVs. Currently, Model S cars with the 85 kW-hr batteries can recharge for free, while those with the 60 kW-hr model can do the same once they purchase Supercharger capability. Musk says all future Teslas will be capable of using the Superchargers.
So what’s next for Tesla? The company is still kicking around the idea of a sub-$40,000 electric sedan as well as a high-torque electric truck and a second production plant in Texas. Of course, those models would likely arrive after the Model X crossover goes on sale around late 2014 and early 2015.
By Jason Udy
Greg Emmerson of European Car joins the roundtable discussion on this episode of Wide Open Throttle to discuss his recent Head 2 Head comparison of the BMW E30 M3, Scion FR-S, and Volkswagen GTI. Jessi Lang, Jonny Lieberman, Angus MacKenzie, and Ron Kiino also discuss the crowded entry-luxury segment as well as the future of new and existing electric vehicle manufacturers.
Despite the classic BMW’s high cost of entry when it was new and similar performance to the more affordable FR-S, Emmerson defends the E30 M3 and GTI against the rear-drive Scion sports car. Next, the conversation moves to the entry-luxury market with Scion and Mazda wanting to move up and Mercedes-Benz and Audi strengthening their entry-level presence with the CLA and A3 four-doors. After talking about Scion’s original purpose of bringing younger buyers into the Toyota fold and then move them into Toyota and Lexus products, Lieberman questions how the youth brand can move upmarket. The panel then debates what constitutes luxury.
Just a day after Fisker executives were questioned by a government committee about the company’s $529 million loan, the latest Wide Open Throttle video crew discuss the fate of struggling Fisker, profitable Tesla, and newcomer Detroit Electric. Emmerson notes that BMW will soon introduce the i3 and i8 electric vehicles, and wonders how it will affect other mainstream brands as well as the newer EV makers.
Check out the video below to hear the full discussion.
By Jason Udy