By on January 24, 2008

tesla-white-paper.jpgof the Tesla Birth Birthwatch? Our friends over at Edmunds reveal that Tesla has finally set a new new new launch date for their all-electric Tesla Roadster: March 17. Yes, that could be the fateful day that TTAC terminates this series on the oft-delayed EV to the Stars– if not our coverage of the ongoing technological changes (and resulting performance claims) for the vehicle. But remember: we're obliged to quit carping under this title when one– count it ONE– Roadster enters its owner's climate-controlled garage. It will be a rare beast indeed. "Tesla spokesman Joe Powers said production will ramp up in a 'slow cadence' of about one car per week. 'We'll be getting the processes down and getting a feel for the build of the vehicle,' he said. 'The eventual rate will be 40 cars per week. That is realistic based on what Lotus has committed to. We'll get there eventually. The question is, how soon can we ramp up to full production? I would say we'll get close to full production in late 2008.'" He would say? Sounds to me like another promise destined to remain unfulfilled. Oh, and scribe Anita Lienert needs to peruse TTAC's Best and Brightest comments section. She says "Tesla Motors will not disclose who is supplying the transmissions for the Roadster." Spokesmouth Darryl Siry told TTAC readers the Roadster uses "a single speed xtrac transmission." 

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20 Comments on “Tesla Birth Watch 28: Could This Be the End…...”

  • avatar

    You could always keep the Tesla Birth Watch series going as we wait for the Whitestar…

  • avatar

    ChrisHaak :

    You could always keep the Tesla Birth Watch series going as we wait for the Whitestar…

    Excellent idea! Consider it done. The series, I mean.

  • avatar

    what about just making it the EV birth watch. you could track the back peddling and broken promises of the whole industry with one easy to swallow column. at that rate they are going it will catch the GM Death watch in a few months.

  • avatar

    A tesla deathwatch is probably more appropriate. They are unlikely to last even as long as DeLorean.

    Assuming they ever get to real production. Having enough cars to give jounalists a few rides won’t cut it.

  • avatar

    I second that comment jazbo123.

    The survivability of Tesla will really be tested when competing cars enter that small high priced market.

  • avatar

    You could always keep the Tesla Birth Watch series going as we wait for the Whitestar…

    That’s assuming that Whitestar wasn’t already aborted. Besides, there’s always the Fisker Karma, not to mention a bunch of other projects such as the Aptera and the Nissan/Renault/NEC EV collaboration in Israel.

  • avatar

    But remember: we’re obliged to quit carping under this title when one– count it ONE– Roadster enters its owner’s climate-controlled garage.

    Honestly, I think you’ve set a pretty low bar there. GM built several hundred EV-1’s, but the program still ended up in oblivion. Even Vector delivered a car to Andre Agassi, but that didn’t mean that it lived long and prospered thereafter.

    If Tesla can’t deliver cars to at least most of those who have paid their deposits thus far, then I’d say that the series should continue. The issue isn’t whether they can cobble together a kit car or two, but whether they prove that they are able to operate a production line that can produce these things in some volume, and that they can produce it in volumes that are close to their original sales targets.

  • avatar

    I have a dinner bet with a friend (and Tesla depositor) that they’ll die before they reach 100 cars delivered. My vote is for a Death Watch.


  • avatar

    Hmmm. Tesla Death Watch. Let’s revisit that as and when and if the first car is delivered.

  • avatar

    40 a week? 2080 a year assuming they make them for 52 weeks

    2080 a year* US$100,000 = $208 million dollars a year on EVs?*

    thats a helluva lot of money on the one niche car model.

    *assuming no lowering of the price for the first year of production.

  • avatar

    If by some great luck Tesla ramped up to 40 roadsters a week by 2009 I suspect they would have a hard time finding 40 customers a week for very long. The market for this toy is tiny. At it’s peak the Dodge Viper sold around 25 units per week and it’s appeal is to a far larger audience than that for the Tesla.

  • avatar

    I’m a definite Tesla skeptic, and I doubt that they’ll manage to make a car that is safe, fast and energy efficient enough to live up to the hype they launched with.

    I’d still like to see something positive come out of all that effort, though — and not have it end as a SillyCon Valley joke. That said, a “cadence” of one car a week is a pretty slow beat, in music or industry.

    Tesla, to all intents, is just a ramped up version of the mistake that’s taking GM down: build up-spec’d cars for non-existent markets, and pretend you have the rationale for an assembly line effort.

    Then just watch everything go south.

    To be specific: GM’s – and now Tesla’s – failing lies in imagining an ideal customer out there, and then building a car for this spectre. Trouble resulting when it proves economically unfeasibly to be supplying a vehicle to this non-existent customer base. (Performance SUV, anyone?)

  • avatar

    jthorner :
    January 24th, 2008 at 12:10 pm
    At it’s peak the Dodge Viper sold around 25 units per week and it’s appeal is to a far larger audience than that for the Tesla.

    If someone can make an electric car capable of 200 miles per charge and 0-60 in the 10 second range. A car that is comfortable and reliable, easily charged at home and has all the conveniences of a Honda Accord. It’ll sell.

    I envy the battery company that provides the solution.

  • avatar

    If it is never born could you have death watch.

    Maybe a, if it never goes anywhere, a “Tesla Abortion Memorial” column?

  • avatar


    You left out part of that equation, $280,000,000 minus $140,000,000 borrowed, minus continuing operational costs, minus warranty costs, minus huge bonuses for the new top management = -$50,000,000

  • avatar

    What is the status of the transmission? Last I heard, Tesla intended to retrofit all 1-speed vehicles when a 2-speed solution becomes available. Since the 1-speed accelerates more slowly than the Lotus doner vehicle, I’d consider the vehicle not done. Otherwise, why spend an extra $50k for an acceleration downgrade and loads of extra weight? Anyway, the Birth Watch should continue until Tesla ships vehicles with the 2-speed and retrofits the 1-speed vehicles.

  • avatar

    I had read somewhere several months back that they couldn’t go back to the originally planned 1-speed because they deigned the motor around the proposed 2-speed they couldn’t get to work. I guess they solved that problem or went back and redesigned the motor around this new tranny.

    Who is going to be repairing and servicing these things when the owners start having problems, your local electrician or will it have to be sent back to the factory?

  • avatar

    Stein X Leikanger-Telsa’s problem, at least so far, hasn’t been a lack of buyers.

    It’s been a lack of cars.

    That’s a lot different than GM’s.

    If they get the bugs out, they may very well be successful. There is a market there, and, at least in theory, their business plan seems sound. But if they can’t actually deliver any cars, then that’s quite a bit different. By any accounts, they are way behind where they should be in terms of delivery dates and the like.

  • avatar

    Maybe a “Tesla Miscarriage Watch”?

  • avatar

    The interim transmission is rated 0-60 in 5.7 seconds – not shabby but slower than the initially advertised 4.0 seconds. The new transmission is coming – uh, someday. Elon Musk looks to be receiving his Roadster soon. I wonder when Martin Eberhard is going to get his – I recall he was supposed to get P2.

    Tesla Motors press release from Jan 23:
    * Tesla Motors has received all regulatory approvals to import the first production Tesla Roadster (“P1”) for sale. This includes all necessary EPA and DOT approvals, including completion of all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS.)
    * P1 will arrive at Tesla Motors headquarters next week for delivery to customer Elon Musk, Chairman of Tesla Motors.
    Series production of the Tesla Roadster is scheduled to begin March 17th, 2008.
    * As communicated previously, early production units will be equipped with an interim transmission that meets durability requirements but limits acceleration to 5.7 seconds from 0 to 60 mph.
    * Separately, Tesla Motors engineers have designed a permanent solution for mass production that supports the original specification of 0 to 60 mph in 4 seconds.
    * The planned solution has some very positive benefits for our customers. Instead of a complex 2-speed transmission design, Tesla will achieve the original performance goals with a simpler one-speed unit mated to a higher rated Power Electronics Module (PEM.) The existing motor will be modified to have advanced cooling capabilities to handle the additional power. The permanent transmission unit will be engineered to handle the higher torque of the powertrain.
    * The planned solution reduces program risk, provides better efficiency, lower weight, equal or better range, better thermal performance and quicker quarter mile acceleration due to the elimination of the need to shift gears.
    * The planned solution incorporates the latest developments of our powertrain team which has been continually improving on Tesla’s core technology.
    * Early production will proceed at a limited rate and then ramp up to full production when the permanent powertrain solution is production ready later this year.
    * The upgrade from the interim solution to the higher power, permanent solution will be provided to our customers free of charge when available later this year.

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