By on February 4, 2008

285388647_22f7f8ff57.jpgWho killed the electric car? That's easy: GM. What killed the electric car? Also a no-brainer: an operational range of 55 to 95 miles. From the moment Tesla Motors announced its all-electric Roadster, we've called for independent verification of their official range claims, which started at 250 miles, slunk to 220, and ended up in a real-world figure of 93 (still unofficial). Despite a rear-guard defense on the issue, Tesla's new CEO Ze'ev Drori ain't no dope. At a press conference to announce the historic fact that Elon Musk's personal Tesla Roadster had finally arrived from Europe, Drori pulled a GM: talking about the next next Big Thing. And here's the thing: Tesla will offer the formerly all-electric WhitesStar sedan as a hybrid also, with a small gas engine powering an on-board generator a la Volt. Tesla says their sedan will hit the streets by 2009, stickering in the $50 to $70k range. After that, they'll focus their attention on an economy car. First things second, eh?

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15 Comments on “Tesla Birth Watch 31: WhiteStar Gets Gas...”

  • avatar

    TTAC ought to have a Premature Specification tag (or Watch?) for all this vaporware PR’ing.

  • avatar

    Tesla says their sedan will hit the streets by 2009, stickering in the $50 to $70k range.

    I think we just established the price-point for the Volt.

  • avatar

    Tesla doesn’t say the sedan will hit the streets in 2009. A reporter said that.

    Also – the plan is to offer the WhiteStar as an pure EV as well as offering an option for a “Range Extended” version with a smaller battery pack and an onboard generator.

    To claim our real world figure is 93 miles is false. For one thing Mark Vaughn didn’t use a full charge. For another, you have to take into account the nature of the driving, just like you would in a gas car. Why don’t you quote Csaba’s results from his drive?

  • avatar

    The White Star shipping line is remembered for launching the ill-fated Titanic. Hmmm…what inspired Tesla to use that name?

  • avatar

    it is just a code name for the project, not the actual model name. The founders of the company called the three successive cars they envisioned “Darkstar”, “WhiteStar”, and “BlueStar”. I forget the actual book it was a reference to. The mdoel name of the sedan has not been selected yet.

  • avatar

    siry :
    Tesla doesn’t say the sedan will hit the streets in 2009. A reporter said that.

    So when will WhiteStar be out, Siry? I couldn’t find any news about it on the Tesla web site except for an occasional “we’re going to build it” type comment in various blogs.

    To claim our real world figure is 93 miles is false.

    Ok. So 93 miles isn’t an accurate figure for whatever reason. Autobloggreen pegged “the range with the driving I did at somewhere between 105 and 120 miles” which isn’t much better. And the “nature of the driving” arguement as an excuse for a greatly reduced range doesn’t hold water. Even when I flogged my Corvette, the mileage didn’t drop to the point that I got half of the predicted range based on the EPA ratings. And even if it had, it wouldn’t have taken hours to refill the tank.

    Why don’t you quote Csaba’s results from his drive?

    I have yet to see his results, but from what I understand, he didn’t run it to full discharge. He extrapolated based on covering “some 80 miles at a good clip” after which the gauge showed “40 percent of its battery capacity remaining.” From that they decided your numbers are correct. Why is it correct when someone extrapolates and agrees with you and it isn’t when their extrapolation shows something different?

    If you want us to shut up (and it seems you do) then let us test a production car’s range and recharge time. If you have a car in the Atlanta area, I’ll be more than happy to put it through its paces. We also have a person in the LA area, if you want it done under your watchful eye.

  • avatar

    Tesla doesn’t say the sedan will hit the streets in 2009. A reporter said that.

    Ok so that’s not the right date, can you clarify it? You must have something penciled in at least a rough timeframe. You dont want a redo of the roadster with unrealistic deadlines.

    I’m curious as to how far along you are on the design, is it just a speadsheet right now or have engineering resources actually been commited to the platform/skin/drivetrain design? Or this the start of a partnership with GM to reskin the Volt like with the Lotus? Substituting a Tesla electric in place of GM’s drive system.

  • avatar

    Even when I flogged my Corvette, the mileage didn’t drop to the point that I got half of the predicted range based on the EPA ratings.

    There have been lots of cars that don’t come anywhere close to their EPA measurements in the real world. We’re only finding out about them now because built-in realtime mileage indicators are a recent development.

    (Sure, you could do the math, but who does that?)

    And even if it had, it wouldn’t have taken hours to refill the tank.

    What does this have to do with anything?

    I’m as doubtful as the next reader about the ability of the Tesla to actually ship, but we already knew that the car has a long charge cycle. The key question is “will the Roadster have sufficient range to meet people’s daily needs with an adequate margin?” And we’ve yet to get a good answer to that.

  • avatar

    @redbarchetta – you are right, we don’t want to set unrealistic deadlines. That is why I don’t want to amke any public statements about the schedule until we have a solid plan. We have committed a very large amount of engineering resources to the platform, skin and drivetrain. We are very advanced in the drivetrain development in particular, and have engineered multiple versions of the body based on different assumptions for supply chain (i.e. parts bins) and drivetrain (EV vs. REEV). The styling is nearly complete and we are in the process of developing a full size model. The most important next step is to secure the best route of funding the program, since we are talking about a larger sum of money than the Roadster program. As Elon mentioned in the customer town hall, we may be able to obtain a feceral loan guarantee that would enable debt financing of the program (normally not an option for a startup). As with any government thing this process takes time so we have to see it play out.

    Regarding partnership opportunities, several OEMs have approached us regarding various options for partnering on drivetrains and or entire cars. We have explored these options in depth but have always maintained the option of building the car independently, which is our plan of record. I obviously can’t comment on which OEMs and what specific proposals have been put forth or considered.

    @FrankWilliams – I don’t want you to shut up, but I do feel that I should correct things that are wrong or misleading on this site by using the comments section, which is what it is there for.

  • avatar

    siry :

    Don’t ignore the question.

    When can TTAC test the Roadster’s range and recharge times?

  • avatar

    @farago – it isn’t a priority of mine to arrange for a test drive for TTAC for reasons I mentioned earlier. There will be plenty of opportunity down the line when there are hundreds of cars on the road.

  • avatar


    @farago – it isn’t a priority of mine to arrange for a test drive for TTAC for reasons I mentioned earlier.

    I find it astonishing that you take the time to refute “misinformation” on this site, yet steadfastly refuse to provide a car (under supervision if you like) to establish your product’s range and recharge times.

    This despite the fact that I’ve specifically stated that I’m happy to let an independent third party perform the tests (to allay your fears about our objectivity).

    There is but one conclusion I can reach: Tesla doesn’t want the world to know the truth about its car.

  • avatar

    Range didn’t kill the electric car; carrying capacity, price, and safety (perceived and real) killed it. The real retail price of the EV1 was somewhere around $50k if you factor out GM and government subsidies. It didn’t carry a hole lot of cargo. It’s low ride hight made it seem dangerous and the fact that the windows lined up with the bumpers of many SUV didn’t help matters either. The main reasons a few people loved EV1s was novelty and subsidized price.

    Many households in the USA have 2 or more vehicles. For those households, a 50-mile vehicle would be just fine as a second or third vehicle. You need to work on price, carrying capacity, and perceived safety.

    The government could work on the safety problem for smaller vehicles by having “crash damage” standards instead of “crash safety” standards… “Crash damage” standards require that the vehicle tested only inflict a certain small level of damage to the thing they hit. This would require lower weight, lower ride height, and crumple zones on a wide variety of “light” truck designs.

  • avatar

    I think Tesla would be better off not trying to spin anything here. Ain’t gonna work.

    For whatever reason, the average idiots have been unable to hang in these discussions. Those are the only people who would buy the spin.

  • avatar

    Darkstar, Whitestar, Bluestar… Where is the Deathstar?

    If I had plunked down a big whack of coin as a deposit on the roadster I would be a little perturbed if I heard a this much hype on the “next thing” and little reality on the “current thing” which has been partly financed with my money.

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