By on April 17, 2008

tesla.jpgIn a comment on Tesla Birth Watch 43, Tesla flackmeister Daryl Siry addressed some of the questions about Tesla's tranny problems. "The Xtrac transmission never had reliability issues. It has proven rock solid over the years and for that reason we are using an Xtrac box for our interim transmission. The reason we moved away from that design was that we had originally tried to design the gearbox to have clutchless shifting and to accomplish the shifts entirely through motor control but this proved difficult on our end due in part to the time it takes to spin down a heavy rotor that is rotating very quickly." Gotcha. So what precipitated the Magna lawsuit? "We’ve established the fact that the units delivered were not working well so that led to a disagreement between the parties as to what was owed on the contract. These types of disagreements sometimes end up in court." Siry also mentioned that he'll be in Monaco next week, showing production car number four before it's shipped to the states and placed in the loving arms of its more-than-patient owner. This led us to wonder: if car number four will be ready to show off next week, what happened to Tesla Roadsters two and three? Have they been delivered yet? If not, where are they in the pipeline? And how long before they'll be on the streets? Over to you, Daryl…

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14 Comments on “Tesla Birth Watch 44: Tesla Talks Transmission Troubles to TTAC...”


  • avatar

    The second and third cars are in Hethel and will shortly be sent stateside for delivery, which will start in the coming weeks.

    Some of the cars have custom work specified which adds a little to the process.

    While the production schedule is regular, the deliveries in the states will occur more in batches because in the long term we will be shipping cars over in batches, not one at a time.

    When they come over by ship the Journey is 6 weeks. We will choose to fly some cars over for various reasons.

  • avatar

    Siry:

    The second and third cars are in Hethel and will shortly be sent stateside for delivery, which will start in the coming weeks.

    Can you be any more vague? Seriously, how about a specific delivery date?

  • avatar
    kericf

    I can understand court litigation over what is owed under the contract. Since we do not have the details of the contract between Tesla and Magna, it is pointless to think Tesla just stiffed them. This happens a lot of times in the engineering field. If client X agrees to pay Y amount for each milestone reached as outlined in the contract. If the milestones are not reached in a timely manner or if they do not meet the specifications of the contract then the client does not have to pay the full amount (or at all depending on how bad they screwed up). Either way it usually ends up in court. This is not unusual and is actually pretty common.

    As a skeptic of the reliability and performance claims of the Tesla, I do have to applaud their willingness to talk with TTAC and be somewhat open about the problems and concerns the public has with their product. The Big 3 need to learn from this.

  • avatar
    dean

    While I also applaud their willingness to “talk” to TTAC, the amount of double-speak and obfuscation that comes out of their keyboards would do George Orwell proud.

    Did I miss something? I know the chassis is built by Lotus, but are they building the entire car as well? I thought assembly was to take place in the U.S.?

  • avatar
    AGR

    The cars are shipped to the US as gliders (no powertrain/no batteries) the powertrain and batteries is installed in San Carlos.

    Its probably the reason that it takes 6 weeks to ship since the car does not move with its own power.

    Car #2 was originally destined for Martin Eberhard.

  • avatar
    AKM

    Kudos for Tesla for actually talking to TTAC.

    This said, is it a car company or a lawsuit company?

  • avatar
    alex_rashev

    Why use just the motor? Why not use a combination of electronic rev-matching and a giant, fat synchro ring? That way you still don’t have a real clutch, and the entire transmission consits of one shaft, two gears with synchro rings, one selector fork with “dogtooth” engagement gear and a differential with two FWD-style ring gears instead of one. Simple, easy, lightweight, and you can actually feel the shifter through your hand since you have a real linkage.

    As for slowing down the rotor, I can’t believe that a 200kwt+ engine can’t slow its own self down in time, given that it can use those 200kwt both ways.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    What are they in Monaco for? To piss off Venturi on their home turf?

  • avatar
    jthorner

    “The reason we moved away from that design was that we had originally tried to design the gearbox to have clutchless shifting and to accomplish the shifts entirely through motor control but this proved difficult on our end due in part to the time it takes to spin down a heavy rotor that is rotating very quickly.”

    This makes me think that the people doing the initial design work were not first class mechanical engineers experienced in propulsion systems.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Siry’s timeline sounds a little funny to me. My interpretation is that cars 2 and 3 are still several weeks from completion and then 6 weeks from delivery to their US operations for fitment of the drivetrain. Add in the batching and custom work and we could be talking several months before a customer delivery. I wonder if this timeline isn’t being driven by some other issue rather than their claimed deliberate approach.

    In any case, it is interesting that they would choose to use the first completed unit (#”4″) to raise funds in Europe rather than using it to finally declare victory on delivering a production unit to a paying customer.

  • avatar
    BuckD

    Tesla demonstrates why folks don’t go out and start mass production car companies based on exotic and unproven technologies every day. Because it’s effing hard to do. I’ll give them props–they managed to crank out four cars and it looks like more will trickle out, which is pretty impressive given the company’s well-documented troubles.

  • avatar
    rtz

    I can’t wait to see some performance numbers on the direct drive with the bigger motor and inverter. Any specs on either? Voltage or amps?

  • avatar
    mittelhauser

    So I am just curious what you cynics will consider success? It is now mid-april. If in 6 months, there are 50 cars in customer hands do you conceed that you might have been wrong?

    Tesla was specific that they were starting the production line at 1 car per week. It started on 3/17 (a month ago) and they have cranked out 4+ cars. Gee, that sounds a lot like what they said they were going to do.

    Of course they don’t ship them over instantly. They calculate some logical number for a batch size and then throw them on a boat for 6 weeks. Then they need to do the PEM install and final testing before handing them to a customer.

    IT’s why it’s called a PIPELINE. It takes a while to get going and then stuff starts coming out of the other end at a steady rate…

    -Jon

    -Jon

  • avatar
    shaker

    Did Tesla consider using motor braking to match the rotor speed to the tranny for shifting? You could push the juice into the battery, using some advanced control logic.


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