The Truth About Cars » Tesla http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 27 Apr 2015 11:35:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Tesla http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/tesla/ Musk: Autonomous Vehicles Mean Future Where Driving Is Illegal http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/musk-autonomous-vehicles-mean-future-driving-illegal/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/musk-autonomous-vehicles-mean-future-driving-illegal/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 14:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1024489 His hand may be on a steering wheel now, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk foresees a future where autonomous vehicles lead to a total ban on human intervention. Automotive News reports Musk said as much during a conference held by graphics chipmaker Nvidia at its headquarters in San Jose, Calif.: In the distant future, I […]

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His hand may be on a steering wheel now, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk foresees a future where autonomous vehicles lead to a total ban on human intervention.

Automotive News reports Musk said as much during a conference held by graphics chipmaker Nvidia at its headquarters in San Jose, Calif.:

In the distant future, I think people may outlaw driving cars because it’s too dangerous. You can’t have a person driving a two-ton death machine.

He later clarified on Twitter his own position on the matter, stating his company “is strongly in favor of people being allowed to drive their cars and always will be,” hoping that the statement was obvious to those following along.

As for his appearance at Nvidia, the chipmaker is working to sell a purpose-built autonomous-vehicle computer called Drive PX, based upon its Tegra X1 mobile processor. The system will have 12 inputs for high-res cameras — like the kind Tesla is putting into its Model S right now — and is due to go on sale in May.

Musk added that his engineers are hard at work on improving autonomous technology, believing the tech will take greater control of the wheel on the highway “in a few years.”

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Tesla Battery Swap Pilot Status Tied To California ZEV Credits http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/tesla-battery-swap-pilot-status-tied-california-zev-credits/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/tesla-battery-swap-pilot-status-tied-california-zev-credits/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 12:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1023929 Tesla’s battery swap pilot program in Harris Ranch, Calif. may never leave the pilot phase, thanks to how California handles ZEV credits. The Los Angeles Times reports Tesla earned $66 million in Q4 2014 from selling credits to automakers needing to offset their carbon footprints. Each credit was the result of the Model S’ classification […]

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Tesla Harris Ranch California Battery Swap House Entrance

Tesla’s battery swap pilot program in Harris Ranch, Calif. may never leave the pilot phase, thanks to how California handles ZEV credits.

The Los Angeles Times reports Tesla earned $66 million in Q4 2014 from selling credits to automakers needing to offset their carbon footprints. Each credit was the result of the Model S’ classification as a Type 4 or Type 5 (based on battery size) vehicle by the California Air Resources Board — Type 5 involving vehicles with a range of 300 miles and can be refueled in less than 15 minutes — Tesla earning five to nine credits for every S sold as a result of the classification.

However, the sedan was knocked down to a Type 3 after CARB restructured its system for MY 2014 and beyond, basing earnings on “actual fueling events” regarding the fast-refueling credit. Thus, every S sold now earns Tesla four credits, except when it comes time to swap the battery pack. There, one S can have its pack swapped 25 times, with the credit applied to a total of 25 vehicles — up to nine credits per vehicle — as long as the other 24 are capable of quick refueling. Thus, Tesla’s credit-earning plan — and the profits from each sale — remain unchanged.

That said, the ZEV credit scheme will change again in 2018, with fast-refueling credits dropped for range assessment.

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Tesla Denies Gigafactory Delays, Axes 200 In China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/tesla-denies-gigafactory-delays-axes-200-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/tesla-denies-gigafactory-delays-axes-200-china/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2015 11:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1019426 Tesla may be denying delays in the construction of its Gigafactory, but the automaker’s not holding back on firing 200 employees in China due to poor sales. Autoblog reports the delay is due to a change in design plans for the $5-billion battery factory, with an online job posting by the International Brotherhood of Electrical […]

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Tesla may be denying delays in the construction of its Gigafactory, but the automaker’s not holding back on firing 200 employees in China due to poor sales.

Autoblog reports the delay is due to a change in design plans for the $5-billion battery factory, with an online job posting by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers mentioning the delay in construction. Tesla representative Alexis Georgeson denied the delay claims, while a rep for IBEW Local 401 declined to confirm or deny due to non-disclosure.

Meanwhile, AutoGuide says Tesla is laying off 30 percent of its employees in China, amounting to between 180 and 200 jobs. The automaker has had trouble as of late selling its wares in the emerging market, having moved 32,733 units in 2014 — short of the 35,000-unit, then 33,000-unit, sales target set for the year — and only 120 vehicles in January 2015. The company has not confirmed the report thus far.

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Ur-Turn: Tesla Haters Gotta Hate http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/ur-turn-tesla-haters-gotta-hate/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/ur-turn-tesla-haters-gotta-hate/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 18:56:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1018642 You’d think that, after all these years, I’d have a tougher skin for people who say stupid things on the Internet. And I’m pretty good about that, but now that I own a Tesla, it strangely gets under my skin when people write ill-informed drivel about the car. Here at TTAC, we’re all about well-informed […]

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Obligatory XKCD

You’d think that, after all these years, I’d have a tougher skin for people who say stupid things on the Internet. And I’m pretty good about that, but now that I own a Tesla, it strangely gets under my skin when people write ill-informed drivel about the car. Here at TTAC, we’re all about well-informed drivel. It’s a subtle distinction, but we’re proud of it. Anyway, here’s a bit of unfortunately typical writing, found on a random Internet chat board (not TTAC, because the B&B would never stoop to this). All grammar and spelling have been left untouched.

Tesla interior is junk far away from luxury. BMW 335i has better interior design, and 550i in whole different league. Road noise, cheap panels, flimsy speaker grille, seat comfort, ceiling height, sound quality (premium sound!!) all materials that tesla uses belong to 20$K Honda. So rest of money goes into battery price.

Let’s break this down, shall we?

tesla-IMG_20150301_114354Interior is junk far away from luxury. BMW and Tesla both use lots of leather, including on the dashboard and doors. They both have options for nice wood inlays. BMW has optional brushed aluminum inlays. Tesla has optional carbon fiber inlays. Newer Teslas have optional sport seats that are very much in the same ballpark as typical BMW seats. About the only interior feature I’ll give to BMW is its optional “active ventilated seats”, offered on some higher-end models. Here in Texas, that’s a real feature, although Tesla does let you start the climate control remotely using their phone app. I used this on a recent Girl Scouts camping trip, wherein the temperatures dropped below freezing at night. It was great to hop into a car with a pre-heated cabin.

Interior design. Perhaps the original poster was unhappy with Tesla’s overuse of skeuomorphism (i.e., fake brushed metal, beveled edges, and bubbly buttons in the computer displays)? It’s hard to say. I come at design from a utilitarian perspective. Does the car let me do what I want to do, quickly and accurately? Common things should be fast with at most a quick glance. Uncommon things should be possible without training. After several months with the Tesla, I’d say they’re achieving this objective. The steering wheel buttons really do have most common things covered, such as changing the fan speed or skipping tracks, and the massive touchscreen makes it possible to dig in and tweak settings without going mad. BMW’s iDrive, no matter how many times they revise it, is still an embarrassment.

Road noise. There are several sources of noise in a typical car at speed: wind, tires, suspension, drivetrain, and screaming children. Electric drivetrains are insanely quiet, whereas BMW creates artificial drivetrain noise through the stereo system because … reasons. Wind and tire noise are largely the same between Tesla and any fancy German luxury sedan. I’ll modestly complain about suspension noise on the Tesla, though it’s not what you’d think. Like all good luxury cars, the Tesla’s suspension does its best to shave off the sharp insults from driving over crappy roads. What’s seemingly unique about the Tesla is what happens, even on the smoothest of perfect roads, when you hit a small bump, maybe a single pebble in the road. You get a muffled thud, basically a low frequency beat like you’d expect from a typical hip-hop album. This appears to be related, in part, to the “frunk” acting as a resonant chamber and in part to the large battery pack under the floor acting as a giant drum. Loading up the frunk with random luggage or boxes seems to help a lot. Since noticing this noise in my Tesla, I’ve paid close attention to other cars in which I’ll be riding, and the “thuds” tend to be less low-frequency boomy and have more high-frequency harmonics. I suspect this is because other cars have more irregular shapes to their floor (e.g., transmission tunnels). All that said, when you turn on the stereo, even at modest volume, you’ll never notice any of this. Pro-tip: you can hush the little ones by shouting “watch this” and slamming the go pedal. Buys you a few seconds of quiet.

tesla-IMG_20150111_123705Cheap panels and flimsy speaker grilles. They’re pretty much the same as you’d get anywhere. There are far fewer squeaks and rattles in my Tesla than in any other car I’ve ever owned. It’s clear that Tesla really sweated the details on NVH. And keep in mind, my car is 1.5 years old and has been a daily driver the whole time. It’s holding together quite well.

Sound quality? (premium sound!!) As I wrote in my Tesla vs. Jaguar comparison, the optional high-end Tesla sound system is seriously good stuff. The one time I heard the base sound system, however, I was unimpressed. If you’re going to buy a Tesla, pony up for the upgrade. My only real complaint is with the default Internet audio provider, Slacker. I’d much prefer some combination of Pandora and Google Music, but the only way to get those in a Tesla is through your phone’s Bluetooth.

Seat comfort / ceiling height. I’m 5’11” and I fit just fine; my car doesn’t have the panoramic glass ceiling, which adds even more headroom. The Tesla is a very large car, with plenty of room for grown adults in the back seat. The absence of a transmission tunnel is a huge win for your middle-seat passengers if you’re packing them in. In terms of comfort, I haven’t done any serious roadtripping yet in my Tesla, but the seat feels an awful lot like the standard you expect from luxury German cars: stiff but supportive.

Materials that tesla uses belong to 20$K Honda. The Model S is an aluminum car, putting it in the same league as an Audi A8. Aluminum is showing up all over the place, these days, including the new Ford F150. Aluminum is preferred for the strength you can get for a given amount of mass. The problem with aluminum is that it’s very, very expensive if you get into a collision. As an example, Motor Trend’s long-term Audi A8 had a $11,000 mishap with a road bollard. It’s just as bad for Tesla. Supposedly, the forthcoming “Model 3” will use steel. If you drive as poorly as this fellow constructs sentences, you’ll be wishing your Tesla used more steel, like a $20k Honda.

So rest of money goes into battery price. Indeed, Tesla is working on this “gigafactory” monster in the Nevada desert, to improve the worldwide capacity for lithium-ion cells, reducing their price, and affording legions of future gonzo Hunter S. Thompson wannabes the opportunity to tie together Nevada’s brothels, battery manufacturing, and gambling industries. And indeed, the battery system is where most of the complexity of the car lies, so it makes sense for them to invest in improvements. My Tesla leaves a puddle of water in my garage from its air conditioner running, hours after I get home, because it really, really wants to cool down the battery pack. Now if it could only cool down the hot heads on the Internet.

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Tesla Pushing For Direct Sales In Texas, Dealers Wanting A Shot To Sell http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/tesla-pushing-direct-sales-texas-dealers-wanting-shot-sell/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/tesla-pushing-direct-sales-texas-dealers-wanting-shot-sell/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 15:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1004082 As Tesla gears up to tackle Texas’ direct-sales ban during the state’s 2015 legislative session, dealers are begging for a shot to sell the automaker’s EVs. The Texas Tribune reports several Texas dealerships have approached Tesla about selling its wares, claiming they would take on the risk of selling a niche premium EV if given […]

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As Tesla gears up to tackle Texas’ direct-sales ban during the state’s 2015 legislative session, dealers are begging for a shot to sell the automaker’s EVs.

The Texas Tribune reports several Texas dealerships have approached Tesla about selling its wares, claiming they would take on the risk of selling a niche premium EV if given the chance. According to Texas Automobile Dealers Association president Bill Wolters, those dealers were rebuffed:

This is such a unique situation in which Elon Musk doesn’t want to have competition from other makes.

Currently, Tesla has galleries in Austin, Dallas and Houston, where customers can see the Model S, but cannot buy the car directly from the gallery, turning to the company’s website to complete the process as a result.

While dealers believe the direct-sales ban gives consumers a chance to buy the car they want anywhere within Texas — instead of having to drive to a few select cities where automakers would focus their efforts if given the opportunity — Tesla says the ban threatens to undermine its success in the state. CEO Elon Musk adds that franchise dealers would ultimately fail in selling his company’s EVs, citing the traditional model’s main source of revenue — maintenance — as where the struggle would occur.

Meanwhile, Tesla is spending between $625,000 and $1.18 million on 21 lobbyists to persuade lawmakers in Austin to consider legislation that would allow for direct sales. No bills have come up regarding the issue thus far this session, through Rep. Eddie Rodriguez of Austin is working on a proposal that would grant the automaker and other EV-only manufacturers the right to sell directly to Texas consumers; a similar proposal by Rodriguez was rejected last year.

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Tesla Hitting Sales Roadblock In China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/tesla-hitting-sales-roadblock-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/tesla-hitting-sales-roadblock-china/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 16:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1003778 Tesla’s Apple aspirations may have its detractors, but the automaker’s ongoing problems in China are likely to do more harm than said detractors. Forbes reports Tesla’s China operations are closing 2014 on a down note, having brought over 444 units in December compared to 747 in November. Further, 45 percent of all Teslas have yet […]

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Tesla’s Apple aspirations may have its detractors, but the automaker’s ongoing problems in China are likely to do more harm than said detractors.

Forbes reports Tesla’s China operations are closing 2014 on a down note, having brought over 444 units in December compared to 747 in November. Further, 45 percent of all Teslas have yet to be registered with local authorities, and therefore, have yet to legally hit the road. The country also accounted for 15 percent of the automaker’s global sales in 2014.

The issue is the brand’s cachet with Chinese consumers, who bought the Model S because of its trendiness, not because it’s better for the environment. Thus, Tesla’s popularity will last as long as the next trendy vehicle from a competing luxury automaker.

CEO Elon Musk’s current solution? Fire or demote those “not on a clear path to positive long-term cash flow.” The publication says this approach will only “erode his power base and credibility,” aspects he needs to maintain if he intends to keep to the path of long-term sustainable growth and stability.

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CODE BROWN! Help Review Tesla’s Model S P85D http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/code-brown-help-ttac-review-tesla-model-s-p85d/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/code-brown-help-ttac-review-tesla-model-s-p85d/#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 15:19:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1002490 An autojourno told me that getting a Tesla Model S P85D for evaluation is tough, even without a Death Watch series hanging over their head. Yet Tesla’s boss went on 60 minutes admitting his concerns during Christmas 2008, concerns that paralleled ours.  No matter, Death Watches are TTAC’s past. Meet our “Code Brown” instead. And stick around: because you, dear reader, shall […]

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Park Anywhere, this is a Code BROWN!!!

An autojourno told me that getting a Tesla Model S P85D for evaluation is tough, even without a Death Watch series hanging over their head. Yet Tesla’s boss went on 60 minutes admitting his concerns during Christmas 2008, concerns that paralleled ours.  No matter, Death Watches are TTAC’s past. Meet our “Code Brown” instead.

And stick around: because you, dear reader, shall help us review it.


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Spend a few minutes in a freshly delivered P85D for sensory overload: one cannot process all the new and radical in one sitting.

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To wit, the gigantic screen’s demand for a vehicle name: there’s only one name for perhaps the last brown Tesla ever made, ordered with this speedy powertrain.

One can rightly argue the P85D’s holeshot is diaper worthy.

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And while “insane mode” is a big part of the story, it’s kinda not. Code Brown possesses more than a single man could road test over the course of a week.

Hence the clarion call for reader feedback, before testing begins. Post your questions, concerns, insights, etc for TTAC’s upcoming review. I’ll read them, make notes and citations, using it as a foundation for my time with this Tesla Model S P85D.

Off to you, Best and Brightest.

 

(Special thanks to my brother for giving me his new daily driver for the upcoming review.  No Public Relations Butts were hurt in TTAC’s acquisition of Code Brown.)

 

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WSJ To Tesla: Cast Aside Corporate Welfare To Improve Image http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/wsj-tesla-cast-aside-corporate-welfare-improve-image/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/wsj-tesla-cast-aside-corporate-welfare-improve-image/#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 14:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1002850 Despite its visions of having a valuation on par with Apple within a decade, Tesla’s subsistence on subsidies may be hard for some to swallow. The Wall Street Journal said as much in an opinion piece following Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s proclamation to grow his company 50 percent annually, with a stock valuation of $700 […]

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Despite its visions of having a valuation on par with Apple within a decade, Tesla’s subsistence on subsidies may be hard for some to swallow.

The Wall Street Journal said as much in an opinion piece following Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s proclamation to grow his company 50 percent annually, with a stock valuation of $700 billion to come in 10 years’ time; the company is currently valued at $27 billion. The publication points out that its $108 million loss in Q4 2014 — thought to be linked to delivery issues, a strong dollar and manufacturing issues — would have been much worse had it not taken $86 million from selling federal carbon credits that quarter.

Continuing with the train of thought, WSJ noted those credits were the result of Tesla’s lineup falling in line with federal and state fuel-efficiency and ZEV mandates, the surplus of said credits being sold to other automakers whose own lineups may be lacking in the green department. In 2014 alone, Tesla sold $216 million in credits, matching 7 percent of what the company sold in EVs.

Other points noted include the $1.5 billion in tax breaks bestowed upon the automaker in its native California and in Nevada, where its Gigafactory battery-pack production facility, as well as the $7,500 federal tax rebate consumers receive upon purchasing a Model S. The publication concluded by urging Musk to “turn off the taxpayer tap,” on the premise that by so doing, he and his company would gain more friends “for the long haul,” whomever they may be.

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Apple Rumored At Work On Titan EV Project http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/apple-rumored-work-titan-ev-project/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/apple-rumored-work-titan-ev-project/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1002074 Not about to let Google or Tesla tackle the automotive space without competition, Apple is rumored to be entering the game with its own EV project. Autoblog reports the project, dubbed Project Titan, is an EV resembling a minivan, and has several hundred Apple employees working to make the vehicle a reality. Vice president of […]

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Not about to let Google or Tesla tackle the automotive space without competition, Apple is rumored to be entering the game with its own EV project.

Autoblog reports the project, dubbed Project Titan, is an EV resembling a minivan, and has several hundred Apple employees working to make the vehicle a reality. Vice president of product design and former Ford engineer Steve Zadesky is said to be leading the project, while director of Mac systems engineering and former Mercedes-Benz R&D chief Johann Jungwirth is contributing his knowledge. Austrian supplier Magna Steyr has also been tapped by Apple execs to help guide the project along.

News of the rumored EV comes amid other rumors regarding the company’s poaching missions to Tesla — who allegedly have done the same to Apple in return — as well its desire to enter the autonomous vehicle market to one-up Google down the road.

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Tesla’s Q4 2014 Sees $108M Loss Despite Strong Demand For S, X http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/teslas-q4-2014-sees-108m-loss-despite-strong-demand-s-x/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/teslas-q4-2014-sees-108m-loss-despite-strong-demand-s-x/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 00:05:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=997306 Tesla’s Q4 2014 didn’t go so well despite strong demand for its Model S, losing $108 million in earnings over the quarter. The Wall Street Journal reports the automaker has 10,000 booked orders for the premium EV sedan, as well as 20,000 for the Model X crossover now expected to hit the showrooms in Q3 […]

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Tesla’s Q4 2014 didn’t go so well despite strong demand for its Model S, losing $108 million in earnings over the quarter.

The Wall Street Journal reports the automaker has 10,000 booked orders for the premium EV sedan, as well as 20,000 for the Model X crossover now expected to hit the showrooms in Q3 2015. However, the loss is attributed to both a lag between production and fulfillment of the Model S P85D, and a strong dollar.

Sales in Q4 2014 fared better than in Q4 2013, with 9,834 units sold over 6,892. The sales figure also bests Q3 2014’s results, when 7,785 vehicles left the showroom. Overall deliveries for the outgoing fiscal year amounted to 32,733 — short of the 33,000 Tesla hoped to move that year — with 55,000 global sales projected for the upcoming year.

Q4 2014 revenue jumped to $956.6 million over the previous year’s $615 million, while operating expenses almost doubled over the same period, hitting $336.5 million. Capital spending for the upcoming year is expected to hit $1.5 billion, divided between Gigafactory investments, production increases, readying the Model X for production, and sales and service. Cash supply dropped from $2.4 billion in Q3 2014 to $1.9 billion in Q4.

As for the stock price, Tesla shares closed at $212.80 Wednesday, having recovered from CEO Elon Musk’s comments in January about Chinese sales and when his company would become profitable; the stock price then fell to $177.22. That said, it’s still lower than the peak of $291.42 achieved last September.

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Comparison: 2013 Tesla P85 vs. 2015 Tesla P85D http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/comparison-2013-tesla-p85-vs-2015-tesla-p85d/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/comparison-2013-tesla-p85-vs-2015-tesla-p85d/#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 17:32:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=995426 I’ve got a buddy who was once a titan of industry, a computer geek in the C-suite who never forgot his roots. Let’s call him Professor Zorkmid. He never needs to work another day in his life, but he enjoys hanging out with students, telling grand tales of his adventures in the Great Underground Empire, […]

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I’ve got a buddy who was once a titan of industry, a computer geek in the C-suite who never forgot his roots. Let’s call him Professor Zorkmid. He never needs to work another day in his life, but he enjoys hanging out with students, telling grand tales of his adventures in the Great Underground Empire, swinging his sword at trolls and making his way through the maze of twisty corporate passages, all alike.

Two years ago, Zorkmid was planning to upgrade his C6 Corvette Convertible to a C7, but then he developed a fancy for the Tesla. Being a rational fellow, he developed spreadsheets with detailed cost models, agonizing over whether it was worth the extra bump for the P85+ (a tighter sport suspension on crappy Houston roads?), the larger 21″ wheels (more opportunity for curb rash?), or the panoramic glass roof (versus the pounding summer heat). The catalyst for him was the August 2013 refresh, when Tesla added parking sensors and made a handful of other small tweaks to the car. He took delivery later on in the year, and fell in love with the car.

Fast forward to the recent announcement of the P85D and Tesla’s various “AutoPilot” features. Zorkmid was sitting in my office, going back and forth about the relative costs and benefits of the new P85D. The extra performance? Certainly desirable. The extra features like the AutoPilot? Seriously beneficial for his commute to campus from his white house, out in a distant field. Sure, it’s got the latest Frobozz technologies, but are you willing to eat the first-year depreciation? He had to think about that. Because if you want to sell it, I might want to buy it. And that’s what leads us to this TTAC exclusive comparison of two Teslas.

Two Teslas (front)

First, since everybody else is writing articles about the 0-60 launch of the P85D, I thought it would be worth chiming in. Yes it’s fast. Yes it’s brutally fast. And if you’re faced with the choice between the 2015 S85(-D or not) and the 2015 P85D (they got rid of the P85 non-D), then that extra oomph is going to be a big selling point, assuming price is no object. If your budget however, like mine, is finite, I highly recommend you find yourself another Zorkmid willing to eat the first-year depreciation, because the regular P85 is still very, very fast, and one of them can be yours for 80% of the original sale price.

This is the place where the buff books would start waxing poetic about the “well-controlled oversteer driving at 9/10ths into an off-camber sweeper” and other such nonsense. I’m totally unqualified to write that sort of prose, but hopefully we’ll be able to get Jack Baruth down here at some point to do the honors. Instead, once I’ve had the car long enough, I hope to bring to TTAC discussions with data. Kilowatt-hours. Operating costs. Integration with SpaceX’s Merlin engines. That sort of thing.

Tesla AutoPilot cruise control

Tesla rolls out its new software to all of its cars, which is a great thing, but old cars don’t get new hardware features. Here’s a dashboard photo showing several new things that require the AutoPilot hardware. You can see that the Tesla’s forward-facing camera recognized a speed limit sign and displayed it front-and-center for a few seconds. That eventually goes away, but notice where the blue arc on the left turns grey? That indicates how much you’re going above the posted speed. Likewise, if you’ve got the adaptive cruise control on and something gets in your way, there’s a line left behind so you know where the car’s going to accelerate to if and when the slowpoke in front of you gets out of the way. Tesla has also implemented a lane departure warning feature (it makes an unhappy buzz at you if you drift toward the lane lines without signaling), but the real “auto pilot” goodness is still to come in some future update at an unspecified time.

Tesla 19" wheels

Aside from the rear badge, there isn’t much to help you tell these cars apart from the outside. Zorkmid’s new car (on the right) has the “turbine” wheels (which might improve mileage by a tiny percentage) and red brake calipers (whoopie!). Mine, on the left, has curb rash (my fault, not his). Okay, that’s fine and all, but what are all the other differences between these cars? Ever wonder how Tesla has improved all the little details in the past two years? Here we go. Cue the split-screen graphics. (Click for larger versions.)

Tesla turn signals

In 2013, Tesla had the cruise control stalk on top and the turn signal stalk below. This messed me up for a few weeks but I’m used to it now. They fixed this in their newer cars, which has of course caused Zorkmid no end of cognitive dissonance.

Tesla front seats

The new Tesla “sport” seats have noticeably larger side bolsters. They feel great. The old ones are fine as well, although other reviewers have complained about them. If you’re seriously planning to track your car, then yeah, you want the sport seats, but you can totally live your life without them.

Tesla rear seats

But the rear seats? Oy vey. Those overstuffed bolster bumps aren’t going to help in any meaningful way if you’re hauling ass, but they’re sure going to be annoying if you’re trying to get a slightly oversized kid booster seat to fit in the back. Still, can you live with it? Maybe, but here’s the bigger problem with the new rear seats:

Tesla rear visibility

Those new rear seats chew up a ton of the space in your rear view mirror, and the headrests don’t fold down. Apparently this is also true for the “version 2″ regular seats, whereas I apparently have the “version 1″ regular seats. I’m sure there’s a safety reason for the huge headrests, but unless Tesla implements the Volvo flip-down thing, there’s a safety cost now, with the rearview mirror giving you a lot less information. So maybe you think this is just micro nit-picking? Isn’t that what TTAC is all about? Anyway, here’s another interesting point of comparison.

Tesla interior roof

Zorkmid originally got the solid roof (paying extra for the Alcantara headliner) but he decided to spring for the glass roof on his new ride. This photo gives you an idea of just how much tinting is included with the roof, but the jury’s still out on how much extra heat the car will accumulate on hot summer days. While I’m here, I’ll also call your attention to the seat belts. Notice anything missing? Yup, you can’t adjust the shoulder height. I was really hoping they’d have fixed this in the 2015 so I could somehow retrofit it to my 2013. Alas, my seatbelt will continue to not fit quite right.

Tesla window controls

Diving deeper into the minutae, you might notice that the newer Teslas have a new mirror button. This lets you fold the mirrors in with the push of the button. They’ll even automatically fold when you turn the car off. There’s no such feature on my 2013 mirrors, which can at least be manually flipped in and out; a retrofit is apparently available if you really want it. (Another cool trick of the newest Tesla: the battery charging door will automatically close itself after you remove the charger cable.)

Tesla center console decking

Tesla apparently decided to make the formerly optional “yacht decking” between the front seats into a standard feature. Zorkmid prefers the carpeted deck in my car. I can see the style benefits of the new approach, but my real problem is that there’s precisely one enclosed storage location: the glove compartment. That’s it. The big center console doesn’t open. There are no map pockets (okay, a tiny pocket on the front-edge of the driver’s seat on my 2013, gone from the new 2015). My daughter even complained that there’s nowhere to in the back seat to store her stuff. I will note, for the sake of journalistic completion, that Tesla does offer an “executive rear seating” option. That replaces the three-across rear bench with two nice bucket seats and an arm-rest (with enclosed compartment!) between.

Tesla dash cover

This shot shows you the wood dash versus the carbon fiber dash. I think they’re both very attractive, but I’m not sure I would have been willing to pay extra for either of them. You’ll also notice that Tesla changed one of the leather dashboard panels to be fuzzy Alcantara instead. Either way, you don’t want to leave this car out in the heat on a daily basis. My old BMW Z3 had a leather-wrapped dashboard that had to be repaired three times in the seven years I owned it, since I had to park it in the hot sun every day and the leather eventually shrank and pulled up from the edges. (And yes, I used a sun shield on the front window and I garaged it at night.) I’m now paying extra to park my car in an underground lot, so I can avoid spending the money on replacing my Tesla’s dashboard later on. This works for me, but it’s not an option for everybody.

Tesla frunks

Moving on, here’s a view of the “frunk” of the two Teslas. You’ll notice that the front motor and its associated machinery render the frunk into more of a curiosity than a functional storage space. With RWD comes a much bigger frunk. That said, you’re not going to use the frunk on a daily basis on either car, largely because they really blew it on the way the frunk latches.

Tesla frunk latch

The old latch is exceptionally finicky. You have to mostly close the frunk, slowly and carefully, then place one palm on each side and apply a solid push. You get a really unpleasant sound and the frunk latches. (Apparently, many owners trying to slam it shut, like you’d do for every other car hood in the history of car hoods, would sometimes miss the latch point and deform the aluminum hood — an expensive mistake.) For the newer Tesla, they replaced the two hooks with one, which does yield a smoother latch action, but it’s still not something you’re going to want to slam shut. Hopefully they’ll eventually make it a push-button motorized thing, just like the tailgate.

Tesla sunshade vanity mirrors

Lastly, I want to point out some of the dumb things that make you think “surely there’s an automotive supplier who can do this properly for an entirely modest amount of money”. Our first example is the vanity mirror cover. On the right, you might notice the right hinge is busted. Zorkmid reports it’s already been replaced once. They’re broken like this on both sides despite very infrequent use. This repair will be on the list for my next scheduled maintenance. On the left, you can see a modest redesign of the hinge mechanism. Maybe it’s better now? I hope so. Also, there’s this:

Tesla key

The Tesla keyfob normally stays in your pocket, but you want to keep it on your keychain, right? On the right, you can see how I solved this problem: with a cheap plastic tie-wrap. You can’t otherwise thread a standard metal keyring through the hole in a Tesla keyfob. Newer Teslas include the leather keyfob pouch, on the left, and there are a variety of third-party pouches as well. But really, a keyfob you can’t put on a standard keyring?

Summarizing things: the 2015 Tesla P85D is a stupendously fast and fun car. If you’ve got the bucks and you’re ready to spend them, fire away! If you don’t have the bucks, there are a whole bunch of Tesla early adopters looking to upgrade. So long as you don’t feel you need the newest features, now’s the time to be gunning for a used P85.

I’ve been trying to understand why Tesla doesn’t offer the P85 (non-D) any more, since there’s a pretty big hole in their product line between the S85/S85D and the P85D. My theory: “soak the rich”. Tesla is steering buyers like Zorkmid toward their highest-dollar highest-spec car. Assuming they’re running the production line flat out, why not use it to make the variant that generates the most profit, never mind the most buzz in the news with its outrageous performance? If/when demand softens on the P85D, they can always reintroduce the P85 RWD version.

Side note: When you own a fast Tesla, all your friends want to experience the launch. My daughter and her friends (9-10 years old) all love it. My daughter even once asked me, “daddy, why don’t you do that more often?” Anybody who’s concerned that the children of the future won’t care about fast cars because they’ll instead be glued to their brain-implanted smartphones while droning around in 25mph self-driving Googlemobiles… Don’t worry. Teenagers will definitely continue to be attracted to fast cars. Which reminds me… Dear Mr. Musk: I’ll still have this Tesla when it’s time for my daughter to get her driver’s license. I’d like a software hack please to “detune” it so she doesn’t do anything too stupid. (Ditto for those evil joyriding car valets.)

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Sources: Three Challenges Behind Tesla Model X Delay http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/sources-three-challenges-behind-tesla-model-x-delay/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/sources-three-challenges-behind-tesla-model-x-delay/#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 11:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=995282 The oft-delayed Tesla Model X is currently set for a Q3 2015 launch, two years after it was originally supposed to enter showrooms. How did this happen? Green Car Reports offers three reasons for the gull-winged crossover’s delay from its anonymous sources, the first being the bane of all electric vehicles, range. Tesla had hoped […]

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Tesla Model X

The oft-delayed Tesla Model X is currently set for a Q3 2015 launch, two years after it was originally supposed to enter showrooms. How did this happen?

Green Car Reports offers three reasons for the gull-winged crossover’s delay from its anonymous sources, the first being the bane of all electric vehicles, range. Tesla had hoped to pull 250 miles from the 85-kWh model by using side-view cameras in lieu of door mirrors. However, doing so would require some changes to safety standards, standards that are currently under-study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. With nothing on the horizon, the automaker will have to find those miles elsewhere for now.

Another issue is the rear “falcon” doors. While keeping the elements out has been solved, side-impact protection and structural issues remain. With expectations of safety to be equal to the Model S, the doors would need strong interlocking beams to protect the rear passengers, at the expense of increased weight and possible consumption of precious interior space. In turn, the doors’ torsion springs have to better spread the weight through the narrow spine of the aluminum roof, lest warpage occur. The automaker may end up using more expensive titanium to get that it needs out of that part of the crossover.

Finally, the dual-motor powertrain has to be able to tow “a trailer with a couple of motorcycles or personal watercraft.” Doing so would require extensive cooling measures to ensure the electric motors can sustain the output needed to two for miles/hours on end, which means foregoing the glycol-coolant system in the Model S P85D for refrigerant to actively remove the heat.

While Tesla claims the Model X is “on track for a Q3 launch,” Green Car Reports‘ sources point to production beginning as late as 18 to 24 months from now, a timeframe that would overlap the low-cost Model 3’s projected production start.

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Credit Suisse Picks Tesla As One Of Its Favorites For 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/credit-suisse-picks-tesla-one-favorites-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/credit-suisse-picks-tesla-one-favorites-2015/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 13:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994858 Looking for new stock to add to your portfolio in 2015? Credit Suisse has one for your consideration: Tesla. Bidness Etc reports the investment firm’s analyst picked the Californian EV automaker as its one of its favorites in the Auto and Auto Parts Industry category. Dan Galves, who led the investment research on Tesla, says […]

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2013 Tesla Model S P85 Fishing boat

Looking for new stock to add to your portfolio in 2015? Credit Suisse has one for your consideration: Tesla.

Bidness Etc reports the investment firm’s analyst picked the Californian EV automaker as its one of its favorites in the Auto and Auto Parts Industry category. Dan Galves, who led the investment research on Tesla, says the automaker’s biggest selling point for the medium term is its Gigafactory and lithium-battery pack technology. He and his fellow analysts believe the main goal of the factory — to reduce production costs — is probable, with parity compared to coventionally powered vehicles to come by 2017.

Credit Suisse also projects the Model X — when it finally does arrive — “will be a potential positive catalyst in the process of slowly shifting the industry toward EVs.” Increased production volume visibility during H2 2015 is also expected to provide a view of the automaker’s EBIT margin potential, with the firm bestowing an Outperform rating and a $325 price target on the stock.

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Wright: Tesla’s Camry ‘Not Possible’ Despite Ongoing Success http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/wright-teslas-camry-not-possible-despite-ongoing-success/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/wright-teslas-camry-not-possible-despite-ongoing-success/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 12:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=992866 Tesla co-founder Ian Wright says that while he’s surprised by his old company’s success, the idea of a mass-market EV still doesn’t seem likely. During an interview with San Francisco Business Times about Wrightspeed’s relocation from San Jose to Alameda, Calif., Wright was pleased that Tesla “worked out… quite a lot better” than he originally […]

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Ian Wright

Tesla co-founder Ian Wright says that while he’s surprised by his old company’s success, the idea of a mass-market EV still doesn’t seem likely.

During an interview with San Francisco Business Times about Wrightspeed’s relocation from San Jose to Alameda, Calif., Wright was pleased that Tesla “worked out… quite a lot better” than he originally thought it would, praising the success of the Model S.

As for Tesla’s overall goal of building EVs “cheaper and cheaper and cheaper until they were outselling the Camry,” he still thinks that isn’t possible, having never been “on board” with the idea among co-founders Martin Eberhard and Mark Tarpenning.

As for his own company, which makes hybrid gas-electric turbine drivetrains for medium and heavy commercial vehicles like garbage and delivery trucks, Wright says there’s a $5 billion market in the United States for his drivetrains, $2 billion alone in garbage trucks. Clients such as FedEx and Ratto Group have installed Wrightspeed tech into their fleets in California, while the California Energy Commission bestowed his company with nearly $7 million in grants.

Speaking of funding, Wright is preparing an IPO in the event he does take his company public, hoping he might do better than when he sold his Tesla shares in 2010 prior to their astronomical appreciation.

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Carter To Musk: Hydrogen Just One Basket For Toyota’s Eggs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/carter-musk-hydrogen-just-one-basket-toyotas-eggs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/carter-musk-hydrogen-just-one-basket-toyotas-eggs/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989546 Remember when Tesla CEO Elon Musk declared that Toyota was a fool to invest in hydrogen? Twice? Toyota had a few words to say in return last week. Ecomento reports Toyota Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations Bob Carter took Musk to task regarding comments made during the latter’s annual Tesla shareholders meeting last June, […]

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2016 Toyota Mirai

Remember when Tesla CEO Elon Musk declared that Toyota was a fool to invest in hydrogen? Twice? Toyota had a few words to say in return last week.

Ecomento reports Toyota Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations Bob Carter took Musk to task regarding comments made during the latter’s annual Tesla shareholders meeting last June, as well as those made earlier this month at the Automotive News World Congress, when Musk suggested methane or propane as a better energy storage mechanism while declaring hydrogen “an incredibly dumb one to pick”:

I’m a little disappointed in Mr. Musk’s comments in Detroit last week. But I understand. If I was in a position that I had all of my eggs in one basket I would perhaps be making those same comments. When you take a look at the future, [FCVs are] not a 24- to 36-month play. When you start looking in the 2020s, anybody that would deny [the potential of] moving from an oil-based economy to a hydrogen-based economy [isn’t] looking at the future correctly.

Carter’s response, made last week during the J.D. Power Automotive Summit in San Francisco, come on the heels of Toyota’s unexpected response to its Mirai FCV. Though not due in U.S. showrooms until later this year, the automaker received over 16,000 requests for information on the car. Meanwhile, the FCV has 1,500 confirmed pre-orders in its home market of Japan, with Toyota likely to boost production as interest in the Mirai grows.

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Carlypso: PHEVs To Reach 1 Percent Market Share In Q1 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/carlypso-phevs-reach-1-percent-market-share-q1-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/carlypso-phevs-reach-1-percent-market-share-q1-2015/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 11:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=988434 By the end of Q1 2015, PHEVs are expected to take 1 percent of the overall U.S. domestic market despite fuel prices continuing their downward spiral. Online used-car resell agent Carlypso reports that while just over 50 percent of U.S. new-car sales are focused on light-duty pickups, falling fuel prices haven’t done much to boost […]

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2016-Chevrolet-Volt-2

By the end of Q1 2015, PHEVs are expected to take 1 percent of the overall U.S. domestic market despite fuel prices continuing their downward spiral.

Online used-car resell agent Carlypso reports that while just over 50 percent of U.S. new-car sales are focused on light-duty pickups, falling fuel prices haven’t done much to boost sales during the January 2013 – December 2014 period from whence the report collected its data, based on a sample of 16.3 million units.

The report also looked at over 28 million car sales in the same period, finding that PHEVs and EVs like the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3 made up 217,217 — or 0.86 percent — of said sales. In December 2014 alone, the Leaf, Volt, i3 and Tesla Model S collectively made up over 70 percent of U.S. PHEV/EV sales, despite the average price at the pump hitting $2.43/gallon that month; the current average is $2.05/gallon, down $1.23 from a year ago.

Carlypso co-founder Nicholas Hinrichsen says the findings show that consumers aren’t changing their behavior with the pump, opting to buy whatever they want as far as features and branding are concerned. He added that a vehicle’s value and demand isn’t going to change with the oil market either, advising consumers to let investors worry about how much West Texas Intermediate will go for per barrel.

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Repair Estimates For Tesla Model S Higher At Certified Shops http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/repair-estimates-tesla-model-s-higher-certified-shops/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/repair-estimates-tesla-model-s-higher-certified-shops/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 14:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=985162 No matter how minor or major an accident, Tesla Model S owners and their insurers will feel the financial pain from Tesla’s certified shops. According to Green Car Reports, the EV’s nearly all-aluminum frame and body panels make repair work on even a minor fender-bender difficult, though that is only half of the story. Reported […]

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Black Tesla Model S

No matter how minor or major an accident, Tesla Model S owners and their insurers will feel the financial pain from Tesla’s certified shops.

According to Green Car Reports, the EV’s nearly all-aluminum frame and body panels make repair work on even a minor fender-bender difficult, though that is only half of the story. Reported estimates from Tesla’s certified shops include:

  • $10,000 to repair a “minor but long” scratch
  • $45,000 for “minor front-end damage”
  • $7,000 for repair of a small dent and scratch that required no replacement of parts
  • $30,000 for “minor fender and door damage”
  • $11,000 for a minor scrape on the rear panel, including a $155 charge to “ensure battery remains charged” during the repair

As aluminum “has no memory,” per Peotter’s Body Shop owner Larry Peotter, repairing a Model S is much harder than a vehicle with steel components. Rivets and bonding agents made specifically for use with the metal also add to both time and labor. Authorized shops also pass the costs associated with Tesla’s repair training program — with equipment and tools worth $100,000 alone — to their customers, though Peotter didn’t say by how much.

Though insurance pays for these costs, Model S owners — especially those who never owned a premium vehicle before — are still finding these prices hard to swallow. Some owners have gone as far as to take their vehicle to non-Tesla certified shops experienced with aluminum, coming away with estimates some two-thirds less than what they were charged at Tesla-approved businesses. On the other hand, Tesla won’t sell parts to any shop other than those it trained.

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Tesla Share Price Plummets After Musk’s NAIAS 2015 Visit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/tesla-share-price-plummets-musks-naias-2015-visit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/tesla-share-price-plummets-musks-naias-2015-visit/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 11:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=984225 Tesla shareholders felt lighter Wednesday after the automaker’s stock price fell from just over $200/share to $186.09/share after CEO Elon Musk’s announcement at the 2015 Automotive News World Congress in Detroit — held during the 2015 Detroit Auto Show — that his company wouldn’t be profitable until the start of the 2020s. Business Insider adds […]

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Elon Musk

Tesla shareholders felt lighter Wednesday after the automaker’s stock price fell from just over $200/share to $186.09/share after CEO Elon Musk’s announcement at the 2015 Automotive News World Congress in Detroit — held during the 2015 Detroit Auto Show — that his company wouldn’t be profitable until the start of the 2020s.

Business Insider adds that another bombshell dropped at the start of his presentation likely helped to take the wind out of the sails: sales of the automaker’s Model S in China were down in Q4 2014. Musk put the blame on perception among Chinese consumers regarding the charging infrastructure for Tesla’s sole model, explaining that not only had the issue been handled, but that the Supercharger network was expanding; the rate of said expansion, however, is slower than that of Europe or the United States.

Further into the presentation, Musk proclaimed that Tesla would sell “a few million” vehicles by 2025 by going for volume over being a niche luxury player, likely built on the back of the upcoming Model 3. Meanwhile, the Model X due sometime this year is already sold out for the entire year despite the company’s best efforts to manage demand, such as steering would-be X owners into the driver’s seat of the S.

Finally, Musk urged the majors in the audience to continue their investments into electrification, stating that they all need to do more to change the public’s perceptions on EVs and hybrids.

Since the plunge, Tesla shares have recovered some of their lost value, closing $191.87/share Thursday afternoon.

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New Tesla Roadster Upgrade Promises 400-Mile Range http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/new-tesla-roadster-upgrade-promises-400-mile-range/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/new-tesla-roadster-upgrade-promises-400-mile-range/#comments Fri, 26 Dec 2014 11:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=968042 Still have a Tesla Roadster in your garage? Merry Christmas: You now have a 400-mile range EV, courtesy of CEO Elon Musk. Jalopnik reports Musk tweeted on Christmas Day about the upgrade that had been promised to the 2,500 or so Roadster owners by the end of 2014. The upgrade is expected to consist of […]

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Tesla Roadster in Blue

Still have a Tesla Roadster in your garage? Merry Christmas: You now have a 400-mile range EV, courtesy of CEO Elon Musk.

Jalopnik reports Musk tweeted on Christmas Day about the upgrade that had been promised to the 2,500 or so Roadster owners by the end of 2014. The upgrade is expected to consist of a new battery pack and controller, which would enable one to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco without hitting a charging station at all.

The timeline and cost, if any, for delivery as yet to be announced as of this writing. Model S owners, meanwhile, will be getting theirs over the “long-term,” per a second tweet from Musk.

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Capsule Review: Tesla Model S P85D http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/capsule-review-tesla-model-s-p85d/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/capsule-review-tesla-model-s-p85d/#comments Tue, 23 Dec 2014 16:32:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=964586 Christmas has come early! Our very own bigtruckseriesreview@youtube has sent us his review of the TESLA MODEL S P85D. Enjoy.

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Click here to view the embedded video.

Christmas has come early! Our very own bigtruckseriesreview@youtube has sent us his review of the TESLA MODEL S P85D. Enjoy.

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Tesla Opens Battery Swap Pilot Program In California http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/tesla-opens-battery-swap-pilot-program-california/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/tesla-opens-battery-swap-pilot-program-california/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=963874 It’s official: As of this week, select Tesla Model S owners will be able to swap battery packs in a pilot program along the route between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The pack swaps will take place “at a custom-built facility” across from the automaker’s Supercharger station in Harris Ranch, Calif., with each scheduled swap […]

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It’s official: As of this week, select Tesla Model S owners will be able to swap battery packs in a pilot program along the route between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The pack swaps will take place “at a custom-built facility” across from the automaker’s Supercharger station in Harris Ranch, Calif., with each scheduled swap to cost “slightly less” than a full tank of gas. The swaps are expected to take three minutes, due to the added time needed to remove the titanium and hardened aluminum plates protecting the pack.

The pilot program — announced in October of this year — is meant to test the systems used in the swap, as well as determine demand for such a procedure. Tesla states that with further refinements, a swap could take less than a minute to accomplish.

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Tesla’s Tanking U.S. Sales And The World Of Automakers Falsifying Sales Numbers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/teslas-tanking-u-s-sales-world-automakers-falsifying-sales-numbers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/teslas-tanking-u-s-sales-world-automakers-falsifying-sales-numbers/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=958665 The auto journo world is in a tizzy because electric automaker Tesla refuses to post its car sales numbers on a monthly basis and the numbers they do divulge are suspicious as they are without detail and they vary widely from actual registration numbers. Our friends at Jalopnik ranted about it last week, calling on Tesla to start […]

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Teslas in a row Courtesy ibtimes.com

Tesla’s first fleet deal? Around 100 Model S’s were sold to a Las Vegas startup taxi service.

The auto journo world is in a tizzy because electric automaker Tesla refuses to post its car sales numbers on a monthly basis and the numbers they do divulge are suspicious as they are without detail and they vary widely from actual registration numbers. Our friends at Jalopnik ranted about it last week, calling on Tesla to start reporting sales consistently. They based their story on a report by Seeking Alpha that deduced that Tesla may have as many as 12,000 unsold Model S’s, based on registration figures and the automaker’s quarterly financial reports.

We say congratulations, Elon Musk, you truly are the head of an American car company now, as reporting bogus sales numbers to the press is a normal part of an automaker’s modus operandi. Auto manufacturers claiming they sold more cars than they actually did is nothing new.  Sales numbers in the US are based on those deliveries reported by dealers, not when the automakers wholesale the vehicles to the retailers as some believe. Carmaker execs at times may be motivated to look good to their bosses or shareholders or to outsell a rival. They will then pressure, coerce and bribe dealers with one-time cash incentives to have them report bogus sales at month or year-end, often to the dealer themselves as loaner or demonstrator cars.  The vehicles are never driven and then sold as new, ideally as quickly as possible as their warranty clocks are ticking. Dealers who do not comply are thus put in an unfavorable price disadvantage with competing same-brand stores.

The Japanese automakers pioneered this practice during the high-demand, low supply days. At American Honda from the 1970s to the early 1990s, dealers reported every unsold car as sold at the end of each month or they risked losing precious future allocations. Those were the days when every Honda dealership employee “bought” a dozen cars a year and then the dealer would turn to the white pages of the phone book to find more “buyers.” It is not an urban car legend that a California Honda dealer once sold Accords to customers named “Mickey Mouse” and “Donald Duck.”

In December 2012 BMW North America, in their zeal to beat Mercedes-Benz in the US, reported 37,399 vehicles sold, an amazing 69% higher than their 2012 average monthly sales rate, thus claiming the US luxury brand crown. That December the industry rose 21% over the 2012 average due to it being the heaviest incentive month of the year and this no doubt contributed to the rise in Bimmer sales. However, BMW dealers that I spoke with in January 2013 complained that half of their inventory had been reported as sold in December.  BMW got tons of pub for beating Benz but few noticed that when actual registration numbers came out a few months later it was revealed that Mercedes-Benz outsold BMW for 2012. Incredibly, in one of the few occasions where the media sniffed out this practice, the Wall Street Journal had reported about BMW’s shady sales numbers just months before.

It was one thing to report cars sold as loaners or demonstrators under the direction  of the factory; it is another to do report ghost sales when your dealership needs the incentive cash to stay afloat. We covered the story of a South Carolina Suzuki dealer who was convicted of fraud earlier this year for doing just that. It probably did not help his case that he was also convicted of a cornucopia of illegal advertising and finance practices.

As far as Tesla sales this year, here are the facts as near as we can determine: Automotive News has estimated Tesla’s reported sales in the US through October were 19,530 units. Actual registration numbers for the same period were 11,731 cars, a full 40% below the sales figures.  Further, these registration figures show Tesla off 22% from the same period in 2013.  Other sources have pegged the drop off at 26% this year.  This may explain why Tesla may be dabbling in the fleet market for the first time, as pictured above.

Elon Musk responded to these reports by saying they are selling every car they build and his team issued a response saying that don’t report monthly sales because, “the media tends to read all sorts of nonsense into deliveries.” They also pointed out that a car could be sold one month and not registered until the next. Why, yes, just like every other automaker.

 

Elon Musk Courtesy static1.businessinsider.com

If GM or Ford stopped reporting monthly sales and started spewing such drivel, the press would vilify them but the rules are different for Musk.  If he told the media that Tesla sold 200,000 cars one month, outsold all the other luxury carmakers combined and that he personally just got back from Mars, the slobbering press would not question him and resultant news stories would send Tesla stock into orbit.

Don’t get us wrong. We think that a new auto company selling 15,000 high dollar electric cars annually in the US through a unique, direct sales channel is an incredible accomplishment.

The Tesla Model S is one of the most innovative cars available today and Musk is one of this century’s greatest entrepreneurs, not to mention an amazing PR man. Who cares if can’t tell us the truth about how many cars his company sells?

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Tesla Losing Chinese Chief After Less Than Nine Months http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/tesla-losing-chinese-chief-less-nine-months/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/tesla-losing-chinese-chief-less-nine-months/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 13:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961289 After less than nine months at the helm, Tesla China president Veronica Wu will be resigning from the top job, and leaving the company behind. Bloomberg reports Wu, who joined the automaker from Apple last December, took the wheel after previous subsidiary chief, Kingston Chang, left earlier this year. Her replacement will be Tom Zhu, […]

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Veronica Wu

After less than nine months at the helm, Tesla China president Veronica Wu will be resigning from the top job, and leaving the company behind.

Bloomberg reports Wu, who joined the automaker from Apple last December, took the wheel after previous subsidiary chief, Kingston Chang, left earlier this year. Her replacement will be Tom Zhu, who currently is in charge of Tesla’s charging network development in China.

Wu’s last day with Tesla is unknown, nor are her plans upon leaving the company.

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BMW: We’re Not Working With Tesla On Anything http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/bmw-working-tesla-anything/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/bmw-working-tesla-anything/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 11:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=954977 Were you hoping BMW and Tesla would join forces for the future of electrification? Not so fast. According to Wirtschafts Woche, a BMW representative stated the company will not be buying shares in the California-based automaker, nor offering much more than its carbon fiber technology, which BMW states is open to all comers. The Bavarians […]

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Were you hoping BMW and Tesla would join forces for the future of electrification? Not so fast.

According to Wirtschafts Woche, a BMW representative stated the company will not be buying shares in the California-based automaker, nor offering much more than its carbon fiber technology, which BMW states is open to all comers. The Bavarians believe the only benefit from a relationship with Tesla would be in favor of the latter, claiming CEO Elon Musk would enjoy the PR from such a collaboration.

The statement comes on the heels of an interview by Der Spiegel with Musk, who proclaimed his company was in talks with BMW to “collaborate on battery technology or charging stations,” something that was news to BMW. The automaker also has no interest in working on a battery factory with Tesla, stating such things can be purchased from its suppliers. Musk said he had plans to build a factory in Germany within five to six years.

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Tesla: New Model X Orders To Be Fulfilled ‘Well Into 2016′ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/tesla-new-model-x-orders-fulfilled-well-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/tesla-new-model-x-orders-fulfilled-well-2016/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 15:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=951497 Planning to order a Model X before doing battle on Black Thanksgiving? You may be waiting until Black Thanksgiving 2016 before yours arrives in the driveway, red bow attached. Jalopnik reports a letter sent by Tesla to those already on the early adoption list that the Model X will come with the D’s dual-motor, all-wheel […]

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Planning to order a Model X before doing battle on Black Thanksgiving? You may be waiting until Black Thanksgiving 2016 before yours arrives in the driveway, red bow attached.

Jalopnik reports a letter sent by Tesla to those already on the early adoption list that the Model X will come with the D’s dual-motor, all-wheel drive system, that the EV SUV would be the first of its kind to have towing capability, and that those who are signing up to own or lease an X will be waiting well into 2016 before they finally turn up; the first models are due in driveways Q3 2015, for comparison.

For now, the company is beta-testing the X in its factory, with crash testing due in the future. Tesla is also working with “the best rack and accessory companies in the world to have elegant carrying solutions” for the SUV, as its optional tow hitch can also accommodate ski and bike racks with little effect on aerodynamics.

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