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. Fri, 28 Aug 2015 17:00:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 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 » Tesla http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/tesla/ Consumer Reports Rates ‘Imperfect’ Car With Perfect Score http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/consumer-reports-rates-imperfect-car-perfect-score/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/consumer-reports-rates-imperfect-car-perfect-score/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 16:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1154009 Consumer Reports says that Tesla’s Model S P85D initially scored 103 points out of a possible 100, which initially “broke” their rating system. Consumer Reports adjusted the overall score to 100, and said that the Model S P85D wasn’t perfect, but that it was very good: To be clear, the Tesla’s 100 score doesn’t make […]

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Tesla P85D Backside

Consumer Reports says that Tesla’s Model S P85D initially scored 103 points out of a possible 100, which initially “broke” their rating system.

Consumer Reports adjusted the overall score to 100, and said that the Model S P85D wasn’t perfect, but that it was very good:

To be clear, the Tesla’s 100 score doesn’t make the P85D a perfect car—even at $127,820. It has imperfections. The interior materials aren’t as opulent as other high-ticket automobiles, and its ride is firmer and louder than our base Model S.

What’s more, a lengthy road trip in an electric car with a 200-plus mile range can be a logistical hurdle if a quick-charging station isn’t along your route.

It’s also important to note that our Rating doesn’t include the Tesla’s reliability. The Model S has average reliability, according to our owner-survey responses.

The Model S P85D sports upgrades beyond the Model S, including “insane” and “ludicrous” speed modes that can propel the car from 0-60 in fewer than 3 seconds.

Previously, the Model S was the highest-rated car Consumer Reports had ever tested. The 1996 Porsche Boxster also scored a “perfect” 100 almost 20 years ago.

Consumer Reports said that the 103 score and its subsequent re-scoring of 100 wouldn’t impact other cars’ ratings.

“This car is not perfect in every single way,” said Jake Fisher, Auto Test Director for Consumer Reports. “It doesn’t fit in the rest of the automotive marketplace.”

Fisher added that the scoring system was “non-linear,” meaning cars wouldn’t need to accelerate from 0-60 mph in around 3 seconds to score well on the test.

According to the testers, the Model S P85D’s interior shortcomings and initial buyer satisfaction were more-than compensated by the car’s performance and fuel economy, which are both greater than the Model S.

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Tesla’s Second Stock Sale Nets $738M for Automaker http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/teslas-second-stock-sale-nets-738m-automaker/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/teslas-second-stock-sale-nets-738m-automaker/#comments Thu, 20 Aug 2015 20:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1148929 Tesla’s second stock offering netted the automaker $738 million in cash for its Gigafactory, Model 3 development, and dealer and service upgrades, Bloomberg is reporting. Banks exercised their options to buy more stock than the initial $500 million estimate, with underwriters Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs buying more than 2 million of the available 3.1 […]

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Tesla Model S Center Stage

Tesla’s second stock offering netted the automaker $738 million in cash for its Gigafactory, Model 3 development, and dealer and service upgrades, Bloomberg is reporting.

Banks exercised their options to buy more stock than the initial $500 million estimate, with underwriters Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs buying more than 2 million of the available 3.1 million shares. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he would be interested in buying $20 million worth of shares in the offering.

(Before the stock offering, the banking arms of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs loaned Musk a combined $475 million, to which Musk pays market rate and is separate from their investment divisions, according to the offering.)

Shares of Tesla were down more than 3 percent in Thursday trading to $245.

The second offering is aimed at helping the company invest in capital projects that have sapped the company of cash. Its massive battery factory in Nevada, dubbed Gigafactory, and development costs for its lower-priced sedan, the Model 3, have cost the company money, Musk said.

After the company reported substantial losses in the second quarter of 2015, analysts calculated that Tesla lost around $4,000 on each car it sold.

Despite that, a Morgan Stanley analyst said Tesla stock could be massively undervalued, in part, because the company could develop an autonomous ride-sharing business with its electric cars.

Tesla is preparing to ship to dealers its Model X, which is the company’s third vehicle.

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Analyst: Tesla Could Surge with Autonomous Ride Sharing Biz http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/analyst-tesla-surge-autonomous-ride-sharing-biz/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/analyst-tesla-surge-autonomous-ride-sharing-biz/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 17:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1144945 Tesla’s ride-sharing business could be worth hundreds of millions to the company in the future, an analyst for Morgan Stanley said Monday. Adam Jonas increased his price target for Tesla from $280 to $465 — but said the stock could go even higher to $611 — based on his forecast that Tesla could introduce an autonomous ride-sharing […]

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2012 Tesla Model S

Tesla’s ride-sharing business could be worth hundreds of millions to the company in the future, an analyst for Morgan Stanley said Monday.

Adam Jonas increased his price target for Tesla from $280 to $465 — but said the stock could go even higher to $611 — based on his forecast that Tesla could introduce an autonomous ride-sharing service by as early as 2018, Bloomberg reported.

It’s at least the third time that Jonas has publicly pumped Tesla’s stock.

Jonas says that Tesla’s future could be in part-time car ownership or autonomous sharing, which could position the carmaker with the likes of Apple or Google who may be building cars for those purposes.

Jonas dubbed the prospective venture “Tesla Mobility” although the automaker hasn’t publicly shared plans for that kind of service. Jonas said the automaker could make public plans for a ride-sharing program in 12 to 18 months, with a launch shortly after the mid-size Model 3 in 2017. He predicted that Tesla could launch a fully autonomous, ride sharing program in roughly 10 years.

Before people could split payments for robot cars, Jonas says that there would be two phases: a semi-autonomous phase and then a nearly completely autonomous phase before launching a fully driver-less car in 2025.

Jonas asked Tesla CEO Elon Musk about the program earlier this month during an earnings call and Musk was predictably tight-lipped:

Jonas: First question: Steve Jurvetson was recently quoted saying that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick told him that if by 2020 Tesla’s cars are autonomous, that he’d want to buy all of them. Is this a real, I mean, forget the 2020 for a moment, but is this a real business opportunity for Tesla? Supplying cars to ridesharing firms, or does Tesla just cut out the middleman and sell on-demand, electric mobility services directly from the company on its own platform?

Musk: That’s an insightful question.

Jonas: You don’t have to answer it.

Musk: I don’t think I should answer it.

Jonas: Sometimes you can tell more from the non-answer than from the answer.

Shares of Tesla were up 1.5 percent in early trading Tuesday to $259.05.

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Union Protests Tesla Showroom, HQ with the Grim Reaper Driving a VW Thing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/union-protests-tesla-showroom-hq-grim-reaper-driving-vw-thing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/union-protests-tesla-showroom-hq-grim-reaper-driving-vw-thing/#comments Mon, 17 Aug 2015 14:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1142385 Following a similar effort last month at Tesla’s headquarters, Carpenters’ Local 713 of Hayward, CA, set up a protest on Friday outside  the EV maker’s showroom in nearby San Jose, saying that the automaker’s policies “hurts workers, hurts families, hurts community.” The protest was not without a bit of theater, including a giant papier-mâché puppet of […]

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flyer1Following a similar effort last month at Tesla’s headquarters, Carpenters’ Local 713 of Hayward, CA, set up a protest on Friday outside  the EV maker’s showroom in nearby San Jose, saying that the automaker’s policies “hurts workers, hurts families, hurts community.”

The protest was not without a bit of theater, including a giant papier-mâché puppet of death. Fliers were handed out saying “Shame on Them” and calling on the company to require “General Contractors and all their sub-contractors pay the Carpenter Area Standard Wages and Benefits on all jobs all the time”.

One assumes this labor dispute has to do with construction that Tesla is doing in California and not about the Gigafactory for making batteries that Tesla is building in Nevada, unless Local 713 is taking up the cause of their union brothers and sisters in the Silver State. The UAW has so far unsuccessfully attempted to organize Tesla’s assembly plant in Fremont, CA, formerly the UAW facility operated by GM and Toyota known as NUMMI.

flyer2

In addition to the giant puppet, the fliers handed out featured a drawing of the grim reaper driving a Volkswagen Thing (with a Tesla badge) with the slogan “Driving the car industry into the future. Sending workers [sic] wages and benefits back to the past.” I think I get the symbolism of Death (you can see a photo of the GPMPOD at the Teslaowner blog), the union wants us to think that the people at Tesla are bad, but why a VW Thing?

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Elon Musk’s $500 Million Moonshot, and it’s Not About Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/elon-musks-500-million-moonshot-not-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/elon-musks-500-million-moonshot-not-cars/#comments Thu, 13 Aug 2015 16:03:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1141258 Tesla filed Thursday to sell nearly $500 million in shares of its company to raise capital and cover investments the electric carmaker plans to make in the future. According to the filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the proceeds will go toward the company’s planned investments in the Model 3, Supercharger network and […]

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tesladeal

Tesla filed Thursday to sell nearly $500 million in shares of its company to raise capital and cover investments the electric carmaker plans to make in the future.

According to the filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the proceeds will go toward the company’s planned investments in the Model 3, Supercharger network and its Gigafactory battery plant in Nevada.

By the book, the stock sale is a short-term pain for long-term gain. Exposing Tesla further to the market carries certain risk, especially considering Tesla’s price growth and relative upside-down balance sheet, but if historical stock prices are any indication, it’ll be a cash cow. Elon Musk asking to buy $20 million in his own stock has pumped up the prices too beyond any distillation worries.

But don’t be mistaken: the second stock sale isn’t really about the cars.

Tesla’s long-term plans certainly aren’t to sell cars at a $4,000 loss per vehicle. And if you had asked Ford or General Motors 120 years ago if they’d rather be in the consumer vehicle business or the consumer energy business, Exxon and Chevron consistently rank in Forbes most profitable businesses — Ford and GM do not.

A spokesman for Tesla said their only comment on the stock sale is what is included in the prospectus. Specifically outlined in the prospectus is capital expenditures for Tesla including the Model 3, Supercharger network, service, stores — and its Gigafactory. So it’s clear that cars factor into the short-term future for Tesla.

But churning a profit by 2020 may include more than just selling cars at a loss and so far, Tesla has been run like an idea factory and marketing agencynot a car business.

If Musk can convince the world that harvesting and storing your own power is a good idea, would Tesla get out of the car business entirely? Or is this an automotive dream Elon is willing to captain to the bottom of the sea should Tesla cars continue to anchor the company with thousands of dollars in losses per unit for the foreseeable future?

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Apparently All Cars Can Be Hacked Now: Tesla Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/apparently-cars-can-hacked-now-tesla-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/apparently-cars-can-hacked-now-tesla-edition/#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2015 16:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1135386 Two men say they’ve managed to shut off a Tesla Model S at low speeds, proving that no car is actually safe on the streets anymore and we should all go back to driving Chevrolet Vegas. The hack, which was reported by the Financial Times and detailed exhaustively by Wired, requires physical access to the […]

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2013-Tesla-Model-S-Rear

Two men say they’ve managed to shut off a Tesla Model S at low speeds, proving that no car is actually safe on the streets anymore and we should all go back to driving Chevrolet Vegas.

The hack, which was reported by the Financial Times and detailed exhaustively by Wired, requires physical access to the car’s infotainment system to exploit the vulnerability. The car can then be remotely disabled.

Similar to hackers who recently said they could start and stop OnStar-enabled vehicles, the two men who broke into Tesla’s software said they presented their findings to the automaker and Tesla released a patch for its cars Thursday. Last month, a vulnerability in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Uconnect system forced the automaker to recall 1.4 million cars.

The hackers say they are presenting their findings at the annual Def Con Hacking Conference, which begins Thursday. The hackers praised Tesla for a robust gateway between the car’s vulnerable systems and the computers that control vital functions such as steering, brakes and throttle.

At speeds lower than 5 mph, when Tesla cars lose power, the vehicles are stopped using the car’s handbrake. At speeds higher than 5 mph, the cars are put into neutral and steering and airbags still remain functional.

“That in itself I think is a huge achievement that I’d like to call Tesla out for,” Marc Rogers, chief researcher for CloudFare, told Wired. “This is a directly contrasting story to the Jeep story … Tesla had actually thought about the ramifications about what might happen and had designed the car to handle it gracefully and be safe … in such a way that catastrophic (failure) would not happen.”

The duo say that they’re using the hack to showcase how little attention some automakers have given to security.

“Early in the industry you have this kind of weird lemming effect, that if nobody does security well, they all kind of jump off the cliff simultaneously,” said Kevin Mahaffey, who is the chief technical officer for mobile security firm Lookout, told Wired. “And if there are one or two companies that are actually doing it well, then shining the light on them … helps raise the overall bar for the entire industry.”

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Whoa, Don’t Get Amped About Your Free Model X Just Yet http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/whoa-dont-get-amped-free-model-x-yet/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/whoa-dont-get-amped-free-model-x-yet/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 20:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1130529 Yesterday, we reported that in a sales call, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk announced a referral program that could, possibly, maybe net one free Model X for someone who referred 10 new buyers. The qualifications for getting the free car: Refer 10 buyers by Oct. 31 and be the first in your “region” to do so. […]

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Tesla Model S Center Stage

Yesterday, we reported that in a sales call, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk announced a referral program that could, possibly, maybe net one free Model X for someone who referred 10 new buyers.

The qualifications for getting the free car: Refer 10 buyers by Oct. 31 and be the first in your “region” to do so.

Turns out “region” doesn’t mean what we think it does.

According to a Tesla spokesman, “region” in this case means “country.” As in, apparently, one (1) Model X will be awarded to a single (1) person in the U.S. for referring 10 new Model S buyers.

In case you’re wondering, the U.S. is a larger market for Tesla than the next nine countries combined.

So if you live in Switzerland, it may be a good deal to get your friends to buy a Tesla and score your own for free. If you live in Dallas, however, you should probably line up your friends at the “dealership” today.

Lesson: Elon Musk is really, really good at marketing.

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Refer 10 New Tesla X Buyers, Get Your Tesla Model X for Free http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/refer-10-new-tesla-x-buyers-get-tesla-model-x-free/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/refer-10-new-tesla-x-buyers-get-tesla-model-x-free/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 20:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1129465 Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk told press Wednesday that people who refer 10 people to buy the company’s new Model X would get one for free, Mashable is reporting (via Car and Driver). The caveats: You need to be the first in your region to refer 10 people (we have no idea on what “regions” mean, […]

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tesladeal

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk told press Wednesday that people who refer 10 people to buy the company’s new Model X would get one for free, Mashable is reporting (via Car and Driver).

The caveats: You need to be the first in your region to refer 10 people (we have no idea on what “regions” mean, we asked) and you’d need to do it by Oct. 31.

Despite how you feel about Tesla, the company is proving that an automaker can be run like a tech startup and not a car company.

The incentive is part of a larger program that Musk detailed in his call.

Any current Model S buyer who refers another new Model S buyer gets $1,000 off the purchase of another Tesla. The new buyer also gets $1,000 off the purchase price of their new car too. Refer five new buyers, and you get a tour of the new Gigafactory. Refer 10 new buyers and get $20,000 knocked off the price of a new Model X.

There isn’t a similar program in place for Tesla’s used cars, but Musk said he’d be open to the possibility.

So, who wants to be a Tesla dealer today?

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Tesla Model 3 May Make Appearance Next Year http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/tesla-model-3-may-make-appearance-next-year/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/tesla-model-3-may-make-appearance-next-year/#comments Sun, 26 Jul 2015 15:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1125257 Despite the absence of a mule, prototype or anything that would resemble reality, Tesla’s Model 3  — or III, however you spell it — will make its debut at the Geneva auto show next year, AutoExpress is reporting. The BMW 3 Series fighter would be the third model from Tesla, and perhaps the first built […]

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Tesla Repair Bay With Superchargers

Despite the absence of a mule, prototype or anything that would resemble reality, Tesla’s Model 3  — or III, however you spell it — will make its debut at the Geneva auto show next year, AutoExpress is reporting.

The BMW 3 Series fighter would be the third model from Tesla, and perhaps the first built in a European factory. Representatives from Tesla said they would consider building the Model 3 on the European continent once the automaker started mass producing its three models.

The Model 3 would join the Model S and Model X in the automaker’s portfolio.

In an interview with AutoExpress, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the Model 3 would be around 20 percent smaller than the Model S and would have a range over 200 miles.

Musk said the car would sell for around $35,000 and performance — from the car company that just announced “ludicrous speed” in the Model S — would be on par with the M3 or M4.

The Geneva auto show begins March 1, 2016.

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Tesla Prices 70 kWh RWD at $52,500*, Adds Ludicrous Mode to P85D http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/tesla-prices-70-kwh-rwd-at-52500-adds-ludicrous-mode-to-p85d/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/tesla-prices-70-kwh-rwd-at-52500-adds-ludicrous-mode-to-p85d/#comments Sat, 18 Jul 2015 15:18:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1118985 Tesla is yet again updating its Model S range with interesting options on each end of the price scale before the release of the Tesla Model X. Elon Musk, in a blog post yesterday, announced a new single-motor version of the base model Model S 70 priced at $70,000 — or $52,500 after maximum incentives […]

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Tesla Model S In Hero Blue

Tesla is yet again updating its Model S range with interesting options on each end of the price scale before the release of the Tesla Model X.

Elon Musk, in a blog post yesterday, announced a new single-motor version of the base model Model S 70 priced at $70,000 — or $52,500 after maximum incentives available in certain states — which is $5,000 less than the all-wheel drive Model S with the same 70 kWh battery pack.

On the other end of the spectrum is a $13,000 (!!!) upgrade to the P85D, pushing Tesla Motors’ top performer to a 0-60 mph time of 2.8 seconds.

With the new Model S 70 rear-wheel drive model, the main change is the removal of the front-wheel motor, effectively turning the car into a rear-wheel drive model and reducing cost. The new option will make the Model S a more palatable option for those looking for budget luxury, especially once state and federal incentives are woven into the final price.

However, upgrades to the top-range 85 kWh models are more involved. For starters, there’s a new 90 kWh battery option for those willing to part with an extra $3,000 on top of the asking price of 85 kWh models. The new pack increases range by a mere 6 percent, extending drivable distance to almost 300 miles on a charge, says Musk.

Before you rush out to upgrade your pack, Musk offers some guidance:

“Existing owners can also purchase the pack upgrade, but I wouldn’t recommend doing so unless usage is on the edge of current range. On average, we expect to increase pack capacity by roughly 5% per year. Better to wait until you have more time on your existing pack and there is a larger accumulated pack energy difference.”

In addition to the pack upgrade, owners and buyers can now upgrade to the new Ludicrous Mode on the Model S P85D. This upgrade is quite involved, requiring a new, advanced “smart fuse” and upgraded main pack contacter. Together, the upgrades result in a 2.8 second sprint to 60 mph — an improvement of 10 percent — and a quarter-mile time of 10.9 seconds, states Musk. Car & Driver says the upgrade gives the Model S 762 horsepower.

If you are ordering a new P85D and want the Ludicrous Model update, prepare to shell out $10,000 plus another $3,000 for the required range update. Even though Musk says “the battery pack size upgrade and the pack electronics upgrade are almost entirely independent,” when ordering the Ludicrous Mode option, you must also select the new, larger battery pack. If you already own a P85D, you can upgrade to Ludicrous Mode for $5,000 (plus labor) sometime in the next six months. There was no word on pricing beyond the six-month window.

Just to add a teaser, Musk says there will be another mode added — beyond Ludicrous — in the future, but it is reserved for a second-generation Roadster in four-years time.

Musk also states Model X production will begin in two months, but we will believe it when we see it.

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Tesla Dead Last in Dealer Experience, First in PR http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/tesla-dead-last-dealer-experience-first-pr/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/tesla-dead-last-dealer-experience-first-pr/#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2015 13:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1110609 We have opined in these pages before about how for every Tesla sold in America, there are two or three glowing stories written about the electric automaker. There are days when over 50 percent of the pieces on auto industry news feeds are about Tesla, which is not bad for a company capturing 0.1 percent of the U.S. automobile market. Tesla Motors […]

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Tesla Store

We have opined in these pages before about how for every Tesla sold in America, there are two or three glowing stories written about the electric automaker. There are days when over 50 percent of the pieces on auto industry news feeds are about Tesla, which is not bad for a company capturing 0.1 percent of the U.S. automobile market. Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is truly a marketing and public relations genius.

Given that, it is fascinating when a negative story surfaces about Tesla’s way of doing business and the slobbering media is strangely silent. 

A customer study conducted by research firm Pied Piper Management Company revealed that Tesla dealers are dead last in converting prospects into buyers. Labeling Tesla sales representatives as “museum curators,” PPMC calls Tesla out for not asking questions about prospects’ driving habits and how they plan to use their new vehicle, as well as their inability to ask for the sale. PPMC noted that the fact that many Tesla outlets are not able to offer test drives, which also contributed to the poor ranking.

2015 Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index

Said PPMC chief Fran O’Hagan:

“Dealerships that sell proactively — think of them as doing everything they can to be helpful to a car-shopper — not only end up selling a lot more vehicles, they also end up with happy shoppers and customers. On the other hand, customers don’t usually mind the ‘museum curator’ dealerships, with courteous salespeople who answer questions but do nothing to proactively sell. The difference is that the ‘museum curator’ dealerships end up much less successful; selling fewer vehicles … “

Say what you want about the current franchised dealer system, but what is wrong with showing interest in the customer, offering a demo drive and asking for the sale? It is not happening at Tesla outlets.

Mercedes-Benz backed up their up recent winning of the J.D. Power Sales Satisfaction Index award by topping the PPMC survey. I can tell you from firsthand experience that Mercedes-Benz has tirelessly worked the past four years to change the culture of their dealerships’ sales operations and the top ranking shows their efforts are paying off.

The PPMC survey supports what we wrote in 2013: If Tesla wants to succeed in America they need to drop their direct sales strategy and join the traditional franchised dealer network by partnering with an established brand. If not, and their government subsidies dry up, Tesla will be a goner.

(As an aside, it is nice to see PPMC emerge as a potential competitor to long-time customer satisfaction surveying firm J.D. Power and Associates, a company despised by automakers. They complain that J.D. Power is a monopoly and that they charge outrageous fees to advertise winning an award. The sheer number of J.D. Power surveys about the automobile buying and ownership experience is so high that I expect to see this headline someday, “Jeep Wins J.D. Power Award For Customer Satisfaction For Windshield Wiper Stalk Operation During The First 47 Days Of Ownership.”)

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Used Tesla Values Could Be a Bubble Waiting to Burst http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/used-tesla-values-could-be-a-bubble-waiting-to-burst/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/used-tesla-values-could-be-a-bubble-waiting-to-burst/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1104801 The National Automobile Dealers Association new electric vehicle retention list released last week has a tasty little tidbit in its roundup of value retention rates. Tesla’s Model S, which topped the 3-year value retention rate list for EVs in the new list, also sported a better value rate for most cars on a similar list released last year for all […]

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Tesla Model S Center Stage

The National Automobile Dealers Association new electric vehicle retention list released last week has a tasty little tidbit in its roundup of value retention rates.

Tesla’s Model S, which topped the 3-year value retention rate list for EVs in the new list, also sported a better value rate for most cars on a similar list released last year for all segments, including mid-size luxury cars. That includes BMW.

But the news may not be all good, all the time.

According to the most recent NADA study, Tesla’s Model S retains 57.2 percent of its original value after three years based on dealer trade-in values. That figure is tops among mid-size luxury sedans, including BMW’s 5-series, in a study conducted last year.

Also noted in the 2015 study, there is a significant cliff after three years when most EV manufacturers’ powertrain warranties expire, meaning there’s good chance that the Model S’s value plummets after that.

The 2014 study by NADA (which examined all segments – including EVs) was comprised of only the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf — the only two cars that had been on the market for three years by the time the study was conducted. The Volt and Leaf retained 41.6 percent and 38.2 percent of their values respectively, due partly to price drops from their manufacturers and increasing competition in the segment. The 2015 study had worse news for Volts and Leafs on trade-in: those values dropped to 31.3 and 25.3 percent respectively.

As Tesla prepares to release their Model X, there’s no doubt quite a few Model S owners will be looking to replace their sedans. This could trigger a market saturated with Model S’s (or is it “Models S”?) at or nearing the end of their warranty lives — and it’ll likely have legitimate competition in the near future as well, further driving down retained values.

Tesla Model X Teaser

It’s no secret that Tesla has no significant cash flow, hasn’t turned a profit for more than one fiscal quarter in five years, and probably won’t have a cash-positive year until 2020.

That all could mean the bottom falling out for Tesla Model S values soon. Or not.

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Tesla Ownership Vignettes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/tesla-ownership-vignettes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/tesla-ownership-vignettes/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 15:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1064642 We’ve owned our 2013 P85 Tesla Model S since December, putting maybe 3,000 miles on it, so I thought TTAC readers would appreciate a long-term update. Overall it’s still the grin-inducing ride that all owners like to be smug about. That said, there have been more than a few unusual experiences. To that end, I thought it […]

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Tesla Model S

We’ve owned our 2013 P85 Tesla Model S since December, putting maybe 3,000 miles on it, so I thought TTAC readers would appreciate a long-term update.

Overall it’s still the grin-inducing ride that all owners like to be smug about. That said, there have been more than a few unusual experiences. To that end, I thought it would be useful to present this update as a series of individual stories, or vignettes, of the Tesla ownership experience.

tesla-handles

The Fused Door Handle
My daughter is fascinated with the door handles pushing themselves in and out. She was standing there, leaning on it before I got to the car, and once the car detected my key fob, it tried really hard to push out the handle. The car handle won, but then it wouldn’t actually open the door nor would it retract again. Arrggh! A quick search via Google, the Interwebs told me to pull fuse #40. Sure enough, that reset everything back to normal again.

Pulling the fuses on a Tesla, on one of the very few days of the year I happened to be wearing a proper suit and tie, made me a bit nervous. The last thing I wanted was car grease on my nice pants. The only hard part of the operation was pulling the plastic cover (between the frunk and the windshield). After that, pull and push back the fuse and *poof*, problem solved. I did the work while sitting cross-legged in the nicely carpeted frunk. My nice wool dress pants were unscathed in the operation and now my daughter hopefully understands not to do that again.

tesla-fusebox

Anti-Gymkhana Mode
I hate valets. When I go to restaurants or whatever that have mandatory valet, I’ll typically have a conversation like:

“Can I please park my own car?”

“But we’re a valet lot, sir.”

“Can I please park my own car?”

“Umm, okay.”

I’ve complained early and often that one of the big missing features from the Tesla was any sort of Valet Mode to restrict what valet nutjobs can do with the car. Finally, with the 6.2 software update, Tesla has responded. You select “valet mode” from the same drop-down menu where you might otherwise pick a driver. It asks for a four-digit pin and it’s locked in*. In addition to setting a max speed of 70 mph and limiting the power output to disable serious hoonage, valet mode also disables the frunk and glove box from opening and hides personal information (home address, etc.) from the nav system. It even disables the HomeLink garage door opener. Not bad.

Feature request: Teenager mode. Doesn’t need the privacy features, but does need the anti-hoonage. My daughter’s probably going to drive my Tesla one day, without this mode, and I don’t want her wrapping it around a telephone pole.

* Of course, being the paranoid sort, I initially put in “1234” to make sure it worked properly. Later on, when I wanted to change it to something non-trivial, it turns out that it’s a pain to change. You have to do the “oops, I forgot my PIN” dialog, which has you enter your username/password from the Tesla web site. Not that you’d know that without hunting around, once again, on the nets.

Unintended Drive-bys
I was driving home, around the corner from my house, and I came up behind a neighbor walking her dog in the middle of the street. I was crawling forward, waiting for her to notice me and get out of the way, but she didn’t hear the car. Eventually, she turned around and did a double-take. In hindsight, I guess I could have hit the horn, or maybe opened the windows and pumped up the jams, but the Tesla is just too damn quiet for these low-speed scenarios where there’s neither tire noise nor anything else coming from the Tesla. Something like this seems to happen about once a month.

You’ve probably heard that having some amount of car noise is about pedestrian safety. Much has been written about how it’s necessary for electric cars to make suitable noise to notify pedestrians and blind people. After watching Lieberman’s Tesla vs. Hellcat video, I’m firmly convinced that low-speed Teslas should be quietly playing The Girl From Ipanema. That conveys the chill vibe that says “it’s cool, but you know, I’d like to drive through, but hey, whatever.”

Tesla sunshade vanity mirrors

The ‘S’ Stands For Service
Tesla service is its own weird world. I called the local Houston shop and they said I had to call the national number. Because Texas. Really? Fine. After ten minutes on hold, I finally got to list my “concerns” (not “repair requests”, not “work orders” – no, they’re concerns). In this case, it’s fixing the cracked vanity mirror covers, fixing an annoying windshield wiper clicking noise (a well-known defect, err, concern), and installing the rear carbon fiber spoiler (ordered way back when the car was new in 2013 and only now finally arriving for me, the new owner). Fine – after a day, I get a call back from the local shop. Three weeks hence, they were to pick it up from my office, at no extra charge. They claimed the repairs would be done in a single day, but were giving me a loaner Tesla, just in case.

And indeed, they met me in the parking lot of my office around 9:30 a.m. and gave me a S85 (not as fast as my P85, but with the latest AutoPilot features my Model S lacks). Sadly, I still have my day job thing, so I didn’t have the time to give it a spin. I told the Tesla dude I was in meetings until 3 p.m. No problem, sir. They called around then and said they were on the way back with the car. I met them in the parking lot at 3:30 p.m. Everything fixed. Car washed, vacuumed, and charged. And while they had it, they did a bunch of courtesy things (tire pressure, fresh wipers, etc.). All covered under warranty, no charge.
Tesla lacks so many things that are seemingly obvious, like door map pockets, decent interior lighting, rear seat power ports, etc., but you let it slide because hey, I’m driving something special. Here’s the exception.

We park our Tesla in the garage, as one might, to charge it at night. My wife, for the Nth time, went out to the car to grab something she forgot to bring in, but the car’s locked. Arrrgghhh! You see, for me, my car keys are always in my pocket. Always. For my wife, they’re in her purse, which tends to stay on a counter or other flat surface when she’s inside, so she can’t get into the damn car without it. Feature request: if you can do geo-fencing for the suspension settings, then you should also be able to come up with geofencing options for when you’re at home, charging, in a locked garage. Then it’s safe to leave it unlocked.

(Good security ninjas will suggest that advanced bad guys can spoof GPS signals with cheap equipment, and could thusly trick your car into unlocking itself. Other security ninjas would point out that radio-based car keys are generally not robust against attackers with radios either. Anyway, there are lots of ways the car can know it’s in my house, such as the fact that it’s paired with my WiFi. Also, even if you leave the doors unlocked, you still don’t need to let somebody turn the car on and drive away. Principle of least privilege vs. psychological acceptability, baby. Saltzer and Shroeder know what’s up.)

tesla-powerwall

(Free) Power To The People
Tesla recently announced their PowerWall home energy storage battery. I did a detailed writeup for a Houston-local buddy’s political blog, where I presented numbers from my rooftop solar system. Bottom line? If you want to go completely off-grid, you would need to radically super-size your solar system for cloudy/rainy/awful days, and you’d then be wasting all of that excess capacity on sunny days. On the other hand, if your electric utility would offer you variable-pricing, a storage battery would let you avoid paying the high dollars in hot afternoons, instead time-shifting your grid power draws to the evening when power is cheaper. Too bad, despite the 300+ different electrical plans available to me in Houston via Texas electricity deregulation, precisely none of them offer anything like this except for TXU’s “free nights” plan. I figure it’s a goner, since a battery storage system plus that plan equals totally free electricity. Yee haw, deregulation!

Speaking of electricity usage, I give you a preview of coming attractions. In my last Tesla piece, I mentioned how the previous owner of my car upgraded from a P85 to a P85D. After several months of driving it the same way he drove the P85, the net change in his mileage seems to be about 1%. Once he and I have had our respective cars for a year each, I’ll write up a longer discussion of electric car mileage. The long and the short of it, though, is that the mileage penalty for upping the RWD P85 to the AWD dual motor P85D is small enough to be negligible. No matter how you slice it, that’s an impressive feat.

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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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elon-musk-model-s

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.

tesla-IMG_20150309_074051

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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.

codebrown

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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SONY DSC

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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Tesla charging

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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