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. Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:14:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 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/ Tesla Charging Station Coming To Carl’s Jr. In Gila Bend, Arizona http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/tesla-charging-station-coming-to-carls-jr-in-gila-bend-arizona/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/tesla-charging-station-coming-to-carls-jr-in-gila-bend-arizona/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:18:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=801170  Gila Bend 2

Pity poor Tesla Motors. The General Motors recall crisis has knocked the electric automaker out of the auto industry headlines. There were times when half the news stories on industry feeds like this one would be about Tesla. TTAC is here to help get the company back on track to maintaining their 3:1 News Stories-To-Cars Sold Ratio.

The above picture was taken in the parking lot of a Carl’s Jr. fast food restaurant in dusty, desolate Gila Bend, Arizona. If you have ever been to Gila Bend you can attest to the fact that the shot is actually in color.

It was quite a jolt to spot this under-construction Tesla Supercharger station in Gila Bend this week as I was headed towards California. It proves Tesla is well on its way to building a coast-to-coast network of charging outlets. Gila Bend sits between San Diego and Tucson on I-8 at the turnoff for Phoenix, so West Coast owners on their way to Phoenix can stop here or at the Hilton Garden Inn in Yuma, Arizona to “fill up.” (Curiously, Tesla’s website currently shows no San Diego chargers or any in Tucson.)

I am sure that part of Tesla’s strategy to is locate its Superchargers at the most upscale establishments available with easy access to the interstates. In Gila Bend the best place in town is this greasy burger chain. It will certainly be a new experience for Tesla drivers to eat a Western X-tra Bacon Thickburger or walk next door to the Love’s Truck Stop during their 75 minute stopover. Certainly, members of the Tesla Motors Club are excited about Gila Bend.

If Tesla should ever go out of business, perhaps due to having no traditional dealer network as Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon suggested yesterday, or due to an end to their subsidies from the government, their charging station stanchions will become as collectable as Route 66 signs.

I want one from Gila Bend.

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Wash. Governor Inslee Signs Pro-Tesla Legislation, Hackers Find Ubuntu Inside http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/wash-governor-inslee-signs-pro-tesla-legislation-hackers-find-ubuntu-inside/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/wash-governor-inslee-signs-pro-tesla-legislation-hackers-find-ubuntu-inside/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 13:45:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=797458 Ubuntu_GNOME_13.10_ScreenShot

Automotive News reports Washington state governor Jay Inslee signed legislation that would allow Tesla to continue with its direct-sales business model within the state while also clarifying current law that favors traditional franchise dealership networks by preventing other automakers from following in Tesla’s path. The EV automaker thanked the state government “for supporting a culture of innovation and ultimately making the right decision for consumers” with the introduction of the bill into law.

In other government news, the California Air Resources Board is considering cutting EVs priced at $60,000 and above from the agency’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Program as funding continues to run low, according to Capitol Weekly. Though the move would be temporary, the cap would push-out both the Cadillac ELR and Tesla’s Model S and upcoming X, a move that Tesla feels is disappointing:

[CARB] aims to paint Tesla as the sole purveyor of EVs (electric vehicles) to the wealthy, while disregarding the fact that individuals of similar affluence may still continue to receive a rebate by purchasing a different EV.

Finally, Autoblog Green reports a group of tech-savvy Tesla owners have dug into their EV’s console via its exposed Ethernet connector, discovering a subsystem powered by Linux distribution Ubuntu. The individual behind the dig, known only as ‘nlc,’ was contacted by the automaker through its service center, warning him that his exploration could void his car’s warranty should he persist.

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Lemon Law King Sues Tesla In Wisconsin Circuit Court http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/lemon-law-king-sues-tesla-in-wisconsin-circuit-court/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/lemon-law-king-sues-tesla-in-wisconsin-circuit-court/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 13:15:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=790041 tesla-model-s-09

Wisconsin lawyer and self-proclaimed “Lemon Law King” Vince Megna has filed a lawsuit in Milwaukee County Circuit Court against Tesla under the state’s lemon law.

Green Bay Press Gazette reports the lawsuit, filed on behalf of Robert Montgomery of Franklin, Wisc., takes the automaker to task for failing to refund Montgomery’s $99,515 after his 2013 Model S Performance was in the shop for various issues — including failure to start and inoperable door handles — for over 30 days; Wisconsin’s law requires manufacturers to either replace a defective product under warranty after four attempts in one year to fix a defect, or to refund the affected customer. The refund request was made in November 2013.

Megna told the newspaper that under the lemon law then-in affect when Montgomery purchased his Tesla, his client could receive double damages should the court side in their favor. The lawyer also posted a video on YouTube outlining the case and subsequent filing, with a cameo from a cardboard cutout of famed Tesla owner George Clooney.

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CARB ZEV Credit Restructuring Leaves Tesla With Fewer Credits http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/carb-zev-credit-restructuring-leaves-tesla-with-fewer-credits/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/carb-zev-credit-restructuring-leaves-tesla-with-fewer-credits/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 13:01:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=788698 tesla-model-s-logo

A change to the California Air Resources Board’s Zero-Emission Vehicle credit program will leave Tesla with four credits per car cold for the foreseeable future, down from seven credits for every Model S through 2013.

Bloomberg reports the change will award zero-emission vehicles with long-driving ranges and refueling times no greater than 15 minutes — such as the outgoing Honda FCX Clarity, with its hydrogen fuel cell technology — the maximum of nine credits, while Tesla — which had, until now, earned the maximum of seven — will receive four credits going forward due to failing the rapid-refueling requirement.

Tesla, the top seller of CARB ZEV credits to other automakers, has plans to introduce battery-swap stations that would allow drivers to exchange depleted packs for new ones in around one minute. However, until enough of the stations are in place, the 2014 Model S will be rebranded a Type III ZEV going forward.

The new standards — originally meant to be in place by October 2013 — were designed by CARB to emphasize actual use of ZEVs over theoretical capabilities.

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Tesla Appealing NJ Direct Sales Ban Ruling http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/tesla-appealing-nj-direct-sales-ban-ruling/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/tesla-appealing-nj-direct-sales-ban-ruling/#comments Thu, 03 Apr 2014 12:30:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=786673 Tesla brown front quarter

With the Ides of April fast-approaching before direct sales come to an end, Tesla filed an appeal with the New Jersey Superior Court asking to overturn a government ruling that banned the automaker from directly selling vehicles to consumers in its two New Jersey stores.

Automotive News reports Tesla proclaimed the action by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission is not legal and harms consumers in the state:

As the [Motor Vehicle Commission] itself recognized when it licensed two Tesla locations in 2012, New Jersey law was clearly written to prevent car manufacturers from exploiting their greater market power to compete unfairly against dealership franchises that sell their cars, something that simply doesn’t apply to Tesla because it has no dealership franchises.

In response, New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers president Jim Appleton felt confident that “the courts will recognize the compelling state interest in regulating the sale and distribution of new motor vehicles,” and that Tesla would fail to overturn the ruling. He added that NJCAR wasn’t out to push the EV automaker out of the state, but only wanted Tesla to play by the same rules as those in the state’s franchise dealer network.

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Tesla Leads Charge To Replace Side Mirrors With Cameras http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/tesla-leads-charge-to-replace-side-mirrors-with-cameras/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/tesla-leads-charge-to-replace-side-mirrors-with-cameras/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 10:08:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=785609 Tesla Model X Concept

Should Tesla and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers — including General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen — be successful in their petition with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, new cars could soon have cameras instead of side mirrors.

Automotive News reports the petition — on the heels of the agency mandating rearview cameras by 2018 in all light-duty vehicles — explains cameras could do the same job as mirrors while allowing for increased aerodynamics:

In light of future greenhouse gas and corporate average fuel economy requirements beginning in 2017, camera-based systems represent an opportunity to increase vehicle fuel efficiency through improved aerodynamics by eliminating externally mounted mirrors.

Current regulations place cameras as a supplement to side mirrors, with Nissan, Honda and Mercedes-Benz offering such systems, while Volkswagen’s XL1 is one of a few vehicles to do away with mirrors by using cameras in their stead.

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Tesla Stays In NY, Loses Key China Exec http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/tesla-stays-in-ny-loses-key-china-exec/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/tesla-stays-in-ny-loses-key-china-exec/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 12:59:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=785169 Tesla Model S

Automotive News reports Tesla and Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association reached a compromise agreement over the weekend that would allow the EV automaker to keep their five stores while prevent Tesla or any other auto manufacturer from establishing more direct-sale stores in the state. In the words of Governor Andrew Cuomo:

Today’s agreement reaffirms New York’s long-standing commitment to the dealer franchise system, while making sure New York remains a leader in spurring innovative businesses and encouraging zero emissions vehicle sales.

Meanwhile, Tesla spokeswoman Liz Jarvis-Shean tells Bloomberg the Gigafactory will source supplies of graphite, cobalt et al from within North America, citing cost and environmental issues behind the decision. Currently, the majority of graphite found in the automaker’s battery packs come from synthetic sources in Europe and Japan, with future natural sources expected to come from Canada.

Over in China, where graphite mines and processing plants are being closed over air-quality issues, Tesla’s general manager Kingston Chang resigned his position for personal reasons. His departure, which the automaker declined to expand upon to Bloomberg, comes just as CEO Elon Musk prepares to expand further into the country’s auto market, who predicts sales to be on par with those in the United States as early as next year.

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Gov. Perry Pushing For Direct Sales In Texas To Attract Gigafactory http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/gov-perry-pushing-for-direct-sales-in-texas-to-attract-gigafactory/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/gov-perry-pushing-for-direct-sales-in-texas-to-attract-gigafactory/#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 13:09:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=782065 Texas Governor Rick Perry circa January 2014

With the possibility of bringing Tesla’s Gigafactory — and its 6,500 jobs — to Texas, Governor Rick Perry is actively pushing for legislation which would do away with the direct-sales ban currently preventing the EV automaker from doing more than presenting their wares to local customers.

The Dallas Morning News reports Perry took his stance on the issue to FOX Business’ “Opening Bell” earlier this week, explaining that it was in the state’s “best interest” to revisit what he says some people would view as “antiquated protections” for Texas’ franchise dealership network:

The people of Texas will say, ‘We don’t need to be protected. We like to be able to negotiate straight away.’ I think it’s time for Texans to have an open conversation about this, the pros and the cons. I’m gonna think the pros of allowing this to happen outweigh the cons.

Currently, Tesla has two showrooms in Houston and Austin, with a third soon to arrive in Dallas. As of this writing, however, none of the trio can do more than provide visitors with information about Tesla’s lineup, prompting interested parties to complete their purchase online or in a state more favorable to direct sales.

The move to allow direct sales would add another incentive for Tesla to build their Gigafactory in Texas, which Perry proclaims would give his state a much-desired cachet. Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan New Car Dealers Association president Lee Chapman, however, disagrees with the kind of incentive Perry wishes to use in luring Tesla:

The system we have was put into effect by the state to protect consumers and dealers. [Dealers are] always open to discussion, [but] at this point, we have not been given anything to discuss other than the right to sell cars here in exchange for a plant.

 

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Tesla Business Model Reconsidered In NJ, Talking Point In 2016 Presidential Election http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/tesla-business-model-reconsidered-in-nj-talking-point-in-2016-presidential-election/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/tesla-business-model-reconsidered-in-nj-talking-point-in-2016-presidential-election/#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2014 13:30:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=781313 tesla-model-s-logo

Even though the door on Tesla’s direct sales model appeared to be closed in New Jersey, the Garden State is reconsidering its position just as the automaker’s way of doing business could find itself a major talking point in the 2016 run for the White House.

Automotive News reports that New Jersey Assemblyman Tim Eustace introduced a bill which would allow Tesla to continue selling its cars to the state’s consumers. The bill, which is the third in a series of actions related to the currently strained relationship between the two parties, comes on the heels of the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission’s decision to reinforce existing law banning direct sales by automakers, which would have unintended consequences for the local economy according to Eustace:

Because of this new rule, an interested buyer looking for more fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly vehicle options can go look and ask questions about an electric car in New Jersey, but will have to go to Pennsylvania or New York if he or she actually wants to buy the car. How does sending business to other states help New Jersey’s economy?

For their part, the New Jersey Coalition of Automobile Retailers, lobbying on behalf of the state’s franchise dealer network, stressed that while they have no intention of driving Tesla out of business, they only want Tesla to play by their long-established rulebook. Association president Jim Appleton is willing to work with the automaker to a point, however:

We hold as sacrosanct the franchise system. There is no resolution to this problem that allows Tesla to operate outside the franchise system forever. But we’re open to accommodations if Tesla can make the case that there’s a reason why they can’t.

Meanwhile, Tesla has a new ally in the form of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who, in his support for the business model, puts him in opposition of New Jersey governor Chris Christie in the run to represent the Republican base against the Democrat nominee during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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Tesla Reader’s Digest Vol. 1: The Politics Of Dancing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/tesla-readers-digest-vol-1-the-politics-of-dancing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/tesla-readers-digest-vol-1-the-politics-of-dancing/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 12:19:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=779249 Tesla Roadster and Model S

In the first edition of the Tesla Reader’s Digest, Washington state makes nice with Tesla’s business model as Arizona ponders doing the same — while fighting three other states for the right to host Tesla’s Gigafactory, no less. Meanwhile, General Motors pens a letter to Ohio asking the state to force the EV automaker to play by the same rules as they already do, pricing of the Model S falls in Europe, and Edward Niedemeyer offers his view on how Tesla can topple the auto dealer monopoly.

The Detroit News ran our former EIC (originally published at Bloomberg View) a few inches to explain the situation Tesla faces with its revolutionary-for-the-United States model of doing business from the rent-seeking opposition found in the entrenched dealer franchise system. Though the automaker has already been locked out of Texas and New Jersey due to such opposition thus far, Niedermeyer offers that CEO Elon Musk has a few potential allies — including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, eBay, Costco and TrueCar — who could help him and the U.S auto industry as a whole bring about a future where all automakers can sell directly to customers.

Reuters and CNN Money report the states of Washington and Arizona are or soon will be signing legislation allowing Tesla to market directly to consumers; previously, the automaker’s sole Washington direct-sales efforts were in Seattle, whereas Arizona only allowed showrooms, pushing sales across the border to California.

The Washington legislation came as a result of campaigning from that state’s Tesla-owning constituents with help from a lobbyist, which will allow the automaker to expand into more cities while forcing every other automaker — upcoming or long-established — to sell through franchise dealerships, a situation advocates claim will need to be remedied when legislatures return to Olympia next January.

Arizona, however, is coming around to help improve the state’s chances in becoming the home of Musk’s grand energy project, the Tesla Gigafactory. Autoblog Green also reports Tucson has not only a suitable site for the 1,000-acre, 10 million-square-foot battery factory, but the tax incentives to lure 6,500 jobs away from Nevada, Texas and New Mexico.

As for the other three states, New Mexico is working on an economic package, while Nevada remains silent on their moves, and Texas has incentives galore in spite of banning direct-sales, the latter of which could hurt the state’s chances.

Speaking of direct-sale bans, Automotive News reports General Motors penned a letter to Ohio governor John Kasich over concerns his state could open the door to Tesla. GM’s senior vice president of global communications and public policy Selim Bingol explains his employer’s viewpoint:

We understand discussions are ongoing over legislation which could provide a broad exemption for a single manufacturer, Tesla Motors Inc., to circumvent long-established legal precedent on how new motor vehicles are marketed, sold and serviced in your state.

GM is not alone, as lobbyists representing the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association warned the state legislature last week that by allowing Tesla to sell directly to consumers, it would allow all automakers to do the same, casting the franchise model to the wind.

Finally, Tesla may be fighting a different battle in Europe. Inside EVs reports pricing of the Model S has dropped in Germany and Netherlands 6,700 euro and 4,000 euro respectively to 65,300 euro and 66,200 euro. Though Tesla cites currency appreciation against the dollar, low demand and lack of a sufficient Supercharger network may be to blame.

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Tesla Hires Renault-Nissan Communications Director http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/tesla-hires-renault-nissan-communications-director/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/tesla-hires-renault-nissan-communications-director/#comments Thu, 13 Mar 2014 12:35:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=770985 tesla-model-s-10

In preparation to enter the Chinese market while battling state governments of direct sales, Tesla has hired Renault-Nissan communications director Simon Sproule to the role of vice president of communications and marketing for the EV automaker.

Bloomberg reports Sproule’s experience gained from stints with Microsoft, Jaguar, Ford and Renault-Nissan may be of benefit to Tesla, according to AutoTrends Inc. principal Joe Phillippi:

In many respects he’s got the perfect background. He’s been on the tech side, he’s been on the international auto side and he works for a CEO with peripatetic qualities who runs more than one company.

Sproule will be responsible for marketing Tesla to Europe and China — who aim to increase sales of its Model S 55 percent through exports to the two markets this year — while aiding in the fight with various state regulators over direct sales to customers, including this week’s blow-up between the automaker and New Jersey.

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Tesla Vacating New Jersey Market Amid Direct-Sales Ban http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/tesla-vacating-new-jersey-market-amid-direct-sales-ban/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/tesla-vacating-new-jersey-market-amid-direct-sales-ban/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 11:10:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=770345 tesla courtesy nicholas fleury via flickr

In the wake of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission’s decision to enact new rules banning direct sales of vehicles by automakers, Tesla may have no other recourse than to vacate the local market come April 1.

Automotive News reports Governor Chris Christie’s administration faces accusations by Tesla from the decision, stating the automaker and the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers both agreed they would “address their issues in a more public forum: the New Jersey Legislature.”

In turn, the governor’s office responded by reminding Tesla that in order to conduct their brand of selling in New Jersey, the automaker “would need to engage the Legislation” in drafting a bill that would allow for direct sales.

Begging to differ, Tesla vice president of business development Diarmuid O’Connell explained his employer’s standpoint:

The statute in New Jersey plainly allows Tesla to be licensed to sell cars there. Indeed, the Motor Vehicle Commission has licensed Tesla under that statute ever since October 2012, and any suggestion that Tesla was told “since the beginning” about any problem with its ability to be licensed there is false. The only thing that has changed is the Christie Administration’s sudden decision to go around the Legislature in an attempt to enact a rule that the statute doesn’t permit. Worse, it has done so without any reasonable notice or even a public hearing.

NJ CAR president Jim Appleton, however, believes the commission is doing what is mandated in the enforcement of the statute. He doesn’t want to see the automaker leave the state, only wanting to help Tesla “operate in a manner consistent with the law.”

The commission’s decision places New Jersey on a list of states barring direct sales, including Arizona, Ohio and Texas.

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Tesla Unveils $5 Billion Gigafactory http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/tesla-unveils-5-billion-gigafactory/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/tesla-unveils-5-billion-gigafactory/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2014 15:10:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=755721 Tesla Gigafactory

After months of speculation, Tesla drew back the curtain on their most ambitious project to date, the Gigafactory.

Yahoo News reports the Gigafactory’s price tag would total $5 billion, $2 billion of which would directly from Tesla — including a portion from a proposed $1.6 billion convertible note offering that will also be used for future vehicle development — with current partner Panasonic and their partners fronting the remainder of the investment. Interestingly, Morgan Stanley announced it was expecting to collect underwriting fees from the note just one day after also issuing a research memo that called for a doubling of their price target for Tesla shares.

Four sites in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas are under final consideration for the site of the Gigafactory, and the finished project will employ 6,500 workers. The first goal for the Gigafactory is to begin construction this year in time to open its doors in 2017 at the same time the low-cost Model E is set to enter showrooms, with battery costs projected to fall 30 percent in the same timeframe. The milestone will be followed by a push to increase cell and pack outputs by 35 and 50 GWh/yr by 2020, where Tesla expects to move 500,000 units a year into showrooms around the world. Despite widespread reports to the contrary, Musk told Bloomberg that Panasonic’s participation “is not 100 percent confirmed“.

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Panasonic, Partners Plan To Invest $1 Billion In Tesla Gigafactory http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/panasonic-partners-plan-to-invest-1-billion-in-tesla-gigafactory/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/panasonic-partners-plan-to-invest-1-billion-in-tesla-gigafactory/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 15:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=754985 Toyota Panasonic TF108

In the wake of Tesla shares hitting an all-time high of $259.20 after Morgan Stanley raised its target price to $320/share, battery maker Panasonic is gathering a few partners to go all in on a $1 billion investment in the automaker’s Gigafactory battery production plant.

The Globe and Mail reports that the plant, set to open in 2017 (just in time for production of the Tesla Model E), will help bolster Panasonic’s supply of lithium-ion batteries already found in the Model S and, soon, the Model X. The Gigafactory would also provide packs to Toyota and various automakers interested in the technology.

Though the proposed factory would lower production costs by placing the entire process under one roof, the main purpose according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk is “to support the volume of the third generation car”:

Meanwhile, investors heeded the advice of Morgan Stanley Tuesday, pushing Tesla share prices to a record peak of $259.20 before falling to $248 at close. The firm raised its target price per share from $153 to $320 based on the potential effects the Gigafactory could have on the United States auto industry in the next 14 years, an assessment Stifel analyst James Albertine believes to be a game-changer in the energy storage market:

While we remain negative on Tesla shares above $200 as an automotive OEM (original equipment manufacturer), the energy storage opportunity requires a broader perspective and could very well justify current, if not higher valuation levels.

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Renewable Energy To Power Tesla Gigafactory http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/renewable-energy-to-power-tesla-gigafactory/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/renewable-energy-to-power-tesla-gigafactory/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2014 11:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=752585 tesla-model-s-logo

Sometime this week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk will announce everything there is to know about the EV automaker’s Gigafactory, from location and price tag, to its heavy reliance on renewable energy sources.

Autoblog Green reports the Gigafactory will be “heavily powered” by solar and wind energy sources, with older battery packs storing the collected energy. Meanwhile, the factory will mass-produce finished battery packs from raw lithium sources, with the aim of generating 30 gigawatt-hours annually. By taking advantage of economies of scale, costs should be reduced by 30 to 40 percent in the same timeframe needed to bring the $35,000 Model E from the drawing board to the showroom floor.

As for where the $2 billion-plus factory will be built, one rumored location is Nevada. Aside from the obvious solar power available for Musk’s green aspirations, the state also houses the sole commercial brine pool lithium production facility in the United States at this time, though more could be brought in from Wyoming’s recently discovered underground lithium brine in the state’s Rock Springs Uplift formation if needed.

Finally, funding for the Gigafactory could come from a number of sources, including new stock and alliances with other companies interested in what the factory — and the future — has to offer.

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Tesla Q4 Sees $16 Million In Losses, Annual Revenue Climbs To $2 Billion http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/tesla-q4-fall-16-million-in-losses-annual-revenue-climbs-to-2-billion/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/tesla-q4-fall-16-million-in-losses-annual-revenue-climbs-to-2-billion/#comments Thu, 20 Feb 2014 16:30:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=749913 tesla-model-s-01

Tesla announced their Q4 2013 earnings saw a total net loss of $16 million while pulling in an annual revenue of $2 billion on the strength of higher sales and more efficient manufacturing methods.

Automotive News reports the luxury EV automaker’s annual loss for 2013 totaled $74 million, while Q4 revenues using GAAP accounting standards were $615 million; non-GAAP revenue for the same period totaled $716 million. Contributions to the fourth quarter revenue stream included $13 million via a powertrain-sharing program with Daimler and Toyota, $15 million in regulatory credits, and $5 million from favorable foreign currency rates.

Tesla’s crystal ball for 2014 sees deliveries climbing to over 35,000 units worldwide through expansions into new markets — including China, Australia and the United Kingdom — production output increasing from 600 to 1,000 units/week, and the introduction of the Model X SUV.

Near-term, deliveries for Q1 2014 are predicted to hit 6,400 units, though production of the Model S will be constrained due to battery-cell supplies. Tesla CEO Elon Musk hopes to remedy the issue in the long-term through his “giga-factory” concept, meant to supply the automaker with lithium-ion packs while protecting it from forces outside of their control.

Finally, Tesla’s assets for the outgoing year were $846 million in cash and $738 million in equipment and property, including a new body-in-white assembly facility that will serve as the starting point for the Model X when units begin to roll off the line early next year.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Tesla Model S P85+ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/capsule-review-2014-tesla-model-s-p85/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/capsule-review-2014-tesla-model-s-p85/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 14:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=734233
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Electric vehicles tend to get a pass from many reviewers, who are content to overlook major faults in favor of a great drivetrain. Years back, I did a review of the Nissan Leaf for EcoModder, an eco-enthusiasts site dedicated to fuel-friendly modifications and electric vehicle (EV) projects. In retrospect, I was far more impressed with the fact that it was just an electric car than the car itself. A Leaf is still a rebodied Nissan Versa with illusions of green responsibility. It’s neat, but it’s not that outstanding if you look at it simply as another car.

But that’s a lot of what Tesla has been about, waves of hype and media attention. Personally, I kept a fair amount of distance from the Tesla news and drama. Part of me simply doesn’t care, I am only really curious in the car that comes out of the debacle. And the car happens to be a genuinely good one. The styling is dead sexy, this car has fantastic lines in the glowing “Tesla Red Multi Coat” paint (there’s no sexy name for the color, sadly).

The brakes are mean stompers, aided by the regen braking in the rear. Though very heavy, you almost never feel the weight; it’s too low in the chassis to make itself known in all but the tightest corners. The interior is comfortable, with great visibility. The overall ergonomics are the polarizing aspect inside, with Tesla making a giant leap of faith by forcing a giant touch screen on Model S buyers, but it was hard to find fault with it.

Even though it’s been described again and against, the driving experience – devoid of gasoline, piston-actuated thrust, and multigear transmissions, is startling in how it delivers a near-silent freight train of torque from the rear wheels. What most publications can’t tell you is how you have to alter your own sensory perceptions when driving this car at speed.

We all have a method for gauging velocity without looking at the speedometer. Driving by feel – that is, the sights, sounds, and tactile feedback – is something that even the most marginally interested driver has developed. The more keen among us have an inner monologue based on all of these inputs. For instance,  practically any other road car, you see the “25 MPH” sign in yellow, ratchet down into the right gear for that corner and listen to the engine note fall, feel the chassis bite and the tires dig in to the pavement, and you know you’ve hit the right velocity for this corner.

With the Model S, your only option is through the tires, trying to sense speed with the increasing tire noise. And it’s not a bad thing, because the rest of the driving experience is so unique. Torque, 450 foot pounds of it, is always there. Always. A gasoline engine has to receive your input, open the throttle blades, pull air into the cylinders with fuel, squishbangblow, then transmit that power to the transmission… driveshaft… differential… axles... and you then still have to wait for the engine to hit its powerband. The Tesla bypasses everything and just throws down massive amounts of torque straight to the wheels. Up to its gearing-limited 130 mph top speed, it only begins to lose thrust as it approaches the aerodynamic drag of triple digit speeds.

Thanks to the low center of gravity, the Model S conceals its substantial mass quite well. The only time you get to feel the weight in action is in the tightest of corners, when the chassis’s neutral disposition gives way to mild understeer. The steering ratio is surprisingly quick, with decent road feel. Our P85+ came equipped with Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires that offered monumental amounts of grip.

The Model S’ stability control system also deserves a fair amount of credit for not being too intrusive while effectively managing the gratuitous amount of power put down the by EV drivetrain. Most stability systems will hunker a car back down into line,  heavily braking wheels strategically to pull the car back in line. The Tesla system simply feels like it guides the car with an invisible hand. It’s able to adjust torque output with exemplary speed and precision. Expeienced drivers will find it relatively easy to walk up to, but not exceed, the limit of the rear wheels on corner exit. Traction control can be turned off (and exploited pretty easily in the dirt), but stability control cannot.

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Of course, it’s possible to find fault with the car. As someone who had a GameBoy by age five and grew up in the tech-era, I like the large touch screen for most things. And most of the Tesla buyers are from the same era, though a few years older and a few times wealthier. These are buyers who like tech, and it brings a wealth of new options with what you can do with a car’s control systems. But, at times it’s picky and finicky when you attempt to control chassis options.

The ride height is adjustable, but it would mysteriously lock out “low” when parked for photos. While setting the car up for a photo shoot, took five minutes of fiddling to get the running lights and accent to stay on with the driver’s door shut. While auto-on headlights handle daily use just fine, a simple headlight switch would be very welcome. Other operations, like HVAC, nav, and radio all work very well. After an hour or so, I could easily adjust HVAC controls as easily as my own car.

In one of the car’s more overlooked quirks, the Model S offers almost no internal storage. There’s door pockets and a glove box, but that’s it. It lacks a center console, and there’s a large and open shelf along the front floor board to the dash, but no cubby holes to keep things organized. Though Tesla was smart enough to fit Michelin Pilot Sport tires, this car REALLY needs better seats. That attention needed at the throttle is hard to summon when you have to use your right knee against the center stack to brace yourself. There is not enough bolster for how capable the car is.

One other thing I couldn’t help but notice was the size of the panel gaps, particularly around the hood. Not many outlets have mentioned this detail, but it’s one that I expect buyers in this price bracket to be cognizant of this if they’re coming from a BMW or Lexus.

But, Tesla is incrementally updating these with new features. And that’s something that really impresses me about the ownership experience. Elon Musk and Tesla genuinely cares about this car and its owners. They listen, they adjust, they accept criticism and do right. Not only does the Model S represent a new frontier for the automotive world , but it also represents a change in the mentality an automaker has towards the satisfaction of its customers. The Model S’ firmware is regularly updated, refining the car every time.

But as it sits, the Tesla Model S represents the best realization of the electric car that we’ve had in a production car. There’s no green illusion: no tree infographics, no ZERO EMISSIONS sticker package. It’s a car that happens to be electric, not just an electric car. And it’s damn good.

Photos: Phillip Thomas

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Tesla S Goes AWD, Comes With Cheaper Batteries, Upgraded Firmware http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/tesla-s-goes-awd-comes-with-cheaper-batteries-upgraded-firmware/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/tesla-s-goes-awd-comes-with-cheaper-batteries-upgraded-firmware/#comments Mon, 10 Feb 2014 16:03:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=738425 tesla-model-s-03

During a Tesla townhall meeting at the automaker’s European headquarters in Amsterdam, CEO Elon Musk announced to owners that an all-wheel drive version of the vaunted S would arrive in showrooms by the early months of 2015 at the latest.

The arrival comes on the heels of the Model X SUV, which will come standard with the AWD system when it makes its showroom debut in 2015. The system utilizes two electric motors, each driving the front or rear wheels while pushing the electric SUV from 0 to 60 in under 5 seconds for the Performance option. Power for both the X and S models will come from higher-capacity battery options, eventually including those made with cheaper batteries from Tesla’s “giga factory.”

Planned to be the largest battery plant in the world, the factory will be built in the United States sometime soon, and will be able to recycle older battery units in-house with refitting visiting Teslas with newer packs. The eventual goal is to drive battery costs down by as much as 30 percent to 40 percent while pushing 30 gigawatt-hours of production capacity, just in time for Tesla’s $30,000/200-mile EV debut in the near future. More information will be announced in March, when Musk will also divulge the location of the new factory.

For current owners, a firmware upgrade will be available in a few weeks: Version 6.0 adds real-time traffic data, more control over ride height and suspension settings, and other improvements. Down the road, owners can also upgrade their seats for greater comfort, while future owners of S and X models will have those seats as standard equipment.

Finally, owners will be able to go coast-to-coast thanks to Tesla’s Supercharger stations, whose transcontinental network was completed recently — with a transcontinental road trip to celebrate the occasion — and is now adding capacity at a rate of five of the charging stations coming online per week. The chargers are expected to recharge batteries at a max of 135 kW current.

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Review: Tesla Model S http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/review-tesla-model-s/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/review-tesla-model-s/#comments Wed, 05 Feb 2014 14:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=733425

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As a relatively low-profile Czech motoring journo, I couldn’t expect Elon Musk to hand me the keys for a long-term press loaner. Or any other kind of “official” experience with Tesla, as they aren’t even sold officially in our country. But I did manage to get my hand’s on one via a friend’s father is an avid fan of EVs.  As soon as the Nissan Leaf entered the European market, he bought one even if it meant to order it in Spain (about two thousand miles away) and have it trucked here. And when he learned about the Tesla Model S, he placed an early order, which made him one of the first few people in this country to own a Model S (a fully loaded P85 version, no less). Now, there are probably a dozen in Czech Republic.

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The nature of the test somewhat limited my experience with the car. I wasn’t allowed to spend time with it alone, not I could take it very far – we had about and hour of driving. And since I had to sign an agreement that I’ll pay for any damage done to the uninsured car while I was behind the wheel, I wasn’t really hooning it. But still, it was enough for me to form an opinion about the car.

First Impression

They say the first impression matters most. When I came up to my friend’s house, the garage door opened and sleek, burgundy colored machine silently rolled out, I was truly impressed. This thing isn’t “pretty for an EV”. It’s just pretty. If you park it side-by-side with the current crop of the fashionable “four door coupes” like the Porsche Panamera, BMW 6 Gran Coupé, Mercedes CLS, Audi S7, or even supersedans like the Aston Rapide and Maserati Quattroporte, it will not seem out of place. It will hardly be the prettiest among them, but it will not look like an ugly duckling or a golf cart stumbled in the posh meeting accidentaly. And that is a nice start.

The thing is, Tesla doesn’t want to sell you this car because you need it – that’s not even really possible with an EV at the moment – but because you want it. And the show continues as you come closer. The door handles are hidden, and pop out as you approach with the key in your pocket. It improves aerodynamics, and it look wicked cool. I just wonder what will happen when those door handles malfunction after some time – which they surely will. They’re not even connected to the lock mechanism mechanically – it’s all electronic. I suspect that Tesla owners will start carrying bricks with them, just in case.

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The interior continues in the same vein. Old fashioned types who like tactile controls will be dismayed at the tablet-like interface of the Model S. Most auxiliary functions, starting with satellite navigation and radio, and ending with setting up the HVAC or opening the sunroof, are controlled via the giant iPad-style glass screen in the middle of the dashboard. It looks cool, but changing the temperature or tuning the radio at 70 mph and having to take your eyes off the road is more than a bit unsettling. I think that with the first facelift, Tesla will pony up some cash to buy a few more buttons and knobs from Mercedes (all the tactile items, like window buttons, steering column stalk and steering column shifter, are from current MB cars), and offer us real controls for HVAC.

And the rest of the interior? You can best describe it as “different”. It is certainly well made, on par with most competitors, but it keeps surprising you with strange shape and outside the box solutions. One of the more interesting is the absence of the centre console. Altogether, the interior is very much love/hate affair. You can’t criticize it for materials or assembly quality, but some people will just dislike it for being too moden. But I think majority of potential customers will feel right at home here.

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Driving

When you first put your foot on accelerator, the Tesla feels much like your typical hybrid in EV mode. If you’re not used to it, you’ll be fascinated by the noiseless movement and ever-present torque, noticeable even if you’re light on accelerator. But if you’ve driven, say, an Infiniti M Hybrid before, the silence, nor the strange power delivery will not surprise you. And in city driving, you can’t even find out anything interesting about suspension. You feel that the car is quite comfortable even on the low-profiles, and very stable due to its two tonnes of weight. But it’s nothing extraordinary compared with the likes of the aforementioned Infiniti.

But the interesting part comes when you pass the city limits. You’ve probably read that the Model S has 416 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. But here, you also have those 443 pound-feet of torque right from zero revs. Everytime. Without any lag. I have to say I’m not sure what to compare the Model S to. I have driven just a few cars with around 400hp, and none of them accelerates with such ferocity. It was much more similar to the 470hp Nissan GT-R. But imagine the GT-R operating in silence and serenity. If you’re not used to driving a really quick car, the Tesla Model S will shock you.

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With someone else’s $150k car, you don’t have much appetite for backroad hooning, so I can’t tell you how the Tesla behaves over  70-75mph. But both owner and son told me that over 90 or 100mph, the Model S runs out of steam very fast, so it will not be an Autobahn missile. If you were used to the heavy acceleration your German sports sedan offered above 120mph, you’re out of luck – it’s nearly the car’s top speed. And even just keeping it there will squeeze juice from the battery at alarming rate.

So what did I find during our backroad jaunt? Quite a lot, actually. And I was more than a little bit surprised. I fully expected the silent, serene experience. I was prepared to the brutal acceleration. But the revelation came when we entered the twisty stuff. The back roads in Czech Republic are usually not stellar, so most German sports sedans, or sporty, pretentious versions of ordinary diesel sedans, are awfully uncomfortable. They’re built for the Autobahn and smooth Teutonic roads, not for our cratered stuff. The Tesla? It was compliant, smooth, like it was flowing slightly above the surface. And yet, it wasn’t floaty in the way old American cars or Citroëns are. It was alert, agile and offered loads of grip, and fantastic traction out of the corners. It was possible to get the rear slip just a little bit, and with ESP off and more courage, it would probably go sideways nicely.

And it was fun to drive, even with these rather low limits in place. It didn’t feel heavy, and even the steering felt nice – not really feelsome, but nicely weighted. After a while, I started wondering: Who the hell did the suspension tuning on this thing? The Model S felt polished, refined… it felt finished. I’ve driven too many cars from established carmakers that felt like the development team just packed their bags at the 80% (cough, Alfa, cough) to believe that this was developed and tuned by a start-up car maker with no budget.

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With its combination of compliance and comfort with grip and agility, felt distinctively British. If I had to liken the Model S driving experience to any other car I’ve driven, I would say it’s much like the Jaguar XK – just a with maximum torque from 0 rpm. And it was not only similar to the XK, it was generally Jaguar-ish. And I would bet that the suspension development of the Model S took place on British roads, which are a lot like ours – broken, bumpy and unsettling to most German performance sedans. Bear in mind that the car I tested wasn’t equipped with “Performance Plus” sports package, which includes a stiffer suspension.

So, is the Tesla just another flash in the pan, or does it stand a chance of “making it”?  Will it be a fad, or are we looking at the automobile’s future?

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Frankly, I don’t know. This very much depends on many factors far beyond the scope of my review. The price, the cost of recharging, the real-world range, the development of better batteries…

But there’s one thing I know. If you can live with the range limitations – with a real-world range of over 200 miles (based on owner’s words), many two-car households can – the Tesla Model S is a great car. Would I choose it over an equivalent Jaguar, BMW or Maserati? I don’t know. But it would be a serious contender, based on driving experience alone. The feel of the electric motor may be a bit of a novelty, but I suspect it will also be very addictive. Competitors offer large V8 engines, burbling and gargling like some monster from the past. This feels like the future – and while I absolutely love the sound of a good V8, I would be tempted to trade it for this. For the first time ever, you can buy an electric car because you like it, not because it’s electric.

Photo credit: Ondřej Zeman, www.rallyphotos.cz

@VojtaDobes is motoring journalist from Czech Republic, who previously worked for local editions of Autocar and TopGear magazines. Today, he runs his own website, www.Autickar.cz and serves as editor-in-chief at www.USmotors.cz. After a failed adventure with importing classic American cars to Europe, he is utterly broke, so he drives a borrowed Lincoln Town Car. His previous cars included a 1988 Caprice in NYC Taxi livery, a hot-rodded Opel Diplomat, two Dodge Coronets, a Simca, a Fiat 600 and Austin Maestro. He has never owned a diesel, manual wagon.

 

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Analyst: GM to Own Tesla in 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/analyst-gm-to-own-tesla-in-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/analyst-gm-to-own-tesla-in-2014/#comments Sun, 29 Dec 2013 15:56:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=688698 Tesla Model S

While one analyst implored Apple to go into the automotive industry by purchasing Tesla Motors to the bemusement of all, another analyst is suggesting that General Motors may be the one to pull the trigger in the coming year.

Yra Harris, a veteran trader with Praxis Trading, told CNBC earlier this week that Tesla’s brand of luxury EVs would be a perfect fit with GM overall, especially in terms of technology and service.

The key to purchasing Tesla comes down to valuation, an issue CEO Elon Musk has warned about for months on end. Currently, the EV automaker holds a market capitalization of over $18 billion, with shares trading at 100-plus times forward earnings. Still, should a market correction occur — and should Musk decide he’d rather make a Lotus Esprit into a functional submarine now than build an electric truck in 2017; he has said he wouldn’t sell Tesla until the third-generation models were produced — then perhaps Harris’ prediction will come to pass in the new year.

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Tesla To Debut Model E at 2015 Detroit Auto Show http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/tesla-to-debut-model-e-at-2015-detroit-auto-show/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/tesla-to-debut-model-e-at-2015-detroit-auto-show/#comments Mon, 16 Dec 2013 13:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=681202 Tesla Model S

For admirers of Tesla’s latest and greatest who would love to own a piece of the action if only the price of admission were low enough, the word on the street is such a vehicle will debut in January 2015 during the Detroit Auto Show.

The Model E, as rumored to be named, will have a price tag of $25,000 to $35,000, and will be a mid-sized sedan. Those worried it might simply be a smaller S have Tesla chief designer Franz von Holzhausen’s assurance that it won’t go the “Audi unit face” route. Holzhausen also said there is a truck in the works, though it won’t be riding on the third-generation Tesla platform, as well as a second coming of the car that started it all, the Tesla Roadster.

As for the Model X, the SUEV is nearing the finish line to production, with units set to be delivered to showrooms by late 2014 at the earliest. The price tag for the X should be around if not above that of the S.

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Software Update Barely Makes Dent In Tesla Model S “Vampire” Issue http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/software-update-barely-makes-dent-in-tesla-model-s-vampire-issue/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/software-update-barely-makes-dent-in-tesla-model-s-vampire-issue/#comments Tue, 26 Nov 2013 16:02:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=664186 Tesla S at Seattle Auto Show 2013

Standby power — or vampire draw — allows consumer goods such as smartphones, cloud-enabled laptops and PS4s to wake up immediately to do whatever it is you need them to do. There are drawbacks, of course, such as the wasting of resources (money, electricity, the things that make electricity happen) and fires.

Speaking of fires, Tesla may need to cast more sunlight upon the S’s vampire draw issues, as it would appear their latest software update hasn’t done much to drive the stake into its heart if one owner’s experience is to be believed.

The cause for the vampire drain overall was a software update that fixed a number of issues found in the original version of the sedan’s operating system when the latter was put into sleep mode. By “fixed,” of course, the automaker merely disabled sleeping altogether.

What happened next? The standby power went from 1 percent every 24 hours to as much as 8 percent in the same time period, depending on what model one owned.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk addressed this issue in March of this year, promising a new sleep mode update in July would bring the draw down to a much more reasonable 0.2 percent.

While the update would ultimately arrive in late fall, the owner found his S drained 15 miles of indicated range every 24 hours, down from a peak of 23 miles when the S was first tested earlier this year. Not quite 0.2 percent, though the Best & Brightest are questioning the owner’s methodology in the comments.

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UR-Turn: Tesla Model S vs. Jaguar XF http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/ur-turn-tesla-model-s-vs-jaguar-xf/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/ur-turn-tesla-model-s-vs-jaguar-xf/#comments Tue, 12 Nov 2013 11:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=647642 tesla-vs-jaguar-front

A colleague and friend of mine just bought himself a Tesla Model S (the fast P85 edition). I’d been wanting to find a suitable car to compare it against, so I approached a major European car vendor’s media relations people, asking for a loaner so I could do a head-to-head comparison.

The response: “Unfortunately, Mr. Large And In Charge [not his actual name] isn’t interested in a comparison against the Tesla, Dan.” Knowing I’d never have the pull of Top Gear to get the gear I wanted in hand, I resolved that I’d do it some other way.

Recently, I received a card in the mail, inviting me to a Jaguar ALIVE Driving Experience. I’ve been to things like this before. They feed you mini-muffins, they let you tear around a mini-autocross track, you leave with a baseball cap, a mini-grin on your face, and mini-spam in your email box for months to come. I decided to invite my Tesla buddy along and see if I could get an expensive Jag in one side of my brain and compare it to the expensive Tesla in the other side of my brain. Here’s what happened.

First, let’s just look at them side by side, shall we? From the front, the Jaguar XF and the Tesla Model S have distinct personalities. The Tesla’s oval mouth probably has more in common with a Maserati Quattroporte, but the headlights have comparable anger to them. Both of these cars are snarling at you to get out of the way. Here’s a rear view.

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The resemblance is clear. The Tesla’s hatchback and the Jaguar’s trunk are cut from the same cloth. You can see how much wider the Tesla’s hatch is, though, making it much easier to get big stuff in and out. What about the mirrors? Our own Sajeev loves to obsess over the little triangle where the mirror joins up with the front window. Here we go.

tesla-vs-jaguar-mirrors

Tesla’s mirror is a bit more svelte, but there’s more than a passing resemblance. Now wait a minute, you might be complaining, how can you possible compare these two cars? The Jaguar XF starts around $50k with a two liter turbo four-cylinder and runs well north of $100k by the time you’ve got a firebreathing supercharged V8 installed. The cars are comparably sized, at least on the outside, although the Jag’s back seat is cramped, versus the entirely adult-compatible Tesla. Both vendors are clearly going after the same buyers.

Jaguar notably didn’t bring along the two liter. I sadly only got to drive the insane supercharged V8 for exactly one lap. (Summary: it’s got huge gobs of power and lots of electronic nannies to keep you alive. Since they required us to drive with the nannies on, all I can say is that it was holding back my flooring-it throttle inputs until it felt it safe, and it was readily applying its massive brakes even when I thought it didn’t need to.) Since that’s the car they’re using to show off the line, and it’s priced roughly the same as the P85 Tesla Model S (yadda yadda government subsidies vs. gas guzzler taxes, yadda yadda), the comparison seems fair game to me.

The Jaguar’s interior is pretty much what you’d expect at this price point from a conventional car. It’s got nice fitted leather seats with contrasting stitching and that fantastic new car smell. It’s got a touch screen (deep, sometimes confusing menus), voice recognition (not terribly useful), and a bunch of buttons. The Tesla has their unlike-anything-else spartan interior. I’m including a photo here of the nav screen with direct sunlight on it. It’s bright enough that it’s still entirely usable. Anybody who knows their way around a modern smartphone will have no trouble operating the Tesla. This is the future.

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What about a performance comparison? Handling! Acceleration! Growling exhaust! I didn’t have anything even vaguely resembling the opportunity to do an apples-to-apples comparison. Suffice to say that the P85 Tesla’s acceleration is instantaneous and violent. And silent. On paper it’s faster than the über Jaguar and my butt dyno and I totally believe it.

Instead of that, I’ll offer a more direct comparison of the sort that automotive journalists usually ignore: sound-system quality. My buddy’s Tesla has their uprated stereo system. I asked the Jaguar folks if I could get some quality time with their sound system and they happily left me alone in an optioned-up XJR. I paired my phone, via Bluetooth, and cranked my favorite test tunes through the Jaguar’s Meridian sound system and later ran the same exact tunes through the Tesla.

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If you’re the sort of person who reads audiophile reviews, you’ll know they come in two varieties: “meaningless adjectives alongside descriptions of the reviewer’s favorite tunes” or “soulless test measurements”. Since I didn’t exactly have serious test gear in hand, nor do I wish to bombard you with meaningless adjectives (“a light, airy sound with a tight thunderous bass”), I’ll say that I used one classical orchestral piece, one late 1950′s jazz studio recording with Ella on vocals, and two bits of carefully chosen 90′s techno that will drive any subwoofer to submission.

In a nutshell, the Jaguar’s sound system was perfectly fine on the orchestral piece (lots of dynamic range, etc.), was a bit muddy with the famous female jazz singer, and the techno revealed the dreaded one-note-bass-thud-thud-thud, of the sort that you’d expect from somebody’s riced out Honda Civic. The Tesla was similarly fine on the classical piece, was slightly better on the jazz (something a bit off in the upper treble of Ella’s voice), and was 95% there on the techno, with different bass notes sounding notably different. (In my previous Tesla Model S encounter, that car didn’t have the uprated stereo. I played the same tunes there, and they were noticeably worse. If you want to listen to anything more demanding than talk radio in your Tesla, pony up for the good sound system. And somebody please invite Tony Stark Elon Musk to listen to a good pair of ribbon speakers so he knows what to shoot for.)

Before I go, I’ll offer a couple quick words on the other Jaguars. The XK is still the best looking Jaguar out there. Below is a tricked out XKR-S, with matching contrasting stitching. Oh, and the driver’s seat is set perfectly for me (5’10″). Those ain’t back seats. They’re parcel shelves.

jag-xj-interior

They also let us drive the new F-Type, in supercharged V6 and supercharged V8 form. This car is every bit the hoontastic screamer as the XK, and for a slightly less outrageous price. The only thing you’re giving up is the rear parcel shelf seat. However, I’ll draw your attention to the gear selector (photo below). This is guaranteed to be misunderstood by the first valet you give the keys to, who will promptly back your car up into traffic and destroy the poor thing. You see, to put it in “park”, you press the “P” button on the top of the stick. If you just move the stick up, like every other automatic ever made, that’s just “reverse”. (Pro-tip: buy a manual transmission. Oh wait, you can’t.)

jag-ftype-interior

And, last but not least, when I first saw the XFR-S in its “French Racing Blue” (vraiment?), the comparison that sprang to mind was the dearly departed Pontiac G8. Is it just me?

jag-xf-vs-pontiac-g8

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The Bear Roars For Tesla As Stock Surge Burns Out http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/the-bear-roars-for-tesla-as-stock-surge-burns-out/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/the-bear-roars-for-tesla-as-stock-surge-burns-out/#comments Fri, 01 Nov 2013 16:14:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=639841 2013-Tesla-Model-S-fire-2

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has noted on occasion — as recently as last month — that the price of his company’s stock was overvalued, particularly in the short term. Seems Wall Street got the hint, bestowing upon the automaker the biggest one-month loss of market value in October since the last such occurrence in December of 2010.

The stock drop burned away $4.1 billion last month, bringing the market capitalization down from a peak of $23.5 billion at the end of September to a more reasonable — in the view of the investors and analysts — $19.4 billion; Tesla’s current valuation is $4 billion. Causes of the drop include two incidents of the Model S catching on fire post-accident (the first fire near Seattle knocked 10 percent off the stock price for two days afterward), Musk’s remarks about his company’s stock valuation, and the potential end to massive revenues generated from zero-emission vehicle credits in their native California.

Though Tesla is still riding high for the most part, a number of challenges ahead — boosting production of their Model S for (hopefully successful) sales in Europe and Asia, the addition of the Model X SUV to the lineup, avoiding hazardous pitfalls in production regarding timing and quality, et al — could prove how durable the stock is, and whether or not more bears will gather at the gates ready to feast on salmon in the next two years.

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Analyst to Apple CEO, Chairman: Buy Tesla http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/analyst-to-apple-ceo-chairman-buy-tesla/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/analyst-to-apple-ceo-chairman-buy-tesla/#comments Tue, 29 Oct 2013 15:16:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=636921 Tesla-Model-S. Photo courtesy AutoWeek.com

It’s one thing for Tesla Motors to be the Apple of motoring. It’s another for Apple to be the Apple of motoring. The solution, according to one analyst: Apple should buy Tesla to remain profitable long after the gold rush of smartphones and tablets has disappeared from the rear view mirror.

CNN Money reports an analyst for the German investment bank Berenberg, one Adnaan Ahmad, has penned an open letter to both Apple CEO Tim Cook and chairman Arthur Levinson, strongly suggesting they pay a visit to Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s high-tech lab — no doubt interrupting his Lotus submarine studynot with a demand for Doug Field’s return to One Infinite Loop, but with a Halliburton briefcase full of cash. At least five of them.

Why? According to Ahmad, purchasing the EV automaker down the road would allow Apple to obtain the type of growing revenues that will keep the computer maker in the green for a long time to come, something that no iPhone or iPad can guarantee once the age of hipster gadgetry draws to a close. Ahmad also believes that Apple’s habit of disrupting developing markets, such as telephony and tablet computing, is just what the doctor ordered for the auto industry in the United States, leading to a much more rapid transition to hybrid and electric vehicles of all shapes and colors.

As for Musk’s role, Ahmad believes Cook and Levinson “could strike up a partnership [with Musk] and obtain a new iconic partner to lead Apple’s innovation drive,” invoking the spirit of late Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs while imploring the current guard to go outside of the box once again.

And if Cook and Levinson don’t heed his words? Then, per Ahmad, “the key debate will always be about [Apple's] ability to sustain these abnormal margins in [their] iPhone business.”

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