The Truth About Cars » Model S http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 30 Aug 2015 15:30:36 +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 » Model S http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com 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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New Prius Will Be Shown Next Month in Las Vegas http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/new-prius-will-shown-next-month-las-vegas/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/new-prius-will-shown-next-month-las-vegas/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2015 17:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1145889 Toyota’s next-generation Prius, which will be the first use of the automaker’s new global platform, will be shown to media in Las Vegas next month, Bloomberg is reporting (via Autoblog). The report doesn’t specify when the automaker would build the next-gen Prius, or why it chose southern Nevada in the summertime for its reveal (Tesla speculation […]

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2016 Toyota Prius Getting Gas At Vons

Toyota’s next-generation Prius, which will be the first use of the automaker’s new global platform, will be shown to media in Las Vegas next month, Bloomberg is reporting (via Autoblog).

The report doesn’t specify when the automaker would build the next-gen Prius, or why it chose southern Nevada in the summertime for its reveal (Tesla speculation starts now).

Sales of the Prius have declined since 2007 and 2008 when average gas prices in the U.S. hovered around $4 per gallon. Toyota hasn’t fully updated the Prius since 2009, with a mild refresh gracing the hybrid in 2011.

Bloomberg notes that the eco-friendly Prius may have lost sales to all-electric cars — Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, and others — in the time it’s taken Toyota to update it.

The automaker began taking reservations in California last month for its hydrogen-powered Mirai.

According to our own Bark Maruth, we should expect glowing coverage of the Prius from reporters from carsaregoodandfun.net sometime next month.

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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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Editorial: Tax – Don’t Subsidize – Electric Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/editorial-tax-dont-subsidize-electric-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/editorial-tax-dont-subsidize-electric-cars/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 14:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1114993 All power is not created equal. That’s one of many takeaways from a comprehensive study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, one of the nation’s prominent think tanks. The paper focused on the relative impact of green-energy cars, concluding that an electric car in New Jersey doesn’t have the same environmental impact as an electric […]

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NB_23Tesla2.jpg

All power is not created equal.

That’s one of many takeaways from a comprehensive study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, one of the nation’s prominent think tanks.

The paper focused on the relative impact of green-energy cars, concluding that an electric car in New Jersey doesn’t have the same environmental impact as an electric car in California.

The initial reaction has been largely surface-deep: electric cars on the East Coast and in the South are powered by “dirty energy” and aren’t as clean as their gas-powered counterparts. That much is a quasi-fair assessment — the source for the electric cars’ power should be considered when it comes to ultimately determining their environmental impacts.

The study, however, is a larger look at the federal subsidies offered on electric cars.

“These factors generate critical questions as to the merits of the federal subsidy. The first factor questions the policy in terms of its sign: is it better to subsidize or tax electric vehicle purchases? The second factor raises concerns regarding the one-size-fits-all design of the subsidy,” the report states.

The second factor answers itself: a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works — and in terms of the electric car subsidy, it doesn’t work at all anymore.

It’s clear that well-heeled buyers — who may not actually need a tax perk anyway — are adopting expensive electric cars at a higher clip than middle-class Americans. In the first quarter of 2015, Tesla’s Model S outsold the Nissan Leaf despite costing nearly $40,000 more. In addition to the pricier pick, proportionately more electric-car buyers were from regions of the U.S. with higher subsidies than other parts of the country.

It’s hard to imagine how luxury car buyers deserve the same tax breaks as car buyers shopping in ranges half that of their counterparts, but it’s even harder to imagine how buyers in markets with comparatively “dirtier power” deserve clean federal tax rebates at all. As the report exhaustively details, the externalities of states’ electric-vehicle incentives weren’t considered before states began offering them. According to the report, 91 percent of pollution from electric cars is exported to states other than where the car is driven.

It’s clear there are innumerable factors when considering the efficacy of economic incentives for the “public good.” Markets often don’t respond quickly or with conscience when it comes to public initiatives. Electric vehicle purchases in the United States are clearly lukewarm now after gas prices have dropped considerably over the last 5 years. It’s equally clear that the future of transportation of a growing population needs to be powered by something other than a finite resource that requires breaking the earth, extracting ancient raw materials, refining them, and shipping them halfway across the world to be sold for less than milk in many markets. Relying on that incredibly destructive process for a lasting consistent energy resource makes little sense.

And still, gasoline is an incredibly potent and efficient fuel. A kilogram of gasoline has more potential energy than coal, methanol, ethanol, fat, gunpowder, TNT or even dynamite. Our reliance on gasoline is not without reason: it’s incredibly useful as an energy source.

But just like gasoline has in the past, electric energy requires progressive taxes and consideration to improve the infrastructure it relies on, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach. California recently adopted a tiered system for its incentives based on buyer income. That’s a good first step, but it should also be expanded. The United States should consider a tiered tax on some electric cars based on income and use.

It’s clear the gas tax is outdated and ineffective at maintaining America’s roads and bridges. A tax on electric cars should not be considered as some kind of replacement, supplement or even complement to a woefully outdated gas tax that needs comprehensive reform.

But the gas-guzzler tax, a penalty that creates very little revenue and even less discouragement from buying inefficient cars, is an interesting first step. The tiered system levies a tax that gets progressively larger as the car gets thirstier. Even the 16-cylinder, quad-turbo Bugatti Veyron, which swallows more gas than any other production car on the road, didn’t qualify for the steepest penalty. In 2012, the sin tax generated only $73.5 million in revenue — a fiscal drop in the bucket for the government.

Any tax revenue based on the electric car’s initial price could help fund infrastructure improvements to the power grid and offset environmental impacts felt beyond than where the vehicle is purchased. Just like municipal and state taxes vary by region and services, an electric car tax wouldn’t need to be a unilateral levy.

Like the gas-guzzler tax, a tax on electric cars isn’t meant to raise money — it’s meant to be a consideration: how much help is a tax break on a luxury car?

The appeal of electric cars and clean energy would still remain, and a graduated tax on cars based on MSRP could still persuade middle-of-the-road buyers to consider potentially cleaner electric cars when they head to dealer lots. But needlessly subsidizing wealthier buyers purchasing environmentally neutral — or marginally helpful — electric cars doesn’t serve a larger goal of cleaner transportation. The United States wouldn’t be the first country to revisit its electric-car incentives.

The power of public perception is very often greater than reality. In that respect, all power is clearly not equally created.

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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.)

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(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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CODE BROWN! Range Anxiety and The 24 Hours of LeMons http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/code-brown-range-anxiety-24-hours-lemons/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/code-brown-range-anxiety-24-hours-lemons/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 11:53:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1025417   One item that came up often on TTAC’s request for feedback on Code Brown’s review concerned its range.  And while range anxiety is real for some, the P85D sports a 200+ mile range (253 according to Tesla’s website) which met my needs in a large metropolitan area. But when I hit the road for The 24 […]

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Or No Go?

One item that came up often on TTAC’s request for feedback on Code Brown’s review concerned its range.  And while range anxiety is real for some, the P85D sports a 200+ mile range (253 according to Tesla’s website) which met my needs in a large metropolitan area.

But when I hit the road for The 24 Hours of LeMons, range anxiety was real.  

Let’s look at range anxiety logically: plan the trip and decide if Code Brown is the right vehicle.

  • Determine the charge before leaving: possibly irrelevant as there was a (not-free) charging station (photo above) next to my office, if I couldn’t make it to the first Supercharger in Huntsville for a top off…so to speak.
  • Find Tesla Superchargers: two on I-45 between Houston and Dallas, even though I hate fruitcake more than waiting 30-60 minutes to charge my late night ride for the trip to Decatur, TX.
    • I reached that Supercharger at 10 pm, two hours after the attached bakery closes. But there is a 24-hr Whataburger nearby!
  • Find local charging stations: Eagles Canyon Raceway (ECR) lacks 220V charging/RV hookup, ditto my hotel in Decatur. Even if I could get 110V charging, that’s slow enough to limit my work at LeMons (i.e. be late, not run errands, etc.) Since Decatur is 15 miles from the track with no public vehicle charging stations, this looks bad.
  • Plan for Weather: the heater is a serious battery drain and coldweatheris guaranteed. Especially if I used Code Brown as a Judgemobile to hunt cheaty racers in the paddock.

Or forget about this and hop in a gas-powered vehicle. You will fill it up at least once (5-10 minutes max), saving much time and effort.

While Code Brown’s brilliant traction control system manipulating all four wheels woulda maybe come in handy (even with wide all season tires) this was a bad idea. Turns out, everything in and around ECR was frozen solid.

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A fine day for racin’…

There was 6-7″ of snow on Friday, which stopped all but a few cars from testing the track the day before the race. A few 4x4s enjoyed the free track time.

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Ditto this super, uber, cheaty turbo DSM.  Mitsubishis tend to go explodey in endurance races, but this Eclipse now had a fighting chance.

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Photo Courtesy: Murileemartin.com

Because of my not perfect health, I was ridiculously layered under my judicial robe. Getting dressed was exhausting, considering my evening run to WalMart in Decatur for proper work boots after my sneakers turned to cold and wet mush.

This was neither the time nor the place to deal with range anxiety and/or a trip to the nearest supercharger in Denton.

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Photo Courtesy: Murileemartin.com

It woulda been fun to drive Code Brown on ECR’s tight and complex track…maybe if I borrowed stole power from a racer’s generator/RV…

Not a bad idea, as I was changing the lineup for this race.

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Photo Courtesy: Murileemartin.com

This super cheaty Mustang burned race fuel with a fantastic lopey cam: clearly an American Iron racer sneaking into LeMons.  This was a solid Class C (slowest) contender in the snow. Probably.

Granted, they’d self-destruct (i.e. tortoise-vs-hare driving) to the point they’d never have a snowball’s chance in hell…it’s still a Class A car.

 

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Photo Courtesy: Murileemartin.com

And this slow but surprisingly consistent Honda CVCC could be a Class A car given current conditions. Very tempting!

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Photo Courtesy: Murileemartin.com

Such lemony cheating skills! The zip-tie snow chains made this early 60s Dodge Dart with Chrysler LH wheels appear worthy of what Mother Nature was dishin’ out.

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Photo Courtesy: Murileemartin.com

Judging in these conditions was mind altering. Sadly the weather never improved enough to race. As the snow turned to slush, we took a few cars on the track to warm up the surface, more photos here. Wishful thinking: while the roads in and around Decatur were good, everything near ECR remained unplowed.

Many racers (relaxing in many RVs around the paddock) wanted a go, but seemed happy with the final decision.We tried, but it wasn’t in the cards.

FWIW, the LeMons crew used a rental V6 Dodge Charger, a late-model Fusion Hybrid, a new Jeep Cherokee and my Ranger (with 100+ lbs of ballast) as transportation. They all performed flawlessly, thanks to restrained drivers and sharp witted active handling nannies.  So do I regret not taking on the challenge of driving Code Brown to ECR?

Yes, but with a full-time job with regular office hours, a weak body recovering from Stevens-Johnson (less time recharging batteries, more time recharging the body) driving a Tesla in these conditions was foolish or perhaps dangerous. It remains a city car for me, unless I was visiting Dallas. No worries there.

There’s not enough infrastructure in parts of the flyover states for everyone to have everything. And with that, be ready for the rest of Code Brown’s review in the coming weeks.

Thanks for reading, have a lovely weekend.

 

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

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Park Anywhere, this is a Code BROWN!!!

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Off to you, Best and Brightest.

 

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

 

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

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Black Tesla Model S

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Elon Musk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tesla Roadster in Blue

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

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

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

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Merrill Lynch: Tesla Sitting On 3K Cars Despite Alleged Scarcity http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/merrill-lynch-tesla-sitting-3k-cars-despite-alleged-scarcity/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/merrill-lynch-tesla-sitting-3k-cars-despite-alleged-scarcity/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 11:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=945017 If you’re still waiting for your Model S to arrive in your driveway, you might not be too pleased to learn there could be 3,000 cars hiding in the back room, thanks to one man seeking knowledge about Tesla’s famed scarcity. The Daily Kanban reports Merrill Lynch research analyst John Lovallo found that while the […]

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If you’re still waiting for your Model S to arrive in your driveway, you might not be too pleased to learn there could be 3,000 cars hiding in the back room, thanks to one man seeking knowledge about Tesla’s famed scarcity.

The Daily Kanban reports Merrill Lynch research analyst John Lovallo found that while the hype held up for the Model X — for obvious reasons — the same couldn’t be said for the Model S. Despite Tesla’s claim that they sold every car they had in Q3 2014 — even the ones in the showrooms — Lovallo saw a different story with the finished goods inventory. In short: Some 3,000 vehicles were either in transit or in a warehouse.

Merrill Lynch — who told its clients in its research note about Tesla that the automaker’s stock will remain labelled “underperform” for the foreseeable future — also noted that Tesla is facing difficulties in penetrating the Chinese market, “coupled with seemingly tepid European demand for the Model S.” Despite the Chinese government creating a separate pool for EV license plates, 70 percent of plate winners failed to cash-in by the end of last month, and even if everything worked out, lower-cost EVs like the Nissan-Venucia r30 and the 20-some models set to leave Volkswagen’s factories would hardly leave any money for a higher-end EV like those sold by Tesla.

The note concludes by pointing out that the automaker barely makes money from selling regulatory credits to other automakers, while not making a dime off of its vehicles, the latter an issue that “could ultimately prove to be the biggest risk for the company and the pure electric vehicle market at large.”

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Tesla: Model X Delayed Until Q3 2015, D Models In High Demand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/tesla-model-x-delayed-q3-2015-d-models-high-demand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/tesla-model-x-delayed-q3-2015-d-models-high-demand/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=941801 Were you hoping to have a Tesla Model X next to your Model S sometime in the next few months? How does Q3 2015 sound? CEO Elon Musk informed investors during his company’s quarterly earnings call Wednesday that the electric SUV would be delayed until the aforementioned quarter to insure quality would be Job No. […]

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Were you hoping to have a Tesla Model X next to your Model S sometime in the next few months? How does Q3 2015 sound?

CEO Elon Musk informed investors during his company’s quarterly earnings call Wednesday that the electric SUV would be delayed until the aforementioned quarter to insure quality would be Job No. 1 as tooling and production step-up to handle both the S and the X:

In anticipation of this effort, we now expect Model X deliveries to start in Q3 of 2015, a few months later than previously expected. This also is a legitimate criticism of Tesla — we prefer to forgo revenue, rather than bring a product to market that does not delight customers. Doing so negatively affects the short term, but positively affects the long term.

In other news, Tesla is discontinuing two colors going forward — green and brown — and if you wanted a P85S, you’re out of luck there, as well: the highest-performing model will now be solely the P85D.

Speaking of the S, Q3 2014 sales have gone well for the automaker, with 7,785 units delivered overall and 907 delivered in a single day, the highest figures ever recorded in a quarter for Tesla. Most of the deliveries were in North America.

Demand for the 85D and P85D is also strong, meriting a boost in production capacity to over 2,000 units per week by the end of 2015.

Finally, the D is beating a path toward the Model 3. Per Jalopnik, Musk proclaimed that the dual-motor powertrain is a precursor to what could happen when the low-cost EV arrives, which may entail a FWD model followed by a D version.

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Consumer Reports: Tesla Model S Ranked “Average” In Reliability Survey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/consumer-reports-tesla-model-s-ranked-average-reliability-survey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/consumer-reports-tesla-model-s-ranked-average-reliability-survey/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 13:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=940281 Think your Tesla Model S is all that and a bag of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Doritos? That it says to the world that you’ve arrived? That you’re standing on the edge of a silver future? Consumer Reports says your car’s just “average.” The publication took information from its recent Annual Reliabilty Survey — which […]

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Think your Tesla Model S is all that and a bag of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Doritos? That it says to the world that you’ve arrived? That you’re standing on the edge of a silver future? Consumer Reports says your car’s just “average.”

The publication took information from its recent Annual Reliabilty Survey — which Tesla cannot partake in full until it has a second model in the lineup, per the survey’s criteria — and found that the 1,353 Model S owners surveyed had similar service experiences as Consumer Reports had in its long-term tester. The comparison with other vehicles the same age as the premium EV helped it earn the “Average” ranking.

The majority of the reports focused on small problems, such as slow-retracting door handles and body-component issues. That said, the publication will continue to recommend the Model S to its readership, noting it was in good company with other high-end vehicles rated as such, including the Acura RLX.

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Sovereign Subsidies Fuel Norwegian Tesla Registrations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/sovereign-subsidies-fuel-norwegian-tesla-registrations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/sovereign-subsidies-fuel-norwegian-tesla-registrations/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=937762 Not too long ago, Tesla set up shop in Norway, looking to gain some market share in the frosty nation of 5 million. Little did anyone know just how big the share would grow. According to Freakonomics, Norway is the second largest market for the premium EV automaker, with March 2014 being the best month […]

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Tesla_Model_S_delivery_to_Høyres_Nikolai_Astrup_in_Norway

Not too long ago, Tesla set up shop in Norway, looking to gain some market share in the frosty nation of 5 million.

Little did anyone know just how big the share would grow.

According to Freakonomics, Norway is the second largest market for the premium EV automaker, with March 2014 being the best month in Model S orders thus far. However, not only was it the best month for Tesla, it was the best month for breaking a record: 1,493 units registered, the most units ever recorded with Norwegian authorities in one month since Ford moved 1,454 Sierras in May of 1986.

Through the first nine months of 2014, the automaker averaged 435 regisrations per month, despite the price for a new Model S beginning at kr461,000 (~$68,000 USD); never mind how much a used Model S goes for up there.

How is this possible? Subsidies and incentives so huge it would make the Japanese government blush. Those subsidies help bring the price down to levels found among gasoline-powered vehicles, and are fueled, ironically, by a sovereign wealth fund created from Norway’s massive oil reserves. The fund was created to future-proof the nation from “Dutch Disease”: Over-specialization in the production and export of natural resources at the expense of every other industry in a given country.

Alas, those subsidies won’t last long: Only the first 50,000 registrations will enjoy the perks of pushing a green future.

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Tesla, US Bank Team For New Model S Lease Contract http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/tesla-us-bank-team-new-model-s-lease-contract/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/tesla-us-bank-team-new-model-s-lease-contract/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 10:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=937714 Want to own a Model S without worrying about a long-term commitment or how much it’ll hurt your bottom line? CEO Elon Musk has a deal for you. Reuters reports U.S. Bank will offer a lease with a 25 percent decrease in the amount paid per month. Per Musk, the bank was chosen due to […]

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Black Tesla Model S

Want to own a Model S without worrying about a long-term commitment or how much it’ll hurt your bottom line? CEO Elon Musk has a deal for you.

Reuters reports U.S. Bank will offer a lease with a 25 percent decrease in the amount paid per month. Per Musk, the bank was chosen due to having a “much lower cost of capital” than Tesla itself. As in previous leases, the lessee only needs to tap once on the vehicle’s touchscreen to agree the terms and conditions of the contract.

In addition to paying less per month a new Model S, Tesla will also offer its Happiness Guarantee to lessees who sign-on. The guarantee allows the lessee to return their vehicle to the automaker within three months if they find anything wrong with the product. However, Musk cautioned that if they wanted a new vehicle right away, they would need to wait a while. Lessees can also upgrade to a newer model after paying a pass-through fee.

U.S. Bank was chosen last year alongside Wells Fargo to enter into a partnership with the automaker to offer potential owners a 10 percent down payment on a new Model S purchase.

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Tesla: The “D” Stands For Dual-Motor http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/tesla-d-stands-dual-motor/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/tesla-d-stands-dual-motor/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 10:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=928330 You’ve waited for this, now here it comes: Tesla is dropping in a second electric motor up front for more power and better weight distribution in the Model S. Its name? D. Road & Track reports all three dual-motor models of the S — 60D, 85D and P85D — will have a 118-horsepower mid-size electric […]

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Tesla P85D Backside

You’ve waited for this, now here it comes: Tesla is dropping in a second electric motor up front for more power and better weight distribution in the Model S.

Its name? D.

Road & Track reports all three dual-motor models of the S — 60D, 85D and P85D — will have a 118-horsepower mid-size electric motor powering the front wheels. The same motor will also move the rear pair in the 60D and 85D, while customers who opt for the raw power of the P85D will have the same 470-horsepower motor in the back as the original P85.

The power duo under the P85D will deliver a combined 690 horsepower and 687 lb-ft of torque when the hammer is dropped, moving from nil to 60 in 3.2 seconds — spanking Charger Hellcats and Panameras off the line — with the quarter disappearing in 11.8 seconds. CEO Elon Musk stated his team benchmarked the McLaren F1 for the top-end model’s acceleration performance.

As for range, the 85D will pull into the Supercharger after 295 miles, five short of the magical 300-mile barrier. The 60D will do the same after 225 miles, and the P85D arrives after 275 miles.

Aside from the new models — all of which are available for order at this moment, with delivery set for December for P85D models, February for the others — the Model S and future vehicles will have Autopilot, a semi-autonomous drive system that will take over from the driver when needed, doing everything from speeding up and slowing down in heavy traffic, to switching lanes after the driver signals where they wish to go. The system — which is in every Model S assembled from two weeks ago forward, and will be enabled via software update in the next few months — uses a forward-facing camera and an array of 12 sensors, providing a 360-degree view of the world up to 16 feet away.

Finally, stopping all of this new power comes from an electromechanical braking setup — the Porsche 918 is the only other vehicle to use the technology — which Autopilot can engage in whatever manner is most appropriate in a given situation, from hard panic stops to red-carpet style gentle braking. Tesla can fine-tune the system for desired brake feel, as well.

Telsa-Dual-Motor-P85D-sm

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Tesla Preparing To Enter CPO Market By 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/tesla-preparing-enter-cpo-market-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/tesla-preparing-enter-cpo-market-2016/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927409 Always wanted to own a Tesla Model S, but couldn’t get past the $71,070 base price? CEO Elon Musk has a plan to make it easier to bring one home: CPO sales. Automotive News reports the automaker is working on a certified pre-owned program that would be offered through its stores, competing against similar programs […]

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2013-Tesla-Model-S-Rear

Always wanted to own a Tesla Model S, but couldn’t get past the $71,070 base price? CEO Elon Musk has a plan to make it easier to bring one home: CPO sales.

Automotive News reports the automaker is working on a certified pre-owned program that would be offered through its stores, competing against similar programs by the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz, as explained by Tesla’s vice president of communications, Simon Sproule:

With the Model S fleet now heading toward the first cars hitting three years old, we are looking at CPO and how best to structure.

In addition, Musk himself proclaimed in 2013 that he would personally honor the buyback guarantee his company issued to owners at the time of purchase, allowing them to recover 43 percent to 50 percent of the sticker price after three years. Should this group take him up, the first trade-ins would arrive for refurbishing in the spring of 2016 — if not earlier for those offloading their Model S for a Model X — with more to come the following year.

Just like with Tesla’s new cars, the CPO models would be sold at its stores, with the potential to capture as much as $10,000 per used model sold, much more than when the models first left the showroom according to TrueCar president John Krafcik.

Challenges for the company’s entry into the CPO market include: budgeting for model refurbishing and sales; more legal battles to be allowed to directly sell used models; the potential for depreciation to be lower than benchmarked — the Mercedes S-Class’ trade-in value formed the basis for Tesla’s buyback program; owners taking their vehicles to other used-car dealers or the private market; and the upcoming Model III.

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Capsule Review: 2013 Tesla Model S P85 Performance http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2013-tesla-model-s-p85-performance/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2013-tesla-model-s-p85-performance/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 14:51:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=898442 It’s difficult for any test drive of a Tesla Model S to result in a review that doesn’t become an analysis of the company’s business model, an attempt to justify the cost of the car because of the fuel savings, or a simulated comparison test with a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. But what if the Tesla was […]

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Tesla Model S P85 black It’s difficult for any test drive of a Tesla Model S to result in a review that doesn’t become an analysis of the company’s business model, an attempt to justify the cost of the car because of the fuel savings, or a simulated comparison test with a Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

But what if the Tesla was just a car made by any other conventional automaker? What if we stopped thinking of its electric propulsion system as a sacrifice, or ignored its unique means of generating thrust? And what if we recognized that, because of the company’s desire to operate unconventionally and because it’s plugged in and not fuelled up, no such comparison test can be validated?

My friend, who we’ll call Rob, recently acquired this black Model S P85. He isn’t a wealthy environmentalist; he is a true gearhead. Last time I saw him, he was driving a previous-gen Nissan Pathfinder, having shuffled through various performance cars before discovering married life with children. He wasn’t cross-shopping the Model S with an S-Class or a Porsche Panamera or a Jaguar XJ or really anything at all. He wanted this car, and not just with a little bit of desire.

Thankfully, he also wanted me to drive it.

2013 Tesla Model S Summerside LighthouseBefore even acquiring the all-electric Tesla, Rob had a few advantages not available to residents of, oh, I don’t know, Rawlins, Wyoming. Rob lives in Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island, a bona fide shrinking sandbar in the Northumberland Strait. Rob could drive his Model S tip to tip, North Cape to East Point, and still have enough range to get back to his home in the western part of the island outside the small city of Summerside. And yes, Summerside is absolutely littered with electric car chargers. There are eight within a three-mile drive of Rob’s business, in part because of the government’s attempts to show what all of their wind turbines can do. None of the chargers are in use as I write this.

So Rob’s range, especially if he decides not to cross the Confederation Bridge to the mainland, is as much (if not more) limited by the size of his island as it is the capacity of his Tesla’s battery.

Not that the top of the line Model S is particularly range-limited, but once range anxiety is removed from the equation, a Tesla owner is simply left with the benefits of low energy costs and always available torque. After a brief tutorial from Rob – the car is on because you got in it, align your personal settings at the top of the screen where it says Rob, open the glass roof by virtually sliding it open here, check Tesla’s share price via the free-for-life web browser – he encouraged me to suspend the speech of my passengers with firm prods of the accelerator, such is the capability of all that right now torque.

2013 Tesla Model S Freetown PEIRob headed back into work; I left Summerside for greener pastures and emptier roads. Veering away from an awkwardly-designed roundabout between Summerside and Kensington with the right pedal set to loud and the Model S not really leaning at all through a fast, getting faster, really fast, almost too fast right-hand sweeper, my mother-in-law was in fact silenced. My father-in-law, who’s ongoing root canal left him half-high on Tylenol 3, may have clenched his teeth tight enough to need an extra visit to the dentist. These folks are used to passenger rides in fast cars, and I’m accustomed to driving them.

But electric torque is different.

The twin-turbocharged Cadillac CTS V Sport reviewed here recently weighs less than the Tesla and produces similar power. Yet no matter what we say about the removal of turbo lag in modern cars, and indeed no matter how we laud the best naturally-aspirated V8s for their instantaneous throttle response, they just don’t feel like this. They may also not lose three miles of range over the span of a 650-yard acceleration run.

Up to cruising altitude, Tesla has effectively hushed the aggressive 21-inch 245/35ZR Michelin Pilot Sports. Wind noise, particularly around the driver’s side A-pillar, is another matter. It’s likely that a conventional car may overwhelm that swshh with a vibrating V8; the Tesla has no such powerplant to drown out the sound of the wind. Nevertheless, the future of silent propulsion will necessitate an even greater focus on noise and harshness, if not vibration, of which there is none.

2013 Tesla Model S P85 InteriorThe P85’s straight-line performance (416 horsepower, 443 lb-ft of torque, quarter mile in the low 12s) doesn’t stop impressing, especially on an island full of two-lane roads with tourists who need overtaking, but in daily driving I have to believe that the car’s balance and rough-road composure will provide greater satisfaction. 48/52 weight distribution, particularly when that weight is settled way down low with a centre of gravity of just 17.5 inches, makes for the kind of tossable handling you’d never expect to find in a car that weighs around 4700 pounds. Ride quality is certainly no worse than what you’d expect in a five-passenger car that costs this much, perhaps better given its roadholding skills.

The Tesla’s accurate and realistic steering is best left in the Standard setting, as Sport’s hefty weight is better left reserved for twisty-road hustling and Comfort is unnecessarily light, though not unusable. If there is one dynamic complaint, it’s a small one concerning the car’s knack for remaining on an even keel, as there’s not much to signal that the Tesla’s high limits are approaching. A small measure of body roll would be enough for the chassis to effectively communicate its current status.

There are certainly no complaints with the brakes, which I hardly ever used. Somewhat more normal braking with less regen is available by way of a simple settings change, but leaving the brakes in Tesla’s standard mode, and thus backing off the throttle, is distinctly more pleasant in town. It also provides a more performance-like sensation when the car’s being driven with gusto.

2013 Tesla Model S Cargo areasInside, the Tesla Model S is vast. Rob’s car didn’t have the optional third row, so the cargo area (26.3 cubic feet) appeared all the more expansive. Don’t forget, there’s another 5.3 cubic feet of space under the front hood, space which Rob uses as a change table for his toddler. Rear seat leg room is plentiful, but the floor does feel much too high back there. Up front, I found the driver’s seat needs more side bolstering, but the seat is hugely adjustable and sufficiently lengthy for those of us who are long of thigh. The large minivan-like area between the front seats is more than a little useful but some extra dividing options wouldn’t go amiss. I was no fan of the Model S’s spindly cruise control lever, and the seatbelt buckles are far from premium in a car which emphasizes high end materials, as exemplified by the Alcantara headliner.

The interior, however, centres around the vertically-mounted 17-inch screen. I found myself grateful for the simplicity of the controls. After all, I wasn’t going to have a week with Rob’s Tesla as I typically do with manufacturer-supplied press cars. The ease with which I shuffled between menus, read TTAC readers’ disagreeing comments on last Friday’s Impala story, and operated the always-visible climate controls speaks to the lack of complexity in the system. Yet I was more fond of the speed with which the screen operated. All too often, current vehicle-installed infotainment systems possess none of a modern computer’s speed. The Tesla’s device never required a wait. The big screen’s one letdown? Rob told me a system reset would be required if we left the browser for an extended period on any page other than Tesla’s own website, as other websites tend to cause the screen to freeze.

2013 Tesla Model S P85 Fishing boatSpeaking of freezing, Tesla’s fortunately going to take care of Rob’s leaking cargo area before winter temperatures set in by flying in a technician to solve the problem. This is symptomatic of Rob’s overall service experience. I asked him whether he put up with the car’s (admittedly few) faults just because he loves the car so much, noting that a flooded trunk in a new Honda Civic would have consumers up in arms. “No,” he said, “it’s the service experience.” If problems are resolved this efficiently, the problems which should seem substantial become trivial, even forgotten.

Priced from $95,000 and fully-optioned at $130,000, the Tesla Model S P85 is not the electric car for the masses. Tesla’s upcoming crossover won’t be either. Yet if Tesla can continue to prioritize performance and market the best-looking cars, they’ll be special devices at any price point and in any category.

To a certain extent, the Model S transcends “car” to function in a broader consumer marketplace as the next best thing. After an extended test drive in Rob’s Model S, I’d argue that the Model S transcends “car” because it’s better than other cars, regardless of its place in popular culture alongside advancements like the iPhone, Google Streetview, and gourmet burgers.

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Consumer Reports’ Long-Term Tesla Develops Reliability Blemishes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/consumer-reports-long-term-tesla-develops-reliability-blemishes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/consumer-reports-long-term-tesla-develops-reliability-blemishes/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 10:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=889626 Though the Tesla Model S is one of Consumer Reports’ recommended darlings, the premium EV garnered its share of reliability blemishes during long-term testing. Consumer Reports’ Gabe Shenhar says that over the 15,743 miles he and his colleagues have spent driving the Model S, a number of problems have popped up, including: Automatic retracting door […]

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Tesla Model S

Though the Tesla Model S is one of Consumer Reports’ recommended darlings, the premium EV garnered its share of reliability blemishes during long-term testing.

Consumer Reports’ Gabe Shenhar says that over the 15,743 miles he and his colleagues have spent driving the Model S, a number of problems have popped up, including:

  • Automatic retracting door handles “relucant to emerge from the coachwork”
  • A broken seat buckle in the third row seating section
  • Front trunk lid failing to release via touchscreen
  • Said screen going blank, blocking all access to the car’s functions

Shenhar noted every one of these problems were quickly remedied by the service center in Milford, Conn. or over-the-air from the mothership in California.

He concludes that the sedan’s reliability ranking may fall a bit when the publication’s related survey is examined in September, but only if other Model S owners have had similar problems occur with enough severity and frequency to merit a downgrade.

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