Category: Tesla Death Watch

By on August 13, 2008

Actually, we're not sure what number Tesla Roadster is chronicled here. But a private and likely very well off citizen in California has procured one and put a video of himself driving it on Ye Olde YouTube. What we can see from the video is: (1) The carbon fiber hood is very light and (2) mother of god, it's quick. A confidential source confirms that the customer paid sticker ($120k) for his lithium-ion-powered automotive trinket. No word on recharge time or range in the video. (As this guy's stable probably includes a fleet of slick cars, I doubt it's of very much consequence.) Now, if Tesla can just amp-up production, not "fad out," keep costs under control (have you seen that showroom?), raise more money, build a more profitable product and fend off competitors, we can take them off the Death Watch. [hat tip to Jonny Lieberman]

By on August 5, 2008

The man and his machineMartin Eberhard now has driven 1000 miles on his Founders Series Tesla Roadster. Tesla's first CEO (now punted) took delivery of his lithium-ion-powered sports car two weeks back. (It's got orange stripes on grey, if you're in his neck of the woods and want to flag him down.) Eberhard estimates the Roadster's range at 125 miles on the "normal charge" settings, and 160 at "max range". "The 'normal charge' setting (accessed via the touch screen) limits charging the battery to something less than full. (I guess they go to 85 percent) and limits discharging to something above fully-depleted. The max range setting allows full use of the battery, though it warns you that doing this often will cause reduced battery life. It also reduces torque noticeably." And there you have it. He also notes that the rear suspension is harsh on sharp bumps, but that's to be expected from the Kim Kardashian version of the Lotus Elise.

By on August 4, 2008

We\'re not the only ones keeping our eye on them.Turns out TTAC isn't alone with its Tesla Death Watch and Volt Birth Watch series: Toyota has its own going. EV World's (sub) Bill Moore got this and a few other juicy tidbits from a casual conversation with Toyota's "grumpy old man" Bill Reinert, National Manager of the Advanced Technology Group. Toyota has a Death Watch going on Fisker , Tesla, and…the Chevy Volt. Toyota doesn't think any of them will ever be built in large volumes, because their Li-Ion batteries are simply too expensive to be cost-effective. He also cited concerns over global supplies of lithium. Meanwhile, Toyota is hard at work on next-generation batteries , especially air battery chemistry, including zinc-air, as well as stepping up production of NiMH packs and starting Li-Ion factories. What's the line about not "having all your eggs in one basket"? Reinert also thinks it's unrealistic to expect owners of plug-in to only tap the mains at night. Utilities are going to have to step up capacity. And forget about all the 2010 Prius spy shots floating around the web, they're just cobbled-up mules based on the current Prius. Toyota is famous for keeping their final products under wraps (just one of the many differences with GM). And one more goodie from the grumpy Toyota brain trust: "liquid peak" (every conceivable liquid fuel from petroleum, coal and biofuel) arrives in 2018. That's when global demand will outstrip capacity to produce them all.

By on July 21, 2008

Would you buy a car from this Martini?Earth2tech reports that Tesla opened its second showroom last week in Menlo Park, CA. The new "palatial" space is three times larger than Tesla's original L.A. showroom, highlighting just how important the Silicon Valley is to Tesla's attempt to become a viable boutique automaker. And though the money could have been spent on say, a transmission, Tesla threw a party at its new showroom to celebrate the (eventual) delivery of cars to its patient customers. And what a party it was, by all accounts. "The parking valets seemed to outnumber the electric Roadsters," says E2T (ya think?), and an open bar served such cocktails as the Electric Margarita (great as long as you don't ask how it's made) and the Model S Mojito (if you wanted to get really delusional). Tesla President/CEO Ze'ev Drori and Chairman Elon Musk mingled with customers (martini glasses in hand) and spoke of plans for more showrooms (and accompanying parties) in New York, Chicago, Seattle and Miami. And while Tesla partied, the first dozen roadsters to be delivered to Silicon Valley customers sat in the back of the showroom, along with nine others scattered across the showroom floor in "different stages of development." They may be arriving in California at a rate of four per week, but since final assembly takes place at Tesla's dealerships, most are not yet ready for delivery. Which brings to mind the wise words of another, more famous electric innovator from a different Menlo Park: "genius is one percent perspiration, and 99 percent hype." Or something like that.

By on July 20, 2008

Joe behind the wheel. Where\'s OUR test drive? (courtesy Peter DaSilva for The New York Times)TTAC's Best and Brightest have debated the position of The New York Times in America's psychosociopolitical gestalt. But one thing's for sure: if the Gray Lady pans your high-tech cutting edge PC EV, your five minutes of unadulterated upmarket adulation are over. "Costly Toys, or a New Era for Drivers?" asks Joe Nocera. Obviously, he's going to play it both ways. But the scribe's double negative about Tesla's mainstream ambitions. "Just because Tesla has succeeded in making an expensive electric sports car does not mean that it will be able to make a moderately priced five-seat sedan. The latter is a quantum leap more difficult… David Cole, the chairman of the Center for Automotive Research, is another Tesla skeptic. For one thing, he says, the battery solution in the Roadster probably won’t work in a heavier car. 'Lithium batteries are going to change the world,' he said, 'but they are not ready for prime time.' Tesla’s solution in the Roadster — tying together thousands of small batteries into one giant one — is 'suboptimal.' He added, 'On a degree of difficulty scale, building a sports car is a 2. Building a high-volume affordable car is a 10.'" Nocera gets seriously cranky, narked at Tesla's "petty dissembling." "The more I prodded, though, the more skeptical I became." Join the club Joe. And thanks for reading. 

By on July 14, 2008

Almost there... (courtesy shatterhand007.com)The fact that Tesla Chairman Elon Musk owns a solar power and space launch company is, at least potentially, a perfect trifecta. When Musk finally announces that Space X will be launching solar panels into orbit to beam juice to a million gen3 EVs, he'll square the circle. Until then, we just have to listen to more co- and tri-branded crap. This time, it's Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria (author of The Post-America World) in Tesla's spinning teacups. "Q. What's your goal in producing the Tesla Roadster. A. This car itself is not going to change the world—it's a $100,000 sports car being produced in quantities of about 1,800 a year." "About" meaning… 50? Less? "Q. When you plug into an outlet, you're in effect plugging into coal, because a lot of the electricity produced in the United States is coal-fired. Does that bother you from a global-warming perspective? A. I'm very familiar with the "long tailpipe" criticism. I have another company, SolarCity, which is the largest provider of solar power to homes and businesses in California. The solution is to get a SolarCity solar panel on your roof and then have an electric car. It takes actually only a small solar-panel setup—of about 10 by 15 feet—to generate 200 to 400 miles a week of electricity for your car." So, are we cool?

By on July 14, 2008

Zev flew as Rogue Two while stationed at Echo Base on Hoth. He was the pilot that discovered the near-frozen forms of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, after the two had gone missing overnight during a Hoth blizzard. Zev also flew in the Battle of Hoth, where his snowspeeder was blown out of the air by AT-AT walkers, killing the Rebel pilot. In the Dark Empire comic series, set many years after the Battle of Hoth, there is another Rebel named Zev. This is Zevulon Veers, son of General Maximilian Veers, and has no relation to Zev Senesca, or Tesla\'s Ze\'ev Drori.Tesla Prez and CEO Ze'ev Drori has e-mailed customers with important news! "In large measure we deliberately limit the production until we install our own born and bred final transmission by mid-September, at which time production will start to ramp up leading toward a monthly rate of over 100 cars in December." Translation: Tesla owners at the front of the line will receive damaged goods. And the aspiring EV maker's got another promised production date for the rest of its "non-founders" customers, who were told Tesla went into "full production" on March 17 (of this year). Ze'ev also proudly touts Tesla's high-profile hire: 24-year Chrysler vet, ex-VP, and former chief engineer of future midsize products Mike Donoughe (out of the frying pan into the frialator?). Tesla's Prez highlights the fact that The Big D was tapped to head-up ChryCo's Project D. Uh, wasn't that the "emergency project" designed to rescue the craptastic Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger from being the worst new cars sold in America? Whatever happened to that, anyway? Was it ever finished?

By on July 10, 2008

\"Several of the outfits, Ignatius noted, were new enough and expensive enough to be properly considered offenses against taste and decency. Possession of anything new and expensive only reflected a person\'s lack of theology and geometry; it could even casts doubts upon one\'s soul.\"Behind every flailing/failing company is a bunch of clueless, warring egomaniacs. Students of mismanagement mishegos have a new case study to contemplate, thanks to a portrait of the aspiring electric vehicle maker in Fortune magazine. There's plenty of SNAFU granularity to consider, but the main theme is that Tesla founder Martin Eberhard is an overwhelmed Wozniak to Elon Musk's OCD Jobs. In other words, it's a simple case of the blind leading the lame. Or is that the other way around? Anyway, there are some insanely great quotes. "Musk has kept silent until now about what happened [to Martin Eberhard's crashed Roadster]. 'I was too busy trying to fix the fucking mess he left. I haven't had time to tell my story… I will say, I have never met someone who is as capable of creating such a disinformation campaign as Martin Eberhard.'" And "When an early member of the marketing team suggested putting solar panels on the roof of Tesla's new headquarters in San Carlos, Calif., Eberhard's response was, 'Why the fuck would we do that?'" And "Musk ordered the engineers to lower the doorsill two inches, thereby losing much of the cost savings that come from using a crash-tested off-the-rack chassis. 'Have you tried getting out of an Elise?' asks Musk. 'It's like you have to be a contortionist.'" There's SO much more. Suffice it to say, we learn that seven Roadsters have been completed; each cost Tesla more to build than they [in theory] make. Each will have to have its transmission replaced. The Tesla Death Watch continues. 

By on July 2, 2008

vector-w2-prototype-and-wiegart.jpgWhich is just as well, really. By it's own (highly suspicious) count, Tesla has delivered less than five cars to paying customers since it began production on March 17th (of this year). Meanwhile and in any case, Tesla Chairman Elon Musk has now informed the Palo Alto Daily News that his car company will launch a $30k EV by 2012. For those of you keeping score, this as-yet-unnamed mid-market motor will arrive [in theory only] after Tesla's $60k EV– or part-EV– Whitestar luxury sedan. Sorry; "model S." And in large numbers, apparently. "The company hopes a new Bay Area plant will allow it to start production of 10,000 "Model S" sedans per year and ramp up to 20,000. It has no hard estimate yet for the $30,000 vehicle, but spokeswoman Colette Niazmand said she would anticipate 'tens of thousands' produced annually." OK, hang on a mo. I know talk is cheap and newspapers are entirely gullible when it comes anything green. But it should be clear to any observer with the slightest concept of automotive development lead times that Tesla is in the business of BS, not car construction. Given Musk's ability to raise cash and spout bluster, I realize this Death Watch series is headed for double-digits. But anyone who thinks Tesla is the future needs to read-up on Vector Motors. Or Bricklin. Or Tucker. Or AC Cobra. That's all I'm saying. For now. Obviously.

By on June 26, 2008

musk.jpgTesla Motors Chairman Elon Musk begins his NewsHour interview by putting the hate on hydrogen. "If fuel cells were good, don't think you'd see them somewhere, like maybe in a laptop or a cell phone or a $200 million military satellite maybe? And yet, where do you see them?" Not that the majority of Tesla's deposit bestowing proto-customers have seen their Roadsters. Anyway, NewsHour asks, what's so special about a laptop-powered car anyway? "It's combining those little cans of chemicals," Musk educates. "A very large number of them, and making it safe and making it reliable and making it last a long time, and those are very difficult things and nobody's succeeded in doing that except Tesla." Musk quickly deflects attention to "model two," a $59k luxury sports sedan that's "just going to be awesome." Musk then drops the bomb in our headline, and takes a shot at TTAC. "There are always skeptics and naysayers, but I think the smart money's on us." (Quick! Get SpongeBob on the line. Is it opposite day?). There's lots more BS ("we actually expect to have eventually millions of cars on the road"). Suffice it to say, Musk's inquisitor eventually guzzles the Kool-Aid. "SPENCER MICHELS: You could change the world. ELON MUSK: We need to change the world. There's no choice." Next up: Musk walks on water. Or is that hydrogen?

By on June 23, 2008

mn-concours23_ph_0498675332.jpgOn March 17 (of this year), Tesla Motors supposedly began production of their $98k Lithium-ion-powered Roadster. Ninety-eight days later and nada. Niente. Nix. Nothing. So while we await independent confirmation that a single paying customer has received a single Roadster, here's an article in The SF Gate about the Palo Alto Concours d'Elegance, which has dressed-up its parade of pistonhead perfection with alt power-mobiles. One of which was, of course, the Roadster, presented, of course, with obfuscation and unsubstantiated PR spin intact. "Nearby, Bob Liems walked past a 2008 Ferrari 430 Scuderia, the lightweight $305,000 model with 515 horsepower, and to the Tesla Roadster, the electric sports car with 248 horsepower and a 220-mile range. The Tesla, which takes anywhere from three to seven hours to fully recharge, costs $98,000 and tops out at 125 mph." You can't buy that kind of publicity. Or can you? Anyway, I'd like to suggest that the Palo Alto show was the perfect place to view the Roadster, nested as it was amongst other rare and exotic machinery that have faded into minor, adored and ultimately irrelevant historical relevance. 

By on June 20, 2008

tesla.jpgIf you think Tesla's wealthy and influential client list is getting impatient to see delivery of their single-speed supercars, imagine how Martin Eberhard must feel. The co-founder and mastermind of the EV roadster was supposed to receive the #2 Tesla,. It appeared for a while that Tesla had skipped over its godfather in favor of delivering to everyone else. Now AutoblogGreen (ABG) reports that Eberhard's Tesla has arrived from the UK. Unfortunately, it suffered "significant" front-end damage at the hands of a company lacky. Or did it? Tesla's Daryl Siry told ABG that #2 was damaged on its final shakedown before delivery. Eberhard claims "It is news to me that this happened on the day the car was to be delivered." Adding insult to, well, insult, Autoblog founder Jason Calcanis notes on his blog that he will be receiving the #16 Tesla in six weeks. Calcanis jauntily contemplates giving away a Tesla on his holier-than-thou "human-powered search engine" Mahalo.com. For good measure, current Tesla Chariman Elon Musk recently declined to correct Fox Business News' Liz Claman when she called him the "creator of the Tesla" in this so-bad-it's-almost-funny pimpatorial segment. Dude, Elon, give the man his car and his props before this whole thing goes Tango Uniform.

By on June 16, 2008

428px-savannah_samson_avn2007.JPGDespite Tesla Motors' March 17th (of this year) declaration that they've put their lithium-ion-powered Roadster into production, nothing. While we wait for a single customer car to hit the streets, we thought we'd fill the time by talking about Savannah Sampson. According to Wikipedia. Ms. Sampson was born Natalie Oliveros in 1966 in Rochester New York. After training in ballet, she became an exotic dancer. From there, it was a quick chassé to the world of adult films. For the past eight years, Sampson's starred in a variety of movies such as Rocco Meats an American Angel in Paris, Big Blowout, Best Deep Throat on the Planet and Patient, Patients, Patients. Although we can cannot corroborate Wikipedia's citation, she's reportedly filming a reality-based TV show for Showtime called M.I.L.F. Sampson's acting awards include an AVN award for Best All-Girl Sex Scene for The Masseuse (2004), an AVN award for Best Group Sex Scene (2004, 2005) and a GayVN Award for Best Non-Sexual Performance (in Michael Lucas' La Dolce Vita, 2007). It's not known what kind of car Savannah drives, but it could, in theory, eventually, at some point, be a Tesla Roadster– provided she could fit her ample… uh… superstructure into the rather small cockpit.

By on June 2, 2008

mattdamontesla2.jpgSteve Levy, over at Autofiends.com, has encountered the Tesla in person in Los Angeles. The lithium-ion -powered sports car was driven by none other than your sister's favorite actor, Matt Damon (who does a killer Matthew McConaughey impression). Levy spoke with Damon, who claimed the car was still a prototype. Damon said the off-the-line acceleration sucks, but the 30 – 60 acceleration is like light speed. Range? Unknown. Recharge time? Unknown? Is Damon going to buy one? Well, of course. But is it even on sale yet? That's hard to say. But if even Damon gets an unfinished prototype to tool around in, it's not sounding good for Tesla. So was the end of the Tesla Birthwatch premature? It seems like it might have been. Then again, this is a functional (mostly) prototype. You know what the take away lesson here is? Even Matt Damon, with all his money, has questionable taste in cars.

By on May 20, 2008

musk.jpgCNET reports that Tesla Motors Chairman (but not founder) Elon Musk sat down with Mike Malone for a little public chinwag. Malone is the author of "Infinite Loop: How Apple, the World's Most Insanely Great Computer Company, Went Insane." So you'd think he'd make Musk squirm. How big is the EV market? How much profit per car? How much are you guys spending? Nope. "During his interview on stage… [Musk] talked about his three long-time passions: the Internet, renewable energy, and space exploration… Clearly a pioneer in these fields, Musk has bold predictions for these markets. One is that he will put a man on Mars by 2030. Though he admitted that might not come true by then." And now, let's follow the money! "Before the IPO.. Musk said he will raise a series E round of financing to bring the company to profitability and begin production on Tesla's luxury electric sedan codenamed White Star, by 2010. The goals will be reached by selling a roughly 10 percent stake in the company in the series E round, and through a Department of Energy loan of between $100 million and $200 million, Musk said. A future IPO would raise on the order of $100 million." If he's successful, settle back and get comfortable; it's going to be a long ride.

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