I hope someone can address anti-Tesla Motors articles.
Jim Hillibish: Thanks to us, the wealthy have a new road toy
By Jim Hillibish
CantonRep.com staff writer
Posted Aug 26, 2012 @ 01:00 PM
CANTON — President Obama’s not as hard on the wealthy as you might think. He has invested $465 million of our tax dollars to help build electric cars that 98 percent of us cannot afford.
The Tesla Model S (for subsidized?) was supposed to roll out this summer, or so. Without our hard-earned cash, it would not exist. This puppy as of yet has no market and comes in at $107,000 for the Performance model. Any takers? Please?
It’s being hand-built at a laborious one car per day in an old GM plant in Fremont, Calif.
Right down the street is another federal stimulus winner, Solyndra. That one blew through $500 million, then went bankrupt, suddenly dumping all its workers. They made solar panels that were so expensive, not even the Chinese could afford them.
(The Teslas are made in a historic factory that once turned out 6,000 Chevrolet Prizms a day. It was the result of a ground-breaking Toyota-Chevrolet partnership. The car became known as the “Toy-let.”)
There obviously are not enough “S” cars for customers to test drive. A Car and Driver reviewer was given but 10 minutes to try one and told not to drive it fast.
Tesla responds to its lack of dealers with a “revolutionary, personalized buying experience.” You order your car online, like so many pizzas. It’s only $5,000 down. Then you pray they stay in business long enough to build it.
The Model S is a fine sedan. You’d never guess it is battery powered, until you travel about 300 miles and the thing conks out. It will need an eight-hour charge before you’re
on the road again.
You’ll be sitting on 7,000 battery cells. In our winters, you’ll probably get far less than the rated miles. Batteries hate cold.
One wonders if it does have a market. You’d figure somebody that rich would not exactly be shocked at $3.75 gas. The company told the feds it will sell 20,000 of them, per year.
At current production levels, that would take 54 years.
The federal generosity continues at the sale. For every electric car sold, foreign or domestic, they hand a $7,500 tax credit to the buyer.
Tesla promised the feds to use all profits from the Model S to fund an “affordable” electric car, probably in the $50,000 range. That is, if there ever are any profits. Car making eats cash like candy.
Subsidies always create an artificial market. When the corporate welfare eventually dries up, what then? That’s the tax-dollar gamble.
Car and Driver magazine estimates the handmade car probably would cost double without the generosity of Uncle Sam. Maybe that could be the selling point. We’ve already paid for half the car, so why not spring for the measly $107,000 and get the rest? This is how the rich get poorer.
Copyright 2012 CantonRep.com. Some rights reserved
Jim Hilli-BS? ;-) Jim gives away his agenda when he writes "This puppy as of yet has no market and comes in at $107,000 for the Performance model. Any takers? Please?" He could also write "Thanks to our hard-earned tax dollars, this revolutionary vehicle starts just below $50,000 which isn't as affordable as some would like it to be, but is a huge improvement over the Roadster which is about twice as expensive. And that's not the only advantage of the Model S over the Roadster...". And what do you mean "no market"? As in 12,000 reservations without test drives? Phew...
"It’s being hand-built at a laborious one car per day..."
BS! Of course it's currently built at only one car per day (two cars per day actually, by now, but who counts) because the factory line is still in the process of being set-up and fine-tuned. Once everything runs smooth, the largely (I want to say "fully", just being careful here) automated factory line will churn out 60-80 cars per working day. And it's NOT hand-built, not even now. Very sophisticated German robots do the hard parts of the work, and those were acquired in used condition for relatively cheap money, from automakers who needed to close a quick sell of equipment just a few months ago.
We could go on and elaborate what kinds of cars those companies produced and why they had to sell equipment and how that relates to Jimmy's argument...
I'm bored. Someone else continue, please.
@Volker.Berlin | AUGUST 27, 2012: I'm bored. Someone else continue, please.
I think the rebuttal comments to this article (in the cantonrep.com website) are sufficiently detailed and accurate that we don't need to spend time writing any more here...
Thanks to those who publicly straighten out Hillibish’s inaccurate article.
Next, I am not sure I can argue against the title “electric vehicles don't come cheap“
I am not sure of the claim that ”the EVs will keep coming because regulators and legislators want them.” Did California relax its rules so that ICE companies could demand their EVs back from customers then crushed them? Would it be that one of the important factors is the grassroots movement, anger, protests, outcries from the EV activists?
Could it be someday, a minimum wage earner can afford to buy a used EV just like they can now with a used ICE?
DESPITE DISCOUNTS, ELECTRIC VEHICLES DON'T COME CHEAP
Jeremy Cato, Special to Autos.CTVNews.ca
Published Saturday, Sep. 1, 2012 7:10AM EDT
If you want an electric vehicle (EV), be prepared to dig deep.
Last week Tesla Motors announced pricing for its Model S electric vehicle (EV) in Canada: $64,500 for the base model with a 40 kWh battery pack Model S, rising to $75,200 for the Model S with the 60 kWh battery pack and $85,900 with the 85 kWh battery.
Tesla claims the most robust Model S has the longest range of any production electric car in the world – 424 km or 265 miles. Tesla’s first Canadian store opens in Toronto this November, but Canadians can join the more than 12,200 potential buyers worldwide who have already reserved a Model S at one of Tesla's retail stores or online.
The Model S joins other full production EVs for sale in Canada – the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV among them. More are on the way. Ford has a Focus Electric ready for market, as well as an EV version of the Transit Connect commercial van. Fisker already has its luxury EV, Smart will start selling a fortwo EV in just months and the list goes on and on. EVs are quickly becoming a reality for consumers.
That said, every one of them comes with a hugely out-sized price tag compared to highly fuel-efficient vehicles of a similar size. That explains why despite thousands of dollars in direct subsidies to EV buyers, only a handful of hard-core early adopters have taken the EV route.
The reality is this: despite billions in government subsidies and cheap loans to the companies creating EVs, they remain outrageously overpriced compared to the most fuel efficient gasoline-only vehicles. Not one Canadian city has anything close to a comprehensive EV support infrastructure, either – charging stations and a way to track and pay for electrical usage, to put it simply, not to mention anything resembling a so-called “smart” grid designed to maximize EV efficiency.
But the EVs will keep coming because regulators and legislators want them. No one quite knows how the EV price tag will be covered – in particular, the biggest expense of all which is taxpayer-funded infrastructure – but I believe we’re only in the very early stages of a revolutionary shift to EVs. The big question is, how long will it take for EVs to take hold in the marketplace?
The answer to that question is found in another one: How much? How much will everyday EVs cost in three to five years, and will they ever be able to compete against gasoline and diesel vehicles of comparable size and capabilities – on price, utility and range? Because today, EVs cannot compete.
Even with hefty taxpayer subsidies and fairly generous sales sweeteners, EVs are not price competitive and it’s not even close. But don’t believe me, believe the numbers.
Subsidies? If you live in Ontario, the government EV rebate is $8,500, while in B.C. it’s $5,000 and in Quebec the subsidy is $8,000. B.C. residents can also get $500 per unit to offset the cost of a residential charging station.
So then let’s run the numbers for the Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric vehicle. On top of the government help, Mitsu Canada has in play a $1,500 factory-to-dealer rebate that can be combined with any other available offer – including a Loyalty Rebate for existing Mitsu owners ($1,000) and even a $500 factory-to-customer rebate for new graduates.
And then there is the 3.5 per cent financing for up to 84 months that is available from Mitsubishi, too. Add everything up and a certain EV buyer could see discounts and rebates worth $11,500 on an i-MiEV electric car with a factory sticker of $32,998.
Then there’s the Chevrolet Volt. It lists for $41,545, though with a government rebate of $8,231 in Ontario, a $7,769 rebate in Quebec and a $5,000 subsidy in British Columbia, buyers in those provinces will be paying much less than the sticker price.
And the Nissan LEAF? It lists for $38,395, but is eligible for an Ontario incentive of $8,500. In Quebec the taxpayer subsidy amounts to $8,000, while in B.C. it’s $5,000.
What’s the takeaway? If you want a pure EV, Mitsubishi has one for less than $22,000, brand new with a three-year/60,000 bumper-to-bumper warranty and factory coverage on the power train five year/100,000 km. That’s the best an EV buyer can do today.
And there’s the problem in a nutshell. A much, much better price can be found on, say, the Hyundai Accent hatchback. Yes, today you could go out and buy a very fuel efficient 2012 Hyundai Accent L four-door hatchback with an automatic transmission for $14,799.
Factor in freight and the air conditioning tax($1,495) and then subtract factory and dealer discounts that you might be able to negotiate (perhaps $350 from the dealer, another $1,600 in a factory-to-dealer rebate) and you’re out the door for around $16,000, taxes all in.
The Accent is not an experimental car and it is a perfectly reliable one that can go six or seven times further on a tank of gas than a i-MiEV or a LEAF or the upcoming Smart EV or any other EV running purely on battery power alone. True, Tesla claims a range of 424 km for the Model S, but it starts at $64,500. You could buy four Accents for the price of one Model S.
Someday you may be able to buy a five-seat, factory-built EV for $16,000, out the door, taxes included. When that day comes, EVs will clog the streets. Until then, EVs can be little more than curiosities, ones favored by politicians, early adopters and the truly committed.
Could it be someday, a minimum wage earner can afford to buy a used EV just like they can now with a used ICE? (Tam)
Not sure, but it seems a pretty safe bet that some day a minimum wage earner cannot afford the fuel to power an ICE any more.
I'm not sure a minimum wage earner can afford an ICE car now.
A minimum wage earner could not afford a Plasma TV in the 90's.
A minimum wage earner could not afford a cell phone in the 80's.
A minimum wager earner could not afford a computer in the 70's.
A minimum wager earner can not afford a NEW car by a long shot.
When they start showing up used it should be possible one day.
If car were all about price everyone would be driving Hyundai Accent hatchbacks.
It is sad to me that an article that is littered with such falicies and exagerations can see the light of day by being published. Is this really what journalism has become? Hey Jim, try writing the article with accurate facts and keep your personal bias out of it, think the voice would be the same? I don't think so.
Journalism and media today are all about the number of viewers/readers so they can get advertising dollars. Where there is any truth in the article isn't important as long as it generates ad revenue.
The title "stumbles" below conveys 2 negative issues:
1) Massachusetts law for on-site service shops
2) MA law for car owners who want to "do-it-myself".
Hey I think I can live without the number 1 law but I think the law number 2 is essential because it bugged the heck out of me when I couldn't find where the Brake Fluid Reservoir was in the mock up Tesla Model S. Don't blame me if I've gone insane :)
Tesla's transformation of automobile service stumbles in Massachussetts
By David Herron on Tue, 09/11/2012 - 21:05
Tesla Motors is doing things differently from other automakers, and the company's sales and service model don't always agree with local laws.
Tesla Motors is a disruptor, a company that is disrupting the "normal" pattern of automobile manufacturers and car dealerships. Tesla does pretty much everything differently from all the other manufacturers, it sells cars directly, it's showrooms are really education centers, and service is handled through regional service centers rather than the back half of the dealership building. In a blog post yesterday, Tesla's Joost de Vries explained how Tesla is "transforming automobile service" but the Tesla Way is not being met with open arms in all quarters.
De Vries started by explaining that the Tesla Model S was designed from the ground up, re-imagining what a car should be. One aspect of this was to redesign the process of servicing an automobile. He wrote: "Now that Model S is on the road, we are bringing 21st century service to our customers as well. First, forget everything you know about service at a traditional dealership. This is different. We specifically designed Tesla Service around the advantages and opportunities made possible by Model S."
First, because Tesla knows where the Model S registrations are located the company can locate regional service centers based on the density of Model S deliveries. By March 1, 2013, over 90% of Tesla Model S owners will be within 100 miles of a regional service center.
The normal pattern is that each car dealership has a service shop in the rear of the building, and there are an extensive array of 3rd party service businesses. Tesla does away with this in two ways. First, are the regional service centers, and second are mobile technicians called "Tesla Rangers" who can come directly to the home or office and perform many kinds of services on the spot.
Second, the Tesla Model S is designed as a low-maintenance vehicle. Some of this is inherent to electric vehicles, as these cars simply have fewer moving parts and less opportunity for failures. No spark plugs, timing belts or oil filters to replace, no smog checks, and the only oil to change is in the transmission and should last for 12 years. There is an annual inspection during which the technician will do a complete inspection and adjustment of anything which needs adjusting, or replacing consumable parts like brake pads.
Third, the Tesla Model S is constantly running diagnostics, sending information to Tesla's central computers. From there the service department can send notifications about issues.
Fourth, the Tesla Model S software is designed to update itself remotely via the car's built-in Internet connection. This can be used to fix bugs in the software, or even to add new features to the Model S.
This business model is different from business-as-usual as it is practiced in the car business. In business-as-usual parts and service are a big part of the profit structure of the whole automobile industry.
In some places Tesla's different model is meeting some legal resistance from towns in which Tesla wishes to set up show-rooms. An example is Tesla's planned location at the Natick Mall, in Natick MA. Tesla sets up show-rooms in normal shopping malls, so that you might have a Tesla Store next to the Jamba Juice in the Mall. That fact alone flies in the face of business-as-usual, because the typical pattern for a car dealership is that the dealership is an independent business, with a large stock of cars on the lot, a side lot with a large stock of used cars, facilities for conducting test drives, and a dealership in the back. A store front in a shopping mall has no room for any of these things.
According to a report in the July 20 MetroWestDailyNews, Natick's Selectmen had issued a business license for Tesla in May, but then the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association and several Natick dealerships stepped in saying "it was not clear if Tesla meets several license requirements, including having a service center near the Natick Mall." Tesla has a lease on property in Watertown for a regional service center, but the MSADA attorney questions whether that is too far away noting that 90-95% of car dealerships have on-site service shops.
A recent Massachusetts law also places an interesting twist on Tesla's story about Transformaing Automotive Service. The "Right to Repair Law," signed into law in August by Gov. Patrick requires auto manufacturers to sell diagnostic and safety information required to service automobiles. This way car owners can repair their own cars, or can otherwise bring their car to the repair shop of their choosing. Clearly Tesla's "we'll take care of you" stance is going to run afoul of the Right to Repair law.
They say you can tell who the pioneers are from the arrows sticking out of their backs. Indeed.
Another doom and gloom article. I'd like to borrow Elon's terminology in quotation marks: Lots of "Tsunami of hurt" awaiting for doubters!
Is the Electric Car Revolution Running Out of Juice?
By John Rosevear, The Motley Fool
Posted 6:00AM 09/17/12
How's that electric car revolution going?
It depends on whom you ask:
Year-to-date sales of the electric Nissan (NSANY) Leaf are down over 30%.
Ford (F) had sold just 177 of its electric Focus through August.
At the same time, production of Tesla Motors' (TSLA) hot-looking -- and expensive -- Model S sedan is sold out for months to come.
Meanwhile, the Chevy Volt is selling a bit better lately -- but that's a mixed blessing for General Motors (GM).
How to Lose Money on a $39,995 Sale
Why are improving sales for the Volt a mixed blessing? It turns out that those sales are expensive ones: Reuters recently reported that GM is losing a bundle on each Volt it sells -- despite the little plug-in hybrid's steep $39,995 base price.
While GM took issue with Reuters' math, it's clear that the innovative car isn't a moneymaker for General Motors. With sales of just a few thousand in the best of months, it'll be many years before the car manages to repay its development costs, estimated at over $1 billion.
Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing, at least in GM's view. Like other automakers, GM is looking ahead toward the next decade, when fuel-economy rules will be much stricter. From the General's perspective, the Volt represents an early investment in the kind of technology that GM -- and other automakers around the world -- will need to perfect before those rules go into effect.
There's some validity to that argument. But that hasn't stopped GM's critics from complaining that electric-car technology is turning into an expensive boondoggle.
Will Electric Cars Ever Take Off?
A Washington Post editorial this week took the Volt to task, as part of a larger argument against the U.S. government's subsidies of electric car technology. The Department of Energy said in 2011 that there could be 1 million electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015, but as the Post points out, that's looking pretty unlikely right now.
The Department of Energy's conclusion was based on a study that made some assumptions that look kind of silly now. It expected Nissan to sell 25,000 Leafs this year. But through August, the automaker had sold fewer than 5,000 here in 2012. It also predicted that GM would sell 120,000 Volts this year. The reality: Fewer than 14,000 Volts had been sold through August in the U.S. in 2012.
Both of these cars, like much of the still-emerging U.S. electric-car business, were heavily dependent on government aid. GM's massive bailout is no secret, but some of the other Department of Energy aid programs are less well-known: Among other grants and loans, Nissan received $1.5 billion in low-cost loans to refurbish the Leaf's Tennessee factory, and Tesla got a $465 million line of credit to help get the Model S into production.
And what are taxpayers getting for all that? Not a whole lot.
So far, Tesla is the big success story in the electric-car game -- but that success is relative. Tesla has more than 10,000 orders in hand for the Model S, a luxury sedan with the best range in the electric-car business.
That's huge for the Silicon Valley automaker. But it's just a drop in the bucket in terms of the overall automotive market: Tesla may sell 20,000 cars next year -- and it'll be considered a big success if it does -- but that's fewer than half the number of F-series pickups that Ford sells every single month.
That's a long way from the million a year that the government anticipated, and it's a long way from making any sort of difference on the environment.
A Dire Trend
And that's the real problem with electric cars: So far, not too many consumers are lining up to buy them. Eco-conscious drivers still prefer hybrids like Toyota's (TM) popular Prius, which can be refueled at any gas station -- and that doesn't seem likely to change soon.
That means electric cars might be doomed -- no matter how much the Department of Energy wants to see them happen.
At the time of publication, Motley Fool contributor John Rosevear owned shares of Ford and General Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Ford, Tesla Motors, and General Motor,s and have recommended creating a synthetic long position in Ford.
The argument holds, but the conclusion is of course speculative and subjective.
You cannot deny that "the Department of Energy's conclusion was based on a study that made some assumptions that look kind of silly now. It expected Nissan to sell 25,000 Leafs this year. But through August, the automaker had sold fewer than 5,000 here in 2012. It also predicted that GM would sell 120,000 Volts this year. The reality: Fewer than 14,000 Volts had been sold through August in the U.S. in 2012."
It is also hard to argue that "Tesla may sell 20,000 cars next year -- and it'll be considered a big success if it does -- but that's fewer than half the number of F-series pickups that Ford sells every single month."
But whether "that means electric cars might be doomed -- no matter how much the Department of Energy wants to see them happen", is entirely up to interpretation.
It's only common sense that EVs like the Leaf, which are only good for use as a second car, aren't going to sell well. Second cars are usually the older primary car unless there is a need for an additional car in the family (like moving from an area of good public transportation to an area of poor public transportation).
The Prius only sold about 53,000 cars during the first three years after it was imported into North America. It's no surprise that the Volt's sales are similar. Most people don't want to purchase a car without any prior history and GM has a horrible reputation for introducing new technology. (Corvair, Tempest, Citation, aluminum block engines, the V8 that ran on six cylinders sometimes are some of GM's failures). Perhaps the Volt will be an exception to GM's poor implementation of new technology, but I'm not holding my breath.
Tesla appears to have the right model for EV success, but they can still fall flat on their face by having a poor maintenance agreement model that will cause people to cancel their reservations.
It's just simple and straight forward addition and subtraction maths so the article accused big brokerages of optimistically wrong math.
Merrill, Morgan Stanley wrong about Tesla
Both overestimate the car company's year-end cash position.
By TheStreet Staff Thu 10:34 AM
By John Petersen
Bank of America's (BAC -0.87%) Merrill Lynch last month reinstated its coverage of Tesla Motors (TSLA -2.85%) with a "neutral" rating and a target price of $33. Earlier this week, Morgan Stanley (MS -0.76%) raised its rating from "underweight" to "overweight" and increased its target price from $45 to $50.
Both reports included a fundamental financial modeling error that overestimates Tesla's year-end cash position by roughly 200%.
The error was simple. Both firms accounted for expected sales and expected new reservation payments during the second half of the year. Neither firm properly accounted for the fact that reservation payments and cash will decline by $40,000 for each Model S Signature Edition and $5,000 for each additional Model S Tesla deliveries this year.
Merrill Lynch forecast 2012 Model S deliveries of 5,000 units. Reservation deposits for the first 2,000 Model S Signature editions were $40,000 each for a total of $80 million. Reservation deposits for the next 3,000 standard Model S versions were $5,000 each for a total of $15 million more. Overall, the total Merrill Lynch error was $95 million. Morgan Stanley was more conservative at 2,230 Model S deliveries. So its error was $81 million.
As of June 30, Tesla reported $211 million in cash, $133 million in reservation payments, $31 million in working capital and $62 million in stockholders' equity.
In its report, Merrill Lynch forecast a second-half loss of $129 million and year-end balance sheet values of $149 million in cash, $242 million in reservation payments, a working capital deficit of $86 million and a stockholders' equity deficit of $54 million.
Similarly, Morgan Stanley forecast a second-half loss of $158 million and year-end balance sheet values of $132 million in cash, $169 million in reservation payments, a working capital deficit of $127 million and a stockholders' equity deficit of $74 million.
Since June 30, I've been cautioning readers that Tesla's working capital would be eradicated by the end of July, its stockholders equity would be obliterated by the end of August, and its planned cash low point left little or no room for errors, delays or other uncertainties.
I was surprised when two of the most highly regarded investment-banking firms in the country didn't share my reservations. Now I understand why and so do you. Their financial modeling was catastrophically wrong and Tesla's year-end cash balance is on track to come in at about a third of the estimates disseminated to their clients.
Disclosure: I have no direct or indirect interest in Tesla, and I have nothing to gain or lose from its success or failure.
That article is way off. They are still taking reservation at $5000 each so that revenue will still come in as they collect the revenue for delivered cars.
Not ALL Sigs were $40,000 deposits. As explained by a Sig reservation holder in another thread they only paid $5000 in the beginning long long ago for their Sig.
There are not 2000 Sigs to be built this year. I think it is closer to 1500 including the Canadian Sigs.
The profit margin for a base car is probably 25% as Elon has said. The more option the higher the profit in my opinion. Do you really think the parts for air-suspension really cost $1500 wholesale plus labor? The extra price for a Sig is all extra profit. It is almost exactly the same car as a fully loaded standard car.
Overall, the article is positive but why the last paragraph must use the word "MASSIVE" as in "a massive misstep" for skipping voice control system?
The only "working" voice control system that I found so far is HAL-9000 from "2001: A Space Odyssey" What the fuss! This ain't no movie.
A 4-Day Test Drive of the Tesla S — Elon Musk’s Tesla S
Tesla Model S
Automotive • $87,900 base price • Tesla
Reviewed by Damon Lavrinc • September 24, 2012
Three months ago, Wired was invited to take a spin in the Tesla Model S. It was the first time anyone outside the California-based company was allowed to drive the all-electric sedan.
That test drive was brief. Too brief. Like everyone in attendance, my time behind the wheel was limited to a few ticks over ten minutes, making it impossible to fully judge the legitimacy of the new vehicle. Although I came away impressed with the Model S’s potential, I questioned whether Tesla had cloaked the real-world functionality of its innovative new sport sedan in an elaborately choreographed press event, complete with a presidential-candidate-style cameo by the automaker’s rockstar co-founder and CEO, Elon Musk.
So after publishing my initial impressions, I rang up Tesla and made a simple request: Give us a Model S for a multi-day loan. Let us drive it the way we want to drive it, bereft of brand-minders and corporate lackeys. Let us see if the S can really hack it — through traffic, on the highway, over backroads and beyond.
Tesla agreed, and loaned us a Model S for the better part of four days. But it wasn’t just any specimen off the lot — it was Musk’s personal car.
Tesla loaned us a Model S for four days. But it wasn’t just any specimen off the lot — it was Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk’s personal car.
This means two things. First, it’s outfitted with a revised “Version 2″ air suspension, along with half-inch-wider rear wheels, revised suspension bushings and end links, and Michelin PS2 sport tires. This could be offered as a “Performance Plus” upgrade for the standard Performance Model S, and is based on feedback from both Musk and his engineers. Second, Musk’s sedan was assuredly shaken down with the finest of fine-tooth combs before landing in the Wired parking lot, ensuring that every single panel, trim piece, software function and drivetrain component met his exacting specifications. Is this an accurate representation of what every Model S buyer will drive off the lot? We were personally assured by Mr. Musk that it is, sans suspensions tweaks.
As for the stats, specs and pricing, check out my original first-drive report for the details. This Model S — a Signature Series (the title of “Founder” is etched into the aluminum rear trim) with the Performance package — carries a base price of $87,900, but Musk’s model is spec’d well over the $100k mark.
For that kind of coin, you get a high-performance drive inverter that outputs 416 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque, the latter of which is available from zero RPM. And because there’s no gearbox, no pistons, no valves, or differentials to churn through before the power reaches the ground, you’re left with just pure, unadulterated acceleration.
The quoted zero to 60 mph time of 4.4 seconds (3.9 if you go by Motor Trend‘s testing methodology) is almost irrelevant. It’s the point-and-squirt acceleration at nearly any speed that shocks and delights while devouring the road ahead. Nail the throttle at 40 mph and you’re up to 60, then 70 then 90 in less time than it takes to read this sentence. I don’t care how fast you read.
That level of performance wouldn’t be uncharacteristic for something twice as costly, with half as many doors and weighing far less than the Telsa’s claimed curb weight of over 4,600 pounds. It is — for all intents and purposes — pure energy being laid to the ground with a rapidity that’s more roller-coaster freefall than four-wheeled family transport. And it’s more exhilarating than anything I’ve driven out of Sant’Agata, Stuttgart or even Maranello.
More impressive than the sheer speed of a sedan this size is its level of grip and handling. This is largely attributable to the fact that the massive, four-inch-tall, 85-kWh battery pack is housed mere inches from the ground — it makes the Tesla not just a competent handler, but an architectural marvel that’s sure to cause furrowed brows and OCD-level head-scratching among German engineers. Even with only the rear wheels driven, the Model S has enough tarmac-biting traction to give all-wheel-drive sports sedans pause and concern, and when trundling along on the freeway or around town, the ride is connected and composed, yet hugely comfortable.
If there’s any demerit in the driving department, it’s a subtle disconnect and pause in the steering movement — even when set to “Sport” — as the weight shifts at the polar moment of inertia. Not even an oh-so-low center of gravity combined with the bespoke battery pack acting as an integrated stress member are enough to counter a curb weight this high. But props to the Tesla team for getting the S this dialed in right out of the box. Well, after said suspension update….
If you’re looking for on-road presence, the Model S has it in spades, particularly here in the Bay Area, where a Tesla draws a crowd like someone waving an iPhone 5 outside an Apple Store on launch day.
The exterior is elegant, demure and aggressive all at once. Nicely done, Franz.
The interior is more of a mixed bag. The cockpit is spartan, but fitting of the Tesla ethos, with supple, supportive seats, ample legroom fore and aft, and two trunks (over 30 cubic feet in total). Our tester’s rear cargo area was equipped with an optional pair of child-sized buckets that may or may not meet federal crash regulations. Remember: Musk has five kids and wants to bring them all on his next road trip.
Tesla says over 95 percent of the Model S’ parts are original, but the obvious bits that aren’t bespoke are visible to the driver: the window switches, turn signal, windshield wiper and cruise control stalks are all pulled from Mercedes-Benz. If you’re going to dip into the parts bin, might as well pick from some of the world’s best. (Also, Daimler, Mercedes-Benz’ parent, is a stakeholder in Tesla.)
And then there’s the touchscreen. That glorious, 17-inch gift to driver-distraction alarmists. But here’s the reality check: It’s really, really damned good, proving to be both incredibly intuitive and surprisingly interference-free.
Just the sheer size of the NVIDIA-powered, capacitive display makes interacting with maps (complete with pinch-to-zoom tiles supplied by Google), audio controls, energy data, and even a full-on 3G-connected web browser, a pleasure. No, Flash isn’t enabled and you can’t run HTML5 videos. I hear some Apple engineers defected to Tesla to work on the user interface, and it shows.
The climate control is set-it-and-forget-it easy (a priority, according to Musk), although I’d prefer if the right redundant control on the steering wheel allowed you to adjust fan speed rather than cabin temperature. And even though the climate settings are slightly hidden inside the touchscreen’s UI, once you press the skeuomorphic faux-aluminum controller, the touch points are large enough as to minimize the time your eyes are off the road. It’s a model of what automakers should strive for when it comes to touchscreen technology, but just like its counterparts in the consumer electronics world, it collects finger smudges en masse. Tesla thoughtfully includes a cloth in the glovebox to wipe it down.
Equally appealing, if now less original, is the customizable instrument panel that takes the place of traditional gauges. The center display shows the speed and amount of juice currently used, with a redundant digital speedometer mounted in the middle. To either the right or left, you can choose from range data, audio information, phone interactions, or navigation directions, the last of which was incredibly helpful for turn-by-turn instructions, while the massive touchscreen provided both a trip overview and upcoming waypoints. Also, the stereo — which had varying levels of success reading my iPhone’s playlists over Bluetooth and a USB cable — has a volume knob that goes up to 11. Cute, but I’d rather have seen some additional intermediary levels in the lower volume ranges that would’ve allowed me to more easily carry on a conversation while still listening to tunes.
Something else I’d like to have seen: voice controls. They aren’t available at launch, and according to Musk, will only be deployed through an update “when voice controls actually work.” Tesla is in talks with Google to supply the technology, so it should be solid when it eventually arrives. But for now, voice controls are shockingly notable in their absence, and there’s even a switch on the steering wheel to remind you as much. The fact that one of the world’s most technologically advanced vehicle ships without voice controls contributes to the feeling that the Model S is more “Gold Master” than finished product.
But let’s get to the million-dollar questions: What about range and charge times? As with any modern car, it’s completely dependent on both the available infrastructure and how you drive.
During my four-day stint, I put nearly 350 miles on the Model S, mainly comprised of runs around town, strings of errands, and the commute from my house in Oakland across the bridge to San Francisco — stuff the average owner would throw at it. During those jaunts, the charge depleted at a rate that seemed perfectly in line with a traditionally powered sedan of this size, with anywhere between 22 and 30 kWh consumed.
The lone outlier was a 140-plus-mile trip intended to mimic a weekend cruise. It included city driving, 80 miles of freeway, and a spirited, 20-mile blast through the hills of Altamont, California. Just like in any other vehicle, when you’re caning it hard, energy consumption goes through the roof.
Unlike the Tesla Roadster Sport I tested some two years ago, the Model S was completely fault-free when it came to speed and prowess, no matter the conditions or abuse. But the range remains a sticking point — the 42-mile drive home was an exercise in butt-puckering throttle moderation as I rolled into my driveway with only a single mile left on the battery.
Can the Model S hit its EPA-certified 265-mile range? Based on my time behind the wheel, there’s no doubt.
Can the Model S hit its EPA-certified 265-mile range? Based on my time behind the wheel, there’s no doubt. But if you want to satiate that atavistic thirst for pavement-pummeling torque on a regular basis, be prepared to top off the cells with frequency.
When it comes time to charge up, you’ve got a few options. While Tesla isn’t adopting the Society of Automotive Engineers’ (SAE) standardized plug, the company does offer an adaptor to allow charging at power stations outside your home. But the reason for avoiding the SAE standard isn’t because of some proprietary charging strategy. At least, not completely.
You can use the 120-volt, Level 1 and 240-volt Level 2 power charge port, but you can also hop on board with Tesla’s 480-volt Level 3 “Supercharger” system, which can supposedly fill half the 85 kWh battery’s cells in around 30 minutes. We’ll be hearing more about that later when Tesla announces its fleet of charging stations strewn about California.
Back at home, if you use Tesla’s High-Power Wall Connector, combined with the Model S’ 20 kilowatts of onboard charging capacity and a 100-amp circuit, you can top up the pack in just over five hours. For me, running a scant 24 amps, it took closer to 12. Time to upgrade my dryer outlet.
The real question I asked when driving the Model S was, simply: Would it suit my day-to-day needs for commuting, hauling and the occasional backroad blast? And the answer is a resounding, unequivocal, “yes.”
Tesla hasn’t just created a fully functional EV. It’s made a vehicle that’s both incredibly engaging and fully practical. As with any car, compromises were made — we’ll be delving into those more deeply on future Autopia reports, so stay tuned — but as a whole, the Model S feels and drives like the future. It’s a rolling testament to the potential of automotive innovation, and a massive leap forward for an industry struggling to stake a claim in the 21st century.
WIRED Big battery and quick-charging potential keep range anxiety in check. Electric drivetrain keeps the center of gravity ultra-low, making it an impressive handler for its size. Massive touchscreen not only looks good, but works well.
TIRED Lack of voice controls are a massive misstep. Sun visors are so small, you’ll be lucky to block out a candle. Volume and climate controls could still use some polish.
All photos: Ariel Zambelich/Wired
Has the author ever even tried to use a voice control system? Unless the environment is as quiet as a Tesla there isn't a hope that it will work. In the Prius 90% of the time the response is "Setting temperature to 68 degrees".
Personally I discount the "Volt & Leaf aren't/didn't sell well so Tesla won't" arguments. Why? Because I was looking at the Leaf & Volt. The 40kw Model S, out shines both these cars for a cost that is (in my opinion) far less than the added value you get from upgrading to the base Model S.
Of course from there it's a slippery slope, and you start justifying your way into the 60kw battery and before you know it you've also justified the 85kw.
The Volt & Leaf owners I've talked to either did not want to wait, were too skittish to plunk down the deposit sign unseen, or were far from a Tesla service center/store and worried about huge ranger per mile costs.
Not an article, but Our Republican Presidential candidate just called Tesla a "loser" last night. So we 13,000 current and Future Model S owners must all be losers, as well. I think that Mr. Romney does not grasp the fact that one could actually be pro-electric and a Republican.
I'm an independant, but I can't believe he just alienated 13,000 well-heeled future-thinking voters from all parties like that. I guess it just proves the old calculation that Republican=Big Oil. How can you bash ANY American start-up like that? I guess he missed the econ class where they explained that capitalism requires "new growth and new markets to sustain itself".
As one of the current "losers" that owns and loves his Tesla Roadster and now Model S, I say thanks Mitt, you made my decision an easy one.
Is it logical to visit PBS Big Bird podium and say that I love you Big Bird so once I am a President, instead of rewarding you, I'll eat you up too? Kind of cruel but I guess tasty logic.
How about most scientists universally agree that Global Warming is a hoax. Let's cheer and clap each time there's a mention that the President of the United States is not a US citizen even though he's been in power for 4 years!. Medical doctors told me that you cannot get pregnant if it is a legitimate rape. And of course loser "Tester." Note how Romney called "TesTER."
They speak with a straight face, with all the claims and numbers and sometimes, it makes me wonder whether the Republican party is logically or scientifically sound!
Don't get me all riled up now, that's why Elon Musk said Romney would have only a “minor impact” on the nation’s electric-car market.
Thanks for the article's link.
People's memory seem to be short: Don't they remember all the luxury tax exemptions for high price yachts and write offs for gigantic gas guzzler Hummers?
It is short sighted of them to whine on Green incentives.
As of 10/05/12, even a positive video review from Motor trend says that
"It still won't work on an Interstate...But for real city use, this car will get the job done"
Road trip infrastructure vision as evidenced in Tesla Superchargers ROCKS because I am tired of people consistently preach me that I need to rent an ICE for even relatively short road trip such as from Los Angeles to San Diego and back.
I think the following article got the priority all messed up. In the real world, a car is not a 1 time only use, so charging technology is key. Non-electrical-plug parking lots, apartment dwellers, condominium owners, street parkers should not be excluded. Gas stations found a solution for the rich and poor, why can't we?
More Electric Cars, Not Charging Technology, Key To Mass Adoption
BY NIKKI GORDON-BLOOMFIELD
Oct 5, 2012
It’s no secret that electric cars sales in the U.S.--and elsewhere in the world--aren’t as high as automakers and electric car advocates would like.
The reasons given for this are many and varied: some commentators say plug-in cars are simply too expensive; others say that the lack of charging infrastructure, combined with limited range per charge, means electric cars aren’t practical.
The recent unveiling of a network of proprietary supercharger rapid charge stations by electric automaker Tesla Motors [NASDAQ: TSLA] was a clear attempt to address the latter, finally making long-distance trips by electric car more feasible.
But is Tesla’s decision to move away from an already-agreed charging standard just muddying the waters? Should electric car fans and automakers focus on something else, like making more electric cars?
According to electric vehicle advocate Chelsea Sexton, the answer to those questions is a resounding yes.
Writing for Wired, Sexton argues that the battle between different automakers and charging station providers for the ultimate in charging technology is an unwelcome distraction from the real challenge facing the electric car world: getting more cars on the road.
As Sexton points out, electricity isn’t the problem: it’s ubiquitous, simple to use, and an ideal vehicle fuel.
CHAdeMO standard - on ECOtality DC fast charger
Fighting over charging connectors by building new, unnecessary ones--simply because the existing standard is viewed as too large, inelegant, or not powerful enough--is making that electricity harder to use in cars.
Just like any other consumer product, fighting over proprietary connector technology adds extra complexity, keeps prices up, excludes competition, and frustrates customers.
“Not only is Tesla alienating the rest of the EV industry and community with its Supercharger, it is ensuring its own drivers won’t be able to use the vast majority of fast charging in this country,” Sexton notes.
“Many of them, in fact, will be left out altogether since fast charging capability is unavailable on the lowest-range Model S.”
Tesla, she says, like many other automakers, is preoccupied with proving that electric cars can do everything gasoline cars can do.
Instead, Sexton suggests, automakers should focus on making and selling electric cars, rather than bickering about the intricacies of charging connectors.
J1772 Tesla Mobile Connector
After all, she notes, a charging standard already exists: it’s called SAE J1772. It was put in place to standardize both the mechanical connections and electronic communications between a charging station and an electric car.
With the J1772 standard providing a ubiquitous standard for 240-Volt Level 2 charging--at either 3.3 or 6.6 kilowatts, depending on what chargerautomakers fit in their electric cars--arguments over fast charging standards risk confusing the public over whether it's possible to charge the cars at all.
For example, Tesla's Supercharger quick charge system isn't compatible with a Chademo quick charge system. And neither quick charge systems can be used with the slower, level 2 charging system commonly found on most Level 2, 240-volt, public charging stations.
The problem isn’t just relegated to Tesla either. Nissan and Mitsubishi both use the Chademo standard for rapid charging electric cars. Ratified as a standard in Japan, Chademo hasn't been officially acknowledged as a charging standard in the U.S.
German automakers and their U.S. counterparts are working on closely related (although not identical) fast-charging standards that build on the J-1772 coupler. The U.S. version of that standard is known as the "SAE Combo" connector, but the first cars to use it--let alone any fast-charging stations for it--will not hit the market until 2013 or 2014.
While this standards war is consuming the electric auto industry, the average car buyer has more pressing concerns.
How fast? How far? How much?
The answer to those questions isn’t found in the charger plug.
“Unless the industry zips up and starts getting serious about making electric vehicles, all the chargers in the world won’t give drivers a happy ending,” Sexton concludes.
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
-- Tesla, she says, like many other automakers, is preoccupied with proving that electric cars can do everything gasoline cars can do.
I'd say that no other car company is even remotely trying to prove that electric cars can do everything an ICE car can do. All but Tesla (and Rimac) have "my second car is an EV" cars. (Hybrids like the Volt and Prius don't count.)
Her standards rant just shows a typical journalistic lack of investigation. You can't plug into what doesn't exist and no infrastructure exists that would charge a Tesla in a reasonable amount of time so Tesla was forced to go their own way. Had there been a 90 to 120 kWh infrastructure in place then Tesla would not have had to design a new one.
Would you please be the first to teach Mr. McIntyre a lesson? Did he learn anything for being a graduate of Harvard?
TELSA MODEL S IS CAR OF THE YEAR?
Posted: November 2, 2012 at 6:57 am
Automobile magazine has named its Car of the Year. Unfortunately, it has chosen a vehicle almost no one has bought or will buy, and the car’s maker may not even survive the next year.
The Tesla Model S is an all-electric car that is faster than almost any other sports car on the road. It sells for more than $78,000. Automobile is the first to admit that “to say there’s healthy skepticism regarding Tesla and its new wundercar is an understatement.”
While the editors of the car enthusiast publication are wildly positive about the speed, software, design, 21st century accessories and battery technology of the Tesla Model S, they leave as a footnote the fact that the company may run out of money.
In addition, that there are few places to charge the car’s battery other than at home. The reviewers write:
Want to take the family from Washington, D.C., to New York? No problem. Stop for an hour at one of Tesla’s Supercharger stations being installed throughout the country, and you can travel on to Boston.
That is, if Tesla Motor Co.’s (NASDAQ: TSLA) supercharger stations are ever built.
Douglas A. McIntyre
Read more: Telsa Model S Is Car of the Year? - 24/7 Wall St.
Douglas A. McIntyre is a partner at 24/7 Wall St., LLC. He has previously been the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Financial World Magazine. He was also the first president of Switchboard.com when it was the 10th most visited website in the world, according to Media Metrix. He has been CEO of FutureSource, LLC and On2 Technologies, Inc. He has served on the board of directors of Vicinity Corporation, The Street.com, and Edgar Online. McIntyre is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard.