Tesla Motors auto news

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Figuring out exactly how much it costs to charge Tesla Model S

08/02/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Ethanol, Tesla Motors

Tesla Model S

Is the Tesla Model S an electricity guzzler? One driver trying to answer that question says it does gobble down more juice than previously thought, but it's not time to make Hummer jokes just yet.

First, the goal: Tesla's claims that properly set up home-charging stations can get about a 91-percent efficiency rate.

Rob M. from Teslarati has been diligently tracking electricity used by his home charging station - made up of a NEMA 14-50 outlet that was professionally installed and Tesla's Universal Mobile Connector (UMC) - since June, as we reported here. The results for the month that ended July 21 revealed that the Model S was taking in about 82 percent of the electricity it was pulling from the system, indicating an 18-percent loss of electricity. Most EVs are thought to charge at an 88 to 90-percent efficiency rate.

The downside to his results? About $26 more per month in electricity costs than previously estimated on about 2,400 miles worth of driving. There is a positive upshot, though: his monthly fuel savings totaled about $334 compared to driving an internal combustion engine vehicle.

These early results are intriguing, and make us wonder... Is anyone else checking in on their Model S charging efficiency?

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Tesla selling like gangbusters in China

07/31/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: EV/Plug-in, Tesla Motors, China

Earns Tesla

"Will it play in Peoria?" asks the age-old question about how Broadway shows would be received in Middle America. Well, apparently Tesla Motors plays well in Beijing. It's part of Tesla chief Elon Musk's grand plan, of course.

The California-based maker of the battery-electric Model S has delivered about 1,000 of the vehicles in China since shipments started there in April, Bloomberg News says, citing Dougherty & Co. analyst Andrea James, Barclays Plc analyst Brian Johnson and Wedbush Securities analyst Craig Irwin. Tesla also started shipping its first right-had drive Model S sedans to the UK in June.

It is estimated that all those deliveries helped push Tesla's second-quarter global vehicle deliveries close to the 7,550 mark, which is more than the company forecast and would set a new quarterly record (Tesla's second-quarter results will be announced later today). It would also mark about a 45 percent jump from Tesla's 2Q sales a year ago.

The Model S is priced at about $120,000 US in China (the culprits include the top-of-the-line battery pack as standard equipment and steep taxes that the government charges on vehicle imports) but that hasn't swayed status-conscious buyers from footing the bill, apparently. Tesla declined to comment on the China sales estimate when contacted by AutoblogGreen but we may learn more later today.

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Tesla, Panasonic officially partner up for Gigafactory

07/31/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: EV/Plug-in, Manufacturing/Plants, Tesla Motors

Tesla Gigafactory rendering

The first of perhaps 'hundreds' of gigafactories is now one step closer to reality: Tesla and Panasonic have announced their official agreement to work together on the gigafactory. The two companies have worked together for many years on electric vehicles, but this new deal takes the partnership to a whole new level.

The basic gist, since the agreement itself has not been released, is that Tesla will take care of the exterior (the "land, buildings and utilities") while Panasonic will pay for the machines inside in order to, "manufacture and supply cylindrical lithium-ion cells" that Tesla will then use to, you know, build battery packs. Panasonic's machines will take up half the space while a network of as-yet unnamed suppliers will be involved in the other half, according to the press release announcing the deal. Read it below.

There's been lots of speculation as to where the Gigafactory will be built, but the exact location probably won't be revealed until later this year, so don't expect any battery packs from the Gigafactory to be coming any time soon. That's why Panasonic is still going to be building Tesla cells in Japan for the time being.

As previously announced, the Gigafactory is expected to make batteries for around 500,000 EVs a year as well as more for stationary storage needs. That means 35 GWh worth of cells and 50 GWh worth of packs each year by 2020. We expect more information to trickle out today along with Tesla's quarterly earnings.

Continue reading Tesla, Panasonic officially partner up for Gigafactory

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Unplugged Performance sweetens the look of your Tesla Model S for around $6,000

07/23/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: EV/Plug-in, Green Culture, Tesla Motors, AutoblogGreen Exclusive

Tesla Model S with Unplugged Performance Tuner Kit

Tesla electric vehicles are no strangers to the tuner set. Saleen is working on a modified Model S. Brabus once offered neon for your Roadster. And new we find a number of body panel upgrades for the Model S from Unplugged Performance.

Unplugged Performance has its offices right by the Tesla's Supercharger in Hawthorne, CA, and sales manager Mark Borushko told AutoblogGreen that Tesla employees often express their appreciation for what UP has done to change the look of the Model S. The upgrade parts are made in the US and were designed in-house by an ex-Ferrari guy, Borushko said.

What upgrades are there? There's the front spoiler and diffuser (starting at $995), the rear spoiler and diffuser ($1,550), trunk spoiler ($895), side skirts ($1,450) and the Complete Front Fascia System ($1,000). Those prices are all for the unpainted parts. Add a few hundred bucks to each to upgrade to matching paint colors or carbon fiber parts. Borushko said that in the year that Unplugged Performance has been around, they've sold about 30 kits - meaning one of everything - worldwide. There are people who just buy just the trunk spoiler, for example, he said, but about 90 percent of UP's customers opt for the full kit. Borushko said UP will have to see if there's interest in a kit for the Model X, but there likely will be.

Unplugged Performance is a part of Bulletproof Automotive, which offers upgrades for all sorts of vehicles. The Unplugged Performance phone number is the same as the one for Tesla Everything, so we're pretty sure someone over there is a big Model S fan.

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Elon Musk promises $1 million, Supercharger for New York's Nikola Tesla Museum

07/13/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: EV/Plug-in, Green Culture, Tesla Motors

Earlier this year, Matthew Inman, the creator of The Oatmeal, penned a gushing review of his Tesla Model S, and followed it up with a request to Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk for $8 million to help build a museum dedicated to the achievements of the company's namesake because "any less than $8M would pretty much leave us in the same boat we're in now." Musk Tweeted a response that said, "I would be happy to help."

So, the news that Musk will donate $1 million to the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe towards the construction of the museum, which will be built on a 16-acre site in honor of scientist Nikola Tesla, is a mixed blessing. A million bucks is a million bucks, but it's not the amount Inman was hoping for. The museum says, "[Musk] has challenged us at the Center to use our resources wisely, find additional resources, and reach our goal of creating this museum." In other words, anyone have $7 million?

The plan is to locate the museum in Shoreham, New York, on Long Island's north shore, about 65 miles northeast of New York City. It's also the site of Nikola Tesla's last laboratory. He started working there in 1901 on an unfinished project that would have essentially been a precursor to e-mail. Thursday marked the 158th anniversary of Nikola Tesla's birth. The scientist died in 1943.

On top of the cool million, Musk says he will also build a Supercharger fast-charging station on site for those making the trip out to the museum in a Model S. So the Science Center will be just like Lusk, WY. You can check out the Tesla Science Center's press release below.

Continue reading Elon Musk promises $1 million, Supercharger for New York's Nikola Tesla Museum

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Electric Miata smokes Tesla Model S at the track

07/09/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: EV/Plug-in, Mazda, Tesla Motors, Racing, Videos

All-electric Mazda Miata at the drag strip

Yes, folks, you read that headline right. A souped up battery-electric version of a Mazda Miata took down a Tesla Model S on a quarter-mile drag strip. And it wasn't even close.

Road Test TV was kind enough to post a video of a forest-green Miata (and its very stoked driver) doing a quarter-mile run in a rather brisk 9.27 seconds, beating the Model S sedan by a whopping 3.5 seconds in the process. And the Mazda crossed the finish line moving at 142 miles per hour, or 40 miles per hour faster than the Tesla was going when it finished the race. It's a good thing for the Tesla owner that they weren't racing for pink slips.

Granted, the comparison is probably an unfair one because the Tesla was a stock, production vehicle (the P85 Performance model, but still), whereas who knows how the Miata was juiced up and how much cash it took to do the job. It's sort of like putting, say, an automotive writer against Usain Bolt because we ate the same breakfast and share 99 percent of our DNA. Still, the video does lend a certain credence to the idea that a battery-electric, super-light, rear-wheel-drive Miata would be a lot of fun, or at least a heck of lot more fun than any other Mazda out there. We're just sayin'. Check out the 100-second video below, and remember not to blink.

Continue reading Electric Miata smokes Tesla Model S at the track

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Questions surround fiery Tesla Model S crash in Los Angeles

07/08/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: EV/Plug-in, Tesla Motors

Tesla Model S crash in Hollywood

Automobiles can be dangerous objects, especially when moving at highway speeds. The July 4th holiday in the US, which took place this past weekend, is often an extra-dangerous time on America's roads, with an average of 127 deaths from car crashes in recent years. This year, there were at least two Tesla Model S crashes over the holiday, and despite a spectacular fire in one of the incidents, both of the drivers survived the incidents.

"We absolutely want to have a look to understand what happened." - Tesla spokesman Simon Sproule

The most dramatic crash happened when a Model S was apparently stolen and taken for a joy ride. Tesla told Bloomberg that the company is eager to take a closer look at what's left of the crashed vehicle, which snapped in half. "There aren't so many S's involved in major crashes, and certainly not quite like this one, so we absolutely want to have a look to understand what happened," said Tesla spokesman Simon Sproule. Tesla spokesperson Liz Jarvis-Shean told AutoblogGreen that, "We're working with relevant authorities and will be examining the car as we would with any accident."

What isn't yet clear is how the reported thief was able to drive the stolen Model S (Tesla has not yet responded to our questions on this front). Media reports say it was someone at the Tesla store who reported the theft to police as it was happening, so it would seem that Tesla knew about the incident well before the crash. Whether there enough time to tell the police where the car was going or to deactivate the car is unknown.

In another tragic crash that happened this weekend, a Model S rear ended a Toyota Corolla. Three of the occupants of the Toyota were killed but the Tesla driver only suffered "minor injuries," according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Model S received five stars in the NHTSA's crash tests and has had safety improvements since those tests were conducted. Previous Tesla's have caught fire but no serious injuries have been reported.

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Man steals, crashes, catches on fire and breaks in half Tesla Model S

07/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: EV/Plug-in, Green Culture, Tesla Motors

Tesla Crash

Multiple injuries were reported in a dangerous high-speed crash involving a Tesla Model S this holiday weekend in Los Angeles. The EV was apparently stolen from a local Tesla store and was driven at triple-digit speeds through LA a little before 1 am, a sergeant Campbell from the Los Angeles Police Department's Pacific Division told KTLA 5.

"They tried to help but there was too much smoke." - Eyewitness

Following a call from employees at the store, police chased the apparent thief through LA until he crashed into two cars and a lamp post. The Model S split in half, with the back end getting wedged into a nearby synagogue while the front half caught on fire. An eyewitness told NBC Los Angeles that, "Everybody who was looking was screaming. They tried to help but there was too much smoke."

What, exactly, caused the fire is unknown, but let's just rehash the old chestnut that Tesla EVs are not inherently fire traps and that driving at over 100 miles per hour is a dangerous endeavor in any vehicle. It was originally reported that the thief died, but he, along with people from the cars he hit, were taken to the hospital for treatment and he is reportedly still alive.

More to come, most assuredly, and for now you can watch three local TV news video reports below.

Continue reading Man steals, crashes, catches on fire and breaks in half Tesla Model S

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Automaker interest in open Tesla EV patents is decidedly lukewarm

06/28/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Emerging Technologies, EV/Plug-in, Tesla Motors, AutoblogGreen Exclusive

US Patent Office Tesla Motors Model S drawing

Tesla Motors made big headlines when CEO Elon Musk announced a few weeks ago that he would open up all of the automaker's patents. The response has been interesting, to say the least, with some electric vehicle advocates and investor groups praising the news and others saying that what Musk did wasn't all that big a deal, in the end.

"No major car company would be foolish enough to use Tesla's patents." - Motley Fool

The Motley Fool, for example, says that the patents themselves are not all that revealing since, "There often is only so much information that you can get from a patent. Only Tesla knows how to put it all together in a cost-effective manner." And who's to say that once you dig into the patents, they won't be outdated? A search of the US Patent Office reveals 1,444 patents for "Tesla and motors" including some from inventor Nikola Tesla and other sources. The Washington Post says Tesla Motors itself only has around 300 patents. The Motley Fool also notes that Musk's statement was not a legal document and that, "no major car company would be foolish enough to use Tesla's patents based on some undefined words in a blog post by one executive who may not even be working at Tesla in five years."

Then there's the fact that the battery technology that Tesla uses, linking up thousands of small format cells from Panasonic, is not something most other automakers have expressed an interest in. The cell patents belong to Panasonic and most automakers use larger format cells anyway.

Continue reading Automaker interest in open Tesla EV patents is decidedly lukewarm

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Morgan Stanley: Tesla is world's most important automaker

06/21/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: EV/Plug-in, Tesla Motors

Tesla Model S

What makes a company important? Clothing companies are important because they help cover those of us not willing or able to sew up a storm. Housing companies shelter us. And who could live without whoever it is that makes pop rocks?*

But those are basic needs kinds of things. When we start to discuss things like excitement and innovation, "important" is a more subjective idea. Nonetheless, if you're going to claim that anyone other than Tesla is the most important automaker in the world, you're going to have to argue with Morgan Stanley Research analyst Adam Jonas.

Jonas called the California automaker the world's most important automaker in a new report to investors and he didn't mince words: "Not even two years after the delivery of the first Model S, Tesla Motors has transformed from fledgling start-up to arguably the most important car company in the world. We are not joking. ... Tesla is also emerging as an emblematic force in America's effort to foster high tech manufacturing job growth." His main reasons are as follows:

  • Parts suppliers now thing positively about Tesla and are thinking of building dedicated production lines just to supply Tesla with parts for its electric vehicles. Other automakers are also paying close attention to Tesla. This is a sign that the company has finally become a serious competitor.
  • Tesla could directly employ 20,000 people in seven years and create 100,000 related jobs at other companies. However many jobs are created, Tesla will have a positive effect on the US GDP.
  • The Tesla Model S is the "most American made car on the road, pushing 90 percent US content," which to us might make Tesla the most important car company in America, but Jonas sees a larger impact, apparently.
According to Market Watch, Jonas also sees a big potential in Tesla upcoming battery plant: "The success of the Gigafactory holds the key for the development of an entirely new industry. If Tesla can achieve battery cost per kWH below $150 and defend the IP, there is significant potential for revenue streams not captured in our $320 price target."

Jonas knows there are risks and downsides, which you can read more about at the Los Angeles Times.

*Just trying to think of the least essential product as a joke here.

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