It was just a matter of time before Tesla and Fisker had to duke it out for a second time – the first coming in a Fisker-won court battle . This time around, it was Tesla CEO, Elon Musk , that decided to drop the gloves and poke Fisker for a fight. In an interview with Automobile Magazine, Musk said “It’s a mediocre product at a high price,” when talking about the Karma . He also said that “[Fisker] thinks the most important thing in the world — or the only important thing in the world — is design, so he outsourced the engineering and manufacturing.”
Musk did, however, pay a much-deserved complement to the Karma, stating that “It looks good” and “Particularly from the side it looks good." That’s definitely a comment that we can all agree with. Even ousted Fisker CEO, Henrik Fisker, stated that he’s “delighted that Elon thinks the Karma is a good-looking car.” Fisker went on to assure us that Tesla and Fisker are not competitors and that they use two different technologies and are going after completely different customers.
We beg to differ with that statement. Yes, you are using different technologies – Tesla’s is far more advanced – but you are competing for the same customers. Any hybrid customer or extended-range EV buyer would be silly not to look into the technology that Tesla has created and anyone that thinks that they are not in competition with one another is a little bit disillusioned.
We think that Musk was a little brash with his statements and would be better off to keep his opinions out of the corporate spotlight, regardless of how true they may be. Then again, the comments are damn funny, regardless of how inappropriate they may have been. Guess we have to give Musk some credit for speaking his mind.
So many car companies lose sight of the single most important aspect of running a business: keeping cost low and profit high, while maintaining good quality control. This has ultimately landed many start-up companies into early closure and even some juggernauts, like Pontiac and Oldsmobile , into shutting their doors for good.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk really seems to have his finger on the pulse of his business, as they slowly start bringing more mainstream cars – as mainstream as an EV can be – into the market, with its new Model S and upcoming Model X . To help control overhead, each Tesla Model S is built to order, so there aren’t any leftovers on the shelves, but this also poses the risk of not being able to keep up with demand.
At this point, Tesla is manufacturing at its capacity and needs to push out another 5,000 Model S units by December 31st to hit its goal and stay in the black. This is a tall task that will likely not be possible without increasing production, but Tesla’s CEO also knows that increasing production also increases cost, so there needs to be a delicate balance. Musk was quoted saying that “The challenge that Tesla faces over the next few months is scaling production enough to achieve a certain gross margin on our product so we can be cash flow positive. That’s extremely important,” and “If we’re unable to do that, we’ll enter the graveyard with all the other car company startups of the last 90 years.”
Clearly, Musk is willing to take this challenge head-on and he understands what’s at stake. We love the Tesla line and want to see it succeed, and seeing a CEO that is willing to admit the challenges ahead and ready to take them on is a promising start. We’ll keep a close eye on this to make sure Tesla can actually hit its goals for the year and stay afloat.
The TopSpeed time machine has taken us ahead before to see what Porsche has in store , now that VW controls it. It has also taken us to an alternate reality, where we got to see just how the i8 could completely fall on its face. Well, now with McLaren confirming what we all suspected (that the V-12 is about to becomes extinct), we are going to fire the old time cruiser back up and see what the supercar world might have in store for us in 2020.
McLaren has already come out and said that the V-12
"belongs in a museum" and plans to downsize its engine lineup, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. You see, in 2014, the FIA is dropping its engine sizes to petite 1.5-liter V-6 plants with turbochargers and energy recovery systems. Six years after that changeover, fuel will likely be so expensive that the FIA may drop to a 4-cylinder regulation, which opens the door for supercars to borrow said technology.
This would mean no more V-12, V-10, V-8, or V-6 engines and just super-powerful 4-cylinders will remain. Pumping 500 to 600 ponies from a 4-pot is not an impossible task, but it requires very precise research and development. The smaller engines will also result in lower weight, more manageable weight ratios, and better handling. Lower weight, in turn, results in better fuel economy and quicker acceleration.
There will be some tradeoffs, as expected. No longer will we have these 200+ mph supercars. You will also have a much less comfortable drive than expected, as these 4-bangers will be much more high-strung and touchy, much like a race car.
The big picture is what matters in all of this. No longer will there be a hunkin’ V-12 engine chugging down a gallon of fuel every 8 to 11 miles. In 2020, we should see smaller 4-pots getting 16 to 18 mpg and still keeping up with their larger ancestors up to 100 mph, which is really all that matters. Ask yourself, “When was the last time I drove 200 mph in my Aventador ?”
But what about electric? Click past the jump to read about electric-powered supercars in 2020.
One of the few thorns in the side of the EV market place is the battery charging systems. The vast majority of them require upwards of six to eight hours to reach 100 percent capacity and at the quickest, most can reach 80 percent in about three to four hours. Well, Tesla has been at the forefront of EV engineering, especially with its 300-mile-range Model S, which screams to 60 mph in about 4 seconds.
The Model S , as delivered, is no different than any other EV when it comes to charging, as its 85kWh battery requires eight hours to charge, using its standard 240-volt charging system. Tesla plans to separate itself from the competition once again by releasing a 440-volt fast-charger, which Tesla has cheekily dubbed the “Supercharger” (obligatory rim shot).
Anywho, this new “Supercharger” will be able to get the Tesla S from full discharge to 100 percent in just about an hour. The catch is that this fast charger is not designed for everyday use, it is only for those emergency fill-ups on the road. Tesla is planning to have these stations installed in high-traffic areas for on-the-spot fill ups in just about a year.
Once Tesla releases this new charger for use in the States, it will firmly place itself in the driver’s seat in the EV market, leaving everyone else looking up at it wondering how this small company managed to pull off these stunts. We think the time for the other car companies to start investing more money in EV models is now, before Tesla runs away with it all.
In what was more of a publicity stunt than anything, Tesla delivered its “first” Model S to its “first” owner about two weeks ago. Well, said owner just so happened to be an executive with the company that likely didn’t pay much, if anything, for the car. Now we are ready to announce yet another milestone for this all-new electric-powered sports sedan, and that is its official EPA ratings.
Keep in mind, that these ratings are all based on the 85-kWh battery, not the smaller and less expensive batteries. The Model S came in at a respectable 88 MPGe in the city, 90 MPGe on the highway and 89 MPGe combined. MPGe is basically how far an electric car will travel on the electric equivalent of the energy contained in a gallon of gasoline.
The EPA didn’t stop there, as it also had to put the Model S’s claimed 300-mile range to the test. In this test, the Model S came up pretty short, as it could only hit 265 miles on a single charge, which is a pretty significant 11 percent drop. In overall scheme of things, the Model S trumps the other, less expensive, EVs, like the Honda Fit , Nissan Leaf , and Focus electric in total range. In combined MPGe, however, the aforementioned EVs beat it out, as they net 118 MPGe, 99 MPGe, and 105 MPGe, respectively. The “as tested” Model S also has a base price of $69,900, which is over $30,000 more than the most expensive EV of the group, the Focus Electric.
Then again, the “as tested” Tesla Model S also zips to 60 mph in under 5 seconds and looks flat out awesome doing it. None of the other EVs can boast that combined with impressive range and MPGe. So, even though the Model S came up a little short, it is still impressively economical.
One of the largest – if not the largest – problems with electric cars becoming a complete reality is the limitation of the lithium-ion battery. One issue is the fact that they are extremely susceptible to extreme heat and cold. Both ends of the temperature spectrum result in serious energy loss, which, in turn, creates excessive battery usage to obtain the same results. This is exactly why the estimated mileage of EVs can vary greatly, depending on the environment.
To help regulate the battery temperature, EV manufacturers today are using liquid coolant to maintain an optimal temperature, just like the coolant works in an internal combustion engine. This liquid come with added expense, as it is expensive to manufacture and adds in a complex system to regulate the coolant temperature.
A123, a leading battery manufacturer for EVs, recently developed and is currently testing a battery it dubbed the Nanophosphate EXT, which can handle extreme hot and cold without requiring any coolant to maintain its temperature, per A123. In testing, this new lithium-ion battery held roughly 90 percent of its energy capacity in 113-degree heat, which shows it can take heat.
According to reports, cold testing is underway at a temperature of -22 degrees Fahrenheit and A123 claims that the batteries deliver 20 percent more power than standard coolant-regulated batteries at the same temperature.
In addition to it not needing temperature regulation, A123 also claims that Nanophosphate EXT batteries can last two to three times longer than an equivalent lithium-ion battery.
Combining more energy at extreme temperatures, deletion of the complex cooling system, and the lighter nature of these batteries, thanks to the lack of coolant, this new battery technology appears to be nothing short of a winner. With developments like this new battery and the high-tech and high-performance nature of EVs like the Tesla Model S and Fisker Karma , we just may see EVs become more of a reality to replace Dinosaur flesh-burning vehicles in the next 10 years.
We’ll keep you updated if anything new comes from A123’s research.
Click past the jump to read A123’s official presser about this new technology.
We always see new little wrinkles in automotive dealerships to try and make the car-buying experience seem less stressful and forced. Two key examples are the “No-Haggle” promise offered by now-defunct Saturn and the “Sign-and-Drive” deals offered by several manufacturers now, but started by VW . These are less about making the process easier for the consumer and more about increasing the dealer’s profits while displaying the illusion of an easy-going sales force, which is an oxymoron for any commissioned sales job.
Tesla appears to be going into a realm where car buying is a simple and stress-free environment. How they are achieving this is by beginning with the elimination of the traditional dealership and replacing it with smaller stores in local malls. The second step is to eliminate all commissions and pay the employees a salary. The third step is to not require car sales experience as a prerequisite for hiring, which eliminates the high-pressure “Sell now or sell never” mentality. To get a good picture of what to expect, walk into an Apple store in a local mall and see how laid back it is. You can walk in and play with all of the gadgets without a single sales person bothering you until you ask.
You may be wondering about the floor models and demo models. Keep in mind that all Teslas are built to order, so stores only need a handful of models on the floor and a few test vehicles in the mall’s parking lot. The biggest focus of these stores is to simply educate the customer about Tesla models, and what better place to get plenty of people to educate than a traffic-heavy mall?
Our hats go off to Tesla in its new approach to vehicle sales, but we have a sneaking suspicion that we will see Tesla dealerships and commission-based sales in the near future. Especially if sales start taking off and more models have to be kept on hand for the I-want-it-now customer. So we’ll see exactly how long Tesla can hang onto this low-pressure buying experience before converting into your typical high-pressure dealership.
The anticipated release of the Tesla Model S is nearly here. It began just a few days ago with the launch of the Tesla Model S design studio , so customers could customize their own Model S and place an order. Just a few days later, we are now set to announce that the first Model S has been handed over to its owner over two weeks before the car’s official release date of June 22nd.
You may be wondering how exactly a customer got his hands on one of the hottest new cars available so early. Well, the first Model S went to Tesla board member, Steve Jurvetson. When you’re one of the bosses, we assume that you can pull a few strings to get your ride a little early.
What’s even better is that there is a video of Mr., Jurvetson taking delivery and you can honestly see that he is excited to get his hands on the first Model S and one of the already sold out Signature Series trim levels. Despite some minor audio issues around the midway point of the video, it is all pretty clear. What’s pretty funny is when Jurvetson hops in his Model S for the first time at the 1:47 mark, fires up its completely silent motor, and pulls away, you will notice that he obviously pressed the accelerator a little too hard, as the car launches forward a few feet before he releases the pedal.
That would have been an interesting story to tell had he lost control the first ever Tesla Model S on its inaugural run. Fortunately, he kept it under control and we are left with a cool video of the first model S to hit the streets. In about two weeks, all of you folks not associated with Tesla will start getting notifications that your car is finished and ready for delivery. Until then, just enjoy the video.
Tesla has yet to officially launch its latest EV, the Model S, and already the upstart automaker is setting up some pretty lofty goals. In an interview with CEO, Elon Musk, it was made clear that the company is confident that it will achieve 20,000 total models sold in 2013. With the Nissan Leaf eclipsing just 9,500 total sales in the U.S. in 2011, those are some pretty stratospheric goals.
This is especially difficult considering that Tesla is not expected to infiltrate the European and Asian markets until mid-2013. We do see the logic behind this though, as the base $57,400 price is relatively affordable, considering what you get at that level. Also add in the fact that the Model S is more stylish and ego-massaging than the very odd-looking and soft-feeling Leaf , and Tesla just may be able to hit those numbers.
Once Tesla debuts the Model X SUV, the automaker anticipates a huge upswing in sales at the tune of 75 percent. Yup, Tesla anticipates 2014 sales to eclipse the 35,000 mark thanks to its newest EV SUV, which means the Model X’s sales are expected to hover around 15,000 for the year.
Overall, these are very high goals to achieve for an automaker that really has no reputation or customer base to attach its wagon to yet. However, there are tons of enthusiasts out there that would love nothing more than a 300-mile-per-charge supercar that hits 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and still hauls the family around. So, if Tesla remains true to its promises with the Model S, we could all see this new automaker well exceeding its projected goals.
We’ll be closely monitoring the sales of the Model S to see if the demand is there and if this upstart can provide ample supply if the demand is high.
Tesla is starting the beginning phases of production for its Model S sports sedan and it is easier than ever to order a model custom fitted just for you. Tesla’s new design studio allows you to dive right in and add in the options that you prefer, ranging from performance altering battery packs to interior color and accents.
Even if you aren’t looking to snag up a new Tesla Model S , the system is pretty cool nonetheless. There are loads of features to choose from, even on the base Model S, which starts out at $57,000 and ranges up to $97,000 when fully stocked with every available option. These options include high-powered wall connector and twin chargers, an 80kWh battery for 4.4-second 0-60 time and 300 miles per charge, a 580-watt audio system, and loads more.
The highest price we could build comes in at $110,550. This is the range-topping model S Signature Performance model with optional rear-facing seats, paint armor, panoramic glass roof, and a high-power wall connector. That’s still not too shabby for a car that goes up to 300 miles on a charge, hits 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds, and looks sexy doing it.
Unlike other car designing sites for more popular manufacturers, Tesla doesn’t need to find a model that is the closest to meeting your selected options; Tesla builds your Model S with all of the options you selected. Pretty cool, huh? So, have a look at the Tesla Model S design studio and see what the options are. You will likely be pretty amazed at what these electric cars can offer you, even at the base level.