Did Elon Musk Trick Us into Believing the Tesla Model 3 is Affordable?
Ever since Elon Musk told the world about his intentions of making the Model 3, he has marketed it and boasted it as an affordable mass-market vehicle, even claiming that it would be a car just about anyone could get into. It was a long time coming, but on July 28th, the first Model 3s were delivered in a big handover party in Australia. Tesla’s main homepage also live streamed the festivities. As part of that handover party, we finally got the long-awaited word on specifications as well as official pricing. Now, at a glance, the Model 3 does look pretty affordable – it’s an EV sedan that in base form will cost you $35,000 and offer a range of 220 miles. That’s not bad, and it’s on par with cars like the Nissan Leaf and pretty close to the Chevy Bolt EV. No big deal, right? Well, there is, because the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt EV both have more amenities inside without such a bland look, and the options for the Model 3 could make it quite the expensive little car.
So, let’s talk about that a little more. At $35,000 you get the most basic vehicle ever to be labeled as an entry-level model. This thing has no instrument cluster, no head-up display, and no real character inside. Of course, that 15-inch display provides all of the information you might need and controls all major functions of the interior, but it’s basic. The cabin is only attractive because it’s different, and to be honest, it even looks a little cheap. But hey; it’s a cheap EV, so that’s to be expected. You’re not going to get wood trim, a personal chauffeur, and a gorgeous blonde to go along with the car with a price tag like that. If you’re buying a $120,000 Porsche, then maybe you should negotiate for some extras. The question is, how many people will really settle for the base model? Would you really want to, knowing you only get 220 miles of range? I mean, let’s get real, it doesn’t even come with Tesla’s biggest selling point: Enhanced AutoPilot. So, is it affordable? Well, keep reading to see for yourself.
The Tesla Model 3 Is Designed For Fully Autonomous Operation, So Where Are The Robo Chauffeurs?
Tesla is finally rolling out the Model 3, kicking off production with a “handover” party wherein company CEO and star boy extraordinaire Elon Musk gave us the skinny on the new sedan’s specs. In addition to learning about important numbers like range per charge and 0-to-60 mph times (310 miles and 5.1 seconds respectively for the top-trim Long Range model), Musk let slip this little nugget regarding Tesla’s self-driving aspirations: “Every Tesla being produced right now – the Model 3, the Model S, the Model X – has all the hardware necessary for full autonomy.” That means visual cameras, radar, ultrasonic sensors, and a whole lot of computing power as well. However, the Model 3 still requires a human pilot in the driver’s seat, so what gives?
The answer can be found buried deep in the Model 3 press release, following a $3,000 price tag for the Full Self-Driving Capability package: “This feature is dependent upon extensive software validation and regulatory approval, which may vary by jurisdiction.” Read on for a translation of what that really means, and a prediction of when your car will ferry you around sans inputs.
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Elon Musk Takes a Stab at Volvo During Tesla Model 3 Handover Party
The Model 3 handover party kicked off last Friday, late in the evening, making it a very late night for those of us on the East Coast. Be that as it may, I sucked it up and watched anyway. Now, I was really hoping for some special surprise to be presented – maybe an early concept of the Model Y or even the successor to the Tesla Roadster – but that, unfortunately, didn’t happen. The show wasn’t a complete bust, though, as not only did we finally get the specs we’ve been itching for, but we got to see Elon himself troll Volvo in a way that only he could pull off. In what has to be a pretty big blow to Volvo, considering the Model 3 quite literally kicked the Volvo S60’s ass in a 20-mph side-impact crash test. For those of you who don’t know, the S60 is regarded as one of the world’s safest cars and does have a five-star safety rating in all categories from the NHTSA. With that said, it’s mind boggling how much better the Model 3 was able to absorb such an impact.
When talking about the Model 3’s safety, Elon just couldn’t resist trolling Volvo just a little bit, saying “Something like the Volvo [S60,] great car – by normal standards very safe… the Volvo is arguably the second safest car in the world.” That line by itself isn’t exactly all that funny, but if you watched the live stream or hit play on the video below, you see that the context in which it was said was quite hilarious. And, you can’t blame him, the S60 is an amazingly safe car, so it’s pretty wild to see the Model 3 perform so much better in a side impact test. After all, Tesla isn’t exactly the world’s largest auto manufacturer. And, I have to hand it to Volvo, it has remained quite classy and has yet to fire back. Then again, you can’t really argue with results either. What would be nice, however, is to see Tesla team up with Volvo and other manufacturers to help improve the safety of all cars, on a global scale – now that would be something.
Tesla Has New Update For Model S And Model X P100D Variants
While most of the auto world has their attention turned towards the LA Auto Show, Tesla quietly made its own news when CEO Elon Musk tweeted a doozy of an Easter Egg for owners of the Model S P100D. According to Musk, the next software update for the Model S P100D will come with increased levels of performance for the range-topping Model S, including the ability to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in a spectacular 2.4 seconds.
In addition to improving the sedan’s sprint-to-60-mph time by 0.1 seconds, the same update will also shoot the model to a 10.6-second, quarter-mile time. Since Tesla hasn’t posted the actual quarter-mile time of the P100D before these updates, it’s safe to say that the Easter Eggs are going to spell a whole lot of fun for owners of the range-topping Tesla sedan.
Owners of the Tesla Model X are also getting treated to faster acceleration times courtesy of the new software update. According to Musk, the Tesla Model X P100D will be able to go from a standstill position to 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds, also 0.1 seconds quicker than its current capacity. Likewise, the SUV’s quarter-mile time should also drop by the same amount of time.
It’s unclear when these software updates will arrive, and Musk himself was vague on the specifics, opting only to say “next month.” That likely means the updates will arrive in December so that should make for a pretty exciting holiday present from Tesla. That is if the company is right on schedule this time, which in itself is no sure thing.
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
Tesla Model 3’s First Year Of Production Is Sold Out
Elon Musk’s Twitter account has been a go-to source for breaking news recently, and the Tesla CEO once again took less than 140 characters to announce (somewhat indirectly) that the Model 3’s first year of production has sold out. The company’s founder revealed the enlightening information while responding to an article shared by Fortune Magazine saying that new rounds of reservations for the Model 3 aren’t expected to be reopened for another two years.
The news marks the first time that Musk or anybody from Tesla has commented about the Model 3’s production status since May when the automaker confirmed that it had received more than 370,000 reservations for the entry-level model. Tesla has been quiet on that front since, but with Musk’s tweet, we at least get a good idea on the timetable for reservations on the car to re-open.
Tesla is still targeting a mid-2017 date to begin production of the car with a goal of getting the first wave of models delivered later in the year. At its current rate, the automaker is still in the process of ramping up its production capacity to accommodate all the Model 3 orders that have arrived. It’s only expected to deliver around 80,000 units in 2016, which is a big improvement from the 50,000 units it delivered in 2015. That number is expected to go up again in 2017 onwards as the company gears up to start production of the Model 3. The goal, according to Fortune, is to have manufacturing capabilities to produce around 500,000 models, many of which are likely going to be the Model 3.
In the meantime, those who have made the $1,000 refundable deposit on the car will have to continue to wait for their names to be called and those looking to join the long queue for the Model 3 will have to wait a little while longer to get in line.
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
Three Brothers From Austria are Doing EV’s the Right Way and Tesla Should be Worried
Time and time again entrepreneurs and small startups have been the driving force between some of the world’s best and biggest companies. Want proof? Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Google, and even Amazon all started with a small crew working from some garage. In fact, Amazon got started by negotiating and signing its first contracts at a Barnes & Noble. Now another small startup is unfolding in Austria, and it has the solution to building battery packs that not even your boy Elon Musk over at Tesla has been able to come up with.
The company’s name is Kreisel Electric GmbH, it’s ran by three brothers, and is headquartered in a three-bay garage in the small Austrian town. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because the company recently got a lot of publicity for the electric conversion it did to the new Porsche Panamera that was able to outshine Tesla’s Model S in some regards. But, that’s not the only thing that’s drawing the company attention. It has a unique and patented process of building lithium-ion battery packs that gives them an edge. By using laser-welding and thermal cooling, the lithium-ion cells are completely preserved throughout the production process.
Because of this, the battery packs that the company makes can push a car farther and faster than anything any automaker, including Tesla, has made to date. So far, the company has been supplying battery packs and electric drivetrains to manufacturers, designs lithium-battery production lines for OE manufacturers, and is creating prototypes for “top-tier carmakers.” While we don’t know much about who Kreisel is selling to, Automotive News reports that the company is fielding as many as 20 inquiries about its products per day, with automakers like BMW, McLaren, and Volkswagen expressing interest as well.
Just recently, Kreisel announced its first major order from VDL, a Netherland-based company that wants as many as 2,000 electric powertrains and battery packs for its fleet of Mercedes-Benz Sprinters. When asked by Automotive News why VDL chose to go with Kreisel, Erik Henneken – VDL’s Business Manager – said, “We have chosen Kreisel because they have developed a very nice battery with some patented characteristics better than Tesla. Kreisel is dynamic startup yet very professional in what they do. They grow rapidly but remain in control.”
The guys over at Kreisel obviously seem to have a pretty good handle on what they are doing and expect to sell as many as 50 million battery cells or more in the next year alone. It just broke ground on a 68,000 square-foot battery factory that will have a capacity of 800 megawatt-hours per year. That factory will be built using money earned from sales, not investments from outside sources.
Elon Musk Confirms a Future Tesla Pickup & Semi Truck!
The Internet is abuzz with Elon Musk’s latest bloggings: “Master Plan, Part Deux.” And rightfully so. Musk’s scribblings detail a 10-year to-do list for Tesla that includes solar-powered cars, increasing autonomous driving safety, and ride sharing. But that’s not all. Musk plainly admits Tesla will expand its reach into various automotive segments, including a new compact SUV, a pickup truck, and commercial vehicles like semi trucks and city buses. Yep, it seems there’s no stopping Tesla’s momentum.
While the news of semi trucks and city buses is new, this isn’t the first we’ve heard Musk talk about a pickup truck. It was back in January 2016 during an on-camera interview in which Musk was asked if a pickup was a possibility. His response? “Quite likely… It’s sort of a logical thing for us to do in the future.” And it was just last week TopSpeed published our speculative rendering of a Tesla truck.
Musk’s blog solidifies the idea of a Tesla pickup. We can now anticipate in full faith the all-electric automaker will enter the consumer pickup segment. Details on the truck are basically nonexistence, though we’re betting Tesla’s pickup will mostly closely align with the Honda Ridgeline, a mid-sized, unibody offering.
Musk says the addition of a pickup and a compact SUV allows Tesla to “address most of the consumer market.” The sales of these new products would afford the automaker the ability for further expand its reach. Thanks where the semi trucks and buses come into play.
The blog section reads:
“In addition to consumer vehicles, there are two other types of electric vehicle needed: heavy-duty trucks and high passenger-density urban transport. Both are in the early stages of development at Tesla and should be ready for unveiling next year. We believe the Tesla Semi will deliver a substantial reduction in the cost of cargo transport, while increasing safety and making it really fun to operate.”
We’ll have to wait for further details on Tesla’s commercial truck plans, but for now, excitement can grow knowing Tesla is indeed got an all-electric pickup on its drawing board.
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2017 Tesla Model S
Tesla discontinued the Roadster, and in quick succession, released its new Model S. Since then, the Model S has become widely popular and sales were good enough that Tesla has extended its offering of vehicles, now including the Model X and the soon-to-be-released Tesla Model 3. At first, the Model S sedan came only in rear-wheel drive and featured an extended range 265 miles. Not that it wasn’t a bad initial package – Tesla did effective set the standard for all-electric vehicles, and to date, it’s still the best all-electric model you can get.
Over the past few years, the Model S has seen several updates, including a new front motor that made all-wheel-drive variants available, plus Autopilot, and Ludicrous mode. In that time frame, the range has also been increased up to 295 miles for properly equipped models. The one thing that hasn’t changed since the car’s introduction, however, is the body style. But now as we approach the 2017 model year, Tesla has finally given the Model S a facelift.
Before you get to overwhelmed with excitement, be warned that the facelift is pretty minor. It was well needed, though, and the front end does sport a new look. Join me for an in-depth look at the Tesla Model S and what it brings to the table as Tesla ushers in the 2017 model year.
Update 06/09/2016: Tesla has announced that it is taking a step backward and offering a more affordable version of the Model S in 60 and 60D form. Check out the updates in our Drivetrain and Prices sections below for all the details.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Tesla Model S.
Tesla Wants To Make A Car That Everybody Can Afford
Tesla has made huge strides in the electric car market. Prior to the Tesla Roadster, the general perception of electric cars is that they are slow, have low range, and are simply not feasible for daily use. That perception began to change thanks to the Tesla Roadster. Then we got the Model S, which really opened the eyes of anyone with $60,000 and the desire to own an electric vehicle that wasn’t a golf cart. And, now that the Tesla Model 3 has made its debut, the understanding of electric mobility has and increased dramatically. Someday, however, electric cars are going to get better and more affordable than we ever imagined.
Just last week, Elon Musk had a sit down with Ketil Solvik-Olsen, the Minister of Transport and Communications in Norway. During the conversation, the two talked about the new Model 3 and the future of Tesla vehicles, among other things. During the conversation, Musk admitted that the Model 3 was designed so that about “half of people” could afford it, but he said something even more interesting than that.
“And there will be future cars that are even more affordable, down the road.” Musk Continued, “With fourth generation and smaller cars, we’ll ultimately be in a position, where I think, almost everyone can afford the car.”
Throughout the rest of the conversation, the two discuss other points on differences between fossil-fueled cars and electric cars, and the economics involved, among other things. But, the fact that Tesla is looking to make electric cars even more affordable and feasible as daily drivers is huge. If you’re interested in viewing the whole conversation between Ketil Solbiv-Olsen and Elon Musk, click on the Videos tab to see the whole thing.
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The Dutch are absolutely crazy about Teslas. Not only is the country home to Tesla’s first European manufacturing facility, but last year, the Amsterdam airport bought a whole fleet of Model S taxis – 167 of them, to be exact. Now, Tesla has just further expanded its presence in the Netherlands by opening a second factory in Tilburg. This city was already home to the first factory, but now there is a second. This new plant will employ 180 workers and will add 50,000 square meters to the manufacturing space that Tesla has in Europe.
While the Dutch do seem to love Tesla, this love wasn’t the reason for choosing Tilburg by itself. The small city is centrally located and a crossroads of sorts for both highways and rails. Tesla says that it can have a shipment of cars or parts to anywhere in Europe within 12 hours. And since the Tilburg plants are only for final assembly, the proximity to the Rotterdam port is also an important factor, as ships will be bringing in parts from the U.S. The Dutch government has also been making some serious efforts to improve its green image, and there were no doubt some tax breaks involved in the decision to build in Tilburg.
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First launched for the 2012 model year, the Tesla Model S has gone through countless updates, ranging from minor over-the-air tweaks to huge powertrain updates. Despite these updates, there are two things that have remained consistent with the Model S, and those are its timeless looks and its status as a revolutionary model that’s trying to change the world’s view on electric vehicles. In late 2014, Tesla introduced a significant overhaul that marked the introduction of the “D,” which has a dual-motor all-wheel-drive system. For 2015, Tesla is introducing the new entry-level Model S 70D that replaces the old 60 kWh model.
This Model S 70D marks another key change for the Model S lineup, as it is the end of the line for rear-wheel-drive in the Model S. Like the elimination of the underpowered and shot-ranged 40 kWh model during the 2013 model year, and the introduction of the “D” in 2014, this is a natural move for the automaker. However, with the electric vehicle still in the toddler phase, is the market ready for this model?
Continue reading my full review to find out what I think of the Model S 70D.
Introduced back in 2008, the Roadster was Tesla’s first-ever production vehicle and the first car to become a rolling ambassador for the brand, so it is only natural that the Californian company has nothing but love for it. Essentially, the car is a thoroughly modified Lotus Elise that has been converted to run exclusively on electricity, thus also making it the first-ever electric sports car that was produced in a significant number. In total, around 2,600 units were manufactured, with production ending back in 2012. As we enter the 2015 model year, there is not a new Roadster coming, but instead an update to the older models that extends its EV range.
Its 4-pole AC induction motor was reworked in the Roadster S version to give the car a naught-to-60-mph acceleration of just 3.7 seconds, not exactly bad numbers considering its EPA range of 244 miles. With the "3.0 package," Tesla reckons that its range will increase by a predicted 40 to 50 percent in ideal conditions, and it will try to put its money where its mouth is by taking an updated Roadster over 400 miles in a non-stop drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the beginning of 2015. According to the company, a new battery pack needs to finish a safety validation before appointments for upgrading Roadsters will commence sometime in the Spring of 2015, when all owners can receive the new modifications that will enhance their range.
Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Tesla Roadster 3.0.
Tesla Motors introduced the Model S sedan for the 2012 model year, a few months after discontinuing its very first model, the Roadster. The all-electric sedan was met with huge enthusiasm, mostly due to its impressive performance figures and extended range, which reached up to 265 miles per charge. The Model S came with three battery pack options that delivered up to 470 horsepower and performance figures that rivaled those of high-performance, gasoline-powered sedans. The Model S received only software and safety updates through the 2014 model year, but that all changes with the 2015 model year. For 2015, the California-based automaker rolled out the first extensive upgrade for the EV’s drivetrain, consisting of an additional electric motor that enables the Model S to become an all-wheel-drive vehicle with mind-bending performance numbers.
The update does not replace the RWD sedan, but adds three new models to the lineup. Highlighted by the use of "D" on their trunks, the AWD Model S’ bring enhanced performance and range into Tesla dealerships. Much-needed convenience and safety features are also offered for 2015, but everything comes at a price. Read on to find out more about the improvements Tesla has introduced for 2015.
Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Tesla Model S.
The culture of open-source information just got a massive supporter. Tesla Motors has voluntarily revoked every patent the company previously held in the field of electric-powered vehicles, opening up other companies to use Tesla’s original ideas for free.
The unprecedented move comes as Tesla Motors’ founder and CEO Elon Musk released a statement citing his passion for zero-emissions vehicles and his belief in the growing need for such vehicles. “Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis.”
With that, the company is now open to sharing its discoveries and innovations in developing, building, selling, and recharging electric vehicles. Well-established automakers like General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Toyota Motor Corporation, and others will now have free access to Tesla’s once-protected innovations.
Musk further elaborates in his candidly written letter that the electric car industry and eventually the world will benefit from having access to open-sourced and rapidly evolving technology.
Tesla originally held patents on its developments out of fear the large automakers would copy the technology and snuff out Tesla’s small operation. However, now that Tesla has made a such a name for itself and has a well-established (yet still rapidly growing) network of Supercharger recharging stations, that likelihood has diminished. What’s more, Musk points out that out of the 100-million vehicles produced annually, less than one percent of those are zero emissions. Thus far, Tesla’s competition seems noticeably absent.
Click past the jump to read more about Tesla’s giveaway.
To say Tesla is the world’s leading automotive start-up of the last 90 years would be a gross understatement. The company has done extremely well for itself, considering its mere 10-year existence and two-model lineup. Now solely producing its second product — the Model S — Tesla is on the forefront of all-electric car design and manufacturing. The Silicon Valley company can pin the majority of its success on the shoulders of its founder and CEO, Elon Musk.
CBS 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley recently sat down with Musk for an interview about Tesla. “Well, I didn’t really think Tesla would be successful,” Musk answered regarding how he could start a car company and be successful at it. “I thought we would most likely fail. But I thought that we at least could address the false perception that people have that an electric car had to be ugly and slow and boring like a golf cart.” That sort of tenacity seems to be a driving force behind Musk’s inability to think small. “If something’s important enough you should try. Even if you [think] the probable outcome is failure.”
The Model S has shown an electric car can be successful inside the U.S. It’s so successful, in fact, Tesla is having a hard time keeping up with demand, turning out 600 cars each week, despite a few fiery setbacks. Musk is even planning a $5 billion factory to be built within the U.S. for constructing enormous amounts of lithium-ion batteries. With the eventual lowered cost of battery production, Tesla’s next major goal is producing an all-electric car costing roughly $35,000, making the company and its technology open to a far greater number of consumers.
Click past the jump for more info on Elon Musk’s other projects