AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Detroit Electric is back and promising to launch an all-electric sports car next month.
Plenty of exotic supercars made their way to Russ Beach Smith Falls Airport to take part in the ‘Race the Runway 2012′ charity event that raises money for the Russ Beach Smith Falls-Montague Aviation Museum. At the event, millions of dollars worth of exotics took part in a 1/4-mile drag race on the paved runway, with an electric Tesla Roadster turning in the best time of the day.
Ford recently announced the EPA fuel efficiency rating for its electric Focus model. Since it doesn’t burn any gasoline, the number isn’t in miles per gallon (MPG), but was given as miles per gallon gasoline equivalent, or MPGe. A new term to the automotive lexicon, it’s worth exploring exactly what MPGe means and how an MPGe rating is determined, especially as the number of electric cars and plug-in electric hybrids on the roads continues to increase.
Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson is paid to piss you off, it’s what he does best. Maybe someone should have forwarded the memo to Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk.
Musk probably should have taken Top Gear’s pot shots with a laugh and kept doing business, but it’s easy to understand why he might be feeling defensive. His company keeps hitting nasty potholes in the road to success, like the “bricking” problem that apparently compromises the battery system in Tesla vehicles, a costly repair.
This Top Gear drama started back to December 2008 when the show gave a mixed review to the Tesla Roadster. Their program said the car failed to meet its advertised 200-mile range, instead only achieving 55 miles. That figure came from running it on a track where any vehicle would have less than optimal range, electric or otherwise. They also bashed the Roadster for having deficient brakes.
Brakes and range aside, it’s essential to remember that Top Gear is first and foremost an entertainment program. The episode depicted crew members pushing a “dead” roadster into a hangar, though the facts emerged during Tesla’s lawsuit. Surprise, surprise, the car wasn’t dead and the shot was used for effect.
This isn’t terribly dissimilar to the infamous Bugatti Veyron versus McLaren F1 drag race episode, where the show managed to eek out a Veyron victory, only after several F1 first-place finishes. Again, Top Gear is for show first, reporting second.
British Justice Tugendhat threw Tesla’s claims out in October, 2011, saying the company’s lawyers needed to amend their malicious falsehood claims.
The final chapter, (one would assume), in this one-way pissing match closed today. Justice Tugendhat dismissed Tesla’s revised claim which said there were “reasonable grounds to suspect that each of the Claimants [Top Gear] had intentionally and significantly misrepresented the range of the Roadster by claiming that it had a range of about 200 miles in that its true range on the Top Gear track was only 55 miles”.
Hopefully Tesla can move past this cat fight and focus more on the bricking issue at hand. Small car startups have enough problems without taking British TV bullies to court.
Check out Tesla CEO Elon Musk discussing the Top Gear episode in the video after the jump.
[Source: The Truth About Cars]
The term “bricked” is often used with smartphones and other devices that can become completely unusable and are essentially, well… just a brick. To hear that terminology being used by an automaker is a little disconcerting, especially when that automaker sells cars that cost over $100,000.
If the battery is ever completely discharged in a Tesla electric vehicle, the unfortunate owner is left with what the American automaker describes as a “brick”. That’s right, your $100,000-plus electric sports car can become a completely immobile vehicle that can’t be started at all unless you fork over $40,000 to have its entire battery replaced.
And the worst part of it all, Tesla’s factory warranty or any typical car insurance policy would not cover this. Tesla has apparently been downplaying the severity of the situation but apparently they have been working hard behind closed doors to prevent this from occurring more often – even possibly engaging an owner’s GPS tracking of a vehicle without their consent or knowledge.
Essentially a Tesla Roadster can fully discharge in 11 weeks of no usage, from a full 100-percent charge. Reports are coming in that if the vehicle is driven nearly its maximum range and is left unplugged, it could become bricked in as little as a week. So once the Tesla battery completely discharges, it cannot be recovered or recharged, which leads to the $32,000 bill to purchase a new one plus the labor, taxes, and installation charges bringing it closer to $40,000.
A regional service manager for Tesla has gone on the record to say that he is aware of at least five vehicles that have become bricked due to battery depletion. If reports of this issue becomes more public and widespread, Tesla could be in for a rough ride in damage control. Here is their response to the initial public reports:
“All automobiles require some level of owner care. For example, combustion vehicles require regular oil changes or the engine will be destroyed. Electric vehicles should be plugged in and charging when not in use for maximum performance. All batteries are subject to damage if the charge is kept at zero for long periods of time. However, Tesla avoids this problem in virtually all instances with numerous counter-measures. Tesla batteries can remain unplugged for weeks (even months), without reaching zero state of charge. Owners of Roadster 2.0 and all subsequent Tesla products can request that their vehicle alert Tesla if SOC falls to a low level. All Tesla vehicles emit various visual and audible warnings if the battery pack falls below 5 percent SOC. Tesla provides extensive maintenance recommendations as part of the customer experience.”
Later this year, Tesla plans to begin selling its newest car, called the Model S. With a possible range of up to 300 miles and a 0-60 time of 5.6 seconds, entry level models will be priced from a more attainable $57,400 (before tax credits).
Tesla is currently making headlines with the debut of the new Model X, but many are probably wondering when the next generation Roadster is coming. Well, apparently not anytime soon, according to Tesla Chairman and CEO Elon Musk.
Musk disclosed on Thursday that a replacement roadster won’t come until Tesla has launched its “Gen 3″ electric car, which will be a smaller, less-expensive EV for the mass market. In a recent interview with Inside Line, Musk mentioned that he would like to have a third-generation Tesla ready for the market by 2015.
“I have to be careful here,” Musk told Inside Line. “This is our aspiration, not a definite date,” he said. Tesla originally had planned to bring the third-generation of their automobiles to market in 2016, “but now we’re thinking early 2015.”
[Source: Inside Line]
Once again, thanks to internet chatter we’ve got some more information on this hum-dinger of an SUV. A member on the Tesla Motors Club forum said he read in the Barclays Capital research report that there would be an unveiling on February 9. According to a post by Autoblog earlier today, that date is now confirmed.
So far, Tesla has been leading the EV industry in style and performance, consistently proving that being without an internal combustion engine isn’t the end of the world, though it may be the end of your bank account. Their first release, the Tesla Roadster, is a head turner that makes you feel like Tony Stark. Next they released the Model S, touting it as the worlds first premium electric sedan. The Model X is sure to follow their attention magnet tradition.
A new year is around the corner, and with every new year comes change. Numerous new models will be added to dealerships across the country, while for 2012 many other models will disappear.
From the Mazda RX-8 to the Honda Element, there are quite a few vehicles we’re going to miss and hope that successors come our way. Other models that caught our interest that will be disappearing from production include the Volvo V50, Cadillac DTS, BMW X6 ActiveHybrid and Ford‘s good ‘ol Ranger.
And at the list of not-so-interesting, but worth mentioning are the Mitsubishi Endeavor, Mazda Tribute, Chevrolet HHR and Ford’Crown Victoria. Oh yeah, and as we mentioned before, Tesla’s Roadster will be gone too.
Four years ago, Tesla launched their Roadster to the world, and 2,600 electric sports cars later, Tesla has announced the end of this generation’s production and it’ll go out with 15 Final Edition Roadsters.
Each of Tesla’s major sales regions will get five of the Final Edition models, with the United States, Europe and Asian being those major regions. The special edition Roadster will only come in Atomic Red paint with anthracite wheels and dark silver stripes to contrast the body. Other than that, there are no performance modifications – just your typical limited edition badging inside the car, each uniquely numbered.
[Source: Autoblog Green]
There’s a new kid in Los Angeles, BYD. The Chinese battery and electric car manufacturer opened its California office today.
BYD says it will bring 150 green-collar engineering and management jobs to the city. The event highlight, however, is a deal between BYD and Hertz to provide airport shuttles to the rental agency. This could prove to be a key time for the company to move into the California electric car market.
Their opening is hot on the heels of the California government deciding to limit HOV lane benefits to electric cars in an effort to encourage greener transportation. BYD has a chance to get a jump on the electric car market considering the only EV’s available to consumers are the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Roadster.
Things may not all be bright though, BYD saw their profits drop by just over a third between 2009 and 2010 and lackluster sales in the first half of this year aren’t boding well either.
Their financial woes are largely due to poor car sales in China, where they failed to meet even half of their projected numbers.
Their push into the North American market could prove to be a good source of revenue, but BYD Vice-President Michael Austin admitted earlier this year to the Glendale News-Press that “the paradigm of driving a Chinese car in the U.S. is going to be hard to break.”
[Source: Auto Observer]
It is not common for a car company to take legal action against a publication or TV show based on their opinion of the product, but Tesla did just that after TopGear aired an episode in 2008, featuring the all-electric Tesla Roadster.
According to Tesla, TopGear showed their car in a less than perfect light, claiming it suffered from poor range and even had a problem with the brakes.
The program claimed that the Tesla ran out of range in just 55-miles, well short of the 200-miles its makers suggests. This according to Tesla has been an ongoing cause of concern for its to be customers and hence sued the BBC program for libel.
However, at a ruling on Wednesday at the High Court in London, U.K., the honorable Justice Tugendhat sided with the BBC and said that no TopGear viewer would have reasonably compared the cars performance on the track to compare with the cars ability on the road.
A car would be driven far more aggressively on the track, and would thus be less efficient than when used on public roads.
Tugendhat went on to say; “In my judgment, the words complained of are wholly incapable of conveying any meaning at all to the effect that the claimant [Tesla] misled anyone.”
The judgement in favor of TopGear and its broadcaster the BBC was verbally handed out on Wednesday before lunch time.
Tesla however pointed out five other counts of complaints against TopGear, saying it staged some of the footage, like when the car was being pushed into the garage and also that just a faulty fuse was made to be looked as if the brakes had malfunctioned.
The case will resume in a few weeks time. We will keep you posted on this developing news story.
[Source: The Guardian]
California told 85,000 hybrid drivers to move over, literally. Now everyone is feeling the sting.
Starting last July the yellow stickers allowing hybrid owners to drive alone in the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane expired. The move came in preparation for an anticipated increase in electric vehicles on the road that will be allowed to retain the privilege. Though it may be the case that EVs are gaining popularity, pushing hybrids into regular traffic is causing problems for everyone.
According to a study released Monday by the University of California-Berkeley, the change had the effect you might expect: regular traffic speeds decreased and HOV speeds went up.
That isn’t all though, traffic actually slowed in HOV lanes at points where drivers try to merge back into regular traffic because of the slowdown. In other words, drivers in both lanes are noticing new slowdowns.
The report was based on six months of roadway sensor speed and congestion data, and written by Michael Cassidy, a civil and environmental engineering professor, and Katae Jang, a doctoral student in that department.
Cassidy said there is still plenty of space for hybrids in the HOV lanes, even with the new EVs on the road.
The only new production cars available that meet the standard are the Tesla Roadster and the Nissan Leaf. The Chevy Volt doesn’t qualify because of a specific California emissions law, though Gm says it will be addressing the issue soon.
[Source: Green Car Reports]
Fresh from a conference call (on his G6, presumably), Musk just signed a $100 million deal with the Japanese automaker, but has dropped the hint that they could be thinking larger. “We’re in discussions with them for a deal that is an order of magnitude larger than that,” he said. Musk had spent the call informing Toyota about ending their best quarter in the young company’s history, with demand for the Model S and recently-departed Roadster still high.
Toyota, being the world’s largest car company, fortunately has this sort of cash to burn. Hopefully Musk has made a convincing case for the 8-year old Tesla and the electric car of the future.