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Articles on this Page
- 12/21/13--05:56: _Tesla: Garage fire ...
- 12/22/13--06:00: _Chevy comes up with...
- 01/06/14--11:15: _UAW sets up organiz...
- 01/09/14--07:30: _Elio Motors modifie...
- 01/10/14--05:01: _GreenTech Automotiv...
- 01/16/14--14:45: _Toyota fires bullet...
- 01/25/14--13:27: _Elon Musk says Mode...
- 01/26/14--05:46: _Audi starts new e-g...
- 01/27/14--04:56: _Fourth-gen Elio mod...
- 02/04/14--07:20: _Renault moves all F...
- 02/05/14--07:27: _NASA employee study...
- 02/12/14--04:56: _IHS says global pro...
- 02/14/14--13:00: _Iran starts Nationa...
- 02/19/14--11:01: _Wanxiang wants to r...
- 02/20/14--15:30: _Bob Lutz named chai...
- 02/21/14--14:45: _Sun and wind could ...
- 02/24/14--05:03: _Toyota increasing Y...
- 02/26/14--08:27: _Why Tesla's $35,000...
- 02/26/14--14:55: _Tesla Gigafactory w...
- 02/27/14--07:16: _Lincoln recycling t...
- 12/21/13--05:56: Tesla: Garage fire not caused by Model S, battery
- 12/22/13--06:00: Chevy comes up with Volt mirror modification to stop wind thumping
- 01/06/14--11:15: UAW sets up organizing committee at Tesla's Fremont factory
- 01/10/14--05:01: GreenTech Automotive breaks ground on MyCar factory in Mississippi
- 01/25/14--13:27: Elon Musk says Model S demand in China could require new plant there
- 01/26/14--05:46: Audi starts new e-gas partnership with Global Bioenergies
- 01/27/14--04:56: Fourth-gen Elio model gets 86-mpg trike closer to production
- 02/04/14--07:20: Renault moves all Fluence Z.E. production to Korea
- 02/05/14--07:27: NASA employee study finds EVs are 10 times better than expected
- 02/14/14--13:00: Iran starts National Hybrid Car Project to hybridize Runna
- 02/20/14--15:30: Bob Lutz named chairman at Via Motors
- 02/26/14--08:27: Why Tesla's $35,000 Model E is a pipe dream
- 02/27/14--07:16: Lincoln recycling tree fibers into new MKX armrest
Fire investigators don't think the latest fire involving a Tesla Model S can be counted as "Battery Fire No. 4." Their initial findings say the incident, which happened in a Southern California garage last month, was not caused by the car.
The fire, which happened in Irvine, CA, on November 15, may instead have been caused by an overheated wall charging system. "The cable was fine on the vehicle side; the damage was on the wall side. Our inspection of the car and the battery made clear that neither were the source" of the fire, Tesla said in a statement that cited the report by the Orange County Fire Authority. The OCFA is finished with its investigation and will leave it to Tesla and insurance companies to determine the actual cause of the fire. Fire damage to the wall socket makes it tough to determine with it was caused by faulty wiring, OCFA spokesman Steve Concialdi told Bloomberg.
"Our inspection of the car and the battery made clear that neither were the source" - Tesla
Big data is once again helping Tesla defend its stance. The automaker says it reviewed the data log that records the car's charging cycles and found them to be normal, with no fluctuations or malfunctions within the battery or charge electronics.
Given the findings, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration may be able to stay focused on investigating the other three Model S fires that happened during the fall. In two of those fires, the Model S hit metal debris on the road, which then flew up and punctured the battery. No serious injuries were reported. Tesla has updated the Model S' suspension software for safer ground clearance at highway speeds to avoid a third incident like it.
Despite being just three of hundreds of thousands of car fires every year, Tesla Motors' stocks have dropped 25 percent in value since the fires started. They reached a peak at $193.37 this year but then fell to around $121. The closed at $140.72 yesterday so, while it's not roaring like it was earlier in 2013, the cost of a TSLA doesn't seem to be flattening out. Permalink | Email this | Comments
If you're getting annoyed by a 'thumping' noise caused by driving your Chevy Volt with the windows down, there is a fix kit available. One Volt owner in San Diego, CA, was pleased to have the problem solved, allowing him to go back to being a "fresh air fanatic."
Dan Wolfson, who writes under the pseudonym "San Diego Vectrix Guy" for EV World, loves his Volt. One of the few nitpicks he's had has been loud wind noise when the driver's windows is down, even while driving at low speeds. He'd heard it was caused by the Volt's aerodynamic design, which was obviously intended to minimize wind resistance. You can see the original mirror design here.
Wolfson did some research and read about another Volt owner receiving a fix kit to solve the problem. He contacted his dealer and found out the fix kit was available for no charge since the car was brand new, but the work would need to be done by the dealer. The dealer replaced both mirrors and modified wind deflectors on the window trim. It took a bit of extra time to finish the job since the new mirrors have small wings that redirect air flow, and these need to be painted to match each car. Wolfson is now happy to report that it did solve the problem, and he can live with the minimal increase in the car's wind resistance, according to GM.
The dealer replaced both mirrors and modified wind deflectors on the window trim.
Chevrolet's Michelle Malcho told AutoblogGreen the company has been aware of the aerodynamics and windows up/down difficulty reported by a few customers for a while. "Some customers would prefer to drive with the windows down regardless of a loss of efficiency, but may find the wind buffeting annoying. Chevrolet has developed a dealer installed package that causes a disruption in the air flow around the car and minimizes wind buffeting when the windows are down," Malcho wrote in an email. While Wolfson got his work done for free, the official Chevrolet policy is different. "These parts and installation can be purchased through the Chevrolet dealer," Malcho wrote. Perhaps it's up to the Chevrolet dealer to decide who pays for it? Permalink | Email this | Comments
Tesla is happy to do things differently than other automakers, from the company-owned stores to the all-electric drivetrain. It also doesn't use union workers at its factory in Fremont, California (the former NUMMI plant, pictured). But now the United Auto Workers (UAW) is testing the waters for representation at the plant, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle.
UAW President Bob King has revealed that the UAW has created an organizing committee in Fremont. How this would change things at Tesla - and whether it would be a good or bad thing - is not really known, but it would certainly make the EV company more like the Big Three in this one aspect.
We heard rumblings of unions at Tesla in 2010, when Toyota and Tesla announced they were going to collaborate on developing EVs. At that time, the United Auto Workers said it wanted union workers back at the plant, especially some of the 4,500 who ended up unemployed after the General Motors/Toyota partnership that built cars at NUMMI was shut down. That didn't happen, but Tesla has called unionization a 'risk' to business in a financial report.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk at least has a plan for running his shop both with and without a union. As he told Wired in 2009, "Most of our experienced factory workers come from unionized environments, and we asked them what benefit did they see in unions. They said, 'Well, if their boss was an asshole, they had recourse.' I said, 'Let's make a rule: There will be no assholes.' I fired someone for being an asshole. And I only had to do that once, actually."
Tesla declined comment to AutoblogGreen about the new union rumblings, but when we spoke with Musk in 2012, he described the longer-than-average work hours:
Despite the long hours, it's interesting to note that there do not seem to be calls from within Tesla for unionization. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Right now we're working six days a week. Some people are working seven days a week - I do - but for a lot of people, working seven days a week is not sustainable. The factory is operational seven days a week but most people we only ask to work six days a week right now and, obviously, we want to get that to a more reasonable number. I think people can sustain a 50-hour work week. I think that's a good work week. If you're joining Tesla, you're joining a company to work hard. We're not trying to sell you a bill of goods. If you can go work for another company and then maybe you can work a 40-hour work week. But if you work for Tesla, the minimum is really a 50-hour week and there are times when it'll be 60- to 80-hour weeks.
Elio Motors, the company that wants to sell you an inexpensive, fuel-efficient three-wheeled commuter car, has taken a big step towards that dream. It now looks like it will have a factory roof under which to assemble its 84-mile-per-gallon, $6,800 offering, thanks to the Caddo Parish Industrial Development Board (IDB).
The local government agency has officially completed the purchase of the former General Motors Shreveport Assembly and Stamping Plant from RACER Trust (Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust) or, as it is often referred to, "Old GM." IBD will lease a 1.5-million square foot portion of the 4.1-million sq. ft. building through intermediary Industrial Realty Group.
The arrangement was not without controversy. One commissioner objected to the plan strongly enough to launch a lawsuit to stop it. An injunction put in place has since been lifted, clearing the way for money from the parish's Reserve Trust and the Oil and Gas funds to be used in the purchase.
Production is now said to begin in early 2015, supplying up to 1,500 jobs for area residents. When - and, we should skeptically add, if - the cars start coming off the line they will not look exactly as they've have been pictured up till now. The company's blog shows its fourth prototype, now under construction, which has integrated the headlights completely into the body to improve aerodynamics and lowered the beltline to increase outward visibility.
The company optimistically hopes to eventually sell 250,000 units a year and is now taking $100 reservations on its website. As of December, the company said it has 6,342 hand raisers. For more details on this most recent development, scroll below for the official press release.Permalink | Email this | Comments
It looks like battery-electric vehicle startup GreenTech Automotive (GTA) is entering its next phase just as its founder and former chief is doing the same thing. This week, GTA finally started erecting the steel-support structure for the factory that will produce its MyCar electric vehicles. The plant is in Tunica, MS, and the plan is to make both a two-seat neighborhood-electric vehicle and a four-seat battery-electric sedan. GTA currently operates a temporary plant in Horn Lake, MS and says construction on the Tunica factory is slated to be finished this spring.
In 2012, GTA first showed off its two-seat, low-speed MyCar, but the vehicle was actually first displayed at the Motor Show Bologna all the way back in 2003 as the product of a joint venture between Innovech and Giorgetto Giugiaro. The car has a single-charge range of about 115 miles and, previously, GTA said it would be priced at $15,500. The company also said back in 2012 it'd bring more than 400 jobs to the struggling Mississippi economy. It's taken a while to get the factory started, but you can at least now read Greentech Automotive's press release below.
GTA was founded by ex-Democratic Party chairman Terry McAuliffe, who invested $20 million in the Hong Kong company that originally made MyCar. McAuliffe stepped down as CEO in late 2012 and takes office as the governor of Virginia this month.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Many gearheads will remember that the 1970s-era Dodge Dart's claim to fame was that its motor was so durable (though not necessarily powerful) that one could shoot bullets into the engine block. Decades later, Toyota has taken a page out of that testing process.
With some industry members and analysts questioning both the viability and durability of hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles, Toyota executive Bob Carter, speaking at the Automotive News World Congress this week, says the Japanese automaker went all Clint Eastwood on the fuel tanks of a fuel-cell prototype. Carter says that bullets from a small-caliber gun bounced off the carbon-fiber tanks, and that .50-caliber bullets barely made dents. The shoot-out motif kept going when Carter name-checked executives from Tesla, Nissan and Volkswagen in saying that he didn't care if other automakers question the future of fuel-cell vehicles. As you can see in the prepared text of Carter's speech below, he said, "Personally, I don't care what Elon [Musk], Carlos [Ghosn] or Jonathan [Browning] say about fuel cells. If they want to 'plug in and tune out' other technologies, that's fine."
"Personally, I don't care what Elon [Musk] says about fuel cells."
After debuting it in Tokyo late last year, Toyota showed off its FCV fuel-cell concept vehicle at the Detroit Auto Show this week as it get ready to start sales "around 2015." The car has a 300-mile range and should be priced somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000. Autoblog drove Toyota's fuel-cell prototypes last year, and you can read our impressions here.Permalink | Email this | Comments
It's not exactly news when Tesla Motors chief Elon Musk talks big, but his prediction that sales of the Model S electric vehicle in China will require the California-based company to build a factory there is pretty substantial. Musk tells Bloomberg News that Tesla's sales in China could equal those in the US as soon as 2015. Could is the operative word here, though, since he backed off a tad by calling his production more "low fidelity" than firm. Still, Musk says demand will be strong enough that a factory in China could become a reality in the near future.
Tesla recently set the price for the Model S in China at at about $121,000, which is about a 50-percent price premium compared to the US. And while that sounds steep, the extra cost is actually less than the doubling (relative to US) that usually happens when cars and trucks are imported in China. Looks like Musk wants to sell some cars in the People's Republic.
Tesla finished strong in the US last year, moving about 6,900 of its battery-electric Model S sedans during the last three months of 2013. That made it the best-selling US plug-in vehicle during the fourth quarter. We'll be tracking when that same feat is achieved in China. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Audi continues to try to build its green-car cred with one more partnership to produce synthetic fuels made from renewable resources. The German automaker is hooking up with France-based Global Bioenergies to make a synthetic biofuel called e-gasoline. Audi says making this e-gas "does not create competition with food production and farmland," nipping that argument in the bud.
Last summer, Audi opened a power-to-gas facility in Werlte, Germany. That factory produces hydrogen and synthetic methane, which are made from renewable energy sources such as water and excess carbon dioxide. The E-gas plant uses electrolysis to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen; those elements will later be set aside to power fuel-cell vehicles but in the near term, the plant will make synthetic natural gas. Audi started delivering e-gas in Germany in the fall of 2013 and estimated that it would make enough of the stuff each year to power 1,500 Audi A3 Sportback G-tron vehicles for more than 9,000 miles.
Audi also operates a research facility in Hobbs, New Mexico, with renewable fuel company Joule. That plant produces e-ethanol and e-diesel. Check out Audi's press release about its new Global Bioenergies partnership below.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Elio Motors has unveiled the new design for its super-fuel-efficient three-wheeled commuter car, and we're already liking the covered-wheel effect. The company's new version was shown off in a lovely shade of orange, and if that color is a nod to the Denver Broncos and their upcoming appearance in the Super Bowl, we'll be really impressed.
Earlier this month, the company said that it had secured (with the help of local government agencies) the former General Motors Shreveport Assembly and Stamping Plant from RACER Trust (Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust) for its new Louisiana factory, and that production may begin as soon as early next year. The vehicle, said to get 84 miles per gallon, will be priced at $6,800. A 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine will provide 70 horsepower, giving the vehicle a 0-60 mpg time of less than 10 seconds. And the eight-gallon tank will give the car lots of range to roam.
In December, the Michigan-based company started taking $100-deposits for the vehicle on its website, and about 6,300 folks had signed up as of the end of the year. Elio expects to employ about 1,500 people at its Louisiana plant, and the time is coming close when we will see if this is an accurate number. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Carlos Ghosn sort of hinted that this day would come. And the Better Place bankruptcy didn't help either. For a variety of reasons, Renault has stopped making the Fluence Z.E. in Turkey. The car is still alive, but it's no longer Renault's flagship EV sedan.
Renault's Maya Vautier told AutoblogGreen that, "We did stop producing [the Fluence Z.E.] in Bursa, Turkey last November. However, we've concentrated its manufacturing to one plant, in Busan, Korea (where it's sold as SM3 EV), to produce it closer to the Asia-Pacific region, key market for this model."
Vautier said this change will have "very little impact" on the overall work happening in Bursa, since that plant still makes the gas-powered Fluence as well as the Clio, the Symbol and powertrains for other vehicles. It also "doesn't call into question our EV strategy," Vautier said.
Renault has worked hard to make the battery-swap-capable Fluene Z.E. a thing, giving out over 21,000 test drives at the first EV test center in Europe, the company's Z.E. (zero emission) Center in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, near Paris. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Getting a thumbs up from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is priceless - just ask Toyota. It's right up there with the Tesla Model S gaining support from Consumer Reports in the wake of four fires.
A pilot program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center has found that electric vehicles driven by employees are reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a much higher rate than expected. "The numbers are 10 times better than we thought we'd ever see," Frank Kline with Kennedy's Sustainability office told redOrbit. "No one's ever done a pilot where you get actual numbers. It's always been estimates only."
NASA is following an executive order that all federal agencies reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By 2020, the agency wants to accomplish a 12.3-percent reduction and the EVs are playing their role. The executive order looks at everything the agency is doing, including actions somewhat outside their control such as gases produced by an airliner transporting a NASA employee somewhere or emissions from an employee's car during a daily commute. To affect some of the employee driving, NASA launched a test program to encourage employees to drive EVs. Ten Kennedy employees are able to charge their cars at work for free, and just need to fill out a spreadsheet each day documenting their trips.
Emissions caused by manufacturing the EVs at automaker plants aren't taking away the environmental gains from these cars, NASA says. "The average car puts out a pound of carbon dioxide per mile," Kline said. "We're reducing that by 3/5ths by letting you plug in at the Kennedy Space Center." Permalink | Email this | Comments
Electric vehicles are known for their brisk acceleration. When it comes to projected EV production levels for 2014, there's going to be some speeding up. According to research firm IHS Automotive, global plug-in vehicle production will increase to about 403,000 this year, up from 242,000 in 2013. That 67 percent growth marks an acceleration rate even higher than the 44 percent production growth rate the segment saw last year. And plug-in production growth easily outpaces the 3.6-percent growth rate projected for all vehicle producion this year.
IHS says that Europe, the Middle East and Africa will collectively account for about 40 percent of plug-in vehicle production this year as German automakers such as BMW, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Audi each introduce plug-ins for the 2014 model year. The US and Asia Pacific will each account for about 30 percent of the supply. The production increase will likely be met by higher demand, as IHS expects adoption rates will speed up as automakers get ever closer to offering a somewhat affordable production electric vehicle with a 150-mile single-charge range.
The recent past is prologue. Nissan cut the price of its Leaf in early 2013 and held it pretty much steady for the 2014 model year. And General Motors reduced the price on the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in by $4,000 for the 2014 model year. Will we see similar price drops in 2014? Nothing to report on that front, but you can read IHS's optimistic press release below.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Iran is getting ready to follow China's moves and try to reduce air pollution by bringing in more alterantive powertrain vehicles. As Iran's largest automaker, Iran Khodro Company (IKCO) will contribute to that goal by introducing the Runna plug-in hybrid car.
Iran Khodro Powertrain Co. (IPCO) has finished designing and developing parts and components for the Runna hybrid for IKCO. IKCO will field-test the car in Tehran this summer as part of the "National hybrid car project" sponsored by the Industrial Development and Renovation Organiztion of Iran.
IKCO thinks the Runna will be ideal for crowded, polluted cities like Tehran. It has a small, "made in Iran" combustion engine that comes in three- and four-cylinder variants. The Runna will be powered by a type of hybrid system that combines a conventional internal combustion engine with an electric propulsion system. The electric motor can move the car between 70 and 80 kilometers (about 43 to 50 miles) on a single charge and help the Runna reach a top speed of 120 kilometers per hour (about 75 miles per hour). IKCO thinks the hybrid Runna powertrain could be ideal for urban traffic and might even be applicable to Iran's public transportation system, according to the FARS News Agency. Permalink | Email this | Comments
It appears that Wanxiang America's $149.2-million acquisition bid was about more than just owning the assets of Fisker Automotive. The Chinese auto parts maker is apparently serious about getting the Karma plug-in hybrid luxury vehicle back on the production line.
"We will want to get the Karma back online as quickly as possible," Pin Ni, president of Wanxiang America, told The Boston Globe. More details will likely be released by Wanxiang now that US Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross has officially approved the purchase. Gross was satisfied that the purchase price includes a 20-percent stake in Fisker for creditors valued at $15 million - something that was not addressed by the original bids from Wanxiang and Hong Kong-based Hybrid Tech Holdings. Wanxiang also owns the maker of the Karma's lithium battery pack, A123 Systems.
"We will want to get the Karma back online as quickly as possible."
Creditors were delighted to see Wanxiang's bid, according to attorney William Baldiga, whose law firm represented creditors. "The value is six times what [Fisker] said it was worth when it filed for bankruptcy," Baldiga said, describing the negotiations as "two and a half days of yelling, screaming, bidding."
In documents that Wanxiang filed with the federal court in January, Wanxiang mentioned a three-phase plan: building a hatchback version of the Fisker Atlantic (pictured above); restarting production of the Karma at Valmet in Finland, the plant where all the Karmas have so far been built; and then moving production to VL Automotive's manufacturing facility in Michigan. That means Bob Lutz, ex-General Motors vice chairman, could come back into the picture. In the first part of 2013, Lutz and Wanxiang tried to purchase Fisker. Lutz has as ownership stake in VL Automotive and wants to put small-block Corvette V8 engines into Karma bodies, calling the resulting vehicle the Destino. Wanxiang has said VL is the "soul of Fisker," so now that the company has the body, the revival can't be far behind. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Bob Lutz is staying very busy. The ex-vice chairman of General Motors, and champion of the Chevrolet Volt, has been named chairman of the board at Via Motors. Lutz will need to squeeze that in between his role as senior advisor at vehicle interior designer Katzkin, being an owner at VL Automotive and perhaps as an advisor to Wanxiang and Fisker Automotive.
Lutz thinks that Via's business plan of building extended range plug-ins is a smart way to go. "If we are going to see main stream adoption of electric vehicles, the technology must deliver a good return on investment to the largest segment of the auto business, namely trucks, vans and SUVs," Lutz said in a prepared statement, which you can read below. Lutz has decades of experience holding executive positions at some of the world's leading automakers and has spent the last few years working with green-focused start-ups.
Lutz will replace Carl Berg, who served as chairman since Via's launch in 2009 and will continue to be the company's largest stakeholder. As Via's new chairman, we figure Lutz will continue bragging about the trucks' bells and whistles - such as its built-in solar panels that can add 10 miles of range to the battery pack if it's parked in the sun all day.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Next week is Tesla Gigafactory week. The California automaker has a major announcement planned, and it's all about its intention to build a battery factory so large, the company is pulling out the giga prefix. At some point in the next seven days, we expect to hear where Tesla will build the plant, who it will partner with, how it will pay for it and lots of other details.
The Gigafactory will take in the raw materials for lithium batteries and put out finished packs, not only for the electric vehicles made by Tesla and its automotive customers, but also for massive amounts of renewable energy storage - that's a niche the company plans to begin to occupy sometime early next year with residential-sized products. The production volume is expected to be at least 30 gigawatt-hours-worth per year. That's more storage than all the lithium battery factories in the world combined produce now. Color us impressed.
The production volume is expected to be at least 30 gigawatt-hours-worth per year.
Now, you might be thinking, "Is it really necessary to go that big at this point in time?" In a word: yes. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said its upcoming, more-affordable vehicle - widely expected to be called the Model E - will wear a $35,000 price tag and boast a battery big enough to take it 200 miles on a charge. To achieve this, the cost of the cells needs to come down dramatically, and so it's no coincidence that the time frame for the new facility will parallel that of this car. According to Musk, the benefits from the economies of scale will see a cost drop between 30 and 40 percent.Permalink | Email this | Comments
More fuel economy means more factory workers and more production for Toyota's most popular model in Europe. That simple equation explains why the Japanese automaker is boosting annual production of its gas- and hybrid-powered Yaris compact vehicles at its French factory. The new number will be about 222,000, a 15 percent increase. To do that, Toyota will need to add about 500 workers to bring its total there to more than 4,000, UK's The Green Car Website says. Vive le Toyota!
Toyota updated the European Yaris in the middle of 2011 and added a hybrid version later that year, the model has many fans across the pond. It helps that they hybrid is rated (using the friendlier European standards) at a whopping 81 miles per gallon, a tremendous number for a car that costs approximately $26,000. Toyota could soon have a bit more room in the small hybrid segment, since it was reported recently that Honda would discontinue European sales of its Insight and CR-Z hybrids soon. That decision was made easier because of increasing competition from Toyota, which boosted hybrid sales in Europe last year by 43 percent. In contrast, both the CR-Z and Insight experienced more than a 60-percent plunge in European sales in 2013. Permalink | Email this | Comments
A car that costs 80 percent as much to produce as another can't be half the price. That's the simplistic version why Stanphyl Capital Management says Tesla Motors will not be able to sell its "mass market" sedan for the low, low (by luxury electric-vehicle standards) Elon Musk-backed price of $35,000. In fact, the California-based automaker will take about a $13,000 bath for each unit it sells of the new vehicle, now referred to as the Model E.
Stanphyl Capital Management breaks down the fourth-quarter costs and revenue associated Tesla's Model S, of which it sold about 6,900 units during the last three months of the year. In a nutshell, Tesla generated a whopping $106,000 per vehicle sold, with about two-thirds of the company's gross profit coming from battery and optional upgrades. And while Tesla may be able to get the Model E battery costs down to about $8,100 compared to the $15,600 cost of the Model S battery (the smaller car will use a smaller battery that will provide about a 200-mile single-charge range), all of the other stuff brings the Model E's unit cost up to about $48,000. That compares to the $59,600 average cost of a Model S. Fremont, we have a problem.
Reports came out in December saying that the Model E may be unveiled at one of next year's auto shows and sales could start as early as 2016. The argument against the possibility of a $35,000 Model E may sound reasonable on paper, but more than a few people have lost money betting against Elon Musk. You can read more at ValueWalk. Permalink | Email this | Comments
We made our gigafactory predictions the other day and, it turns out, we were pretty much on target. Today, Tesla Motors released the first official details on its upcoming massive battery plant and we see sun and wind power feeding energy into a plant that will employ around 6,500 people and make enough packs for around a half-million Tesla EVs a year. You read that right. Tesla is getting ready to produce 500,000 EVs a year, and that's already in 2020. Tesla hopes to start selling a lower-cost EV, the Model E, in about three years.
The finalists for where the Gigafactory will be built include the Southwestern states of Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas (our money is on Nevada). We were a little low on the estimated battery output. Instead of being able to make 30 Gigawatt-hours of batteries per year, Tesla is saying that it will have enough capacity to produce 35 GWh of cells and 50 GWh of packs a year. We think that's for both EVs and stationary applications and have reached out to Tesla for confirmation on this point. You can see the details for yourself here and in our gallery below.
Through 2020, Tesla will directly invest around $2 billion in the plant and its partners will pony up another $2-3 billion for a total cost of $4-5 billion. That's a lot of cash, but Tesla says that it will make buying an EV much, much cheaper. The company is saying that, once the plant is up and running for the first year, the per-kWh cost of a Tesla battery pack will be lowered by "more than 30 percent." Maybe that Model E isn't such a pipe dream after all.
Also today, Tesla announced a new convertible notes offering worth $1.6 billion. Details are available in the press release below.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Want to hug a tree, or at least a really small part of one. Then set your arm down on one of those armrests in the 2014 Lincoln MKX crossover. The US automaker is working with Weyerhaeuser and Johnson Controls on a tree-based, cellulose-reinforced polypropylene material used in the component that connects the armrest to the floor console, Wards Auto says. With properties similar to plastic, the tree-based material replaces fiberglass and is about six percent lighter. No big deal for now, but if the material starts getting used for things like battery trays and interior storage covers, that loss in weight may eventually start adding up enough to boost fuel economy a bit, providing a green double bonus.
Lincoln parent Ford, which isn't saying how much more (or less?) it costs to use the new material, established its Biomaterials and Plastics Research team in 2001. In 2007, the company began using soy-based foam in car seats used for models such as the Lincoln Navigator and Ford Mustang and has since broadened biomaterials use to components like floormats and cupholder inserts. Ford also used recycled plastic bottles from the 2012 North America International Auto Show for seats in the Focus Electric. Permalink | Email this | Comments