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New Video of Tesla's Mass-Market Electric Car 462

Slatterz writes "The Tesla Roadster has almost mythical status among electric car enthusiasts. It's fast, with high torque over a wide RPM range, and can beat a Ferrari in terms of acceleration. Now Tesla has released new video of its upcoming new electric car, called the Model S, which Tesla Motors claims is the world's first mass produced fully-electric vehicle. Unlike the Lotus-Elise based Roadster, the Model S is a traditional sedan of the type millions of commuters might actually drive. Tesla claims it will fit seven people (if two of them are 'children under 10'), and has mounted a rather large 17in LCD in the dash. Key to Telsa's future will be the evolution of lithium-ion battery technology. Tesla Motors claiming the new Model S can travel up to 300 miles on a single charge, but the battery will still take 45 minutes to quick-recharge." (And for those in countries where it matters, this article mentions that it should also be available in right-hand drive.)
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New Video of Tesla's Mass-Market Electric Car

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  • Model S not T (Score:3, Informative)

    by tie_guy_matt ( 176397 ) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @03:35PM (#28582029)

    At $50,000 do they think it is too expensive to call it the model T? Do they think calling it the model T would be too arrogant? Maybe the next one will be cheaper and then they will go ahead and give it the next name. After all we would all like to see the model T version of the electric car that will get us off of expensive oil.

    • Re:Model S not T (Score:4, Interesting)

      by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @03:46PM (#28582095)

      "After all we would all like to see the model T version of the electric car that will get us off of expensive oil."

      For that to happen, early adopters must drop the cash on much more expensive vehicles, just as they did before Henry Ford produced the Model T. Early adopters will be more likely to forgive faults that buyers of an econobox would not.

      At fifty grand for a beta version, I'll be better off letting the rich folks purchase those.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kneo24 ( 688412 )

      Early adopters make economies of scale a realize goal. People who bought the roadster showed that there was continuing interest in a cheaper, more massly produced vehicle. People who buy the model S will do the same. Tesla does want to create a car that they can sell for $20k to $30k. If you have the money why not become an early adopter? Right here is hopefully the future of the automobile industry.

  • Insane price (Score:2, Insightful)

    by evilviper ( 135110 )

    So much for it being affordable...

    $49,000 USD AFTER deducting the $7,500 federal tax credit.

    • Europe (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fenring ( 1582541 ) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @04:00PM (#28582185)
      $50.000 ~ 35.000 euros Tesla model S looks like a luxury sedan. The same money would buy you a low end Mercedes or BMW in Europe, but with nowhere near the performance of 0-60mph in 5 seconds. For that kind of performance you would probably have to go with a turbo-charged compact, but the fuel economy is gone and you won't have the same interior space. If the numbers they advertise are true, it's quite a cheap car to buy, all things considered.
      • Re:Europe (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ptudor ( 22537 ) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @07:22PM (#28583213) Homepage Journal
        Wow, you get it. The people that think the sedan model is expensive aren't the market for a 5-series or M-class car from BMW either. And those who call the Aptera expensive at $25k-$30k probably wouldn't have chosen the GTI that I did either. But when I or any other consumer am already willing to spend that amount, and one considers the Free Fuel (at a penny a mile, close enough) and the money you don't have to spend on oil ($10/quart or so for Syntec) and the absence of those damn O2 sensors that fail... I look forward to the day Tesla purchases GM as a proper memorial to the EV1.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by feepness ( 543479 )
          That prompted me to run the numbers. I drive about 11K miles per year commuting and get around 23 mpg (lead foot). 11K miles/23 mpg = 479 gallons. Gas is already $3.20 a gallon again here so let's call it $3 average to account for the "penny a mile". $3/gallon * 479 gallons/year = $1,437/year. I keep cars for ten years so that's $14,370 over the life of the car, and that's if gas doesn't go any higher (yeah, right).

          Adding in four oil changes a year at $40/each and that's $160/yr or $1600 lifetime.
    • Re:Insane price (Score:5, Insightful)

      by selven ( 1556643 ) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @04:11PM (#28582239)
      They aren't an established company like GM or Ford, it makes sense for them to start out with high-end customized vehicles, grow large on that, and then slowly descend into the mass market as economies of scale start to kick in. There's no other good business model that does not require eight digits of initial capital.
    • Re:Insane price (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @07:44PM (#28583299)
      $49,000 USD AFTER deducting the $7,500 federal tax credit.

      What you really mean is: after the $7,500 more in taxes that other people, who can't afford this car, will be paying on behalf of the person who can afford it. That's nice. So progressive.
  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Saturday July 04, 2009 @03:44PM (#28582077) Homepage

    It's great to see an electric car this cool for so cheap. I mean, $50k isn't cheap, but it's cheap in comparison to their other car, an it seems generally more practical. If I were going to buy a car, I might consider this, but I might very well decide that $50k is just too much.

    I'm wondering, though, does anyone know what kind of profit margin Tesla is getting on these? Is the government subsidizing these at all (for environmental reasons)? Are they in the sort of situation where, as they start selling, Tesla will enjoy economy of scale and prices will go down substantially? Or is this price pretty firm?

    • If I were going to buy a car, I might consider this, but I might very well decide that $50k is just too much.

      Don't forget that the initial price isn't the total cost of ownership. The site doesn't say what the battery capacity is or the charging efficiency, which means that we can't tell how much it costs to drive for a mile. It has fewer moving parts than a typical ICE vehicle, so maintenance costs are probably lower, with the exception of the cost of replacing the battery every few years (I think they are rated for 70% capacity after 5 years, so you probably want to replace at least every 6-8 years).

      • True, but at this point, there's just no way of knowing how the TCO compares with a conventional car. As you said, there might be lower maintenance costs in general. On the other hand, with a new product that includes a new design, it takes a few years to know how well that design holds up under real use. Battery replacement costs are sure to be expensive, but you'll probably save some money on fuel costs on a day-to-day level. And how will it keep its value if you decide to resell it? It's hard to say

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by polymeris ( 902231 )

        It actually does say: They claim capacity 300 miles, $4 a recharge. Thats 1.35 cent a mile.

        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          That's based on an absurdly low price of electricity, though. My current PG&E top tier rate (and every kWh I add is billed at this rate) is $0.33/kWh, for a total of over $23 per recharge. If the new Honda Fit hybrid really comes out to 45 MPG highway, it will cost less (@$3 per gallon) than this Tesla car to operate and will cost over $40,000 less to buy the car.

          Put another way, assuming a 200,000 mile lifespan of both vehicles, gas would have to average a whopping $12.47 per gallon without electrici

          • by KozmoStevnNaut ( 630146 ) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @05:13PM (#28582601)

            Purely on economics, the Fit hybrid or any economy-oriented turbodiesel car will beat out the Tesla Model S, no doubt about it.

            But none of those are capable of doing 0-60 in under 6 seconds. The Model S is a luxury sedan meant to compete with the offerings from BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar etc., not with econoboxes.

            Your $10,000 vehicle conversion will be nowhere near the same quality nor performance as a Model S, you're being silly.

    • I don't know the economics of these for the average person, but right now America is consuming a big chunk of the energy the world produces and is way far ahead per capita than most other countries, even other 1st world countries with similiar standards of living (maybe except Canada), something like Germany. Some of it due to our car oriented culture (which no product will fix, but an infrastructure issue - go by a European high school vs American suburban high school and check out ratio of cars to bicycl

  • by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <> on Saturday July 04, 2009 @03:46PM (#28582097) Homepage
    300 miles will take some 4 hours to drive, you could prob do with at least a 45 min rest ... so this is finally acceptable range for an electric car.
    • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @03:51PM (#28582127)

      It's not for me. 4 hours is nothing in the midwest. I currently live 5 hours from my parents house. When we drove to NYC last year it took 12. 15-20 minutes max for a break, otherwise your journey takes for ever.

      I'll stick to my Diesel Jetta which can run on Diesel, Biodiesel created from waste oil, crushed soybeans, algae, liquefied natural gas (GTL), or liquefied coal gas (GTL), any one of a number of renewable resources. If I stretch it I can get 800 to a TANK and still refill in 5-10 minutes.

      • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Saturday July 04, 2009 @04:11PM (#28582243) Homepage

        It's not for me. 4 hours is nothing in the midwest. I currently live 5 hours from my parents house. When we drove to NYC last year it took 12. 15-20 minutes max for a break, otherwise your journey takes for ever.

        Still, that's not too typical for most people's day-to-day routine. And like the previous poster said, I would expect that most people can live with a 45 minute break every 4 hours on long car trips. You stretch your legs and maybe get something to eat, and then you're ready to go.

        Actually, the funny thing in my mind is that, given your examples, I would probably be much more frustrated with the 5 hour trip than the 12 hour trip. If you're already taking a 12 hour trip, adding an extra hour or two of rest time doesn't seem that extreme to me. Hell, you might even think of it as a safety feature to help prevent road-hypnosis.

        But imagine your battery lasts for 300 miles and you regularly make a trip that's 320 miles long. To have to stop 20 miles short of your destination and recharge for 45 minutes then would be pretty annoying. On the other hand, I would suppose you could just charge for 10 minutes and keep going. If it's like most batteries, it recharges most of the way pretty quickly, and then takes a long time to get that last 10% of charge.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          What people don't get is that the point of liquid gasoline or CNG or LNG or whatever is that it takes 5 minutes at most to fill up and off you go. That and range are the two criteria that make electric cars unacceptable to Joe Sixpack at the moment. If you can make an electric car that gets 300 miles per charge and charges up in 5 minutes, then you've got a competitor (except for the problem of not being able to hitchhike down the road to bring back a can of gas in an emergency). Until you bring those two p
        • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @05:45PM (#28582779)

          Still, that's [a 5-12 hour drive] not too typical for most people's day-to-day routine.

          The thing is, unless they're rich, people don't buy a car based on their day-to-day routine. They buy a car based on how well it can handle all their driving needs. If a car that suits their day-to-day driving needs can't handle an annual 12 hour drive to grandma's for Thanksgiving, they're not going to buy a second car just for that one trip. They're going to eliminate the electric from consideration and buy one car that can handle both needs.

          I've proposed that people rent a car for their once-a-year trips, and the common reply is that it'd be a "waste of money" when you "already own a car." Not to mention rental cars would be in short supply with jacked up prices around holidays like Thanksgiving. The fiscal benefit of an electric car for day-to-day travel would have to outweigh the cost of renting for that once-a-year trip. A decent rail system would also fill this need for intermediate trip lengths, but alas the U.S. has sacrificed its rail system for freeways. Plug-in hybrids are also a good solution, since they can fill up at a gas station if need be. But then you're carrying around all that weight of an ICU which is only used a few times a year.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by nine-times ( 778537 )

            If a car that suits their day-to-day driving needs can't handle an annual 12 hour drive to grandma's for Thanksgiving, they're not going to buy a second car just for that one trip.


            1. They might decide to fly or take a train.
            2. They could rent a car for that once-a-year trip.
            3. It can handle a 12 hour trip. You'll just have to take a few 45 minute breaks along the way.
            4. If you're really that strapped for cash, you're not going to spend $50k on a car anyway.

            People's needs are really more fluid than they like to admit. I don't think a 45 minute break every 4 hours is going to be a deal breaker for most people. If it is, it might be more psychological than based on real need. Ther

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Rei ( 128717 )

              Exactly! Earlier this year, I needed a cargo van to move a furnace up from Missouri. So I rented one. I need a cargo van about once every year. Does that mean I should buy a cargo van, make it my daily commuter? Nobody would ever suggest that. But then they apply that exact same logic to EVs.

              Personally, in terms of range extension, I'm fond of towable generators. Range-extended when you need it, and not when you don't. And it'd be so trivial to set up a genset rental shop once such vehicles are on t

      • by selven ( 1556643 )
        Carry two sets of batteries?
      • Where in the midwest is 12 hours away from NYC? Maybe my sense of geography is all out-of-whack being from Washington State...

        • Indianapolis. Maybe it's the map projection, but distances aren't as short as they seem.

          Indianapolis to Minneapolis is 10 hours.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      300 miles will take some 4 hours to drive, you could prob do with at least a 45 min rest ... so this is finally acceptable range for an electric car.

      The article says 80% charge in under 10 minutes.

      • by YesIAmAScript ( 886271 ) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @04:21PM (#28582297)

        The article is optimistic in my opinion.

        Let's assume they're talking about the same pack as in the Roadster (even though the pack you get for $57.4K is lesser capacity). That means you're putting in 45kWh in 10 minutes. That's a charge rate of more than 270kW. That will require 440V power (3-phase) at 600A! And that's assuming 100% efficiency!

        There's going to be a lot of places where you can't get that much power. And even if you can, the amount of waste heat giving off by the charger, and in the pack will be very difficult to manage. Also, the charging cable would be a bit of a hassle to wrestle because it's going to be very thick.

        • I guess you would fill it up at a gas station, just like you do with your existing car.

          • I'd be surprised if they even let electric cars drive into a gas station, let alone let them fill up... the risk of sparks leading to fire/explosion is way too great. These will have to be purpose built electric stations.

            At a 45 minute fill up time they'll have to be *big* to accomodate all the waiting cars, too.. and provide refereshments/food.

    • by YesIAmAScript ( 886271 ) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @04:09PM (#28582231)

      The battery pack you get for $57.4K (the cheapest model) is a 160 mile pack, not a 300 mile pack.

      And you aren't going to be able to fully charge it in 45 minutes. LIons just won't stand for it. You should be able to put 85% of the charge in in 45 minutes, but since it such rapid charging reduces the lifespan of the battery, Tesla doesn't recommend you charge it in 45 minutes (at least they don't recommend it for the Roadster, this has a similar pack so I presume this is the same).

      Acceptable range is kind of a tricky idea, if you had a charger everywhere, then this might be okay. But instead, you are likely to drive to your range and find there is no place to charge it at your stopover or destination.

      Here's an example of how the difficulties in recharging an electric car makes it less useful than a gas car. []

      This guy took a 40 hour trip and spent 8 hours of it waiting for his car to charge. 4 hours walking (twice) around an RV park waiting for his car to charge to 88%.

  • It's just under 300 miles from Banning, CA, to Phoenix, AZ. Wonder what the mileage would be for that drive leaving Banning around 10 am the first week of September and using the air-conditioner. Probably wouldn't get to Blyth which is about half way. The electric and hybrid car ads and news stories never talk about the added burden of the air-conditioner and its power requirements.

    • With something like this I wonder if it isn't worth dropping the weight of the conventional AC and using the old-fashioned 4/70 AC*.

      *4 windows/70 mph

    • by chinakow ( 83588 )
      You do realize that all the established car companies talk about 0-60 times and fuel economy in the same brochures right?
  • And for those in countries where it matters, this article mentions that it should also be available in right-hand drive.

    Where it matters? Do some countries have laws dictating that sort of thing? AFAIK, that sort of thing of more de facto than de jure. I, personally, would love to have a right-hand drive car here in the US. Because otherwise when you park on the street the most-used seat/door is exposed to traffic.

    • It Britain you can drive a left hand drive car, but it is probably going to be more expensive to insure it. Insurance companies ask if it is a right hand drive car. I'm not sure what happens if you say it isn't.

      • You can drive it as an import but can't register it in the UK, so it'll have foreign plates. Insurance would be insane on something like a Tesla, given that there are approximately zero garages that know how to fix them and no parts availablility, plus with that 0-60 it's going to be classed as sports.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cbhacking ( 979169 )

      Cars around most (though not all) of the world are specificlaly designed so that the driver is as close to the middle of the road as possible. This is a safety feature; it makes it easier to control where you are relative to oncoming traffic. After a few years of driving you probably don't even notice anymore (I don't) but new drivers have a real tendency to try and put themselves toward the middle of the lane. On a left-hand drive (in the US) this means they end up taking a bit of the shoulder, or lane goi

  • Summary says it takes 45 minutes for a quick charge while the article states: "Batteries that last for 289,000 km have been demonstrated, as well as the ability to 'quick charge' batteries to 80% in less than 10 minutes. " Perhaps it's 45 minutes for a full charge?
    • > Perhaps it's 45 minutes for a full charge?

      That's 45 minutes when plugged into an "ordinary" 480V outlet. For the ten minute charge you'll need 480V 3 phase (at least).

  • I like the looks, the center "iCar" console screen, and it's unlikely I'll ever drive anywhere further than 300 miles. For any significant distance, I'm on a plane.

    The price doesn't seem that bad, but I bet it's closer to $60K by launch. Even then, I will probably take a look at one.

  • That the car only went about 50 miles or so with an 18 hour charge time: []

  • by thrillseeker ( 518224 ) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @05:26PM (#28582671)
    A (wealthy) friend had his delivered recently. Here's my twisty road test report.

    Executive Summary: Oh. My. God.

    Systems Lacking: 4-point harnesses, sufficient handholds for passenger, automated system to maintain directional control during GLOC on launch, earplugs to block whimpering sounds from passenger seat

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