Tesla Quick-Charge Stations to Offer Quick Battery Swaps, Too

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In front of gathered media and Tesla enthusiasts in Hawthorne, Calif., on Thursday night, California electric-vehicle maker Tesla did something quite remarkable. It parked a Model S sedan over a staging area with guided rails (similar to the rails at an automated car wash) and, via robotic arms beneath the car, swapped out the car's battery pack for a new one in about 90 seconds — nuts, bolts and all.

Currently, Model S owners who show up at Tesla's network of quick-charge "supercharger" stations can get enough juice for 180 miles' range in just 30 minutes for free.

Now, if you're in a hurry — or the station already has a line for the fast chargers — Tesla will perform an automated battery swap for about as much as it costs to fill up at a gas station.

By Kelsey Mays | June 21, 2013 | Comments (1)

Recall Alert: 2013 Tesla Model S

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Tesla is recalling 1,228 model-year 2013 Model S electric vehicles due to a problem with the seats that could cause seatbacks to come loose in an accident, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Affected vehicles were manufactured between May 10 and June 8, 2013. An improper method for aligning the left-hand seatback striker to the bracket may have weakened the weld between the bracket and the frame of the vehicle. In the event of a crash, the left-hand seatback may not stay mounted, increasing the risk of injury to passengers.

Tesla will notify owners of the recall but has not yet provided a notification schedule; dealers will inspect the left-hand second-row strikers and fix the problem for free by installing additional mounting hardware to ensure a proper joint between the bracket and the frame. Owners can call Tesla at 650-681-5000, NHTSA’s vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or go to www.safercar.gov.

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By Matt Schmitz | June 19, 2013 | Comments (0)

Plug-in Cars: Where Can You Buy Them?

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Thursday’s pricing announcement for the Chevrolet Spark EV likely piqued some interest on the West Coast, but chances are few others gave it much attention. GM will sell the all-electric hatchback only in California and Oregon; the automaker has announced no plans to sell it elsewhere, spokesman Kevin Kelly told us.

Where can EV fans find their cars? We tallied up the states.

No surprise: Californians get the biggest slice of the EV pie. Thank the state's zero-emissions vehicle mandate, which requires automakers to sell a certain percentage of zero-emissions vehicles, explained Ed Kim, AutoPacific's vice president of industry analysis. Nearby Washington state has adopted California's emissions requirements but not the ZEV quota, and states such as Oregon and a number along the East Coast have adopted both.

The emissions requirement should eventually align with the federal government's 2025 corporate average fuel economy requirements. But it still means "a plug-in car sold in Oregon counts towards California’s required ZEV volume for the automaker that makes that vehicle," Kim wrote in an email. "It’s not a natural consumer market for such vehicles, but rather a market legislated into existence."

By Kelsey Mays | May 24, 2013 | Comments (1)

Tesla Repays Government Loan

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Electric carmaker Tesla Motors has repaid in full a U.S. Department of Energy loan, according to the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company.

Tesla said the $451.8 million wired today represented the balance, plus interest, of a $465 million loan awarded in 2010 under the DOE's Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program. The program, which launched under President George W. Bush in 2007, has also benefited plug-in-vehicle development at Fisker Automotive, Ford Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. Tesla is the first company to repay its loan, with nine years to spare.

By Joe Wiesenfelder | May 22, 2013 | Comments (4)

Cars.com Reviews the 2012 Tesla Model S

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Buying the 2012 Tesla Model S is like acquiring a Picasso with the caveat that the artist will show up periodically, at inconvenient times, to make touch ups and fix problems: It's a work in progress. Cars.com reviewer Joe Wiesenfelder says much of the all-electric car's original composition is brilliant, especially its "staggeringly quick" acceleration, unparalleled range and charging speed. While convenient wireless software upgrades may spirit away many of the Model S' problems, would you pay $100,000 for a car whose "butt sensor" might kill the engine when the driver simply leans too far to the side?

2012 Tesla Model S Review
By Matt Schmitz | January 4, 2013 | Comments (8)

2012 Tesla Model S Charging Video

Tesla's electric Model S combines unprecedented driving range and quick charging times. Thanks to the many different plug adapters, you have flexibility over how quickly the Model S can charge, from a standard 120-volt home outlet to a variety of 240-volt plugs that can return up to 30 miles per hour of charging. Tesla's system eliminates the need for Level 2 home charging hardware, which adds cost. With advanced technology comes issues, however. Cars.com Reviewer Joe Wiesenfelder takes a look at some of the grievances that bothered him like the unique door handles, obnoxious seat-bottom weight sensors and charging port door.

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By Robby DeGraff | November 12, 2012 | Comments (4)

2012 Tesla Model S Video

The Tesla Model S is an all-new, all-electric family car available to the mainstream market. With a starting price just over $57,000, the Model S brings attractive styling, impressive driving dynamics and up to 300 miles of pure electric driving. Cars.com reviewer Joe Wiesenfelder takes a look at the outrageously quick Model S and explains some of the high-tech quirks and why he thinks key improvements need to be made to make this a true American family car.

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2012 Tesla Model S Deliveries Start Today, EPA Figures Official

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Tesla Model S Gets Official Price of $57,400

By Robby DeGraff | November 12, 2012 | Comments (0)

Tesla Introduces Free Quick-Charge Network for Model S Owners

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Tesla on Monday introduced a handful of proprietary quick-charge stations across California, Nevada and Arizona with free charging for Model S owners that spring for the optional hardware.

The California automaker disingenuously markets the technology as "supercharging." Of the three battery strengths on the Model S — 40 kWh, 60 kWh and 85 kWh — supercharging hardware is unavailable on the 40 kWh, optional on the 60 kWh and standard with the 85 kWh.

The six stations allow Model S owners "free long-distance travel indefinitely," Tesla says. Each station will comprise a carport with multiple solar-powered chargers that gather enough electricity year-round to accommodate periodic charges by Model S owners, but The New York Times reports just two of the six are fitted with solar panels right now. The other four run off grid power.

By Kelsey Mays | September 26, 2012 | Comments (4)

More Tesla Models and Service Centers on the Way

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We've already seen the Tesla Model S, which is on sale now, and the new midsize Tesla Model X crossover that's due out in early 2014. A compact, entry-level Tesla priced around $30,000 also should be coming in 2015. Now we're learning that the automaker also plans to build a compact crossover and a new Tesla Roadster by 2016, Tesla founder Elon Musk told Wired Magazine. That would bring the carmaker's lineup up to five vehicles from today's one.

The Roadster and the compact crossover are being designed and engineered in tandem, according to Musk, and would go on sale at the same time in 2016. Like the now-defunct Tesla Roadster, Musk says the new model will have supercar performance, but, unlike the old Roadster, it will be less expensive. A base 2011 Tesla Roadster cost $109,000.

By Colin Bird | September 13, 2012 | Comments (3)

Tesla: Sell Enough Cars by Year's End, or Else

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Tesla faces a new challenge: Build 5,000 Model S sedans by Dec. 31 or risk insolvency, CEO and founder Elon Musk said at the National Clean Energy Summit, according to Left Lane News. The California electric-car maker received 10,000 orders for the plug-in, three-row car, but Left Lane News reports it must deliver 5,000 of them by year's end. Deliveries began June 22, a month ahead of schedule. The automaker plans 5,000 sales in 2012, on the way toward 20,000 in 2013.

"The challenge that Tesla faces over the next few months is scaling production enough to achieve a certain gross margin on our product so we can be cash-flow positive," Musk told the Las Vegas crowd. "If we’re unable to do that, we’ll enter the graveyard with all the other car company startups of the last 90 years.

"It will definitely be a very tough road over the next six months,” he continued. “We can’t afford to make a lot of mistakes. If we don’t make too many mistakes, then we’ll get to that period and we’ll be able to bring out larger-volume cars that are more affordable."

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By Kelsey Mays | August 15, 2012 | Comments (0)

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