At first, his identity was as secret as British super-spy James Bond's next mission. But the name of the mystery bidder who purchased the Lotus submarine-car prop used by Roger Moore's 007 in "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977) ultimately was revealed: Musk … Elon Musk. The "eclectic billionaire" CEO of Tesla Motors purchased the Lotus for $989,000 last month at a London auction, according to USA Today.
Musk told USA Today that the car held great childhood nostalgia for him and he had been disappointed to learn that it did not really transform into a submarine; Musk plans to change all that by outfitting the vehicle with a Tesla powertrain. While the Aston Martin perhaps is the car most closely associated with the iconic Bond character, the Lotus is easily one of the most famed gadgets in 007's arsenal. In the film, Bond drives the car off a pier and into the ocean, the car's wheels retract, fins extend and voila, a luxury-sub sports car. (Bond, after all, would never be seen in a sub-compact.)Related
It's been a few months since we've tested the Tesla Model S, but the electric car continues to grab headlines. Fires, recalls and controversy aside, Tesla's electric sedan is gorgeous, impressively quick and full of innovative features. However, a few big issues crept up during our test, causing Cars.com reviewer Joe Wiesenfelder to call the Model S a "work in progress."
Click here for the full review and continue below for the Cars.com photos by Evan Sears.
On Aug. 19, Tesla announced it had the safest car in America with the 2013 Model S, which earned the top score, five stars, across six different crash tests from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Just 1% of cars tested earn five stars across all six grades, Tesla said, and the agency's overall vehicle safety score, which automakers receive from the agency, captures a rating above five stars — in this case, 5.4 stars. That makes the Model S the safest car ever tested by NHTSA under its tougher 2011 standards, Tesla said.
The Model S earns an overall vehicle safety score of 0.42 (lower is better), which beats other five-star cars like the Buick Verano (0.5) and Cadillac ATS (0.53) sedans. Tesla says that translates to 5.4 stars. But NHTSA demurred: "NHTSA does not rate vehicles beyond five stars and does not rank or order vehicles within the starred categories," the agency said in a statement to The New York Times. What's more, a number of other cars — from the ATS to the Honda Accord coupe — also get five stars across the board.
Dig into the details, and the stars reflect assessments of specific crash data — the individual readouts from various sensors on a crash-test dummy. Tesla argues, for example, that the Model S beats the Volvo S60 sedan (another car with five NHTSA stars across the board) because it preserved more driver space in NHTSA's side-pole test.
Tesla's electric sedan aced the government's crash safety test. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that the 2013 Model S earned an overall score of five stars and five stars across all areas of testing, including front, side and rollover tests.
While the five-star rating is impressive, the road has not entirely been smooth for the sedan. Earlier in the summer 1,228 Tesla sedans were recalled for improperly welded seat brackets. Tesla did not receive any reports of related accidents or injuries. Despite the recall, the news has been mostly good for the plug-in electric sedan maker; it recently announced that it sold a healthy 5,150 Model S electric vehicles in North America last quarter.
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.
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.Related
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."
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.
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