Tesla Electric Car Makes Pit Stop

By dancurranjr On December 11th, 2010

As they stepped out of the sleek, hand-built, carbon fiber Roadster, Danielle Molleur of Summit and her daughter Madeleine, were all smiles. “I can understand why there’s so much excitement and why we put our money down on one,” said Danielle, one foot still in the Tesla’s futuristic cockpit.

On Saturday, Summit residents interested in checking out, and test driving, Tesla’s innovative, high performance sports car were able to do so during the manufacturer’s national Go Electric Roadster Tour. All they had to do was make an appointment with Tesla’s representative, Michael J. Sexton, and meet at the Grand Summit Hotel.

“We’re not your typical type of automotive company,” said Sexton. “Our (business) model is very much like Apple. We go out into the marketplace with the vehicle and present it to prospective clients. We want people to experience the car, and the response is overwhelming. Today, my first drive is at 10 and my last drive is at 3. We’ll probably do 10 drives in Summit, altogether. And that’s a good manageable amount.”

The buzz around Tesla and its car has truly reached a fever pitch. In a climate where consumers are increasingly concerned not only with economics but also with reducing their impact on the environment, it’s easy to understand why.

The Tesla doesn’t need a single drop of gasoline and produces zero fumes. Twice as efficient as a typical hybrid, the Roadster is a pure, electric sports model. It accelerates from 0-60 in a mere 3.7 seconds, with a maximum speed of about 125 mph, and a range of up to 245 miles on a single electric charge.

Although the base model price is $106,000, Sexton is quick to point out that the car qualifies for a federal tax credit of $7,500 and that there is no sales tax on the vehicle, in the state of New Jersey.

According to the company, the Tesla’s sales numbers have been growing steadily ever since the company went public in June of this year. There are currently more than 1,400 Roadster owners in the world. Together, they have driven more than 8 million electric miles — saving more than 400,000 gallons of gas and 21,000 barrels of oil, in the process.

Named after the Serbian electrical engineer, Nikola Tesla, the company took its inspiration from the great inventor, who also happened to be the father of AC (alternative current) power. The Tesla has an AC induction motor.

“It was always a dream of Tesla’s to have a fully electric vehicle. At the turn of the 20th Century, he tinkered with electric vehicles. There was the Baker electric vehicle and he toyed with that — how to make that run without even using batteries,” added Sexton.

Tesla will be coming out with a four-door sedan version of the Roadster in 2012 — the Model S. This one will have a range of up to 300 miles. That’s the model that Danielle Molleur has actually committed to buy.

“The nice thing is that you buy one of these and you’re done. I mean, there’s no gas and an electrician can fix the engine. And no combustion engine. No spewing all kinds of stuff in the air. We have to move in that direction. Even Kuwait and Dubai are putting in solar fields. They know that the end is coming for fossil fuels,” she stressed.


The All-Electric Tesla Is An Eco-Thriller!

By dancurranjr On December 6th, 2010

A small pothole sends a jolt to my tailbone. This car’s suspension is tight, its tires low-profile, with barely any sidewall between rim and road.

But mashing the accelerator pedal practically touches off St. Elmo’s fire. The next stoplight comes up fast. Absurdly fast, in an unnervingly quiet rush. Golf cart meets F-16.

I am folded into a Tesla Roadster 2.5 Sport, the $100,000-plus, all-electric exotic that looks a lot like a Lotus Elise and, from a performance standpoint, leaves most hybrid cars in its electron cloud.

Tesla is a boutique automaker, and that’s where the Roadster’s chassis and some other parts are sourced, though it’s more than 90 percent original, including its lovely, lightweight, partly carbon-fiber body, this one in Batmobile black.

It has been raining on and off in Boston. Wet leaves blow around in the chill. Even mid-day there are too many other cars on the river roads along the Charles to properly wring this thing out. Here a Suffolk County sheriff. There a Statie.

But the Roadster can’t cloak its personality. It’s all urges and surges. Loaded with torque, It does zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds – comparable to (maybe even a coat-of-paint faster) than Ferrari’s frighteningly quick F430. (In fairness, that Italian job also has a top-end speed of about 200 m.p.h.; Tesla’s is 125.)

Electric vehicles are hardly new – the newsprint Monitor was delivered locally by electric trucks before World War I – but they’ve entered a new era. Tesla is, so far, the one true electric supercar. It pretty neatly redefines “plug and play.”

You’ve probably heard of this exotic. It’s the one George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio waited online to get.

I waited four years just to get in it. In 2006 I saw its predecessor being built in San Carlos, Calif. Executives and engineers (who’ve since relocated to Palo Alto) were very forthcoming, but there was no tester on hand. Everything had wires hanging out of it.

It was worth the wait.

I’ve flogged a modern Mustang GT on a straight back road. Run a 12-cylinder BMW hard on the Autobahn. Even turned in quarter miles on a drag strip in a Jaguar XKR.

This is different. In terms of power on tap, it’s more like twisting the throttle in first gear on a Suzuki GSX-R sport bike – but without the screaming harmonics. (Frankly, that’s about the only shortcoming of this eco-exotic.)

Fairly restrained today among Boston’s Kias and Volvos, the Roadster is sure-footed. The steering wheel feeds back every ripple in the road.

Even though it’s a rear-wheel-drive car, the Roadster’s rear end won’t quite break loose on wet pavement in a hard on-ramp turn, with acceleration. Weight is well distributed.

Let off the accelerator and the electric-drive system slows the car fast. Braking, when needed, is regenerative. The Roadster’s advertised range is 245 miles with its 900-lb. lithium-ion battery pack. Fully charging it is basically an overnight affair.

On the whole, electrics have seen no overnight success. General Motors’s EV1 famously failed (or was made to fail). It took Toyota what seemed like forever just to produce a plug-in Prius. Aftermarket modifiers had to take the lead.

GM’s long-anticipated Volt – talked up as an electric car and finally rolling out this month– comes with a small combustion engine dedicated to battery-charging.

One reason for the hesitant adoption: Many drivers have “range anxiety.” That should fade as more businesses and communities add charging stations.

Sure, the Nissan Leaf is a mainstream all-electric. There is an all-electric scooter. But like the Volt, most of these post-petroleum vehicles can’t quite let go of combustion technology.

Tesla’s supercar signals that, like everything else, some exotics have tilted eco. That could point to a values shift even among conspicuous consumers who traditionally haven’t given any thought to the price of premium gas (or to tailpipe emissions).

So along with practical little EVs (electric vehicles) that look like moon-base shuttles (Aptera) or Smart cars that have been squeezed (Lumenco SMERA), you also have pedigreed performers that are getting greener by degrees.

The new Porsche 918 is a stunning gas-electric hybrid that leans heavily on its electric thrusters. The Jaguar C-X75 (still a concept, just recently unveiled in Paris) uses one electric motor on each wheel – each making 195 h.p., for a synchronized 780 h.p. It also use micro turbines, which burn gas, natural gas, diesel, or biofuel, to generate supplemental electricity. (They’re provided by a jet-engine manufacturer.)

Still, Tesla’s Roadster pretty much owns its crackling niche. Coming next year: its fully electric Model S sedan. Another silent streak, this time with room for the family. Tesla’s a firm with some juice.

SOURCE: CS Monitor

The Future of Electric Cars

By dancurranjr On December 3rd, 2010

Utilities across the country are studying hard and fast the demand on the grid that adding tens of thousands of electric cars will bring.  The worst case scenario:  a super-hot summer day, home air conditioners on full-blast and Electric Vehicle (EV) owners all getting home at 5 o’clock, plugging in their cars and neighborhood transformers start frying.

That’s not likely though, according to Duke Energy in Charlotte, N.C. along with the Electric Power Supply Association in Washington, D.C.  The number of Americans driving fully electric isn’t expected to be massive overnight, but a gradual transition from the gas engines almost all of us currently have.  But local and bulk distribution systems are being inspected to make sure a surge in demand doesn’t lead to blackouts..

As for the new “propulsion grid” that electric cars will need, car charging stations are being built in public parking places, condo garages and office parks, but so many more are needed, like at shopping malls and the parking lots of wherever EV owners work, so that while they’re not driving, their cars can be powering back up to full battery.   EVs need to recharge when they’re not being uses, as their range on the road is a fraction of gas engine vehicles.

Twenty thousand new car charging parking spots will be online by this upcoming summer.  But the two companies which have received millions of federal tax dollars to install charging stations in public places and apartment buildings are still finding the right spots and acquiring permission to set up at those spots.  ECOtality and Coulomb Technologies are first targeting about 35 major metro areas for their EV charging stations, but that leaves a lot of rural space and most of the nation without a car charging parking spot for miles and miles.

Bonnie and John Osher just bought a $100,000 Tesla Roadster.  It’s fully electric (not a gasoline hybrid) and can go 241 miles on one charge. Both are full of excitement to be going green when they go anywhere down the road.

“(I just love) that it’s fully electric, that we don’t have to go to a  gas station again, ever, ever, ever,” says Bonnie.

Fortunately for them, their Tesla’s range allows them to always get home each night to power back up in their garage.  But “range anxiety,” the fear of running out of EV power on the side of the road and becoming stranded before reaching a place to recharge, is real, and remains a major concern of potential electric vehicle buyers.

SOURCE: LiveShots

Tesla Exposed: Photos With Body Parts Removed.

By dancurranjr On December 4th, 2009

I was in San Carlos, California today and noticed this car being worked on at a metal shop.

From a distance I was pretty sure it was a Tesla and a closer inspection confirmed my guess.

For you enthusiasts, here are 7  Tesla Photos with some major body parts removed.

Question is – was this one stacked? (Wrecked)

The rear bumper sticker reads “Certified Tesla Replacement Part” or something to that effect.

You can download a zip file of the original photos here: Tesla Photos





Future Auto Industry Plug-In Hybrids (PHEV) and Electric Cars

By dancurranjr On April 20th, 2009

plug-in-hybrid-car-phevSeveral automakers are developing plug-in hybrid vehicles and electric cars that could help meet President Barack Obama’s goal of putting 1 million plug-in hybrids on the road by 2015. Many industry officials say the goal is a worthy one but will be difficult to meet. A look at the work by some auto manufacturers:

GENERAL MOTORS CORP.: General Motors is set to produce the Chevrolet Volt, an extended range electric plug-in, in late 2010 in limited numbers. The Volt is the centerpiece of GM’s attempt to take the lead in electric vehicles and will have a lithium-ion battery and electric motor that can take the car 40 miles on a single charge. A gasoline engine will kick in to power a generator to extend the Volt’s range beyond the 40 miles. GM has not yet announced the price of the car, but the cost is expected to be $30,000 to $40,000.

TOYOTA MOTOR CORP.: Toyota will start global delivery of 500 Toyota Prius plug-in hybrids powered by lithium-ion batteries later this year. Of those, 150 will go to U.S. lease and fleet customers. The plug-in is expected to operate in a similar fashion to the current Prius model by using both gasoline and electricity to propel the vehicle. Toyota is also developing the FT-EV, an all-electric vehicle that is expected to have a range of 50 miles and be on U.S. roads by 2012.

CHRYSLER LLC: Chrysler has shown off five different electric-drive vehicles developed by its high-tech ENVI unit and said it plans to start selling one of the five models next year. The electric car prototypes include a Dodge sports car, a Jeep Wrangler and Patriot, a Chrysler minivan, and a concept version of an electric-powered sedan. The automaker is testing the vehicles simultaneously and recently announced that Massachusetts-based A123Systems will supply the lithium-ion batteries for the company’s extended range gas-electric cars and its all-electric cars.

FORD MOTOR CO.: Ford is planning to produce a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle beginning in 2012 and has been testing a fleet of vehicles through partnerships with several utilities around the nation. Ford has said it intends to bring a battery-electric van to market in 2010 for commercial use, a small battery-electric sedan developed with Magna International by 2011 and a plug-in electric car by 2012. Ford has said Johnson Controls-Saft will supply the battery system for their first production plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

NISSAN MOTOR CO.: Nissan has outlined plans to mass-market electric vehicles by 2012, and to make the cars available on a wide scale in Israel and Denmark in 2011. Nissan’s all-electric car will be sold in late 2010 and have 100 miles of pure battery range. Nissan has developed partnerships with states and utilities to promote and develop electric vehicle charging networks.

TESLA MOTORS INC.: Tesla is selling the Roadster, an electric sports car which starts at $109,000 and can travel 244 miles on a 3.5-hour charge. The California automaker is developing the all-electric Model S sedan, which is expected to sell for $60,000 by mid-2011.

FISKER AUTOMOTIVE: The California automaker is releasing its $87,900 Karma plug-in luxury sports sedan, a four-seater with solar panels, in October. The plug-in can drive gas-free for 50 miles. Fisker is also developing the Karma S, a convertible expected in 2011.

SOURCE: The Associated Press