Tesla has become world renown for their superior performance electric vehicles. The Roadster put them on the map as the first production electric car that was actually refined, cool, and exciting. The heir to the awesome electric car throne, the Model S, will finally be delivered in 2012. The Model S sedan is targeted at electric vehicle fans with funds and maybe a couple kids. Remarkably, the base model will remain under their original target price of $50,000, at $49,900 after the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles purchased in or after 2010.
Tesla is providing a slew of classes and options for this electric sedan in hopes of capturing the absurdly rich and the upper middle class market share, so read closely. There are four classes of Model S: the Model S (plain, vanilla), the Model S Performance, the Model S Signature, and the Model S Signature Performance. On top of that, the plain Model S version has three, liquid cooled, lithium ion battery options, at 40, 60, and 85kWh. The other three classes (Performance, Signature, Signature Performance) all have the 85 kWh battery, standard, which pushes their ranges to a whopping 300 miles per charge. The 40 kWh option gives 160 miles and a 0-60 of 6.5 seconds, the 60 kWh battery puts out 230 miles and 5.9 seconds. The 85 Kwh pack gives you a 0-60 in 5.6. With the performance option that drops down to 4.4 seconds. The Signature label doesn’t necessarily enhance performance, but they are limited edition and available mid-2012, a few months earlier than the non-Signature class. They also carry about a $30,000-$50,000 premium over the base model.
All of the Model S classes will feature a 17-inch touch screen monitor which will contain media, GPS, and communications. The 200 watt stereo system will have radio, satellite radio, and USB ports. No CD player though, that’s so 20th century.
If you opt for the Signature series, you get the Tech Package standard, which includes xenon lights, keyless entry, LED foglamps, turn by turn navigation, power rear liftgate, back camera, rear USB ports, homelink, and electrochromatic side mirrors. A premium stereo system is also standard in the Signature class, and 1,000 bucks otherwise.
All Model S cars plug directly into 110 and 240 volt outlets with the Universal Mobile Connector and adapters. The High Power Wall Connector, which installs in your garage, enables cars equipped with Twin Chargers to charge twice as fast as cars equipped with a Single Charger. Cars equipped with a 60 or 85 kWh battery can use Tesla’s network of Supercharger stations.
Hope this helps clarify the many options and models of the Model S. For more information, visit Tesla’s Specifications page.
BYD Auto has been a hot topic for green geeks and business savvy investors for the past few years. We started writing about them in 2008, pronouncing them the “sleeping giant” of China. There was strong interest from investors like Warren Buffet, and Portland, Oregon wanted to establish a BYD headquarters in their city. Several setbacks and slow starts later, BYD is still very much in a morning stupor.
The good news is in the technical details of BYD’s E6 crossover. BYD’s Fe battery gives the E6 a range of 186 miles per charge and the vehicle’s top speed of 87 MPH makes it highway capable. BYD touts their Fe lithium iron phosphate battery as fully recyclable and quick charging. they claim the battery can be fully charged in as little at 40 minutes. Field testing of their all-electric crossover E6 began in 2010, and sales to the general public in China have only just begun in October of 2011. Lackluster sales and lack of a charging infrastructure have delayed BYD’s electric takeover in the United States. In January 2011 BYD announced that the American version will be more powerful than the Chinese version, and it will have a 60 kwh battery pack with a 160 kW electric motor, capable of reaching 60 MPH in less than 8 seconds. The Chinese company plans to be able to sell the e in America for $35,000, before any government incentives.
BYD e6 Specifications graphic:
Unfortunately for excited electric car fans in America, BYD announced last October that there will be an 18 month delay of retail sales in the United States due to inadequate charging infrastructure. So it doesn’t look like we will see the all-electric e6 or range extended hybrid F3DM and F6DM until at least 2013. These types of setbacks are all too common in revolutionary industries such as electric vehicle manufacturing. It will take time for BYD to integrate but I’m confident they will do so in the future.
Lola and Drayson Racing are working together to create the first all-electric Le Mans race car. Their primary goal, however, is to showcase the electric vehicle’s potential in single lap time trial results. They intend to charge the car through inductive charging and there is no word on any quick stop methods of recharging necessary to compete in longer races.
The electric Le Mans Prototype (LMP) will have 850 horsepower and reach top speeds of over 200 mph. Power for the all electric drivetrain is stored in a new generation of highly advanced Lithium Nanophosphate® battery cells made exclusively by A123 Systems. Each wheel will be powered by four axial flux Oxford YASA motors. The car will have a single gear, which is common for electric vehicles. On the exterior, the car will look like any of the other LMP, but the team hopes the electric drivetrain will prove superior in single lap time trials.
For more info, check out the Lola Group Q&A.
Changes follow NHTSA investigation into post-severe crash battery performance2012-01-05WARREN, Mich. – General Motors today announced enhancements to the vehicle structure and battery coolant system in the Chevrolet Volt that would further protect the battery from the possibility of an electrical fire occurring days or weeks after a severe crash.
The enhancements come in response to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Preliminary Evaluation to examine post-severe crash battery performance.
NHTSA opened its Preliminary Evaluation on Nov. 25 following a severe-impact lab test on a battery pack that resulted in an electrical fire six days later. The test was conducted to reproduce a coolant leak that occurred in a full-scale vehicle crash test last May that resulted in an electrical fire three weeks later.
The Volt is a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and has earned other safety awards from key third-party organizations. Through the first 11 months of 2011, Volt owners accumulated nearly 20 million miles without an incident similar to the results in the NHTSA tests.
“The Volt has always been safe to drive. Now, we will go the extra mile to ensure our customers’ peace of mind in the days and weeks following a severe crash,” said Mary Barra, GM senior vice president of Global Product Development.
GM will conduct a Customer Satisfaction Program to further protect the Volt battery from the possibility of an electrical fire occurring days or weeks after a severe side crash. Modifications will:
Strengthen an existing portion of the Volt’s vehicle safety structure to further protect the battery pack in a severe side collision.
Add a sensor in the reservoir of the battery coolant system to monitor coolant levels.
Add a tamper-resistant bracket to the top of the battery coolant reservoir to help prevent potential coolant overfill.
GM conducted four successful crash tests between Dec. 9 and 21 of Volts with the structural enhancement. The enhancement performed as intended. There was no intrusion into the battery pack and no coolant leakage in any of the tests.
“These enhancements and modifications will address the concerns raised by the severe crash tests,” Barra said. “There are no changes to the Volt battery pack or cell chemistry as a result of these actions. We have tested the Volt’s battery system for more than 285,000 hours, or 25 years, of operation. We’re as confident as ever that the cell design is among the safest on the market.”
Volt customers will be individually notified when the modifications are available for their vehicles. The enhancements are being incorporated into the Volt manufacturing process as production resumes this month.
“We’re focused on one thing right now: doing what’s right by our customers,” said GM North America President Mark Reuss. “We’ll live up to our commitment to make sure our customers are delighted with their purchase.”
Vehicle electrification technologies are important to future of the automotive industry, which is why GM will continue its leadership role in helping the Society of Automotive Engineers develop standards that will help tow truck operators, salvage yards and vehicle recyclers in the proper handling of electric vehicle components. GM will help develop educational materials that can be used by these stakeholders in the future.
General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world’s largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM’s brands include Chevrolet and Cadillac, as well as Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at http://www.gm.com.
On Wednesday, Amp Motorworks ceremoniously handed over the keys for the first of 1,000 electric Mercedes-Benz ML 350 SUVs to Gisli Gislason, the chairman and chief executive of Iceland’s Northern Lights Energy. When Amp’s PR man invited me to the festivities, I decided a short road trip through the Midwest wouldn’t be too painful a price to see Amp’s headquarters for the first time and attend the press conference.
Amp’s digs are situated right off the Ronald Reagan Cross County Parkway in the pleasant suburban town of Blue Ash on the outskirts of Cincinnati. The headquarters includes a modernly designed administrative building and about 10 remarkably clean car bays on each side. Electric vehicle garages don’t have to deal with as much grime as you average Jiffy Lube.
In the showroom, I was able to speak with the CEO of Nothern Lights Energy briefly. At roughly $100,000 a pop, Gisli Gislason is confident that he can sell the units over in Iceland for a profit. Since there are no import tariffs on electric vehicles in Iceland, the electric upfitted SUV’s will be sold for about the same price as a regular Mercedes ML 350. When you factor in the high gasoline prices, about $8 a gallon right now, a Mercedes EV becomes a logical buy in the island country. Iceland also generates much of its electricity through geothermal and hydroelectric sources, which means these electric vehicles will truly be clean cars.
The new CEO of Amp, James Taylor, gave a short speech along with Gisli Gislason, and even Mark Mallory, the Mayor of Cincinnati, made an appearance. Taylor symbolically handed over the keys to the converted ML 350 on the showroom floor to the Icelandic CEO, who happily and carefully drove the car out the garage door to much fanfare and photographs.
Afterwards, I spoke to a mechanic about the day-to-day process of assembling these upfitted electric vehicles. He was a retiree who had a dream of building his own electric vehicles, but jumped at the opportunity to work on the EVs at the AMP garage. He said there are about 4 mechanics and 4 electrical engineers in the garage. Which raised a logistical question of how they were going to expand to meet the newfound demand of 1,000 vehicles in five years.
I met with JD Staley, Director of Sales and Marketing to test-drive the electric Mercedes. I expected it to behave much like their Equinox I test-drove last summer. But the ride was exceptionally smooth, and the ML 350 handled like a luxury vehicle. Aside from the lack of engine noise, a casual driver would not be able to distinguish the way it drives from a regular Mercedes SUV. This is what Amp intended, to make the transition to electric as gentle as possible. I was allowed to floor it on the backstretch behind the facility, and acceleration is pretty good with more torque than the specified 10-second 0-60 time lets on. With an approximate range of 100 miles per charge and 5 seat capacity, the Amp Electric ML 350 should be an easy sell in Iceland. While driving, I asked Staley about how they were going to satisfy the order of 1,000 vehicles. He said they are looking at cites expand their assembly capacity so they can produce 20 vehicles a month starting next Fall.
Amp is still a small company with great ambition and tall orders to fulfill. I first covered them in 2008 and in spite of the economy, they managed to grow and keep putting real, drivable electric vehicles on the road. In the coming years, Amp will be expanding capacity and creating jobs in the Midwest. With innovative ideas and the courage to follow through, Amp is a model 21st century American company I look forward to seeing grow.
Electric cars. For years they’ve been a pipe dream; an experiment, something for Jeremy Clarkson to laugh at. By 2012 however, that could all change, with the imminent release of a couple of vehicles…
Earlier this year, Vauxhall offered its Ellesmere Port staff an opportunity to see the new hybrid car, the Ampera, ahead of it going into mass production, and Nissan’s Leaf is being debuted in the US and Japan at time of writing.
When these vehicles hit these shores however, picking one up might well be worth the money if you’re looking to buy a new car: Nearly every single European country are offering to subsidise electric vehicles in some way or another, and they’re keen to try to tempt people to switch to a newer, more environmentally friendly vehicle, as the technology within them is likely to represent the way transport will be powered in the future – although admittedly not for some time yet.
By 2020, Nissan Motor Company estimate that no more than a tenth of the traffic worldwide will be electric powered – and even this paltry number is considered optimistic by many people within the industry, who think that electric vehicles are likely to be a niche product for the foreseeable future as the general public refuses to change. Nissan are very keen to focus on the upsides of hybrid and electric vehicles however; when asked about how far the Leaf can travel on a single charge (Otherwise known as range), spokesmen for the company focused on the fact that you would never need to travel to a petrol station instead of discussing the fact that with the aircon on, the Leaf can only be expected to do around 80 miles in motorway conditions. Vauxhall’s Ampera contains a small petrol motor that keeps the battery charged, and whilst this is not a completely emission free system, the amount of fuel (and the emissions produced) are miniscule compared to a standard petrol car.
The Ampera recently completed the longest journey in the UK by an electric car, making a 160 mile journey under its own power from Luton to Ellesmere Port.
So where is electric motoring going in the future? Right now, it’s very difficult to predict. Electric cars are only just now starting to be seen as a credible alternative to “old-fashioned” petrol propelled vehicles, especially as anything more than a city runabout. Part of the reason the adoption rate has been quite low is the fact that every element of motoring would need to change to accommodate them – from car insurance to fuel, garages and car rental.
It is clear that electric cars are going to take some time to fit in, but one day electric vehicles will have to become a contender to petrol vehicles, and when they do it will be very interesting to see the changes they bring…