OnCars.com has produced a very informative and stylish video preview of the Tesla Model S. It is split into three parts: Design, Pure Electric, and Showtime.
Part 1: Design
Franz Von Holzhouzen, Chief Designer of the Model S Project, and Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, provide an in-depth description of how the electric drive train allows for unique design opportunities. I was unaware that the battery pack flat between the wheelbase this time. The Tesla Roadster’s is a vertical box located in the rear portion of the car. Also, the Model S has many hidden design elements that reduce the drag coefficient, like the retractible door handles, flat underbody, and air diffusers.
Part 2: Pure Electric
Elon and Franz emphasize the importance of keeping the Model S purely electric as apposed to creating a hybrid sedan ala the Fisker Karma. With a 300 mile range, the Tesla Model S should have no trouble being a daily driver, and will hopefully extinguish any doubt in the minds of those who don’t believe electric cars are fully capable vehicles.
Part 3: Showtime
This covers Elon’s appearance on Letterman and reactions from New York City.
Edmunds Inside Line recently posted this neat video on Youtube. Not only do you get to see Tesla Motors finally pull the sheet off this gorgeous ride, but there is also some footage of the 7-passenger sedan in action on the road.
Ford is finally making a concerted effort to enter the EV race. They recently announced an all-electric sedan scheduled to go on sale in 2011. It is likely to be based on the next-generation Ford Focus. The New York Times had the honor of driving the mule. In the video, the NYT columnist gets to drive the car and experience the smooth, quiet ride. Performance looks comparable to a traditional Ford Focus and they even pop the hood to show you how Ford set up the electric powertrain. Click here to see the video.
In case anyone had any doubts about how electric cars performed in extreme conditions, this is a new video of a Tango plowing through the snow.
After hearing about coworkers and friends not being able to get their cars started in the recent extreme cold, it got me thinking about how electric cars perform in these conditions. There is a prevalent misconception that electric cars don’t work well in the cold; so let’s have a look at what is necessary for an internal combustion vehicle to operate in below freezing temperatures:
* build engine blocks with frost plugs;
* install block heaters to keep the engine warm enough to start (using as much electricity just to start the engine as an electric car might use to completely recharge);
* use different formulations of gasoline and diesel fuel for cold weather;
* use gas-line anti-freeze to prevent gas-line freeze-up;
* use radiator thermostats to help the engine warm up faster (but leaving the passenger cabin cold until the engine has warmed up);
* use auxiliary (electric) heaters in the passenger cabin until engine heat is available;
* let the engine run for 10 to 30 minutes before starting out on a trip to let the engine and passenger cabin warm up;
* change to less viscous winter grade motor oils (e.g. 5W30);
* install winter grill (radiator) covers;
* use glycol or alcohol based engine coolants (anti-freeze), which have to be tested as part of that winter tune-up [Source]
For good measure, below is another example from Electri-History of how these vehicles operate in cold weather:
In early 1897, Electric Carriage and Wagon opened its first charging station on 39th street in Manhattan. Soon, electric taxi’s were shuttling patrons across the city. In early 1898, during a particularly severe snowstorm, the 14 electric taxis continued to operate when horse drawn carriages, trolleys, and buses failed. Newspapers spread the word of the marvelous new contraptions.
And today’s electric cars are not like your traditional car in which your battery is more or less exposed to weather extremes. Now, electric cars have battery packs that are usually in an insulated compartment; in extreme conditions, only the outside of the batteries is effected.
Even though this British electric supercar will be well out of the price ranges of most of us ($300,000); the Lightning GT utilizes such a unique drivetrain and battery that I think it will be an important project for the future of the electric car industry.
The Lightning GT has four electric motors at each wheel, but don’t confuse that with the Venturi Volage’s Michelin “Active-Wheel” technology. However, the concept is similar. With this format, there are no gearboxes, differential, axle, drive shafts or propshafts. All of the power is generated at the wheel, the point at which it’s required, which eliminates mechanical complexity and power losses experienced in standard sports cars.
The Lightning GT uses a unique battery called NanoSafe. These batteries use nano titanate materials instead of graphite which makes them far more thermally stable. There are no toxic substances or heavy metals used in NanoSafe batteries. Unlike standard Lithium-Ion batteries in electric vehicles these don’t need to be kept cool when charged/used or heated to get them to perform in sub zero temperatures. Therefore, the batteries can operate in hostile environments and will work in temperatures between 75°C and minus 30°C.
The Lightning GT’s Nanosafe batteries are not of the “laptop variety”. They are each about the size of a regular car battery. 30 of these units are dispersed around the Lighting GT to provide optimum balance and performance. This ‘designed-in’ weight distribution, low roll centres, and wheel mounted motors will allow the GT to achieve excellent road holding performance dynamics. The Nanosafe batteries should allow the car to have a max range of about 200 miles and be fully recharged in 10 minutes using a 3 phase power supply.
Here is some spy footage of a Lightning GT test drive for your viewing pleasure:
Below is a transcript of Peter Ward’s speech he gave at the launch of the Lightning GT. His speech has all the trappings you would expect from somebody that ran Rolls Royce and Bentley for 10 year.
Transcript of presentation by Peter Ward – Launch of the Lightning Car at the British International Motor Show at 13:00 on Monday Tuesday 22 July 2008.
Good afternoon ladies & gentlemen and a very warm welcome to you all on behalf of the Lightning Car Company. We’re absolutely delighted you could join us. For those of you who have been doing the press tour this morning and have got tired legs by now, we believe we’ve got the perfect antidote for you with an absolutely remarkable car to show you. This car is full of inspiration and has the latest you could hope to see in design and in terms of technical inspiration with both the batteries that drive the electric motors and the fact that it has four electric motors, one in each wheel. My name is Peter Ward and, for those of you who may have very long memories, in the 80’s and the 90’s I ran Rolls Royce and Bentley motor cars, so I was responsible for those 10 years for some of the largest and the most expensive
gas guzzlers on the planet. Having been at that end of the market I am delighted to be associated with the Lightning Car and to be able to present to you a very, very different motor car, a car that is purely electric – not hydro- and a car that is driven in a totally different way. Now you could perhaps say that I’m converted and I’ve got the commitment to the converted but nonetheless this car is a car that really and very truly can make a difference to motoring and I’ll talk about that in a little moment. The Lightning Car Company was started in 2006, so if you just think back, in under two short years, lead by the inspiration of Iain Sanderson and the sheer hard work of Chris Dell and Arthur and the team, then they have moved mountains and probably got very little sleep over that time to get this car to you today to present to you a true and working car, it really does work. They have moved a long way to get to this point but it is a car that is genuine and a true performance car, it’s a true GT as you will see and it has all the characteristics that you’d expect of a GT. When you actually see the car, then remember one thing, it is the actual car that you’ll also see on the plasma screens, so it’s a driving car and it’s capable of doing what it’s claimed to. The claims are quite marvellous, it only takes 30 batteries, it’s not one of these that has thousands and thousands of laptop batteries – it takes 30 batteries. Those batteries can be charged in 10 minutes, so by the time you’ve had a cup of coffee on the motorway you can charge this car. That’s just a 10 minute charge time on the right connection.
It has a motor in each wheel, so for those of you that are technically minded, the chassis dynamics and the opportunity for chassis dynamics on this vehicle are phenomenal because it means the turning angle into a bend and the speed at which you approach it you can get the wheels turning at different speeds. The expression of ‘on rails’ is almost true of this car, it is quite amazing. You can also put the sounds in it which means you can have it purring away like a beautiful smooth straight six or as raucous as a V12. You can choose whichever you want, so have some fun with that. I know that Chris and the guys are desperate for me to get these covers off and get me out of the way. This really is the moment that they’ve all worked very, very hard for, as I said earlier, when you look at the plasma screens; this car is a running car. This is the car that was at Alconbury airfield doing the road testing. It is going to be quite a life changing car. It’s going to meet a lot of things that come forward. You can talk to any CEO of any vehicle manufacturer here today and they’re talking electric cars and, in fact. even Gordon Brown two weeks ago was saying that his vision for 2020 was that electric cars and hybrid cars would be at the forefront of all our motoring needs. But that doesn’t have to be an odd looking or an unusual looking style it can be a performance car, as this will prove to be. So we’re very excited that this is a dynamic car, a car that does have all the performance characteristics. It will do 0-60 in less than 4 seconds when it’s fully developed – that’s because the wheel motors have such fantastic torque. It really can do an awful lot and the guys have worked extremely hard to get it to this point. It is an amazing car, the dynamism, the style and the technology that’s in it really will amaze you. So I’m going to ask the guys if they’ll come forward to take the covers off it, but as they do that I’d like all of you if you would to take absolute pride in what I know is the very finest in British engineering and British design. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Lightning Electric Car.
After the unfortunate Top Gear review of the Tesla Roadster, I thought I would provide a more in-depth and encouraging review hosted by Emile Bouret of OnCars.com. This three part review is very informative and really covers all the bases, as Emile describes the Tesla Roadster’s design, experience, and performance. You can watch the videos in high quality at OnCars.com, but it was a bit hard to navigate, some of the links sent me to a Maxima review instead of the next part. So I embedded them below.
2009 Tesla Roadster Part 1: Design
This goes over the exterior of the Tesla Roadster. While the car is based on a lengthened Lotus chassis, the two cars only share the same windshield. The car’s large front intake provides an aggressive look, and more than enough air for the cooling system.
2009 Tesla Roadster Part 2: Interior & User Experience
Don’t let the title fool you, this is actually really interesting. Emile sits inside the Tesla Roadster and starts the car, which is a very unique, Playstation like experience. He also notes that if a law is passed to make electric cars louder, it should amplify the jet turbine sound of the regenerative braking. I don’t really understand how a car can be too quiet and thus a safety concern, especially when most modern family sedans are nearly silent from over 10 feet away.
2009 Tesla Roadster Part 3: Performance
What can be said that hasn’t been said already. 0-60 in 3.9 seconds, instant full torque, and zero emissions.