First Tesla electric sedans hit the road

Jun 23, 2012 by HAVEN DALEY
A Tesla Model S drives outside the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., Friday, June 22, 2012. The first Model S sedan car will be rolling off the assembly line on Friday. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

(AP) — Electric car maker Tesla's first mass-market sedans took to the road Friday, but it's not certain whether their debut will make or break the fledgling company.

Ten of the sedans, called the S, rolled out the door at the company's Fremont factory during a ceremony that had the feel of a pep rally.

A crowd estimated to be in the thousands, including employees, their relatives, and a host of local politicians, cheered for the lineup of speakers that included California Gov. Jerry Brown. They roared when the first cars left the building.

Assembly workers put together a Tesla Model S at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., Friday, June 22, 2012. The first Model S sedan car will be rolling off the assembly line on Friday. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Tesla Motors Inc. says more than 10,000 people have put down a refundable deposit for the five-seat sedan, and the Palo Alto company expects to sell 5,000 this year.

"This is another example of California on the move," Brown told the crowd. "This is a great . You're a bunch of great workers."

A worker inspects a Tesla Model S car at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., Friday, June 22, 2012. The first Model S sedan car will be rolling off the assembly line on Friday. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

The first cars driven out of the factory were part of what Tesla Vice President George Blankenship called the carmaker's "personal delivery program."

The first two cars were heading to buyers in Chicago, while the third was going to nearby Palo Alto.

A Tesla Model S on display at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., Friday, June 22, 2012. The first Model S sedan car will be rolling off the assembly line on Friday. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

"Arguably, it may be the most beautiful sedan in the marketplace," Blankenship said.

The base model, which sells for $49,900 after a federal tax credit, can go 160 miles on one charge.

Despite the high spirits during Friday's ceremony, the debut of the Model S is a critical moment for the fledgling car company.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk walks past the Tesla Model S after a news conference at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., Friday, June 22, 2012. The first Model S sedan car will be rolling off the assembly line on Friday. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Tesla lost nearly $1 billion selling an earlier model, a high-end electric sports car called the Roadster, and the company is hoping the Model S will help it turn the corner to profitability.

Tesla has sold 2,150 Roadsters since 2008.

Tesla Model S frames are shown in the assembly area at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., Friday, June 22, 2012. The first Model S sedan car will be rolling off the assembly line on Friday. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

The company is the brainchild of PayPal billionaire and SpaceX founder Elon Musk. Tesla has always been considered a long shot to survive in the car business, but Musk, who is the chairman, CEO and product architect, spoke optimistically about the future, and of electric cars.

"It's about breaking a spell," he said. "The world has been under this illusion that cannot be as good as gasoline cars. It's showing that an electric car can in fact be the best car in the world."

A robot puts on the top of a Tesla Model S at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., Friday, June 22, 2012. The first Model S sedan car will be rolling off the assembly line on Friday. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

A worker works on the Tesla Model S at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., Friday, June 22, 2012. The first Model S sedan car will be rolling off the assembly line on Friday. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Tesla CEO Elon Musk prepares himself as he walk through the assembly area at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., Friday, June 22, 2012. The first Model S sedan car will be rolling off the assembly line on Friday. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Analysts and auto industry insiders have scoffed at the idea that a new car company could be created from scratch and built in a state with high operating costs like California.

The price tag on the Model S is also expected to limit sales, said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst with IHS Automotive.

Nissan has sold just under 30,000 all-electric Nissan Leaf hatchbacks since they went on sale at the end of 2010, but the Leaf is little more than half the price of a Model S.

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User comments : 28

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infinite_energy
2 / 5 (5) Jun 23, 2012
Wasn't that Serbian-american Nikola Tesla a genius?
ugosugo
4.4 / 5 (7) Jun 23, 2012
These analysts seem rather dumb people. Comparing a Leaf to a Tesla S is like comparing a Focus to a BMW 5-7 series. Not exactly appealing to people with the same economic means.
Eikka
1.7 / 5 (12) Jun 23, 2012
"The world has been under this illusion that electric cars cannot be as good as gasoline cars. It's showing that an electric car can in fact be the best car in the world."


Then why don't you make an electric car that is worth a damn?

Electric cars are still in the same state as they were 100 years ago, even though there has been marked improvements. Still, there's performance, price, range - you can only have one.
EvgenijM
2 / 5 (3) Jun 23, 2012
With a lot of recharging stations range won't matter much. Electric motor can perform much better, than ICE. Price - yes, that one is a problem.
Eikka
2.7 / 5 (7) Jun 23, 2012
With a lot of recharging stations range won't matter much.


Although you do sacrifice on performance then. Suppose you drive along a highway and stop every 65 miles for a recharge. The fast charger gives you 25 kW of power. That makes it 39 minutes to go another 65 miles, let's say 45 minutes for the whole stop, so your average speed drops from 65 to 37 mph.

So if you're happy to take twice as long on your journey, then yeah, range doesn't really matter.

(The reason of choosing 65 mi is because for a battery that goes 100 miles when new, will drop to about 70 miles when old, so the charging stations can't be further away.)
Newbeak
4 / 5 (3) Jun 23, 2012
With a lot of recharging stations range won't matter much.


Although you do sacrifice on performance then. Suppose you drive along a highway and stop every 65 miles for a recharge. The fast charger gives you 25 kW of power. That makes it 39 minutes to go another 65 miles, let's say 45 minutes for the whole stop, so your average speed drops from 65 to 37 mph.

So if you're happy to take twice as long on your journey, then yeah, range doesn't really matter.

(The reason of choosing 65 mi is because for a battery that goes 100 miles when new, will drop to about 70 miles when old, so the charging stations can't be further away.)

Good points.I found a website that quoted the range of the base Model S as 160 miles at 55mph-I prefer at least 60,however.Maybe the zinc air battery will arrive soon,and offer electrics decent range with quick recharging.One zinc air battery can be "recharged" by replacing the depleted electrolyte.
freethinking
3 / 5 (6) Jun 23, 2012
I'm a person who hopes one day the internal combustion engine goes away. That said, the Tesla won't be the reason the internal combustion engine goes away.

$50K for a car that can go only at be 160 miles, only rich idiotic tree hugging progressive fools would buy one (probably as a typical rich progressive that car would be one of many they own and they would park it by their hummer so they can feel good about driving it).

Heck, if it was such a good car, each telsa employee would buy one.
infinite_energy
2 / 5 (4) Jun 23, 2012
Hell you can pick up electricity from some electrical highway.
Batteries will only get better from now on.
God damn USA!
wealthychef
4.8 / 5 (4) Jun 23, 2012
How long does it take to charge? 150 mi per charge, that's just not enough for many -- this is for wealthy early adopters obviously. But I think it's a start -- hopefully we figure this battery thing out and get things going.
trekgeek1
4.4 / 5 (7) Jun 23, 2012
Who would buy a $50k car with a 160 mile range?

People who:
1.) Drive less than 160 miles per day (the vast majority of people)
2.) Want a nice looking car that can beat most other luxury cars off the line.
3.) Never want to go to a gas station again unless they need a slurpee.

Seriously, how many people drive that far most days? Most people have two cars also. So have an electric and an ICE and drive the ICE if you want to drive a one-day long-haul.
Sonhouse
3.5 / 5 (2) Jun 23, 2012
Wouldn't work for me, I have an 80 mile (~130 Km) one way commute so it would be dicey even when new. I would have to have a 250 mile car to make sure I could do that 160 miles without charging when the battery starts to deteriorate. Of course if there was a charging station at work, that would make it considerably easier but the amount of energy you need to charge up a 25 Kwhr battery goes way way up the shorter the charge cycle. 25 Kwhr, stuffing 25,000 watts into the car takes an hour. To take 6 minutes say, now you need to supply 250,000 watts for that 6 minute period. I don't think they have connectors for cars that can handle that kind of power yet, the cables would be so thick you could hardly handle them even if they were made of silver. That would be 1000 volts at 250 amps, a lot more than you get with say, welding cables. Or 250 volts at 4000 amps, some variation on that. And if it is a 50 Kwhr battery, you have twice the problem for quick charges.
so swap batteries!
hopefulbl
4 / 5 (8) Jun 23, 2012
Estimated Ranges for Tela S
at 55 mph 160 miles 230 miles 300 miles

I have the 300 mile range on order
Egleton
1 / 5 (1) Jun 24, 2012
"It's not about the car, silly. It's all about Me. Will I look good driving it. Will I score with the ladies?"
Batteries? Same old, same old. Chemical energy.
Focused beam fusion reactors are good for 3MW, and go forever. No radio-active waste. That should impress the girls.
How about LENR?
Any pseudo-sceptics out there? Of cause you are. Lets hear it for wilful blindness.
Chemicals just don't cut the mustard.
SteveL
5 / 5 (2) Jun 24, 2012
Technologies always start with "the rich" as early adopters. Consider video players, calculators, cell phones, computers and other advances including the automobile.

One of the main reasons these technologies moved beyond the rich is because they were adopted early by business, which provided enough volume that it helped fund product and fabrication improvements and higher volume cost reductions. This adoption by business will be a hard sell for any electric vehicle and without it mass production simply won't happen. Until business has a valid reason to support electric vehicle purchasing en mass, the costs won't be able to come down enough to bridge the gap between a rich "niche" market and a high volume public market.

I'd estimate that the mileage will need to at least double, the battery life will need to double or the battery swap out cost will need to at least halve and the price will need to come down by about a third before electric vehicles will reach mass appeal.
Eikka
1 / 5 (2) Jun 24, 2012
Most people have two cars also.


The average person in the United States actually has 0.8 cars. Not all people belong to the upper middle class.

Seriously, how many people drive that far most days?

Few, but that's besides the point. Almost everyone who owns a car drives longer distances sometimes, and it's not even necessarily the same driver who does the driving, for example with a family car. For most people, it simply makes no sense to have a car with limited range and no option for a quick refill.

Technologies always start with "the rich" as early adopters.


The Tesla Roadster was the early adopter car that was supposed to fund the later development of a people's electric car. Elon said the exact same thing then, and it didn't pan out because the Roadster isn't a proper sports car in the way it works. You can't put low resistance tires and street suspension in a sportscar, but without them it wouldn't have the range it has.
Eikka
1 / 5 (3) Jun 24, 2012
The problem with the Roadster was, that it is purely a gimmick. It has one thing going for it: pure straight line acceleration.

It is based on the Lotus Elise, but it doesn't corner as well as the Lotus Elise, it won't go as far or as fast as the Lotus Elise, it costs more than a Lotus Elise, and it won't last as long as a Lotus Elise. In almost all senses it is a worse car than what it was based on, except in the fact that it can accelerate faster.

So in almost every aspect, it failed to prove that electric cars are just as good as regular cars, which goes counter to what Elon Musk said he'd do.

He's talking about breaking an "illusion", but all his attempts so far have just made the case for the opposite. It's the same thing with the Model S - the real illusion is in how he can claim that a very expensive, technically limited vehicle is better than... well, almost any other comparable car.

Estimated Ranges for Tesla S at 55 mph 160 miles

Extrapolated to 65 mph -> 115 mi
rhapsodist
not rated yet Jun 24, 2012
Wouldn't work for me, I have an 80 mile (~130 Km) one way commute so it would be dicey even when new. I would have to have a 250 mile car to make sure I could do that 160 miles without charging when the battery starts to deteriorate.


As it's been agreed that this is for more wealthy buyers, it should be noted that the car has the option to buy with a 85kWh battery can go 320 miles on a single charge at 60mph.
rhapsodist
5 / 5 (2) Jun 24, 2012
Man, lots of haters on here. The whole purpose of this car is to raise money to design and build an electric car with a $30,000 pricetag that has a significant range of over 500 miles. Considering it will likely be 4 years before that car is available, and lithium battery technology has been advancing at a rate of 10% per year the last 4 years, if that trend keeps then combined with improved software engineering and denser batteries, in 4 years or more Tesla will be able to create an affordable car with a significant range. One likely outcome would be a batter pack for the 30k car which will provide 600 miles per charge at 60mph. That would make Philly to Maine on one charge at 75mph very possible, and if you stopped halfway for a 30minute lunch break and plugged in at the rest stop while grabbing lunch, you'd be able to increase speed. And with Tesla raising the ante, traditional car companies will be forced to join the race.
trekgeek1
not rated yet Jun 24, 2012


The average person in the United States actually has 0.8 cars. Not all people belong to the upper middle class.


Is that average counting people who are too young to drive, too old to drive or don't drive because they live in a densely populated city? If so, that statistic is meaningless.

Few, but that's besides the point. Almost everyone who owns a car drives longer distances sometimes, and it's not even necessarily the same driver who does the driving, for example with a family car. For most people, it simply makes no sense to have a car with limited range and no option for a quick refill.


Unless that car is cheaper to operate over its lifetime and you could rent an ICE car for the two times per year you need to travel long distances. And let's look at its consumer base. This isn't the car a poor single mom is buying. This car is still pricey and the owner can afford multiple vehicles or to rent a car.

Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Jun 24, 2012
and you could rent an ICE car for the two times per year you need to travel long distances.


The Royal Engineering Society in the UK did a study on what size of battery would be enough: http://www.raeng....cles.pdf (Page 25. Figure 14.)

It shows that for the average driver, no battery completely satisfies all their needs on one charge. 160 miles represents about 40 kWh (43 kWh in the Model S), which for the average UK driver is enough about 97% of the time, which still means that there's 11 days a year - once a month - when the battery is not enough.

And renting a car means first getting yourself to the nearest place that rents cars. It's a bit of a hassle anyways, and costly because in all likelyhood your battery will be short by just 10 miles etc.

This isn't the car a poor single mom is buying. This car is still pricey


The reason it is pricey is because the battery is pricey. If you want it cheaper, you get less range
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Jun 24, 2012

Is that average counting people who are too young to drive, too old to drive or don't drive because they live in a densely populated city? If so, that statistic is meaningless.


The per-household statistics show that 34% of households have a single car, 31% have two cars, and the rest have many. The average is 2.28 cars per household. One for mommy, one for daddy, and a third or fourth for the juniors.

If the commuting cars were electric, the majority of americans would have to buy yet another car to be able to switch to ICE when the electric car is not enough. It's simply not reasonable.
trekgeek1
not rated yet Jun 24, 2012

Is that average counting people who are too young to drive, too old to drive or don't drive because they live in a densely populated city? If so, that statistic is meaningless.


The per-household statistics show that 34% of households have a single car, 31% have two cars, and the rest have many. The average is 2.28 cars per household. One for mommy, one for daddy, and a third or fourth for the juniors.

If the commuting cars were electric, the majority of americans would have to buy yet another car to be able to switch to ICE when the electric car is not enough. It's simply not reasonable.


So it seems that 66% of households have multiple vehicles. If mommy or daddy commute, I think it is likely their commute is within range of a battery charge. Then they already have another ICE vehicle for long hauls. The eleven days per year probably include family trips where all members are in a single vehicle; a second vehicle they already own.
SteveL
5 / 5 (1) Jun 24, 2012
@rhapsodist,

I hope you're correct. I've been a fan of the Tesla vehicle concept from the beginning. But then, I was a fan of computers since my first experience at a TTY terminal in 1973. Such cutting edge technology is just as fiscally nonviable for me now as it was then.

What Tesla needs is buy-in by large corporations and government entities with fleet vehicles that consider themselves, or at least want to be considered "green" from the public perspective. With the present fiscal crisis it will be a hard sell for both.

Me? I just think it would be "cool" to own one and poke around in the controls and software to see how it works, and never have to stop at a gas station to and from work (13 miles each way).
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Jun 25, 2012
So it seems that 66% of households have multiple vehicles.


But there are less than 1 vehicle per person for 65% of the driving population.

If mommy or daddy commute


More likely, they both commute. Remember, not everyone is upper middle class where one parent can afford to stay at home.

The eleven days per year probably include family trips where all members are in a single vehicle; a second vehicle they already own.


Even on family trips, you don't drive for 11 days. You're taking the outlier case and generalizing that. In reality, most of those 11 days are more likely to be ordinary trips that stretch just slightly further than what the battery can do. For example, you come back from work and get a call to pick up you granny from the airport so she doesn't have to take the bus. Unfortunately, the roundtrip is just 5 miles too much for what you have remaining in the batterry.
wiyosaya
not rated yet Jun 25, 2012
Lets see, how many more times does it need to be mentioned that the car has an optional 300 mi/charge battery?

Electric cars will hit their own when capacitor storage matches or exceeds battery density. That is bound to happen in time.
extinct
1 / 5 (1) Jun 25, 2012
too ugly to ever have mass appeal. i don't understand why environmentally friendly cars have to be significantly uglier than average. EV-1, Prius, Insight, Tesla, etc. "save the world and look like a clown doing it! hello, we are GM, Toyota, Honda, and Tesla."
hevans1944
not rated yet Jun 26, 2012
I LOVE the idea of an electric car that I can plug in at night and eight or nine hours later drive all day at 65 to 70 mph. Until the energy density of batteries increases about ten or twenty times what it is now, no joy. But I would seriously entertain the idea of pulling the ICE on my Ford Ranger, installing a 100 hp variable frequency, variable speed AC motor, and then loading up the bed with conventional lead-acid batteries. Sure, the range would suck, the performance would suck, and the batteries would probably have to be replaced every two years, but I could fly past the gas pumps to and from work. I might need to spend all day recharging it to get in a couple hours of driving, but, hey! it's electric y'all! I'm green. Besides, I think I've seen where this has already been a done deal, so even if impractical (like the Tesla) it is still possible (like the Tesla) and probably won't cost me $50,000.
SteveL
not rated yet Jun 26, 2012
Have fun trying to get insurance on that home-made rig.