Monday, October 31, 2016

Tesla Roadster — In Depth

In 2005, rumors started to spread in the automotive world about an electric sports car powered by thousands of laptop batteries. The whole idea sounded preposterous. Who would build such a car? The batteries would weigh so much, the car would probably have only modest acceleration and handle more like a truck than a nimble two-seater with sporting pretensions.
Tesla Roadster

Meet the Tesla Roadster

The Tesla Roadster is a Lotus Elise chassis married to a lithium-ion battery pack and an electric motor driving the rear wheels through a one-speed transaxle. Tesla contracted with Lotus to provide a total of 2,500 cars manufactured without a drivetrain. Ultimately, a total of 2,450 Roadsters were sold between 2008 and 2012.
The battery pack — which Tesla calls the Energy Storage System — is comprised of 6,831 lithium-ion cells arranged into 11 sheets connected in series. Each sheet is made up of 9 bricks connected in series, and each “brick” contains 69 lithium-ion cells (“18650” lithium-ion cells) connected in parallel. An 18650 battery cell is cylindrical in shape, approximately 18 millimeters in diameter, and 65 millimeters in length.
The 18650 cells were selected because they were readily available and reasonably affordable.
The Tesla Roadster was shown to the public for the first time on July 19, 2006, in Santa Monica, California. It was an invitation event for 350 people held at the Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica airport. The car was also featured at the San Francisco auto show on November 18 that same year. It went on to be part of international auto shows in Los Angeles, Detroit, and Frankfurt, Germany.

Production Begins in 2008

Tesla CEO Elon Musk took delivery of the first production car in February 2008. That car had an AC induction motor rated at 248 horsepower, 200 lb-ft of torque, and a two speed transmission. Later in 2008, the Roadster 1.5 was offered with a single speed gearbox. In 2009, the Roadster 2.0 offered a motor with 288 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. A Sport version had the same horsepower but 295 lb-ft of torque. A Special Edition Roadster 2.5 was offered in 2011. Its specifications were the same but it featured special paint and trim as production drew to a close.
The Sport was the fastest Roadster of all. It galloped to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, 0.2 tenths faster than its siblings. According to the EPA, the Roadster had a range of 244 miles and was rated at 120 MPGe, meaning its efficiency was equivalent to a gasoline-powered car that got 120 miles per gallon.
Tesla’s contract with Lotus ended in December 2011. Production ended less than a month later due to a lack of chassis available for Tesla to convert. Sales in the US ended in August 2011, when regulations regarding two-stage air bags went into effect. The Lotus Elise was not engineered with the advanced airbags in mind and making the necessary modifications was deemed to be too expensive.

Origins of the Tesla Roadster

AC Propulsion tzero
The car that came to be known as the Tesla Roadster actually traces its heritage back to 1994 and a company called AC Propulsion located in San Dimas, California, approximately 30 miles east of Los Angeles. It developed the AC-150, a 200 horsepower integrated drive system for compact to mid-size passenger cars. The key to the AC-150 powertrain was the use of an AC electric motor. It was the kind of device envisioned by Nikola Tesla before his death in 1943.
Motors that run on alternating current are lighter and less expensive to build than the direct current motors favored by manufacturers of subway cars and locomotives. They require an inverter, however. That is a device that converts the DC power stored in batteries to the AC current needed to operate the motor. Inverter technology in 1994 was rudimentary compared to what it is today.
In 1997, AC Propulsion fitted a Piontek Sportech kit car with its AC-150 system. The Sportech consisted of a fiberglass body mounted on a reinforced steel space frame with double wishbone independent suspension and rack and pinion steering. It called the car the tzero. In scientific circles, the lower case “t” is often used as a shorthand notation for time. “Zero” connotes a beginning. In other words, the tzero was intended to be the first real electric car and the first car in the electric car revolution. To say that AC Propulsion was ahead of its time is a gross understatement.

From Lead-Acid to Lithium-Ion Batteries

The original tzero used 26 lead-acid batteries. Although AC Propulsion intended to put the car into production, only three were ever built. The car was simply too expensive for mass production. In early 2003, Martin Eberhard approached AC Propulsion and requested they replace the lead-acid batteries with a battery pack made up of 6,800 lithium-ion laptop batteries.
Is it a coincidence that the Tesla Roadster used a battery pack with 6,832 lithium-ion batteries? No, it is not. Eberhard went on to become a co-founder of Tesla Motors in 2003, along with Marc Tarpenning. The conversion was carried out in the spring of 2003. When it was competed, the car weighed 500 lbs less and its top speed increased from 90 mph to 140 mph. Eberhard then borrowed the car to show it to potential investors in Tesla Motors.

Enter Elon Musk & JB Straubel

One of the people Eberhard showed the car to was JB Straubel. He in turn showed it to Elon Musk. Musk, who made his first fortune as the father of PayPal, decided to invest $7.4 million into Tesla Motors. He became heavily involved in the company and used the tzero to promote his dream of building premium electric cars.
Eberhard and Tarpenning envisioned starting with less expensive cars that mainstream buyers could afford but Musk was adamant that the best strategy was to start by building premium luxury cars that would appeal to wealthy opinion makers. Eventually, the two split with Musk over what direction the company should take. They cashed out their Tesla stock and went off to pursue other ventures. Musk took over as CEO and Straubel became CTO, positions they hold to this day.

Comparing the Tesla Roadster to the Lotus Elise

Although the Tesla Roadster is based on the Lotus Elise, only about 6% of the parts are interchangeable between the two cars. The Roadster is built on a chassis that has been lengthened by 2″. Only the windshield, airbags, some tires, some dashboard parts, and suspension components are common to both. The Roadster’s single-speed gearbox was made in Detroit to Tesla’s specifications by BorgWarner in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Brakes were made by Siemens in Germany.
Roadsters for the North America market were sent to Menlo Park, California, for final assembly. Cars for customers elsewhere were completed at a facility in Wymondham near the Lotus factory in Hethel.

The Top Gear Controversy

In late summer of 2008, the BBC show Top Gear tested two production versions of the Tesla Roadster at its test facility. The Roadster proved to be faster in a straight line than the standard Lotus Elise. At one point, Jeremy Clarkson, Top Gear’s most notorious bad boy can be heard exclaiming, “God Almighty! Wave goodbye to the world of dial-up, and say hello to the world of broadband motoring!” He then remarked, “This car is biblically quick!”
Sadly, the testers found the car to be lacking a bit in cornering prowess — not unexpected since it was weighted down with 1,000 lbs of batteries carried high in the chassis. Top Gear reported the car only went 55 miles on a battery charge during its admittedly rigorous use. At one point, a Roadster was filmed being pushed off the track, suggesting it had run out of power.
Elon Musk was furious and Tesla actually sued the BBC for libel but ultimately lost the case in the British courts. In the end, the controversy brought Tesla a world of free publicity. Public awareness of the Tesla Roadster specifically and electric cars in general can be traced directly to that episode of Top Gear and the controversy that followed. As politicians are fond of saying, “Write whatever you want about me. Just make sure you spell my name right.”

A Battery Upgrade & A New Roadster

Tesla says it has partnered with LG Chem to develop an upgraded battery for the original Roadster. Lithium-ion battery technology has come a long way in the past decade or more. The new battery pack, which costs $29,000 and has 40% more capacity, is rated at 80 kWh versus the original 52 kWh. The extra capacity gives the Roadster enough range to go from Los Angeles to San Francisco on a single charge.
The company says the cost is high because the new battery packs are built by hand at the rate of only one or two a week. Removing the old battery and installing the new one is a labor-intensive process that includes a new power controller and associated electronics. Roadster owners can also elect a separate upgrade that adds new, more aerodynamically efficient bodywork and low-rolling-resistance tires to further boost range.
Tesla says it intends to offer an entirely new Roadster based on a shortened version of the Model S chassis for model year 2019. No other details are known at this time.

What is the Tesla Roadster Like to Drive?

The Tesla Roadster was priced at $98,000 in 2008. That number had risen to $109,000 a year later. Did owners get value for their money? In November of 2009, Jason Cammisa, west coast editor for Automobile Magazine, spent a week driving one. He reported the car “explodes off the line, pulling like a small jet plane. It’s like driving a Lamborghini with a big V-12 revved over 6000 rpm at all times, waiting to pounce — without the noise, vibration, or misdemeanor arrest for disturbing the peace.”
Later he took the car to Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California, to put it through its paces on track. He praised the car for its robustness, saying it “wins the Coolest Car I’ve Ever Driven award. Why? Despite the flat-out sprints, the drag racing, the donuts, the top speed runs, and dicing through traffic like there’s a jet pack strapped to the trunk, Pacific Gas and Electric — which generated power for the Tesla — released into the atmosphere the same amount of carbon dioxide as would a gasoline powered car getting 99 mpg.”
He added, “And the Roadster didn’t break. It didn’t smoke, lock up, freeze, or experience flux-capacitor failure. Over the past ten decades, no company has been able to reinvent the car — not General Motors with the EV1, not Toyota with the Prius. And now, a bunch of dudes from Silicon Valley have created an electric car that really works — as both an environmental fix and a speed fix.”
You aren’t likely to find any higher praise for a car than that.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

First Official Look At Faraday Future’s Prototype Electric Car – Video

Faraday Future Electric Car
Faraday Future Electric Car
It’s just a brief glimpse, but this is the first official look we get at Faraday Future’s prototype electric car.
Faraday Future states:
“Electric performance; a first look at our prototype in action. Things are moving fast.”
From the video, it appears as though Faraday’s upcoming electric car based upon this prototype will be a large-sized hatchback / CUV. If true, this is a relatively untouched segment for plug-ins and Faraday could grab hold of most of the segment.
Here’s what else we know of Faraday Future’s upcoming electric car:
Faraday Future Electric Car
Faraday Future Electric Car

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Tesla Reports First Quarterly Profit In Nearly Three Years

On October 26, Tesla Motors reported its first quarterly profit since the first quarter of 2013. Thanks in part to a Herculean effort by everyone in the company to build and deliver as many cars as possible in the third quarter, Tesla had net income of $21.9 million, or 14 cents per share, for the third quarter that ended Sept. 30. In the third quarter last year, the company reported a loss of $229.9 million, or $1.78 per share. Total revenue more than doubled to $2.30 billion.
Tesla Q3 earnings report
Tesla delivered 24,821 cars in the third quarter. For the first time, a significant number of them were Model X SUVs, which are some of the most expensive cars the company sells and are therefore among its most profitable offerings. It also released its newest 100 kWh battery in the third quarter. That unit is only available for the time being in the Model S and Model X in P100D trim with Ludicrous Mode enabled. That combination adds $20,000 to the regular price of the cars in which it is installed and helped Tesla take in more money in the third quarter.
Offsetting some of that revenue increase, the company also introduced a lower-priced entry-level model, the Model S 60. Not to be confused with the original Model S 60 which retailed for $66,000, the new offering actually has a 75 kWh battery installed but it is software limited to 60 kWh and retails for $60,000 — a relative bargain in the high-flying world of Tesla. The Model S P100D with Ludicrous retails for more than double that amount. The software limitation can be removed at any time during the life of the car for an additional sum of $8,500.
With all that is going on with its cars, Tesla is continuing to expand its network of Supercharger locations. As of the end of September, there were 715 of them worldwide with a total of 4,416 individual charging stations. In addition, Tesla has 3,222 destination chargers with 5,547 connection points globally as of the end of the third quarter. Destination charging offers convenient charging at hotels, restaurants, and shopping centers.
Tesla’s grid storage business is also growing. In the quarter that just ended, it was selected to build and install the world’s largest grid storage system at the Southern California Edison Mira Loma substation to help reduce rolling blackouts. When complete, it will store enough electricity to power 2,500 homes for up to 24 hours. Production of batteries for electrical storage has begun at the Gigafactory in Nevada and is expected to increase substantially in coming quarters.
Tesla stock rose more than $6 per share after the earnings report was released. Of 20 analysts covering the company, seven have a “sell” rating on the stock, four rate it “buy” or higher, and nine have a “hold,” according to Thomson Reuters data.
Source: Reuters

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Zvexx Electric Motorcycle Is Best Thing From Switzerland Since Hot Cocoa

Put on your best Rod Serling voice and repeat after me: “Imagine, if you will, an electric motorcycle with 898 lb-ft of mind-blowing, eye-watering torque.” Such a motorcycle exists and it is being driven right now by its creators on the roads that border Lake Geneva. This is not some cobbled together exercise that looks like it was created by high school seniors in welding class. The Zvexx (your guess on how to pronounce the name correctly is a good as mine) was designed and built by a group of Swiss engineers working together with people at local motorcycle shops.
Zvexx electric motorcycle
The bike’s declared purpose is to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that an electric motorcycle can be every bit as evocative as one with an internal combustion engine. That starts with a blacked-out stealth chassis that sports carbon fiber accents. The darkness of the obsidian beast is accented by slashes of bright red on the swing arm, seat, and front forks. Sinister is a word that springs to mind to describe the Zvexx.
“This is not a project in user-friendly cuteness but a fusion of raw, biker appeal and unbridled electric force,” the company says. In fact, the bike is ridden regularly on the road by its creators. Out back is one of the fattest rear tires ever seen on a motorcycle, necessary to handle the awesome outpouring of torque from the electric motor.
The Zvexx has a 26 cell, 13 kWh lithium-ion battery that is good for about 90 miles of motoring, if you drive it in a reasonable fashion. But its developers ask, “Who wants to be reasonable when riding this bike?” They claim it can accelerate to 50 mph in under 3 seconds. Frankly, that’s a little underwhelming when you consider the 5,300 lb Tesla Model S P100D with Ludicrous can scoot to 60 in less time. But that’s a mere quibble. Riding the Zvexx has got to be a rush regardless of what its stats are.
No prices or production plans have been announced. The Zvexx is simply a one-off concept at the moment. But it shows that an electric motorcycle can be just as radical as anything ever dreamed up in any custom bike shop anywhere. No doubt the lads who put this machine together aren’t planning to stop with this first offering. Can’t wait to see what comes next, can you?
Source: AutoEvolution | Photo Credits: Zvexx via Maxim

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

4 New BMW Motorcyles Coming to EICMA (and 1 That Isn’t)

BMW R12 Flug 2 Concept
EICMA might be the biggest motorcycle show in the world, and BMW has plans to make a strong showing with four new and revised models set to make their debut. We have some ideas as to what those might be, but we know for sure, with complete metaphysical certitude, what won’t show up: this Rotax-engined BMW-based R12 ultralight aircraft concept.
Designed by Nicolas Petit, the Tribute R12 concept plays up the visual similarity between the BMW’s R12 parallel-twin and the Rotax aviation twin. At the same time, the BMW motorcycles’ roundel/propeller imagery is replaced with a literal propeller. It’s impossibly cool, and definitely more interesting than whatever it is BMW is actually going to build.
Or, is it?
The BMW R1200GS practically defines the high-end Adventure Touring class of bikes. For 2017, BMW motorcycles’ boxer twin gets a few tweaks to make it Euro4 emissions compliant and churn out a few extra horsepower. An visual refresh is also expected (think LEDs), as are some minor chassis refinements to make the bike a bit more highway-friendly.

BMW Motorcycles at EICMA | 2017 BMW G310S Spy Photo

2017 BMW G310GS Spy Pic - Asphalt and Rubber
This will be BMW’s new entry-level GS bike. Built to visually resemble its larger, GS cousins, the G310GS is expected to carry the 313cc single-cylinder engine from the G310R. A long-travel suspension will ensure that the littlest G rides like the big boys do, too.
Speaking of BMW’s entry-level offerings, the company is expected to introduce a new, 400cc version of its C Maxi scooters. We’re big fans of BMW’s C scoots, and named them to our list of Best Fuel-efficient Motorcycles You Can Buy at least once. This newest BMW C will be more “touring” focused, which probably translates from German into “cushy seat, more trunk space”.

BMW Motorcycles at EICMA | 2017 BMW R Nine T Urban GS

BMW Lac Rose R Nine T Concept
Finally, BMW is believed to be building a more “Urban GS” version of the highly customizable R Nine T. Styling is most likely a throwback to the Lac Rose concept (shown, above), which was designed to celebrate a time when the Dakar Rally actually concluded in Senegal. The bike should offer an ADV experience that is a bit more vintage/trendy than what the BMW R1200GS or R1200GS Adventure offer, which should bring it right in line with popular new bikes like the new-for-2017 Triumph Bobber.
So, what do you think? Do you think any of the new BMW motorcycles coming to EICMA are more exciting than Petit’s Flug death machine? Of course you don’t- but if you’d like to pretend you’d rather have a 313cc entry-level bike than a sci-fi/steampunk masterpiece, feel free to tell us why in the comments. We’re ready to believe you.

Source | ImagesNicolas PetitAsphalt and Rubber.

Monday, October 24, 2016

43% Of Californians To Consider An Electric Car By 2025

People say that to encourage interest in electric cars there need to be more electric cars on the road. The place in America that has the most electric cars is California, so it’s no surprise that Californians express the most interest in buying an electric car.
Californians consider an electric car
Vrge Analytics was recently commissioned by CALinnovates to a study of people who live in the Golden State to determine their attitudes about electric cars. In August, 837 people were surveyed. After the data was analyzed, it turned out that 43% said they are considering buying or leasing an electric car before 2025. When the pollsters ratcheted up the description of an electric car to include one with more than 200 miles of range selling for roughly the same price as a traditional car (the average price of a new car or light truck in America is about $32,000), the number of people who who said they would consider buying one surged to 65%.
Nearly 80% of those who took the survey also believe California should do more to encourage the development and deployment of electric vehicles. They told the pollsters that the state should “push the envelope” by doing more to address air pollution and global warming. 66% support the re-authorization of the state’s law to combat global warming, and 60% support increasing tax credits to encourage more Californians to purchase EVs. Just under 70% said they support Governor Brown’s goal of putting 1.5 million EVs on the road by 2025.
Those who took the survey displayed a clear mistrust of traditional automakers. Only 13% think that traditional automakers are really committed to improving air quality through the sale of electric vehicles. That shouldn’t be surprising considering many of the electrics available in the state are compliance cars like the woeful Fiat 500e. 34% think car companies are ambivalent about selling low or zero emissions cars. 25% believe the car companies would really rather just sell “big trucks.”
Here’s a shocker. One half of the good people of California believe the oil and gas industry stands in the way of positive change for California. That is fully understandable, in light of the revelations about ExxonMobil spending millions to deny climate change is happening over the past 30 years. Now if only people would stop voting for representatives who are climate change deniers, perhaps the US could become a leader in the quest to tame carbon emissions instead of a reluctant participant in the process. Please vote responsibly on November 8. We can’t afford to be represented by climate change deniers any longer.
Source and photo credit: Electric Cars Report

Sunday, October 23, 2016

That Was Then, This Is Now. Atieva Changes Name To Lucid Motors

How quickly things change in the car business. Just last week, the people at RECODE revealed a sketch discovered during a public records search of what may be the upcoming Atieva Atvus sedan. Over the past 7 days, Atieva has changed its name to Lucid Motors and released teaser photos of a vehicle that may or may not be the Atvus. The name on the steering world could say LUCID, but you would need to check with an ophthalmologist to be sure.
Atieva is now Lucid Motors
Details are few. The company says the sedan will have an 87 kWh battery, 900 horsepower, and a 0 to 60 time of under 3 seconds. Its website extols the car’s  “long range driving and exhilarating acceleration.” Earlier this year, Atieva posted videos of Mercedes cargo van supposedly reinvigorated with the production drivetrain dusting off a Tesla Model S and a Ferrari in a drag race. Of course, that was before Tesla unleashed its all conquering P100D with Ludicrous — the world’s fastest production electric car.
(Yes, we know the Rimac Concept One is a tick faster, but with only two in existence, that hardly qualifies as a “production car, does it?)
Ownership of the company, whether it is called Atieva or Lucid, is murky. Apparently, its principal investor is Jia Yueting, the Chinese billionaire who is also the force behind LeEco, a Chinese electric car start-up that says it will offer the LeSEE electric sedan in the Chinese market soon. A concept version of that car has been making the show circuit since last April and was on display in San Franciscorecently.
Lucid has reportedly received funding from Japan’s Mitsui as well as China’s Beijing Auto. The company is planning to build a factory that will make 20,000 vehicles during its first year of production and work its way up to 130,000 vehicles a year. Lucid is headed by chief technology officer Peter Rawlinson, the former Tesla vice president who was key in developing the Model S electric sedan. The Menlo Park, California based company also includes vice president of design Derek Jenkins who previously worked with Mazda.
Lucid says it will unveil a production prototype of the sedan before the end of 2016 and plans to start production in 2018. Since it doesn’t even have a factory yet, that claim is hard to believe.
Here are two more photos from Lucid. One looks suspiciously like the grille of a Chevy Camaro from a few years back and the other resembles the back window of a Studebaker Avanti. Derek Jenkins may have been a whiz kid at Mazda, but the Atvus, if that it is really what it’s called, looks decidedly dated and more than a little bland.
Source: AutoBlog

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Details Released About New Fisker Electric Sedan

We just got done talking about what Henrik Fisker has in mind for his next car. At the time that story ran a few days ago, there were no pictures available of the new car. Fisker has taken a page from Elon Musk’s playbook. He is now giving updates about his new company, Fisker, Inc., via Twitter. Yesterday he posted a photo of what he says is his latest car, which still has no name, so far as anyone knows.
Fisker sedan
There is little doubt what the new car’s target is. “I think it’s pretty clear when you look at the market, when you look at the premium market, there’s really only one company that is out there, and it’s Tesla,” he told Business Insider last week. To compete, you always need a hook. Elon Musk made falcon wing doors the hook for this latest car, the Model X SUV. Not to be outdone, Fisker’s latest creation will have two pairs of butterfly doors.
Younger people will recognize them from the McLaren F1. Older readers will associate them with the original bad boy supercar, the Lamborghini Countach. In any case, they are not gull wing doors and anyone who calls them that will be cold rolled in hounds tooth upholstery from a 1953 Mercedes 300 SL.
The designer says his sedan will be built primarily out of aluminum and carbon fiber. He also claims it will offer a roomier interior than “its closest competitor.” Gee, do you think he is talking about the Chevy Bolt when he says that?
Speaking of claims, Henrik says his other new venture, Fisker Nanotech, has created a revolutionary new battery that combines the best features of a lithium ion battery and a supercapacitor. Look for 400 miles of range and fast recharging times, he says. The comments we got to that news in our prior article suggest most of our readers are highly skeptical about whether that news is real or just vaporware. After all, Henrik has had some spectacularly bad experience with new battery technology before.
So we will take a wait and see attitude when it comes to the latest Fisker offering. If it performs as advertised, it could actually be the kind of “compelling electric car” Elon Musk is always begging other car companies to make. Fisker says he will be releasing more information about the new car next week. Maybe by then the car will have a name?
Source: The Drive  Photo credit: Fisker, Inc.

LeEco Unveils LeSEE Concept; Faraday Future Aims For CES 2017

Elon Musk wants other companies to build “compelling” electric cars. Is he about to get his wish? Yesterday, LeEco — the Chinese electric car start-up owned by billionaire Jia Yueting — held a splashy unveiling for its LeSEE sedan concept car in San Francisco. What actually happened is that Yeuting came sprinting down the runway all alone. The car was available for viewing later. According to Yeuting, the car was late arriving from London, where it was being filmed for an appearance in the next Transformers movie. (There are now as many Transformer movies as there are Fast & Furious sequels, or so it seems.)
LeSEE concept electric car
In any event, the event moved forward with the introduction of new phones and televisions manufactured by LeEco as well an announcement about a new entertainment production enterprise. Yeuting and others are focused on the dilemma of how to keep people amused once cars start driving themselves. Apparently they plan to make piles of profits by selling us content to watch while we glide along with nothing to do. Apparently spotting white horses or out of state license plates are no longer adequate for the needs of terminally hip motorists. Conversation is also now passé, or so it would seem.
Lei Ding, the co-founder and global vice chairman of the LeEco SEE plan, told the audience that the LeSEE will come with its own magnetic charging system, not the standard J1772 charger. That’s probably why executives from QualComm were on hand. Ding also said a foldaway steering wheel will be standard as well as external lights that change color to communicate with other drivers and pedestrians.
LeEco executives said they see the car as part of a shared ownership system. It could also benefit from a strategic partnership with Faraday  Future, yet another electric car start-up controlled by Jia. Faraday announced yesterday that its first production car prototype will appear at the CES 2017 show in January. Let’s hope it is not as ridiculous as the FFZero1 superduper car unveiled at last year’s show.
LeEco is supposedly building a $1.8 billion factory in China. Faraday is supposedly building a $1 billion factory in Nevada. We won’t know what the Faraday Future production car will actually look like or what the linkage between Faraday and LeEco will ultimately be until some time in the future.
Source: Automotive News/AutoBlog   Photo credit: LeEco

Thursday, October 20, 2016

All-Electric Corvette Debuts at Ridiculous Price

That dream of eco-conscious baby-boomers is finally here, friends. As of today, you can pick up the phone and place an order on a 100%, zero-emissions, honest-to-goodness electric Corvette. Such dreams often come at a hefty price, however, and this one weighs in at $750,000.
That’s right, kids. A full three-quarters of a million dollars later and Genovation will deliver a fully electric Corvette to your door. And, before you dismiss the project as pure, pie-in-the-sky, bats*** insanity, consider the following: it has a 205 MPH top speed.
Yeah. I’m not convinced, either.
For their part, Genovation does a fine job converting the latest C7 Corvette to EV status. The finished car uses improved battery management to make up to 660 horsepower and roughly 600 lb-ft of torque. That’s good for a 3-second 0-60 run. Handling-wise, the electric ‘Vette retains its 50/50 weight distribution, and the total package has a maximum cruising range of about 130 miles.
For those of you paying attention, then, we’re talking about a car that’s marginally quicker to 60 MPH than a Tesla Model S in Ludicrous mode or a refurbished Tesla Roadster. It has a higher top speed, but less than half the range of those cars, and costs enough to let you buy a Model S, a Roadster, a Model X, a few Nissan Leafs for the kids, and- while we’re blowing money- a Ferrari 488 or two.
Terrible idea, I think. Patently stupid. But this is the Corvette market we’re talking about, so they’ll probably sell out the full production run in a few hours. If they do, I’m sure Genovation will let us know. In the meantime, feel free to let us know what you think of this waste of money all-electric sports car in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Electric Corvette by Genovation – Worth the Money?

Electric 2017 Chevy Corvette by Genovation - $750,000
Source | Images: Genovation, via Autoblog.

LG Chem Expects 30,000 Chevy Bolt Sales

During the Q3 earnings call this week, LG Chem vice president Kang Chang-beom told investors that his company expects Chevrolet to sell 30,000 Bolt all electric cars in 2017. LG Chem makes the batteries for the Bolt as well as many of the interior components, including the dashboard. Kang says how the Bolt performs in the market place will be a key test of whether electric cars can appeal to mainstream buyers in the US market.
GM 2017 Chevy Bolt chassis
While final option packages and pricing details have yet to be announced, the Bolt is expected to retail for about $39,000. After the federal tax credit is applied, the net cost of a Bolt should be around $31,500. That just happens to be very close to the average retail price of new cars and light truck in the United States at the moment.
All of which begs this question: Why so few? Seriously. Think about it. The Bolt is about the same size as the upcoming Tesla Model 3. It has about the same range as the Model 3 or perhaps a little more (238 miles versus 215 miles). It is priced within a few thousand dollars of the Model 3. And it will be available in selected markets before the end of this year.
Production of the Model 3 won’t begin until late next year, if it begins on time. Tesla says it will meet that target date but has failed to bring products to market on time several times in the past. The Model X SUV was more than 2 years late by the time production started. Then it took another 6 months for cars to start rolling off the assembly line at anything like a normal pace.
Tesla has 380,000 reservations for the Model 3 and expects to sell 400,000 of them a year right out of the chute. Why does Tesla think ten times as many people will want one of its cars as want a Chevy Bolt? The answer to that question speaks volumes about the state of the market for electric cars in America.
What makes a Tesla ten times more attractive than a Chevy? Why is the Tesla Model S outselling all other large luxury cars by a wide margin? What is it about Tesla that makes people want to open their wallets and throw money at the company? Various officials at GM have said they could sell as many as 80,000 Bolts a year — if demand is there.
Quick question. Why wouldn’t the demand be there if it is there for the Tesla Model 3? Why shouldn’t Chevrolet sell as many affordably priced electric cars as Tesla sells luxury cars? Tesls says it will sell a total of 90,000 Model S and Model X cars this year. Surely Chevrolet should be able to sell that many cars if they cost half as much, shouldn’t it? Next time I see Mary Barra, I think I will ask her for her those questions.
Source: Reuters

Head Of Manufacturing Praises Tesla Plan For Making Cars

Peter Hochholdinger used to be the senior director of production at Audi where he was responsible for making the A4, A5, and Q5 vehicles. Now he is in charge of production for Tesla Motors, which has dedicated itself to ramping up the number of cars it makes from 100,000 to 500,000 a year within 24 months. That’s a tall order, but Hochholdinger seems up to the challenge. After two months on the job, he is as confident as Elon Musk that Tesla can reach its goal.
Tesla factory tour
“The cars we build are about seven years beyond everything I’ve seen before,” Hochholdinger says. He especially enjoys working to manufacture electric cars. “[E]verybody else is continuing with the normal business of building [internal combustion] cars, and I think that will not work.”
Earlier this year, Elon Musk shocked the automotive world by moving the 500,000 car a year target forward by a full 12 months. How will it reach that goal? Hochholdinger says its all about density. “Why is the footprint of the factory so big? Why can’t we put more density into it? These are questions we have to solve. The next question is: Why is the process so slow? Why is the conveyor belt that moves the cars (through general assembly) as slow as a turtle? Couldn’t we speed it up by five times, by 10 times? Can we put more automation into general assembly? Everybody in the world tries that. We have an opportunity with a car like Model 3 to do it, and we will do it.”
Hochholdinger emphasizes that Tesla’s ability to achieve unorthodox production levels is made easier because its vehicles are fully electric. “It’s all about the product. You have to make the products as simple as possible and as buildable as possible so that we can do that. (The Model 3) has no exhaust system. It has no gear box. It has no engine. It’s more or less a computer on wheels. It’s very thrilling and exciting. This car is totally different than everything else done before.”
If there is an obstacle to meeting production goals, Hochholdinger says it is the supply chain. “We have to work on our supply chain, getting our parts on time into the factory, and in the numbers we need. [We will do that by] being more efficient and being more on time and doing more tracking about which materials are in transit, which are in process, and which are here in the factory.” He believes completely that Tesla’s “machine that makes the machine” approach is going to be a competitive advantage. Ultimately, it is what will enable Tesla to manufacture a half million high quality electric cars every year.
Elon Musk had the ability to hire just about any manufacturing professional he wanted to run his factory. With Hochholdinger, he got the best of the best.
Source: Motley Fool