MEDIA REVIEWS is a compilation of reviews and write-ups of test drives of various e-drive vehicles by the different authors and media. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of EV World. Click the article title to expand the story.
Tesla Electric Cars Bring Out the Competitor, 'Inner Ed Begley'
Indiana native Dan St. John owns a pair of Tesla electric cars: a Roadster for the 'fun' of it and a Model S for the inner environmentalist.
Journal Courier 24 Dec 2012
Christmas commercials flicker across our television screens, showing a luxury car with a giant bow on its hood or roof parked in a snowy driveway of a posh neighborhood.
But if you’re like most people, there isn’t going to be a shiny new car — luxury or otherwise — parked in the drive Tuesday morning.
But on the remote chance someone’s been very, very good, and a car made the Christmas list, Dan St. John recommends Santa bring them a Tesla — an American-made, all-electric, high-performance automobile manufactured in California.
“Mid-life crisis presents,” not Christmas presents is how St. John described his decision to purchase two of the electric cars.
Pointing to a small, red, two-seater roadster, he said, “I’ve been eyeing this one at the auto show for a couple of years, and I finally went up … in 2009 and took a test drive, mainly to see if I could fit in the thing. It’s a little bit of a tight fit … getting in and out.”
But that test drive was all the convincing he needed to pull the trigger.
“This one I bought for the performance,” he said of the roadster. “The electric was kind of a novelty thing, but it was mainly because it is bat-out-of-hell fast. Fun car. The electric was almost an afterthought.
“Once you’ve driven one, it’s hard to go back to paying for gas and all the downsides of a gas vehicle.”
Everywhere he drives, the roadster is a conversation starter.
“You can’t go anywhere without somebody stopping you and talking to you about the car,” he said.
“They actually have a term for it: Tesla time. You factor that into the time you’re going somewhere to talk to people,” he said. “Most people in Indiana, they either know everything about it or they know never heard of them. There’s no middle ground.
“Their customers sell all of their cars for them. They don’t advertise. They probably don’t need to.”
His roadster arrived in early 2010, and six months later, St. John put a deposit down on his second Tesla, the Model S, a stylish, high-performance sedan. It arrived in September, two years after making the deposit.
“The second one, maybe I’ve uncovered my inner Ed Begley Jr.,” he joked, invoking the name of the Hollywood actor and green activist.
Tesla automobiles are a little like dining at a fancy restaurant where prices are omitted from the menus. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.
St. John shied away from specifics, but he noted that the Model S, Tesla’s first original car, has a base price of $49,900 and it goes up from there. He sheepishly said the roadster, which has a Lotus-designed body and frame, was probably double the price of the Model S.
Shanna Hendricks, communicaton manager with Tesla Motors, said six Model S automobiles have been delivered to Indiana.
Lately, the internal-combustion-engine crowd has seemed giddy as gasoline prices dipped to around $3 a gallon, but St. John pays only slightly more than that for a full charge and nearly 300 miles of road time.
“I actually took our company car to Chicago last weekend and had to buy gas. I thought, I’m standing here five minutes at this pump. Then it’s like $70,” St. John said, bluntly expressing his anger over the inconvenience of gassing up. “It bugs me the hell out of me to buy gas now.”
St. John, who doesn’t even have a gasoline lawnmower, dislikes buying gas.
“The fact that every time I go to the gas station, I’m not sending money to the Middle East. For me, that’s a big factor,” he said. .
He had a Chevy Tahoe and the Tesla roadster for a while, but he rarely drove the Tahoe after buying the electric car, so he got rid of it.
“You can charge that up for five bucks, or you can fill the Tahoe for $80.”
Charging the Teslas are as easy as plugging in a cellphone in the evening and unplugging it in the morning, he said. Of course longer road trips take a little bit of planning, but chargers for electric cars are becoming more common at hotels, parking garages and other travel pit-stop sites.
Charging a low battery back to full takes a 220-volt outlet and about four hours, but super chargers can juice a battery back to half full in about 30 minutes. A full charge carries St. John nearly 300 miles and costs about $9 — less than the price of three gallons of gasoline.
The roadster handles pretty well in small snows, but St. John doesn’t take it out much in those road conditions for fear of what some other driver might do. The Model S gets its winter testing this year.
St. John and Hendricks said the weight of the battery packs, which run the length of the car below the floor, should give the Model S traction and weight in the snow.
And should the worst happen and there’s an accident, extricating a person from a Tesla — or any electric vehicle — isn’t as simple as firing up the jaws of life and ripping through metal. There’s a cable rescuers must cut first so they don’t electrocute themselves in a rescue attempt. First responders are trained on that, St. John said.
Tesla Motors is producing about 200 of the Model S cars each week, Hendricks said. By the end of the year, the company wants to be ramped up to making 400 a week, which will put it on track to make its goal of 20,000 cars in 2013.
“Demand (for the cars) is really not a problem,” Hendricks said. “We’ve had great success with our retail locations.”
Note that she said retail locations, not dealerships. These locations are at high-traffic shopping malls, and would-be Tesla owners can place an order there or online — or even on the phone, Hendricks said.
While Tesla automobiles might be out of most people’s reach, St. John encouraged people to consider a more affordable electric car, especially in families that have two cars.
“For most people with two cars, I think it’s absolutely practical to have an electric car for around town,” he said. “It’s probably one day out of 10 that I drive more than 40 or 50 miles in that car. If you have two cars and you’re just knocking around town in one of them, it makes a lot of sense.”
“For most people (with one car), it wouldn’t be practical to have just an electric vehicle. But I’m kind of at the point in my life, if I want to take a long trip in that car, I can, and I can take my time. Or I can rent a car if I want to drive across country for something.”
While he never says “never,” St. John has sworn off traditional cars.
“I’ll never own another internal-combustion-engine car. The advantages (of the electric car) far outweigh the disadvantages.”
CNN Reviews Tesla Model S Electric Sedan
Apparently Peter Valdes-Dapena was expecting a golf car when he drove the Model S.
CNN 31 Jul 2012
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- I was never that impressed with the Tesla Roadster, the $100,000 two-seat sports car that so many people saw as the beginning of an electric car revolution.
The Roadster was a deft parlor trick, I figured. It's easy to make an exciting long-range electric car if you don't bother to making it affordable or practical.
Now comes Tesla's next trick. The Model S sedan, available with seating for up to seven, is now on sale. Once it's in full production, prices will range from $50,000 to roughly $100,000.
I have driven the $100,000 version of the car, albeit it briefly, and I'm amazed. The car would seem worth the price, or maybe more, if it were powered by a gasoline engine. (Cheaper versions will be largely the same but with shorter driving ranges.) If there's sleight of hand here, I haven't been able to find it yet.
I'd been in the Model S before -- Tesla (TSLA) chief executive Elon Musk took me on a test ride through lower Manhattan back in November -- but, even so, the view from the driver's seat was striking. Wherever possible, knobs and physical gauges have been replaced by computer screens.
There isn't even a "Start" button. If you have the Tesla's car-shaped key fob in your pocket and your butt is in the driver's seat the car -- quite reasonably -- assumes you want it to turn on. So it does.
It runs in "Accessory" mode, allowing you to use the computer screens and listen to the stereo, until you push down the brake pedal. Then the speedometer and other driving gauges appear and the car is ready to roll.
Move the gear selector stalk to Drive and off you go in near silence. (If the gear selector stalk seems familiar, that's because Tesla got it straight from Mercedes-Benz.)
At slow speeds the Model S feels disappointingly like a hefty, battery-laden electric car. With a light foot on the accelerator, it shuffles from stop sign to stop sign with all the eagerness of a fat man asked to change seats on an airliner. You can almost hear it sigh.
Then you get out on the open road and really step on the "gas" and.... Yowzah! It turns out that, when asked to, this car can move with astonishing speed. Fortunately, for me, the brake pedal works just as well as the accelerator nicely preventing me from rear-ending cars ahead after each startling burst of speed.
The Model S's steering feel and response are adjustable using touch screen "buttons." The steering can be changed from heavy and quick, like a sports car, to easy and slow, like an old Cadillac. The car's ride height can likewise be changed up and down to the wonderment of bystanders.
Inside the Tesla Model S
One thing our test drive route -- which included Manhattan back streets and a long stretch of the West Side Highway -- didn't include was any high speed curves, which was a shame.
The Model S's heavy battery packs are in the form of a flat sheet that takes up most of the underfloor of the car. That gives the car a very roomy interior as well as a very low center of gravity. Turns are accomplished (or so I'm told) with hardly any body lean and with alacrity that puts other performance sedans to shame. We'll have to see but, for now, it seems believable.
So now Tesla faces the mundane challenges of producing the car profitably in relatively high volumes while preventing quality problems that could damage the brand name. At the same time, Tesla is already preparing to sell its next vehicle, the Model X crossover SUV.
There's still a lot of work for Tesla ahead but, so far, the car itself looks good.
Tesla Roadster Pumps Fun Into Electric Vehicles
The sleek carbon-bodied sports car is, by my reckoning, the first plausible electric automobile of the 21st century. And, without electrics, the 22nd century is going to be very rocky indeed, write LA Times Dan Neil.
The Peninsula/Qatar 30 Jul 2006
When Tesla, the upstart auto company based in Silicon Valley, unveiled its all-electric Roadster in Santa Monica, California, last week, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger dropped in for a surprise visit.
The event — where Tesla was offering its first 100 "signature edition" cars for $100,000 apiece — felt like automotive history, and I have the feeling that one day I'm going to be very glad I bothered to attend.
The sleek carbon-bodied sports car is, by my reckoning, the first plausible electric automobile of the 21st century. And, without electrics, the 22nd century is going to be very rocky indeed. To appreciate the Tesla, it helps to compare it to the much-lamented EV1, GM's electric car that was, in the mid-1990s, the most advanced vehicle of its kind.
The Tesla Roadster has a range of 250 miles, says the company. The EV1, with the best nickel metal hydride batteries, could go about 150 miles under ideal conditions. A full charge of the EV1 could take eight hours. The Tesla's lithium-ion batteries can be raised from the dead to a full charge in 3 1/2 hours and, unlike the EV1, the Tesla will come with its own portable charging pack so it won't be range-tethered to its home charging station.
The Tesla is a toothsome sports car. The EV1, um, wasn't. Perhaps most important and most unlike the EV1, the Tesla offers something beyond virtue as a reward to its buyers: fun, in large, hair-raising voltages. The company claims 0 to 60 mph acceleration in 4 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph. Big brakes, racy suspension, optional leather and navigation system, air conditioning, heated seats. There's even room for golf clubs. With the Tesla, the electric car seems poised to move past its groovy-granola beginnings.
"Most electric cars were designed for people who didn't even like cars," Tesla's founder and chief executive Martin Eberhard says.
This approach — this appeal to civic virtue instead of driving pleasure — limited electric cars' appeal to a small albeit enthusiastic group of environmentalists. "I wanted to build a car that I wanted to drive," Eberhard says. "And I like fast cars."
Tesla isn't the only bolt of battery-powered lightning out there. A Monaco-based company called Venturi has a production-ready electric sports car, the Fetish, which is nearly identical to the Tesla in size, weight, power, range and performance. The big difference is price: Compared with the $600,000-plus Venturi, the production Tesla (about $85,000, due on sale in late 2007) might as well be sold at Best Buy.
The Wrightspeed X1 prototype, the work of another Silicon Valley start-up, is based on the lattice-frame, open-wheel Ariel Atom built in England. It's even quicker: 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds, with a quarter-mile time of 11.5 seconds.
There's also the Tango commuter car, an oddly shaped four-wheel electric car-cum-motorcycle (sold as a kit car) whose most famous owner certainly is actor George Clooney. With its two motors serving up more than 1,000 pound-feet of combined torque, the Tango's acceleration is "like getting shot out of a cannon," says Tango president Rick Woodbury.
During a summer when a popular documentary asks, "Who Killed the Electric Car?" the electric car seems to be contrarily alive and well.
"There's a big market for green," says Chris Paine, EV advocate and director of "Who Killed the Electric Car',' "but not as big as the market for something more primal. Speed and power have always sold cars."
"We want to do something about global warming," says Elon Musk, Tesla chairman and its principal investor. "But you can't achieve your philanthropic objective unless the company works."
Its sexy Roadster project, Musk says, will allow the company to sell a four-door sedan, to be built in the United States, with a price of less than $50,000, by 2008. "Selling an electric sports car creates an opportunity to fundamentally change the way America drives," Musk says.
In terms of car culture, the Tesla is catching a larger wave, in which green technology — previously considered the antidote to fun — is being marketed as a performance enhancement. Just this month, Lexus entered a GS450h sport sedan hybrid in the Tokachi 24-Hour Race in Japan. Audi's Le Mans-winning R10 diesel race program, say company execs, shows clean diesel can also deliver high performance.
Some environmentalists have been queasy about this trend — accusing manufacturers of green washing — while others see it as a necessary step in mainstreaming clean-car technologies.
"I don't know too much about the Tesla," says Roland Hwang, senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council, "but two-thirds less greenhouse gases and 0 to 60 in 4 seconds? Who could be against that?"
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