Auto blogThu, 13 Nov 2014
Tesla's 2014 third quarter financial report mixed some positive news with gloomy messages. On one hand, the electric carmaker posted its best quarter ever in terms of deliveries, including its best single day with 907 EVs delivered. The company also announced expanded production to get even more vehicles out the door by the end of 2015. However, the Model X got delayed yet again and higher prices in Europe were mulled. Dousing the results with a bit more cold water, a Merrill Lynch investor letter claims there's more to be pessimistic about the business than meets the eye.
The Daily Kanban, quoting research meant for Merrill Lynch clients, claims that Tesla had "approximately 3K vehicles stocked in inventory or in transit" at the end of the Q3. That's a fairly large number considering that the company reports selling 7,785 units for the whole quarter. The statement is also surprising because the automaker has a reputation for keeping excess supply low, and there are allegedly waiting lists for Model S sedans. CEO Elon Musk maintains that the automaker has a problem being able to keep up with high demand, as well.
According to Daily Kanban, the letter further states, "China is proving to be more challenging for Tesla to penetrate than expected." The automaker does not break out sales by region in its Q3 financials to check this assertion, however, the company does report the recently opened store in Shenzhen is one of its top-grossing stores worldwide and that there are now 23 Supercharger locations in 10 Chinese cities.
Tesla Motors is offering an enticing deal for potential buyers who might not be entirely sure whether they actually want to own a Model S for the long term. A deal through US Bank not only lowers the cost to lease the EV but also turns leasing the brand's electric sedan into a long-term rental.
Curious buyers who lease a Model S are now able to return it in the first three months with no penalties and with the remaining payments waived, something Tesla is calling the "happiness guarantee." CEO Elon Musk announced the deal on the company's blog, and he said the payments were also as much as 25 percent lower because US Bank "has a much lower cost of capital than us." Currently, a Tesla lease starts at around $800 and can be up to $1,300, with down payments around $6,500. Tesla leasing is available in 38 US states (full list below).
Of course, there is a catch for the offer. If people turn in their Model S within three months, they can't immediately lease another one. Musk doesn't say how long the wait is.
The incredible rise of Tesla's stock price has done little to now stop two major shareholders from ditching their stake in the American EV manufacturer. First, Daimler, parent company of Mercedes-Benz, ditched its four-percent stake, and less than a week later, Toyota is doing the same thing, selling off an undisclosed bit of its Tesla investment.
The move comes as Toyota winds down sales of the RAV4 EV, which gets its batteries and electric motor from Tesla at the company's Fremont, CA factory.
"We have a good relationship with Tesla, and will evaluate the feasibility of working together on future projects," Toyota spokesperson Kayo Doi told Bloomberg via email.
When it comes to game shows, The Price Is Right is about as mainstream as American TV gets, beaming lust for fancy new prizes into millions of homes every day. Recently, the show held its annual Dream Car Week, which this year included a Tesla Model S along with a Porsche Cayenne, a Land Rover Range Rover Sport, a Maserati Quattroporte and an Aston Martin V8 Vantage.
The contestant invited to come on down an take a crack at the bright-red Model S was Vanessa Ansoorian, who told host Drew Carey that she had originally promised her brother a car if she won one, but once she saw what it was, she began rethinking her stance. Of course, before being able to drive away with the electric car, she needed to win the game, which in this case was One Away. That means that she got a string of numbers - 6-8-4-1-1 - and needed to move each digit up or down one to find the car's price. Can you get it? We won't give away the right answer, or if she won the car, but we look forward to your guesses in the comments below, where you can also watch the tense video clip.
In 2010, The Price Is Right also offered up a Tesla (in that case, a Roadster) on Earth Day. You can see how that attempt went here.
Back in 2009, Daimler acquired over 9 percent of Tesla. A couple of months later, it sold 40 percent of that stake to Abu Dhabi-based Aabar Investments. The following year, Tesla listed on the stock exchange and Daimler's interest was reduced to 4 percent. But now the German industrial giant has announced it is selling that 4 percent and divesting from Tesla altogether in a liquidation that is expected to raise approximately $780 million for Daimler. The divestment has also triggered speculation that the move could make room for rival German automaker BMW to take an interest in Tesla.
Despite the divestment, Daimler insists that its technological partnership with Tesla will remain unaffected. Mercedes sources the batteries for its B-Class Electric Drive (pictured above) from the Californian outfit in a deal that is not set to change as a result of the financial realignment. A similar collaboration was in place for the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive, however, now that the new generation of Smarts developed with Renault is on its way, it's possible that a next-generation Fortwo ED will use French tech instead as an extension of the partnership between Daimler and Renault-Nissan.
Daimler has also taken the occasion to point out that, between the Mercedes, Smart and various truck brands, it offers "the industry's biggest portfolio of electric vehicles," including pure EVs, fuel cells and hybrids. The automaker says it will introduce ten new plug-in hybrid Mercedes models by 2017.
Tesla wowed the motoring world when it recently unveiled the all-wheel drive, dual-motor D version that added power and range to the already well-regarded Model S. At the same time, the company showed off a new suite of safe-driving tech like a forward-looking camera, radar and ultrasonic sensors to come standard on all models. While the new features might attract some new buyers into the fold, for a few current owners the upgrades aren't coming as a pleasant surprise at all. Some of them are rallying for Tesla to fix things somehow.
These disgruntled owners aren't upset about what any of the new features actually do; in fact, they love them. The issue is Tesla's secrecy before the reveal. A few of these folks bought their cars just a few months ago, some even in September, according to The San Jose Mercury News. If the upgrades had been publicized earlier, then they would have waited to order versions with the latest and greatest tech.
Some of them are already on the web lodging their complaints. According to The San Jose Mercury News, the website Change.org has competing petitions asking Tesla to find a way to retrofit the features, which the company says isn't possible, and another requesting the automaker to ignore the complainers.
Lest there be any doubt to the contrary, Tesla is a company on the move. Following the sensational Tesla Roadster, the Model S is now humming down roads across the country and around the world. And there's more to come: the entry-level Model 3, the upcoming Model X crossover... and something else. Two somethings, to be precise, going by this latest, cryptic tweet from Tesla chief Elon Musk.
The image enclosed appears to show the front of a Model S peering out from under a partially open garage door emblazoned with the letter D. Just what that letter stands for, we don't know. Usually we'd guess it stood for "diesel," but given that Teslas are powered purely by electricity, that'd probably be viewed as a backwards step. Drive? Possibly, if Tesla has an all-wheel-drive sedan in the works (which is does).
Whatever it is, we'll have to wait until October 9 before Tesla reveals the full thing. At that point it will also reveal "something else," though it's given even less indication as to what that might be. The Model 3? Production-ready Model X? A new Roadster? We'll find out in a week's time.
One of the most fascinating things about documentaries which examine the bizarre creatures populating our Earth's oceans is the concept of bioluminescence. Deep down in the drink, there are jellyfish and other creatures able to emit their own light - often in beautiful, strobing patterns. And now, it's apparently possible to give your car a very similar look thanks to an electroluminescent paint called LumiLor from Darkside Scientific.
As you can see on the Tesla Model S in the above video, the paint allows the driver to animate the vehicle's exterior when it's dark in quite bright colors, but it looks completely normal during the day. On its website, Darkside Scientific claims that LumiLor can be applied in a variety of colors with a standard paint gun, but does require some added electronics to apply the alternating current that makes the paint illuminate. It even works on plastic, vinyl, glass and other materials. However, the one potential downside is the that company admits that LumiLor's brightness fades with continued use, but it doesn't say how quickly this degradation takes place.
Autoblog has reached out to Darkside Scientific to learn more about LumiLor, and we'll update this story when we hear back. In the meantime, check out this Tesla that glows eerily like a jellyfish deep in the ocean.
Steve Saleen kind of shocked us when he announced that his company was working on an electric car late last year with no solid details to speak of. It just seemed like a complete about-face from the big muscle Ford Mustangs and supercars Saleen had built its reputation on. If anything, it was even more surprising when the business revealed that the new model would be a tuned Tesla Model S to be dubbed the FourSixteen. We finally got a glimpse of it during Monterey Car Week, and while the sedan's styling might have been polarizing, the car was still an intriguing project.
Xcar Films is taking an even deeper look into the FourSixteen's creation in its latest video with interviews with Saleen and other principles of the tuned Tesla's creation. According to Steve in the video, the company's focus is still on tuning pony cars and building supercars, but "electric vehicles are here to stay."
While Saleen leaves the Model S electric motor and batteries alone, it touches nearly every other part of the Tesla. The FourSixteen feature a new final-drive ratio and tweaked suspension, plus lighter wheels and carbon ceramic brakes to shed quite a few pounds. Of course, the most obvious change is its contentious body kit, especially at the rear, but Saleen claims that it's completely functional by channeling air more efficiently around the car. Like it or not, the FourSixteen might be the future of auto tuning.
Four months have passed since Toyota ended its relationship with Tesla Motors, in which the electric-vehicle specialist supplied full lithium-ion battery packs to the Japanese behemoth for its RAV4 EV rollout, of which 2,500 vehicles will be completed. Now, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk has been heard suggesting that a future collaboration is likely within the next two to three years, and that it will probably be much larger than the last one.
Both Tesla and Toyota have sung each other's praises in the not-too-distant past, Toyota telling Autoblog back in May, "We have a good relationship with Tesla and will evaluate the feasibility of working together on future projects." According to Automotive News, Musk said of the Japanese giant, "We love working with Toyota... We have a huge amount of respect for them as a company and certainly much to learn."
Interestingly, though, the two automakers have rather divergent strategies for eco-friendly automobiles. Toyota, as you're surely aware, is the clear-cut leader in hybrids and has thrown its massive support in the direction of hydrogen fuel cells, while Tesla has invested heavily in battery-electric technology and high-speed charging stations.