Auto blogWed, 14 Nov 2012
Rumors of a revival of the Toyota Supra and MR2 have been swirling for years right up until just this week when high-level Toyota employees all but confirmed their return.
But now The Detroit Bureau has put together news from different sources suggesting that the next Supra might be all electric. The report cites recent comments from Toyota senior executives hinting at plans to work with Tesla on a new joint project. The FT-HS Concept (shown above) seems a logical inspiration for a new Supra.
And on the other side of the equation is Tesla's design chief Franz von Holzhausen who was quoted last year saying his company was looking at its next project, probably a sports car, that would follow next year's intro of the Model X. He went on to suggest the car would compete directly with BMW's 3 Series, which, in coupe form, could be a worthy competitor to a Supra as well.
Eleven cars enter, one car leaves. Silently and with zero emissions.
Tesla has earned one of the most coveted prizes in the automotive world, as its Model S has taken home the Golden Calipers as the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year. In the process, the Model S beat out a field that included 10 other contenders.
In case you were wondering, this is the first time an electric car has earned this accolade. No internal combustion here, folks. In an impressive run the Model S was also named Automobile Car of the Year and one of the 25 Best Inventions of the year by Time Magazine.
According to its Third Quarter 2012 Shareholder Letter, Tesla "is now at over 200 cars per week or 10,000 cars per year, which is at the critical threshold needed for Tesla to generate positive operating cash flow."
That's an important milestone to be sure, but the news is actually even better; Tesla expects to ramp Model S production up to 400 cars per week (20,000 units/year) by December of 2012, and says it will deliver 2,500 to 3,000 units in the fourth quarter of 2012. That's lower than the previous target of 5,000 in 2012, but it's more an issue of delayed achievement rather than missing the mark altogether.
All of that production bodes well for the future, but as of today, the automaker has yet to earn real money. Revenue for the third quarter of 2012 was $50 million, equating to a net loss of about $110 million after expenses were tallied. The stock market likes the numbers, with TSLA shares rising 8.9 percent on Monday after the report was released.
Time Magazine has released its list of the best inventions of 2012, and while a few automotive products made the cut, the Tesla Model S was the only vehicle to nab the honor this year. The magazine cites the electric sedan's sexy aesthetics, lofty 265-mile range and touch-screen cabin controls as reasons for the laurel, though Tesla's network of supercharger stations certainly factored in as well. This is just the latest in long list of accolades for the Model S. As you may recall, Motor Trend recently called the EV the most important car since the Ford Model T, and Automobile Magazine named the five-door its Automobile of the Year.
A total of 25 inventions made the Time list in all, including the self-inflating tires we saw from Goodyear earlier this year. From whimsical indoor clouds crafted by Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde to a potentially life-saving in-home HIV test, the selections showcase the diversity of human innovation. Check out the complete list here.
Automobile Magazine recently spent the better part of three days getting to know 28 of the latest and greatest cars on the market to pick its Automobile of the Year, and today it announced that the 2012 Tesla Model S was given this coveted award. As much as the all-electric Model S means to the automotive world, we'd be surprised if it doesn't snag a lot more hardware in the next few months.
The Model S beat out cars like the 2013 Cadillac ATS, 2013 Ford Fusion, 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S and 2013 BMW M5 with its sleek design, luxurious and tech-filled interior and, of course, its unique electric powertrain that offers both an incredible all-electric range and equally eye-popping performance.
To narrow down the top candidates for the award, Automobile took all the cars out for two days of road testing and then spent another day at Gingerman Raceway in Western Michigan, and the performance aspect of the Model S seemed to surprise and/or impress a lot of the magazine's staff more than anything else. To prove how fast the car is, they did a drag race to 100 miles per hour with the Tesla and the new M5, and the Model S won. The 265-mile driving range and 17-inch touch-screen display won points for the car, too.
Jay Leno has a pretty big soft spot for alternative-fuel vehicles. From his steam-powered relics to his beloved Chevrolet Volt, the comedian's automotive interests are nothing if not varied. In the latest episode of Jay Leno's Garage, Tesla Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen stops by the Big Dog Garage to show off his company's new Model S. Jay gets a closer look at the five-door EV's interesting touchscreen controls, expansive moonroof and yes, even the third-row jump seats, before taking to the road. The clip explains why Tesla eschewed the chunky standardized EV charger for a more svelte unit and how the company managed to serve up impressive aerodynamics without sacrificing styling.
Leno takes the time to whir the Model S around the greater Los Angeles area before hopping on the freeway for a quick spin. This particular model features the largest battery pack available, which gives the Model S a total range of around 300 miles. Check out the clip below for a closer look.
Unlike typical dealers, Tesla has a network of "stores" and "retail stores." While reservations can be made for a new Model S or Roadster at the retail store, Tesla says other versions of the store merely direct potential customers to make their reservation online. Most of these boutique-style stores are in shopping malls, and Tesla asserts that they are not sales facilities. It's an assertion with which traditional auto dealers are taking issue.
Dealers associations and networks across the country are doubling down their efforts to make Tesla's OEM showroom network illegal. Tesla has opened 17 stores in 10 states, as well as the District of Columbia.
Dealership associations contend Tesla's notion that sales are not made at these stores, stating that the showroom experience is still part of the sales process. To that end, dealer groups across the country have embarked in legal battles with the electric carmaker. The Illinois Secretary of State has informed Tesla that it is illegal to list CEO Elon Musk as the owner of its Chicago store. The Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association is looking into legal options against Telsa's Westchester store, as well as two others in New York. In Massachusetts, the opening of a store in the suburban Natick Mall is having its legality challenged by the dealer association in that state. California has laws in place that allow for a manufacturer to run its own dealership, as long as it is not within 10 miles of an existing dealer. That practice caught the ire of Chrysler dealers when the American automaker opened its own multi-brand showroom near downtown Los Angeles.
It ain't easy creating a brand-new automaker from scratch. The fact that Elon Musk and Tesla have actually been able to bring not one, but two cars to market is in itself quite impressive. That said, the road has not been without its bumps, and Tesla is feeling some of the setbacks that come with being a fledgling automaker.
To that end, Tesla has revealed that it expects $400 million to $440 million in full-year revenue, or roughly $160 million less than its prior 2012 revenue forecasts. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Monday, the electric carmaker said "We have methodically increased our Model S production at a slower rate than we had earlier anticipated," leading to the company figuring they'll fall short of the $560 million to $600 million they originally forecasted. Tesla also revealed a net cumulative loss of $864.9 million through June 30 of this year - Tesla has yet to break even as an automaking entity, but it remains something of a startup, so the fact that it has lost money to this point shouldn't be a major surprise - building cars is expensive, and learning how to do so is even more expensive. Following the disclosure, Tesla shares fell about 8.5 percent this morning in trading.
Tesla cites delays in suppliers for its Model S production shortcomings. The California automaker says it is working with suppliers to speed up deliveries and internally, it is adding shifts and automation to its manufacturing processes. With little more than half of the 5,000-vehicle target expected to be built by year's end, Tesla says it is four to five weeks behind its delivery goals.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently spoke to Fox Business about the state of Model S production, and to hear the CEO tell it, things are going very well. Assembly line production has been climbing every week; the interview was conducted on September 13, and Musk said when asked how many cars they'd build, "I think it's probably going to be around 80 cars this week." If they hit that number it would represent double the production of the week before.
Tesla's Model S production goal this year is 5,000 units, and the outside estimate is that 400* have been built so far. To make the target in the roughly 14 weeks left in the year, Tesla would need to - as of this week - quadruple last week's production to a little more than 320 units. That's a steep climb, but the numbers so far point to it being still being possible. Musk said that orders continue to come in and the company is working through its backlog, and he expects an annual profit to come in 2013. You'll find both parts of the interview in the videos below.
*UPDATE: Tesla spokeswoman Christina Ra pointed out that the last publicly confirmed number is just 100 Model S units, and that Tesla will "likely make another announcement on that front soon." She added, "400 is really inaccurate."
Looks like another Tesla Motors investor will be looking to cash in on their connection. Autoweek reports Mercedes-Benz will offer their B-Class in the U.S. with Tesla propulsion.
The magazine says their source at the German automaker confirms plans for a B-Class electric-only vehicle. While Tesla already provides battery packs for the battery-powered Smart ForTwo, the B-Class EV will reportedly have Tesla batteries, motor and other components. U.S. residents should be able to procure one sometime in 2014.
The same Mercedes source says plans for a hybrid B-Class have been postponed for now. Adding a range-extending, gasoline-powered engine to an electric vehicle would put the car into a different class for which rebates and incentives aren't as favorable in the States.