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Edmunds Inside Line questions

Discussion in 'Model S' started by ILEditor, Mar 28, 2009.

  1. ILEditor

    ILEditor New Member

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    #1 ILEditor, Mar 28, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009
    Hi all,

    Ed Hellwig from Inside Line here. Glad to see someone finally picked up my story on the Model S (thanks TEG).

    I've been following the coverage on the Model S and I've been a little disappointed in the lack of detail presented. Most of the stories have essentially just repeated whatever Elon said at the presentation, but it's pretty clear to me that his remarks were somewhat off the cuff.

    I was curious what chassis they were using too, which is why I went to Mike Donoughe to get some answers (I remember him from his days at Chrysler). He made it pretty clear that no decisions had been made on the chassis yet. You'll notice that none of the stories out there mention what kind of suspension the car has. I asked that too and Mike simply said that they would be using designs similar to current luxury cars. Again, if this hasn't been finalized then they don't have a chassis yet.

    TEG may be right that the silver car was based on a Mercedes chassis, but Mike very clearly said that the production car would be made of aluminum, so if the display car was rolling on a Mercedes chassis then it was for show purposes only as Mercedes doesn't currently have an aluminum sedan chassis.

    There are other questions too. The rear jump seats for instance. I saw the car in person and I don't think it's feasible. Even if there's enough head room, you wouldn't be able to see out. You would essentially be putting two kids in the trunk. Someone at the press conference asked how the head curtain airbags would extend to those seats and Elon just sort of said, "we'll make it work." It seems like something he wants, but I doubt any of the engineers think it's possible.

    To be clear, I'm not trying to purposely raise any doubts about the viability of this vehicle, but as a journalist I do think it's important to let the public know that this car isn't a done deal. There are many details still to be worked out, so the idea of customers putting deposits down based on this concept seem a little far fetched to say the least.

    I would be interested to hear the board's thoughts on this, thanks.

    Ed Hellwig
    Senior Editor
    Edmunds Inside Line
     
  2. Palpatine

    Palpatine Banned

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    #2 Palpatine, Mar 28, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009
    Ed, people who first put down deposits on the Tesla Roadster did it with a lot less information than this on the Model S. In fact, the first 150 Roadster customers did not even have a contract. They just wired money to Tesla Motors and got an email back that it was received. They did the sales deposit contract later.

    Tesla Roadster customers put down deposits without ever even having a test drive. I did so back in 2008. I also just put down a $5,000 deposit on the Model S based only on the media articles/pictures and the YouTube videos.

    I expect that many of the early orders/deposits on the Model S will be Roadster customers or Tesla fans that could not afford the Roadster.

    None of the other auto manufacturers are doing anything remotely as cutting edge at Tesla Motors. People can clearly see that. Mercedes made the point when they selected Tesla for their Smart EV batteries and chargers. The quote from Mercedes was that Tesla's technology was clearly ahead of everyone else on the market at this point in time.

    Look at the other EVs that are getting attention. Most of them are unimpressive in terms of specs. They are "punishment" cars. Compact cars with average or below average performance. Tesla is making the equivalent of a BMW or Mercedes as an EV.

    The only other EV out there that impresses me is the Aptera. That is cutting edge from an entirely different POV. Pure efficiency with an incredibly low CD along with very hi-tech features. That will likely be a huge hit when they reach the public.

    In summary, I don't think that Tesla will have any issue with taking deposits with the Model S. This is beyond a concept car that most car companies produce for shows with no intention of mass production. The only variable holding back the Tesla Model S is the gov't loans. After I spoke with Tesla senior staff, they are 100% confident that they are approved.

    I have not put down the $40,000 for the signature series. I will likely wait for the official word on the gov't loan before taking that step. I will also likely wait for delivery of my Roadster before putting another large deposit out there.
     
  3. Chris H.

    Chris H. Member

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    Hi Ed,

    I was just reading about the Jaguar XJ220 which was announced as a production car in 1989. The limited production run was sold out within 48 hrs of the announcement, and it required an $80,000 (US) deposit. When it was announced, it was described as a V12, AWD, with "scissor doors".

    When the first cars were delivered in 1992, they were V6, RWD, and no scissor doors... In other words, there were lots of changes, and some customers complained loudly, and even sued Jaguar. Jaguar ended up winning the court cases. Here's an excerpt from wikipedia:

    "Many of the initial customers were dissatisfied not only with the modifications to the original specification but the significant increase in delivery price from the original £361,000 to £403,000 ($650,000 USD). Another downfall to sales was the recession, causing many original speculators to not want to buy the car, either because they were not able, or did not think they could sell it on. Further complicating the issue was Tom Walkinshaw's offer of the faster (by acceleration, not top speed), more expensive and more exclusive XJR-15 which was based on the Le Mans champion XJR-9. Some customers reportedly either sued Jaguar or threatened to sue; in any case, Jaguar gave the customers the option to buy themselves out of the delivery contract. As a result, many of the owners challenged Jaguar in court where the Judge eventually sided with Jaguar. To reduce costs the use of parts from mass production cars had been extensive; for example the rear view mirrors came from the Citroën CX 2 Series.
    In spite of the drama surrounding its creation, a total of 281 cars were made and by 1997, few of these remained available for sale new at £150,000. Nowadays, it remains a sought-after collectible sports car, fetching £100,000+."


    So, I don't think the Model S situation is unprecedented. It certainly isn't an ideal situation either. It would be great if every detail were finalized at this point, but the reality is that there's still a lot of work to do. Will it be completed in the time frame, and at the price promised? I don't know, but if I had to guess, I would say "probably not", but I do think it will get done, as long as those DOE loan guarantees come through.


    All the best,


    Chris H.
     
  4. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Welcome to this forum, Ed.

    I think here, on this forum, most participants are well aware that things are far from final, and there are risks ahead. Some of them have decided to put down deposits anyways. As for random other people who see a press release, or find a link on the Teslamotors home page, I don't know.

    Many of the forum regulars here try to read between the lines, cut through the BS and get to the bottom of what we think is really happening out there. Not just with Tesla, but with other EV companies. Not that it gives Tesla a free pass or anything, but I have to say your chances with other companies seem even more uncertain.

    News that GE may well be investing in Tesla is encouraging. If/when the government loan guarantees come through that could soon give many on the fence more firm reason to believe.

    From where I sit, there have been plenty of chances for them to give up, but they have not. If SpaceX is an example, failure #3 should have been the end but they "threw a hail mary" and may end up winning the game with it.

    Trying to popularize EVs to the mainstream is a tall order. Doing it in a down economy is even harder. Many people are still rooting for the "underdog".
     
  5. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Architects have a habit of describing things as they want them to be, not as they are currently.

    Sometimes it takes a while for reality to catch up to the dream.
     
  6. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    It appears this turned out not to have happened after all... :frown:


    By the way, it looks like one of the mods moved these posts out of this topic.
     
  7. efusco

    efusco Moderator - Model S & X forums

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    Ed,
    I get the sense that you don't quite appreciate what the vehicles Tesla is producing represent.

    I put down a deposit. I couldn't care less what chassis or suspension will be used. We're 2+ years away from production and details like that will be determined via a multitude of factors.

    If they can't manage the rear jump seats...so be it. Nobody's gonna buy this car b/c of that. As long as I can seat 5 up front I'm happy.

    What EV enthusiasts care about are range, performance, flexibility. At the proffered price we care about features as well...the Model S has luxury features comparable to a similarly priced conventional luxury car. And, speaking for myself at least, I care about supporting the technology and advancement of green cars and non-fossil fuel vehicles in general. It's why I bought my Prius back before anyone was sure of it's success.

    I put my money down b/c I believe in Tesla, in BEVs, and in a fossil fuel free future for autos. If that means I remain in the dark for a year or two about how many bolts will be in the chassis....I can live with that.:smile:
     
  8. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    Just to have it here:
    Tesla Model S: More Concept Car Than Prototype | Straightline Blog on Edmunds' Inside Line

     
  9. ILEditor

    ILEditor New Member

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    Evan,

    You’re right, prospective owners don’t care about the suspension or chassis design. And the jump seats? A bonus if they happen, not a loss if they don’t.

    As you said, “EV enthusiasts care about are range, performance, flexibility. At the proffered price we care about features as well...the Model S has luxury features comparable to a similarly priced conventional luxury car.”

    That’s where you might see some problems.

    Why? Because Tesla doesn’t know the range, performance, flexibility or features of the Model S.

    Without a chassis in place, all those parameters are pure speculation. The specs they listed at the unveiling are nothing but targets. They may very well hit them, but at this point they have nothing to base those numbers on.

    Would you still be interested if it cost twice and much, went half as far and didn't have the big screen in the console? Maybe, but I think people need to know that what they saw last week might not be what they get down the road.

    Like I said before, I’m not trying to dismiss this car out of hand, but I have enough experience in the industry to know you can’t bank on anything – performance, efficiency, features, price, and styling – until the final engineering is done.

    I hope this clears things up a little.

    Ed Hellwig
     
  10. Palpatine

    Palpatine Banned

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    Ed, you sound like you might be new to EVs. Tesla is not new to EVs. In fact, their top technology people like JB Straubel were designing EVs since before Tesla Motors even existed.

    It is not that hard to project what the performance and range of an EV will be. If you know the approximate weight, know the power of your motor and know the kWh of your batteries pack, you can arrive at a fairly accurate estimate for the range, acceleration and top speed.

    In fact, the current production version of the Roadster 1.5 has hit all of the original targets and exceeded a few others. The Roadster 2.0 has even improved upon the acceleration targets with the improved stator.

    I think it is unfair for you to cast so much FUD on the Model S specs. They are not just pulling these figures out of their butt. These guys are engineers and they can likely justify their projections with the math and their experience building EVs.
     
  11. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    #11 TEG, Mar 31, 2009
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2009
    Personally I do think Ed has a point. Tesla does try very hard to meet their projections, but sometimes things take longer and and cost more than what they first estimated. The Roadster did ship much later than planned, and it apparently cost a lot more to build than they projected. I think it is commonplace in many products to overlook some cost issues that you only discover as the project progresses.

    I fully expect some things will change with the Model S before it makes it into production, and some people will find that it doesn't match the concept they saw last week, but Tesla has shown that they know how to create desirable products, and I expect the changes will be relatively minimal as far as what the customer sees.

    The production Roadster turned out to be every bit the car that was shown in prototype form. In many ways it turned out to be a better car, and Tesla did honor their original price commitments for a lot of customers before they finally couldn't justify it any longer.

    There is a chance that Model S waitlist depositors will get another "deal" by getting the Model S at less than cost for some amount of time. In a way the depositors turn out to be investors in the company and may gain some rewards by doing so. I am not trying to argue for or against the way they do business, I am just saying that there could be some rewards with the risks.

    Tesla is not GM. They have a unique product offering right now, and can offer and sell it in ways unfamiliar to a typical car shopper. Hopefully everyone who signs up understands what they are doing, and hopefully everything works out and everyone is happy in the end. It can happen.
     
  12. efusco

    efusco Moderator - Model S & X forums

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    Exactly.
    The chassis really won't affect any of the performance, range, or luxury features at all. Will the final design look a little different..probably a bit. But I suspect they'll keep it pretty true.
     
  13. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    I don't hear a lot of people clamoring for changes from what they saw at the intro.

    So, the goal is to deliver it on time, on budget, and with as many of the advertised features as possible. I think we know some items (like AWD, QuickCharge, Pack Swap, ...) may not be available at first.

    The "on time" part is probably the biggest question related to the chassis uncertainty. If they use an existing chassis then it should be quicker to get it done. If they really will use their own design then we have to wonder how far along are they with it.
     
  14. stopcrazypp

    stopcrazypp Well-Known Member

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    Along the lines of what TEG is saying, I see the value in your article; most of the general audience wouldn't know that a lot of the details aren't finalized. And kudos for digging deeper for the details than most of the stories on Model S; I think most of us here appreciate a chance to know more.

    I suppose the criticism of the article is it makes it sound like not having a chassis selected invalidates all the claims of range & performance. I personally think even with a similar chassis, they can get the range & performance data they want. The data on batteries & the motor they know from experience in the Roadster; they may even have prototype versions developed for Model S already. None of the targets seem out of line for the given planned battery capacity & motor output. Given Tesla's record on the Roadster, I expect them hit their targets with minimal changes, but possibly overrun in cost & schedule (hopefully their price estimates were more conservative this time, but they still appear to be fairly optimistic).

    And I think you have to give some more credit to the customers; the car is stated to be more than two years from production & the shown cars claimed to be prototypes (yes you argue it is more like a concept), so it seems common sense would say to customers none of the numbers are finalized but are estimates/targets.
     
  15. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    For all we know, Tesla could have a chassis prototype with a different body out doing durability testing somewhere else.

    By the way, other stuff people noticed:

    #1: The LCD stopped working after some of the test rides.
    #2: It appears that the windows don't go up and down.
    (Could the motorized door handle mechanism block the window glass?)

    Even with the glitches, what they showed was clearly enough to show what they intend to build.
     

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