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Questions asked at the L.A. Auto Show

Discussion in 'News' started by Brent, Nov 18, 2007.

  1. Brent

    Brent Member

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    #1 Brent, Nov 18, 2007
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2007
    Probably nothing new here, but in talking with a couple of the guys at the Yokohama/Tesla booth, with EP6 in the background...

    1) L.A. store is supposed to open in March or April;

    2) A 7-inch SatNav unit is being considered, but not panel mount, so it won't need to be crash tested; SatRadio may not work at all, if so, refunds will be issued for those ordering this option;

    3) First 50 units delivered in Q1, with remainder delivered throughout the year;

    4) In future years -- that is, if production of the Roadster ever comes to America -- the design could well be changed radically;

    5) Contrary to my understanding, the Roadster does, in fact, have a clutch, but it is controlled electronically, and not by a clutch pedal;

    6) The earliest we might see Whitestar is 2011;

    7) Whitestar design has been on and off the drawingboard, and continues to be revised. At one point, the design was drifting towards a "7" series size, but has come back to a "5" series size;

    8) Whitestar battery layout will likely be flat, forming part of the floor of the car, rather than the box design of the Roadster;

    9) The family car market will be perhaps more focused on range than the sports car market; to produce acceptable range, weight and aerodynamics are huge issues, hence the continuous redesign;

    10) The singlest biggest difficulty to overcome in Whitestar production is money -- the New Mexico factory will cost $100 million or more;

    11) There is some speculation that Miles' Automotive airbag challenge is partly backed by an auto dealer industry group, as partial fallout from TM not using the dealer network;

    12) TM has been talking with Shah Agassi about the recharge / battery network he is attempting to develop;

    ------------------------------------------

    A couple of other observations:

    A) The Roadster's rear window appears to be plexiglas, not glass, and is production intent;

    B) Steering wheel stalk switches have a somewhat chintzy feel;

    C) I'm not impressed by interior switches overall, actually, certainly not by comparison to other $100K autos, but I'm guessing that TM is somewhat beholden to Lotus for some of this;

    D) There is HUGE buzz over the car; I figure TM will sell everything they can produce for a long, long time.
     
  2. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    #2 TEG, Nov 18, 2007
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2007
    Thanks, Brent.

    That is the first I heard of plans to do something radically different with the Roadster...

    Glad to hear it. A 7 series is too big for my liking.

    Yes, like the Rav4-EV layout. I think we heard hints of this plan elsewhere.

    With the price needing to come down, and a heavier bigger car being less efficient I fear they may plan to resort to a hybrid design to get the range they want at the price point they hope. Lets hope for a major battery (or other energy storage) breakthrough. Personally I would rather see a 150mile+ range BEV than a hybrid that can refuel. I know we keep talking about a fuel powered trailer for longer trips, and a "serial hybrid" just seems like the same thing with the generator permanently attached, but I really don't want to be dragging an ICE around day to day. Tesla made such a point that Whitestar will be 100% electric, that it would be a major change if it has a fuel burning generator/engine permanently mounted.

    IPO money, right?

    That would be rather slimy.

    Hmm, I am still trying to understand how the business model is going to work in the near term. If Israel charges ahead with a massive EV roll-out I could see him doing something there, but how can he make money here with the very limited number of Roadsters and Whitestars? Could it be that Tesla is going to consider releasing product in Israel now?

    Lets hope it doesn't yellow over time, or scratch too easily.
    Those early Boxster plastic rear windows were one of the lamest parts of the cars.

    You were looking at an EP... Any chance that the VPs are better?
     
  3. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Compare this photo of the EP shifter and buttons:
    tesla-roadster-4.jpg

    to this from a VP:
    699826320_a3c3e0d8b3.jpg


    Notice the rubberized ring around the shifter to make it feel nicer?
     
  4. Cobos

    Cobos S60 owner since 2013

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    I was sort of hoping for a 2010 release but I suppose that's a little bit too optimistic. I'm afraid we'll start seeing true BEVs from the big manufacturers at that time though so it's going to be a very hard sale for Tesla.

    I like that they are truly focused on getting the range down though, but any range over 150 miles I beleive is good, but not necissary... I would have liked if those of us that don't need as much range could get the $50k model earlier than the $65k model as they would not need to meet so hard specs.

    This would be without going public right? Considering how much money some big name investors in Norway just dumped into Think I suppose you could milk those for a bit of money as well. :)

    I hope they mean his reharge infrastructure not his battery network....
    I've already said that exchanging batteries is a bad idea...

    Cobos
     
  5. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    Previously it was said that the Roadster was going to be assembled by Lotus for the lifespan of that program, there was no hint of them being made in the USA. I sort of imagined something like the Esprit, where it was periodically improved and updated, but basically the same underlying design produced for about 30 years.


    Ouch. That somewhat changes the complexion of the company, if they are going to be running for three or four years with the Roadster as their only product. It also means WhiteStar is likely to appear after the Chevy Volt. (GM are aiming for Nov 2010, they now say.)


    Not having the basic design layout pinned down, by this time, is troubling. This product is going to define Tesla Motors more than the Roadster does. It needs to be done right, but more importantly it needs to be done. Otherwise Tesla isn't the "real car company" that they aspire to be.


    You know, at some point they're going to need advanced airbags. Those exemptions expire after a few years and have to be renewed. When Tesla is producing 10,000 WhiteStars per year, they'll no longer be a low-volume manufacturer, and they won't qualify for a renewal of the exemptiion. Then they'll have to get advanced airbags into the Roadster, like it or not.


    Not interested in battery swapping, but I do hope that Agassi's company uses charging stations compatible with Tesla's. If they do, that would go a long way toward establishing an industry standard, which is much needed.
     
  6. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Supreme Premier

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    You belive that GM will come up with a completely new platform and a vehicle in a 3 year time? Hey, I have some first grade snake oil left for sale. Want some?:wink:
     
  7. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    GM's normal time frame for developing a completely new platform and vehicle is about 3-4 years. But E-Flex isn't completely new, it's based on the "global delta" platform. GM also has some past experience working with electric vehicles.

    I think the timetable Bob Lutz has described is aggressive but not crazy.

    If GM fails to meet it, I think the most likely cause would be something happening outside the program -- in legislation, or with GM's financial health.
     
  8. Brent

    Brent Member

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    Keep in mind that many of these points are speculative and gleaned from the personal opinions of employees. They are not company announcements!

    The Roadster redesign point came from a question about changes that TM envisioned for the 2009 model, which then led to a question whether they planned to keep the same body look over the years, much as the 911 body has been around 40-some years. The rep said the Roadster design was largely constrained by the Lotus "platform" (assembly line? body works?), and that it "wouldn't surprise" him that future models would change significantly if Lotus no longer built it.

    The switch feel may well be related to the model being an EP. But unless I missed something, I'm pretty sure the rear window will be plexiglas.

    I'm pretty confident in the 2011 year for Whitestar -- that is, that the model won't appear before then. I heard it from two guys in independent conversations. (The car may well be delayed beyond that, for all anyone knows.) One problem they won't have is the transmission, as the current thinking has them dropping gears for a direct drive system. They were cagey about performance numbers, but the consensus seemed to be acceleration/top end around 6 second /100MPH (110MPH?), with desired range at least 200 miles. I don't think these stats are new, however.

    I think the viability of the Agassi battery swap plan lies in the details. The TM guy I talk with about this issue said that swapping is impossible with the current Roadster design, as it takes a couple of hours to remove the battery, by the time you drain cooling fluids, etc. (You'd charge the battery faster than it would take to swap it.) He also wasn't too sanguine on the possibility of a swap network in general, but speculated that its difficulties could be overcome if the idea gained momentum -- then shrugged his shoulders. I gathered the impression that the bigger benefit was standardization of the recharge network. As Tony mentions, standards are much needed.
     
  9. Kardax

    Kardax Member

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    This always seemed inevitable to me. Labor costs in the UK are high, and the declining dollar value is also a problem. In theory, Tesla could make a better car for the same amount of money in the US. (Or make the same car with a higher profit margin.)

    They'll easily get that with an IPO, but my feeling is they can find private investment, too, especially if they can get the roadster out.

    Of course, if the WhiteStar isn't going into production until 2011, there's no rush to build the factory. Albuquerque residents will be upset, though.

    Even if that's not the case, it's guaranteed that auto dealers will try to disrupt Tesla as the company grows.

    I imagine most of the discussion is revolving around technology licensing and compatibility on the charger side of the business. I don't think anyone who's looked closely at the battery swapping idea thinks it would work for full-size vehicles.

    -Ryan
     
  10. Brent

    Brent Member

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    A couple of other points that occur to me now:

    1) The rep said that the Roadster has "proprietary" jack lifting points, such that tire changes will require specialized equipment. He thought that most such service will be handled by company service technicians, rather than by, say, AAA, or (heaven forbid!) the car's driver.

    2) Mounted on the front of EP6 was a nice license plate holder, thus saving California drivers the indignity of extra large parking tickets -- or perhaps subjecting them to the indignity of being caught in the snare of traffic light enforcement cameras.
     
  11. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    I wonder if that means the same system as the Lotus Elise, or a different system? I know there are special procedures for putting an Elise on a lift rack. And if you don't follow them. . .

    PICT0077.JPG
     
  12. BlackbirdHighway

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    Swappable Batteries

    If the Whitestar actually has the batteries placed in the floorboards, that just might lend itself to the battery swap idea. I'm not really sold on this swap thing being practical, but I can see it would have a couple of clear advantages. The Whitestar buyer would be more sensitive to both range and cost, which are clearly competing design constraints, since more range requires more batteries, and more cost. Swappable batteries allows it to have a more reasonable amount of batteries, while still having a way around the range limitations.

    Not too sure it makes sense to go that way, but if I had the choice, I'd rather see that than go to some type of series hybrid approach.
     
  13. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Supreme Premier

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    I'd rather just have shorter range, thank you.
     
  14. BlackbirdHighway

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    Depends on what shorter range means. If it's around 175 to 200 miles, that works for me very well.

    The question is, will Tesla believe that will work for most of the target customers?

    I'd even take a 120 mile range, and have one of those range extending charger mini-trailers. I didn't like that idea at all at first, since it's so kludgy and in-elegant, but the idea has grown on me as a reasonably valid way to increase range for the occasional long trip, without having to carry around all the extra baggage of a permanent range extender like the Volt has.

    That battery swapping idea has a lot of drawbacks, well described by many folks, a lot of them on website. I think it could be made to work, but not very well and only with great difficulty.
     
  15. Cobos

    Cobos S60 owner since 2013

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    I actually think the range-extending trailer makes perfect sense when you start to look at the details... As has been said, for almost everyone you only do long trips a few times a year and thus carrying the range extender internally is going to add weight, complexity and eat up cargo space.
    When you do longer trips add a smallish trailer inside your slipstream, possibly get extra cargo space and "unlimited" range. And the best part you don't have to include the trailer as part of the sticker price, at the time you do go on a long trip you decide if you want to fly, rent/borrow an ICE car or buy the trailer. This means Tesla can sell the Whitestar for a lower price and then people can add the extras like upgraded stereos, extended range trailer, leather seats etc. Less of a sticker shock and they can sell it with a shortish range.
    Might not look perfect but some good plastic coverings (that's usually what goes for style for cars as well these days) and the few times you use it it shouldn't be too much of an eyesore.

    Cobos
     
  16. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    rav_longranger01.jpg
     

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