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Tesla in Big Trouble

The article states that Tesla has to repay its loans to the US DoE faster than originally planned because they aren’t selling enough Model S sedans. They join Nissan and Chevrolet in the lower-sales-than-planned category. It seems that all electric cars available in the USA face the same issues. Chevrolet is on pace to hit about 10,000 Volts per year, and that would make them far and away the leading seller of electric cars.

I guess that you can see how the cost of batteries affects the sales price. The most reasonably priced units are the Prius plug-in at $32,000, but it only gets 14.3 miles on battery alone. Next is the all-electric Leaf at $35,000. It can go 73 miles between charges, but you have to recharge it. This is strictly a commuter car for 2 or more car families. The Volt starts at $39,000 and improves range ovr the Prius by going 38 miles belfore the engine starts recharging the battery. That’s still half the range of the Leaf, but it can be your only car; it has unlimited range by providing a gas-powered generator feature. The Tesla S goes 160 miles, but starts at $57,000. You can increase the range to 265 miles, but the cost jumps by $20,000. Note that this is for the base Tesla S, and does not include more expensive trim packages.

What do you think?

I LOVE the idea of an all electric vehicle…but for many people…it’s just too expensive and the range is very limited. Yes the Tesla S has a max range of 300 miles…but it costs $84k. The price has to come down a lot for the average person to buy it. A hybrid is more practical.

I agree that a hybrid is more practical. With the discounts that Chevy is offering, the Volt is also practical. And it is an electric car, since the electric motors power the car except undler unusual circumstances. The gas engine simple recharges the batteries to power the electric motors. The article I posted a reference to in another thread yesterday discussed this.

I think it would be fun to own a Tesla S, but I have several cars on my list that I would buy with the $77,000 the max range car would cost - at least 2 at the same time for that price.

I don’t think true electric cars will be viable until the battery technology is there.

As to Tesla, I’ve thought for years that they’re relied on nothing more than playing the government grant, Federal loan, and venture capital game. Keep the BS flowing by proclaiming lofty goals and inflated results to keep that money rolling in.
Its the same thing as the VV1 which eventually became Persu which became Persu something else which became defunct.

I’ve never been convinced that the Tesla will travel as far as claimed. During that test a few years ago to put those rumors to rest, and in front of reporters, Tesla’s high miles without a recharge test involved stopping to recharge the batteries. According to Tesla this was to “show off the recharging capabilities”. I thought the purpose of the test was to show the car could travel 200 miles on its own?

I also take the Model S claim with a large grain of salt based on past history. You asked for thoughts so that’s mine. :slight_smile:

I agree with ok4450.

And I’m also unimpressed with Tesla design. You can “brick” the Roadster by letting the battery discharge too far, which wrecks the battery and requires a full replacement at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars. It would have been basic common sense to put a limit switch in there which would shut the car off before that damage could occur, so that you could get it recharged. Hell, my $300 Canon camera has that feature. Why doesn’t a $130,000 “cutting edge” car?

With the discounts that Chevy is offering, the Volt is also practical.

It’s like the Hybrid…practical for a very small set. The Volt has about a 35mile range on all electric. Then the engine kicks in. For people like me with 100mile round trip commutes…the gas savings isn’t worth the extra cost of the vehicle.

But don’t completely give up on the technology. It’s still at it’s infancy. And the when the Tesla came out it was well beyond what GM/Ford/Toyota/Chryco (name your car company) was doing at the time.

The problem with Tesla could be the price. It’s a great car for people with lots of money but those people can afford lots of gasoline too. If I were wealthy I would choose a car that would keep on going.

Distance is another thing. If I wanted to leave Lompoc and go to Westwood I couldn’t come back without recharging the battery because of the 280 mile distance round trip.

I could probably make it to Calabasas, have Coffee at Coco’s and come back, but I don’t know anybody else who would go to the trouble.

Nobody’s mentioned the other ‘new’ electric (actually a hybrid like a Volt) carmaker, Fisker. If anything they’re in worse shape than Tesla, despite similar buckets of our money. Here’s a scathing comment on them (note the very negative review by Consumer Reports):
http://www.autoextremist.com/

I’m puzzled as to the reasoniong behind making them pay the loamn back early. They must be a nonunion shop.

I happen to think Tesla’s technology is the technology of the future. Tesla was the first in modern times to build an electric car that someone would WANT to own. And they had to overtcome some serious technical challanges to do so. I give them a great deal of credit for what they’ve accomplished to date. If this administration were serious about supporting green technology, and serious about supporting U.S. industry, it seems that companies like Tesla woud be a far better bet than companies like Solantra.

“I’m puzzled as to the reasoniong behind making them pay the loamn back early…If this administration were serious about supporting green technology, and serious about supporting U.S. industry…”

It has nothing to do with the President of the United States. The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program was passed by Congress, and there is a clause concerning financial solvency. Loan payment may be accelerated if the company no longer meets those requirements.

I think Tesla is having some difficult with the car’s market placement. I think they’d do better by coming up with a more competitively priced car – something that would attract folks who’d also consider a Toyota Corolla or a Honda Civic. They need to sell a lot of cars in order to take advantage of economy of scale. Most folks looking for green cars aren’t looking for blue tooth and fancy displays and all the bells and whistles. They want basic reliable transport. They’ll live with a range of 75 miles, provided it is a relable 75 miles. Either that, or provide a small back up gas motor to get them home on surface streets in the rare event the battery runs out. If
Testla, they figure out how to do this, I expect they’ll return to prosperity.

The pure electric products are all more costly and with less function than either conventional cars or hybrids. The Volt and the Fisker are both hybrids no matter what anyone calls them. They have plugs and they have gas tanks. Both connect the engine to the transmission to the electric motor like the Prius but don’t have a clutch that allows the gas engine to drive the car without power to the electric motor. That said, both still provide the functions that conventional cars do as they don’t have to sit for hours to re-fuel (recharge) the batteries. Both are very expensive as you should expect of cars with TWO power plants. Best payoff possible is a 30 mile roundtrip commute with limited long trips with gas operation. The batteries for these babies are about $1 per watt-hr for the Li-ion batteries. Most of that cost is for the materials so don’t expect a huge cost reduction anytime soon. Go diesel, go turbo-direct-injection gasoline, go lightweight for good mileage.

Joe SixPack doesn’t even know what a Tesla is…It’s out of his price range anyway…People who can afford them have no use for cars that just stop and must be towed home and they never heard of a Tesla either…Enthusiasts know what they are, but they have shown little interest. There are so many cars in that price range and so few can afford them…

“I think Tesla is having some difficult with the car’s market placement. I think they’d do better by coming up with a more competitively priced car – something that would attract folks who’d also consider a Toyota Corolla or a Honda Civic.”

That’s not possible. Electric cars are far too expensive to compete in the small car market. Even the Nissan Leaf is over $30,000, and Nissan has many other cars in a lot of markets to absorb the nonrecurring engineering cost as the Leaf market develops. Tesla has no other market to absorb the NRE. They have to charge the full cost quickly or go out of business. That’s why they have to go to the luxury car market.

Joe SixPack doesn't even know what a Tesla is..It's out of his price range anyway..People who can afford them have no use for cars that just stop and must be towed home and they never heard of a Tesla either.

And 20 years ago Joe SixPack didn’t know the first thing about HD TV. Price of those first TV’s were over $10,000 (and that was for a 30" screen). Now you can buy an 80" HDTV that’s more reliable…far better picture…uses 1/3 the amount of electricity for 1/10 the price.

New technology ALWAYS has a huge price tag. That’s the way it’s ALWAYS been. As it becomes more widely used…the price drops dramatically.

“As it becomes more widely used…the price drops dramatically.”

That should work for big companies like GM, Toyota, Ford, and Nissan (Renault). They have enough volume in other products and a world market to ammortize the exense of creating a new drive train system, if not a completely new car. Tesla has to depend on just 2 or 3 models (Model X ships 2014, maybe). That’s a tough row to hoe.

While car price may drop with volume, it’s the battery price that’s the key. Until there’s a major advance I wonder how much the battery price will drop - we’ve been making them for a long time, in big factories, not like the computer chip where there were constant rapid advances in technology.

Until there's a major advance I wonder how much the battery price will drop

Actually if there is no advance in technology…but still an increase in production…then the price of the battery should drop faster then a car or even computer chip because you’re not paying for R&D.

I don’t understand, Mike. For a commodity like lithium batteries that have been made for years, why would the prices suddenly start dropping? I imagine prices might increase for a while until new factories come on line.

For a commodity like lithium batteries that have been made for years, why would the prices suddenly start dropping?

This is very common. The battery has been made…but the the packaging (stacking) for auto’s haven’t been. So as more and more of them are being produced the price will start to come down. Then there might be enough of a demand that other companies will start to manufacture them and that will drive the cost down because of increase competition.