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See the Tesla S at the Detroit International Auto Show (Video) 143

Posted by Roblimo
from the as-low-as-$49,900-but-you'll-wait-until-2013 dept.
The weather in Detroit was frightful and Slashdot editor Timothy Lord was nine hours away. No problem! He loaded his camcorder and a bunch of other stuff in his car and drove to Detroit for the 2012 International Auto Show. In today's video he looks at the Tesla Model S. Next week we'll have more video highlights of the auto show for you, so stay tuned...

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See the Tesla S at the Detroit International Auto Show (Video)

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  • when did this happen (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Friday January 20, 2012 @04:10PM (#38767502)

    Slashdot has reporters who do on-site video pieces now?

    Insert quip about how they can do that but can't hire editors to make sure the summary blurb is accurate. ;-)

    • by guttentag (313541)
      I was wondering how I missed the fact that Timothy was actually Harry Potter all these years. At least we still get to hear Slashdot's own robotic overlord. That was comfortingly familiar.
    • by Thing 1 (178996)

      "Oh the weather in Detroit was frightful,
      Electric cars, so delightful."

      Okay, I'll stop.

    • by timothy (36799) * Works for Slashdot

      No new people, actually -- the content on the site is put up pretty much by the four guys whose nicks you see on the site ;) (Maybe eventually there *will* be new people to make more video, and better than I know how to, but for now it's an ongoing experiment.)

      And what -- you want everything?!

      timothy

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'll wait til Jeremy drives one on Top Gear.

    • by wiedzmin (1269816)
      Mod parent up. Best comment up until this point.
      • Yes, great comment. Let's wait until Clarkson and company do another hatchet job on it because they don't like electric cars...or American cars.....why Tesla even loaned them cars to review is beyond me.

        Top Gear is a great show, very entertaining. A LOT of people (and I am not saying either one of you are one of these people) do not realize that it is pretty much completely staged. Outside of the stig's track times...and the star in a reasonably priced car....you have to take anything on that show with a g
        • by wiedzmin (1269816)
          Not saying they do a scientific job of evaluating vehicles. Just that up until this point in the thread this has been the most valuable suggestion in my opinion. I would love to watch one of those Top Gear folks try to endure a road-trip in the back child seat.
        • by unrtst (777550)

          Top Gear is over the top on lots of stuff, and I think that's blatantly obvious (disclaimer: I love the show). But to call it a "hatchet job" is also overly exaggerated.

          Sure, they staged the filming of the Tesla running out of battery, but the point that it would have run out very quickly was absolutely true. Sure, they were driving it like maniacs, and that's part of the point. Driving any car like that will result in far higher fuel consumption than the advertised average mpg (or miles per charge). But th

          • by drivin98 (2047662)
            Calling it a "hatchet job" is certainly not overly exaggerated....and the point at which they claim they would have ran out was also a load of BS. Tesla Roadster sales in the UK where that episode is repeated have lagged behind those in other European markets. If I was Tesla I certainly wouldn't give them a car to test again.
            • If you drive it like you stole it, it will shut down much, much sooner than normal.
              The 'shut down' may be in terms of reduced performance, admittedly, and it may still go at much reduced speeds.
              With pretty much any battery pack, if you discharge it very rapidly, you get potential issues from many areas, from thermal hot-spots on.
              The tesla is not immune to this, and will reduce power, and advise the user to pull over (IIRC) when it risks battery damage.
              Is this 'running out' - if you're on a track day - yes.

  • I thought it was going to be some large spectacular Telsa coil. That would be far more interesting than some electric car I can't afford.

  • So jealous (Score:5, Funny)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday January 20, 2012 @04:14PM (#38767566)

    Every day I drive pass my local Tesla dealership and see all those rows of beautiful cars and think of just stopping in and buying one right on the spot. And then I remember that Tesla cars aren't actually real, there are no Tesla dealerships, and the company stays pretty much on the verge of bankruptcy, with models that always seem to be on backorder or are "coming out sometime next year...we hope." Then I notice that Natalie Portman is my girlfriend sitting in the seat next to me, and realize that I'm dreaming.

    • by guttentag (313541)
      You could be dreaming, or you could simply be living or working in Menlo Park [teslamotors.com], CA. I used to drive past here all the time. All the car dealerships on El Camino Real left that strip of real estate sandwiched between the road and the CalTrain because there simply wasn't enough space for them to store enough inventory to be competitive with dealerships in Redwood City and Palo Alto. Strangely enough, lack of space for on-hand inventory was not a problem for Tesla, so they took over one of the empty lots.
    • by Sez Zero (586611)

      Don't dream and drive; the live you save might be your own.

    • by skine (1524819)

      If you're keen on visiting a dealership, here's a list:

      http://www.teslamotors.com/buy/stores [teslamotors.com]

  • by LoudMusic (199347) on Friday January 20, 2012 @04:17PM (#38767604)

    Other than the hot chick in the boot, that was a worthless video.

  • Very cool car (Score:5, Informative)

    by ClayDowling (629804) on Friday January 20, 2012 @04:22PM (#38767656) Homepage

    I saw it there, and it's one of the few cars on the floor that shows you all of the mechanicals (Ford did it with their trucks, which was also really cool). The mechanics of this car are incredibly simple. This should significantly reduce ongoing maintenance costs and make car ownership easier for the majority of people.

    • by jandrese (485)
      Of course the most difficult repairs in a car are electrical ones, and guess what a Tesla has in spades? Diagnosing electrical problems can be a real nightmare in regular cars, I hope Tesla has engineered in better diagnostics for their cars.
      • Re:Very cool car (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Fned (43219) on Friday January 20, 2012 @05:13PM (#38768278) Journal

        Diagnosing electrical problems can be a real nightmare in regular cars

        Regular cars have a whole bunch of solenoids and sensors all over, to run systems that electric cars don't have.

        No matter what, an electric car with X features will be dramatically less complex than an IC-engine car with X features.

    • by sincewhen (640526)

      Perhaps, but electro-mechanically and electronically it is quite complex. I wonder how rugged and durable it will prove to be in everyday use. And I don't mean the battery, but all the ancillary systems like the adjustable suspension, the glass roof, the touch screen and the various powered gizmos. Perhaps they will be just as good as any other car, but they are a potential point of failure.

      • Re:Very cool car (Score:5, Informative)

        by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@ n e tzero.net> on Friday January 20, 2012 @05:56PM (#38768794) Homepage Journal

        For components that matter and are in areas that need to be protected, I'm pretty sure Tesla uses milspec components, and Elon Musk publicly announced that for most of the interior components they use stuff found in more ordinary consumer electronics.

        The really complex part electrically is the battery monitoring system, where Tesla has a dedicated system monitoring the voltage levels and maintaining consistent heat levels in an attempt to keep the Li-ion battery pack from overheating or "melting down"... as sometimes happens with the technology. The cells are isolated with the system in a way that if one cell burns up, it won't take the whole battery pack out with it. That is mechanical engineering, but it doesn't have moving parts.

        As for the moving parts themselves are concerned, the Tesla vehicles have a simple electric motor (AC variable frequency induction motors) with a transmission to match wheel speed.... and the transmission is rather simple compared to internal combustion engine transmissions. The hard part there is simply getting a transmission built that would handle the torque put out by the electric motor. Going from 0-60 in under 4 seconds (the Model S appears to match this same performance spec that the Roadster also had) is a whole lot of torque to put onto the drive shaft. An auto mechanic would have no problem recognizing or repairing the transmission. Electric motors are quite famous for being rugged, and would likely outlast the chassis of the vehicle it is mounted in.

        The other miscellaneous gizmos you are talking about are what you would find on any luxury automobile. Yes, they are potential points of failure, but it won't stop the vehicle from operation and they are also repaired quite easily. Replacing those components is no different than trying to change a bulb inside the dash of a more ordinary automobile. None of those components should take more than an hour to replaced even if your were a novice mechanic.

        Seriously, I fail to see where the complexity is at, other than simply putting together the whole thing. Compared to modern ICE automobiles, it is significantly less complexity. Compared to a hammer or a crowbar, yes it is more complex. What is your standard here?

    • by mosb1000 (710161)

      The battery will be significantly more expensive to replace. It's an easy job though.

      • I think the point of that might be some day you could just go to a gas station (or gas station equivalent) and swap out your dead battery for a full one, which would let you drive significant distances without needing to stop and charge overnight.

        • Supposedly if you can charge from 440v mains, charge time is on the order of 20 minutes. Time enough for a cup of coffee and a toilet break after 120 miles.

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        Yeah, but there's an 8-year/100,000 mile warranty on that battery. After 8 years, it may be time for a whole new car anyway. If you drive a lot, and get 100,000 miles out of it in 3 years, then in 3 years, the batteries will likely be cheaper than they are now, or you'll be able to get a battery that will get you 500 mile range.
  • I know I'm dying to see a government funded vehicle that only the wealthiest 10% of Americans can afford!

    Yes, I know that the government gave out $25 billion in loans under that program and Tesla got just $465 million, but still. I can't imagine a dumber way of promoting green transportation for the masses than building a $60,000 sedan.

    So ten thousand or so greenwashing celebrities, financiers, and Ivy League professors will buy one and then...what? They claim they'll make a cheap model when they work o
    • by Anonymous Coward

      >>I just don't see why Tesla deserves our adulation.

      Do you really think the Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt would exist if Tesla did not?

      And clearly someone thinks Tesla has value as Toyota has inked a deal with them to build battery packs and power electronics for EV versions of the RAV4 mini-SUV. Daimler Benz also has agreements with Tesla to build battery packs.

      • by yodleboy (982200)
        "Do you really think the Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt would exist if Tesla did not?"

        Of course they would. No one looked at a struggling boutique electric car manufacturer with a single car priced over $100k and said "let's be like them". If you want the inspiration for other manufacturers stepping up their efforts just look at the Toyota Prius. Yes, it's a hybrid, but full electric is just the obvious evolution of what was done there and a way to avoid being just "another Prius". The success of that car
        • So the reason why Toyota decided to make a major cash investment into Tesla Motors and had the CEO come to California to meet with Elon Musk was because they already were the world leader in electric vehicle transportation and didn't need to copy or learn anything from Tesla?

          Seriously, please explain that one.

          BTW, it was the CEO of General Motors who met with Martin Eberhardt when Tesla was in Detroit (doing a sales demo in that city) that was the clinching case to build the Chevy Volt. The Roadster really was the inspiration for getting the Volt built. The Volt was also the only new vehicle project that survived the GM bankruptcy as well. I think that says Tesla was a bit more than a "boutique electric car manufacturer".

          I could get into more details, and certainly the inspiration to use standard Li-ion cells was something that neither Toyota nor Daimler ever got the gumption to try out. Keep in mind the EV-1 used ordinary Lead-acid batteries, and until Tesla came out with their battery packs it was not even considered something possible to try Lithium technology for automobiles.

          • There were EV-1s with NiMH batteries but due to licensing issues (Texaco bought the required patents) they stopped being manufactured.
          • The Volt was also the only new vehicle project that survived the GM bankruptcy as well.

            It should, perhaps, be noted that GM didn't manage to sell even 10,000 Volts last year. Not an especially inspiring start....

            • by Teancum (67324)

              GM didn't bother to even make more than about 10,000 of their Volt model either. I put that more something that is a problem with their marketing team than anything that is a problem with the engineering.

              If you want me to nitpick about problems with the Volt, I could go on, and there are numerous issues that I see which GM didn't need to get into, but none the less the Volt is a sign that General Motors wants to stay relevant and continue to be involved with the electric automobile "just in case" it starts

    • by Smeagel (682550) on Friday January 20, 2012 @04:41PM (#38767860)
      Often times the first generations of new technology are so extremely expensive, that only the rich can afford them. Then slowly, with iterations and perfections, the prices come down to normal consumer prices. Almost every breakthrough technology has been that way, car's, computers, tv's, home entertainment. The thing is, unless there's the initial generation of very expensive technology, there's usually no starting point for engineers to slowly develop improved and cheaper ways to build. It's rare a technology goes from non-existent to every consumer can afford it. Also keep in mind Tesla isn't trying to compete with Toyota sedans, it's trying to compete with high-end BMW, Audi, Infiniti sedans. As in other automobile technologies, the cheaper sedans benefit from all the R&D that goes into the more expensive sedans, as their features slowly trickle into the cheaper sedans.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke (6130)

      I know trickle-down economics sorta works in cutting-edge technology, but Nissan already has an electric sedan for $20,000 less.

      One third the price, one third the range.

      The market for luxury sedans is pretty significant, and it's possible that the existence of the Model S will drive the costs of battery packs with ranges large enough for the masses to feel comfortable down enough that maybe the next generation of $20,000 electric sedan will be something everyone will want.

      I just don't see why Tesla deserves our adulation.

      Hey, I get your point and it's a fair one. There are other reasons to adulate the company other than them being a champion of the masses. For some of us, just ma

    • Because the Tesla car is what electric cars SHOULD be to be competitive. The leaf's range is too short for 60% of American commutes (including mine) while the Tesla S is capable of all but the longest commutes. The leaf's battery pack cannot be swapped while the Tesla S can swap batteries to make longer trips possible given a battery swap station along the way.

      I think the government grant money was grossly mishandled overall (much of it went to companies that only had ideas that sounded good on paper).
    • by roman_mir (125474)

      Oh, oh, if you are dying for a 60,000 dollar car, wouldn't you die 50% more if you had to pay a 50% more for a government sponsored car?

      You can get this Al Gore mobile (Fisker Karma) for just 95,000 USD. [politicons.net]

      Well, you can get one, once they are shipped back to USA from Finland, where Fisker is outsourcing the manufacturing to. I wonder how the Finnish are taking this, after all, it's only 529,000,000 USD that the Obama administration (well, US gov't), has 'invested' into this deal.

      • I live right by a Fiskar dealership, yet i never see any on the road, EVER. I live in So-cal, so its not unusual to see very high end cars all the time. You would think i would see at least one by now. Ive seen multiple Teslas, A Reventon, R8s, Murcilagos etc etc.
        • by JBMcB (73720)

          I've seen exactly one on the road (with manufacturer plates) and I work near a major automotive testing facility where they test just about everything. I've seen more Lancias than Fiskars, and they don't even sell Lancias in the US.

          I saw it at night, and at first I thought it was some weird Peugeot, as it was hideous-looking from the back (the week before I had seen a new Peugeot wagon on a flatbed - I thought it was a Golf with some awful body kit bolted-on)

    • by deanklear (2529024) on Friday January 20, 2012 @05:36PM (#38768580)
      The planes you fly are modified bombers funded by decades of investment by the US government. The computer you use is based on technology that progressed under enormous investment by the US government. The internet, which is probably the source of all of your entertainment and possibly your income was invented, funded, and developed by the US government.

      It's one of the few things we do well, and it does our society a tremendous amount of good to invest in new technologies, even if they don't immediately produce profitable outcomes. That's why we were the world's number one economy, and it's shortsighted nonsense like demanding that everything be developed by private industry -- most of which can't see past their next quarterly report -- which is going to continue our slide to last place in the western world.
      • I think most of you have misinterpreted my post as libertarian blustering, and it's not. I'm entirely in favor of government funding for interesting projects, and even in favor of outright nationalizing things like healthcare; I'm much more socialist than libertarian.

        I'm not opposed to a car maker getting government money, I just think Tesla is a boutique manufacturer for rich people masquerading as a technical visionary. They seem to me a place with more hype than substance, sucking up government loans a
        • The owner / visionary behind Tesla is Elon Musk, he same man behind SpaceX. He's definitely what I would consider a visionary. He's bound and determined to drag us into the future, despite much of the entrenched efforts to prevent it. He fully has my support in this.
    • by afidel (530433)
      You're missing the fact that it was a LOAN, not a grant. Remember that the government actually made money on the loans in TARP which brought the total cost down to $34B, a small fraction of the $700B initial outlay.
      • by Thing 1 (178996)

        Remember that the government actually made money on the loans in TARP which brought the total cost down to $34B, a small fraction of the $700B initial outlay.

        I would still call that a waste of taxpayer money to prop up failing businesses.

      • by dak664 (1992350)

        TARP looks like a success on paper, but a big chunk of another $3 trillion was involved to prop up the assets of those companies so they could repay the TARP loans with subsidized valuations. Fannie May and Freddie Mac took the heat for a lot of those losses. http://pra-blog.blogspot.com/2011/03/true-costs-of-tarp.html [blogspot.com]

        Free market could handle this were it not for the lobbies and regulations that favor big business. Why *must* automobiles have airbags and be built to survive impacts of 100 km/hr? So drivers

        • by JBMcB (73720)

          +1. There were cars in the 90's that got 40-50MPG using the new EPA formulae. They would be considered death traps these days. Gotta load in 400lbs of airbags, crumple zones and double-folded steel pillars to keep people safe.

          Using today's engine and transmission technology, the same cars would probably be pushing 80MPG, without all the extra safety equipment weighing them down.

      • You're missing the fact that it was a LOAN, not a grant.

        No, I'm not missing anything. From my original statement:

        Yes, I know that the government gave out $25 billion in loans under that program and Tesla got just $465 million

        Tesla may be required to pay back the loan, but they could also completely fail to produce sufficient sales to pay it back, in which case the government will much more likely see fit to forgive the principal, make ridiculous concessions on repayments, etc. than sue Tesla into oblivion and seize their assets like any competent private lender would do. The government has a hideously bad track record of getting money back out of the things they've bai

        • by afidel (530433)
          You make a bunch of assertions in your post without any backing data, show me a government loan program where it's lost more than 10% of the principal.

          As to you other point about what Tesla should do with the loan money, they've had a very public strategy since the company was formed and have hit all their marks along the way so far AND as a bonus sold their technology to other auto manufacturers.
  • Timed to calm the equity markets jittery over the news of two key Model S engineers leaving [seekingalpha.com]

  • Optional rear facing mini-seats? This isn't a family car, this is just a roadster that can transport a family in a pinch.
    • by b0bby (201198)

      Judging by the pictures (can't see the video) it is a pretty standard 4-door sedan. I assume the optional rear facing seat are to allow kids to sit in the trunk area or something. In fact, on their website it says seating up to 7 - that would be 5 normal seats plus two kids in the trunk I guess.

      • by jandrese (485)
        Ah, I misunderstood then. I thought it was a "4 seater" with the rear seats being hilariously useless.
    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      Optional rear facing mini-seats? This isn't a family car, this is just a roadster that can transport a family in a pinch.

      Right, just like most other luxury sports sedans. It's for well-off folks who like fast cars but need something practical enough to justify owning when you have a family.

      Guessing by the number of these kinds of cars by BMW, Lexus, etc I see as I drive around, this is not a tiny market.

    • by ickpoo (454860)

      It is a family car, has four normal seats (the expected ones), and has optional additional 2 seats. The rear facing seats are in the trunk. (it is a hatch back).

  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Friday January 20, 2012 @04:45PM (#38767896) Homepage
    I kinda like these video features, but *wow* is that 1960s era robotic voice obnoxious. It's incredibly grating to listen to.
  • It's a pity, this is a great example and great use of technology but deep down, it's just not able to deliver any real benefits over any other sedan.

    The energy costs of the car in an entire lifespan are probably equal or worse than petrol. This technology requires more energy to make and involves expensive mid-term disposable battery packs. Energy used for it has probably had 50% of it's already non-optimal conversion efficiency wasted in down-the-wire transmission.

    When that's taken into account, what's t

    • by DanDD (1857066)

      A hydrogen economy is so far off that it's even more fiction than a Tesla. There are at least two Tesla dealerships in the Denver, Colorado area, and these cars are in fact driving around (at least the Roadsters).

      First, hydrogen is just an energy carrier. How are you going to produce this hydrogen?

      Second, once you produce hydrogen, how are you going to distribute it around? Replace natural gas? Not for hundreds of years....

      If you have the energy to produce hydrogen, why not just use the existing grid?

      • by Teancum (67324)

        Hydrogen can be produced at the point of delivery or even in your home, so the distribution system doesn't need to be nearly so extensive as natural gas or other fuel distribution systems. It can also be shipped in bulk as ordinary water for those few places that may need to have it shipped in from a distance. A tanker truck full of water is not really a significant danger on a highway other than the sheer mass of the vehicle.

        Getting fueling stations set up is a bit harder for hydrogen, and by far and awa

        • That would be assuming power lines are cheaper to build than natural gas pipelines and have less losses. Which they don't. Otherwise you wouldn't ever see a natural gas electric power plant at all.
          • by Teancum (67324)

            If electricity was made incredibly cheap due to fusion power, losses would be trivial and irrelevant. I have no idea what that does to the overall environment, but that is a completely separate issue. Besides, who says you need to have power lines that extend for thousands of miles? On top of that, the grid with power lines is already built and designed to handle Gigawatts of energy, while something like a Hydrogen gas pipeline would require a whole new infrastructure.

            Natural Gas pipelines are interestin

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      This technology requires more energy to make and involves expensive mid-term disposable battery packs.

      They aren't going to just dispose of a component that comprises a third of the price of the vehicle. Already all the electric vehicle makers are finding buyers for used battery packs when they don't have enough charge left to be useful in the car. And once that's gone they'll be recycled for the lithium.

      Energy used for it has probably had 50% of it's already non-optimal conversion efficiency wasted in down-the-wire transmission.

      That seems highly pessimistic. Transmission losses are less than 10% on the grid, and will be much less within the car.

      Lets just get over to being a renewable power produced hydrogen economy already.

      Hydrogen fuel cells also require high-tech manufacturing.

      • Not to mention platinum, until someone gets the SOFC ceramics working in a vibration prone environment.
  • The first 1/3 of the video is this dude with whack glasses complaining about the drive to D-town. Counting the lame intro/outro, a full 1/2 of this video is complete fluff. Thanks for wasting my time /.
  • Nice but....Volt! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DCFusor (1763438) on Friday January 20, 2012 @05:28PM (#38768464) Homepage
    Picked up my new Volt in Oct. Loving it. If I had to charge it off power company power, it would cost me about $1/40 miles. But I have plenty of solar panels. And yes, it has a nice engine too. Having a sense of humor, I just bought some nice flame decal stickons for it. It's actually a right sporty car, particularly off the line in traffic, and an utter blast to drive on the twisty mountain roads where I live.

    You can hate on "government motors" all ya want - They did a great job on this one, and unlike the haters, I'm getting that bailout money back in the form of something pretty darn cool. Could it just be sour grapes? Or is it all astroturfing by people with errrm, illiquid investments in the oil patch who are desperate?

    More here: http://www.coultersmithing.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=48 [coultersmithing.com]

    Don't get me wrong - I admire Elon and his projects quite a bit. They're just behind. A big company might take longer to get the word, but once they get in motion, look out - I couldn't get a Tesla, or afford one, but this is in my driveway now. And I promise to exit the car within the three weeks it takes to catch on fire after being total lossed sideways into a pole. I'd rather not starve to death before burning.

  • Love the idea of video features, however this is all I took away from that piece:
    * the trunk has rear-facing child seats
    * the battery has 4 bolts for quick exchange
    * someone with functioning ears could help improve the "robot seizure" intro and outro clips

  • Is this where International Auto makers come and show Detroit how to make a proper automobile? I can't believe anyone would come from overseas looking for something to buy. How does an auto industry the size and strength of the US can fail so miserably with the quality of their products?
  • I clicked the disable all adds button. How come I can still see this thread?

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