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Transportation Technology The 2000 Beanies

Tesla Model S Named 'Car of the Year' 303

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-needs-combustion dept.
SternisheFan writes with news that Automobile Magazine has named the all-electric Tesla Model S its Car of the Year. Quoting: "We weren't expecting much from the Tesla other than some interesting dinner conversation as we considered 'real' candidates like the Subaru BRZ and the Porsche Boxster. In fact, the Tesla blew them, and us, away. Actually, the Model S can blow away almost anything. 'It's the performance that won us over,' admits editor-in-chief Jean Jennings. 'The crazy speed builds silently and then pulls back the edges of your face. It had all of us endangering our licenses.' Our Model S was of Signature Performance spec, which means its AC induction motor puts out 416 hp and that it blasts to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. ... You'll note that we haven't even discussed Tesla's raison d'etre, which is, in Musk's words, 'To accelerate the advent of electric cars.' That's another credit to the Model S's overall execution and seductive powers. 'The electric motor does not define this car,' says Nelson. But it is, at the end of the day, what makes this very good sport sedan an absolute game changer. The Model S's range, rated by the EPA at 265 miles with the largest battery, finally fits the American conception of driving."
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Tesla Model S Named 'Car of the Year'

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  • by chill (34294) on Friday November 02, 2012 @03:54PM (#41857395) Journal

    The Model S's range, rated by the EPA at 265 miles with the largest battery, finally fits the American conception of driving.

    But at $78,500 before a $7,500 tax rebate that doesn't fit the American concept of pricing.

    Make no mistake, I'd really love one of these. But $78,500 is pricy.

    Oh, and there is that all important question of how they hold up in a hurricane. Fisker's Karmas seem to have issues with getting wet. [jalopnik.com]

    • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday November 02, 2012 @04:05PM (#41857585)

      Well, it is pitched at the people who are looking at a BMW 5 series and think that it isn't advanced enough. As a result, 78K is expensive, but still within budget range.

      As for the fate of the Fiskers.... they seem to be badly engineered. From what I saw in reviews, there are all kinds of engineering issues that range from how it drives to how the electrical system holds up even under normal driving. That said, I don't think I would want to submerge any of these fully electric cars. I did put down 5k to be in line for one of these babies, but I will also leave money aside to have a rock-solid gasoline-powered car that will handle the situations that the Tesla shouldn't. No need to pull all eggs in one basket.

      • by lorenlal (164133) on Friday November 02, 2012 @04:15PM (#41857767)

        That said, I don't think I would want to submerge any of these fully electric cars. I did put down 5k to be in line for one of these babies, but I will also leave money aside to have a rock-solid gasoline-powered car that will handle the situations that the Tesla shouldn't. No need to pull all eggs in one basket.

        Excuse me, but I don't like I would want to submerge *any* car of any type. Especially when you're talking about storm surge (brackish water).

        • by lorenlal (164133)

          s+r/like/think/g

          hells bells with the quick trigger...

        • by Smauler (915644)

          Most old diesels can run submerged fine, all you need is an air intake. Lots of old land rovers have things like these [johncraddockltd.co.uk].

    • by Nadaka (224565) on Friday November 02, 2012 @04:08PM (#41857635)

      Yet it is a luxury sports sedan that has performance and amenities similar to other luxury sports sedans in its price range.

      This isn't supposed to compete in price against a honda civic or aerostar minivan because it is for an entirely different market.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Turboglh (816701)

      I think this fits in fine with the American concept of pricing for vehicles in its class

      Make no mistake, this is no chevy volt. It's a performance luxury sedan that happens to be electric

      On the topic of the Karamas, they've had a series of fire issues. Including one recall that may or may not have solved all of the issues.

      http://green.autoblog.com/2011/12/29/fisker-officially-recalls-karma-over-battery-safety-issue/ [autoblog.com]
      http://www.autoblog.com/2012/08/12/fisker-flambe-second-karma-spontaneously-combusts-w-video/ [autoblog.com]

    • And the fisker has a VERY large battery. You'd hope for some short protection but obviously they didn't design for it being submerged. I'd be interested to know what happens if a Prius is submerged.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Ichijo (607641)

      There's also a model that's $49,900 after the federal rebate, and you can still drive it over 265 miles before it needs a gas station.

    • The Karma will be the Pinto of the 21st century.

      The Model S - You won't be incinerated while driving! Smooth ride!

    • by AaronW (33736)

      The Tesla battery design is much safer than the Fisker battery IMO. Each individual cell is protected against excessive current (shorts), under and overvoltage and that circuit is sealed inside each of the 9000 battery cells. In addition, the battery pack is designed such that if catastrophic failure occurs that the hot gases are directed away from the vehicle and occupants.

      The Fisker looks really cool but it has a lot of technical issues that are still being resolved. My father owns one. The inside is real

    • by tgd (2822)

      The Model S's range, rated by the EPA at 265 miles with the largest battery, finally fits the American conception of driving.

      But at $78,500 before a $7,500 tax rebate that doesn't fit the American concept of pricing.

      There are plenty of cars in that price range sold in the US every year -- thousands of them. And that's for the high end one. When you look in the $50k range, the number is huge in the US, especially with minivans cresting at $40k these days.

      I really wanted one, but couldn't wait that long. :( Stupid waiting lists ...

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        There are plenty of cars in that price range sold in the US every year -- thousands of them.

        But they don't have to stop every two or three hours to spend an hour or two recharging at one of the few charging stations available.

        It's a niche toy, not a car to compete with any other $80k luxury vehicle.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          If you can afford an $80k vehicle you don't need to drive more than 3 hours. You can take a plane and sit in first class.

        • But they don't have to stop every two or three hours to spend an hour or two recharging at one of the few charging stations available.

          You act like the typical driver spends more than two hours driving every day. For an overwhelming majority of people, the total time driving for an average day is well within the 2 to 3 hour mark.

          Want to go on a long road trip? Well this may not be the car for you (just yet).

    • by robot256 (1635039) on Friday November 02, 2012 @04:34PM (#41858029)

      Wake me up when you're ready to compare apples to apples. There are plenty of luxury sedans and sports cars at that price range, and the Model S has more than enough features, style, and performance to match--or beat, as this award shows--every one of them. If you insist on comparing the Model S to a Toyota Camry, then I'm sorry but you're an idiot.

      Musk has clearly articulated his strategy toward the electric vehicle market: Start at the high end, where the presently-high cost of batteries and the early-adopter tax can be easily absorbed. Make a car so sweet that it will fly off the lot at any price. Then once production is rolling, the technology is maturing, and costs are coming down, start removing trim features to bring the price down even further. But as long as the batteries and drive train remain expensive, it's better to sell a $60,000 luxury sedan than a $40,000 economy hatchback. Besides, he's essentially the only player in the luxury electric market. You don't expect 1-percenters to roll around in a lowly Nissan LEAF, do you?

      But setting that aside, the Volt and the LEAF are not truly economy vehicles either. Both come with in-dash navigation, Bluetooth, and other advanced features as standard, and have great torque and handling, so can easily be compared to other cars in the $30-40k range. Electric cars are competitively priced if you are actually in their target market. Don't complain that you can't make your 150 mile commute on one charge, just don't buy one. The other 90% of Americans with commutes of less than 40 miles don't want you spoiling their fun.

    • Fisker's Karmas seem to have issues with getting wet. [jalopnik.com]

      If your definition of "getting wet" is getting fully immersed in salt water, then yes, most non-amphibian cars would have major "issues" with that.

      Granted, the cars caught fire after the Hurricane ocean tide retracted, and after they had a chance to dry a little, and that was not good design, but you have to take into consideration that this line was a limited run of prototypes (and that this bad experience has most likely informed the entire industry).

    • The Model S's range, rated by the EPA at 265 miles with the largest battery, finally fits the American conception of driving.

      But at $78,500 before a $7,500 tax rebate that doesn't fit the American concept of pricing.

      Make no mistake, I'd really love one of these. But $78,500 is pricy...

      I'm not going to do the research.

      How much do cars that go from 0 to 60 in 4.3 seconds generally cost? I dunno - that sounds very quick to me. This isn't just a sedan.

    • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Friday November 02, 2012 @04:46PM (#41858223) Homepage

      The Model S's range, rated by the EPA at 265 miles with the largest battery, finally fits the American conception of driving.

      But at $78,500 before a $7,500 tax rebate that doesn't fit the American concept of pricing.

      It doesn't have to fit every American's price range. It just has to fit the price range of its target audience, which is people who would be buying Mercedes and BMW sedans.

      (Also, that $78,500 price quoted was for a model near the top of the line-- the base model is $49,990. http://www.rsportscars.com/tesla/2013-tesla-model-s/ [rsportscars.com] Still a big chunk of cash, but not significantly more than other cars of its class.)

    • by ncc74656 (45571) *

      But at $78,500 before a $7,500 tax rebate that doesn't fit the American concept of pricing.

      ...not to mention that 265 miles per charge doesn't fit the American concept of usable range. I live in Las Vegas. Nothing is within 265 miles of here: not Los Angeles, not San Diego, not Phoenix, not Salt Lake City, not Reno. You might get to Kingman, Laughlin, or St. George (or even Nothing [wikipedia.org], for that matter :-) ) and back on a charge, but that's about it. I'd imagine the story's not much different anywhere else

      • Anywhere on the East Coast the story is different.

      • by kf6auf (719514)

        To be fair, LA is 266 miles away from Las Vegas; drive 1mph slower and you'll make it. Alternatively, they plan to put in a fast-charge station [gm-volt.com] in Barstow (152 miles away) as one of the first 6 fast-charge stations just to make sure people can make it from LA to Las Vegas.

        Many families in the US have multiple cars and only take one on a road trip at a time. Most families don't need both cars to be able to go 450 miles on a tank that's fillable anywhere in 5 minutes.

        Most people live on the coasts, and

    • Oh, and there is that all important question of how they hold up in a hurricane.

      That's not really all that important. What's more important is whether or not I have to ship the thing to California for maintenance or repairs.

    • by Dahamma (304068)

      The Model S's range, rated by the EPA at 265 miles with the largest battery, finally fits the American conception of driving.

      But at $78,500 before a $7,500 tax rebate that doesn't fit the American concept of pricing.

      Make no mistake, I'd really love one of these. But $78,500 is pricy.

      Actually, it's worse than that. The article was wrong, the Signature Performance model they tested (with the 4.4s 0-60 time) is $97,900 according to Tesla's site [teslamotors.com] (and well over $100k with options like premium sound, extra row of seats, sunroof, etc). Even the non-signature performance model is $85k, and closer to $95k with options and charging cables. Those are right up there with a Panamera 4S.

      Must be nice for those guys at Automobile magazine to get to drive cars without even having a clue how much th

    • Well, when the Ford Model T was introduced in 1908 at $850 ($ in current dollars), the next cheapest automobile you could buy cost over $3000, which is roughly $74K in 2012 dollars. Take the cheapest car you can buy today, say a Nissan Verso at $11,000 list. Cheap as it is, that car probably cost millions to develop, and if it were sold in the quantities that pre-Model T cars were sold it might well cost north of $50,000, just to amortize the engineering costs.

      By 1908 standards, the Verso would be a marve

    • by skine (1524819)

      It is up against cars in the same price category.

      The $61k Porche Boxster isn't exactly something that your average American will buy either.

  • by ModernGeek (601932) on Friday November 02, 2012 @03:54PM (#41857399) Homepage
    is this the first car to make "Car of the Year" in a major publication that isn't even being mass produced?
    • I imagine the first fusion-powered car will make it as well.

      • by Teancum (67324)

        I'd be curious what sort of fusion powering device you are thinking of here? There is no bloody way that a Tokamak style reactor could ever fit inside of anything smaller than the mobile launch platform that was used for the Space Shuttle, although the Polywell and Focus Fusion devices might be able to fit inside of a mid to large size ship (like a modern military submarine, aircraft carrier, or cruise ship). It is a matter of physics and being able to handle the plasma needed to cause fusion in the first

    • 2010 called, it wants my knee-jerk reaction back. Looks like it is mass produced..
  • "Model S" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mfh (56) on Friday November 02, 2012 @03:58PM (#41857467) Journal

    Did anyone else get the "Model T" reference? Like Tesla is taking a step back from the harmful environmentally dangerous combustion vehicles and redoing the whole thing. I have to admit this impresses me.

    I bet we'll look back in few hundred years from within the confines of our brain jars and enjoy some very fine dream-inspired brandies and smoke about the wonders of the physical world and how foolish we were to think that was a good place to dwell for all eternity.

    But until then let's enjoy these new environmentally friendly cars! To go from nowhere to nowhere for no reason other than your boss wants you to, and doing it all in style, without a bad environmental footprint apart from the scrap metal each of these will become one day.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      42% of electricity is generated from coal. You've still got a bad environmental footprint. You're just not polluting your immediate area.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mrjatsun (543322)

        You must work for an oil company :-) The important thing here is energy diversity. With an
        all electric drive train, you can be powered from Nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, gas/diesel/biodesel,
        coal, alcohol, etc. You also have the long term ability to provide your own power (e.g. solar)
        instead of relying large multinational companies to do it for you with many layers of companies
        taking a piece of the pie (including stock market shenanigans).

        The idea car for me would be a car with an all electric drive-train,

        • Putting the generator in the car is too heavy. Just add a class I trailer hitch and put the generator on a hitch rack for long trips.

      • Re:"Model S" (Score:5, Informative)

        by rhakka (224319) on Friday November 02, 2012 @04:40PM (#41858115)

        if you're in maine, half of your power is renewables and hydro and the other half is mostly natural gas. so... kind of depends where you live.

      • by _UnderTow_ (86073)
        From what I understand, most of the energy generated by an internal combustion engine is waste heat. Power plants (even ones that burn coal) are much more efficient. With an electric car, more of the energy released from burning fuel is used to actually move the car.
    • You know I overlooked that. That is very appropriate, since the Model T is what killed off the electric car about 100 years ago. I know they are trying to imply that they are at the same point in the development of the electric car that the Model T was in the development of the ICE car, but it just took 100 years longer.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 02, 2012 @03:59PM (#41857471)

    1) Tesla is leading the electric-car market mindshare for the simple reason that they've actually shipped a product, unlike perpetual bullshit machines BYD and Coda, who ship nothing but vaporware (wait, no - I think BYD eventually managed to get a few dozen out the door a few months ago, or something like that).

    2) Think and Smart are/were doomed because they shipped crap that no-one was interested in. WTF is a "neighborhood electric vehicle"? I want a fucking ELECTRIC CAR, not a low-speed electric shitbox.

    3) Series hybrids have a niche (garbage trucks and buses, mostly), and passenger cars are not that niche. This is why the Volt and Karma are failures.

    4) Where are the lithium-air batteries?

    5) The E 300 Bluetec HYBRID is cool.

  • I wonder if the Tesla cars have the same "hydrophobia" as the Fisker Karma ones that went up in flames in the flooding from Hurricane Sandy?

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Friday November 02, 2012 @04:19PM (#41857819)

    Can anyone convince me that this car can do well in the Canadian winter?

    I imagine a dude freezing inside when he employs the heater. The [luxury] car then becomes a frozen coffin!

    Yikes!

    • by 0123456 (636235) on Friday November 02, 2012 @04:26PM (#41857937)

      Can anyone convince me that this car can do well in the Canadian winter?

      I'm sure it will run great at forty below. For about ten kilometers.

    • by robot256 (1635039)
      Sorry, but you are outside the target market of electric vehicles at this time. Current battery technology does not perform well at extreme temperatures, either hot or cold. Maybe the huge battery pack would make up for that, but it will still be spending a significant amount of energy heating the battery itself, never mind the occupants. You'd only get about 50-75% of the advertised range depending on just how cold it got.
      • by compro01 (777531)

        Yeah, it would be such a burden to have to plug in the vehicle to keep the battery warm. It's not like we have to do that with current gasoline engine cars or anything.

    • Yeah, I'm a Minnesotan, so I'm all too familiar with the cold weather problems. But I can still appreciate innovation, even if the solution doesn't work for everyone (yet?).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 02, 2012 @04:22PM (#41857855)

    I have a Nissan Leaf. Range is under 100 miles but that meets my around town driving needs. We have my wife;s Prius for trips. Lease prices in October for 2012s were $200/month, $0 down, 24 months. Top speed is >90mph, seats 4 comfortably, 5 if a couple are kids. Decent trunk room. Good acceleration. Overnight charging in the garage with 120V (included) charger keeps me running, and my employer has 6 free charging stations on site, our town has 4, hospital has 2, etc.

    Since there is no ICE, there is no oil to change, no transmission, no fluids to change, only 2 (windshield washer, inverter coolant) to top off. Only maintenance is changing wiper blades and rotating tires.

    All in all a very drivable car, great end of year pricing, and very low cost to drive. EVs are here, available and practical. I love mine.

    • Since there is no ICE, there is no oil to change, no transmission, no fluids to change, only 2 (windshield washer, inverter coolant) to top off. Only maintenance is changing wiper blades and rotating tires.

      So, your electric car doesn't have brakes and suspension? What about when the tires wear out and have to be replaced?
  • First and foremost, its ugly. Seriously Ugly, check it out here : http://www.teslamotors.com/models [teslamotors.com]
    Second off, it does not compare to Porsche in any real way, speed, agility, handling, comfort, all go to Porsche.
    Next, its too expensive. 80 Grand for a car that looks like an ugly Buick? No thank you, I'll but a GTR or GT500 instead. Don't forget that you will need a 240W outlet (most homes have only one for your dryer), so you'll need that, or the high performance charging unit. Count on a nice addition t
    • by hendridm (302246)

      I don't think that it's ugly, but I would never buy one for the price. Ever.

    • by Vicarius (1093097)
      I also thought "Tesla" and imagined the old beautiful and sexy designs they used to have. All of the current lineup now just looks plain ugly. They should have fired their old designed several years ago and never hired any replacement, so that current models could have benefited from the old beautiful design.
    • by jkflying (2190798)

      You need your sense of taste checked. It doesn't look ugly at all. And a Le Sabre? Are you kidding? Have you even looked at the pictures? Are you blind?

      If you want to compare to Porche, compare to their saloon, the Panamera. Or, perhaps, a BMW M5 or a Mercedes S500, which is what this provides similar features to. Except the acceleration, which is comparable to a Porche 911 Carrera, which happens to cost $80k. Odd that. http://www.porsche.com/usa/models/911/911-carrera/featuresandspecs/ [porsche.com]

      What you pay in elect

  • I think the car that SHOULD have won is the Ford C-Max Hybrid--especially with the Energi plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) coming out nationally in spring 2013. Unlike the Tesla Model S with its totally silly price tag, you can get a C-Max Hybrid for 1/3 the cost and still get over 40 mpg easily reasonable daily driving.

    • by Sez Zero (586611)

      I think the car that SHOULD have won is the Ford C-Max Hybrid

      This was automobile of the year, not econobox of the year. The Tesla was in the top three with the BRZ and Boxster, which are all of a much higher level of performance than the Ford Crap-Max box.

      Car mag writes aren't going to pick a total performance dog for Car of the Year. The C-Max Hybrid only has electric top speed of 62mph!

    • by jkflying (2190798)

      If you're looking at the Ford C-Max, you should probably check out a VW Golf TDI. It gets over 50MPG. It has for the last 8 years. And you're complaining that the Tesla is expensive? Compare it to a BMW 5-series, which is what it provides similar performance to. It's not a bad deal at all then, and looks way cooler.

  • The sticker price of the car would never pay for the gas money you'd save by switching to it. I actually like the Tesla cars, you can go into their stores in some cities and it's pretty neat to see...but it's also expensive as hell. If you want to save on gas just buy a motorcycle.
  • I know... it's their award, they can do what they want, but I would assume that the "car of the year" would be the best mix of:
    *Affordability
    *Driver/Passenger Safety
    *Safety for Other Road Users
    *Fuel Economy/GHG Emissions per Mile
    *Sustainability of Production and Retirement
    *Attractiveness to the General Public
    *Real-World Availability

  • by Koreantoast (527520) on Friday November 02, 2012 @05:45PM (#41859013)
    As the article itself has pointed out, Tesla still hasn't passed the biggest test facing it: whether or not they can mass produce the vehicle. The numbers stated, only 250 out of 15,000 preorders delivered, says everything. Once Tesla gets over that hump, I think then they truly deserve the kudos.

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