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BMW Nixes Tesla Alliance

German maker says “nein” to battery, component partnership.

by on Dec.03, 2014

BMW put to bed rumors of plans to tie up with Tesla, just weeks after Elon Musk suggested the possibility.

It can be a challenge deciphering the constant flow of tweets and blog posts emerging from Tesla Motors’ Silicon Valley headquarters, especially those penned by CEO Elon Musk. And there have been plenty of questions raised about a recent revelation that Tesla was talking to Germany’s BMW about a possible alliance deal.

Whether there were ever any real discussions is far from clear, but what is indisputable is that BMW has formally ruled out any plans to cooperate with the ambitious California battery-carmaker.

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After a spokesman initially downplayed such a possibility, suggesting BMW frequently talks to possible partners, senior officials made it clear in an interview with the German business magazine, Wirtschaftswoche, that they aren’t interested. And by that, they explained, there would be no alliance, nor any acquisition of Tesla stock by the Bavarian maker. (more…)

Tesla CEO Hints “Significant” New Deal with Toyota in the Works

But joint venture could be “two to three” years off, cautions Musk.

by on Sep.09, 2014

Toyota is putting the kibosh on the RAV4 EV, but it may not be the end of its working relationship with Tesla, according to Elon Musk.

With Toyota about to pull the plug on its slow-selling RAV4 EV, it looked like the Japanese maker also was switching off its relationship with Silicon Valley start-up Tesla Motors – but it now looks like another deal linking the two manufacturers is in the works.

Exactly what they’re working on hasn’t been revealed, but it could come to light in “two to three years,” according to Tesla Founder and CEO Elon Musk.

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“If you look out maybe two or three years from now, I would not be surprised if there was a significant deal with Toyota and Tesla,” the oft-garrulous Musk told reporters during a visit to Tokyo. (more…)

Toyota Pulling Plug on RAV4-EV

Maker shifting focus from battery-electric to hydrogen power.

by on May.16, 2014

Toyota only planned to sell 2,500 RAV4-EVs.

Toyota is pulling the plug on the RAV4-EV, the battery-electric version of the soft-roader it introduced two years ago with the help of electric vehicle start-up Tesla Motors.

This year’s phase-out of the RAV4-EV comes as the Japanese giant gets ready to launch its new hydrogen-powered FCV, which made its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show last autumn. While it has been the most successful manufacturer of conventional hybrids, Toyota has repeatedly expressed its concerns about pure battery-electric vehicles relying on advanced lithium-ion batteries.

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The move also comes as Tesla gets ready to launch its own, first battery-electric SUV, the Model X due to market something in 2015.

“Our contract called for Tesla to supply approximately 2500 battery-electric powertrains for the RAV4 EV.  We anticipate that volume will be achieved this year,” noted John Hanson, Toyota’s national manager of advanced technology communications.


Feds List Tesla Model S at 89 MPGe, 265-Mile Range

Start-up’s first mainstream model officially launches Friday.

by on Jun.21, 2012

Tesla's Model S will officially go on sale this Friday.

With the countdown clock on the Tesla website closing in on the final hours before the maker officially launches its first mainstream product the maker got some reasonably good news from the EPA – an 89 MPGe fuel economy rating for the new Model S, the feds also estimating the battery-electric sedan will get up to 265 miles per charge on its largest, 85 kWh battery pack.

The numbers aren’t quite as good as some had anticipated, especially considering Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been flaunting the company’s own forecast of a 300-mile range for the big battery pack – and 160 and 230 miles per charge for the smaller packs also offered Model S buyers.

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Meanwhile, the 89 MPGe might sound great when compared to a conventional, gas-powered sedan but it lags well behind the 118 MPGe rating the EPA recently gave the new Honda Fit Electric, the 112 MPGe numbers for the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, the Ford Focus Electric’s 105 MPGe or the 99 MPGe earned by the Nissan Leaf.


Early Launch of Model S Offsets Concerns About Widening Tesla Losses

New battery sedan to go on sale in June.

by on May.10, 2012

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk with Model S prototype.

It’s never easy making money when you don’t have a product to sell.  Just ask Tesla Motors.  While the California start-up does have a small income stream from its contract work that wasn’t enough to head off a nearly $90 million loss for the first quarter.

But things could start changing in a hurry, according to Tesla, as the battery-car maker is apparently looking for a much earlier launch than originally planned for its new Model S sedan.  Meanwhile, Toyota is also ready to start rolling out the new RAV4-EV it has developed as part of a partnership with Tesla – which could yield even more new business.

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Tesla is describing 2012 as a “year of two halves.”  Clearly, it would rather get through the first half as quickly as possible.

With the little Tesla Roadster now out of production the company generated just $30 million in revenue during the January to March quarter, down from $49 million a year ago.  As a result, it saw losses shoot to $89.9 million, or $0.86 a share, compared to $48.9 million, or $0.51 a share a year ago.


Tesla Downplays Earnings Shortfall

Maker reveals $40 million in advance orders for Model X CUV.

by on Feb.16, 2012

Earnings down but prospects good, says Tesla as it reports $40 mil in advance orders for the Model X.

How do you judge a company that is still months away from launching its first truly significant product?  That’s the question that drove after-hour traders into a frenzy when Tesla Motors reported its financial results for 2011.

On the down side, Tesla revealed a full-year loss that was worse than originally anticipated, reflecting the heavy investment as it prepares to launch both its Model S battery sedan and the Model X crossover that will follow a year later.  More upbeat was news that revenues rose for the year, driven by sales of the limited-volume Tesla Roadster and by the alliances the maker has formed with both Toyota and Daimler AG.

Meanwhile, Tesla also reported that within 24 hours after revealing the Model X, last Thursday evening, it had already netted $40 million in advance sales for the battery-electric vehicle more than a year before it comes to production.

“When you introduce a product that is really groundbreaking and innovative, you don’t necessarily know how customers are going to react to that, and they reacted incredibly well,” said Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk, during a conference call to discuss the company’s latest news.

In a letter to shareholders, meanwhile, Tesla revealed it has started a development program with Daimler to develop a new electric vehicle program for the German company’s Mercedes-Benz brand. A Tesla-powered version of the Toyota RAV4 is, meanwhile, due to market later this year.

Those alliances helped drive 2011 revenues up by 75%, to $204 million, for all of 2011.  Revenues for the fourth quarter increased 9%, to $39 million.

But the maker lost $264 million for the year, or $2.53 a share, with the loss for the fourth quarter pegged at $81 million, or $0.69 a share.  That was almost 5% higher than the consensus estimate of $0.64, which triggered some frantic ups-and-downs in after-hours trading after Musk’s late Wednesday conference call.

But while some investors are clearly worried about Tesla’s ability to translate its headline-grabbing power into actual sales and earnings, others are more upbeat.  That includes Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache, who pointed to the maker’s cash reserves of $493 million – which includes $304 million it can still tap into from a Department of Energy loan.

That, said Lache, “is more-than-sufficient to reach 2013 (so) we continue to believe that Tesla is uniquely positioned to succeed as a new automaker.”

With the Model S due to arrive this year, Tesla is projecting it could nearly triple revenues for the year, to somewhere between $550 million and $600 million, most of that increase coming in the final months of 2012.

So far, the maker says it has taken 8,000 reservations for the Model S, and another 500 for the Model X, each with $5,000 downpayments.

Meanwhile, the maker is reportedly working on a third model line to follow sometime around mid-decade.

Tesla Sets $57,400 Base Price for Model S

300-mile range carries $20,000 premium.

by on Dec.21, 2011

Tesla is still nearly a year away from the official launch of the Model S.

Tesla will offer its first mass-market model for a base price of $57,400 – with a super high-range lithium-ion battery adding another $20,000 to the price tag for the Model S sedan.

The new 7-seater is expected to reach production late in 2012, Tesla launching production at an old California assembly plant until recently operated as part of a joint venture between General Motors and Toyota.  The maker has received hundreds of millions in federal loans to push the Model S project forward, while Toyota has also come aboard as a minority investor in Tesla.

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The prices quoted by Tesla reflect the figures after including a $7,500 federal tax credit, so the MSRP for the base Model S, with a 160-mile, 40 kilowatt-hour battery will actually be $64,900.  A top-line Performance Model will carry a sticker of $94,900 – or $87,400 after accounting for the federal tax credit.


Smart to Preview New Battery Car in Frankfurt

Maker will also unveil new battery-powered bicycle.

by on Aug.16, 2011

Smart adds range and boosts performance with the third-generation Fortwo Electric Drive.

Daimler’s troubled Smart car brand hopes to charge up consumers when it rolls out an all-new version of the Fortwo Electric Drive at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show.

Smart claims the third-generation battery drive system will deliver both better range and improved acceleration, trimming by 1.5 second the time needed to reach 60 kmh.  The newest version of the Fortwo Electric Drive is expected to go on sale in 30 markets – including North America – during the second quarter of 2012.  And Smart parent Daimler AG anticipates the improvements will yield a five-fold increase in sales compared to the outgoing battery car.

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Meanwhile, Smart has also announced it will move ahead with plans to diversify its line-up with the launch of a new “eBike.”

Smart initially launched a limited production version of the Fortwo ED last year.  But it received complaints about sluggish performance and limited range.  To overcome those concerns, the maker has shifted to a new version of the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery and revised the motor drive system, as well.


Toyota To Debut iQ EV Concept in Geneva

Maker hopes to regain lead in green space.

by on Feb.15, 2011

Toyota plans to put the iQ EV into production in 2012.

Slow to embrace battery-electric vehicles, Toyota is struggling to make up for lost time, and will introduce another electric car concept at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.

The iQ EV prototype is a lithium-ion-powered version of the little iQ microcar – a conventionally-fueled version of which will soon makes its way to the States wearing a Scion badge.  The four-seater is only slightly larger than the current Smart fortwo.

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The battery concept will deliver about 65 miles per charge, according to Toyota, using a new flat battery pack that is distinctly different from the cylindrical, laptop computer-style lithium-ion batteries that will be used in the RAV4 EV.  That battery-electric crossover, developed in cooperation with the Silicon Valley start-up, Tesla Motors, is due to market in 2012.


Tesla – Panasonic Deal Resonates With Market

Japanese electronics giant latest investor in EV start-up.

by on Nov.05, 2010

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk inks an alliance with Panasonic, now its 3rd-largest investor.

The California battery-car start-up, Tesla Motors, is hoping a new deal with the electronics giant, Panasonic, will help quell lingering concerns about its long-term viability.

The market seems to agree, Tesla shares jumping 14% after word of the deal, which makes the Japanese company, a major battery supplier, its third-largest shareholder. Tesla stock opens Friday at$24.90, the highest level since the company first went public last June.

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Panasonic’s purchase of 1.42 million shares follows the move, earlier this year, by Toyota to invest $50 million in the California-based battery car maker.  Panasonic is a key partner in Toyota’s own battery car program.