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Tesla History

Electric dreams and electric shocks: the Tesla story so far

Tesla History

The rate at which Tesla Inc. – formerly Tesla Motors – has gone from nothing to something is rivalled only by a Model S P100D in Ludicrous mode. Love him or hate him, Elon Musk has put the electric car maker at the centre of the automotive universe, but the journey hasn’t been as smooth and linear as an EV’s acceleration. This is a brief timeline of Tesla events.

No compromise

Tesla History

Tesla Motors was founded in 2003 “by a group of engineers who wanted to prove that people didn’t need to compromise to drive electric – that electric vehicles can be better, quicker and more fun to drive than gasoline cars”. Its founders: Martin Eberhard, Marc Tarpenning, Ian Wright, J.B. Straubel and a guy named Elon Musk. You may have heard of him.

The Tzero

Tesla History

According to a brilliant piece on Business Insider, the story began when product designer Malcolm Smith took a call from Martin Eberhard. He was invited to an office in California where he found Eberhard and his partner Marc Tarpenning working on an electric car using a Piontek Sportech kit car as a base. The car was called the Tzero, and the pair harboured dreams of building an electric car to sell to the public.

Incorporated July 2003

Tesla History

Marc Tarpenning purchased the teslamotors.com domain in April 2003, before the company was incorporated on 1 July 2003. The name pays tribute to Nikola Tesla, the Serbian-American inventor of the AC induction motor.

Musk ups his game

Tesla History

Malcolm Smith was one of the first 20 employees of the new car company, with an official title of vice president of vehicle engineering. The next step was to secure funding, as building and sustaining a volume car manufacturer wouldn’t be cheap. Cutting a long story short, Musk invested $7.5 million in the business and became chairman of the board.

PayPal and space rockets

Tesla History

Elon Musk made his money when PayPal was sold to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002. He also established SpaceX in the same year. Interviewed for a National Geographic documentary, Musk spoke about his plans for the future of the world. These plans, which he made at college, centred on the internet, making life multiplanetary and sustainable energy.

Under pressure

Tesla History

With so much at stake, it’s understandable that things got a little heated. Musk fell out with Eberhard, who resigned from his executive position and became president of technology, with Michael Marks taking over as interim CEO in 2007. Later in the year, he was replaced by Ze’ev Drori, the former CEO of Clifford Electronics, before Musk took on the role of CEO in 2008.

Job cuts

Tesla History

Tesla Motors wasn’t in the best of shape. By the time Musk became CEO in October 2008, he had already invested $55 million of his own cash and was forced to fire 25 percent of the workforce. The fact that he managed to secure $40 million of funding saved the company from bankruptcy.

Tesla Roadster

Tesla History

The story of the Tesla Roadster begins in 2003, when Eberhard and Tarpenning muscled in on the Lotus stand at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Tesla knew that it had to piggyback an existing platform to get established – the cost of building an entire car would be too prohibitive. Lotus seemed like a good fit, with its own engineering and design divisions, not to mention a track record of working with other companies. At the time, Lotus was building the VX220/Speedster for General Motors.

Tesla Roadster

Tesla History

Tesla struggled to agree on a design for the Roadster. The team didn’t want something that screamed electric like the GM EV1, but it was the British designer Bill Moggridge who sent the team down a path of building something that looked like a traditional sports car, with a hint of retro about it. Following another call for designs, one proposal stood out: that of Barney Hatt, the principal designer at the Lotus Design Studio.

Tesla Roadster

Tesla History

Martin Eberhard emptied a room at his house and invited friends and colleagues to vote on the different proposals. Each person was given red and green sticky-notes, with red for ‘bad’ and green for ‘good’. Writing in 2006, Eberhard said: “No doubt about it. Barney had a few red notes to be sure, but he was hands-down the winner. I never expected it, because his first proposals (before Bill’s brief) were awful.”

Tesla Roadster

Tesla History

The first design mule was completed in 2004, before the Tesla Roadster was unveiled in 2006 at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica. Tesla hoped to sell 100 cars at the event, with guests invited to spend $100,000 on the electric dream. Two weeks later, Tesla had received 127 reservations. The plan was to start shipping in 2006, building 500 cars a year by 2007, before making a profit by 2008. In reality, the Tesla Roadster didn’t start shipping until February 2008, with regular production commencing a month later.

Tesla Roadster

Tesla History

At the time, Tesla claimed that the Roadster could deliver a range of up to 245 miles, although this was revised to 211 miles. It could also hit 60mph in just 3.7 seconds, giving it supercar-levels of performance. Not that Top Gear, and in particular, Jeremy Clarkson, was about to give the Roadster an easy ride.

Tesla vs Top Gear

Tesla History

Clarkson famously claimed that, when driven hard, the true range was just 55 miles, and television footage showed the car being pushed into a hangar by four men. We also watched as one Roadster overheated and the other one suffered from brake failure. Tesla sued the BBC for what it called “libel and malicious falsehood”, claiming “the breakdowns were staged and the statements [were] untrue”. Tesla lost the case.

Tesla Roadster

Tesla History

Early troubles and a 2009 recall aside, the Roadster successfully put Tesla on the automotive map, but what was essentially a second car for wealthy individuals was only ever going to be a springboard for bigger things. Tesla knew that it needed a larger car with mass appeal. That car would be the Model S.

Growing pains

Tesla History

The year 2010 was to be a significant one in the history of Tesla. Elon Musk started by telling a judge that he was out of cash and living off emergency loans, while Tesla had lost a reported $290m in seven years. At the time, the company had sold just 1,063 cars and could boast a mere 12 showrooms around the world. However, the dream was far from over.

Tesla goes public

Tesla History

In April 2010, Daimler acquired a 10 percent equity stake in Tesla, with the American company receiving $50m in return. A few weeks later, the firm received a $465m loan from the US department of energy. Then, in June, Tesla made history by becoming the first American car company to go public since Ford in 1956. It sold 13.3m shares at $17 each.

Tesla factory opens

Tesla History

The next significant step was the purchase of the former General Motors and Toyota factory in Fremont, California. Tesla added skylights to provide the workers with natural light and painted the floors white, giving it the feel of a tech plant, rather than a factory first used by GM in 1962. Employees were also given access to bikes to make their way around the 5.3 million square feet of manufacturing and office space, with machines painted red to make everything feel on-brand.

A new sales and marketing model

Tesla History

Ever the maverick, Elon Musk ripped up the automotive sales and marketing rulebook and adopted a strategy that was more tech-led. There are no dealers, with Tesla creating its own-branded stores. “The type of place we are striving for combines the feel of an Apple store with a Starbucks and a good restaurant,” said Musk. Meanwhile, Tesla decided against using an ad agency or paying for advertising.

Tesla Model S

Tesla History

Musk’s maverick approach to Tesla’s growth strategy was bold but effective, seeing him likened to Tony Stark of Iron Man fame. Invest in reputation first, then worry about profit later, he said in a documentary, with his showmanship helping to mask delays, product issues and financial woes on more than a few occasions. His decision to host a ‘ride and drive’ event to satisfy and pacify impatient Model S customers was a stroke of PR genius.

Tesla Model S

Tesla History

To achieve its aims, Tesla hired the former Toyota production engineering manager Gilbert Passin as vice president of manufacturing. Meanwhile, Tesla drafted in former Mazda North America design chief Franz von Holzhausen as its chief designer. “Tesla is changing the paradigm,” said Franz. “We’re going to turn the world on its ear and create high demand through design. There is a new hunger in the air for automotive design and looking to where automobiles are going in the future. Tesla will capture this through good design and engineering.”

Tesla Model S

Tesla History

Model S deliveries began in June 2012 and the electric saloon started collecting awards within a few months. It also helped Tesla achieve its first quarterly profit in May 2013, before outselling the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7 Series and every large luxury saloon in the US. A year later, Morgan Stanley labelled Tesla “the world’s most important car company.”

The first Supercharger

Tesla History

To satisfy demand, Tesla opened its first Supercharger in California in 2012, before embarking on an ambitious growth strategy. In June 2018, Tesla tweeted that it had opened its 10,000th Supercharger – located in Belleville, around 100 miles east of Toronto. A Supercharger can provide a Model S with around 170 miles of range in just 30 minutes.

Fire fighting

Tesla History

The Model S soon became the poster star of the EV industry – a glamorous, tech-laden advertisement for the electric car. But it wasn’t smooth sailing for the world’s first all-electric luxury car. A series of fires in 2013 led to a drop in share value, with Tesla also reporting disappointing third quarter results. The first fire involved a sharp object puncturing the battery pack, with Musk defending the Model S, saying: “For consumers concerned about fire risk, there should be absolutely zero doubt that it is safer to power a car with a battery than a large tank of highly flammable liquid.”

Tesla Model X

Tesla History

Tesla unveiled the Model X in 2012, with deliveries commencing in September 2015. Tesla calls it “the safest, quickest, most capable sport utility vehicle ever”, with the Model X boasting seven seats, all-wheel drive, a five-star safety rating and a range of up to 295 miles. In December 2015, Tesla announced that it had sold the 100,000th Model S, making it the second best-selling electric car behind the Nissan Leaf.

Tesla Energy

Tesla History

In 2015, Tesla Motors unveiled Tesla Energy, with a promise to deliver storage systems or batteries for homes, business and utility companies. It’s part of a vision to create a fossil fuel-free lifestyle in which people generate their own electricity to power their homes and recharge their car batteries. A year later, Tesla announced plans to buy SolarCity to “create the world’s only integrated sustainable energy company, from energy generation to storage to transportation.”

Tesla Model 3

Tesla History

The Tesla Model 3 was unveiled in 2016, with Musk saying the firm had received 276,000 pre-orders for its affordable electric car. Customers were asked to put down $1,000 deposits to reserve their vehicle with Musk aiming to produce around 500,000 units a year once production reached full capacity. In October, Tesla announced its second and only other quarterly profit.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla History

The first 30 Model 3s were delivered to their owners at an event in Fremont in July 2017, although by the end of the year the firm admitted that delivery numbers were falling well short of expectations. Shares fell as Tesla said: “As we continue to focus on quality and efficiency rather than simply pushing for the highest possible volume in the shortest period of time, we expect to have a slightly more gradual ramp through Q1, likely ending the quarter at a weekly rate of about 2,500 Model 3 vehicles. We intend to achieve the 5,000 per week milestone by the end of Q2.”

Easter eggs and theatre

Tesla History

Always keen to divert attention away from production and financial matters, Tesla has incorporated many so-called ‘Easter eggs’ in its models. These include the Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me on the suspension menu, a Mario Kart setting for Autopilot, a door and light display for the Model X, and the surface of Mars on the map display. More seriously, in February 2017, Tesla Motors officially changed its name to Tesla Inc, marking a symbolic shift for the company.

Global production

Tesla History

Tesla began manufacturing in Portugal and Taiwan in 2017, which followed the opening of an assembly plant in the Netherlands in 2013. The Tilburg factory serves as the final assembly and distribution point for vehicles sold in Europe, with Bryan Batista, European sales director, commenting: “It’s very exciting to see our cars arriving in Europe and being welcomed by their proud owners here in Tilburg. This location is pivotal to Tesla’s European operations, which are expanding rapidly over the coming months with openings of around 15 new stores and service centres.”

Spaceman

Tesla History

In February 2018, Elon Musk sent a Tesla Roadster into space, claiming: “It’s kind of silly and fun, but silly and fun things are important.” The Roadster was placed on the nose cone of the Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket on earth, with the stereo programmed to play David Bowie’s Space Oddity on repeat.

Model X accident

Tesla History

A fatal crash involving a Model X hit the headlines in March 2018 after it was revealed that Autopilot was engaged at the time of the accident. “The driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision,” said a company statement. In 2016, a Model S driver was killed in Florida when a driver failed to spot a lorry crossing its path. A preliminary investigation into the Model X crash revealed that the vehicle increased its speed from 62mph to 70.8mph in the three seconds before the collision. Tesla is keen to stress that Autopilot is designed to be used with both hands on the wheel.

Share slumps and losses

Tesla History

In April 2018, shares rose by 6.9 percent when Musk announced that Tesla would not need to raise more capital in 2018, only for the value to slump by 8.6 percent following a bizarre and heated conference call with a group of analysts. He told one analyst he was asking “boring bonehead questions” that were “not cool.”

5,000 Model 3s

Tesla History

In July, Tesla announced that it had built 5,000 Model 3s during the last week of the month, only to reveal its biggest ever loss in August. However, the value of Tesla shares actually increased, with Tesla claiming it will deliver positive cash flow and a profit in the second half of 2018.

Tesla to go private?

Tesla History

Elon Musk announced in August that he was considering taking Tesla private, although the company’s board of directors subsequently said that they had yet to receive a formal proposal. In the latest update, Musk said: “I’m considering taking Tesla private because I believe it could be good for our shareholders, enable Tesla to operate at its best, and advance our mission of accelerating the transition to sustainable energy.”

What’s next?

Tesla History

Tesla has crammed enough events, achievements, controversies and tweets into its first 15 years to last other companies a lifetime. We haven’t mentioned the Gigafactory, which broke ground in 2014 and is expected to be the largest building in the world. Or the ill-advised tweet following the rescue of the boys stuck in a flooded cave. Or the all-new Tesla Roadster and Semi truck. And you can bet your bottom dollar that we haven’t heard the last of Musk’s tweet about taking the company private. Whatever happens, the next 15 years are going to be far from boring.

Read more:

Tesla makes ‘mind-blowing leap forward’ despite record loss
Tesla is adding Atari games as part of next software update
New Tesla Model S Shooting Brake unveiled in London

Tesla Atari

Tesla is adding Atari games as part of next software update

Tesla Atari

Tesla is adding classic Atari games to its cars as part of a version 9.0 software update, Elon Musk has tweeted. In response to a reply, he implied that Tempest, Missile Command and Pole Position would be included, with the latter linked to the car’s steering wheel.

Two hours after posting the Atari tweet, Musk invited video game developers to “consider applying to Tesla”, adding that he wants to “make super fun games that integrate the centre touchscreen, phone and car irl [in real life].”

The update was confirmed by Atari’s official Twitter channel, which said: “Exciting stuff happening at Atari!”

We’ll have to wait for the final list of games, but gamers might want to see the likes of Pong, Pitfall! and Frogger. The inclusion of Pole Position is almost a given, as the 80s classic essentially created the racing genre and led to the development of countless driving games.

Playing the game in a car will seem like a world away from the days of being huddled around a television screen, switching cartridges and stretching the controller lead to its limit. A touch of nostalgia for Tesla owners as they wait to collect their kids from school or the sports club. Needless to say, the Tesla will need to be stationary for the games to operate.

Elon Musk is no stranger to Easter eggs, with many hidden features revealed by the CEO or Tesla owners. Highlights include the Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me on the suspension menu, a Mario Kart setting on autopilot, and the map showing your vehicle on the surface of Mars.

The Atari news was welcomed by the majority of Tesla fans, with the Model 3 Owners Club requesting a leaderboard for the games. Another owner seemed less than impressed, tweeting concerns about replacement trim parts.

The games are likely to appear as part of the Tesla V9.0 release in about four weeks.

Tesla FOS

Tesla Model 3 to make its European debut at Goodwood FOS

Tesla FOS

Anyone with a remote interest in cars will have been closely watching the story of Tesla as it has unfolded.

Controversies aside, Tesla and its high-profile boss, Elon Musk, are arguably the most significant market disruptors the automotive industry has seen in recent years. The U.S. firm is among those leading the charge to make cars and the latest technology and connectivity capabilities collide.

Now, Tesla’s most important new model to date, the Model 3, is set to make its European debut at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed, long before the right-hand drive UK-spec cars are expected to hit driveways.

As it stands, the Model 3 at Goodwood will be a U.S.-spec car, rather than the one we can expect to start seeing silently traversing the roads of Britain around 2020.

Tesla arguably fast-tracked the EV revolution when it brought the Model S to market a few years back. Here was a good looking, cool and, most importantly, viable electric car. Promise of an expansive charging network, along with the fact that it was a genuinely impressive car, made it popular. But the Model S isn’t what you’d call cheap.

Tesla

The significance of the Model 3 is its primary task: putting the Tesla phenomenon within reach of a much larger consumer audience. It’s expected to cost from around £30,000 (after incentives), or around half the price of the cheapest Model S and be good for a range of between 220 and 310 miles, depending on spec.

The car’s first appearance on European soil is an important occasion, then, especially as this comes not long after the factory claimed to hit its 5,000 cars per week production target.

We wonder how many of the Goodwood visitors taking a close look at the Model 3 will have a purchase in mind. How many would-be BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 or Mercedes C-Class buyers are likely to be swayed to add to the circa-500,000 Model 3 orders rumoured to have been received by Tesla?

These are questions that have no doubt been asked and over-analysed by supremo Elon Musk. We look forward to getting a closer look for ourselves.

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RemetzCar Tesla Model S reveal

New Tesla Model S Shooting Brake unveiled in London

RemetzCar Tesla Model S reveal

The Tesla Model S estate is a shooting brake for the new millennium. Forget images of the thoroughly British Lynx Eventer, pheasants hanging from the tree and long liquid lunches in the village pub. This Dutch-American effort is more dotcom than Dog & Duck.

It’s the work of Schiphol coachbuilders RemetzCar, under the watchful eye of London-based designer Niels van Roij. A total of 20 electric shooting brakes will be built, and the first one is taking a tour of Europe ahead of its official debut at the International Concours d’Elegance Paleis Het Loo at the end of the month. Today, it made its UK debut at the Dutch Embassy in London.

Video: Tesla Model S Shooting Brake

We’ll gloss over the fact that the Model S has too many doors to be classed as a real shooting brake – manufacturers have been blurring the lines for many years now – and instead, marvel at what could pass for a Tesla factory build. The Model X might have fancy gullwing doors, but it can’t match the Dutch creation for style, grace and charm.

The team at Niels van Roij Design penned the Model SB at the firm’s base in Woolwich, before briefing hearse and limousine experts RemetzCar. The Dutch coachbuilding company has over two decades experience in the field, with a CV featuring the likes of a Bentley Flying Spur station wagon, a six-wheeled stretched Range Rover Sport and a Rolls-Royce Phantom pick-up.

It’s not the first Tesla Model S shooting brake – Norfolk-based Qwest unveiled its SportsWagon earlier this year, before showing it at the London Motor Show – but car collector Floris de Raadt turned to his Dutch compatriot when he required a little more practicality from his electric hatch.

RemetzCar Tesla Model S at Dutch Embassy

“We’ve invested a lot of time in the design process of our Shooting Brake,” said Niels van Roij. “We started with writing the design strategy, after which the design research was initiated, then sketching began.

“The aesthetics of this conversion have been developed thoroughly by producing three design propositions, within which 16 different design themes were generated. Our research focused on benchmarking high-end performance station cars, one-off vehicles and market trends.”

RemetzCar began the process by translating the design sketches, leaving the core structure and the crumple zones intact. To achieve a seamless transition from hatchback to an estate, the coachbuilders developed a bespoke tailgate featuring a rear spoiler with a brake light and a concealed rear wiper.

RemetzCar Tesla Model S in London

Finishing touches are provided by a chrome strip running from the A-pillar, along the roofline and around the panoramic roof, with a body finished in green metallic paint with a twist of gold. Inside, the exterior colour is complemented by a cream, green and black cabin. Overall, it takes five months to complete the conversion. Is Mr de Raadt pleased with the result?

“The idea was to translate my Tesla Model S into a dynamic and sporty yet elegant Shooting Brake, rather than creating a car with maximum luggage space,” said de Raadt. “Niels van Roij Design developed several options for the conversion, focusing on premium design combined with limited conversion costs: thus making coachbuilding available for a larger group of connoisseurs.

“Our favourite was the option called ‘Bold Chrome’, featuring remarkable high gloss chrome window trims emphasising the bold, dynamic lines of the car. The result is truly stunning.”

RemetzCar Model S Shooting Brake chrome

At the launch, it was revealed that it costs around £80,000 plus local taxes to convert the Model S, which is in addition to the cost of the base car. Tesla Model S prices start at around £65,000 for the 75D, rising to around £123,000 for the P100D. Not cheap, then, but with a further 19 planned, exclusivity is guaranteed.

In pictures: Tesla Model S Shooting Brake

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Tesla wants to reinvent the motorway service station

Tesla wants to reinvent the motorway service station

Tesla wants to reinvent the motorway service station

Electric car manufacturer Tesla has hinted that it may soon be launching its own take on the traditional petrol station.

Rather than petrol pumps and a shop selling lukewarm pasties, Tesla is looking to open “mega supercharging locations” where owners can top up their electric cars in half an hour.

Currently, Tesla Model drivers can make use of the firm’s supercharger network. This uses 480-volt fast chargers to provide up to 120kW of power in 30 minutes, translating to up to 170 miles of range in a Model S. It’s currently attempting to double its number of superchargers, with 10,000 mooted worldwide by the end of 2017.

But the new mega-sites will go a step further than simply providing somewhere for drivers to charge their car. Speaking at FSTEC 2017, a food technology conference in California, Tesla’s chief technology officer JB Straubel explained these mega-stations would have up to 40 charge points, a lounge where drivers could sit back and relax, and coffee on-hand.

“People are coming and spending 20 to 30 minutes at these stops,” he said. “They want to eat, they want to have a cup of coffee, they want to use the bathroom.”

The firm plans to introduce the new supercharger stations between major cities, with the first one currently being built in California between Los Angeles and San Francisco. A similar one is expected to be built between LA and Las Vegas, while another is planned near Oslo in Norway.

Speaking about plans to reduce demand on Tesla’s current supercharger network earlier this year, CEO Elon Musk said: “We should see some immediate relief even for S and X customers on some of the key supercharge locations whilst we – experimenting with our first sort of – I don’t know what we call it – mega supercharging location, like really big supercharging location with a bunch of amenities.

“We’re going to unveil the first of those relatively soon. And I think we’ll get a sense for just sort of how cool it can be to have a great place to – if you’ve been driving for three, four hours – stop, have great restrooms, great food, amenities, hang out for half an hour and then be on your way.”

The firm isn’t expected to build and operate the locations itself. Instead, it will work with hotel and restaurant chains to act as partners.

Tesla’s new Autopilot software available in UK

Tesla UK Autopilot

Tesla has written to its UK customers (and prospects) announcing details of the latest update to its Autopilot software. Owners can now experience so-called ‘Enhanced Autopilot’ features, available for £5,000 for all new Tesla models, or £6,000 if retrofitted.

The news comes following a busy period for the firm’s HR department, with a leading AI and computer vision researcher joining the company, but several experts leaving the Autopilot team.


More Tesla news on Motoring Research:


According to electrek, Berta Rodriguez-Hervas, one of the first customer vision experts working on Autopilot, has joined Tesla’s former head of computer vision, David Nistér, at chipmaker Nvidia. Tesla’s Autopilot team has recently lost the head of the visual perception team and the leader of the geometric vision section.

Tesla hires ‘original and most respected’ director

Earlier this week, Andrej Karpathy joined Tesla as the new director of AI and Autopilot Vision, reporting directly to Elon Musk. According to Techcrunch, Karpathy created one of the original, and most respected, deep learning courses taught at Stanford University and is described by Tesla as “one of the world’s leading experts in computer vision and deep learning”.

Karpathy replaced Chris Lattner, who left Apple to join Tesla in January 2017. Tesla told electrek: “Chris just wasn’t the right fit for Tesla, and we’ve decided to make a change. We wish him all the best.”

Lattner tweeted: “Turns out that Tesla isn’t a good fit for me after all. I’m interested to hear about interesting roles for a seasoned engineering leader!” He has since updated his resume, which includes a line about his brief spell at Tesla:

“Overall I learned a lot, worked hard, met a lot of great people, and had a lot of fun. I’m still a firm believer in Tesla, its mission, and the exceptional Autopilot team: I wish them well.”

Safer than a human driver

Away from the HR department, Tesla UK is inviting customers to upgrade to the latest version of its Autopilot software. Features include traffic-aware cruise control, autosteer, auto lane change, parallel and perpendicular autopark, and summon.

Automatic emergency braking, forward and side collision warning, and more advanced safety features are also active and standard. “All Tesla vehicles have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver,” claims Tesla.

The electric car company has released a video to demonstrate the capabilities of Autopilot, which it says uses eight surround cameras to provide 360 degrees of visibility around the car at up to 25 metres of range.

Twelve updated ultrasonic sensors complement this vision, allowing for detection of hard and soft objects at nearly twice the distance of the previous system. A forward-facing radar is able to see through heavy rain, fog, dust and even the car ahead, claims Tesla.

Overall, the tour of the neighbourhood using full self-driving hardware is highly impressive. The driver is, quite literally, as passenger and only there for legal reasons. There are, perhaps two incidents which demonstrate that there’s room for improvement. Notice how the car stops for two joggers at around the 55 seconds mark. The Tesla also stops for no apparent reason around the 1:33 mark.

Tesla is the fastest-growing car brand in the world

Tesla Supercharger line-upToyota remains the world’s biggest car brand, with a value of $28.7 billion, according to the 2017 WPP and Kantar Millward Brown BrandZ study. However, this actually represents a 3 percent decline over last year. In contrast, Tesla’s value has shot up a staggering 32 percent, making it not only the eight most valuable automotive firm, but also the world’s fastest-growing car brand of all.

In moving from 10th place to eighth place in the car brand rankings, Telsa has overtaken both Land Rover and Porsche – ensuring Elon Musk’s electric car company is the story of the 2017 survey.

Overall, it is worth $5.9 billion, according to the 2017 WPP/KMB ‘BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands’ survey. Why so much? Because it’s considered an innovative, stylish luxury car brand that gives ‘the performance of a high octane, carbon-burning engine without the guilt’.


More Tesla on Motoring Research:


Toyota’s 3 percent decline, meanwhile, was blamed on currency challenges, rising labour costs and the need for increased investment to compete in the tech-packed future world of the automotive industry.

Indeed, “the financial pressures to deliver current sales while also investing and anticipating the future are placing established brands under great pressure,” said Peter Walshe, Global BrandZ strategy director. This is “creating space for newcomers like Tesla to power ahead.

“Strong brands will not only help car groups boost existing revenues but encourage consumers to stick with them as the vehicle they drive changes fundamentally.”

BMW and Mercedes-Benz remained in second and third place, but Ford moved up one spot, overtaking Honda with a brand value of $13.1 billion. This is despite its recent leadership changes at the top.

Overall, the top 10 global automotive sector brands are worth $139.2 billion. Within this, luxury brands now make up more than half the rankings, a big increase on the 36 percent representation in the first BrandZ survey back in 2006.

Car firms have a long way to go until they match the very biggest brands in the world, though. Google, Apple and Microsoft are the three most valuable global brands of all, with a combined value of over $620 billion. Facebook is in fifth place – and its 27 percent growth in value to $129.8 billion means it alone is worth only $10 billion less than all the top 10 biggest car brands combined…

The 10 most valuable car brands in the world

  1. Toyota: $28.7 billion
  2. BMW: $24.6 billion
  3. Mercedes-Benz: $23.5 billion
  4. Ford: $13.1 billion
  5. Honda: £12.2 billion
  6. Nissan: $11.3 billion
  7. Audi: $9.4 billion
  8. Tesla: $5.9 billion
  9. Land Rover: $5.5 billion
  10. Porsche: $5.1 billion
The best value new electric cars for 2017

The best value new electric cars for 2017

The best value new electric cars for 2017Electric car sales are growing year-on-year, by double-digit amounts. As concerns over city centre emissions grow, and the threat of penalties for combustion engines grows (diesel cars are particularly vulnerable here), many are now looking at electric vehicles (EVs) in a new light.

So is this the year to go electric?

Of course, traditionally, high-tech electric cars have not been cheap. Enter the government’s Plug-in-Car Grant. On electric cars with a range of at least 70 miles, this is worth £4,500 off the recommended retail price (the prices listed here are all pre-Plug-in Car Grant). List prices themselves are also becoming more affordable as sales gain critical mass.

Incremental improvements in battery technology are also stretching the range enough to make them a genuine option for most people. In the early days of EVs, you’d struggle to get 100 miles from a full charge. Now, you can get well over 150 miles from some models, and one real-world choice now claims a 250-mile range. The compromise-free EV is almost here.

In such a fast-growing sector, which are the models you should be looking at? Here, we’ve picked out 10 of the most significant EVs, and ranked them. We’ve also included key specs for driving range, battery size and price. All have their zero-emissions strengths, but some are better than others – particularly when you factor in range and price.

Hyundai IoniqThe best value new electric cars for 2017

Range: 174 miles

Battery size: 28kWh

Price: £28,995 (Premium)

The fresh-faced Hyundai Ioniq is a car available in three flavours: hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full EV. Here, we’re looking at the pure electric Ioniq, which is priced from an affordable £28,995. The claimed range is up to 174 miles, which is more than the class-leading Nissan Leaf. Hyundai’s five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty is extended further for the electric bits here – they’re covered for eight years and 125,000 miles.

Renault ZoeThe best value new electric cars for 2017

Range: 250 miles

Battery size: 41kWh

Price: £28,695 (i-Dynamique Nav Rapid Charge)

The Renault Zoe is a supermini electric car that’s both brilliant and badly flawed in equal measure. The brilliant bit is the stupendous range of this Z.E.40 model – a new 41kWh battery has stretched it to a Tesla-like 250 miles. But then, Renault has long eradicated the consumer appeal of this with its silly battery hire scheme, meaning you have to fork out £70 a month on top of the list price (or finance cost). The i-branded models cure this by including the battery in the asking price. Trouble is, they mean the asking price of this small EV is the same as the more-family-sized Ioniq EV…

Nissan LeafThe best value new electric cars for 2017

Range: 155 miles

Battery size: 30kWh

Price: £30,290 (Acenta 30kWh)

The first mass-market electric car on sale in Britain is getting on a bit these days, but is a deservedly familiar sight. It was enhanced a little while ago with a larger-capacity 30kWh battery, taking the range up to 155 miles. That’s an improvement on the old 24kWh car, and will give existing owners a nice upgrade come trade-in time. It’s also built in Britain, for patriotic appeal. These days, it’s not the class-leader in terms of range or ability, but it’s still competitive.

BMW i3The best value new electric cars for 2017

Range: 195 miles

Battery size: 33kWh

Price: £32,330 (94Ah)

The ultra-clever BMW i3 looks like nothing else, is made from lightweight carbon fibre and is a Tardis-like car that still drives like a real BMW. Trouble is, it’s perhaps a bit too quirky for some; what works in trendy parts of London might not quite be so appealing in rural Dorset. This 2017 model does have a big new battery, though – taking the range up to nearly 200 miles. And the car’s clever engineering means you stand a decent chance of achieving that, too.

Volkswagen e-GolfThe best value new electric cars for 2017

Range: 118 miles

Battery size: 24.2kWh

Price: £31,680

There’s a facelifted Volkswagen e-Golf coming soon, but we’re still recommending this one if you’re able to strike a sharp deal with a retailer. It doesn’t have the biggest battery or the largest range in the family class, but it’s still a Golf, and that counts for a lot. It’s nice to drive and will always sell on for decent money. A few thousand pounds off will solve the issue of that list price, too…

Kia Soul EVThe best value new electric cars for 2017

Range: 132 miles

Battery size: 27kWh

Price: £29,995

The quirky Kia Soul EV is an electric car that’s a bit different. Probably too different for many, but early adopters who like to stand out might love it. The range is decent and it’s extremely practical inside for five, while a fulsome level of standard kit means you shouldn’t feel short-changed by the sub-£30k list price.

Tesla Model S 60The best value new electric cars for 2017

Range: 253 miles

Battery size: 60kWh

Price: £65,680 (Model S 60)

We have to include the mighty Tesla Model S here, despite even the basic car costing a whopping £65,000. That’s because it’s a genuine luxury car that’s shaken up the electric car market ever since its launch. The range is long, performance is stupendous and the interior, dominated by that famous touchscreen, is superb. Pity new car buyers no longer get free charges from the ever-growing Supercharger network.

Volkswagen e-UpThe best value new electric cars for 2017

Range: 99 miles

Battery size: 18.7kWh

Price: £25,280

Volkswagen has recently facelifted the little e-Up. Frankly, while able, it’s a bit too expensive for what it is: a tiny city car with a sub-100-mile range. The Plug-in Car Grant helps, but it’s still more than £20k – you can get a petrol-engined Up for less than £10k. Despite this, it’s a likeable and able car that drives well and serves as a nice introduction to electric motoring.

Renault TwizyThe best value new electric cars for 2017

Range: 62 miles

Battery size: 6.1kWh

Price: £6,895 (Expression)

One of the cheapest cars on sale in Britain is also a fully-electric one. The Twizy is rather compromised, of course: it’s a quadricycle, so doesn’t meet the same standards of refinement (or, as Euro NCAP pointed out, crash safety) as a normal car. The range is also just 62 miles, and it’s so slow, it can’t even clock a 0-60mph time because it can’t reach 60mph. Still, for those who want a cheap electric car runabout they can park anywhere, it’s still worth a look.

Smart edThe best value new electric cars for 2017

Range: 99 miles

Battery size: 17.2kWh

Price: TBC

One of the freshest EVs on the UK new car market is the soon-to-be-launched Smart ed range. Because we don’t yet have prices, we can’t yet fully judge its competitiveness – but the range is looking OK for a city car and the manoeuvrability of the Fortwo two-seater is peerless. There’s now even a Forfour ed for those who need a city-friendly five-door four-seater.

Faraday Future: is this the electric car to take on Tesla?

Faraday Future: is this the electric car to take on Tesla?

Faraday Future: is this the electric car to take on Tesla?

Start-up firm Faraday Future has revealed its latest self-driving electric car at CES 2017 in Las Vegas – and it’s not shy about taking on the giant that is Tesla. Or, it seems, Ferrari…

The company says its new luxury car, the FF 91, can hit 60mph in 2.39 seconds – that’s quicker than the fastest Tesla Model S, and faster than supercars such as the Ferrari 488 GTB. Faraday Future has even revealed a video proving this.

Like Tesla’s futuristic cars, the new Faraday Future also contains autonomous features. A live demo showed on screen at CES showed it driving itself around a car park before reversing into a space.

It isn’t flawless, though – something billionaire Chinese investor Jia Yueting demonstrated when he tried to demonstrate the car’s self-parking feature on stage. It failed, with Faraday senior vice president Nick Sampson joking, “OK, it seems like it’s a little bit lazy tonight.”

Fitted with a 130kWh battery, the FF 91 is good for a range of 378 miles says Faraday – and has the ability to charge at more than 500 miles (of range) per hour.

The company – which is plagued by criticism and struggles to be taken seriously as a Tesla rival – says the FF 91 will be released as a production model next year. Like Tesla, it’s hoping to raise revenue by taking refundable deposits of $5,000 to fund development.

Faraday Future revealed a futuristic single seat race-car concept capable of producing 1,000hp and hitting 200mph at least year’s CES. Many likened it to the Batmobile and criticised it for not being realistic.

Since then, Faraday’s been hit by financial difficulties, with question marks over funding. In November, work on a factory it was building in Las Vegas was halted after investment from Jia Yueting’s company, LeEco, is thought to have dried up.

Tesla Model X 90D quick review: 2017’s must-have SUV

Tesla Model X 90D quick review: 2017’s must-have SUV

Tesla Model X 90D quick review: 2017’s must-have SUV

This is Tesla’s long-awaited SUV, based on the same platform as the Model S but boasting SUV practicality and four-wheel drive on all models. At 2.27m wide and 5m long, does it work on UK roads? We’ve had a brief drive to find out.

Prices and deals

OK, so the Tesla Model X 90D will cost you £85,000 (including the government’s plug-in car grant), while an entry-level 75D starts at £76,500. Don’t expect any movement on that: Tesla doesn’t do negotiation, especially with a car as hyped as the Model X.

What are its rivals?

Although the Model X has no obvious rivals, there’s also no shortage of upmarket SUVs you could buy for this money. These include the Range Rover, Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Volvo XC90. None of these are electric – although some do offer hybrid powertrains – while Jaguar has just unveiled its electric I-Pace at the LA Auto Show. That’s a couple of years away from hitting the market, though.

What engine does it use?

What engine does it use?

As you’ve probably clocked by now, the Tesla Model X doesn’t have an engine. Instead, it uses a 100kWh battery located on the floor, powering two electric motors located over each axle to provide four-wheel drive on all models.

How fast?

With a drag coefficient of 0.24 (the lowest of any SUV, claims Tesla), the Model X 90D will hit 62mph in an astonishing 3.2 seconds. That drops to 2.9 seconds in the range-topping P100D, while top speed is limited to 155mph.

Will I enjoy driving it?

It depends on the kind of enjoyment you expect from driving. It’s a heavy car, with light steering and relatively high centre of gravity (compared to the Model S saloon), so it’s not fun in the ‘B-road blaster’ sense.

However, there is fun to be had in exploiting the performance. With instant torque (all 325lb ft of it) and no gear changes getting in the way, happiness is an empty motorway slip road. It’s a weird sensation accelerating hard in a Tesla – your insides are thrust backwards, yet there’s none of the usual noise you associate with being propelled forward at such a rate.

When you’re not in the mood for such shenanigans, it’s such a serene car for tooling around town or schlepping up miles. Autopilot makes motorway miles even easier, working like adaptive cruise control but going a step further. Indicate and it’ll check for traffic around you, then change lanes if it feels it’s safe. Legislation dictates that you have to touch the steering wheel regularly, though.

Fuel economy and running costs

Fuel economy and running costs

This is where the Model X could be a huge money-saver. Relying on an electric motor, the 90D boasts an official range of 303 miles. Sure, if you’re enjoying that phenomenal acceleration regularly that’ll dip a bit. But still, as long as you can charge at home, the chances are you won’t have to worry about running out of electricity.

If you do input a destination into the sat nav that’s further away than you’ll get on the remaining range, the Tesla will take you via one of its ‘Supercharger’ points. Get your order in before 1st January 2017 and you’ll be able to use these for free – after that, you’ll have to pay. Tesla hasn’t confirmed how much it’ll cost, but it will work out cheaper than running a petrol or diesel car.

What’s the interior like?

Weird, frankly. Enter the cabin through the incredible falcon-wing doors, and you’ll find up to seven seats (depending on how many you’ve ordered). Up-front, there’s the huge tablet-style touchscreen infotainment system (only bigger than a tablet), while our test car featured a wood-effect dash. Although perhaps not quite up to the standards of luxury you might expect from a car of this price, it feels better quality than an early Model S we’ve previously tested.

Is it comfortable?

You sit reassuringly high up, with light coming in through the huge windscreen-cum-sunroof and brightening up the cabin. We spent less than an hour in the car, but doubt we’d be complaining about backache after a longer journey. One pleasant feature of the Model X is the HEPA air filter, which allows medical-grade clean air to fill the cabin, no matter how polluted the air outside the car is. There’s even a bioweapon defence mode.

Is it practical?

Is it practical?

Unless you really need seven seats, we’d opt for a six-seater for a less claustrophobic feel, while ordering five seats will get you a larger boot. Those huge falcon-wing doors enable easy access to the front and rear, while their design means they don’t need a huge area to open.

Oh, and if you want to lug a caravan with the Model X, now you can. An optional tow hitch gives it a towing capacity of 2,270kg, making it the first ever electric car capable of towing.

Tell me about the tech

Where do we start? As Tesla positions itself more as a tech firm that a car company, it offers updates for all its cars that can be installed remotely, meaning you’ll always have the latest tech if you buy a Model X (or at least be able to get it).

For example, the latest update (8.0) features a new look for that huge 17-inch touchscreen, with changes made to maps and its media player. Autopilot has also been enhanced.

What about safety?

Tesla claims the Model X is the safest SUV ever and we doubt there’s much this side of a Volvo XC90 we’d rather be for a crash. The lack of a combustion engine means most of the front-end is crumple zone, while tech such as automatic emergency braking means you’re less likely to be in an accident in the first place.

Which version should I go for?

Which version should I go for?

How much can you afford? All versions are four-wheel drive, and for most, the performance of the entry-level (if you can call it that) 75D will be more than adequate. If money is no object, the P100D is the one that’ll get you the most respect from Tesla geeks. And scare your mother in law.

What’s the used alternative?

There isn’t really anything like the Model X on the used market. The Model S has been around since 2014, and you can now pick up early examples for around £55,000. If you’re after an SUV, perhaps consider the popular Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. That’s a bit like buying a Huawei because you can’t afford an iPhone, though.

Should I buy one?

The Tesla Model X won’t be for everyone. Shelling out £80,000 on a car that is still relatively niche isn’t easy to justify – especially when you can get a Range Rover for the same money. And the Range Rover can be filled up in a matter of minutes at your local petrol station.

A Range Rover isn’t set to be 2017’s ‘must-have’, though – and the hype around the Model X is almost entirely justified. Not only is it a quirky family SUV, its low running costs should help make the maths add up, while the gadgets on offer will never get boring.

Pub fact

Pub fact

If you are tempted by a Tesla Model X, we’d suggest getting your order in as soon as possible. Not only will those ordered in 2017 lose the right to free Supercharging, but new VED bands from 1 April 2017 will mean you’ll have to pay £310 a year road tax for the first five years. Register it before then and it’ll be free.