I’m not much for conspiracy theories, and I don’t buy into the hype that GM killed the EV-1 as part of some vast OPEC-fueled scheme to keep us addicted to gasoline. When it comes to electric cars, here’s the cold, hard fact: gasoline won out as the propulsion method of choice in the opening years of the 20th century. Fossil-fueled vehicles have had 100 years worth of ongoing development, and have gotten incredibly safe, fuel efficient and practical. Electric cars, until recently, have been advanced only by pseudo-mad backyard visionaries, with large automakers avoiding them like the drunken blond with the open herpes sore on her lip. For the vast majority of buyers, they’re simply not going to represent the best choice in the near future.
Not long ago I was asked as to whether or not I would actually pony up the cash and purchase an electric car. My knee jerk reaction was HELL NO! Then after thinking about it for awhile I started to rethink the question in terms of; what would an electric car have to become in order for me to purchase it? So much of what I love about the automobile is visceral. The looks, feel, sounds and smells are all part of what make an automobile attractive to me. For me to like a car you can better believe that it needs to have one hell of a presence to it. Today’s cookie cutter jelly bean rides are crap, and although they do serve a purpose, they have no place in my garage. Seriously, my version of hell would be having to drive a Toyota Camry everyday for the rest of my life… dear God that would suck.
It’s no secret that Toyota’s influx of cash into Tesla probably saved the struggling electric automaker. In return, Tesla gets to build bland but marketable electric RAV-4s, while continuing with the development of their Model S sedan. Now battery maker and electronics giant Panasonic has stepped up to the table, offering Tesla $30 million in investment dollars. What does Panasonic get out of the deal, aside from shares of Tesla stock? In exchange, Tesla promises to use Panasonic batteries in their battery packs, and will give Panasonic preferential treatment over other battery suppliers.
I’m still not sure the United States is ready for a full fleet of electric cars from our various manufacturers. They have limited range, no recharging infrastructure and so far, cost way to much to be considered economical. Combine that with a sub-200 mile range and one can see the many drawbacks that we are presented with. That hasn’t stopped Tesla though, the maker of the $101,000 all electric roadster. You see they’ve just opened their first overseas dealership in Toyko, Japan, the land where most of our electronic gadgets come from.
Do you a Tesla Roadster electric car? If so, heads up: Tesla is recalling 439 of the battery powered sports cars, to reinforce a wire that could chafe against a panel, creating the risk of a short or an electrical fire. Tesla points out that the wire is part of the auxiliary wiring harness and not part of the Tesla’s propulsion system or primary wiring; in other words, we’re talking twelve volts and reasonable amperage, not high voltage and dangerous current.
Now here is an interesting comparison. Motor Trend has decided to take the best electric car on the market, the Tesla Roadster and pit it against one of the best handling Porsche sports cars in existence, the new Porsche Boxster Speedster. The Tesla, as most people know is based around the body and chassis of the Lotus Elise, which as we all know is one the premier sports cars on the planet earth. With that in mind one would think that the Tesla would be a world class handler. With all those heavy batteries tucked under the Tesla’s skin though you’d have to figure that something in the performance department would have to give. Click play to see what the guys at Motor Trend thought. I have a feeling you’ll find this very interesting.
In a sure sign that things are heating up in the electric car battle for consumers hearts and minds, Elon Musk has called the batteries used by Nissan in the Leaf ‘primitive’ and not even up to the technology used in Tesla’s first prototype. Musk’s comments, quoted from Earth2Tech by Autoblog, were made in a conference call with analysts and investors last Wednesday, where Tesla executives were also forced to defend their slim-but-increasing margins on the Roadster. Investors fear that the Model S sedan will lack profitability unless the cost of materials and production can be lowered significantly.
I’m not a stock broker and I don’t play one on TV, but you had to see this coming. After shooting up a staggering 41% on the first day of trading, shares of Tesla stock are now selling below their IPO pricing of $17 per share. How much lower? As of today, they’re trading at $15.37, a drop of $1.63 per share from the IPO price and a drop of $4.63 from their highest price.
While sitting at my desk wondering what to write about I started pondering if I would one day actually plunk down some money for an electric car. I started running cycles through my head as to the pro’s and con’s and wondered if it would ever make financial sense for me. I thought about my driving habits and tried to figure in such details as how many times a week I use the car, what the average distance traveled was, as well as my average fuel cost. If you’ve never done this and are in the market for a new electric vehicle such as Nissan’s new 2011 Leaf, a Tesla or the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, then you may want to jot down some notes.
If you were lucky enough to get in on Tesla’s IPO this morning, you probably paid around $17 per share. Congratulations, you’ve already made money: shares were selling for as high as $19 today, before dropping back to $18.75 in afternoon trading.
The $226 million raised by Tesla will be used to open the former NUMMI plant in California, and has ensured that Toyota will invest another $50 million in the electric car manufacturer. Tesla, whose sole automotive offering to date is the battery powered Roadster, has plans for a practical electric sport sedan called the Model S. So far, Tesla has created functional prototypes of the Model S but has not lined up a platform on which to build the car. Toyota’s investment in Tesla should go a long way towards solidifying that relationship.