Tesla CEO Elon Musk announces that Battery Swap station is open between LA and SF, quicker than getting gas

It appears that Tesla Motors is ready to open its super-quick battery swapping stationn along the Los Angeles to San Francisco route according to Tweet by CEO Elon Musk, above.

Update: Tesla now posts some details on their Blog:

At an event in Los Angeles last year, we showcased battery swap technology to demonstrate that it’s possible to replace a Model S battery in less time than it takes to fill a gas tank. This technology allows Model S owners in need of a battery charge the choice of either fast or free. The free long distance travel option is already well covered by our growing Supercharger network, which is now at 312 stations with more than 1,748 Superchargers worldwide. They allow Model S drivers to charge at 400 miles per hour. Now we’re starting exploratory work on the fast option.

Starting next week, we will pilot a pack swap program with invited Model S owners. They will be given the opportunity to swap their car’s battery at a custom-built facility located across the street from the Tesla Superchargers at Harris Ranch, CA. This pilot program is intended to test technology and assess demand.

At least initially, battery swap will be available by appointment and will cost slightly less than a full tank of gasoline for a premium sedan. More time is needed to remove the titanium and hardened aluminum ballistic plates that now shield the battery pack, so the swap process takes approximately three minutes.

With further automation and refinements on the vehicle side, we are confident that the swap time could be reduced to less than one minute, even with shields. Tesla will evaluate relative demand from customers for paid pack swap versus free charging to assess whether it merits the engineering resources and investment necessary for that upgrade.

UK’s Telegraph calls the Tesla Model S the most important vehicle in the last 20 years

I agree except probably 50 years.

Such is the pace of change in this industry, however, I have since driven two such vehicles that would improve the motoring lives of a great many people. The first was the Audi A3 e-tron, and the second this Tesla Model S, which is not only the most important car to arrive in the UK this year, but arguably the past 20 years.
It is significant because it’s a fully electric vehicle, as opposed to the petrol-electric hybrid Audi, and also because it moves the game on in a way few cars have ever managed.

(as of this writing 2/3rds of the readers agree in the poll.)

Tesla Motors brand has the best ‘VIBE’ in recent rankings

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In a recent report, Added Value ranked Tesla’s “VIBE” or Visionary Inspiring Bold Exciting index above Google and other noted big brands.

Several shifts have transpired on the cultural brandscape since 2013, with Tesla gliding into the pole position, ever so narrowly passing reigning champ Google, and lapping all other luxury car makes. Amazon’s VIBE climbed 10% as the company continued to reach into previously unchartered territories (cell phones, drones!).  Apple, once the poster child for a brand that radiated VIBE, remains a strong force to contend with, but has continued to slide from atop the perch it held four years ago, when first measured.  These brands are joined by culturally vibrant behemoths, Samsung, Microsoft, newcomer Etsy, Nike, and iconic Coca-Cola.

We see that those brands with the greatest cultural vibrancy are more likely to hit the trifecta of 1) delivering purposeful and compelling visions for positive change, 2) establishing truer, deeper, more lasting connections with people, and 3) enriching brand experiences to be more open-ended and on-going.

In other words, Tesla is cool.

Tesla P85D vs. Ferrari: Game over.

While not an official race, this does show the insanity of the P85D.

I got a chance to drag race a 691-hp Tesla Model S P85D against a Ferrari and a Lamborghini today, and this is what it felt like:
First impressions: The acceleration is ridiculous. I daily drive an Aventador, and I thought I got used to fast accelerations. But no, the Tesla Model S P85D hauled some serious ass. As a passenger, you do not get a chance to get ready for it at all. My internal organs were glued to the back of my body. I’ve done the P85+ test drive before, and it was already pretty fast. But this P85D is on a whole other level.

We pitted the car’s acceleration against other cars. It pretty much beat everything at the car show (Ferraris and R8s didn’t stand a chance). So I had to pit it against my Aventador, which does 0-60 in 2.8-2.9 seconds. Tesla P85D does it in 3.1-3.2 seconds. Right off the bat, the Tesla got ahead. It gets a good maybe half a car length ahead before the Aventador grips fully and starts hauling. So we decided to make it fairer and only accelerate the Tesla when the Aventador grips and starts moving. That’s when we truly got both cars to start moving at roughly the same time.

But the insane part for me isn’t the raw speed but the fact that this is a 4 door, 7 seat sedan. Meanwhile the Ferrari is a huge, inefficient engine on wheels that gets 10mpg with hardly enough room to seat 2 people.

Game over.

VC Fred Wilson predicts 20% electric cars in US in 5 years

Interesting bit from a smart guy. All that is necessary is that battery/car prices come down and charging stations become ubiquitous. Both seem inevitable. This doesn’t seem so crazy now, does it?

Economist interviews Tesla CTO JB Straubel on cars, planes, batteries and the energy industry

Great interview, not much new however if you follow Tesla and its CTO into the energy industry. Some interesting bits:

Why did Tesla act differently? For a start, it does not think of itself as a carmaker. “I see us more as an energy-innovation company,” says Jeffrey “JB” Straubel, the firm’s chief technology officer, and one of the co-founders of Tesla, along with Elon Musk, the chief executive. “If we can reduce energy-storage prices, it’s the most important thing we can do to make electric vehicles more prevalent,” says Mr Straubel. “Add in renewable power and I have a direct line of sight towards an entire economy that doesn’t need fossil fuels and doesn’t need to pay more to do it.”…

Mr Straubel met Mr Musk, a freshly minted multimillionaire from the sale of his PayPal digital-payments company to eBay. “One lunch was the beginning of what eventually became Tesla,” says Mr Straubel. “We spent most of the meal talking about electric aeroplanes. But as we were wrapping up, I said I was working on a fun crazy project with cars, trying to build a lithium-ion battery pack that could last 1,000 miles.”…

“Most other companies do not believe that battery volume will grow as fast as it’s going to,” Mr Straubel counters. “They don’t understand the tight linkage between cost and volume. We’re at this crossing-point where a small reduction in cost is going to result in a ridiculously big increase in volume, because the auto industry is so big.”…

“No one wishes we could come up with a technology that makes today’s chemistry obsolete more than me,” says Mr Straubel. “We could sell more cars at a lower price. But we’re not waiting.”

Elon Musk talks Model S P85D, “This is a halo car for Tesla”, and much more in GQ interview

In case you missed it, Elon Musk sat down for an interview with GQ Magazine last week where the Tesla CEO commented on a random smattering of interesting tidbits.

While much of the interview treads on familiar ground, such as Tesla opening up their patents and Musk’s general thoughts on the state of the car industry, there are a few nuggets worth highlighting.

For instance, Musk talks briefly about development of the Tesla Model S P85D:

This is a halo car for Tesla. We didn’t do it from the beginning because it adds complexity, and we already had enough fish to fry just making a car that worked. But it was always something we expected to do. We wanted to position it as the fastest in order to change the public mindset. It had to be something dramatic. And getting those few extra 10ths of a second was hard.

As for consumer interest in Tesla’s highest-end model, it appears that the problem is supply more so than demand, certainly an enviable problem to have. Speaking to that, Musk notes that “demand for the P85D is off the charts.”

With respect to the highly anticipated Model 3, Musk noted that Tesla is hoping to get the sticker price down to just half that of the Model S, a goal which precipitated development of the gargantuan Gigafactory in Nevada.

We need the Gigafactory because there currently isn’t enough battery cell capacity for a high-volume, pure electric car at any price. The Model 3 is 20% smaller than the Model S, so the battery pack can be just 80% of the size, but we’re aiming for a 50% price reduction from the S, so we need the factory to make it affordable.

Musk is certainly a colorful personality, and the interview is well worth checking out in its entirety. Again, you won’t find too much new information to digest, but the story provides a good background of Tesla’s goals and Musk’s strategy to bring said goals to fruition.