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Even though Tesla founder Martin Eberhard is no longer with the company, he and his ex-team have come to a similar realization: electric cars with range extenders (aka hybrids, really) are a good idea. Martin realized this with the Volt; Tesla's new CEO, Ze'ev Drori, has told C-NET that his company's upcoming WhiteStar sedan will be a gas-electric hybrid.
Drori said that, "It is more than research. We intend to have it as part of the offering. The Whitestar can be all-electric or it can be an REV." That's pretty straightforward.

So, why is the electric car posterboy looking at hybrids (presumably a plug-in) with a smelly gas engine attached? Range, said Tesla chairman Elon Musk. While the WhiteStar EV will be able to go 150-200 miles on a charge, the REV will go further (natch) and cost slightly less. This is good because Tesla knows there is a good possibility that the $30,000-$40,0000 Volt will go 400 or so miles between charges/fill-ups. While not as expensive as the Roadster - the WhiteStar will still sell for luxury prices ($50,000-$70,000, depending on options) - getting REV technology refined on the WhiteStar will make Tesla further-down-the-road "economy" sedan have a range that can compete with the Volt and whatever other options are available at that time. Whenever that is...

UPDATE: Guess I should make this clearer, and Darryl pointed out below, that Telsa has been publicly discussing the REV option for almost two months. This is just the most concrete confirmation of those plans we've heard yet.

[Source: Michael Kanellos / C-NET, h/t to Don A.]


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  • 20 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Ah, the truth comes out. Oh, wait. It came out 100 years ago. Electric vehicles aren't feasible for the average person. So overhyped Tesla, who hasn't even put a car on the road, is now backing off and going 'hybrid'. When that doesn't sell I guess Tesla will drop a diesel in and then when that doesn't sell... I can't wait for the 2015 Tesla Roadster with the 5.0 gasoline powered V8. I hope it comes with a transmission.
      • 7 Years Ago
      We studied the various options available for providing an unlimited range for 150-200 mile range BEV-s in the UK 25 years ago, which included 15-20 minutes fast charge, lease only battery exchange, power pick-up from the roadway, hired auxiliary power sources on tow and generator built into the vehicle (REEV). In the very long term, when liquid fuel becomes very expensive and BEV-s will be in widespread use, the lease only battery exchange scheme may well be the least-cost and most acceptable way of providing unlimited range to BEV-s. For now, REEV is the answer.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It would be more accurate to say that "curently, a PHEV is cheaper than a 150 to 200 mile range EV". That is due to the high price of batteries, and the PHEV only needs a battery pack 1/3 to 1/4 the size of the EV battery pack. The savings in batteries is greater than the cost of an IC engine and generator. That could change if cheaper batteries with better energy density comes to market.

      The situation with Aptera is a bit different. The Aptera EV has a more limited range and far less drag, making for a smaller battery to begin with. Therefore, there is less difference in battery size compared to the PHEV version, thus less battery cost savings - less than the additional cost of the IC engine/generator set.
      • 7 Years Ago
      See this amazing vid. The first car is the one of Elon Musk so the first production car!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CErclCee5Cc
      • 7 Years Ago
      I, for one, am not at all happy with this hybrid idea. As I have stated several times previously, what we really need are hybrid garages: a pure EV for the vast majority of our driving, and a "workhorse" for those rare occasions when we need more power, range, cargo capacity, towing, etc.

      To illustrate that point, I did a quick-and-dirty calculation of our particular driving needs over a year's time (mainly commuting, but also cross-country vacations, towing, etc.). This is what it would cost us per year for gasoline (about 15 cents per mile) and electricity (about 2 cents per mile):

      ICE = $2,617
      PHEV = $1,382
      EV+ICE = $827

      You can see why, at least in our case, a hybrid garage makes much more sense. And these calculations only add up the dollars: I haven’t yet tallied the differences in terms of our carbon footprint. Moreover, I haven't included the savings from installing solar panels to charge the EV either --which we fully intend to do.

      Of course, the optimal solution would be to someday have an EV+PHEV garage --but that won't happen for us until the PHEV has four wheel drive and can tow a ton.

      In short, I'd rather have a Subaru G4e or a Mitsubishi iMiEV Sport that goes 125 miles per charge than a Volt that only goes 40. It just seems silly to reduce the EV range by 2/3rds, continue to burn oil, add the extra weight, complication, and cost --simply because one *might* on a *rare* occasion need more range.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I hope Tesla have the good sense to buy a small off-the-shelf engine and exhaust gas aftertreatment system, rather than try and develop one from scratch. An inline four gasoline unit, e.g. 1.4-1.6L, should do the trick. Upgrade option: a turbo.

      The only snag is, Tesla will need relatively low volume so whatever they choose needs to leverage an existing high-volume production line serving one or more conventional models destined for the target geography (US, California, EU, Japan etc.)

      Buying a stock engine from another manufacturer also greatly simplifies the issues of warranty, servicing and spare parts.
      • 7 Years Ago
      From the way Tesla has been talking for the past few months, I thought the gas-electric Whitestar was a given. IMHO, the big scoop here is that they will also offer a pure BEV version. I think that having choices is a good thing.

      By summer, we should even get to see what it looks like, and a few more details.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Just to clarify. . . REV is apparently Tesla's acronym of the day (they may come up with another one tomorrow) for a plug-in hybrid car, or PHEV.
      • 7 Years Ago
      @Darryl

      Thanks for your reply. I hope the whitestar will be on its way. So long as there's a BEV I think it'll be fine. It's always important to understand the market demands and what competitors are doing in reaction to that market. And the REV is a good option to get more of the market out there to Tesla. I only wanted to make sure that Tesla is primarily an electric car company and I believe that image is VITAL to its success and distinguished brand name that not even Toyota can get. Maybe in the future we won't need REVs but since we're in a transitional period in automotive history REVs would be a great transition job.

      And when Tesla succeeds in getting into full profitable production it'll make history.

      • 7 Years Ago
      @John and Joseph

      You'd be amazed how cheap and available ICEs are. The hard part isn't getting those parts but rather the overall system is more difficult to integrate and the regulations and requirements more difficult when you burn gas in addition to having an EV drivetrain. That added complexity would lead us to develop the pure EV version first and then offer REEV later, although we haven't formally said this is the plan yet.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'm glad they are giving people an option, if they had not my interest in Tesla would be squashed, but seeing that they are at least giving the option of all electric, I still have faith in them.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Tony - we only have used REEV (Range Extended Electric Vehicle). You have to remember that what you read in the "papers" is what that journalist thought they heard.

      Sebastian - thank you for covering this. We initially "broke" this story in late December with Elon's blog. We have been seriously discussing WhiteStar as a REEV since last July, so it isn't surprising that Martin's perspectives are similar since he was part of that decision. The concept was discussed years ago (before Volt) but not pursued. Right now we have the ability to do both.
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