• Jul 7th 2008 at 8:02AM
  • 3
Photo by Doug King

An attentive Tesla fan happened to be driving past the site of the future Tesla store in Menlo Park, CA recently and took a photo while sitting a traffic light. Closer inspection revealed an unusual Dodge Magnum sitting at the site. Now a Magnum with a steel wheel might not draw much attention on it's own. However, closer inspection of the image also revealed an absent tailpipe and license plate. Since development is going hot and heavy on the new Model S sedan, the photographer realized he might have stumbled across something interesting. I checked with Darryl Siry (Tesla's Marketing VP) and he confirmed that the Magnum in Question is indeed one of several different car platforms being used as mules for the WhiteStar/Model S program. As is typically the case, car makers use other existing vehicles that are similar in size and weight for various early hardware tests. In this case, the Magnum is being used for powertrain development. The Magnum body shouldn't be taken as any kind of indicator of the shape of the Model S. However, there are other clues. The Magnum has a 120 inch wheelbase and weighs in at 3,800lbs. Strip out the existing power train and other hardware and replace it with a battery pack and motor and you might be in similar range for the Model S. Since a Roadster weighs over 2,700 lbs with a carbon fiber body, the aluminum-bodied Model S is likely to be somewhere close to 4,000lbs with a battery pack in place. More hints as they become available.

[Source: Tesla Motors Club]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      When I read this post yesterday on Tesla Motors Club, I thought this just had to be some sort of coincidence or misunderstanding....but I'm wrong! We don't have an idea of how Whitestar will look, but at least we have an idea of its size. This indicated what Elon and others have said, the car is going to be somewhat large, about the size of a 5 series.
      • 8 Months Ago
      My brother, who works for the Library of Congress, says that I should request a photo credit.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Lower weight (mass) equals greater efficiency. Carbon fiber weighs one-fifth as much as steel yet is just as strong and stiff, making it ideal for structural or semi-structural components in automobiles. Replacing half the ferrous metals in current automobiles could reduce a vehicle’s weight by 60% and fuel consumption by 30%, according to some studies.

      Carbon Fiber in the body and structural components is the best way to reduce vehicle weight without sacrificing strength or safety. For years, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory through the FreedomCar initiative has been working to bring the cost of carbon fiber below $5.00/lb.

      Here is a 2/27/08 presentation by C. David (Dave) Warren titled Low Cost Carbon Fiber
      Research in the ALM Materials Program regarding the current state of the project


      Interesting reading for people obsessed with vehicular efficiency as the best way to increase all electric range.

      And how do we use the carbon to “stamp” automotive components? Here’s how:

      Fiberforge Stamped Carbon Fiber auto bodies and parts.
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