• Jan 13th 2009 at 6:16PM
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We posted earlier today about what Tesla Motors' CEO Elon Musk told us about the Model S and the deal with Daimler for the smart ed. Musk spoke at the Tesla Motors during a press conference here at the Detroit Auto Showthis afternoon and gave a little more information that's worth sharing.

First, the deal for the 1,000 smart eds we heard about earlier might only be the tip of the iceberg. Musk said that Tesla could supply the packs for "tens of thousands" of electric smarts if the testing of the first thousand goes well. Musk made it a point to add that he and Tesla are proud to be working with Daimler. One reason he worked to create Tesla Motors in the first place, Musk said, was to revolutionize electric car technology. This deal does exactly that, and we might soon hear more such announcements. Musk said Tesla is looking for another one or two strategic partners, either domestic or international companies, to work with. The whole Detroit vs. Silicon Valley thing is not the way to move forward, he said. There's much more after the jump.


[Source: Tesla]


As for the 18650 cells that Tesla uses in its battery packs, Musk said that the ideal power cell for automotive use would be somewhere between four and ten times the size, but no one currently makes enough of those types of cells to guarantee reliability. On the other hand, there are millions of 18650 cells made each year. While they're not the best choice to move an EV, this is where the perfect certainly should not get in the way of the good. The 18650 cells are understood and can be trusted; that's vital when you're cruising down the highway. The smart ed and the Roadster both use the same 18650 cells, there are just fewer of them in the electric version of the fortwo.

Now, about the money. Musk said that he is confident that 2009 is the year Tesla turns a profit. That needs some clarification. Specifically, he said that the Roadster line should start being profitable in the middle of this year and remain profitable from then on. The company will likely reinvest that money into the Model S, so Tesla Motors won't be in the black in 2009, but Musk was confident that day will come. Currently, Tesla is building 15 Roadsters a week and production should ramp up to 30 a week in the near future. Can't come soon enough, can it?



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 11 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why worry about tech advances making the existing batteries obsolete? Does it bother you that a 1963 Corvette uses technology that is arguably obsolete? Tesla cars are hot. This company has legs.
      • 6 Years Ago
      2009 should be a banner year. They've announced their new, even more expensive roadster, and they are right in the heart of their roadster backlog. Each one generates a huge (gross) profit for them, so things should look okay.

      But what is 2010 like? Are there as many customers for the roadster ready to buy in 2010 or does the current list the majority of cars they will sell? I think the latter may be closer to the truth.

      Furthermore, it's likely that Tesla will need funding again in 2009. What happens then?

      On top of all this I find Musk's comments that the Detroit versus Silicon Valley thing isn't really the way to move forward. That's pretty rich from the guy who was the largest proponent (if not originator) of the argument.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I must be missing something.

      I had the impression that the primary technology behind Tesla's battery pack was actually licensed from AC Propulsion. Why would Daimler want to contract for a mere "repackaged" product from an intermediary, rather than going directly to the original source --like BMW is doing with the Mini E?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Test drive a Mini E and then a Tesla, and you'll understand.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Tesla only licensed parts of the design, they still designed and produce the battery pack as a whole and various electronics associated with the battery pack (power management, cooling, safety systems) are of their own design.

        Maybe Tesla just can produce more packs than AC propulsion. Maybe they had a lower bid than AC, who knows.

        All I know is that I'm glad Tesla is getting some much needed cash from this deal. The roadster is an amazing machine and a bridge into the future of cars, be it sports cars, super cars or city cars.

        The great thing about Tesla's technology is that it is so modular. If someone produced a fuel cell unit that could fit into the Roadster, and it was viable, Tesla wouldn't hesitate to slot it right in there.
        • 6 Years Ago
        For a short run line the BMW MINI E, working with an intermediary can be very cost-effective if they bring a lot of logistical knowledge to the table. You maybe pay Tesla $300 per car for that knowledge, 500 cars, for a total of $150,000.

        But if you go into mass production, you can't afford to do that anymore. $300 per car times 50,000 cars is $15M. And besides, after the 1000th car you make you'll actually have more experience making electric cars than Tesla does!
        • 6 Years Ago
        Peter: You're kidding me, right? Are you trying to tell me that Daimler's goal is to produce a vehicle to compete with the Tesla Roadster, rather than with the Mini E? Using a __Smart ED__??? Good one!

        Charlie: Of course Tesla has developed other, original components of its drivetrain, but let's be honest here: the CORE technology, that very "modular design," originated with AC Propulsion, with the help of Martin Eberhard --the Muskrat's nemesis. Indeed, when it comes right down to it, the tZero was the first de facto prototype for the Roadster.

        While I understand your happiness that Tesla is getting an infusion of cash, I have to say that I would be just as happy --nay, happier-- if those funds were going to Alan Cocconi, Tom Gage, et.al.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Tesla just licensed some of the design, most of the battery pack and it's associated components (power management, cooling, safety) are of Tesla's own design and manufacture.

        Maybe AC Propulsion couldn't provide the volume that Daimler wanted. Maybe Tesla had a lower bid, who knows?

        All I know is that I'm glad Tesla is getting a much needed infusion of cash. The Roadster is an amazing machine and truly a bridge into the future of cars, be it sports cars, super cars or city cars.

        The great thing is that the Roadster is so modular. If someone produced a fuel cell system that could be viably implemented into the Roadster I'm sure Tesla wouldn't hesitate to slot it right in.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Tractor trailers have the largest parasitic losses due to aerodynamic drag while hybrid vehicles and fuel cell powered vehicles are likely to have less power available to maintain performance, therefore aerodynamic efficiency will have to improve dramatically. The 21st Century Truck Programs R&D “research and development” has concluded that there is a significant improvement in the area of reducing aerodynamic drag by BASE-BLEEDING using several active or controlled flow methods, but these methods are questionable in the complexity of the active devices used. The controlled flow methods have given the BASE-BLEED concept a black eye, in that they are effective but not efficient. The R&D teams have failed to include any work on base-bleeding using PASSIVE or NATURAL ventilation wherein this method is effective and efficient. Using natural ventilation, the kinetic energy generated by the trucks motion in the form of wind resistance or high pressure is displaced to reduce drag and wind resistance simultaneously
      Thus in conclusion, if you reduce wind resistance and drag simultaneously in a manner that is direct and consistent with each other, by displacing the high pressure on the front of the vehicle thru a venting apparatus into the low pressure (vacuum) area on the rear you are in all actuality overcoming the phenomenon itself as these barometric pressures adjust as “nature abhors a vacuum”.
      • 6 Years Ago
      My only concern is that battery technology will escalate to a point that will make Tesla's tech obsolete in a very short time. But I have HOPE that CHANGE will occur and Tesla will survive and prosper.

      I still don't understand their new and improved and more expensive Roadster. Is it just a ploy to get those on the waiting list to upgrade thus forking over more money?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Well, the beauty of the system is that if a better battery tech comes along, you can just swap the power pack... It's all pretty modular !
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