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Dave gets a charge out of the Tesla Model S

Elon Musk brought out the Tesla Model S for its big New York debut last night and David Letterman got a real "charge" out of it. Musk appeared on the Late Show and it was kind of strange to watch. Letterman had some kind of throat thing going on that left his voice sounding remarkably like Bob Lutz. In spite of that, Dave's trademark style left him showing little sympathy for any automakers when discussing why after more than 100 years no one has really developed the electric car.

Dave didn't spare any kind words for efforts to develop hydrogen fuel cell technology, but he really ripped into the Chevy Volt. Apparently the idea of being able to go a mere 40 miles on a charge is not appealing to the crankiest of all late night hosts and he didn't bother to mention the range extender. Thankfully, most of us don't all have 20-mile driveways to deal with. Check out the video after the jump for as long as it stays live on YouTube. BTW, Elon had nothing new to offer.

UPDATE: GM responds.

[Source: YouTube]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 36 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think it's important to have some perspective about Tesla's offerings, the Volt and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

      What's critical about these three technologies, the pure electric BEV, the hybrid (series or otherwise) and the fuel cell vehicle, is that they all share critical components.

      All three rely on electric traction motors that also provide regeneration capability. All three (yes including the fuel cell vehicle) will rely on battery technology. Fuel cell vehicles, when you break them down, are really all fuel cell-electric hybrid vehicles. There are going to be many gas-electric hybrid vehicles that will have a plug like the Volt. There be many fuel cell-electric hybrids that will also have a plug.

      The truth is the dispute between BEVs, gas-electric hybrids, and fuel cell vehicles is really a matter of battery size and the role of secondary power sources... In my mind, there's quite a lot that's common and that we can all agree on.

      What we can't do, however, is preclude the development and productisation of technologies simply because one piece is missing or hasn't been developed yet.

      Case in point... fuel cell vehicles. The big car manufacturers have thrown a lot into investing in fuel cell vehicles, but because of the challenges in the fuel cell stack, and hydrogen generation, storage and generation, the prospects for all pieces of this solution coming together is put off for 20 or 25 years.

      The car manufacturers do everyone a disservice by pretending like they can expect the consumer to keep buying the conventional gas burning cars for the 20 to 25 years before a FCV is ready. In the same time, the electric motor and battery technologies developed in tandem for the FCV is starting to mature much quicker.

      This the key to Tesla... We have the motor and battery technology today... just because the complex fuel cell isn't ready doesn't mean we should put off any kind of progress!
      • 5 Years Ago
      http://www.aptera.com/

      This guy's not the only one doing this. Aptera has a solution for around 30k this year!- no 50 or 100k sometime in the future. Someone needs to 'plug' these folks!

      Sadly (because of tax implications) the Aptera is only available in CA. I'm thinking of getting a friend who lives in CA to buy one and ship it to the east coast.

      Go Aptera!
        • 1 Month Ago
        How well does the Aptera crash? How is NHTSA rating it?
        • 1 Month Ago
        I'm not sure if its been put through NHTSA testing yet. But here's an excerpt from Aptera's website re safety features:

        "Driver and Passenger Airbags

        We know the unthinkable happens, and when it does we want to make sure you're prepared. That's why your Aptera comes with a full complement of driver and passenger airbags.


        Front Impact Zone

        Your Aptera's nimble handling should be more than adequate to help you avoid almost any collision. In the unfortunate case that you cannot, feel secure in knowing your vehicle is equipped with a front impact zone fashioned after the systems that protect race car drivers in high-speed collisions.


        Side Impact Beams

        Aptera is committed to your protection. That's why both doors feature integrated side impact beams that distribute the force of a side impact as far away from you as possible.


        Passenger Safety Cell/Cabin

        We broke the rules again by creating a super-strong composite and aluminum safety cell to protect you and your passenger. We then added airbags, aluminum door reinforcements and more just because we like overdoing it on safety."
        • 1 Month Ago
        Here's Aptera's Latest Newsletter for more information:

        http://www.aptera.com/newsletter032508/
        • 5 Years Ago
        Aptera still has not yet done actual crash tests they said would take place last summer.

        Don't hold your breath...
        • 1 Month Ago
        I spoke at length with Aptera about a month ago and we discussed safety issues. http://greenfuelsforecast.com/ArticleDetails.php?articleID=697
        • 1 Month Ago
        NHTSA technically classifies it as a motorcycle because it has 3 wheels. From what I've read, Aptera is committed to exceeding passenger car safety standards even though it could get away with less.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Volt - 40 mile electric range, 400 mile total range E-REV which will do 80% of all commutes fully electric with a range-extender for those 20% of trips all for a net price (after tax credits) of around $30K with ZERO range-anxiety.

      Tesla - 200 mile electric car which costs over $100K and STILL suffers from range-anxiety.

      You could buy 3 Volts and electricity for LIFE for each Tesla.

      Which will make more of an impact on our oil dependence?

      Letterman is an entertainer... period. I'm just glad he's not a politician centrally planning our future even if he is more intelligent than Pelosi, Reid or Fwanks.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Interesting that he admits Roadster buyers are basically subsidizing the company.;
        • 5 Years Ago
        What's interesting is that he is up front about it. And, while your literal definition of a subsidy is correct, the difference between the Tesla and something like a Prius is that the people who bought the first generation Prius didn't pay more than the ones that came after them, they actually paid less. The cost was amortized over the life of the vehicle. In the case of Tesla, people are overpaying for the roadster so subsequent buyers will be able to pay less for the S. Having driven it, its fun enough to almost justify this if you have the money, but you'd be better off investing in the company and waiting a few years to buy one of the cheaper models that MAY follow it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Of course. Do you know any company that isn't subsidized by the products or services they sell?
        • 5 Years Ago
        ... ALL PRODUCT LINES START THAT WAY. Plus, the term subsidizing is wrong.
        They REINVEST the earnings from the roadster to design the Model S.
        Subsidizing is a government giving money to a company (such as Japan did for Toyota, such as the US does for Coal, Nuclear etc...) to do something without directly getting anything back.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I thought it was pretty dishonest of both of them to pretend the Volt couldn't go more than 40 miles. Yeah sure, if it is totally out of gas... I'm sure only a small percentage of the viewing audience understood that they were talking about its electric only range (and that the Volt is actually a hybrid, unlike the Tesla S).

      Lame.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Letterman is right about the Volt. There is not a huge market for a $40,000 car that gets only 40 miles to a charge. The ER-EV claim isn't anything to be too proud of either because gasoline is a piss poor way to generate electricity (as would be required in a series hybrid configuration). Hyundai's decision to employ a parallel hybrid in the BLUE-WILL was the right one.

      Chevy's claim that the Volt is a game-changer is flat-out wrong, and Letterman has every right to call them out on that.
      • 5 Years Ago
      You gotta love Letterman for his no-holds-bar review of the car companies. Not many people will go there on TV. Other people seem to worship GM and their lackluster volt with no mention of their major screwups (killing EV line and starting hummer line). This website seems to be in the bag for GM to. Does GM pay for blog postings here?
        • 1 Month Ago
        We're just realists here...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Elon for President.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I disagree with Dave ripping into the Volt, but he is spot on about the big-picture of the American auto industry; Too Little Too Late.
      He was also a bit rude to the guest (as usual) cutting off Musk and not letting him finish, but that's Dave.
      The bit of being electrocuted by the car was not funny at all.
      Hope his voice gets better, it was painful to listen to him.
      • 5 Years Ago
      ...and David Letterman. yes, it's great he's bringing the electric cars to the public...and no matter what he says, he doesn't have the last word, but he does get everyone talking, and that's the power he has. Same as Leno, who is a big car fan also and supports electric cars too. Just like having Tom Hanks and George Clooney are not the world's leading experts on electric vehicles, but they can definitely bring attention to them, by buying them and talking about them. So feel free to argue with Letterman, but don't ask him to stop talking.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I second that
      Atul
      • 5 Years Ago
      I like Letterman but he needs to be educated about the Volt and typical driver usage before ripping into the Volt and car companies in general. How many Teslas have been sold again? Are they a profitable company and will they even be around for more than 5 years? I hope they can find a way to make their four door viable and profitable, but we'll see.
        Atul
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Atul
        That wasn't my point. My point was that an electric car only company has yet to be proven viable. Internal combustion engine vehicle manufacturers have survived the test of time, not GM specifically, (although GM lasted 100 years without government help which is a lot more than most corporations). I was talking about the characteristics of the Volt on its own merits, regardless of who makes it. Letterman may influence people so it would be nice if he judged the vehicle with some knowledge and mentioned the range extender. His home state of Indiana may have supplier plants that depend on it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Atul
        ..you know, i think Dave knew that concerning 40 miles/day covering the needs of like 90 % of americans. though, you could see Elon waiting to jump on him at that point, just look at his facial expressions. i think the interview was ok; it needed to strike a balance bewtween being informative and not sounding like a statistics lecture. just a bit of lip gloss for Elon's cause, that won't hurt.

        I seriously think that for a man who has 200 million bucks, Elon needs to get a new jacket..he's always wearing it! mind you, over here we say das sparen lernt man von den reichen..i suppose that is true..
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Atul
        Yes, Elon knows how to loss money he doesn't have with no viable way of paying back said funds. He'd be great for politics...

        He needs to stop talking shit, he is alienating himself...

        I think Letterman should have to address his errors. GM has had SOOO much negative press based on blatantly wrong statements from the media ...it really has no chance of having a fair shot in the eyes of the consumer...

        As for the EV1, PR gaffe of the century, but Toyota, Honda and Ford killed their EV programs as well...

        In late 2003, GM officially canceled the EV1 program. GM stated that it could not sell enough of the cars to make the EV1 profitable. This, combined with the fact that their parts and service infrastructure costs required to maintain the existing EV1's for the state legislated minimum of 15 years...
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Atul
        i don't agree with the ripping either, I don't think either car should be ripped on. I'm a fan of both and I think both has a place in the market.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Atul
        Is GM a profitable company? What are their prospects for being around in five years? Especially without government help?
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