• May 11th 2009 at 8:15PM
  • 33

Click above to watch the video after the break

In a recent interview discussing Tesla Motors, CEO Elon Musk didn't really reveal much new information, although he did manage to misrepresent the performance capability of the Chevy Volt, again. He refers to the Volt's range extender as a "lawn mower engine" and says highway performance "will be anemic." While the Volt will no doubt feel anemic next to a Roadster, the reality is that the 160-horsepower electric motor will provide more than adequate performance for almost anyone's needs and should accelerate to 60 mph in about 8.5-9 seconds.

There's plenty more from the hour-and-a-half-long video interview to dissect, including bits about batteries and the high cost of electric vehicles. Check it all out after the jump.

Even when the Chevy Volt's battery pack reaches "depletion" point, it will still have a 30% charge left. The range extender only has an output of 100 horsepower, so it cannot provide full performance on its own. However, the battery can be depleted below the 30% depletion point to meet transient acceleration requirements when necessary. Cars are rarely used to their full performance potential all the time, so the range extender will be able to restore the battery to the 30% level.

Musk also discussed the Roadster and its cost. He of course emphasized that Roadster owners can get tax credits that bring the base price down just below $100,000. Musk compares this against similar performing cars from Porsche and others, which is valid, but he erroneously brings up gas guzzler taxes. While Ferraris, Lamborghinis and a number of Mercedes-Benz high performance vehicles are subject to gas guzzler taxes, no 2009 model year Porsche falls into that category.

Finally, Musk again brings up the backlog of Roadster orders. While Tesla officials generally decline to discuss cancellations other than to acknowledge that there have been some, Musk again mentions that the Roadster is sold out until November 2009, which is the same number he has been quoting for at least six months. That implies that even though the company is now selling cars in Europe and there have undoubtedly been new orders, those numbers have not outpaced cancellations. Given those slow new sales of the Roadster, it's no wonder the company is pushing orders of the Model S so hard.

[Source: Fora.tv]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Character aside, what Tesla has done is provide the world with 2 great electric cars, absolutely the finest in the industry up to now, and that is a remarkable accomplishment. Musk is still in the fight of his life, because breaking into the auto industry without billions in your account is rough, and these are not the best of times for industry, and most don't make it.
      Back to the character issue, musk has said and done some things that make me wonder "what was he thinking"?
      Still the proof is in the pudding, so to speak, 2 great looking EVs, pricey, but with good performance and decent range speak for themselves.
        • 6 Years Ago
        1 electric car!

        The other is vaporware.

        And if you had seen the inside, I can't imagine how you'd call it the best in the industry anyway. It's completely unfinished.
        • 6 Years Ago
        One small note, Musk actually does have Billions... I think the video said he sold Ebay for like, 1.2 Billion. Not to mention his other companies, Paypal, etc. I think he has Tesla Motors as a hobby; just because he can.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Thanks, Matt. I had forgotten his past accomplishments. I think he wisely is risking other people's money in this venture to the extent that he can, and his end game is likely an IPO or he'll sell the company outright and go on to something else.
        There is no way I would ever own a Tesla, but if money was no object, they are beautiful cars. The future success of Tesla is no sure thing, but EVs are going to succeed, and the intense competition in this segment is going to quickly provide better, cheaper cars.
        I have to give Musk credit for actually bringing desirable cars to market.
      • 6 Years Ago
      When the Volt's battery runs down to 30% of its
      charge, a 1.4 liter gasoline engine turns on and
      keeps the battery at that 30% charge level.

      This means that the 1.4 liter engine is the only
      source of power for the car. When I compare the
      weight of the Volt to a much lighter Honda Fit
      (using F=ma), I estimate that the Volt will take
      16 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph when in this mode.

      This is very slow, and will not satisfy American
      drivers getting onto a highway.
        • 6 Years Ago

        You don't know what you're talking about. Electric motors propel the Volt and they have max torque at 0 rpm and it decreases linearly as rpm increases. That is exactly why the Tesla accelerates so quickly. The IC engine on the Volt does not directly power the car, it only charges the batteries. Yes, the Volt carries the extra weight of the range extending engine, but it probably has less battery weight to carry around. So, I'm betting that the Volt will accelerate competitively against the Fit.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Here is where you are wrong. Even when the battery is run down to 30%, that reserve is there for acceleration. The electric motor can still deliver full output for acceleration. That why they only let you drain it down to 30%.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You are incorrect.

        The batteries and the gas engine become the power source.

        Lutz explained that once you get the battery down to 30%, you still can accelerate at full bore because the computer will allow the battery to go below 30% for short periods of acceleration.

        The generator only needs to be as powerful as the average power output, not as powerful as the peak power output.

        I wouldn't be surprised if the 0-60 isn't much better than 16 seconds even with the battery full. This isn't a sports car.
      • 6 Years Ago
      He's scared.

      He's scared of the new crop of competitors.

      He's scared of new, more advanced prismatic cell technology.

      He's scared that his car cost too much.

      He's scared of loosing his money.

      He's scared and he's telling half-truths (lies) in a last ditch effort to boost sales.

      He's just plain scared.
      • 6 Years Ago

      range extenders suck. Get a goddamn gas car if you're too dumb to calculate the miles in your trip before you need to recharge. Thank god for pure EV makers like Tesla. This is true innovation without the fear mongering volt is banking on.

      Ask ANY freaking EV owner (yes, there are many people who have owned EVs since the 90s with ranges as low as 40 miles) and you will rarely if ever hear a complaint about "range anxiety". It's a retarded concept, and if the entire auto industry only ever made REEVs, it would take us 20 years instead of 10 to fuel the competition needed for 500 mile+ range EVs which WILL eventually come.

      Mistubishi has been spending 10 years on their EV program?? Really... and all they've come up with is the iMiev? and Tesla's been at this for what.. 4 years? 2? And they have one of the most beautiful EVs, with an awesome range, acceleration, a totally doable recharge time, and 1/10 the price of Jeremy Clarkson's favorite Honda FCX Clarity? . Rich or NOT you snobs, this IS a car that a normal person would drive, as much as I love the Aptera or hate the Gee Whiz.

      And as far as the Volt goes... HAY GUESS WHAT, its as much vaporware as the Model S! And will probably be a $10,000 difference in the end. (ironically, I'd say Tesla is more likely than GM to be around in 3 years) And according to GM, it will cost them $1 billion to bring it to market. And you're kidding yourselves if you don't think that's money out of YOUR pockets. Tesla delivered their first car with a $200-400million of capital investments. The Model S will use less than 2% of a loan set aside for companies with advanced car/battery technology, while GM wants to snag billions of it because it can. Remember, this is the company that sold electric car battery rights to an OIL COMPANY, who, surprise! Has horded the patents for the past 10 years.

      People are so fickle... they want transparency with companies but then they get annoyed when the CEO isn't a fake, smiling PR machine and they hear of conflicts within the company. They want an EV, something they didn't even know they wanted 2 years ago, and they want it NOW and it has to be PERFECT, and oh, can it be free too? Or at least the cost of my Ford Festivia, but it has to have the acceleration of a Porsche 911! And I HAVE TO BE ABLE TO DRIVE FROM SF TO LA IN ONE GO, OMG cus OBVIOUSLY I do that at LEAST twice a month. OH and I have to charge it from a PLUG?? BUT I DONT HAVE ONE IN MY HOUSE, actually, I decided I wanted a gas guzzler after all! This Alternative Energy thing is too complicated!

      Seriously, did any of you people ever own a DVD player in 1997? Even though there were, like 9 titles and it meant rebuying your entire VHS library? Do any of you people own a cell phone?? How do some of you people function? Is everything so goddamn inconvenient that you cry about it?

      I realize the error of my ways in making this post. I am assuming that the public at large is as obnoxious as the most vocal people on the internet (yes, I'm aware this post is obnoxious as hell). Most NORMAL people, who thankfully are the market car companies aim for, could care less about Elon Musk as a person, buy cars that *gasp* cost MONEY! LOTS OF MONEY! Even though they don't make 6 figures a year. And every person I have spoken to in REAL LIFE about the Tesla nearly shits themselves about the prospect of a car they can charge from their house! If they've even heard of Tesla at all.

      Keep in mind, Tesla has relied so far on word of mouth and free publicity. When you start seeing $1 million dollar commercials and superbowl plugs, and radio adverts, and giant jumbotrons like every other car company uses to make sales, you can bet the waiting list will increase. For now, I'm sure they're fine going at the pace they are, and because of economies of scale they are going to be in profit by August- October. GUESS WHAT, GM sure as hell can't say that. I don't care if they make a billion cars more than Tesla a year. If you are nearly going bankrupt then you are a FAILURE.

      Also, you people don't realize that Tesla's plan was not to make "THE MOST EVS EVER SO EVERY EV ON THE ROAD IS A TESLA", rather their original intention was to make the concept of an EV attractive, and remove the golf cart stereotype or weird, dirty hippy stereotype. They WERE the first to do this, and we are already feeling the awesome effects of this achievement, whether you can afford one or not. THEY are the reason we WILL be able to afford these puppies within a decade. If you honestly think Fisker doesn't owe its entire existence to Tesla then you are kidding yourself (and its a bloody useless REEV for $30,000 more than the Model S). And if you don't think Tesla is the reason that GM, and Ford are even considering EV programs then you are ignorant as hell. Whether you actually ever drive a Tesla Roa
        • 6 Years Ago
        Buddy, You're quite right about Tesla being the ORIGINAL game changer with regards to electric cars and people's perceptions of them. Tesla has single handedly made the idea of owning an electric car really cool.

        That being said, a lot of what you've written is wishful nonsense. You can't browbeat everyone into going electric on your terms. Range anxiety is real, not something Lutz made up in order to keep Tesla down. Hey! I might only drive to Mammoth or to SF from LA once or twice a year, but I like being able to do that in my $25,000 - $50,000 (or whatever) automobile. News flash: So does everyone else! We've kind of gotten used to that idea over the last century or so.

        Unless gas goes above $4/gal and stays (which could happen), pure electric vehicles will remain the nichiest of niche products for the forseeable future. Meanwhile, the Volt CONCEPT solves the range-anxiety problem with a great deal of elegance. With an electric car in your personal fleet it's quite easy to tool around town in your electric, then jump into your gasser for the long trip. Still, you have to have the luxury of owning multiple vehicles. With the Volt you get the same freedom of movement, that freedom we've grown up with, IN ONE CAR, just like always.

        Aqain: With your model people can go electric around town, but still need to use gas to take a trip. Oh! they also need to own, maintain, and probably finance multiple vehicles. With the Volt model it's the exact same effect with regards to travel: ALL-ELECTRIC around town, that-is, 80% to 90% of total driven miles in all Volts will be fully electric. But hey! On trips, I get to drive my Volt! I'm still using gas to travel far, just like in your model, but I don't have to put my Volt away.

        And the Volt concept has already been proven over millions of miles. It's the same way, approximately, that diesel locomotives have been running for nearly a century, what we're calling now, series-hybrid. It's way more elegant than the parallel-hybrid that the rest are pushing. It has fewer moving parts and runs all-electric most of the time, presuming most people travel fewer than 40 miles/day. If I'm correct, the parallel-hybrids are never all-electric.

        What could possibly be the problem? Oh, GM's going bankrupt. Yeah, that could be a problem. Well, Bud, someone's going to make one, and it's going to be the bridge. I gaar-an-tee it.

      • 6 Years Ago
      I think this may fall into the category of turnabout is fair play. For years Detroit, and GM in particular, went around misrepresenting the performance of fuel efficient vehicles and trying to create an atmosphere where trying to be efficient was somehow effeminate or even un-American. Now they want to switch sides and they're getting a taste of what they've been dishing out all these years.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I think it's just the way that Elon comes off... I mean, I have never once thought to myself "huh, that's a genuinely nice person who has something constructive to say." I'm sure he's a good guy, and I know he has great ideas, but Elon needs a PR coach. Most of the time I see him speak and think, "what a douchbag." And the funny thing is, I thought that before he actually did call that reporter a douchbag. As for GM, he just needs to stop talking about it; just say something bland and move on. Do Zero execs say bad things about Honda's vaporware bike? No! Leave well enough alone and do your thing to the best of your abilities. In the words of my pizza man, "be cool".
      • 6 Years Ago
      To amfan12,

      Thanks for the info. That makes sense.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I had seen this video before I saw this article (which leads the reader to a conclusion before you even watch the video) and the impression I got was that Musk was not talking about the Volt specifically, but a generic, more "pure" range-extended EV. Remember the Volt has a much larger ICE than you need because that was the smallest engine already available to them.

      Musk was answering the question: Why didn't Tesla make an RE-EV instead? Not, what do you think of the Chevy Volt? So he was dealing with a hypothetical car Tesla might have initially been considering ... which, because it's Tesla would have been a sports car, not a docile family sedan. A motor as large as the Volts + batteries = slow performance (in sports car terms) but acceptable range and decent depletion power. If slow performance is unacceptable, then u need to use a smaller ICE to save weight and allow for larger battery packs ... that's where you run into the anemic depletion highway power.

      All that being said, I can see how it can be viewed as an indirect hit towards the Volt and he does need to be more careful about what he says and how he says it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Maybe it is more geared to Fisker then. Fisker is going the EREV route and attempting to enter a similar luxury/sportscar market.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The headline and story are misrepresentative. Sam Abuelsamid ought to know better.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It is a complete unknown how the Volt will behave after you exhaust it's initial EV range. Chevy hasn't yet let anyone drive one with the Range Extender active.

      Also, from what I read it has about 70HP available from the range extender Gen set, not 100 HP.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Speaking about 100 KW: remember the old beetle - having 34 PS. The discussion who builds the first BEV to the ICE powered vehicle specification makes no sense. This specification is not adequate for having a sustainable mobility!
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think Tesla should be giving credit to the volt as they are working to the same goal, and not really are competitors.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @Mark. Mr. Musk wasn't bashing the company. He stated his reasons for not doing a plug in hybrid and even said he could be wrong. He was simply calling things like he saw them -- the GM is losing boat loads of money and is about to fail.

        @stevejust. Your statements baffle me. Tesla announced the model S as a sucessor to the roadster when the company first started. They also plan to make an even cheaper model. Saying Tesla is making fancy cars exclusively for rich silicon valley guys is narrow minded. They also break the golf-cart EV sterotype. They also get bigger margins to be profitable. The plan makes a lot of sense.

        Secondly, Mr. Musk was making candid, realistic remarks about GM. He wasn't slandering them or spreading false rumors.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I can't speak for Elon Musk, but I think this is where he's coming from: he didn't really want to start a car company. It's no doubt a pain in the rear and a potential money pit for him. What he wanted was an electric car, and because the auto industry that's generally about to go bankrupt wasn't providing what a very smart number of sophisticated and wealthy silicone valley types wanted, he caved in to the old, "if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself" aphorism.

        I can totally understand his resentment toward GM. I have a lot of resentment towards them, but unlike Musk, I didn't actually do anything constructive with it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "I see no other proposition that comes close to the Model S, and you have to admit that Tesla has a head start,"

        Actually, there are several companies that can and will give Model S a run for its money, and there are companies that have been building up technology for far longer time than Tesla has been around. Mitsubishi has been prototyping electrics for a decade now, with first production model shipping this year, Subaru is not far behind. Then there are Optimal Energy Joule, Pininfarina/Bollore B0, Th!nk, Fisker etc. The models shown right now might not fit the Model S luxury sedan niche precisely, but those are nevertheless designed as highway-capable proper passenger cars with long range.

        By the time Model S ships, there will be certainly followups from the other companies.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @why not the LS2LS7?

        "They may have a $57,000 car in a few years, by which point a $57,000 electric car may not even be remarkable."

        Are you sure about this? I see no other proposition that comes close to the Model S, and you have to admit that Tesla has a head start, both in building their brand and developing their technology. I wouldn't be so quick to write them off.

        The problem with Tesla Motors is the wait! They don't have the capacity to mass produce their cars and this is hurting them. No excited customer wants to wait 1 year+ to take delivery. Funding can solve this, in the mean time .....

        Detroit can't compete with Tesla because it lacks the taste level to tackle the luxury market. Even if Tesla Motors builds a $20,000 car, it will appeal to a different market than Detroit's.
        • 6 Years Ago
        stevejust: "I can totally understand his resentment toward GM. I have a lot of resentment towards them, but unlike Musk, I didn't actually do anything constructive with it."

        How is Elon being constructive?

        Elon ran off founder Martin Eberhardt, threw several members of the management team under the bus, called a NYT reporter a "douchebag", and now has twice grossly misrepresented GM's Volt.

        Of all people perpetual gaffe machine ("God love 'im") Joe Biden described very eloquently this same situation last fall:

        "What do you talk about when you have nothing to say? You talk about the other guy."

        Elon is a bully and trying to cover for the fact that his company really doesn't have much good news these days.

        And, disappointingly enough, it seems to be working.
        • 6 Years Ago

        A- We have been discussing American vehicles, the domestic market was the premise of my comment.

        B - None of the companies you mentioned have the same focus as Tesla. Most of the brands you mentioned don't even lend themselves to the luxury market.
        • 6 Years Ago

        I don't know why you say my statements baffle you. I wasn't criticizing Tesla's model at all. I never said Tesla intends on making fancy cars exclusively for rich silicon valley guys for all time. But it is true that people like the Google founders looked around and said, wait, I have all the money in the world, why is no one making a car I'd like to drive? That’s where Tesla came from, from a desire of a handful of mostly tech-wealthy guys to have a decent electric car.

        I have a Fisker Karma on order. I am excited about the Model S, and would much rather spend $49k than $89k on a car. But when you get down to it, I ride my bicycle to work most days. Yesterday as I was leaving work, I could easily have been hit by a black Tesla Roadster turning onto Dwight Way from the parking garage in between Rodeo and Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills as I was turning right from the alley way next to the garage. I see Teslas fairly regularly these days here in Beverly Hills—more often than I see any Ford GT40s or any Nissan GTRs. And you have to understand for a point of reference, I see even Bugatti Veyrons and Ferrari Enzos around my office from time to time because of where my office is located.

        Ultimately, here’s why I didn’t buy a Roadster and opted for the Fisker: when I do drive, which isn’t nearly every day, I often drive down to San Diego from LA, or up to Big Sur or Sequoia National Park. I can’t do those trips easily in a car that requires I plug it in every 230 miles or so. I can do those trips in a plug-in hybrid, though, with the range extension granted by an ICE. So I disagree a bit with Elon on his dig, and also believe it could be directed at Fisker as well as the Volt, which some commentators have picked up on.

        • 6 Years Ago
        Musk would sure know how to recognize a car company that is losing boat loads of money and about to fail.

        Tesla makes one car, and it is $120,000. They are making cars only for rich Silicon Valley types.

        They may have a $57,000 car in a few years, by which point a $57,000 electric car may not even be remarkable.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Leave the man alone. He's trying to sell cars.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The Volt can treated like a gas vehicle. It will still run if the power is out overnight. It has a ready infrastructure to refuel in case you decide to do more driving than expected or got lost. And running out of charge/gas means getting a small tank of gas and not a tow.

      Musk is upset because he doesn't have the resources to add a range extender to any of his models.
        • 6 Years Ago
        A vanishing infrastructure perhaps! How can gas companies keep open their stations when they aren't making suficient money? goverment subsidies, is that it? With the next battery breaktrhough, EREVs will be pretty much dead.
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