Electric cars have become very popular in recent years. This happened in particular thanks to the Tesla Motors company, which manufactures electric cars and home batteries (like “Powerwall”).
The company is based in the US and its main investor, chairman and CEO is Elon Musk. Other investors include: Larry Page and Sergey Brin (founders of Google), Jeffrey Skoll (founder and president of eBay and Daimler AG companies). The company is named after the inventor in the field of electrical and radio engineering, a physicist and an engineer — Nikola Tesla.
Tesla Motors was incorporated in July 2013 by two entrepreneurs: Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. Elon Musk became the chairman of the board in 2004 after investing $ 7.5 and in 2008 he became the CEO and invested another $ 70 million in the company.
Tesla gained attention for the first time after the official presentation of the first all-electric sports car Tesla Roadster in July 2006. The car can travel 393 kilometers on a single charge while it takes three and a half hours to fully charge the battery. It accelerates to 100 km/h in just 3.7 seconds. The maximum speed is 201.1 km/h.
Tesla Roadster uses an AC motor (alternating current motor) revealed directly from Tesla’s original design in 1882.
The cost of the basic model was $ 109,000. The company stopped the production of Roadster in January 2012. During the period from 2008 to 2012 Tesla Motors has sold more than 2400 Roadster cars in 31 countries. The release of a new generation of Roadster was announced in 2015. It is planned to be released in 2019.
Tesla’s Model S prototype was shown at a press conference on 26 March 2009. The sedan production started in 2012 and deliveries to customers in June 2012. On a single charge of the 60 kWh battery capacity Model S can travel 426 km, and with a battery capacity of 85 kWh, the distance will increase to 510 kilometers. In the most expensive configuration the car is able to accelerate to 100 km/h in 3.1 seconds. Prices on Model S start from $ 75,000.
Recharging the vehicle is possible by automatic battery replacement. This was demonstrated in 2013: the replacement procedure took about ninety seconds which is two times faster than filling a full tank of a similar petrol car!
Also the slow charging of the car (up to 50 % of battery charge takes about 20 minutes) is free. But a fast charge will cost about $ 70, which is about the cost of a full gas tank.
In October 2015 the “autopilot” feature was added to the updated firmware of Model S. It can be used in cars manufactured after October 2014 as they are equipped with additional sensors (a camera mounted in the top of the windscreen, a forward radar in the lower front grille as well as ultrasonic sonar sensors in the front and rear bumpers) which provide a 360 degree buffer zone around the car.
This feature allows the car to follow the lane on its own or change lanes if road markings are visible. However, the feature does not include the response to the speed limits, traffic lights signals and pedestrians. According to Musk: “the car will learn over long time”, including learning from other vehicles.
Tesla Model X is a full-size crossover which was first shown in February 2012.The car is available in two versions: 90D and P90D.
The 90D version uses the battery capacity of 90 kWh and accelerates to 96 km/h in 4.8 seconds and is able to travel 410 kilometers on a single charge. The P90D reaches 96 km/h in 3.8 seconds and with the optional Ludicrous Speed Upgrade package it takes just 3.2 seconds to get to 96 km/h. The P90D version is faster than Lamborghini Gallardo LP570–4 or McLaren MP4–12C. The maximum speed is limited by “electronics” (as in the Roadster) at around 250 km/h. On a single charge the car can travel 500 kilometers.
The main feature of the model are automatic gull-wing doors which Tesla calls the “wings of a falcon”. That is interesting as SpaceX also calls their missiles “Falcon”. Apparently Musk loves falcons. Doors of this type facilitate the access for passengers in the second and third rows and also require less space in the parking lot — thirty centimeters to the nearest wall or machine. Furthermore, additional storage space is located under the front hood.
The first deliveries to customers of Model X began in the fourth quarter of 2015. In 2016 Tesla plans to assemble its crossover on the European plant of the company in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Prices for the Model X start from $ 132,000.
Model 3 was previously called Model E and in the original business plan it was listed under the code name Tesla BlueStar. The current name was announced on Twitter on 16 July 2014.
The car will be presented in 2016. The first deliveries of the car will begin in 2017 but, according to Musk, the company will be able to satisfy the expected demand only in 2020. The estimated cost in the US will be $ 35,000. The size of the Model 3 will be 20 % less than of Model S and a single charge will last for 320 kilometers.
According to J. B. Straubel, the technical director of Tesla, since October 2015 the majority of Tesla engineers worked on 3 and not on S or X. Musk said that the official photos of the car will be in the end of March 2016 and all features will be revealed just before the production.
In order to use Tesla cars for long trips the construction of a network of “Superchargers” stations of fast charge began in 2012. By the end of 2015 there were 528 stations operation worldwide and having 3000 separate charges.
Currently stations mostly use solar energy which is supplied by SolarCity. Later, all station will switch to solar energy.
Stations are installed in Canada, USA, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia and in most European countries. The full list of stations can be seen here. At the moment major routes in the US are covered: it is possible to get from one coast to the other while charging at Tesla fast charging stations for free. It is planned that in 2016 the chargers network in Europe will allow the Tesla electric cars to drive from the North Cape in Norway to Istanbul or Lisbon.
Tesla in Russia
Tesla cars are rare in Russia and are seen only in large cities. This is due to the lack of service and the necessary infrastructure for electric vehicles.
Tesla Model S is not sold officially in Russia, however, according to GIBDD there were more than eighty cars registered in Moscow in August 2014. According to the estimation of Maxim Osorin, the director of the Revolta Motors company, 170–180 cars were imported to Russia in 2014. The appearance of the first charge stations in Russia is planned in 2016.
Besides vehicles Tesla Motors is engaged in the production of lithium-ion batteries designed for the conservation of energy for domestic use as well as for backup power.
Powerwall has two different models of 7 and 10 kWh capacities. The electricity will be enough to power the house during the evening and it will be charged by solar panels during the day. There is also a Powerpack model with a capacity of 100 kWh: it is designed for commercial use and can be infinitely scalable.
Price for the 7 kWh battery capacity starts at $ 3000 and for the 10 kWh from $ 3500. PowerPack price will depend on the capacity — $ 250 for 1 kWh.
As of May 2015 the manufacturer of the devices is loaded with orders until the middle of 2016. In the first few weeks after the presentation of the product there were 50 thousand ($ 179 million) pre-orders of the Powerwall and 25 thousand ($ 625 million) of the Powerpack. Thus, the total value of the pre-orders exceeded $ 800 million.
Currently a Tesla Motors plant is being built which was named Gigafactory 1. It will produce as many batteries as the entire world now produces. This will reduce the price of the car as a third of the cost of the Tesla is the battery. But why 1? Because many other plants are planned to be built around the world. Gigafactory 2 is expected in Japan. Since the patent is open this will increase the number of such plants and more and more cars will use batteries. Gigafactory will be discussed in more detail in a separate article.
The Tesla Motors company is literally changing the world. They radically change the human idea of the use of energy by using clean energy that will held wean the world off the fossil fuels. This will be possible thanks to the storage of energy and renewable energy.
And the autopilot of Tesla will soon allow the replacement of driver as a human does not cope very well with this task and is actually very bad at this. Cars themselves will monitor the situation on the road, will charge and will be completely autonomous. One will not need a personal car as there will be services which will provide the vehicle at the right time in the right place. Of course, it will not happen soon but the current generation of people who want to own a car will be replaced by another generation and all this will become a reality.