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A now profitable Tesla motors hopes that a $49,900 Model S sedan will send its profit soaring to even greater heights.

The company is also launching the Roadster Sport model in 2011.  (Source: Tesla Motors)
After years of losses, the company's persistence is finally paying off

Luxury electric car maker Tesla Motors appears to be firing on all cylinders.  Despite a painful couple of years that saw the company cutting back to survive the recession, the company emerged stronger than ever.  Thanks to a new partnership with Daimler, additional engineering, distribution, and marketing resources were gained.  And most importantly, Tesla finally began to deliver vehicles.

Now the company can celebrate an important milestone -- its first profit.  After many months in the red, July saw the company in the black, making $1M USD in profit on $20M USD in revenue.  The profits came thanks to a record 109 cars shipped in the month.  Manufacturing cost cuts also helped to enable the profit.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk comments, "There is strong demand for a car that is unique in offering high performance with a clean conscience.  Customers know that in buying the Roadster they are helping fund development of our mass market electric cars."

Tesla, like many R&D driven greentech firms, offered a target date for profitability.  However, it appears that Tesla is one of the few to actually deliver on such a date -- having projected a profit in "mid-2009".

The Tesla Roadster undeniably features the most attractive production electric vehicle body design to date.  They also offer fittingly sporty performance and a utilitarian 244-mile range.  In other words, while expensive, the Roadsters do deliver a strong experience.  Currently, the Roadsters retail for a base price of $109,000.

Tesla has borrowed $465M USD from the U.S. Department of Energy, to produce a luxury sedan reachable by more customers at a price point of $49,900.  This new model will be called the Model S.

The company is also working with Daimler to create electric versions of the popular Smart car.  Late this year, the company will deploy a fleet of the 1,000 of the electrified ultra-compact vehicles.  Tesla is also set to deploy a higher-performance version of the Roadster -- the Roadster Sport -- in 2011.

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RE: Affordable?
By Sazar on 8/10/2009 12:49:26 PM , Rating: 2
The Lexus arm of Toyota has a luxury hybrid coming out but, the fact is the Tesla apparently has the performance credentials and while the other cars are hybrid, I believe the S will be 100% battery powered.

RE: Affordable?
By corduroygt on 8/10/2009 1:13:39 PM , Rating: 2
Batteries make poor energy storage devices compared to fossil fuels, so I still think hybrids, diesels, or diesel-electric hybrids make the best solution until battery tech is improved. I don't think any significant improvements were made in battery technology since the last 10 years.

RE: Affordable?
By Keeir on 8/10/2009 3:50:26 PM , Rating: 3
I don't think any significant improvements were made in battery technology since the last 10 years.

How wrong you are...

Consider the EV1 versus the Tesla Model S. Both cars are similar in price. The EV1 was significantly more expensive, but never really produced for sale. The price that the lease was based on works out to be roughly 50,000 in 2010 dollars. So they are very close.

The Telsa Model S seats 5+, EV1 2
Model S has more than twice the range of the EV1
Model S has less than 1/2 the 0-60 time of the EV1
Model S meets greater safety standards then the EV1
Model S interior and features well... thats not even fair
Model S looks great, the EV1 looks... like a strange electric car.

Or maybe you just meant the battery technology and not how its used in Cars?

Lead-Acid-->NiHM-->LiFePO4 have occured within 15 years for EV applications.

Any way you slice it, significant advancement has been made in Battery Technology in the last 10-15 years. This doesn't change your underlying point that Batterys still make a poor Energy Storage Solution. But Internal Combustion Engines also make very poor energy convertors. The "tipping" so to speak is fast approaching when the efficiency gains of electric drive outwieght the poor energy storage of the battery.

RE: Affordable?
By drmo on 8/10/2009 3:59:52 PM , Rating: 3
A 300 mile range and 45 minute recharge option aren't progress??? Also, the ability to rent a longer-range battery for long trips. ( )

I agree that batteries may not be the best option, but comparing a energy-storage device (battery) to fossil fuels does not make sense. WE didn't store the energy in fossil fuels, and until we can do that effectively, then it is not a fair comparison.

RE: Affordable?
By Keeir on 8/10/2009 4:18:41 PM , Rating: 3
WE didn't store the energy in fossil fuels, and until we can do that effectively, then it is not a fair comparison.

Except we can through bio-fuels. Ethanol, Bio-Diesel, Methane, etc can be produced by man driven methods.

RE: Affordable?
By drmo on 8/10/2009 4:27:50 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly; those are the comparisons that should be made. NOT to fossil fuels. If they are produced by us, then they aren't really "fossil" fuels. So the comparisons in terms of energy storage capacity, and energy used to produce, can be compared.

RE: Affordable?
By Keeir on 8/10/2009 4:49:58 PM , Rating: 2
Umm... Sure thing

But most bio-fuels have a energy capacity/wieght similar to Fossil Fuels. I think the OP of this issue meant liquid fuels similar to Fossil Fuels.

For instance (just to be clear)

22.04 kWh exist in every gallon of Ethanol and wieghs around 3 kg. Thats ~7.0 kWh/kg. The best battery storage systems (for automotive use) store around ~.12 kWh/kg.

RE: Affordable?
By drmo on 8/10/2009 5:01:02 PM , Rating: 2
Good, that is what I am talking about.

Now, why can a Tesla, with only 56 kWh, go 200+ miles, but 3 gallons of ethanol (66 kWh) won't get near that far. I believe it is because most of the energy in ethanol combustion is wasted. Also, I think there are huge energy losses in production of ethanol (at least from corn).

RE: Affordable?
By Keeir on 8/10/2009 5:29:46 PM , Rating: 2
Well... I would also point out that sort of number if cherry picking for Battery Technology since the thermal efficieny of engine + powertrain is roughly 20%-25% and for electric drive can be more than 75%.

3 gallons of ethanol cost roughly 6 dollars

56 kWh (more like 60 kWh with the charging inefficiencies) also cost 6 dollars.

But the Battery to store that 56 kWh cost ~35,000, while the Gas Tank used to store that Ethanol cost ~1,000. That 56 kWh likely took 8-10 hours+ to put into the battery, and 3 gallons of ethanol? 10 minutes including a normal drive to a gas station.

You don't need to convince me. One gallon of Diesel Fuel burned in a Combined Cycle plant put out nearly 20 kWh of electricity. This 20 kWh of electricity, even with grid losses and charging losses, is likely to push a car further down the road than even the most efficient Diesels currently made.

RE: Affordable?
By Penti on 8/10/2009 9:45:45 PM , Rating: 2
3 gallons of ethanol will only get you like 113 km though. 56kWh in the battery will get you like 250 - 300km. Just put in a small engine to extend the range and you should do fine. Too bad the batteries cost as much as a car though. But the Chinese can solve that.

RE: Affordable?
By Penti on 8/10/2009 9:33:55 PM , Rating: 2
And the Ethanol car need a heavy gearbox which the battery powered don't so you can replace that with the 400kg battery (50kWh or enough for some 200km'ers just add a small diesel/gasoline engine to charge it.) neither can you produce enough bio-ethanol to do much of anything.

Sweden uses 10% of it's grains or 4% of the agricultural land to produce 85% of the ethanol* that's mixed with ordinary gasoline, and gasoline is just about over half of the road transports energy wise. It's pretty silly. Producing electricity for bev or PHEV is much easier. * It's a 5 percent mixture (volume). And the wheat is very high yield.

RE: Affordable?
By Keeir on 8/10/2009 10:36:12 PM , Rating: 2
.... I guess one at a time

#1. A BEV with reasonable range will not weigh less than a comparable gasoline car. In all known examples, a BEV car with reasonable range 150 km+ will weigh more than its comparable gasoline car. Clearly the BEV with reasonable range has in the past wieghed close to 20% more than a comparable gas car, all things being equal. No doubt for the Nissan Leaf, Nissan will be using customer parts etc that lower the end weight to close the mass of a Versa (US Model). Similar to what Toyota and Honda due with their Hybrids that hide the extra weight.

A Tesla Roadster weighs in a a good 700 lbs over a Lotus Elise, an increase of 35% that is not entirely due to conversion to electric but is unreasonable for the minor changes done.

The Electric Mini also weighs in at a premium of 500 lbs + over its gasoline counterpart. An increase of ~20%.

A Rav4 1999 electric conversion was around 600 lbs heavier than its gasoline counterpart. Again an increase of ~20%.

Why is this? Although you get ride of a transmission ~100 kg, an Engine ~100 kg and various components ~50 kg. You add a very heavy battery. Inverters. Battery control systems. An electric motor, etc etc etc.

#2. Picking Sweden for saying Ethanol is not good is... strange. Obviously a country with comparatively small argiculture will have difficulty growing its own Bio-Fuels. I think that Sweden is not even a net exporter of food... clearly its a poor choice for Sweden.

I don't disagree with the end conclusion, but your painting too rosy of a picture when it comes to electrics.

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton

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