Tesla unveils the first Model 3 production car

Tesla is ready for a new era as the Model 3 production cars are starting to roll off the assembly line.

The first Model 3 production car

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Interesting Transportation Fuels

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Things like air pollution and global warming are direct results of decades of petroleum use. The geo-political stability of the planet is greatly affected by petroleum use as most of it comes from the volatile Middle East. Here is a list of some of those alternative fuels:

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2011 Nissan Leaf gearing up for launch

The beat of the electric car goes on with the 2011 Nissan Leaf gearing up for launch. According to CEO Carlos Ghosn 2010 production is already sold out! With a suggested cost of $25,000 after U.S. federal and state incentives for clean car purchases the Nissan Leaf finds itself in the sweet spot of many U.S. and overseas car buyers.

From the Detroit News:

Nissan Motor Co. has collected nearly 20,000 pre-orders for an all-electric Leaf car that it plans to start selling in the United States and Japan in December.

“The production for 2010 is already sold out,” said Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of Nissan and its French partner and shareholder Renault SA.

Nissan has gathered 13,000 pre-orders from prospective American buyers who paid a $100 refundable deposit, and 6,000 pre-orders in Japan, Ghosn said. The automaker will start taking firm orders in August.

Read the full article here.

  

Who Killed the Electric Car?

Bob Westal takes a look at the 2006 documentary:

With a share of General Motors running just a bit above the price of a single Hot Wheels car, this seems like an opportune time to catch-up with this surprisingly upbeat 2006 documentary covering perhaps the worst single piece of corporate strategy in business history. Directed by first-timer Chris Paine, with assists from big-time executive producer Dean Devlin and super-documentarian Alex Gibney, “Who Killed the Electric Car?” starts off as an earnest, L.A.-centric, paean to the efforts of activist drivers to fight GM’s very literal trashing of the all-electric EV-1 — launched in 1996 on a lease-only arrangement after California emissions rules forced auto companies to explore non-polluting vehicles. After spending time with such once-satisfied EV-1 customers as actors Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Peter Horton, Alexandra Paul, and comedienne Phyllis Diller, the film switches gears to becomes a far more interesting industrial whodunit, examining the corporate and the political forces that led to the car’s passive-aggressive treatment by GM.

  

Will Tesla get a government loan?

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Will Tesla get its loan? It’s not clear at this point.

Tesla Motors said its long-awaited $450 million loan from the federal government could come as soon as this summer, a crucial factor in its plans to build an electric-car factory in California.

“I am excited to report that the Department of Energy informed Tesla last week that they expect to disburse funds … within four or five months,” Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive and chairman, wrote in a newsletter distributed to customers Wednesday.

Tesla, based in San Carlos, stopped short of saying its loan application had been approved. Indeed, an Energy Department spokeswoman said Wednesday that her agency “has made no final decisions for specific applications for the auto-loan program.”

Still, Tesla is optimistic the department will approve its request for money from the $25 billion loan program to retool U.S. factories to make more fuel-efficient cars and trucks, said Diarmuid O’Connell, the company’s director of corporate development. Tesla has asked for $350 million to retrofit a factory to assemble its Model S electric sedan and $100 million for its battery-supply business.

“We have a high degree of confidence,” O’Connell said. For one thing, he said, Tesla has asked for a small amount compared with the Detroit Three automakers, which have requested $5 billion or more each.

Of the 75 companies that requested funds under the program, only 26, including Tesla, were told that their applications were “substantially complete,” he said.

I’d like to see them get it. The technology is impessive, and Musk hasn’t been shy about putting his own money behind the venture. BusinessWeek explains that Tesla needs to convince the government that it has a viable strategy.

Eager to build a sedan, Musk is pinning his hopes on the U.S. Energy Dept. The DOE is offering two kinds of credit lines: one for companies working on alternative energy projects and another for carmakers developing green vehicles. Automakers may apply for both kinds of credit, which they can access as projects hit key milestones.

To qualify for DOE money, Musk needs to prove Tesla is viable. “We’ll be profitable in five months,” he says. He also needs to raise tens of millions of dollars in matching funds. In what some industry watchers deem an act of desperation, Musk aims to ask potential buyers of the new sedan to pay a big chunk of the $50,000 sticker price up front. Yet the car won’t be ready until 2011—and only if the government gives him credit. Musk acknowledges customers would put “their money at risk.” He also has been trying to get Roadster owners and buyers to fork over $12,000 for a future replacement battery—even though the one in their cars is supposed to last well into the next decade.

Tesla is making other changes to get money fast. The company has scrapped plans for a brand-new factory in San Jose, Calif., opting instead to look for an old, idle industrial site where it could build a factory to make Model S cars and batteries. Tesla needs government loans for both projects, and loan applications that intend to use existing facilities get preference from the DOE. So Tesla may get money faster that way, if it gets approved. The company says it is negotiating deals for some industrial property for both sites and may have news soon.

Companies like GM have the advantage of scale, but Tesla’s all-electric sedan could be a sensation.

  

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