Compact SUV based on forthcoming Model 3 could become firm’s biggest seller
Tesla Inc – newly renamed after nearly 13 years as Tesla Motors Inc – is on the verge of what it says will be a massive expansion of production, with two new models due to arrive in the next two years.
The electric propulsion pioneer takes aim at the seven-seat SUV market
Model tested: 90D Price: £89,680 Power: 416bhp Torque: 487lb ft 0-60mph: 5.2sec 30-70mph in fourth: na Fuel economy: 611Wh/mile C02 emissions: 0g/km
Tesla got off to a slow start with the Lotus-based Roadster, but a decade has now passed since we first drove that car – in fairly shabby two-speed prototype form, straight out of the gates of Potash Lane, Hethel, as it happened. And there has certainly been some water under the bridge since then.
SPECS: 100kWh BATTERY PACK, 0 TO 100km/h IN 2.7 SECONDS
Any car fitted with a ‘Ludicrous’ mode instantly grabs our attention. Switching this unique electric vehicle, the latest and greatest version of the famous Tesla Model S, to this bonkers setting allows it to zip from 0 to 100km/h in 2.7 seconds – seriously astonishing stuff.
I don’t know what the guys and girls at Tesla were smoking when they came up with the Model X, but it had to be pretty potent, as nothing about this car makes any sense. Come on… a massive two-tonne, seven-family van that can outrun some supecars? Powered by batteries? That drives itself? Imagine a young designer suggesting that to the board at a company like Mercedes. He’d be fired on the spot.
Look at it. It’s the size of the shed, yet the P100D model will polish off 0-60mph in 2.9 seconds and it’ll complete this ludicrous without so much as chirping a tyre. It mercilessly rams torque at all four wheels, riding a surge so vicious that few cars outside of the most exotic of exotica can keep up.
The speed isn’t bonkers in itself, of course, fast cars are 10 a penny. What’s bonkers is the fact that Model X delivers this speed while your wife, four children, your luggage and a dog are onboard.
Other party tricks? Well, it also drives itself, Sort of. While other manufacturers are dipping their toes into the water with lane-keep assist, or “umming and ahhing” about “legislation this”, and “insurance liability that”, Tesla’s said “sod it all” and built a car that will whisk you hands-free up the M1. This is a car people can actually buy. Today. And it’s doing this in the year 2016, not 2042.
They could have stopped there, to be frank, but they didn’t. They’ve given the Model X the tools to fetch itself from parking spaces. The falcon-wing doors open up like the Karate Kid preparing to unleash a crane kick, and the driver door opens itself as you approach, closing itself once you’ve sat down. Why? Absolutely no idea. Our best guess is that they chuffing well could, so they chuffing well did.
Then there’s the cabin technology. You can imagine rival car designers pondering how big an infotainment screen they should fit to their next facelifted estate. Six inches? Nine-point-three maybe? Meanwhile, over at Tesla they’re busy wiring in a 17-incher. Vertically. Utter madness.
Yeah, the Model X makes no sense. It shouldn’t exist. Someone should have shot this idea down long before it reached the, production line. And yet it’s here, throwing caution to the wind, not giving a damn about established norms. There really is nothing else like it.
Jaguar will vault into central Tesla territory with the all-new battery-electric I-Pace, easily the most radical car in its 81-year history. The new car, unveiled this week as a concept at the Los Angeles motor show, changes practically every traditional Jaguar ingredient and is due on the road in about 18 months’time. It marks the start of a bold new chapter in the engineering and design history of Jaguar Land Rover. Jaguar’s brief for its long-anticipated first electric vehicle was to “create a performance SUV that is spacious, sporty and usable”, but the final design isn’t merely an electric version of the successful F-Pace SUV.
Instead, the I-Pace exploits the packaging advantages of an electric powertrain to marry a sleek four-door bodystyle with generous cabin space, four-wheel drive capability and performance on a par with a rear-wheel-drive Jaguar F-Type R. The definitive production version of the l-Pace will be revealed at the end of next year, with most of the concept’s key features likely to be carried over.
The car will go on sale in 2018 at a price expected to be about 10-15% above that of an F-Pace of similar specification, making for an entry-level model costing £40,000-£50,000 likely. The l-Pace will take on Tesla’s Model X, the Audi e-tron and a production version of the Mercedes Generation EO concept shown at the Paris motor show in September.
NEW EV ARCHITECTURE – The l-Pace Concept uses a new, bespoke, battery electric vehicle architecture designed in-house. Jaguar said the electric architecture, informally referred to as the ‘electric skateboard’, is production ready. As with other Jaguars, the l-Pace’s architecture is aluminium-intensive. The housing of the battery pack is made from the material and forms an integral part of the car’s body structure. The I-Pace Concept’s drive is provided by a pair of synchronous permanent magnet electric motors, one integrated into each axle and paired with a single-speed epicyclic transmission.
The powertrain provides four-wheel drive, immediate response from a standstill and rapid torque distribution between the two axles. Each motor produces the equivalent of 197bhp, meaning the l-Pace Concept has 395bhp and 516ib ft on tap. Jaguar’s claimed 0-60m ph time for the car is 4.0sec. “Electric motors provide immediate response with no lag, no gearshifts and no interruptions,” said Ian Hoban, JLR vehicle line director. “Their superior torque delivery compared to internal combustion engines transforms the driving experience.”
The car’s maximum range on a fully charged battery is about 310 miles, as measured on the New European Driving Cycle. A 50kW direct current (DC) charging point – currently the most common type of public rapid charging system in the UK- can replenish the battery to 80% in 90 minutes and to 100% in just over two hours. Jaguar has future-proofed the electrical architecture to accept higher-capacity charging than 50kW DC when such charging points become commonplace. The charging socket is situated in the car’s front wing.
Jaguar’s engineers designed and developed the motors in-house to achieve the compactness, efficiency and power density they desired. The motors have an outer diameter of 234mm, are 500mm long and weigh about 38kg. Permanent magnet motors were chosen in preference to the induction motors used by the likes of Tesla because the efficiency is fractionally better and the weight is lower. Power is stored in a 90kWh lithium ion battery pack.
The battery uses 36 pouch cells selected for their energy density and thermal performance. They operate at a lower heat, so they can run at a high performance for longer than cylindrical cells. Jaguar said pouch cells offer excellent future development potential, especially in terms of energy density. This will enable greater range for a given size of battery, or deliver similar range to today but from a smaller, lighter pack. The pack is liquid-cooled using a dedicated two-mode cooling circuit.
In moderate ambient temperatures, the battery improves efficiency by relying only on a radiator to remove the heat generated by the cells. At higher temperatures, a chiller linked to the vehicle’s main air conditioning system provides greater cooling capacity to keep the battery in optimum condition.
DRIVING DYNAMICS – Jaguar set out to ensure the concept version of the I-Pace can top its class in terms of ride, handling and refinement. The car uses the same double wishbone front suspension and integral link rear suspension that has already been proven in the F-Pace. Siting the battery pack low between the axles helps to lower the centre of gravity and reduce yaw inertia, and spreading the weight of the electric motors on to each axle has helped to enable a front-to-rear weight distribution of almost 50/50.
The concept rides on 23in alloy wheels and bespoke 265/35 R23 tyres and uses electromechanical steering. “It’s a true Jaguar,” said Mike Cross, JLR chief engineer of vehicle integrity. “This will be the first electric vehicle developed for enthusiasts who love driving.” The 1-Pace Concept’s four-wheel drive system is augmented by Jaguar’s familiar traction technologies, including All Surface Progress Control (ASPC) and Adaptive Surface Response (AdSR). The car will also have adjustable levels of regenerative braking force, making it possible to drive the 1-Pace as a ‘one-pedal’ car in some conditions.
CAB-FORWARD DESIGN – Not having to accommodate an internal combustion engine or conventional transmission allowed Jaguar’s designers and engineers to rethink the vehicle’s overall proportions. Although an SUV design wasn’t a prerequisite at the very start of the electric vehicle project, it was a logical choice: the F-Pace is now the company’s best-selling model and Jaguar’s electric car needs to appeal particularly to the US market, where emissions regulations are tightening.
Even so, the 1-Pace is an unconventional SUV, taking some of its styling cues from the stillborn hybrid C-X75 supercar. A cab-forward design, long wheelbase and short overhangs combine to maximise interior space for occupants, improve visibility and enhance driving dynamics. At 4680mm long, 1890mm wide and 1560mm tall, the I-Pace Concept is smaller in each dimension than the F-Pace, in particular its height. However, the most significant difference is in the wheelbase: Jaguar has pushed the electric car’s out to 2990mm, compared with the F-Pace’s 2874mm.
Indeed, the l-Pace’s wheelbase is30mm longer than the XF’s, too. To reduce drag, the door handles sit flush with the body surface and slide out when activated, and side skirts channel air more efficiently around the wheels. A low-set bonnet features a grille that bends back to channel air through a scoop similar to that of the C-X75, helping to reduce drag further. The drag coefficient is 0.29. By comparison, Tesla claims its Model X is the slipperiest SUV, with a Cd of 0.24.
At the rear of the I-Pace Concept’s roof, a slender fixed spoiler reduces lift at higher speeds without generating drag. The dramatically sloping rear window has a hydrophobic glass coating that sheds water, negating the need for a rear windscreen wiper. The squared-off rear end and flared haunches accentuate the short rear overhang but also provide an aerodynamic benefit by encouraging air to cling to the vehicle for longer, stabilising airflow at speed.
In just 13 years, Tesla Motors is set to release its fourth model next year
Some may find this hard to believe, but Tesla is one of the most influential carmakers in history. While the company has existed since 2003, it was in 2006 that it unveiled its very first model, the Roadster. It could travel over 320km on a single charge, and went on to set a world record in 2009 by traveling 501km on a single charge in the Global Green Challenge.
It’s impressive for any battery-powered electric vehicle—and much more so for one that’s built to be a sports car.
What’s more, the Roadster is credited to have spurred other manufacturers into developing their own Evs. The Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf are often mentioned in the same breath.
Tesla’s next car, the Model S released in 2012, pushed the boundaries of what the public should expect an EV to be. Some of its avant-garde features were a large central touchscreen, virtual instruments, on-board GPS and a built-in web browser, a windshield-mounted forward-facing camera, a forward-facing radar on the lower grille, and sonars all around.
The game-changing bit, however, was how run-of-the-mill driver aids were repurposed via an over-the-air software update sent to all Model S units, enabling them to have semi-autonomous driving capability. Dubbed AutoPilot by Tesla, thesystem reduced driver fatigue by allowing the vehicle to almost drive itself with hardly any input from the driver, as long as the driver’s hands remained in contact with the steering wheel. Letting go of the tiller more than three times in an hour would prompt the car to safely pull over to a stop and disable the system.
Another innovation was the relocation of the battery pack to the lowest point of the vehicle—the whole floor between the front and rear wheels. Doing so allowed the Model S to have a more rigid structure compared with a conventionally designed vehicle, while allowing for a low center of gravity and lower polar moment of inertia.
Stripped of the passenger shell, the section of the chassis that provides motive action looks like a flat panel with four wheels held up by shock absorbers at each corner. The more astute observer will easily recognize this as an ingenious modular platform upon which many other types of vehicles could be built just by changing what goes on top of the structure. The design also allowed the easy incorporation of all-wheel drive by adding a second motor to the non- powered axle without the need to accommodate a driveshaft from one axle to the other. Power output changes are via motor swaps or possibly software changes.
Finally, the Model X is Tesla’s seven-seater SUV built on a modified Model S platform, and incorporating all the bells and whistles from its sedan sibling while bringing some of its own most notably the sheet-metal-penetrating, sonar-equipped rear gullwing doors. Dubbed ‘falcon- wing doors’, they hinge above the windows to reduce the amount of space needed to fully open in tight parking spaces.
“The Model 3 comes in a package that is 20% smaller than the Model S”
The Model 3, promised to be released in late 2017, is the latest iteration of Tesla’s master plan. The upcoming car comes in a package that is supposed to be 20% smaller than the Model S, but has all the features and creature comforts of the larger siblings without dramatically compromising passenger comfort.
The front seat is moved forward for more rear-passenger space than would normally be possible. Front legroom doesn’t suffer because the absence of a combustion engine up front means that conventional limitations don’t apply; the ‘firewall’ is moved forward to allow proper accommodations for both driver and front passenger.
If there’s anything that’s missing from the Model 3, it would be the lack of a conventional grille. With a ‘frunk’ (front trunk) occupying the space instead of an internal-combustion engine, there’s no need for one. More conventional folks will be moan the lack of a grille, which does make the Model 3’s front end look somewhat incomplete.
That said, we bet almost everyone will overlook it when they find out about the Model 3’s biggest strength affordability. The starting price of $35,000 is less than half of what a typical Model S currently commands. All Model 3s are to come with Supercharging capability as well. In case you’re not familiar with them, Tesla Superchargers are stations that quickly recharge Teslas at no additional cost to owners.
Now, what could be more game-changing than the latest from Tesla?
PANORAMIC GLASS ROOF
Tesla equips the Model 3 with a panoramic glass roof to enhance the feeling of roominess.
ZERO TO 100KPH
The Model 3 promises to achieve nil to century in less than 6sec. That’s slower than the 2.8sec time of the Model S, but still plenty fast.
17-INCH CENTRAL LCD
Doing away with physical switches, the LCD is multi-touch, controlling all the auxiliary features and then some. Its functions are configurable by Tesla anytime via over-the-air updates.
The same electronics that allow the Model S and X to drive semi-autonomously are also on the Model 3, meaning this car is as generously equipped as any other Tesla, if not more so. It just doesn’t break the bank.
Without the physical space limitations set by the presence of a ‘dirty’ internal-combustion engine up front, the Model 3 increases passenger space by pushing the firewall forward to give front and rear occupants alike plenty of legroom.
Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk has confirmed the company’s intentions to build an all-electric pick-up truck – and our exclusive image shows how it could look.
The new pick-up truck forms part of Musk’s ‘Master Plan, Part Deux’, announced last week, which details a proposed range expansion to include a smaller SUV, trucks and even driverless buses.
The products will roll out over the next few years, along with new solar charging tech and car share plans.
In the big plan (below, right), Musk claimed a number of products- including the lorries and buses – would be ready for unveil next year, hinting the pick-up and smaller SUV are being worked on concurrently.
It’s likely the pick-up will rival the upcoming Mercedes ‘X-Class’, but without conventional petrol or diesel power.
We expect the Tesla pick-up to share its underpinnings with the Model X SUV, as well as offering an identical range of powertrains. That means it should deliver performance unlike any other pick-up on the market. Despite weighing almost 2.5 tonnes, even the basic Model X will sprint from 0-60mph in around six seconds, while an all-electric range of 220 miles should be plenty for most prospective owners.
However, being a commercial vehicle, it’s likely to be priced below the Model X, which currently starts from £64,100 for the 60D version. For it to compete with diesel rivals, Tesla would need to price its pick-up closer to £30,000, although that’ll inevitably be confirmed in due course.
In terms of carrying capacity and load volume, the Tesla is likely to match models like the Nissan NP300 Navara, which offers a 1,000kg pay load. As with the Model X SUV, we expect the Tesla pick-up to be four-wheel drive only, using the brand’s Dual Motor technology powering the front and rear wheels. We’ve no word on towing capacity, but given the basic Model X has 525Nm of torque, that won’t be a problem.
“It’s likely Tesla first pick-up will rivan Mercedes’ new X-Class, but without conventional petrol or diesel power”
Many competitors offer single and king- cab variations, although Tesla is expected to stick with the popular double-cab set-up. Styling cues are expected to be lifted from elsewhere in the range, with the Model S and Model X’s blank nose and swept-back headlights almost certain to feature.
The raised ride height will come courtesy of the Model X, although off-road ability isn’t likely to be a priority. It’ll likely get a slightly steeper windscreen, while a wide, flat load bay is guaranteed. The rearwill be as clean as the front, with sleek LED lights, plenty of chrome and a high load lip.
In addition, Musk also detailed his plans to push on with autonomous driving, so the pick-up will get the hardware and software necessary to allow features like Autopilot and Summon to function. He acknowledges it’ll be some time before legislation and laws are in place to allow full autonomy on public roads, but assures us that Tesla will be at the forefront of any innovation.
Once approved, you’ll be able to “sleep, read or do anything else en route to your destination,” Musk said.
The Tesla was the world’s first sexy electric car. Fast enough to worry a Porsche 911 Turbo or Ferrari 599, the neck-jerking torque and devastating, silent acceleration felt uncanny. Brainchild of PayPal founder Elon Musk, it used a Lotus Elise chassis, stored power in 6,800 laptop batteries, and was the first electric vehicle (EV) to have a range of more than 200 miles (322 km) on a three-and-a-half hour charge.
Save and Send. Its too late to go back and change my piece for this month – and I am expecting trouble on the way (or maybe not) when the boss will read that I madly love the Model X, mainly for its rear doors, baptized “falcon wings doors”.