Creative Marketing for Electric Vehicles

usedcar
usedcar

In the film Paranoia, Harrison Ford’s character gives the character of Liam Hemsworth a new range extended luxury sedan. This is one of the novel ways that the automaker is marketing its vehicles. It also helps that known celebrities such as Leonardo di Caprio and Justin Bieber own one and top rated sitcom Two and a Half Men, specifically Ashton Kutcher’s character, drives around in one.

There is a well known business transaction in the car industry called the trade in. This involves giving the dealer the old car and the equity value which would then be used as down payment on a newer model vehicle. This route is being utilized by electric automaker Tesla Motors. The difference is, only those individuals that own the first model vehicle from the company would be able to trade in for a newer model Tesla. This involves selling the two-seater Tesla Roadster and a substantial discount would be received on the brand new Tesla Model S.

This is a novel approach, as these kinds of trade in deals provide a convenient way that a buyer can dispose of their old cars. The drawback would be the trade in value is much lower compared to sales prices of these vehicles. Once the old car is traded in, the vehicle is then sold at a used car auction for a sure profit.

Tesla has also modified this age old transaction. There is no dealer as Tesla facilitates the exchange. The valuation is very accurate because of the detailed service records and diagnostics undertaken on the vehicle. Furthermore, Tesla does not intend to dump the Roadsters to a used car lot but instead would offer the traded in Roadsters in its stores.

Since the Tesla Roadster numbers just 2,600 throughout the world, the value of the electric vehicle remains high. It is estimated that a four year old Tesla Roadster with just 31,000 miles would sell at about US$73,300.

With this on hand, former Tesla Roadster owners can end up purchasing the Model S at about US$100,000 plus plus, depending on the options included. The base price though is at US$57,400 and with the value of the 2010 Roadster at an all time high, Tesla may end up paying the car owner the difference.

Upgrades are available as an option for the Roadster, allowing Tesla owners many more options, such as the trade in, the upgrade or the outright purchase. Novel ways to extend the life of these iconic vehicles.

Top Electric Car Makers Facing Difficulties

electriCONCEPT
electriCONCEPT

The turn of the year has not been good to two of the top electric carmakers in the world today. Tesla is facing an issue as to the freezing of its electric battery pack when left uncharged for long periods of time. Chevrolet is also facing an issue, as it ordered a pause to the production of its prized Volt.

Chevrolet announced that it would be halting production of the Volt for five weeks starting end of March because of the vehicle’s oversupply in its dealerships. This would result in 1,300 layoffs in the Detroit site where the Volt is built. This is another sign of trouble for the plug-in hybrid flagship of the vehicle. The first issue was the failure to reach the projected sale of 45,000 Volts in the United States. The second issue was the NHTSA investigation as to the battery fires on the Volt.

According to GM spokesperson Chris Lee, the production is scheduled to stop on March 16 and resume on April 23. This is the third time that production of the Volt has been halted since the vehicle was made available in December 2010. He said, “Sales for the Volt in February were significantly better than January and we anticipate that to continue. We see good things in the future but right now we had to make this adjustment.”

This also affects the production of the Opel Ampera, the European version of the Volt.

As for Tesla, the issue revolves around leaving its pricey Roadster low on charge and unplugged for extended periods of time. When the battery becomes fully discharged, the whole pack becomes unusable and needs to be replaced, costing the owner $40,000.

Warranties for this battery replacement become cancelled as the owner’s manual provides advisories and warnings for owners on leaving their electric cars unplugged for extended periods of time. This has spawned a new term, called “bricking”, which also means describing electronic devices that have become useless because of corrupted software.

Tesla’s Chief Technical Officer, J.B. Straubel, who was in a conference on electric vehicles in San Diego, said that all batteries can result in total failure mode but only less than ten Roadsters may be predisposed to have the problem. He added, “If you ran your conventional engine without oil, whose fault would it be? It would be the owner’s.”

The electric car utilizes fail safe systems, including the ability to isolate the battery when charge gets low, use of a backup twelve volt battery and a separate wake up call function. Tesla though does not have these systems for the Roadster, but because of this issue, newer models would have a “deep sleep” mode and other protective systems.

Voiding Battery Warranties

CARbattery
CARbattery

According to a recent report, several Tesla Roadster owners have started complaining of their $109,000 vehicles, with one on particular saying that the vehicle had become very expensive bricks.

The issue centered on the Tesla advisories regarding leaving the vehicle unplugged for extended periods of time. What occurs, is that extended periods of not being plugged in could slowly discharge the 52 kWh battery pack, making them unusable and leaving their owners with a $40,000 repair bill to reactivate the vehicle.

The owner of the Roadster that “bricked” was Max Drucker and he sent an email to Elon Musk, Tesla CEO. In the said letter, Drucker did admit that he left his Roadster unplugged for more than two months because of “temporary housing situation without a convenient place” to plug in the car. He further claimed that he had no idea that such a situation would occur.

For its part, Tesla specifically warns its owners to keep the vehicles plugged in. The advisories were given by both customer staff and in several places within the owner’s manuals for the vehicles. He further advised that such an issue must be squarely addressed, especially when middle class owners purchase the Model S that would soon hit the market. Not only did the letter highlight this for Tesla, but for other electric car owners in the market today.

Another major issue with another electric car company is the battery warranty. Nissan is now facing a bit of an issue regarding the cancellation instances for the battery warranty. Despite multiple advisories, the following are the instances where the battery warranty may be invalidated. These include exposure to temperatures above 120 F over 24 hours or less than -13F more than seven days, purposeful damage, or unapproved maintenance on the battery packs, no liquids or flames exposed to the battery pack.

Do remember that the owner signs the warranty card, protecting the manufacturer. Better read the manual before using the electric car, especially the pricey ones.

Top Gear Gets Flak for Review

televisionSET
televisionSET

Top Gear, one of BBC’s top rated shows, has been criticized for its recent review of the Nissan Leaf Electric Car. Last July 31, the show’s host tested two electric vehicles currently available in the UK market, the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi I-MiEV.

The television show is all about motor vehicles, from motorcycles to cars. The show first aired in 1977 and was reformatted in 2002. The show’s quirky and deadpan humor has been a hit with fans in the United Kingdom and all over the world. The hosts of the show are Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. It also has guest drivers known as the Stig. The show has received both praise and criticism, both for its presentation and reviews.

In the said July 31 show, host Clarkson showed the Nissan Leaf running out of power. In response, the Japanese carmaker said that for the show, the test driven Leaf was driven around in circles to discharge its battery for the show. Furthermore, the carmaker said the Leaf used for the show was only half charged and hosts did not use the eco-mode function of the Leaf that can extend the range of the vehicle.

Other criticisms for the particular episode of the show have come up, such as using disabled car spaces for their cars, to the chagrin of disabled charity groups.

This is just one of the controversies that Top Gear has with electric vehicles. When the show reviewed the Tesla Roadster, the carmaker criticized the show and its producers saying that the car’s performance was misrepresented by the show.

In response, Top Gear’s executive producer Andy Wilman said that the show was raising legitimate consumer concerns regarding the electric cars, such as the price, the range predictions and the recharging systems available for electric vehicles. The show has denied that it intended to mislead viewers nor put the vehicle in bad light.

The producer added that it might even be carmakers such as Nissan that is giving misleading information. While Nissan dedicates space for fast charging, it does not mention that frequent fast charging of the Leaf battery severely shortens the battery life for the vehicle.

Other pundits though find that the criticisms of the show’s treatment of electric vehicles are well-founded. Robert Llewellyn, host of the Fully Charged podcast series, says that the Top Gear show of July 31 is “biased, ill-informed, clueless and quite funny.”

He added, "The three men who’s lives revolve around internal combustion engines and burning rubber facing the now universally accepted truth that we are going to face a chronic shortage of the fuel we all depend on."

Tesla’s Roadster Conquers the Great Wall of China

countryside_brollpreview
countryside_brollpreview

A Tesla Roadster traveling around the world has arrived at the Great Wall of China, the most iconic cultural landmark of the eight-month road trip for the electric vehicle.

One of the stops the Roadster had last week was at one section of the 8,852-kilometer Great Wall, with one of China’s most respected actors Chen Dao Ming known for his roles in "Hero,” and"Aftershock,” driving the vehicle along the revered Wall.

According to a statement released by Tesla, Beijing was the eighth stop in the “Odyssey of Pioneers”, the first round-the-world tour by a zero-emission car. The 37,000 kilometer voyage was sponsored by Tesla Motors, together with Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer. The road trip includes showroom displays, owner appreciation gatherings and VIP events at fifteen cities and more than 150 towns covering three continents. The tour will conclude in Paris this coming October. In May, the Roadster appeared for the first time in India and a reception was held in Jaipur by His Royal Highness Sawai Bhawani Singh Bahadur, the last Maharajah of Jaipur, Rajasthan’s most significant political, cultural and a religious figure. Before that, the Roadster became the first non-Russian car to get official clearance to park on Moscow's Red Square.

Tesla Motors claimed that throughout India, Russia, China and other countries, the Roadster uses conventional outlets to charge the car during the journey.

The company said that the TAG Heuer Tesla Roadster showed versatility and convenience in charging the battery as it could charge from standard outlets like it did at hotels, at solar panels in Italy, and even at a barn in a rural community in Switzerland. Last April 13, the car arrived in Budapest, where Nikola Tesla, during a feverish hallucination along the banks of the Danube River, came up with the design for his revolutionary alternating-current induction motor in 1882.

For the first time, Silicon Valley-based car maker Tesla Motors paid homage to its namesake, hosting a VIP celebration and prospective customer test drives at the TAG Heuer Boutique in Budapest, Hungary.

The Tesla Roadster is the only electric car for sale in Europe or North America that uses an AC induction motor descended from the scientist’s original vision. Tesla Motors unveiled the Roadster in 2006, in time for the UNESCO declaration of the Year of Nikola Tesla in celebration of the 150th anniversary of his birth.

Meanwhile, the automaker said that their goal is to produce an increasingly affordable electric car for mainstream buyers that would drive down the cost of Electric Vehicles.

The California based Tesla has delivered more than 1000 Roadsters to customers in North America, Europe and Asia. Tesla designs and manufactures EVs and EV power train components. It is currently the only automaker in the United States that builds and sells highway-capable EVs in mass production. The Tesla Roadster accelerates faster than most sports cars but produces no emissions.