By Malcolm Burwell

An article in Automobile Magazine profiles the Tesla Model S P85D and describes the investment of  €6 billion – roughly $7.5 billion U.S. – German automotive manufacturers are making in new, high-end electronic vehicles and plug-in hybrids; partially in response to Tesla’s striking new performance vehicle. The article has received much interest and speculation about the impact that Tesla’s technology – specifically the  Model S P85D – with its dual AC induction motors – will have on future EV development among global manufacturers.

While German automotive manufacturers have been taking action, they are not the only ones taking notice.  Consumers and industry voices are weighing in, some from Tesla-direct, challenging traditional automotive manufacturers to bring on the competition.  One comment from Tesla Motor’s on-line forum:

“I find it invigorating that more and more auto manufacturers are delving into the EV arena with their own concepts…Now if they would only dive in with an actual EV offering of their own and not merely tantalize us with this or that ‘concept’.”

Tesla S P85D on display at NAIAS 2

Tesla S P85D on display at NAIAS

Another comment, by the same blogger, invites automotive writers to share their analysis of the new German lineups with those of the new French Renault DeZir EV concept.  More about that later….

So, how did a little upstart automotive company from Northern California not only get on the German automotive radar but shake – or at least wake-up the giant automotive industry?   Back to the Tesla Model S P85D which is on display at many of the international auto shows in 2015 where it is receiving rave reviews — most notably in Detroit where Elon Musk directly challenged U.S. automotive manufacturers to invest in electric vehicle development.  In a January press conference in “the Motor City,” Musk boldly stated that he “recommends making significant investment in electric cars” and that “sustainable transportation is better sooner than later.”  According to Musk, “We didn’t get into this to get rich.  We believe in what we are doing and I think we are going to regret the amount of carbon going into the air.”  And with that statement, Musk also projected that Tesla Motors will be making “a few million cars” by 2025.  Yes, let’s “bring it on.”

Tesla S P85D dual induction motors display NAIAS

Tesla S P85D dual induction motors display NAIAS

The dual motor Model S is indeed an attention-getting vehicle, inside and out.  It has an induction AC motor on each axle that digitally and independently controls torque to the front and rear wheels.  As a result, this all-wheel sedan has a total of 691 hp and 687 lb-ft of torque that goes from 0 to 60 in 3.2 seconds flat.  With its digital torque controls and low center of gravity, Tesla Motors claims “the Model S P85D has the most capable road hold and handling of any vehicle ever produced.”  By dividing the delivery of current from one motor to the other, the Model S85P gains additional miles of highway driving range compared to its single-motor Model S counterpart (having a rear AC induction motor only).  Tesla Motors has now demonstrated that an electric vehicle can provide superior efficiency and performance to gasoline-powered vehicles.

I believe the Tesla Model S and its performance dual-motor superstar-car also demonstrates AC induction motor superiority to the rare earth magnet motors.

Rare earth magnets are expensive, difficult to handle and subject to geopolitical supply manipulation. Rare earth resources are scarce and refinement is hard to do in an environmentally-friendly way.  Automotive motor expert Wally Rippel, who has been featured on www.coppermotor.com provides further information about the benefits of AC induction motor technology.

The Model S is the first vehicle that Tesla Motors has built from the ground up, including their AC induction motors technology which is manufactured by Tesla Motors in Northern California.

What are the competitors’ doing to catch up?  We will review news about new future EV developments from German automotive manufacturers who are making significant investments in EV technology — in response to Tesla’s starring role:

BMW

Source:  Automobile Magazine December 2014

BMW has a 5 Series Sedan in development that is a plug-in hybrid 4-door (typically designed for China) that will carry the “i-brand” (i5 or i7).  This vehicle is due out in 2018.  A description of the 5 Series includes a low-emission sport sedan featuring an innovative plug-in hybrid drivetrain.  The main electric motor is in the back with a gasoline-powered engine up front.  This vehicle is described as an “electric vehicle with a powerful range extender.”  The drive-train is inspired by the i-8:

  • Engine 1.5L Turbo charged inline-3 gasoline
  • Electric Motor = 98 kW (131 hp)
  • Battery 7.1 kWh lithium-ion battery

READ MORE – BMW i5-i7 2018

AUDI

Audi will kick off its electrification efforts with plug-in hybrids based on the Q7 & the A8; the next Q’s and the A6/A7 replacement.

The Plug-in Q7 will be the next e-tron model from Audi.  Technical Highlight:  This is Audi’s first diesel-electric powertrain that couples Audi’s 3.0-litr v6 turbo-diesel with a “powerful electric motor and rechargeable battery pack” according to

Motoring.com.  It contains a 17.3 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.  The company says it’s the first plug-in to use a diesel v6 and all-wheel drive.

MERCEDES BENZ

Automotive Magazine says Mercedes plans “the most ambitious EV assault” on Tesla Motors of them all.  Mercedes is making more than a $2 billion euro investment in all-new, purpose-built vehicles.

The “Ecoluxe” program, as it is dubbed internally, will produce four different product offerings in the EV arena.  When in full-swing, Mercedes will be able to produce 80,000 vehicles per year.

New vehicle line-ups will include provisions for a rear-wheel drive, an all-wheel drive, and rear-wheel steering.

Trying Hard to Copy Tesla

There are many projections about what will happen with electric vehicle development.  Despite the recent drop in gasoline prices, I agree with Mr. Musk’s opinion.  Electric vehicle development will continue.  Meanwhile……

How about that Renault DeZir EV concept vehicle?  Could it be a testimony to trying to catch-up with Tesla’s first-generation copper-rotor induction-motor model, the Roadster?

RENAULT DeZIR EV CONCEPT VEHICLE

Renault DeZIR EV Concept Vehicle

Renault DeZIR EV Concept Vehicle

Renault DeZIR EV Concept Vehicle

Renault DeZIR EV Concept Vehicle