While on a call with shareholders on Monday (in between spinning why losing another 38.5 million dollars was really a good thing), Tesla CEO Elon Musk took the time to set aside fears of mounting competition and falling behind the cost structure of his peers by taking some shots at the 800lb gorilla, Nissan.
Musk said that Nissan’s pack used a “much more primitive level of technology.” Notable shortfalls being the air cooling system in play inside the LEAF, as opposed to Tesla’s “active liquid thermal control” setup.
Musk also used this more complex BMS to explain/justify his company’s shortfall being able to cost the battery pack for its Roadster and future Model S, in relation to the LEAF’s estimated $400ish price per kWh. While adding that Model S pack costs do look “on track” to be 40% lower than that of the Roadster (which currently stand around $35,000).
Tesla’s inability to compete with Nissan on storage prices might also have something to do with them not actually producing their own in mass…that and the stringing together and management of 6,831 3rd party rechargeable lithium ion batteries isn’t cheap either.
The Tesla CEO said that the LEAF’s temperature will be “all over the place” with a passive air cooled system, and that it will suffer from “huge degradation” in the cold, and will simply “shut off” in hot environments.
Nissan for their part, and with 20 years experience with the tech, has said that the battery will handle the rigors of daily driving just fine with the passive air cooling system, but that in the future, a active system will be introduce to maximize performance even further; however even at that time down the road it will likely still be air cooled, not liquid.
Tesla hopes to introduce the Model S in 2012, at a price of $57,400. According to the company, they have already received over 2,800 refundable, $5,000 deposits to date for the 160 mile+ EV that will top 0-60 in a reported 5.6 seconds. Larger packs will also be available extending the range up to 300 miles. (no pricing to report on the longer range versions)
One has to wonder that given Musk’s bravado about Tesla’s supposed vastly superior battery and management system why they only offer a 3 year/36,000 mile warranty as opposed to Nissan’s 8 year/100,000?
There is no arguing that Elon Musk is a great talker, he has done some remarkable things in his career; just getting the Roadster itself to market was a real accomplishment, and Tesla has done a great service for the advancement of the electric vehicle…but I tend to also have confidence in the company who stands behind their product long term after the sale.
If Nissan only had a similar 3 year warranty and they were new to the business, this story would have a much different twist…but they don’t. 20 years and 100,000 miles of warranty tells me LEAF owners will be just fine.
All this begs the larger question. Why even go after Nissan? Why was this ‘dig’ necessary? The LEAF doesn’t look to be stealing any sales from the Model S anytime soon. Or is it that Tesla is afraid of the “more powerful, sleeker” automobile Infiniti currently has under wraps that they will also bring to market around the same time in 2012 that could threaten Tesla’s future?