Tesla Model S surpassed Chevy Volt in terms of sales in first quarter of 2013

Article by Christian A., on April 29, 2013

In the first quarter of 2013, Tesla Motors Inc.’s Model S sedan surpassed the sales of the Chevrolet Volt from General Motors Co. – the first time for Tesla to lead this segment. Tesla spokeswoman Shanna Hendriks said that the automaker predicts to sell at least 4,750 units of the electric Model S in the U.S. and Canada when it releases first-quarter results on May 8.

She is reiterating the estimate released on March 31. In comparison, 4,421 Volt units were sold in North America while there were 3,695 deliveries made of Nissan Motor Co.'s Leaf.

It’s the first time for Model S (Tesla’s flagship model) to be on top. Incidentally, Tesla had said previously that it will post its profit in the first quarter, its first ever during the past decade that it has been in existence.

In 2012, the plug-in hybrid Volt, which is equipped with both batteries and a gasoline engine, topped sales in the region. GM spokesman Jim Cain said that all manufacturers of plug-in vehicles benefit when any company in this segment achieves some success.

He added that to boost plug-in sales, the single most important thing” to do is for them to be seen on the road. In the middle of 2012, Tesla started to sell the Model S, which came with a base price of $69,900. So far, Tesla hasn’t shipped any of its sedans outside of North America.

Tesla claims that on a single charge, the vehicle can be driven 300 miles (483 kilometers). Tesla co-founder Elon Musk has set a target of making 20,000 deliveries this year. Last year, GM and Nissan each sold approximately 30,000 of their respective rechargeable models throughout the world in 2012.

The two companies declined to unveil their volume targets for the present year. The Leaf is an electric vehicle, just like the Model S. John Wolkonowicz, an independent auto analyst based in Boston, is optimistic that over time, Volt will outperform Tesla’s Model S.

Chevrolet disclosed that with regards to the Volt, the brand made sure that the battery system would be able to deliver in terms of durability, performance, quality, reliability, safety, and value. The reason is that the battery pack is what powers the advanced electric drive unit, which in turn, can deliver an output of 111 kW (149 hp).

Manufactured in the company’s facility located in Brownstown Township, Michigan, the lithium-ion T-shaped battery pack is capable of offering outputs of 16 kWh. The pack measures 5.5 feet and weighs 435 pounds, or around 198.1 kg. Powered solely by this battery pack, the Volt can go emission free between 25 miles and 50 miles. Actual figures, of course, would depend mainly on the temperature, type of terrain, and manner of driving.

As a way to assure customers of its quality, the battery comes with a 100,000-mile/8-year warranty. While the battery pack itself is made up of 161 parts, the company said that 95% of said parts were originally designed, and later engineered at GM. It goes without saying that the various teams that worked on it, from the development unit, to the validation team, and even the test team, made sure that the parts would meet the needed specifications and then validate each one.

In addition, engineers at GM have been working since 2007 to perform various testing not only on the battery pack but also on each of the 9 modules and even the 288 prismatic cells. Overall, validation testing conducted amounted to an equivalent of 4 million hours and 1 million miles. The focus on the battery pack is important since it is under the electric drive, which is one-half of the Voltec propulsion system.

The other half consists of the range-extending gas-powered engine. This system is the core of the Volt and when combined, the motor and the engine ensure that the model can go as far as 350 miles. Thus once the energy inside the battery is drained, the Voltec system in the Volt immediately shifts to the extended-range mode and obtains power for the 1.4-liter gas-powered engine capable of an output of 63 kW (84 hp). With the engine, the Volt can extend its range to 310 miles.

In order to change the battery, all that is needed is intuition and a standard 120-volt electrical outlet. Using this method, completely recharging the battery takes at least 10 hours and up to 12 hours. For faster recharge, one can opt to utilize the 240-volt dedicated charging station which only takes around 4 hours. Still, even when running on electricity, the Volt proves that driving can remain spirited and this can be seen in its performance with maximum speed coming in at 100 mph.

In addition, with a peak torque of 273 lb.-ft., already available even at low speeds, the Volt can accelerate from standstill to one-fourth of a mile in nearly 17.0 seconds. Meanwhile acceleration from 0 mph to 60 mph is possible in just under 9.0 seconds. GM executive director for global electrical systems Micky Bly revealed that the company has remained committed in delivering to customers the highest of standards when it comes to reliability, performance, quality, safety, and value, as the company’s customers have long expressed the desire to commit to technology that can aid in lowering dependence on fossil fuel.

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