Ah yes, the 280. Spacious, fast and full of luxury cars.
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Ah yes, the famous Tesla Model S. Let’s compare it’s on-the-road-caught-on-fire rate with, I don’t know, that of the well-designed, all-electric Nissan Leaf and maybe, I don’t know, the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt. Oh wait a sec, Nissan Leaves and Chevy Voltses NEVER CATCH ON FIRE.* Well gee, why is that, Elon Musk? What’s wrong with your cars and/or your customers?
And the jelly-bean Lexus RX / Toyota Harrier. I suppose this “Tall Camry” / “Tall Lexus ES” is a luxury car. It doesn’t catch on fire, all that much.
And the Mercedes Benz GL. It does catch on fire. Sometimes. And for no good reason.
Taken via Google Glass** from my Toyota, which was paid off twelve years ago, and which is 40% of the way through its working life.
*And these are more established cars with more time and more passenger miles on the road than the Model S
“Nissan & Infiniti Open New Dealerships In Downtown San Francisco - Unique Dealerships Owned and Operated by Penske Automotive Group
SAN FRANCISCO, May 1, 2012 – Expanding into a key sales market that is known for a strong interest in leading-edge technology and environmentally smart products, Nissan and Infiniti have appointed a new Nissan dealer and a new Infiniti dealer in the heart of downtown San Francisco.
The new dealerships are located on Van Ness Ave., one of the Bay Area’s most famous and well-traveled automotive retail corridors. Both dealerships are owned and operated by one of the largest automotive retailers in the world – Penske Automotive Group (NYSE: PAG).
“Infiniti and Nissan products and brands directly align with San Francisco’s unique customer profile, making this effort a strategic element of our plan to grow sales volume in the U.S.,” said Brian Carolin, senior vice present of Sales and Marketing for Nissan North America, Inc. “The 100-percent electric Nissan LEAF has already surpassed 11,000 sales in the U.S. alone. Along with the forthcoming Infiniti LE all-electric luxury sedan, we will make a defining statement in a region known for innovation and technology leadership. We are excited to be represented in such a dramatic way by a leading retailer like Penske Automotive Group in this pivotal market.”
The opening of the new dealerships will help contribute further to Nissan and Infiniti’s sales and market share gains in the U.S. market. In 2011, the Nissan Division posted its best-ever U.S. sales year – up 17.3 percent over the previous year – and Infiniti continues to gain ground. Nissan North America, Inc reported its March 2012 sales of 136,317 units versus 121,141 units a year earlier, an increase of 12.5 percent, and a record for any month in the company’s history.
“I’m very pleased to offer the Nissan and Infiniti brands in world-class, state-of-the-art dealerships in San Francisco,” said Penske Automotive Group Chairman Roger Penske. “Our new facilities are unrivaled within the city offering an array of automotive services, including sales, service, parts, vehicle preparation and delivery areas all under one roof.”
Nissan of San Francisco and Infiniti of San Francisco are located in the Ellis Brooks Building – which opened for vehicle sales in 1935. The 8-story, 200,000-square-foot complex is unparalleled by any other dealership in the San Francisco marketplace and is one of the largest automobile retailing locations in the United States. The building was completely renovated to provide distinct representation for each brand, and features multiple levels of indoor new and pre-owned vehicle display, service, maintenance and retail parts area, separately branded showrooms, front entrances and signage.
During the time period that people from the disappointing Tesla Motors and CODA Automotive electric car “producers” were criticizing the design of the Nissan LEAF, Nissan simply worked hard to become the first mass-producer of electric cars.*
Of course, 6500 units over the past nine months might not sound like a whole bunch to you, but that’s more than what the vaunted Tesla,** CODA, and Solyndra*** have delivered altogether.
“6,500 no-gas Nissan LEAFs™ have now been delivered to excited owners. Across the country each day, new drivers are getting to enjoy the Nissan LEAF™. And as the first and only car manufacturer to mass-produce 100% electric cars, it’s clear that Nissan is 6,500 steps ahead of the pack.”
Ahead of the pack, baby.
You see, Nissan delivers while the others merely promise delivery. In CODA’s case the same basic car has been promised every year since 2007 and in Tesla’s I think it’s similarly been years since Tesla was supposed to have delivered the follow-up to that ridiculous Roadster, you know the car that got an airbag waiver from the feds cause Tesla said it would go out of business if it had to follow the rules that a manufacturer like, I don’t know, Nissan has to follow when it builds a car like, I don’t know, the LEAF.
Anyway, you’ll have to keep waiting for a Tesla Model S.
But don’t let me stop you from writing a check right now for $50k**** for a CODA Sedan, direct from China via Benicia.
****Including delivery and use tax, no negotiating! I think that you’ll have to pay normal purchase and registration fees for the CODA, but I’m not sure since I’ve heard that the state of CA waived these charges for some Tesla purchasers…
It’s taken a while, all of 2011 so far to be exact, for me to see a LEAF in the wild and not as a part of a Nissan event.
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Now, can I ask why Mayor Ed Lee has a gas-powered plug-in hybrid from Government Motors instead of an all-electric Nissan Leaf? (The answer might have something to do with the feds kicking in for half of the cost of Ed Lee’s Chevy Volt, and the power of the UAW, and the fact that people at City Hall thought it was an actual electric car. Oh well.)
Anyway, here’s your number one City runabout, garage definitely required.
*I think it was just five units delivered, which was less than Nissan thought it would do for 2010, but by the standards of the industry this is exemplary performance.
**It was a guy from CODA who said that “housewives” wouldn’t “feel comfortable” in the LEAF, you know, cause it’s so weird-looking, basically. He made this statement while inside a warmed-over electrified Mitsubishi (Carisma, aka CODA Sedan) straight outta 1996, ironically.
Now you know better your electric and hybrid electric vehicles…
*The funny thing about the Leaf is that some crappy competing company what says oh, we’ll have an electric car ourselves this year (employees have been saying that about the same basic vehicle every year since 2008) criticized the Leaf last year because “housewives” wouldn’t “feel comfortable” behind the wheel of such a futuristic-looking vehicle. Ridiculoso.
So Tesla, let’s agree that that Top Gear TV show has, at the very least, a flair for the dramatic, a bit of cheesiness built into its DNA. So, why then, did you give them cars to test?
Here are the first two grafs from Tesla’s corporate do-boy:
“Tesla Roadsters in over thirty countries have driven more than ten million real-world miles. [SO WHAT, WHO CARES?] That’s 500,000 gallons of fuel that didn’t burn [HEY TESLA, HOW MUCH JET FUEL DID YOU BUY FOR YOUR CEO OVER THE YEARS? 10,000 GALLONS? 100,000 GALLONS? JUST ASKING, BRO] and over 5.3 million pounds of averted carbon dioxide emissions. [WHY NOT JUST NOT DRIVE INSTEAD, TESLA? AND HOW MANY GALLONS WERE BURNED TO MAKE THE ELECTRICITY TO POWER THE CARS?] The credit goes to approximately 1,500 Roadster owners around the world who drive their electric vehicles in all conditions; [THEY'RE LIKE HEROES, OR SOMETHING, RIGHT?] they’re an enthusiastic group who often talk and blog about their experiences. ["HERE'S A SNAPSHOT OF MY BRAND-NEW SIX-FIGURE TOY" - IT'S JUST LIKE, "LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT MY GRANDCHILDREN."]
“Tesla is committed to building the best cars in the world. [HAHAHAHAHAHA! AFTER EIGHT LONG YEARS, YOU'RE "COMMITTED," HUH?] And in doing so, [IN DOING WHAT, ACTUALLY? THESE TWO SENTENCES DON'T BELONG TOGETHER - YOU DON'T THINK YOU'RE BUILDING THE BEST CARS IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW, OR DO YOU?] catalyzing change in a very traditional industry [OBJECTION, FACTS NOT IN EVIDENCE] by convincing drivers that EVs can match and surpass automobiles run by combustion. [BUT YOUR EV'S ARE MOSTLY RUN BY COMBUSTION] That’s not an easy task. [O RLY? TELL US ABOUT THE MISMANAGED TWO-SPEED TRANSMISSION FIASCO, RICARDO, WHAT ABOUT THAT?] But the Roadster has changed a lot of minds. [THE ROADSTER IS A FAT LITTLE PIGGY WHAT COSTS WAAAAAAY TOO MUCH MONEY. TESLA MOTORS IS A FAT LITTLE PIGGY WHAT SUCKS ON GOVERNMENT TEAT WAAAAAY TOO MUCH]“
Anyway, check the video, below, if you want.
Why yes, I’m extreeeeeeemely comfortable in this very small, very heavy, very expensive rolling toy. Why do you ask?
And leave us not forget: All hail the Mighty Tesla Driver: “Look at me! Look at me! Ooops.” That was on Geary in the Western A, I believe.
The video you’re not supposed to see. I’d never seen it before, personally. It makes the Tesla Roadster look like the overweight, overpriced, electrified POS that it is.
And here’s part of the defense from the BBC’s cheesy Top Gear show.
1. We never said that the Tesla’s true range is only 55 miles, as opposed to their own claim of 211, or that it had actually ran out of charge. In the film our actual words were: “We calculated that on our track it would run out after 55 miles”. The first point here is that the track is where we do our tests of sports cars and supercars, as has happened ever since Top Gear existed. This is where cars are driven fast and hard, and since Tesla calls its roadster “The Supercar. Redefined.” it seemed pretty logical to us that the right test was a track test. The second point is that the figure of 55 miles came not from our heads, but from Tesla’s boffins in California. They looked at the data from that car and calculated that, driven hard on our track, it would have a range of 55 miles.
2. We never said that the Tesla was completely immobilized as a result of the motor overheating. We said the car had “reduced power”. This was true.
3. Tesla claims we were lying when we said the brakes were “broken”. They now say that all that had happened was that the fuse to the vacuum pump had failed, which meant that the brake just had to be pushed down much harder than usual. Well – to my mind, if the brakes are broken, then they’re broken, and if this happened to your car, you’d take it to the garage to get it fixed. Odd it seems so trivial to Tesla now, because on the day of filming they insisted on repairing the fuse before we could carry on driving the car.
The above points will be argued over in the near future by brainy people wearing wigs, but in a layman’s nutshell, this is where we stand on the matter. Before I finish though, I must clear up one important issue: scripting. It’s alleged by Tesla that on the day of filming one of their employees caught sight of a script that had been written, before the car had even been driven, already containing the verdict that in the “real world” the Tesla doesn’t work. This, they say, proves our guilt, because we’d condemned the car in advance. May I just say in reply:
a) The truth is, Top Gear had already driven the car prior to filming, to enable us to form a view on it in advance
b) Our primary reasoning behind the verdict had nothing to do with how the Tesla performed; our conclusion was based mainly on the fact that it costs three times more than the petrol sports car upon which it’s based. It takes a long time to recharge, so you can’t use it as easily for the carefree motoring journeys that are a prerequisite of sports car driving. You can actually reach that conclusion without driving the car. As it happens, when it did come to the subjective area of how the car drove on the track, we were full of praise for its performance and handling.
c) Just so you understand there’s nothing devious going on, you need to know how this filming business works. When you film a car review, the reviewer is only the tip of the iceberg. Behind the lens is a film crew, and only a day’s worth of light to shoot the eight minute film. This means we have to prepare in advance a treatment – a rough draft of a script so that the director and film crew can get to work right away, knowing what shots they will need to capture. It will contain the facts about a car, and what we think of its looks and so on, but how well the car actually drives is added on the day. If we’ve driven it ahead of filming, as we do with most cars, we will also have an idea how it feels to drive. But, and this is crucial, as we uncover fresh information about a car whilst filming it, it is entirely normal for the treatment to be modified as the day unfolds. Jeremy is always tweaking the scripts to reflect what his driving experience has actually been on the day.
There you go. I’ve said my bit, and now we’ll hopefully shut up and prepare for our day in court.
PS: As this is going through the courts right now, we’re afraid we’ve had to turn off comments on this one, but we wanted to let you all know how we see it.
Andy Wilman is the Executive Producer of Top Gear”
“In the 1990s, car makers General Motors and Toyota leased such cars out – then destroyed them as they grew in popularity.”
Well, yeah, I see what you’re talking about there, but I have a 55-gallon drum of nuance to dump on that quote. Or, rather, had, as the cold light of day reveals the above zinger done went poof down the memory hole – you can’t find it at SFGate anymore so it must have been edited out recently. Moving on…
Oh, here’s another:
“…turned the fancy key that started the Leaf’s quiet engine.”
Uh, the Leaf doesn’t have an engine, right? Isn’t that the whole point? Now, the upcoming GM Volt has an engine, and a couple of big motors and a bunch of small ones to boot probably, but the Leaf, she has no engines. And turning the key doesn’t “start” the Leaf’s (primary) motor neither. Oh well. It is quiet though. Very very qwiet. (And I won’t even get into whether “the plug” is on the car or in your garage back at home…)
Anyway, it’s refreshing to see an electric car program get developed by a crew not dominated by egomaniacal crooks, thieves, and charlatans.
As promised, furries in Civic Center:
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Quite a wintry scene with an Arctic White Nissan, a polar furry and the Great Christmas Tree of Civic Center:
And then, the Arrival of the First Pilot of the First Nissan Leaf
Nissan was going to let people drive around SoMA on real streets but then they found about the bay area’s horrible drivers, so that idea got cancelled. They’ll let you do laps in the ballroom as consolation.
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I found the steering to be extremely light, but that’s just me, some people like the way the Leaf steers.
See you there!
december 3 – 5
Tempe Festival of the Arts
5th street between Ash and Maple, Tempe, AZ 85281
december 10 – 12
4th Avenue Winter Street Fair
Along Fourth Avenue between Ninth Street and U. Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85705
december 17 – 19
11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Austin, TX 78758
2011 dates will be announced as information becomes available