Tesla Model S wins high praise from Consumer Reports
Tesla Motors Inc.'s all-electric Model S sports car received the highest score in Consumer Reports' ratings -- a 99 out of 100 -- along with widespread plaudits from the magazine's automotive testing staff.
The magazine said the $89,650 EV it tested "performed better, or just as well overall, as any other vehicle -- of any kind -- ever tested by Consumer Reports."
The last vehicle to achieve a score of 99 in the magazine's testing was the Lexus LS 460L, which was tested in 2007. The Model S, which went on sale in 2012, also marks the first time any electric vehicle has earned a score that high, the magazine said today.
Consumer Reports said previously it took delivery of the Tesla Model S used for testing in January. It placed a $5,000 deposit in October 2010 and waited more than two years for delivery.
The magazine used a private e-mail address throughout the ordering process to avoid being identified. It was notified in September 2012 to order the Model S.
"The Tesla Model S is packed with technological innovation," Jake Fisher, director of Automotive Testing for Consumer Reports, said in a statement. "It accelerates, handles and brakes like a sports car, it has the ride and quietness of a luxury car and is far more energy efficient than the best hybrid cars."
The magazine's engineers and testing staff said the Model S's "pinpoint handling is reminiscent of a Porsche, and the interior calls to mind an Audi."
It's also the quietest car the magazine has tested since the Lexus LS.
The Model S has generally won widespread praise, though the sedan ran out of power during a recent New York Times review that was largely discredited by the company.
Tesla sold about 4,900 of the Model S sedans during the first quarter, exceeding its original forecast of 4,500 sales. The results helped Tesla achieve its first-ever quarterly profit in the company's 10-year history. The company said Wednesday it posted net income of $11 million on revenue of $562 million. It now expects to sell 21,000 Model S sedans this year.
Tesla stock is trading at all-time highs and, after the release of the earnings report, surged 24 percent to $69 a share in after-hours trading on Wednesday night.
Consumer Reports said the Model S, equipped with a large 85-kWh lithium ion battery, a $20,000 upgrade, was the most practical electric car it has evaluated to date.
The Model S tested has been delivering a driving range close to 200 miles before needing a charge.
In comparison, the Ford Focus Electric and Nissan Leaf EV can go about 80 and 75 miles, respectively, before needing a charge, the magazine said.
The range of the Model S tested has varied from about 180 miles on cold, wintery days to about 225 in more mild temperatures.
Over that time and distance, the magazine's Model S returned the equivalent of 84 mpg, it said.
The sedan's shortcomings include "limited range, lengthy charging times, and coupe-like styling that impairs rear visibility and impedes access," Consumer Reports said.
Despite the high praise, the Model S isn't recommended because Consumer Reports does not have sufficient reliability data.
The magazine only recommends cars and light trucks that perform well in a battery of road and handling tests, maintain average or better reliability in its annual auto survey, and score well in industry and government crash tests.
The magazine said consumers should also be aware that Tesla is a startup with "no track record for reliability or resale value, and a skimpy (although growing) service network."
Last week, aiming to put more prospective buyers at ease, the company increased the guaranteed residual value of the Model S to 50 percent after its lease-to-own period of three years.
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