Thursday, July 30, 2015

For first time ever, Tesla Motors is offering a $1,000 discount on a new Model S

The design of the Tesla Model S seems fresh more than three years after it went into production.


Tesla Motors, which doesn't advertise or pay for endorsements and product placements, has succeeded by word of mouth.

And as far as I know, the lightning-quick Model S has never been discounted -- until now.

In an email on Wednesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced a referral program that will give a buyer $1,000 off the price of a new all-electric Model S when it is purchased through an owner's link.

The new program runs through Oct. 31, and the owner whose link is used gets a $1,000 credit in his or her Tesla account that can be applied to a future purchase, service or accessories.

So, here is my link, which you are welcome to use to purchase what is arguably the best car in the world:

Click here for $1,000 off the price of a Model S

Here is more from Musk's email:

"Besides word of mouth, another way that our cars are sold is through stores. These will always be important to allow people to check out new models and ask our product specialists detailed questions.
"However, stores are quite expensive to set up and operate. In reviewing the Tesla cost of sales, we found that it is approximately $2,000 to sell a car through our stores, higher in some regions and lower in others.
"Both ways of reaching potential customers are important, but, if we can amplify word of mouth, then we don’t need to open as many new stores in the future.
"So, we are going to try an experiment. This is similar to the customer growth program that I worked on at PayPal/ back in ’99. What worked for PayPal may not work for Tesla, but it is worth trying, as the net result would be lowering our costs by $2,000, allowing us to give that money to our customers.
"From now through October 31st, if someone buys a new Model S through your link (, they will get $1,000 off the purchase price and you will get a $1,000 credit in your Tesla account, which can be applied to a future car purchase, service charge or accessories. To put some limits on the experiment, each Tesla owner can grant a maximum of ten $1,000 discounts.
"Just for fun, there will also be some things that money can't buy. If five of your friends order a Model S, you and a guest will receive an invitation to tour the Gigafactory in Nevada – the world’s biggest factory by footprint – and attend the grand opening party. This will be awesome.
"At ten orders, you get the right to purchase a Founder Series Model X, which is not available to the public, with all options free (value of about $25,000). The first person to reach ten will get the entire car for free."

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Porsche names a new car after a pancake, suggesting it hopes to flatten competition

Is a Pajun a planned Porsche or a Korean pancake? At So Gong Dong, a popular tofu restaurant in Palisades Park, N.J., the Haemool Pajun is a grilled rice-flour pancake filled with squid and scallions, above, served with a soy-based dipping sauce.
The Porsche Pajun, a concept for a smaller Panamera or Panamera (Pa) Junior (jun).


I'm not holding my breath for an all-electric Porsche sedan that is being hyped as having enough range to take on Tesla's Model S.

The soonest the car will be produced, according to prognosticators, is 2017.

The concept is a four-door hatchback like the Model S, but smaller than a Panamera, hence the nickname, "Pajun."

Steve Siler of the Car and Driver Blog winks:

"PA-namera JUN-ior, get it?"

Pajun also is a Korean rice-flour pancake.

This wouldn't be the first auto-culinary reference from Porsche, which produces the Cayenne SUV.

A compact version of Cayenne, called Macan, is now available, so the Panamera appears to be next for a downsizing.

The Pajun -- if that is the official name -- also would be the first purely electric road car from the German manufacturer.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

How smart is such a small car on roads dominated by huge, gas-guzzling SUVs?

An electric-drive smart or Smart car plugged in at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center on Wednesday afternoon, above and below.


As a onetime newspaper copy editor, my biggest question about a mini-car called smart is why it's often written with a lower-case "S."

Does this automotive small fry with so-so mileage from a 1-liter, three-cylinder engine -- less efficient than most hybrids -- have an inferiority complex?

The tiny two-seater is "engineered with Mercedes-Benz," according to the Web site, and sold by Mercedes dealers.

The size of the car doesn't give me too much confidence in a world dominated by enormous, gas-guzzling SUVs that are usually driven way over the speed limit, including those from Mercedes, Land Rover, GM and Porsche.

This tiny car's passenger compartment is called a "safety cell," which was inspired by "race-car roll cages." 

That's great. Now, when I see a smart or Smart on the road, I'll recall all the racing cars I've watched doing barrel rolls.

The electric-drive version has an MSRP of $20,740.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Just how much does it cost to charge a Tesla Model S or other all-electric car?

In a garage in Englewood, N.J., the low-slung Tesla Model S seems small next to a midsize Mercedes-Benz SUV.


The Tesla Model S is many things to many owners, and when you're retired and don't drive as much as you once did, it's likely the cleanest, most efficient luxury car around.

On Wednesday, I had errands in Englewood. N.J. -- a 12-mile round-trip from my home -- and according to my emissions-free Tesla Model S, used 4 kilowatt hours of energy.

On the instrument panel, "Since last charge" tells you how far you've traveled and how much energy that took.

I charged the car overnight with a 240-volt socket in my garage, paying Public Service Electric and Gas Co. about 12 cents per kilowatt hour, but the utility also exacts a delivery charge -- for a total of about $1 for my round-trip to Englewood.

Solar panel factor

I've had my Model S since mid-April, and the one long trip we took -- to Montreal for the International Jazz Festival -- benefited from free charging near Albany, N.Y.; in Vergennes, Vt., and at the Tesla dealer in the French Canadian city.

At home, more than 60 solar panels on the roof generate solar credits that I can sell to my utility through a middleman.

The solar credits once were worth a lot more than now, but I still receive about $1,000 to $1,200 a year from their sale to PSE&G.

Since 2009, when the first set of panels were installed, I've also been able to write off their cost on my federal taxes.

So, taking all of that into account, I may be paying nothing to charge my Model S.

At the Basin Harbor Club, a resort on Lake Champlain in Vergennes, Vt., I charged my Model S at no cost on June 27 for the final leg of our trip to the International Jazz Festival in Montreal.

At Tesla Montreal, I charged the Model S at a free Supercharger, and enjoyed an espresso in the lounge. That charge left me with enough range on July 6 to reach the Vermont resort where we stayed overnight as my car got another free charge, before completing the trip to New Jersey. I also bought a lined Tesla Men's New Corp jacket for $100.26 Canadian after a 20% owner discount, and charged it to a Visa card. I was billed for $81.49 U.S.
In the garage of the Complexe Desjardins, an enclosed shopping center under my hotel in Montreal. I drove the Model S to a lower parking level, where the nice people at Auto Bella charge $20 Canadian ($15.96 U.S.) for a hand wash and interior cleaning and vacuuming (closed on weekends).

Thursday, July 9, 2015

On vacation in the Model S: A 'faster' Tesla Supercharger shortens our return trip

On our return to New Jersey on Tuesday, we stopped at the Colonie Center, above, a mall outside Albany, N.Y., to charge our Tesla Model S 60 for the third and final leg of the trip. My Tesla app reported a charge rate of 221 miles per hour -- much faster than another Supercharger we used when we stopped at the same mall on the way to a Montreal vacation. 


Not all Tesla Superchargers are created equal.

At the Colonie Center, a mall outside Albany, N.Y., we used two of the six free Superchargers on our vacation, and found one dramatically slower than the other.

On June 27, on the way to Montreal, the initial charge rate of the Supercharger I used was only 84 miles per hour, according to the Tesla app on my smart phone.

On Tuesday, on the way home to New Jersey, the Supercharger I used was blindingly fast at an initial charge rate of 221 miles per hour.

Both Superchargers slowed during the time I was plugged in.

But on Tuesday, we left the Colonie Center in under 45 minutes -- including 30 minutes for the charge and the rest to have soup, brown rice and coffee at the nearby Whole Foods Market, and use the bathroom.

That was about half of the time we spent at the same mall on the way to Montreal.

At Whole Foods Market in Colonie, N.Y., I combined two soups -- Vegan Mushroom Barley and Vegetarian Split Pea -- in the same 16-ounce cup for $5.99. A smaller cup of brown rice was $3.99 ($8.49 a pound).

My wife tried a free sample of spicy sausage in a bun at Whole Foods.

On Monday morning, as we headed for the Basin Harbor Club in Vergennes, Vt., we found ourselves behind a Cabot Cheese truck on two-lane roads, and passed dairy farms where cattle were grazing.

Roads less traveled

On our vacation, which ended Tuesday evening, we didn't avoid interstate highways completely, but managed to miss crowded service areas and their long and smelly bathroom and gas-pump lines.

After we left the Basin Harbor Club in Vergennes, Vt., where we stayed overnight and charged our Model S, we rolled through small towns and past one dairy farm after another on Route 22 south.

Then, we headed west on another two-lane road, Route 4 into New York State, and took that to the Thruway and the village of Colonie, N.Y., where we charged the car for the final leg of our 360-mile trip.


Basin Harbor Club, 4800 Basin Harbor Road, Vergennes, Vt.; 1-800-622-4000. Two Tesla Connectors available 24/7.

Find Tesla's Destination Charging Network here:

Destination Charging at hotels, resorts and malls

The imposing library in Swanton, Vt.
The U.S.-Canadian border.

We had to call Tesla Motors in Paramus, N.J., to find out how to turn off Range Assurance, the navigation tool that doesn't allow Tesla owners to run out of range on long trips by routing them via Superchargers. When we tried to leave Montreal on Monday morning, above, the navigation system tried to send us to the Tesla dealer to charge the car, even though I knew we had enough range to reach our first stop in Vermont.

On Monday morning, our buffet breakfast at the Hyatt Regency Montreal, the headquarters hotel for the International Jazz Festival, included a made-to-order vegetable-and-cheese omelet with skin-on potatoes and French green and white beans.

Saveur, the restaurant in the Hyatt Regency Montreal where the buffet breakfast is served.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Here is a beautiful spot in green Vermont where you can recharge your batteries, too

A man and his dog miraculously standing on water at the Basin Harbor Club, an upscale resort on Lake Champlain in northwestern Vermont, where you can charge a Tesla Model S as well as recharge your own batteries.

On Monday and Tuesday, unusually high water in Basin Harbor allowed the man shown above and his best friend to walk out on a submerged dock.


On the way home from the jazz festival in Montreal, I engaged in the sport of passing slower-moving vehicles on winding, two-lane country roads; went for a refreshing boat ride and capped the day with a five-course gourmet dinner.

Our destination was the 700-acre Basin Harbor Club on Lake Champlain in Vermont, where we stayed overnight.

I plugged in our Tesla Model S 60 (208-mile range), and recharged our own batteries with picture-postcard views, great food and wine, and an abbreviated nature walk (we didn't pack insect repellent).

Tesla Motors calls the Model S a premium electric car, so it's fitting its Connectors are available at a premium resort, where the kitchen uses naturally grown or raised produce, meat and cheese from Vermont farms.

At the Basin Harbor Club, one of the two Connectors installed by Tesla Motors in 2014 doesn't come with a reserved paved parking space, as the ruts in the grass left by my Model S 60 attest, above and below. This Connector charges at the rate of about 30 miles per hour.

On Monday night, we stayed in the Homestead Building (circa 1792), near the Tesla Connector, in an updated room with two canopy beds and an unusually large bathroom, below, and had a five-course dinner at a table with a view of the harbor and lake.

Our first course at dinner was a small bowl of Fresh Food Farm Gazpacho nestled in ice.

I followed with a Summer Root Vegetable Salad, served with sinfully rich Vermont Chevre, in a Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette.

My wife had the Bella Farm Mesclun Salad in a Tarragon Vinaigrette.

I also had an appetizer of Sous-Vide Diver Scallops with Crisp Parsnips, made without butter.

My entree of Grilled Ahi Tuna Steak was served with Garden Fresh Pesto, Green Peas and a Baked Potato, but I asked the kitchen to hold the Truffled Brown Butter Foam.

For an entree, my wife chose Braised Vermont Lamb Shoulder with Fried Artichoke Hearts and Navy Bean Cassoulet.

My dessert was Slow Roasted Strawberries.

We had three large glasses of wine, including this delicious pinot noir from California ($8).

At dinner in the Main Dining Room at the Basin Harbor Club, jackets are required for men and boys over 12, and no denim is permitted.

A hostess brought a selection of house jackets for this man and his son. My safari jacket also didn't make the cut, and I was asked to put on a house sport jacket before we were seated.

Basin Harbor Club also has many cottages that can accommodate multi-generational families.

After a huge buffet breakfast on Tuesday, we walked past this beautiful flower bed as three gardeners were working there.
We arrived at the Basin Harbor Club on Monday afternoon just in time to take a 2:30 boat ride on Lake Champlain, where we gawked at a rock formation and waterfall on the New York State side called the Palisades, below.

Our guide also took us to view (with a mobile underwater camera) what is left of the Champlain, a passenger steamboat that ran aground on the rocks in 1875 near the Palisades, and became a "popular tourist attraction." 

The Champlain was "lavishly furnished."


Basin Harbor Club, 4800 Basin Harbor Road, Vergennes, Vt.; 1-800-622-4000. Golf course.

Web site: Upscale, Tesla-friendly lake resort

Two Tesla Connectors and other EV charging available 24/7 to guests who stop for lunch or stay overnight.

Our room cost $200 a night, and we paid another $120 for a meal plan that included a five-course gourmet dinner and a buffet breakfast with made-to-order omelets for two.

That was exclusive of wine, a mandatory 18% gratuity on food and wine in the dining room,  and a room tax.

The boat ride to the wreck of the steamer Champlain cost about $21 per person.