Tesla Misses Model 3 Production Target for First Quarter

In its Q1 report, Tesla touted it had “by far the most productive quarter” in its history. While that may be true, the automaker failed to meet its goal of making 2,500 copies of the Model 3 per week by the end of the quarter.

Tesla said it built 2,020 copies of the Model 3 in the past seven days. In the next seven days, Tesla only plans to make 2,000 copies. Although it ended up behind schedule, Tesla says it was able to double the weekly production rate of the Model 3 throughout the quarter by addressing bottlenecks, which involved temporarily shutting down factories to upgrade equipment.

Tesla says Model 3 production will “climb rapidly” in the coming three months. It’s sticking with its plan to make about 5,000 units a week by the conclusion of the second quarter. Then, Tesla expects things to really start picking up in the third quarter, when we should see high volumes, solid gross margin, and strong positive operating cash flow. Given Tesla’s history, we’ll believe it when we see it.

Tesla produced a total of 34,494 vehicles in the first quarter, breaking its record by a large margin, and 9,766 of these vehicles were the Model 3 sedan. The automaker says the entry-level model experienced a fourfold increase in output compared to the previous quarter.

“This is the fastest growth of any automotive company in the modern era,” Tesla says in the Q1 production and deliveries report. “If this rate of growth continues, it will exceed even that of Ford and the Model T.” Tesla also says the number of Model 3 reservations remained stable in the first quarter.

Amid slowdowns in Model 3 production, Tesla has seen its shares drop almost 18 percent since the beginning of the year. With news of the Q1 results, Tesla shares increased nearly 7 percent early Tuesday before leveling off at around a 3.4-percent increase, reports CNBC.

Despite what some experts have been predicting, Tesla says it will not need an equity or debt raise this year other than standard credit lines.

Mainstream vs. Luxury Afterword: You Get What You Pay for…Sometimes

When we were assembling the field for this four-test shootout, a representative of a luxury automaker expressed concern that we were creating a straw man scenario—in other words, we were making a testing paradigm that would set up the luxury brands to fail.

With cross-our-heart promises that no such agenda was in play, we set out to see if mainstream automakers could play in the luxury sandbox or whether luxury brands could move downmarket and conquest folks with Maserati tastes but Mazda budgets.

As you can see from the previous pages, mainstream vehicles won the overall battle, 3–1. But two of those mainstream-brand victories were by the narrowest of margins—and, depending on one’s list of wants and needs, could have swung
the other way.

For Motor Trend, our wish list for a luxury vehicle (or a vehicle priced to compete against one) is that it comes with requisite performance credentials, a comfortable ride, interior refinement, elegance of fit and finish, and a certain flair one would associate with a premium vehicle.

Several things we learned in our price-sensitive testing:

Luxury vehicles tend to value tactile and sensory elements, whether it be the effectiveness of sound-deadening materials; the action of the switches, dials, and buttons; or the overall look and feel of the vehicle design. You also get white-glove treatment at the dealership. It is the cost of entry.

However, when having to cut costs to reach a lower entry price point, the luxury brands often fall a bit short. The deletion or decontenting of items can result in frustrating compromises for someone hoping to get a steal on a base-model luxury car. It might be a tinnier stereo, cheaper leather, or a depowered engine. You get the classy badge, but you might have to bust out your wallet to add some options packages to see what all the fuss is about. And in the long term, maintenance costs tend to be pricier.

The flip side is that mainstream brands can aspire to compete against luxury models, but often times the underpinnings (which have to be priced to be affordable at much cheaper trim levels) show their proletarian roots. It might be louder inside the cabin. The ride might be choppier. And when you load up a mainstream model, a better deal might be found at the neighboring luxury dealer.

The only luxury vehicle in our tests that truly represented the upscale look and feel you would expect was the Volvo XC60. Then again, we bent the rules and allowed a pricier model to compete. Give any of these candidates another $4,000 to play with, and they would have likely shown stronger, as well.

That said, certain automakers execute the luxury premise better than others. Our testers rated the XC60 and Honda Accord as the two best vehicles of the field of eight, regardless of price.

There’s no fixed formula. Luxury can be worth it, but often it’s not if you scrimp. And although some mainstream brands aspire to create a premium experience, they can’t all fulfill the promise. There’s no substitute for actually sitting in the driver’s seat.

Tesla Misses Model 3 Production Target for First Quarter

In its Q1 report, Tesla touted it had “by far the most productive quarter” in its history. While that may be true, the automaker failed to meet its goal of making 2,500 copies of the Model 3 per week by the end of the quarter.

Tesla said it built 2,020 copies of the Model 3 in the past seven days. In the next seven days, Tesla only plans to make 2,000 copies. Although it ended up behind schedule, Tesla says it was able to double the weekly production rate of the Model 3 throughout the quarter by addressing bottlenecks, which involved temporarily shutting down factories to upgrade equipment.

Tesla says Model 3 production will “climb rapidly” in the coming three months. It’s sticking with its plan to make about 5,000 units a week by the conclusion of the second quarter. Then, Tesla expects things to really start picking up in the third quarter, when we should see high volumes, solid gross margin, and strong positive operating cash flow. Given Tesla’s history, we’ll believe it when we see it.

Tesla produced a total of 34,494 vehicles in the first quarter, breaking its record by a large margin, and 9,766 of these vehicles were the Model 3 sedan. The automaker says the entry-level model experienced a fourfold increase in output compared to the previous quarter.

 

“This is the fastest growth of any automotive company in the modern era,” Tesla says in the Q1 production and deliveries report. “If this rate of growth continues, it will exceed even that of Ford and the Model T.” Tesla also says the number of Model 3 reservations remained stable in the first quarter.

Amid slowdowns in Model 3 production, Tesla has seen its shares drop almost 18 percent since the beginning of the year. With news of the Q1 results, Tesla shares increased nearly 7 percent early Tuesday before leveling off at around a 3.4-percent increase, reports CNBC.

Despite what some experts have been predicting, Tesla says it will not need an equity or debt raise this year other than standard credit lines.

Report: New Ford Focus RS to Make 400 HP, Use Mild Hybrid System

Ford is gearing up to introduce a new generation of the Focus, and that lineup will include a more powerful Focus RS, according to a report from Autocar.

The hot hatch, arriving for 2020, will supposedly produce more than 400 hp. That’s a considerable upgrade from the standard 350 hp, or 370 hp when paired with Mountune upgrades. In addition to the current 2.3-liter turbo-four, the new model should also use a new 48-volt mild hybrid system to reduce emissions and boost power.

The 48-volt integrated starter/generator could contribute 60-70 lb-ft of torque, Autocar says. In total, torque for the new model should come in around 425 lb-ft. The increased output should improve acceleration times. We last tested a Focus RS with 350 hp hitting 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. The RS has traditionally featured a six-speed manual, but it’s possible the new model could offer a dual-clutch transmission to meet demand for automatics in China and the U.S.

When it comes to the standard Focus, we expect the new model will move upmarket. It will also likely grow in size compared to its predecessor, allowing for more passenger and cargo room.

Expect hybrid technology to proliferate throughout the Ford lineup. Ford is cutting its capital expenditures in internal combustion vehicles by one-third, investing that money instead in electrified vehicles. Some of these models will include the F-150 Hybrid, Mustang Hybrid, a battery electric small SUV, and an autonomous vehicle with a hybrid powertrain.

2018 Lamborghini Huracán Performante Put to the Test on Ignition

Get ready to go fast—really, really fast. On this new episode of Ignition presented by Tire Rack, raging bull believer Jonny Lieberman sets out to convince doubting Jethro Bovingdon that the wind-cheating Huracán Performante really is as good as Lamborghini says it is.

Remember, Lambo showed the world a Nürburgring lap time of 6:52.01, at the time a record-breaking run that was 4.99 seconds quicker than the Porsche 918 Spyder.

The plan is of course to hand the Performante over to pro driver Randy Pobst, the man who set the Big Willow lap record of 1:23.54, to see what he can make of the bright green beastie.

If the Performante can beat the 918 on Big Willow, then surely that would verify it did the deed on the ’Ring. However, before they get to the track, Bovingdon and Lieberman have a little driving to do themselves.

 

Does the Performante do the numbers? Watch and find on the 190th episode of Ignition live now on Motor Trend OnDemand.

Ford Really Wants This Focus Sedan Prototype to Be Seen

It has been about seven years since Ford redesigned the Focus, and despite receiving an update for 2015, it feels a little outdated. Past spy shots have shown that Ford is hard at work developing a new Focus, but it hasn’t been clear when the car would officially be revealed. Based on these photos, that date is probably just around the corner.

Our spy photographer caught this Focus sedan prototype on the road in Europe, and while they’re technically spy shots, it’s clear Ford wanted this car to be seen. Instead of wearing traditional camouflage, the car is covered in a bright, colorful wrap with comics. Really, we shouldn’t even call it a prototype since it’s being used as more of a marketing vehicle.

From what we can see, the new Focus is curvier and looks a little more mature than the current car, while the headlights and taillights have a more upmarket feel. Of course, it also looks a lot like the Focus hatchback that was caught completely undisguised last month.

Ford has yet to confirm an exact date for the official reveal, but we do know the new Focus won’t be shown at the New York Auto Show. Last we heard, it will get an event of its own somewhere in Europe next month.

Five-Seat Volkswagen Atlas Concept to Debut in New York

Sometimes less is more—especially if you remove a few seats for more passenger and cargo space. Volkswagen is bringing a five-passenger Atlas SUV concept to the 2018 New York auto show. Like its three-row, seven-seat sibling, the two-row SUV will also be assembled in the U.S. and rides on VW’s scalable MQB platform.

“The Atlas has built strong momentum for Volkswagen in the SUV segment, and we are excited to grow our SUV portfolio with this new, Chattanooga-assembled five-passenger SUV,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, Volkswagen President and CEO, in a statement. “We are not only committed to this market, we are committed to our U.S. manufacturing home in Chattanooga, Tennessee.”

Volkswagen says that it will invest about $340 million to bring its new five-passenger Atlas variant to market. It’s the third Volkswagen model assembled at the company’s Chattanooga factory.

The current Atlas is available with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine for the base model that delivers 235 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The optional 3.6-liter V-6 engine offers 276 hp and 266 lb-ft.

Both engines are paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, with Volkwagen’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system available as an option.

The five-passenger Atlas variant will likely offer the same engine options. Volkswagen sold 27,119 seven-passenger Atlas crossovers last year.

The concept will make its official debut at the New York auto show next week.

Source: Volkswagen

2018 Ford Mustang EcoBoost First Test: Chip On Its Shoulder

We’ve tested nearly half a dozen first-gen EcoBoost Mustangs around here, so we’re pretty familiar with how the car drives and performs. The 2018 model, a midlife refresh, has picked up a 10-speed automatic, an extra 30 lb-ft of torque, and a whole lot more attitude.

See nearly 300 images of the sixth-generation Mustang taken by Motor Trend photographers right here

To date, the EcoBoost-equipped Mustang has been a confident performer, especially equipped with the optional Performance package. In a comparison test against the turbo four-cylinder Camaro, I wrote it “can be driven as fast as its motor will carry it down a winding road with complete confidence.” Apparently, that’s too tame for the Mustang engineering team. This new car drives like it has something to prove.

It’s obvious the moment you start driving the car hard. The optional limited-slip differential locks up aggressively, and the optional summer tires don’t always have the grip to handle it. You must be careful with the throttle in tight corners; it will try to put all 350 lb-ft down at once and pop you sideways. Leave the stability control on until you’re familiar with the car because it’ll let you rotate more than you expect before it steps in. This car now requires a delicate touch. Manhandling it turns a race horse into a bucking bronco.

You can make life easier on yourself by staying away from the Sport+ and Race driving modes. Both make the throttle hyperaggressive and the steering too heavy, making it needlessly difficult to drive the car smoothly. Those modes also lock out the selectable steering settings, so you can’t customize the car to your taste. Sport or Custom modes are best but don’t let you change the firmness of the optional magnetorheological dampers, which work best in Sport+ and Race. In Sport and Custom, they leave the car underdamped and a little too bouncy for serious driving.

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The new 10-speed auto is one thing that doesn’t need fixing on the street. On our favorite roads, it was perfect. Even with its software update, the EcoBoost still runs out of breath at high rpm, but you wouldn’t know it because this transmission knows exactly how to use all its gears to keep the engine in the meat of its power. That include both shifting at the horsepower peak and downshifting under braking so you’re right at the torque peak when you’re ready to accelerate out of the corner.

Regardless of which mode you prefer or how you dial in the settings, there’s no denying the EcoBoost Mustang is damn quick on a back road once you figure out how to drive it right. It’s a sweaty-palms experience, but it’ll surprise a lot of fast cars.

This was born out at the test track, as well. At 5.3 seconds to 60 mph and 13.9 seconds in the quarter at 97.2 mph, this is the quickest EcoBoost Mustang we’ve ever tested and nicely reverses a trend we discovered and reported of EcoBoost Mustangs getting slower. Our test team found Drag Strip mode, unsurprisingly, returned the best results, though it surprisingly doesn’t have launch control. A little brake torque up to 1,500 rpm netted the best launch. If you’re curious, the last V-8 Mustang we tested hit 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and ran a 12.6-second quarter mile at 115.1 mph.

We’ve long praised the EcoBoost Mustang’s braking for being stronger and more precise than you’d expect in what is now the base model, and this one is no exception. Its stop from 60 mph in 106 feet is right on par with its predecessors.

Things didn’t go so well in our handling tests, though. Pulling 0.96 g on the skidpad and lapping the figure eight in 25.1 seconds at 0.75 g average, it did about as well as the last EcoBoost with an automatic transmission we tested. Thing is, it’s significantly slower and pulling a lot less g than the best EcoBoost Mustang we’ve tested, and it’s not just the numbers. The test team reports things started out all right, with great braking, good road holding, and strong traction coming off the corners, but the laps were still nearly a second off the pace. Going for another try, everything “went pear-shaped,” as the notes have it. “Times did not improve, and the transmission started really hiccupping,” our test team wrote. “A couple of times, after pulling the paddle for a downshift, it literally freewheeled, no throttle response, as if it was in neutral. Then it popped into second and the revs jumped (no matched revving), and it totally upset the car. Also, I don’t think the LSD was working properly because going to throttle at the same rate in the same place spun the car once—a really slow-mo spin, but still it was a surprise.” No doubt, our Figure Eight test is very hard on cars, but these sorts of things don’t usually happen.

The test team’s notes end with, “Feels like a good eight-tenths car, but ask ten-tenths and it won’t like it.” Which, really, kind of jibes with our road impressions. Although we had no mechanical issues on the road, the car did not like to be driven to within an inch of its capability. My own notes read, verbatim: “This thing grabs you by the collar and screams in your face, ‘I’m sporty, mother******!’ It’s like trying to wheel a classic Mustang hard. You’ve gotta know what you’re doing.”

2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS 450, CLS 53 Review: Mercedes Maintains the Magic

Sunny Spain, with its winding roads up the serrated Montserrat mountains surrounding Barcelona, was a perfect place to gauge the latest Mercedes-Benz CLS. It’s a chance to sample the four-door coupe’s performance and handling, appreciate the exhaust notes from the new inline-six, and welcome an expanded lineup that now includes the first Mercedes-AMG CLS 53. A short rain shower seemed cued up to showcase the all-wheel-drive system, as well.

It was an opportunity to see if the third-generation CLS can hold court in the segment it created when it showed the first concept at the Frankfurt auto show back in 2003. Despite the apparent contradiction of the idea of a “four-door coupe,” since then, the world has become enamored with the idea of coupelike lines overlaid on sedan structure. The body style has resonated with 375,000 CLS buyers around the world and has spurred competitors to create their own four-door fastbacks. Mercedes even trumped itself at this year’s Geneva auto show, where it unveiled the even sexier Mercedes-AMG GT four-door coupe.

But the German carmaker has not forgotten that the CLS started it all. For the 2019 model year, the CLS family gets a new and cleaner design, new engine portfolio, and hybridization with a new 48-volt system that the automaker sees as a crucial next step in an automotive world that is becoming increasingly electrified.

At launch there are new 3.0-liter inline-six engines: a gasoline and a diesel. The U.S. only gets the gasoline version, which generates 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque in the CLS 450 but which also has the EQ Boost mild-hybrid system and 48-volt electrical system.

After launch, Mercedes is adding a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine with a belt-driven starter alternator and 48-volt system—but it is not for the U.S., either. There are no specs yet, but officials say it will produce more than 300 hp.

The CLS 53 ups the performance to 429 hp and 384 lb-ft out of the I-6 by adding a twin-scroll turbocharger and an electric auxiliary compressor that builds boost until the turbocharger kicks in. Voila, no turbo lag. Acceleration is not neck-snapping but it is quick for a two-ton sedan: Mercedes claims it will do 0–60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Smooth, too.

For the CLS 450, Mercedes combines the starter and a generator in an electric motor positioned between the engine and transmission. The extra 22 hp and 184 lb-ft helps ensure power is at the ready and eliminates any lag before the twin-scroll turbocharger kicks in. The electric supercharger in the CLS 53 makes it even quicker off the mark, but again the power delivery is very linear. The other advantage is a seamless start/stop—we never felt the engine turn on or off—and the ability to “sail” when the engine disconnects from the transmission and coasts.

By the Numbers: Jaguar XF Wagon vs. F-Pace SUV

Jaguar’s decision to add a crossover to its lineup may have been a little controversial, but it’s hard to argue with the results. The F-Pace S looks fantastic, makes plenty of power, sounds wonderful, and handles more like a car than an SUV. But Jaguar also recently decided to bring the gorgeous XF Sportbrake S to the U.S., setting up an interesting comparison. If you’re looking for a practical Jaguar, should you buy the station wagon or the crossover?

Acceleration

On paper, the Jaguar XF Sportbrake S and the F-Pace S should be pretty evenly matched. Both come with all-wheel drive and get Jaguar’s supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 making 380 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. But in testing, the XF Sportbrake hit 60 mph in 5.0 seconds, 0.4 second quicker than the F-Pace S. Through the quarter mile, it was the same story. The wagon did it in 13.6 seconds at 101.9 mph, 0.3 second and 2.2 mph quicker than the crossover. We blame the F-Pace’s extra 145 pounds.

Handling

Typically, you’d expect the taller, heavier crossover to lose badly here. Our numbers suggest otherwise. On the skidpad, the XF averaged 0.85 g of lateral acceleration, while the F-Pace S averaged 0.86 g. In our figure-eight test, the F-Pace also won, finishing in 25.9 seconds at an average of 0.72 g. The XF, on the other hand, took 26.4 seconds at 0.69 g. Of course, numbers don’t tell the whole story. On the road, the wagon feels flatter and faster through the corners. You just might need stickier tires to make those differences measurable.

Interior Space

Even though the F-Pace S looks a lot larger, it isn’t necessarily more spacious in every dimension. Up front, it offers 43.0 inches of legroom, 37.8 inches of headroom, and 57.7 inches of shoulder room. Rear passengers get 37.2 inches of legroom, 37.5 inches of headroom, and 55.8 inches of shoulder room. The XF Sportbrake’s front seats, on the other hand, offer 1.5 fewer inches of legroom, 1.2 inches more headroom, and 0.6 inch less shoulder room. In the second row, legroom is a draw, and you give up nearly an inch of shoulder room, but you get an extra 1.6 inches of headroom.

Cargo Volume

With the rear seats up, the F-Pace offers 33.5 cubic feet of storage space. Drop the rear seats, and that increases to 63.5 cubic feet. Interestingly, while the XF Sportbrake only has 22.2 cubic feet of storage with its seats up, with the seats down, cargo volume increases to an F-Pace-beating 66.9 cubic feet. But before you declare it a win for the station wagon, it’s worth pointing out that the XF’s cargo opening is shorter. So while two road bikes will (barely) fit in an F-Pace, that’s not the case with the XF Sportbrake.

Fuel Economy

Since the F-Pace is larger and heavier, you wouldn’t expect it to match the XF Sportbrake’s fuel economy rating. On the highway, you’d be right. The EPA rates the XF at 25 mpg highway, 2 mpg better than the F-Pace S. Around town, however, Jaguar’s crossover is pretty evenly matched with its station wagon, with both earning a rating of 18 mpg city. That means owners should expect to only see a significant fuel economy difference if they do a lot of highway driving.

Price

Unfortunately for XF Sportbrake owners, it will take more than a few long road trips to earn back the extra money they spent getting the wagon. That’s because it starts at $71,445 including destination, approximately $10,000 more than the $60,770 it takes to buy a base F-Pace S. Sure, an entry-level XF sedan only costs a few thousand dollars more than a base F-Pace, but the extra engineering required to turn a sedan into a wagon adds cost.