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Tesla Provides Update on “Powertrain 1.5”

Tesla Motors CTO JB Straubel has posted an engineering update on the company’s work on “powertrain 1.5”—an improved motor to handle higher current and torque; an improved inverter to deliver higher motor current; and a single-speed gearbox designed to replace its problematic two-speed transmission—on the company’s website.

Initial production deployment of the new powertrain is targeted for around vehicle #41 later this year.

We also have a Roadster with a prototype 1.5 powertrain that we are now driving regularly. The higher torque is really phenomenal. I have many hours behind the wheel of the 1.0 powertrain and this is simply much better. The motor torque is improved by a bit more than 30% beyond what was already great and the ¼ mile time for the car is now in the 12.9 second range. The top speed of the vehicle remains over 120 mph.

—JB Straubel

In addition to the improved motor, inverter and transmission, the new powertrain includes upgrades to the vehicle firmware and a new motor to gearbox coupler. There have been no changes to the battery pack.

According to Straubel, Tesla’s upcoming sedan project will also use a single speed gearbox that will be very similar to the new gearbox in powertrain 1.5, re-using most of the internal components and designs.

That is how we can accelerate the sedan project by leveraging this work.

—JB Straubel



It's ironic an EV was sidelined for so long by a 2-speed gearbox. Their workaround sounds good, hope they can start filling those orders and proving the bashers wrong.


Again, I hope we don't go down the road of power over efficiency.


After reading their lengthy explanation of how they went about fixing the trans. issue, I give Tesla a lot of credit for taking the "best solution" method of addressing the problem vs. the "just get it done as quick and cheap as possible" approach. For the Tesla condemners, hindsight is always 20/20.


Induction motors are the oldest technology around - EVEN older than IC engines, and gears were invented way back when. So can someone tell me what's so 'innovative' and 'eye-popping' about this technology, when pretty much everyone else have moved away from them to use permanent magnet devices (Toyota, Honda, GM, Ford - you name it).

And all the blah-blah about system optimization? That's standard engineering practice - may be novelty for non-electrical engineers, but pretty standard stuff. In fact, if the system was designed and architected right, this wouldn't even be called an 'improvement' (it's like Microsoft releasing a bug-fix and making a big deal of it as a new release!!)

Power Electronics and motor control? There has been hardly any new, pioneering inventions for the last 40 years, except in semiconductor design, cooling and manufacturing - the systems have remained the same, only improved in their capability, riding the Moore's Law.

So, someone please tell me what is so groundbreaking about this? Just because it comes from the San Francisco bay area and is venture-funded, it's new and innovative? Give me a break!!

Tesla should just keep their mouths shut and deliver, as they have nothing new to offer in terms of technology. Business model - may be - yet to be proven.


OK - Faraday invents the rotating machine concept in - get this - 1831.

Nicola Tesla (hence the name of this company) invents the induction motor - in 1893


carnut, like most indefatigably negative people, you have no solutions to offer nor probably any achievements of your own, which is why you seek to heap derision on other people who are actually trying to achieve something, and believe me a mass-market EV sports car IS a genuine innovation, whether you say so or not. so please, keep your value-free carping and trite observations reserved for whatever sycophants or hangers-on are drawn to your negativity like moths to a flame.

so what is your point? perhaps some of the underlying platform technology was invented long ago, but so what? who else out there is even close to launchin an EV with over 200 miles in range? whats innovative is the package, focus, timing, innitiative, etc etc. I suppose you would be much more impressed if they were using an atni gravity machine, less so if it was flubber.


My point is exactly what I said. I just wouldn't call it 'innovative'. iPhone is innovative, Prius was. Not this one. There were EVs *before* ICE cars!

It looks sexy, is aspirational (most like the concept of it, but few can afford) and will perhaps have some 'traction' - just not a long-term viable business case.

Hey - if you like it and can afford it, buy it. I'm not here to troll or excite hate mail. Argue on substance!!

I'm secure enough with my achievements to fall into personal attack baits.

I know exactly what Tesla folks are up to - reinventing the wheel -. Personally, I consider myself somewhat qualified to speak on the topic as I have pretty much worked on the bleeding edge of all aspects - technical, commercial, strategy, planning and policy - for the last 15 years around EVs and HEVs and underlying propulsion technologies - hands-on.

We can agree to disagree. I thought this was a forum to exercise respectful, idea-exchange, but may be I'm mistaken.


Tesla EV is not innovative because it uses an ACIM?

iPhone on the other hand is innovative...because of what? The iPhone uses all off the shelf components internally that have "been around" [I'm not just trying to be facetious as you were by trying to say semiconductors were developed more than 50 years ago but the actual silicon, the chips used, are nothing special in a iPhone].

To me the iphone is solely innovative on the packaging, marketing and software ---- precisely what Tesla is trying to sell you on (well, not so much the software).


Hey just one second here... I may not know much (lurker most of the time) but I'm here to learn, and when people scare away curious people like carnut it really hurts. I came here to learn, not to see name calling and fights, carnut you sounds expeirenced but other people who are probably new to the scene has the excerise their way of thinking is absoulutely right! Just don't forget people like me who depend on people like you to improve my skills so i can help those who are family to me.

So don't run away yet! I can see how the logic of "getting it right the first time" so that news items like this wouldn't be discussed. Microsoft screwed up with vista, and now sp1 vista (which I used up until windows 64 bit xp) is crazy good (in terms of computer feel and functionally... if a right click takes longer than 3 seconds then Houston... we have a problem) even though I remember how bad vanilla vista was!!!

Since people believe in designing a ev, the controller (software) is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle right next to batteries, and is often a part greatly underfunded by their enthusiasts.

While for others, a EV to finally smoke the gas guzzlers (why the hell would you object!!).

Its good to be in the middle.


Typical want-a-be technical guy who is brain dead when it comes to Sales, Marketing and Product Promotion.


I happen to agree with Camut about Tesla. The Roadster is a slightly modified Lotus Exige fitted with the Tzero drive train. Same AC induction motor, same 6831 LiCoO2 cells. The only thing Tesla changed was to use a 2-speed gearbox for higher top end, and now they've scrapped that.

I don't mean this as criticism. Innovation is vastly overrated. Why reinvent the wheel? It's easy to create an innovative but unsuccessful EV, very hard to sweat the details and make one people will line up to buy. I happen to think PHEVs are the future, but I salute Tesla's effort and wish them well.

But how is the IPhone innovative? Well integrated and slickly marketed, certainly, but there's very little new there. IPod was much the same -- years behind other music players with unimpressive tech specs. Apple worked extremely hard on the UI, though, and put all their muscle into the launch. They took over a fragmented market almost overnight and expanded that market ten fold. It was amazing to watch.

The Prius drivetrain was invented and patented by TRW in the 1970s. The "only thing" Toyota did was make it work in the real world. Of course that's 90% of the battle. Success is more a matter of execution than innovation.


Doggydogworld - you hit it on the head. Execution - that's the word. This is what I was trying to say to Tesla - rather than crow about how wonderful the torque delivery is from between two century and 40 year old technology, just shut up and deliver and let the customers decide whether they agree that it's a great value for 70 big ones.

For the Apple haters (and while I like to look at their products, I don't much care for their products as I am not their target demographic) who don't like iPhone or iPod - you are entitled to your view.

However, where Apple (and Toyota, for that matter) excels is in their ability to deliver a flawless customer experience, which is what counts.

Again, experience is a subjective thing as one person's positives can be another's negatives, but on the whole, a vast majority of people were delighted and excited enough to pay large price premium (For example, Apple's gross margins for new products are about 50%, which is phenomenal for consumer electronics, and even more in computing industry, where the parts are all commodities as someone correctly pointed out).

As for Tesla, they have proven several times (and often admitted publicly) that they can't execute. Again, whoever wants to buy their products will be more than welcome by Tesla to buy them!

I wish Tesla luck to continue to burnish their business case, but won't be surprised if the VCs eventually decide to pull the plug.

IMHO, a smarter guy is Shai Agassi (Disclaimer- I have no dealings wiht project better place), who is working with Nissan to essentially try to promote the same technology but with an entirely different and innovative business model.

Again, the proof is in the pudding, but I'd put more stock in whatever he is up to, as his automotive partners, Nissan/Renault, know how to make cars (as against Tesla, who have been learning on the VC's dime, and slowly at that!).

This is just one person's opinion and nothing personal to any of the fellow readers.

i still dont get the trashing of tesla by carnut. Tesla, and its investors, took a leading postion in trying to re-establish the viability of a fully elelctric car. ad while they are having some teething probelms, they shoud be aplauded, not chastized for taking the risk. They have kick started a global rush by the other auto companies to address the emerging demand for an EV.

and BTW, when it comes to innovation, the VAST majority of R&D spend today is on D, not R. In fact, if you look at all of the major players in technology, their spend is all about D. *Development* of exiting technology. That means re-packaging, new integration, fast response to competitive products, improved cycle speed, etc. etc. only a small fraction of $$ spent goes to pure Research.

So, is Telsa on the leading edge of Research?? absolutely not. they are innovative because they are developing and combining and refining existing technology to meet a new market need - that being for fully elelctric cars.

As for the Hype, how is more guilty of hype in the auto industry??? Tesla would be way down the list of perps.


This is what I was trying to say to Tesla - rather than crow about how wonderful the torque delivery is from between two century and 40 year old technology, just shut up and deliver

Well, crowing about the technology is part of execution. That's partly how Apple gets people to pay those hefty price premiums. But I agree Tesla stumbled and needs to back up their claims by shipping cars.

We'll see about Shai Agassi. His scheme requires lots of capital and infrastructure. It might make sense for places such as islands (and Israel is an island in the geopolitical sense). For most regions I think PHEVs are vastly superior. Time will tell.

A new wave of battery technology is hitting just as oil prices spike, making conditions ripe for electric drive. Agassi's Project Better Place, Tesla's Roadster and WhiteStar, GM's Volt, Aptera's whatever-they-call it and Mitsubishi's i-Miev all represent different visions of electric drive. Ten years from now we'll look back at most of these and say "WHAT were they THINKING?" But today it's impossible to know for sure who will win.



way things are shaping up each of the makers you mention will probably (barring giant missteps) do okay. There is a market for high and low end EVs and the first players in each will grab a good share.

I want to add my support to Tesla and team for leading the way to proving a viable EV can be made with off shelf technology. Innovation need not be invention. It is enough to see the need for alternative energy resource vehicles and build one. Recall that until Tesla, most of the majors were telling us of the 10-20 year wait for fuel cell EVs. Fortunately the Tesla group put up the cash required to build the LiIo pack and assemble the parts for a roadster. Credit where it's due. These guys built something while everyone else (including Toyota) hung back playing safe. Taking the risk and leading is innovative enough.


First off, without Tesla I question how many of these other companies would be doing what they are to the extent they are, Nissan included. I'm displeased with how long it's taken them to get things right, but at least they're not releasing an unreliable deathtrap and screwing up the EV movement.

Further, Apple is criticized or praised, depending who's talking, for taking technology that's been around and making it work beautifully in lieu of innovating something brand new. It works so well that it seems innovative. Apple's UI is Tesla's motor and body. Just look at other EV's.

I see the Tesla Roadster as still being in Beta. When Apple first switched to Intel, many of thier early Macbook Pros suffered problems. Looks like Tesla's going through some similar problems. This seems to be common in the computer field, I don't know about the auto industry, but I doubt it. Probably a cultural difference that needs to be resolved.


@ carnut:

This new inverter and motor are not just a bug fix, but part of evolutionary development process.
Simply the technology was not available earlier.
If you listened to Tesla Town Hall Meeting at the end of Jan '08, it was said that new, stronger IGBT power modules only recently became available (to provide higher currents for high torque and remove the need for 2-speed transmission).
It's like asking "why US didn't use Tomahawk missiles in WW2". Simply technology wasn't available.
Or "Why carmakers didn't built today's cars 20 years ago".

Regarding the use of AC motor (instead of permanent magnet ones) -- many experts in the field agree that ACs are in many aspects better at high rpms, and that's what matters for high performance cars.
Permanent magnet motors are more efficient, and have more torque, at low rpm and city driving.
Most hybrid models (with el. motors you mentioned) are designed for efficiency, not for performance. The same case with Chevy Volt.
Tesla accelerates like a Porsche.
This AC motor in Tesla is not just an ordinary induction motor, like those used in HVAC where you have 18KW motor weighing 100 kg.
The one in Tesla (although developed by AC Propulsion) produces 180kW and weighs only 35 kg.
It's probably the highest power density of all non-PM motors (except possibly the Raser one, but Raser may prove to be just vaporware, it's unknown what range of rpm it can cover efficiently).

And it's not appropriate to compare computer firms with automakers.
Just compare how many automaker startups were in last 20 yrs (very few), and how many computer ones (hundreds).
Liabilities and warranties are much tougher in auto industry. A large recall (very common in auto industry) can crush a small company, and there were so many recalls.
The only significant recall that I remember (in the last 15 yrs) in PC industry was the recall of lithium batteries about 2 yrs ago. And the recall affected mostly the battery maker (Sony), not PC makers.

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