Tesla had a tech talk in Boston today, which I attended. I was there from 10am until about 4pm. About 1.5 hours of group tech talk, and the rest was chit-chat with various attendees and Tesla employees. I took copious notes, recorded the 1.5 hour session (and just listened to it again to update my notes). I won't post the recording (no permission, no video for reference of what was being pointed at, difficult to hear), but here's a quick-n-dirty dump. I left out the answers to the questions where I thought most of us here already know.
Dan Myggen (my CA) did the talking / Q&A. He's based out of the Palo Alto headquarters. Also had some representation from the NY office.
I'll separate these into Roadster/generic and Model S groups
Front bumper is plastic -- softer, cheaper; CF cracks when hit hard enough
Foam, followed by CF crash zone from front to fan/radiator area
Fans/radiator for the A/C
DC/DC converter mentioned -- I mentioned I've been told this is a DC controller, and the 12V stuff is elsewhere (and also that the small "motorcycle battery" no longer powers the contactors)
Q: a/c affect range?
Q: charge times
Q: Same connector as volt?
Adapter in the works
Q: Air cooled only?
Q: roadster battery capacity?
Q: charge loss? 60-65 Kwh to charge 53Kwh (56Kwh pack, 53 usable)
Q: charge linear? Curve is half circle, start slow if 0%, max power until near full, taper off
Q: Roadster tells you your available range?
Q: partial charging hurt battery? Lots of small cycles "much much better" than a few long cycles; top it off every day; LiONs don't have memory
Q: long-term depletion higher than thought? (IPO news). 60-80% cap. After 7 years. Faster depletion up front, levels out, and increases rate again towards 6 years
Battery in roadster is 3-4 generations old (Model S 160/230 pack is 2 gen, 300 probably 1 gen old; not available at launch)
Cost of pack? Roadster is 30k today.
Battery pack assembled by hand; inspect each 18650, measure voltage, etc.
4 channel abs brake system
Hydraulic brake booster; electric vacuum pump
Noises - turning on. Battery coolant, brakes, clicks. Two contactor clicks in battery pack (NOTE: so yes, this means the current from battery is actually switched)
Battery coolant -- keep pack temp even so you have even wear of the pack (solve weakest link in chain problem)
Back of car:
Battery pack subframe is a stress member of the frame
Steel hoop for roll bar (under the CF) - meets NHRA roll bar rules
Q: how much does battery weigh
11 sheets; 99 bricks, 69 in each brick
~400 temp sensors in the battery pack
Lines from batt to PEM
PEM -charge inverter, drive inverter; IGBT's
Stator, rotor, 3 phase, 4 pole
variable frequency drive
Single pedal driving - "defining feature" (NOTE: sweet! great to see Tesla believes in this)
Synthetic brake pedal (a la Prius) = poor feedback on brake pedal
Q: horsepower? Think torque instead
Q: "Chipping" the car for more power?
Hp and torque always cross at 5250 rpm (if not, the dyno chart in question is bogus)
Gear reduction, input shaft, differential, etc. -- simple system; motor always connect to gears
Q: Battery recycling; legally can be thrown out (not toxic enough)! Work with 2 recycling groups for pickup. They pay tesla for the used batteries
Q: insurance cover batteries?
Q: roadster in snow? TC very fast to respond. Allows 2% slip rear to front
Q: impact of cold on batteries. 3 degrees C or less means no charge. What about parking lot? No regen. Tesla is thinking about it. Range impact? Heat, cold air is denser = more drag ... ; Tesla thinking about pre-trip battery warming. what to do when car isn't plugged in
Q: Solar roof? Keep battery warm?
Crash structure in back of car. NHTSA requires higher speed rear impact performance in EV (something like 35 vs 50) due to acid leak worries for lead-acid (yup, even though lead-acid isn't being used here)
Transaxle designed to split and absorb energy on significant-enough rear impact
Q: green car? Where does lithium and cobalt etc come from? Don't know but researching for model s. Are we mining from "bad countries" or devastating another? Tesla cares about this topic (limited by money and relationships to suppliers as Tesla doesn't carry enough weight with suppliers yet)
Q: scratch in paint? Repair?
Q: maintenance ? $600 yearly maint. 1 day routine. Clean PEM. Replace refrigerant.
Service van -- service many things remotely
Can download logs remotely
SOC, temp, alerts, etc. sent to Tesla on daily basis (if you enable the modem). Dan checks report daily and emails customers if they have problems.
example: In storage mode, lose power, go below 10% SOC, Dan emails customer
Q: theft? Alarm, can't hot-wire. One stolen so far (key stolen from house); another attempt made (but failed)
Better to think about battery life in terms of time spent at voltage and temperature (esp. at the extremes)
.25 drag coefficient for model s; .35 for roadster
LED headlights -- supplier sourcing issue. Model S will be HID (I think I heard that right -- don't quote me)
Q: model s charge times
Pack swap in model s; no swap stations in US, no known plans, but it's designed for it
Quick charging. Model s 230 mile quick charge STD mode 45 mins
Model S info. Target under 4k pounds. Cells stand vertical in the battery pack. Stiff structure, pack's contribution to rigidity, etc. Car doesn't roll forward under heavy braking which means better regen and traction and bigger rear brakes. ~45F/55R weight distro; 97% Aluminum; boron steel reinforcements in various areas like b-pillar
Charging maps on model s, iPhone app, etc. all big factors in the development; no firm commitments on what's going in
Hint at API for 17" screen (developer access)
Schedule 2nd qtr 2012 for first deliveries. 7000 in first year. Order today = 1st qtr 2013. First 1,000 (sig series) -- probably generally fall 2012
Lineup: alpha, beta, pre-release candidate, founder, ...
Q: Event for reservation holders? Spring? Not sure
Alphas doing cold weather testing now. Until crash test is done, no one outside tesla can drive.
Lojack? No, but modem/gps can be effective enough
17" touch screen is standard feature
No spare tire (TPMS reduces need)
Q: Special lift for model S like Roadster? not sure
Real production cars to be shown late this year
17 stores now, plan for 50 at model s launch; they realize need for stores