Tesla delays Semi truck to 2022; Cybertruck back-burnered for Model Y

Tesla is pushing the launch of its electric Semi truck program to 2022 due to supply chain challenges and the limited availability of battery cells, the company said in its second-quarter earnings report Monday.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has warned about battery supply constraints before and the effect it might have on the Tesla Semi, which was first unveiled as a prototype in November 2017. Back in January, Musk said the engineering work on the Tesla Semi had been completed and deliveries were expected to begin this year. He did add the caveat, at the time, that the availability of battery cells could limit the company’s ability to produce the Semi.

That warning was apparently warranted. From the shareholders’ letter posted today after the market closed:

We believe we remain on track to build our first Model Y vehicles in Berlin and Austin in 2021. The pace of the respective production ramps will be influenced by the successful introduction of many new product and manufacturing technologies, ongoing supply-chain-related challenges and regional permitting.

To better focus on these factories, and due to the limited availability of battery cells and global supply chain challenges, we have shifted the launch of the Semi truck program to 2022. We are also making progress on the industrialization of Cybertruck, which is currently planned for Austin production subsequent to Model Y.

While not mentioned on the call or in its earnings report, the delay follows the departure of Jerome Guillen, a critical executive at Tesla who was working on the development and eventual production of the Tesla Semi. Guillen’s resignation in June came just three months after he was moved from the president of automotive position, which included oversight of the Tesla Semi, to a role with less responsibility as head of heavy-duty trucking. Guillen had led Tesla’s entire automotive business from September 2018 until March 2021.

Meanwhile, Tesla’s Cybertruck, which is supposed to go into production in late 2021, looks like it might be pushed into next year as well. Musk didn’t answer questions, but comments from Musk as well as Tesla VP of engineering Lars Moravy during the earnings call suggest that it could shift to 2022.

Cybertruck is currently in its alpha stages of prototyping, with the basic engineering and architecture of the vehicle completed. While the Model Y takes priority, the company is moving into a beta phase of the Cybertruck later this year, Moravy said.

“We’ll be looking to ramp that in production in Texas after Model Y is up and going,” he added.

Musk leaned in on how difficult the Cybertruck would be, perhaps as a way to cushion expectations for its arrival in 2021.

“Cybertruck ramp will be difficult because it is such a new architecture,” Musk said. “It’s going to be a great product; it might be our best product ever, but it does have a lot of fundamentally new design ideas.”

He went on to make the point that he has used as other vehicles have gone from prototype to volume production: Manufacturing is hard.

“At the risk of being repetitive, it’s actually easy to make prototypes or a handful of small-volume production, but anything produced at a high volume, which is really what’s relevant here, is it’s going to move as fast as the slowest of the rough order of magnitude of 10,000 unique parts and processes.”

#automotive, #electric-vehicles, #elon-musk, #jerome-guillen, #tesla, #tesla-cybertruck, #tesla-model-s, #tesla-semi, #transportation

Tesla’s solar and energy storage business rakes in $810M, finally exceeds cost of revenue

Tesla’s primary source of revenue comes from the sale of its electric vehicles, but its latest quarterly earnings report showed growth in its energy storage and solar business.

The demand picture will get even sunnier for the division if the company can access enough chips for its energy storage products, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Tesla on Monday reported $801 million in revenue from its energy generation and storage business — which includes three main products: solar, its Powerwall storage device for homes and businesses, and its utility storage unit Megapack — but that’s just a sliver of the nearly $12 billion in total revenue. Small as it is, the division is selling more energy storage and solar. Revenue from this division grew 62% from the previous quarter and more than 116% from the same quarter in 2020. Tesla doesn’t separate solar and energy storage revenue.

More importantly, the cost of revenue for its solar and energy storage business was $781 million, meaning that for the first time the total cost of producing and distributing these energy storage products was lower than the revenue it generated. That’s good news.

As one might expect, total deployments also rose. Tesla installed 1,274 megawatt-hours of energy storage in the second quarter of 2021, a 205% increase from the same period last year. Similarly, the amount of solar energy deployed in the second quarter of this year was 85 MWh, up 214% from Q2 2020. As a side note: Tesla’s total solar and energy storage deployments were essentially flat when comparing Q2 2019 and Q2 2020 numbers, likely due to the pandemic’s general halting of business.

The important nugget is revenue growth. In 2019, Tesla reported $369 million in revenue from solar and storage. Revenue was stagnant in Q2 2020, with $370 million from that business. This quarter was more than double what Tesla brought in during the same quarters of 2019 and 2020.

What changed? Besides COVID-19, Tesla points to several Megapack projects coming online and growing popularity in its combined solar and Powerwall product. (Tesla no longer allows customers to order Powerwall without a solar installation.) According to a configurator on Tesla’s website, one Megapack is about $1.2 million before taxes. In some states, Tesla says the earliest deliveries will be in 2023.

Tesla’s energy storage business is facing headwinds, however. Musk said demand for both the Megapack and the Powerwall both exceed supply, and a backlog is growing. The company is unable to meet that demand because of the global chip shortage, he said.

Tesla uses the same chips in its Powerwall as it does in its vehicles, and Musk said vehicles are the priority while supply is low.

“As that significant shortage is alleviated, then we can massively ramp up Powerwall production,” Musk said during an earnings call. “I think we have a chance of hitting an annualized rate of a million units of Powerwall next year — maybe, on the order of 20,000 a week. Again dependent on cell supply and semiconductors. … As the world transitions to a sustainable energy production, solar and wind are intermittent, and by their nature really need battery packs in order to provide a steady flow of electricity. And when you look at all the utilities in the world, this is a vast amount of backup batteries that are needed.”

Musk said in the long term, Tesla and other suppliers would need to produce a combined 1,000 to 2,000 gigawatt-hours per year in order to keep up with energy storage demands. Musk said the company has asked its cell suppliers to double their supply in 2022, a goal that Musk caveated would be dependent on supply chain issues. The company’s current strategy is to overshoot cell supply and route it outward to its energy storage products, but as in the case of chip shortages, vehicle production would be prioritized, according to Musk.

Battery cell plans

While much of the battery cell discussion focused on its 4680 cell that is in development, Musk also touched on Tesla’s intentions to power some of its products with cheaper lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries. Specifically, he said there’s a good chance that all stationary storage could move to iron-based batteries and away from nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) and nickel-cobalt-aluminum batteries.

“I think probably will see a shift, my guess is probably to two-thirds iron, one-third nickel,” Musk said of Tesla’s plans. “And this is actually good because there’s quite a bit of iron in the world, an insane amount of iron. But there’s much less nickel and there’s way less cobalt.”

The one-third of batteries that will remain nickel-based will be used for its longer-range electric vehicles. All of its other EVs would also move to LFP batteries, which is already the case in its vehicles assembled in China.

#cars, #electricity, #elon-musk, #energy, #energy-storage, #lithium-ion-batteries, #solar-energy, #tc, #tesla-model-s

Elon Musk officially hits the brakes on Tesla Model S Plaid+

Tesla CEO Elon has made it official and publicly cancelled plans to produce the Model S Plaid+, a supercharged version of the upcoming Plaid version of the electric vehicle that will be delivered to the first customers this month.

Musk’s reason: Plaid is so good that another variant isn’t needed.

“Model S goes to Plaid speed this week,” Musk tweeted on Sunday. “Plaid+ is canceled. No need, as Plaid speed is just so good.”

Tesla Model S Plaid powertrain can go from 0 to 60mph in 1.99 seconds, has a top speed of 200 miles per hour and an estimated range of 390 miles, according to the company’s website. The powertrain produces 1,020 horsepower, and the cost of the vehicle starts at $112,990. In late May, Musk tweeted that the delivery event for the electric sedan would be pushed back until June 10 in order to finish one last tweak. Musk described driving the Plaid, which has three motors as feeling like a spaceship.

The now-canceled Plaid+ wasn’t coming to market until mid-2022. Musk had promised this version would pushed the performance and range even higher. The listed starting price also popped up to $150,000. Tesla stopped taking pre-orders for the vehicle on its website in May, prompting coverage and speculation that the Plaid+ would never come to fruition. The tweet from Musk on Sunday confirms those theories.

#elon-musk, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #tesla-model-s-plaid, #transportation

Tesla faces $163M payout to drivers in Norway following court decision

A Norwegian conciliation council has ordered Tesla to pay thousands of dollars each to Model S owners after it found that a software update led to longer charging times, the Norwegian newspaper Nettavisen reported Monday. Drivers eligible for compensation under the ruling will receive 136,000 kroner ($16,000) each.

Thirty Tesla drivers brought a complaint to the conciliation council in December 2020, citing that charging times slowed down after a software update the previous year. The poorer performance affected Tesla Model S vehicles manufactured between 2013 and 2015.

Tesla sold about 10,000 Model S vehicles during that timeframe in Norway. That means Tesla faces an overall payout of up to 1.36 kroner ($163 million), Nettavisen said.

Tesla did not respond to the complaint prior to the judgement being issued and it has until May 30 to pay the fine. The company has the opportunity to appeal the ruling to the Oslo Conciliation Board by June 17.

This is not the first time Tesla has faced complaints on charging speeds in court. A Tesla owner in 2019 filed a lawsuit against the EV manufacturer in the Northern California federal court alleging fraud and decreased battery range following a software update.

Norway leads Europe in the number of EVs on the road, with battery electric vehicles accounting for 54% of all new vehicle sales in 2020, according to the Norweigan Road Federation. Audi e-trons were the most popular vehicle sold, followed by the Model 3.

#automotive, #electric-vehicles, #lawsuit, #norway, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #transportation

Fatal Tesla Model S crash unlikely to involve Autopilot, according to NTSB

A red sedan cruises down a tree-lined highway.

Enlarge (credit: Andrei Stanescu / Getty Images)

On Monday afternoon, the National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report for its investigation into a crash of a Tesla Model S that killed the driver and passenger in Texas earlier in April. The crash made headlines because no one was found in the driver’s seat, raising suspicions that Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assistance system was involved in the deaths. This now seems unlikely—the NTSB says that video footage shows the occupants getting into the front seats of the car shortly before the crash. Additionally, the NTSB was unable to engage a component of Autopilot on the stretch of road where the crash happened.

The crash occurred on April 17 in Spring, located in Harris County, Texas. According to the NTSB report, footage from the owner’s home security system shows that the driver and a passenger entered the car at the owner’s house. They then traveled approximately 550 feet (167 m) “before departing the road on a curve, driving over the curb, and hitting a drainage culvert, a raised manhole, and a tree.” At this point, the Tesla’s lithium-ion traction battery was damaged and caught fire.

The fire also destroyed the on-board storage of the Tesla’s infotainment system, but the NTSB says it recovered a fire-damaged restraint control module that can “record data associated with vehicle speed, belt status, acceleration, and airbag deployment.” This module has been taken to the NTSB’s recorder laboratory for further testing.

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#autopilot, #bevs, #cars, #ntsb, #tesla, #tesla-model-s

Tesla mulls cars tailored to China amid mounting criticisms

Tesla is working on vehicles tailored to Chinese consumers as complaints about the quality of its electric vehicles send shock waves through the internet in the country.

The American EV giant is mulling new products that will be designed from the ground up for China, Grace Tao, a vice president at Tesla, told 21st Century Business Herald, a Chinese business news outlet, during the Shanghai auto show this week. The vehicles developed in China will also be sold globally, she added.

At the same auto event on Monday, a woman showed up at Tesla’s booth, climbing atop a Tesla car and shouting allegations of faulty brakes made by the company. The person was later detained for damaging the vehicle, and Tesla said on microblogging platform Weibo that her car had crashed due to exceeding the speed limit, not quality issues.

Nonetheless, the protestor won widespread sympathy when videos of her spread online. Many users joined in to vent about their Tesla problems. Posts with the hashtag “Tesla stand turned into a stage for defending rights” garnered over 220 million views on Weibo within two days.

“We have since the start been willing to work with national and authoritative third-party organizations to thoroughly inspect the issues raised by the public. By doing this, we wish to win assurance and understanding from consumers,” Tesla China said in a statement posted on Weibo in response to the incident.

“But we still haven’t fulfilled this wish, mainly because our ways of communicating with customers may be problematic. Secondly, we indeed can’t decide for our customers how they want to resolve these issues.”

Like in the West, Tesla has fostered a cult-like following in China. And along with Apple, it’s one of the few American tech giants that have gained a firm foothold in China. Last year, Tesla shipped nearly 500,000 vehicles globally and China contributed 20% to its revenues.

But the company also faces mounting competition from Chinese homegrown challengers. Xpeng, Nio, and Li Auto, the well-funded startups, as well as old-school carmakers, with help from high-tech firms like Huawei, are ready to take a slice of Tesla’s market. The designed-in-China vehicles are already finding a spot among the more patriotic crowds.

It doesn’t help that the Chinese government is placing more scrutiny over Tesla. In January, the firm was summoned by local regulators over quality concerns, shortly after it recalled several tens of thousands of vehicles in the country. The government restricted the use of Tesla by military facilities over national security concerns, The Wall Street Journal reported in March. Elon Musk later said his company would be shut down if its cars were used to spy.

#asia, #automotive, #battery-electric-vehicles, #brakes, #cars, #china, #electric-car, #elon-musk, #huawei, #li-auto, #shanghai, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #transportation, #xpeng

No one behind the wheel in deadly Tesla crash Saturday night, say authorities

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is opening an investigation into a crash involving a Tesla that authorities say was operating with no one behind the wheel, which left two men dead on late Saturday evening outside of Houston.

The 2019 Tesla Model S went off the road after it failed to negotiate a slight curve, local CBS-affiliate KHOU-TV reported. Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman told local reporters that the accident was unprecedented.

“Our office has never experienced a crash scene like this,” he said. “Normally, when the fire dept arrives, they have a vehicle fire under control in minutes, but this went on for close to four hours.” The long burn time was reportedly due to the electric vehicle batteries repeatedly reigniting.

More than 30,000 gallons of water were used to put out the fire. One of the victims was in the front passenger seat and the other was in the backseat, “and at the time of the accident there was no one in the [driver’s] seat,” Herman said.

Earlier on the day of the crash, Tesla CEO Elon Musk retweeted news that the company released its first-quarter 2021 safety report. “Tesla with Autopilot engaged now approaching 10 times lower chance of accident than average vehicle,” he said. Tesla describes its Autopilot as a “suite of driver assistance features” and states that it requires “active driver supervision.”

“NHTSA is aware of the tragic crash involving a Tesla vehicle outside of Houston, Texas,” an spokesperson told TechCrunch. “NHTSA has immediately launched a Special Crash Investigation team to investigate the crash. We are actively engaged with local law enforcement and Tesla to learn more about the details of the crash and will take appropriate steps when we have more information.”

TechCrunch reached out to Tesla for comment and will update the story if the company responds.

#adas, #automotive, #autopilot, #elon-musk, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #transportation

Tesla bows to pressure from NHTSA, issues recall for Models S and X

A wall of bricks with the Tesla logo superimposed on top

Enlarge / 135,000 Teslas will brick their infotainment screens within 3 or 4 years due to a design defect. NHTSA has persuaded the automaker to fix the problem through a voluntary recall. (credit: Getty Images/Jonathan Gitlin)

It’s official: Tesla has to recall almost 135,000 Models S and X electric vehicles due to a design defect that bricks the EVs’ infotainment screens within four years of driving. The recall affects Model S sedans built between 2012 and 2018 as well as Model X SUVs built between 2016 and 2018, and owners should be notified by the automaker in the month of March.

The issue, which we first covered back in November 2020, has been well-known to the Tesla owners community for some time now. The problem is caused by an 8GB eMMC NAND flash memory chip, fitted to the Media Control Unit of the brand’s Nvidia Tegra 3-powered infotainment systems. Logs are written to the flash memory every time the car is in use, which soon reaches its lifetime number of write cycles; once this limit has been reached, the touchscreen dies, taking out the legally mandated backup camera and defrost/defogging controls, as well as exterior turn signal lighting. (The problem does not affect more recent Models S or X that use Intel’s Apollo Lake processor; those models also use a 64GB eMMC.)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began a preliminary investigation into the matter in June 2020, then upgraded that to an engineering analysis in November 2020. In mid-January 2021, the regulator concluded that the loss of these functions rose to the level of being safety defects and asked Tesla to recall the vehicles. In late January, the automaker pushed back, “explaining its view that the eMMC wear condition neither constitutes a defect nor presents an unreasonable risk to safety.”

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#cars, #nhtsa, #recall, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #tesla-model-x, #tesla-recall

Tesla Model S to get comprehensive refresh, 200mph “Plaid” version

On Wednesday evening, Tesla revealed a comprehensive refresh for its Model S sedan and Model X SUV. The revised battery electric vehicles go into production in the next few weeks at the company’s factory in Fremont, California, and include brand-new interiors and some exterior styling changes, but significantly both models will get updated powertrains, including new battery packs, power electronics, and drive units. And there are also “Plaid” versions of both sedan and SUV, the former with a supercar-rivaling 0-60mph time and 200mph top speed.

First introduced in 2012, the Model S received a minor refresh—notably a new look for the front and some small tweaks on the interior—back in 2016. This time, the work has been far more radical. Unlike the Models 3 and Y, the Model S still comes with a main instrument panel in front of the driver, but like the smaller, cheaper Tesla BEVs the big infotainment screen is now in a landscape orientation. Tesla has also added wireless charging for devices, a small screen for rear passengers, and boasts “10 teraflops of processing power” for “in-car gaming on-par with today’s newest consoles,” as well as compatibility with wireless controllers.

The most visibly obvious change has to be the new steering wheel. Or rather, steering yoke. While other car makers have experimented with flat-bottomed steering wheels in the past (and even square wheels in the case of the Austin Allegro), the new Tesla controller owes more to the controls of a Boeing 747, or perhaps K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider (the original, not the mid-00s remake with a Mustang). Presumably, Tesla expects Model S owners to use the car’s automated parking feature rather than parallel parking, an activity that invariably involves rotating the steering wheel more than 360 degrees.

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#cars, #tesla-model-s, #tesla-model-x

Elon Musk says Tesla Semi is ready for production, but limited by battery cell output

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on the company’s 2020 Q4 earnings call that all engineering work is now complete on the Tesla Semi, the freight-hauling semi truck that the company is building with an all-electric powertrain. The company expects to begin deliveries of Tesla Semi this year, the company said in its Q4 earnings release, and Musk said the only thing limiting their ability to produce them now is the availability of battery cells.

“The main reason we have not accelerated new products – like for example Tesla Semi – is that we simply don’t have enough cells for it,” Musk said. “If we were to make the Semi right now, and we could easily go into production with the Semi right now, but we would not have enough cells for it.”

Musk added that the company does expect to have sufficient cell volume to meet its needs once it goes into production on its 4680 battery pack, which is a new custom cell design it created with a so-called ‘tables’ design that allows for greater energy density and therefore range.

“A Semi would use typically five times the number of cells that a car would use, but it would not sell for five times what a car would sell for, so it kind of would not make sense for us to do the Semi right now,” Musk said. “But it will absolutely make sense for us to do it as soon as we can address the cell production constraint.”

That constraint points to the same conclusion for the possibility of Tesla developing a van, Musk added, and the lifting of the constraint will likewise make it possible for Tesla to pursue the development of that category of vehicle, he said.

Tesla has big plans for “exponentially” ramping cell production, with a goal of having production capacity infrastructure in place for a Toal of 200 gigawatt hours per year by 2022, and a target of being able to actually produce around 40% of that by that year (with future process improvements generating additional gigawatt hours of cell capacity  in gradual improvements thereafter).

#automotive, #cars, #ceo, #elon-musk, #hyperloop, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #tesla-model-y, #tesla-semi, #transportation

Tesla’s touchscreen trouble: NHTSA asks for recall of Models S and X

158,000 Teslas will brick their infotainment screens within 3-4 years due to a design defect.

Enlarge / 158,000 Teslas will brick their infotainment screens within 3-4 years due to a design defect. (credit: Getty Images/Jonathan Gitlin)

In November, we learned that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had opened an engineering analysis into a potential defect with Tesla’s popular Models S and X battery electric vehicles. On Wednesday, the other shoe dropped, when NHTSA informed the American automaker that it has to recall 158,000 vehicles to fix defective touchscreens.

The problem concerns a component in the vehicles’ infotainment systems, called the Media Control Unit. Buried within the MCU is an 8GB eMMC NAND flash memory chip, which can only be written to a finite number of times. Once this number of read/write cycles is reached—something that takes between three and four years depending on how much the car is driven—the touchscreen dies. And unfortunately, that’s a real problem in a car where the touchscreen is the way almost all the controls are accessed.

Not being able to browse the Internet in your car or stream a podcast is obviously an inconvenience, especially in an high-end vehicle. But NHTSA is more concerned about the fact that if the touchscreen dies, functions like the backup camera and window defogging are lost, too, as are audible alerts for other onboard safety systems.

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#cars, #nhtsa, #tesla-mcu-recall, #tesla-model-s, #tesla-model-x

Elon Musk claims he tried selling Tesla to Apple but Tim Cook wasn’t interested

Tesla stock’s miraculously bizarre 2020 might have a gone different way had Apple’s Tim Cook agreed to a meeting in recent years, or so says Elon Musk.

Reacting to Reuters’ recent news that Apple has not abandoned its electric car program and is still pursuing plans to build a physical vehicle, Musk tweeted that in “the darkest days” of scaling Model 3 production, he reached out to Apple CEO Tim Cook and raised the possibility of the Cupertino company acquiring Tesla. Musk says that Cook refused to take the meeting.

TechCrunch has reached out to Apple for comment.

Musk’s short tweet did not clarify exactly when this timeline was, though given public information about Tesla’s Model 3 production, it was likely between 2017 and 2019. In regards to Musk’s proposed sales price, 1/10th of Tesla’s current market capitalization is about $60 billion, which isn’t too far from the stock’s public value last year before it reached stratospheric heights in recent months.

Though Tesla is now worth more than $600 billion on the public markets after joining the S&P 500 this week, most Wall Street analysts seem perplexed by the stock’s recent growth which has been owed to young and first-time investors rallying behind Tesla’s products and its CEO.

#apple, #apple-inc, #automotive, #cars, #ceo, #cupertino, #elon-musk, #hyperloop, #tesla, #tesla-model-3, #tesla-model-s, #tim-cook

Tesla says its battery innovations will deliver its goal of a $25,000 mass market electric car

Tesla held its ‘Battery Day’ event on Tuesday to discuss a variety of innovations it has developed and is pursuing in battery technology for its vehicles. At the event, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and SVP of Powertrain and Energy Engineering Drew Baglino detailed new anode and cathode technology it’s working on, as well as materials science, in-house mining operations and manufacturing improvements it’s developing to make more more affordable, sustainable batteries – and they said that taken together, these should allow them to make an electric vehicle available to consumers at the $25,000 price point.

“We’re confident we can make a very, very compelling $25,000 electric vehicle, that’s also fully autonomous,” Musk said. “And when you think about the $25,000 price point you have to consider how much less expensive it is to own an electric vehicle. So actually, it becomes even more affordable at that $25,000 price point.”

This isn’t the first time that Musk has talked about the $25,000 price point for a Tesla car: Two years ago in August 2018, he said that he believed the company would be able to reach that target price point in roughly three years. Two years on, it seems like the goal posts have been pushed out again – fairly standard for an Elon-generated timeline – since Musk and Baglino acknowledged that it would be another two or three years before the company could realize the technologies it presented in sufficient quantities to be produced effectively at scale.

Tesla detailed a new, tablets battery cell design that would help it achieve its goal of reaching 10 to 20 terawatts of global battery production capacity per year. The design offers five times the energy density of the existing cells it uses, as well as six times the power and an overall 16% improvement in range for vehicles in which it’s used.

#automotive, #battery-technology, #cars, #ceo, #electric-vehicle, #elon-musk, #greentech, #hyperloop, #svp, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #the-boring-company, #transport

Elon Musk says Tesla will ‘one day’ produce ‘super efficient home HVAC’ with HEPA filtering

Elon Musk has previously touted the ‘Bioweapon Defense Mode’ boasted by Tesla’s vehicles, which are designed to provide excellent air quality inside the car even in the face of disastrous conditions without, thanks in part to high-efficiency HEPA air filtration. Now, Musk has said on Twitter that he hopes to one day provide similar air filtration along with home HVAC systems.

Tesla, while primarily an automaker, is also already in the business of home energy and power generation, thanks to its acquisition of SolarCity, its current production of solar roofing products, and its business building Tesla batteries for storage of power generated from green sources at home. While it hasn’t yet seemed to make any moves to enter into any other parts of home building or infrastructure, HVAC systems actually would be a logical extension of its business, since they represent a significant part of the overall energy consumption of a home, depending on its heating and cooling sources.

Boosting home HVAC efficiency would have the added benefit of making Tesla’s other home energy products more appealing to consumers, since it would presumably help make it easier to achieve true off-grid (or near off-grid) self-sufficiency.

As for the company’s HEPA filtration, despite the jokey name, Tesla actually takes ‘Bioweapon Defense Mode’ very seriously. In a blog post in 2016, it detailed what went into the system’s design, along with testing data to back up its claims of a HEPA filter that’s “ten times more efficient than standard automotive filters.” While Tesla doesn’t cited wildfires in that post, it does list “California freeways during rush hour, smelly marshes, cow pastures in the Central Valley of California, and major cities in China” in terms of challenges it wanted it to to be able to handle.

Many experts are predicting that the wildfires we’re currently seeing devastating large portions of the west coast of the U.S. will only get worse as environmental conditions continue to suffer the impact of climate change. Given that, and given Tesla’s larger business goals of offering a range of products that neutralize or reduce the ecological impact of its customers, more efficient and effective home HVAC products don’t seem that far outside its operational expertise.

#articles, #california, #china, #elon-musk, #greentech, #hardware, #health, #solar-city, #solarcity, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #united-states, #west-coast

Radio Flyer teams up with Tesla to launch a tyke-sized Tesla Model Y

If, like me, you can’t afford a full-sized Tesla because your life has been a series of bad investments (one day my early Fyre Festival backing will pay off) then Radio Flyer’s newest product might be just the thing for you. It’s a scaled down Model Y, designed for use by kids aged 18 months to four years old – but I can play pretend and yell ‘vroooommm’ just as well, if not better, than they can.

Dubbed ‘My First Model Y,’ this is a collaborative effort between the Tesla Design Studio and Radio Flyer’s product team. It’s a ride-on version, which is not true of the standard Model Y, and it includes a honking horn, as well as black induction wheels (an upgrade option on the real car) and a functional steering wheel, with a price point of $99. There’s only one trim level.

Unlike the first collaboration between Radio Flyer and Tesla, the Tesla Model S for Kids, this one doesn’t have a built-in battery – it requires kid power to function. That means a lot more affordability, and makes it suitable for much younger kids.

I might pick up one of these instead of just continuing to scrawl “Tesla” in block letters on the rear window of my 1998 Toyota Camry in grease pencil.

#automotive, #cars, #radio-flyer, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-model-s

The Hummer EV is shaping up to be GM’s electric answer to the Ford Bronco and Tesla Cybertruck

The video below contains the first glimpse at the upcoming electric GMC Hummer. The preview video is short, full of nonsense buzzwords, but still telling. It’s clear GM identified two main competitors against the upcoming Hummer: The Ford Bronco and Tesla Cybertruck.

The Hummer EV was announced pre-COVID 19 during the Super Bowl. At the time, GM promised it would feature 1,000 HP from the electric powertrain. Since then, little has been released about the upcoming vehicle, though GM maintains it’s still on track for production in the fall of 2021.

The video released today sports a handful of expected features and capabilities. Interestingly enough, these features are on both sides of the motoring spectrum. If categorized, they fall into two groups: on-road thrills and off-roading adventure. The video paints a clear picture: GM is targeting the Hummer EV against the Tesla Cybertruck and the Ford Bronco — both vehicles that are getting a lot of attention because of their capabilities and design.

For positioning against the Cybertruck, GM is touting the Hummer EV’s power of 1,000 HP and 11,500 lb-ft of torque (though this number is derived in a different fashion than usual). It’s also saying the massive truck can hit 60 mph in 3 seconds, which is in the same realm as the top sports cars. Lastly, the video teaser stated the Hummer EV has an Adrenaline Mode, which is easy to assume is similar to Tesla’s Ludicrous mode, along with improved self-driving capability.

For the Bronco, GM is showing the Hummer EV’s off-roading features, including a so-called Open Air Infinity Roof and Modular Sky Panels, which is likely similar to the Bronco’s expansive removable roof. Even more telling is the Crab Mode mentioned in the video. Crab Mode is likely a high-torque rock crawling mode for when bouldering off-road. With the crazy amount of torque available, the Hummer EV will probably be able to crawl up impressive inclines.

Pricing and exact availability have yet to be announced, and the same can be said about the Tesla Cybertruck. And don’t forget about the upcoming electric Ford F-150. There’s a war of the electric pickup coming, and I’m here for it.

#cars, #ford, #ford-bronco, #gm, #gmc, #hummer, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-cybertruck, #tesla-model-s

Elon Musk says Tesla is open to licensing Autopilot, supplying powertrains and batteries to other automakers

Tesla CEO Elon Musk noted on Twitter on Tuesday night that the automaker would be “open to licensing software and supplying powertrains & batteries” to other automakers. Musk added that that would even include Autopilot, the advanced driver assistance software that Tesla offers to provide intelligent cruise control in a number of different driving scenarios.

Musk was addressing a Teslerati article about how German automakers are looking to close the technology gap between themselves and Tesla when it comes to producing EVs. Volkswagen Chairman Herbert Diess has in past comments expressed admiration for Musk and Tesla’s accomplishments on multiple occasions.

VW has created its own EV platform, which it intends to use as the base for a number of different electric cars, ranging from sport sedans to SUVs. The company is also openly pursuing licensing its MEB platform to other automakers, and struck such a deal with Ford last July for the American automaker’s European business.

Musk says that Tesla’s interest in licensing stems from its underlying goal, which is “to accelerate sustainable energy, not crush competitors” according to his tweet. This isn’t the first time the automaker has indicated a willingness to be more open in pursuit of that goal, either: In 2014, Musk penned a blog post announcing that Tesla would be making its intellectual property freely available to “anyone who, in good faith, wants to use [its] technology.”

Of course, that hasn’t stopped Tesla from taking aim at potential competitors via legal action on occasion – it filed suit against electric automaker Rivian and four of its former employees last week, alleging theft of trade secrets and poaching key talent.

A platform licensing or supplier relationship would be an entirely different arrangement, of course, and one with plenty of precedent in the automaker industry. Nor would it necessarily negatively impact Tesla’s own auto sales, since the company offers a number of other selling points above and beyond its underlying powertrain and battery tech.

At the time of Volkswagen’s announcement, the German automaker said it expects it could make up to $20 billion in revenue through the MEB deal with Ford, with a significant chunk of that coming from MEB parts and components supply. Tesla could realize similar gains but perhaps amplified globally, especially if it can ramp powertrain and battery production beyond the capacity needs of its own vehicle demand capacity.

#automotive, #battery-electric-vehicles, #ceo, #chairman, #electric-car, #elon-musk, #ford, #greentech, #hyperloop, #rivian, #sustainable-energy, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #transport, #transportation, #volkswagen

Ford takes cues from Tesla’s playbook with 1,400 HP electric Mustang Mach-E

Speed sells. When Tesla launches a new vehicle or updates an existing vehicle, the car company often leads with 0-60mph time. These numbers often outclass those from gasoline cars thanks to how electric motors deliver power. These 0-60 times are often irrelevant to daily driving, and yet, Tesla, like most automakers, sees them as a critical marketable statistic.

Ford today unveiled a special edition of its forthcoming four-door electric Mustang. It’s fast because, as mentioned above, speed sells. Seven electric motors produce a total of 1,400 HP, which to put into layman’s terms, is a shit-ton of power.

Ford doesn’t intend to sell this example. The car company says this vehicle was built to explore the limits of electric vehicle technology — and, clearly, to show it off to the public.

The upcoming Ford Mustang Mach-E will come in a performance trim called the GT. While it will only have two electric motors instead of seven, it won’t be a slouch. The two motors will produce 459 HP, which is plenty of power to thrill.

This is Ford’s second special edition Mustang Mach-E. The Mustang Cobra Jet was unveiled earlier this year, and sports 1,400 HP, but does so in a different configuration that’s primarily designed to go fast in a straight line.

These concept Mustangs build excitement from key demographics, much like how Tesla’s Insane and Ludicrous modes make excitement around its vehicles. Ford is in a tight spot with the Mustang Mach-E, and it needs to show buyers that this four-door electric vehicle is worth of the Mustang nameplate. And what are Mustangs known for? Affordable excitement.

The Mustang Mach-E is set to be Ford’s first modern electric vehicle, and so far, Ford is following a different path than General Motors when it launched its first electric vehicle, the Chevy Bolt. By all accounts, the Chevy Bolt is an excellent electric vehicle with a low price tag, decent range, and quick speed. But Chevy positioned it as a boring people mover. The Mustang Mach-E has similar people moving capacity, but Ford upped the excitement with the Mustang name and marketing the performance.

There’s an old automative adage that says says winning in races produces sales. “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” spoke of a time when NASCAR vehicles were similar to their road-worthy counterparts. That’s no longer the case. NASCAR vehicles rarely share any parts with what’s available on a dealer’s lot, but the adage is still relevant. Instead of NASCAR, automakers are looking at winning in the world of YouTube, where views are as critical as a checkered flag.

Tesla’s first vehicle was a reworked Lotus coupe. At the time, most electric cars were designed for moving people and goods. They were utilitarian. The Tesla Roadster had little utility but had a lot of excitement. From there, Tesla moved onto the Model S and quickly built out its performance capability by adding duel motors and tuning them to beat a Porsche to 60 miles per hour. When launching Tesla’s Model X SUV, the automaker often showed it beating supercars in drag races, because, once again, speed sells even if owners rarely use the power.

#car, #cars, #chevrolet, #electric-car, #ford, #ford-mustang, #general-motors, #mustang, #nascar, #porsche, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #tesla-roadster

Tesla’s big battery event and shareholder meeting tentatively set for September 15

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been hyping a potential battery day for quite a while now, and it looks like we should see it happen within the next few months – Musk said on Twitter that September 15 is the “tentative date” for the “Tesla Shareholder Meeting & Battery Day,” which will include the usual shareholder meeting as well as a tour of the automaker’s cell production system for the batteries that provide the power for its vehicles.

The so-called ‘Battery Day’ has already run into a few delays, after originally being planned for April of this year. It’s been bumped to May, and subsequently June, but Musk’s latest timeline of September seems a lot more realistic given the current state of global affairs due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, as well as Tesla’s own complicated issues with its handling of COVID-19, local government shutdown orders and employee health and safety.

Battery day has been modified from an earlier event planned to also include a powertrain component, but Musk made the switch to keep the focus more narrowly on the work Tesla has been doing to improve its battery performance and output. The Tesla Model S recently because the first and only electric vehicle to achieve a 400 mile plus EPA certification rating for range, and Tesla has reportedly been working on new, lower-cost and long-lived electric battery technology that Reuters reported earlier this year it plans to introduce to its China-made Model 3 vehicles either later this year or early next.

This would be the first significant event Tesla has hosted since its Cybertruck unveiling in 2019. Anything the automaker does with respect to its battery technology will draw a lot of attention, given that it’s likely the company’s most important competitive advantage in terms of continuing to win more customers away from internal combustion fuel vehicles.

#automotive, #battery-technology, #cars, #ceo, #elon-musk, #environmental-protection-agency, #hyperloop, #science, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #tesla-model-y, #the-boring-company, #transport, #transportation

Tesla cuts Model S price by $5,000, bumps range to 402 miles

A screen grab of Tesla's website taken on June 16, 2020.

Enlarge / A screen grab of Tesla’s website taken on June 16, 2020. (credit: Tesla)

On Monday, Tesla announced that its Model S electric sedan can now go 402 miles (647km) between charges. Until now, the longest-legged Model S—with the straightforward moniker Long Range Plus—had to be satisfied with a mere 373 miles (600km) according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The company is widely acknowledged to be far ahead of any other automaker when it comes to electric powertrains, but through a series of small tweaks here and there, it has made its oldest electric vehicle go even further on the same amount of kilowatt-hours.

To start with, Tesla has stripped some more mass out of the vehicle. It’s not saying exactly how much, but the improvements come from using the brand’s in-house seats, as well as weight savings in the electric motors and battery pack. There are new 18-inch wheels with a lower-rolling-resistance tire that contribute about a two-percent improvement. A similar efficiency boost comes from the front motor’s gearbox.

And now a new Model S Long Range Plus will blend regenerative braking with friction braking to decrease energy losses. Tesla has also added a “brake hold” to the Model S, so you needn’t keep your foot on the left pedal to keep the car stationary. (No joke, this is my absolute favorite convenience feature on any new car, so well done Tesla for adding it to the Model S.)

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#cars, #tesla-model-s

Tesla’s U.S.-made Model 3 vehicles now come equipped with wireless charging, USB-C ports

Tesla Model 3 vehicles produced at its Fremont, Calif. factory will reportedly come standard with a wireless charging pad and USB-C ports, upgrades that were first spotted by Drive Tesla Canada.

Electrek also reported on the changes.

The upgrades now put U.S.-made Model 3s on par with the same vehicles made at Tesla’s factory in China.

The wireless phone charger and USB-C ports first appeared in the newer Model Y, which customers began to receive in March. Tesla has since taken steps to bring some of these new Model Y features into the older Model 3. The upgrades initially showed up in vehicles assembled in China. Drive Tesla Canada said the upgrades became standard in Model 3 vehicles assembled after June 4.

Tesla still offers a $125 upgrade (seen below) for those who own pre-June 4 2020 Model 3 vehicles. Aftermarket company Jeda Products also sells a Qi wireless phone charger for about $99.

tesla wireless charging pad

Image Credits: Tesla

The upgrades are likely part of Tesla’s aim to make its automotive assembly more efficient as well as make its vehicles more attractive to potential customers who have slowed purchases during COVID-19 pandemic.

Tesla delivered 88,400 vehicles in the first quarter, beating most analysts expectations despite a 21% decrease from the previous quarter as the COVID-19 pandemic put downward pressure on demand and created logistical challenges. Tesla produced 103,000 electric vehicles in the first quarter, about 2% lower than the previous period.

COVID-19 disrupted the supply chain and global sales in China and Europe in the first quarter, which ended March 31. The pandemic spread its economic gloom to the U.S. towards the end of the first quarter, and then dug in its heels in the second period. Tesla typically reports quarter production and delivery figures a few days after the end of the quarter. The second quarter ends June 30.

#automotive, #california, #cars, #china, #europe, #fremont, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-model-3, #tesla-model-s, #united-states

Tesla shares surpass $1,000 on Semi truck production memo

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a memo its time to “go all out” and start volume production of the Tesla Semi, the all-electric Class 8 truck revealed nearly three years ago.

CNBC first reported on the memo that was sent to all employees. TechCrunch has also viewed the brief memo, which lacked details such as when this volume production might begin. Musk confirmed via Twitter that the memo was real.

The vague memo and one word “yes” confirmation was enough for Wall Street. Tesla shares rose more than 6% Wednesday morning to surpass $1,000. Shares were $1,009.84 at 10:50 a.m. ET. The company’s market capitalization has now surpassed $187 billion.

The complete memo message:The Tesla Semi has been in limited production, which Musk said in the memo has allowed the company to improve many aspects of the design. The battery and powertrain would be produced at Tesla’s gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada. Musk didn’t mention where the actual truck would be produced accept to write that other work would probably occur in other states.

It’s time to go all out and bring the Tesla Semi t volume production. It’s been in limited production so far, which has allowed us to improve many aspects of the design. Production of the battery and powertrain would take place at Giga Nevada, with most of the other work probably occurring in other states. Jerome and I are very excited to work with you to bring this amazing product to market!”

When asked on Twitter where final assembly will be, Musk replied “we shall see.”

The Tesla Semi made a splash when it first debuted in November 2017. During the initial debut, Musk promised the truck would drive like its other passenger vehicles, the Model X,  Model S and Model 3. The truck also boasted some eye-popping specs that included the ability to travel 500 miles on a single battery charge when fully loaded and driving 65 miles per hour.

The Tesla Semi was quickly overshadowed by the Model 3, which was plagued by production bottlenecks for months. The Model Y debut and production followed. Eventually, the Semi faded from the company’s earnings reports altogether.

Earlier this year in its fourth quarter earnings report, Tesla provided one of the first updates on the Tesla Semi in months, stating that it was “planning to produce limited volumes of Tesla Semi this year.”

Tesla then said in its latest quarterly earnings report that it was pushing back plans to produce and deliver the Class 8 truck until 2021. The move would put the Tesla Semi two years behind the automaker’s previous target.

#automotive, #cars, #ceo, #elon-musk, #gigafactory, #hyperloop, #nevada, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #tesla-semi, #the-boring-company, #transport

Tesla cuts prices across EV line up, ends free supercharging for Model S, Model X

Tesla slashed prices across its electric vehicle portfolio overnight as the automaker aims to boost sales in an economy beaten down by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reuters and Electrek were the first to report the changes. The base price of Model 3 standard range plus is now $37,990, a $2,000 reduction. But the biggest cuts were made to Tesla’s more expensive, luxury vehicles, the Model S sedan and the Model X SUV.

The Model S long range plus now starts at $74,990, a decrease of $5,000. The more expensive Model S performance as well as the two Model X configurations also saw prices slashed by $5,000.

The price cuts come as automakers seek ways to attract buyers after months of a lockdown prompted by the COVID-19, which has dampened demand and upended the economy. The traditional big three U.S. automakers Ford, GM and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have turned to 0% financing rates as well as deferred or longer term payment options. Other automakers including Hyundai Motor America, Kia Motors America, Nissan North America, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A, and Volkswagen of America have also announced incentives and payment plans aimed at preventing existing owners from defaulting on loans as well as incentivizing new buyers.

Tesla has also removed mention of free unlimited supercharging for new Model S and Model X sales along with the price cuts.

The company has waffled on the free supercharging incentive before, removing it and bringing it back over the past several years.

In the early days, free unlimited supercharging was part of the package of buying a Tesla vehicle. The automaker began phasing out free unlimited access to its supercharger network when it announced that customers who buy cars after January 1, 2017 will have 400 kilowatt-hours, or about 1,000 miles, of free charging every year. Once owners surpassed that amount, they would be charged a small fee.

Tesla then narrowed the free unlimited access to superchargers through a referral program and only to buyers of performance versions of the Model S, Model X and Model 3. The free unlimited supercharger referral program is now set to end September 18.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has called the perk “unsustainable” has brought back the perk several times since to drive sales. In August 2019, the company resurrected the benefit in an effort to boost sales of its more expensive electric vehicles.

#automotive, #automotive-industry, #cars, #elon-musk, #ford, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #toyota, #united-states

Elon Musk: the Tesla Cybertruck isn’t getting any smaller

In the days and weeks after Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed the cybertruck — a post-apocalyptic inspired vehicle made of cold-rolled steel — there was a lot of speculation about whether it would be smaller once it actually made it to market.

Production of the Cybertruck is still a long ways off. There isn’t even a factory to build the all-electric truck yet. However, Musk did provide some clarification Saturday on its size. In a tweet, Musk wrote “Reviewed design with Franz last night. Even 3% smaller is too small. Will be pretty much the same size. We’ll probably do a smaller, tight world truck at some point.” (Musk was referring to Tesla’s head of design Franz von Holzhausen. And we assume Musk meant to write “light” not “tight” truck.)

The change is important to note since he told Jay Leno that the vehicle is actually 5% too big, according to a teaser video promoting an upcoming episode of Jay Leno’s Garage that will air Wednesday on CNBC. “If we just take all of the proportions and drop them by 5%,” he told Leno, later adding “it has to fit into a normal garage.”

Musk had previously said the company could probably reduce the width of the cybertruck by an inch and “maybe reduce length by 6-plus inches without losing on utility or esthetics.”

Tesla hasn’t shared the dimensions of the vehicle. And TechCrunch failed to bring a measuring tape at the launch. (Lesson learned).

In the past two months, Musk has provided a few other updates around the cybertruck via Twitter, noting that the company is increasing dynamic air suspension travel for better off-roading and that it “will float for awhile,” a claim he didn’t explain further.

Tesla said it will offer three variants of the cybertruck. The cheapest version, a single motor and rear-wheel drive model, will cost $39,900, have a towing capacity of 7,500 pounds and more than 250 miles of range, according to specs on its website. The middle version will be a dual-motor all-wheel drive, have a towing capacity of more than 10,000 pounds and be able to travel more than 300 miles on a single charge. The dual motor AWD model is priced at $49,900.

The third version will have three electric motors and all-wheel drive, a towing capacity of 14,000 pounds and battery range of more than 500 miles. This version, known as “tri motor,” is priced at $69,900.

#automotive, #cars, #ceo, #elon-musk, #hyperloop, #tc, #techcrunch, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #tesla-model-y

Elon Musk just put a new person in charge of production at Tesla’s Fremont factory

On the same day that Elon Musk defied local regulations and reopened Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, the CEO put a new person in charge of production.

Musk named Richard Miller, who was director of paint operations at Tesla, to head of production at the factory, according to an internal email sent to employees Monday and viewed by TechCrunch. It appears that Miller replaces Jatinder Dhillon, who was the company’s manufacturing director. CNBC reported in March that Dhillon had left the company, although his LinkedIn profile still shows he is at the company and in the same role.

An email has been sent to Musk and Tesla for comment.

“Due to excellent performance as head of paint operations in Fremont, Richard Miller is hereby promoted to overall head of Fremont Production. Congratulations!,” the email reads.

The promotion comes at a chaotic moment for Musk and Tesla. Production at the company’s Fremont factory — where its electric vehicles are assembled — has been suspended since March 23 due to stay-at-home orders issued by Alameda County and Gov. Gavin Newsom. Musk restarted production Monday in direct conflict with county orders.

Tesla had planned to bring back about 30% of its factory workers May 8 as part of its reopening plan, after Newsom issued new guidance that would allow manufacturers to resume operations. However, the governor’s guidance included a warning that local governments could keep more restrictive rules in place. Alameda County, along with several other Bay Area counties and cities, have extended the stay-at-home orders through the end of May. The orders were revised and did ease some of the restrictions. However, it did not lift the order for manufacturing.

Musk has been at war with Alameda County, specifically aiming his ire at health officials, ever since the order was extended. Over the weekend, he threatened to sue and pull operations out of California. Tesla filed a lawsuit later that day against Alameda County seeking injunctive relief.

On Monday, Musk escalated matters further and announced on Twitter that he had restarted production.

Musk wrote he would  “be on the line,” a reference to the assembly line at the factory where Tesla makes the Model X, Model S, Model 3 and Model Y. He added “if anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”

Alameda County issued a statement Monday noting

#automotive, #california, #cars, #ceo, #director, #elon-musk, #fremont, #gavin-newsom, #governor, #hyperloop, #manufacturing, #model, #tc, #techcrunch, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #the-boring-company

Elon Musk restarts Tesla factory in defiance of county orders

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Monday that the company’s factory in Fremont, California is open and has restarted production despite a stay-at-home order issued by Alameda County.

Musk said in tweet Monday afternoon that he will “be on the line,” a reference to the assembly line at the factory where Tesla makes the Model X, Model S, Model 3 and Model Y. He added “if anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”

TechCrunch has reached out to Alameda County officials, Tesla and Elon Musk for comment. We will update once they respond.

Musk’s reopening follows days of public venting on Twitter as well as a lawsuit all aimed at pressuring Alameda County officials to allow the company to reopen its factory.

Tesla filed a lawsuit Saturday against Alameda County seeking injunctive relief, an effort to invalidate orders that have prevented the automaker from reopening.

Tesla had planned to bring back about 30% of its factory workers Friday as part of its reopening plan, after California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued new guidance that would allow manufacturers to resume operations. However, the governor’s guidance included a warning that local governments could keep more restrictive rules in place. Alameda County, along with several other Bay Area counties and cities, last week extended the stay-at-home orders through the end of May. The orders were revised and did ease some of the restrictions. However, it did not lift the order for manufacturing.

Newsom issued support for Tesla and Musk during his daily COVID-19 briefing, saying that he believes the issue between Alameda County and the company will be resolved in the next few days.

“I have long been a strong advocate and supporter early adopter, the technology, I have not only known that company, but I’ve known its founder for many, many years,” Newsome said. “I have great reverence for their technology for their innovative spirit, for their leadership, and I have great expectations that we can work through at the county level issue with this particular county and this company in the next number of days.”

#automotive, #california, #cars, #ceo, #elon-musk, #fremont, #hyperloop, #model, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #the-boring-company

Elon Musk threatens to pull Tesla operations out of California and into Texas or Nevada

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Saturday the company will file a lawsuit against Alameda County and threatened to move its headquarters and future programs to Texas or Nevada immediately, escalating a fight between the company and health officials over whether its factory in Fremont can reopen.

Tesla had planned to bring back about 30% of its factory workers Friday as part of its reopening plan, defying Alameda County’s stay-at-home order.

TechCrunch has reached out to Elon Musk directly. We will update the story if he responds.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued new guidance Thursday that allowed manufacturers to resume operations. The guidance won praise from Musk, who later sent an internal email to employees about plans to reopen based on the governor’s revised order. However, the governor’s guidance included a warning that local governments could keep more restrictive rules in place. Alameda County, along with several other Bay Area counties and cities, last week extended the stay-at-home orders through the end of May. The orders were revised and did ease some of the restrictions. However, it did not lift the order for manufacturing.

On Friday, the Alameda County Health Department said Tesla had not been given “the green light” to reopen and said if the company did, it would be out of compliance with the order.

In the tweet, Musk said Tesla is filing a lawsuit against Alameda County immediately. In a later tweet, he also encouraged shareholders to file a lawsuit against the county.

“The unelected & ignorant “Interim Health Officer” of Alameda is acting contrary to the Governor, the President and our Constitutional freedoms & just plain common sense!,” the tweet said. He followed up with another tweet claiming that Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas or Nevada immediately.

“If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependent on how Tesla is treated in the future. Tesla is the last carmaker left in CA,” Musk wrote.

Tesla has operations in Nevada; it doesn’t in Texas. The company’s massive battery factory – known as Gigafactory 1 — is located in Sparks, Nevada. Tesla is seeking out a new location to build a new U.S. gigafactory that will produce the Cybertruck and Model Y crossover. Some have speculated that Texas is a top pick.

Sources have told TechCrunch that Tesla is in talks with Nashville officials to locate a factory there that will produce the Cybertruck and Model Y crossover.

“Scouting locations for Cybertruck Gigafactory. Will be central USA,” Musk tweeted in March. He added that the factory would be used to produce Model Y crossovers for the East Coast market. The first Model Y vehicles are being produced at its plant in Fremont.

#automotive, #california, #cars, #ceo, #elon-musk, #fremont, #gavin-newsom, #governor, #hyperloop, #manufacturing, #nevada, #pan, #tc, #techcrunch, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #texas, #the-boring-company, #transportation

Tesla hasn’t been given the ‘green light’ to reopen Fremont factory, health official says

Tesla has not been given the “green light” to open its factory in Fremont, California, Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Erica Pan said in a videostreamed town hall meeting Friday.

Tesla has made plans to open as early as Friday in defiance of the county’s extended stay-at-home order.

Tesla said in an internal email sent to employees Thursday, which TechCrunch has viewed, that it was planning to restart “limited operations” at the Fremont factory, which is located in Alameda County. Tesla’s decision is in in direct conflict with a stay-at-home order in Alameda County.

Alameda health and county officials are working with Tesla and have reviewed their safety plans for reopening, Pan said. “We’ve asked them to wait,” she added.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.

Employees received two emails — one from CEO Elon Musk and another from Valerie Workman, the company’s human resources director — indicating that the factory would open as early as Friday. The decision to open was based on new guidance from Gov. Gavin Newsom, who said Thursday that manufacturers could resume operations. However, Newsom’s guidance included a warning that local governments could keep more restrictive rules in place.

Alameda County, which along with several other Bay Area counties and cities, issued revised stay-at-home orders that will last through the end of May. Those revised orders did ease some of the restrictions. However, it did not lift the order for manufacturing.

Below is a screenshot of an email sent to TechCrunch from a Tesla employee.

tesla internal email may 7

Image Credits: Kirsten Korosec

Pan and health officials from the other Bay Area counties want companies like Tesla to wait until they can be sure there isn’t an impact from the loosening restrictions. They also want to make sure that businesses have proper time to plan their reopening to ensure they’re following best practices.

“We are really asking our facilities within the county that our local health order still prevails and to wait until we have another week or so under our belt to see what has happened after we did that first round of lifting restrictions,” Pan said.

The Alameda County Health Department told TechCrunch that it has informed Tesla of “all of the conditions that must exist for phasing in the safe reopening of various sectors of the economy and the community.”

If a business does not meet the limited criteria described in the county’s order, it cannot reopen.

“Tesla has been informed that they do not meet those criteria and must not reopen,” a spokesperson for the county health department said in an email. “We welcome Tesla’s proactive work on a reopening plan so that once they fit the criteria to reopen, they can do so in a way that protects their employees and the community at large.”

#automotive, #california, #cars, #fremont, #gavin-newsom, #governor, #manufacturing, #tc, #techcrunch, #tesla, #tesla-model-s

Tesla prepares to bring back 30% of Fremont factory workers in spite of county order

Tesla is aiming to ramp up “limited operations” at its factory in Fremont, Calif., a decision that puts the company and its CEO Elon Musk in direct conflict with a stay-at-home order in Alameda County.

Employees received two emails — one from Musk and another from Valerie Workman, the company’s human resources director — indicating that the factory would open as early as Friday. Bloomberg was the first to report the emails. The decision to open was based on new guidance from Gov. Gavin Newsom, who said Thursday that manufacturers could resume operations.

However, Tesla is ignoring other parts of Newsom’s announcement, specifically that local governments could keep more restrictive rules in place. Tesla’s Fremont factory is located in Alameda County, which along with several other Bay Area counties and cities, issued revised stay-at-home orders that will last through the end of May. Those revised orders did ease some of the restrictions. However, if followed, Tesla wouldn’t be allowed to restart production of its Model S, Model X, Model 3 and now Model Y vehicles until June 1.

Officials at Alameda County could not be reached for comment. However, the county and other surrounding Bay Area cities and counties issued a joint statement Thursday, reiterating its order:

It is important that our local communities understand that the regional Health Orders that took effect May 4 are still in effect. These orders — in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties and the City of Berkeley — loosen restrictions on construction as well as outdoor activities and businesses. The Bay Area orders do not currently permit curbside pickup from non-essential, nonoutdoor businesses, and that is not allowed to begin on Friday, May 8.

Later in the statement, the officials said “in our current environment, if a county order differs from a state order, the more restrictive order takes precedence.”

Tesla did not respond to requests for comment.

Tesla has battled with Alameda officials before over regulations put in place due to COVID-19. The dispute began March 16 after Alameda County ordered all nonessential businesses to close, including bars, gyms and dine-in restaurants, because of the global spread of COVID-19.

Tesla kept the Fremont factory open despite the order, claiming that part of the company’s operations fell under an exemption in the county’s order. Musk told employees in an email that the company would continue operations at the Fremont factory. He also told employees they should not feel obligated to come to work if they “feel the slightest bit ill or even uncomfortable.”

The Alameda County Sheriff disagreed, and on March 17 tweeted that Tesla was not “essential.” The automaker still ignored the order and the sheriff’s tweet. Employees received another email from Workman that the factory was still open for production, because it had “conflicting guidance from different levels of government.” The email told employees to come to work if their job is to produce, service, deliver or test its electric vehicles.

A week after the order went into effect, Tesla suspended production at the Fremont factory. Basic operations have continued at the factory per an agreement with the county. The company said at the time it would suspend production through May 4, prompting it to cut pay for salaried employees between 10% and 30%, as well as furlough workers.

But toward the end of April, the Bay Area counties extended the stay-at-home order, triggering a tweetstorm from Musk, who criticized the rules and at one point wrote “FREE AMERICA NOW.”

#automotive, #california, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #electric-vehicles, #elon-musk, #fremont, #gavin-newsom, #governor, #hyperloop, #san-francisco, #san-mateo, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #the-boring-company

Elon Musk: video conferencing is ‘definitely’ coming to Tesla vehicles

Ever since the Tesla Model 3 came to market in 2017 there’s been widespread speculation about an interior camera that’s hidden in the rearview mirror and faces into the car’s cabin.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said the camera is there to support the company’s eventual robotaxi plans or even record sing-along sessions with the vehicle’s Caroake feature. But there have also been hints that the camera would be used to recognize people in the vehicle and automatically deliver personalized features.

But wait. Now, it appears the cabin-facing camera could also be used for video conferencing. Sure, why not?

Video conferencing within a Tesla will be “definitely a future feature,” Musk wrote on Twitter in response to a question from the Tesla Owners Silicon Valley group.

How or when this feature might appear isn’t important. Details like whether it will be active even while someone is driving are boring.

Today, Tesla’s entertainment features like its video games or streaming Netflix can only be used when the vehicle is in park. The Caroake feature can be deployed while driving, although a message pops up saying that the lyrics, which are displayed on the central screen, are only for passengers. A confirmation button that reads “I am a passenger” is also displayed before launching.

But that doesn’t mean the video conferencing feature will have the same constraints. Just a few days ago, Musk talked about creating a game like a complex version of Pac-Man or Mario Kart that interacts virtually with reality. In other words, could be played while driving on roads.

#automotive, #cars, #ceo, #elon-musk, #hyperloop, #netflix, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-model-3, #tesla-model-s, #video-conferencing

Tesla shares fall on Elon Musk ‘stock price too high’ tweet

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted Friday that the company’s stock price was “too high” in his opinion, immediately sending shares into a free-fall and in possible violation of an agreement reached with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last year.

Tesla shares fell nearly 12% in the half hour following his stock price tweets — just one of many sent out in rapid fire that covered everything from demands to “give people back their freedom” and lines from the U.S. National Anthem to quotes from poet Dylan Thomas and a claim that he will sell all of his possessions.

The SEC declined to comment on whether this was a violation of a settlement agreement. Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.

The meltdown on Twitter occurred as SpaceX — Musk’s other company — participated in a live press conference on one of its most important missions ever.

Musk’s tweet comes almost exactly a year after he reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that gave the CEO freedom to use Twitter — within certain limitations — without fear of being held in contempt for violating an earlier court order.

Under that agreement, Musk can tweet as he wishes except when it’s about certain events or financial milestones. In those cases, Musk must seek pre-approval from a securities lawyer, according to the agreement filed in April 2019 with Manhattan’s federal court.

Musk is supposed to seek pre-approval if his tweets include events regarding the company’s securities, including his acquisition or disposition of shares, nonpublic legal or regulatory findings or decisions.

He’s also supposed to get pre-approval on any tweets about the company’s financial condition or guidance, potential or proposed mergers, acquisitions or joint ventures, sales or delivery numbers, new or proposed business lines or any event requiring the filing of a Form 8-K, such as a change in control or a change in the company’s directors.

#automotive, #cars, #dylan-thomas, #elon-musk, #hyperloop, #security, #spacex, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #twitter, #u-s-securities-and-exchange-commission

Tesla to reduce price of standard range Model 3 in China

Tesla said it will reduce the price of its standard range Model 3 vehicle in China to meet the government’s new eligibility requirements for subsidies.

This marks the second time this year that the automaker has reduced the price. Several months ago, the base version of China-made Model 3 was lowered by 9%.

Tesla has to cut the price of the vehicle to continue to qualify for government rebates on electric vehicles. The Chinese government instituted new regulations that require prices below 300,000 yuan for electric vehicles to qualify for subsidies.

The base price of the standard range Model 3 made in China is 323,800 yuan, or $45,754 before subsidies.

The price reduction will go into effect tomorrow in China, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a earnings call Wednesday. Musk, who didn’t provide a specific figure, said he is confident the vehicle will deliver a gross margin despite the reduction in price.

Tesla chief financial officer Zachary Kirkhorn added that the cost of vehicles produced at its Shanghai factory in the first quarter is already lower than the cost to produce the Model 3 in the United States. That margin should improve as the company improves its local supply chain in China. Tesla still ships some parts from the U.S. to build cars at its Shanghai factory.

#automotive, #cars, #china, #electric-vehicles, #elon-musk, #hyperloop, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #tesla-model-y, #the-boring-company

Tesla pushes Tesla Semi deliveries to 2021

Tesla is pushing back plans to produce and deliver its all-electric Class 8 truck until 2021, the company said in its quarter earnings report Wednesday. The move puts the Tesla Semi two years behind the automaker’s previous target.

“We are shifting our first Tesla Semi deliveries to 2021,” the company said without providing any more details.

The Tesla Semi was first unveiled in November 2017 in a splashy ceremony in Hawthorne, Calif. on the grounds of Tesla’s design studio and Musk’s other company, SpaceX . During the initial debut, Musk promised the truck would drive like its other passenger vehicles, the Model X,  Model S and Model 3. The truck also boasted some eye-popping specs that included the ability to travel 500 miles on a single battery charge when fully loaded and driving 65 miles per hour.

While the company had interest from customers with companies like Walmart and Anheuser-Busch putting in pre-orders, the vehicle program wasn’t been able to meet the 2019 target.

Earlier this year in its fourth quarter earnings report, Tesla provided one of the first updates on the Tesla Semi in months, stating that it was “planning to produce limited volumes of Tesla Semi this year.”

#automotive, #california, #cars, #electric-trucks, #elon-musk, #hyperloop, #spacex, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #tesla-semi

Tesla vehicles recognize and respond to traffic lights, stop signs with latest software update

Properly equipped Tesla vehicles can now recognize and respond to traffic lights and stop signs thanks to a software update that the company started pushing out to owners over the weekend.

The software update had been available to sliver of Tesla owners, some of whom had posted videos of the new capability. Now, the automaker is pushing the software update (2020.12.6) to the broader fleet.

The feature isn’t available in every Tesla vehicle on the road today. The vehicles must be equipped with the most recent Hardware 3 package and the fully optioned Autopilot package that the company has marketed as “full self-driving.”

The feature called Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control is designed to allow the vehicles to recognize and respond to traffic lights and stop signs.

To be clear, Tesla vehicles are not self-driving and this feature has its limits. The feature slows properly equipped Tesla vehicles to a stop when using “traffic-aware cruise control” or “Autosteer.” The vehicle will slow for all detected traffic lights, including green, blinking yellow and off lights, according to the software release notes.

As the vehicle approaches an intersection, a notification will indicate the intention to slow down. The vehicle will then begin to slow down and stop and stop at the red line shown on the driving visualization, which is one the center display.

DragTimes tested and shared a video, which is posted below, of a beta version of the feature.

Owners must pull the Autopilot stalk once or manually press the accelerator pedal to continue through the stop line. Tesla said that the feature is designed to be conservative at first. Owners will notice that it will slowdown often and will not attempt to turn through intersections. “Over time, as we learn from the fleet, the feature will control more naturally,” the company wrote in the release notes.

Tesla warns in the release notes that “as with all Autopilot features, you must continue to pay attention and be ready to take immediate action, including braking because this feature may not stop for all traffic controls.”

The software update also improved driving visualization, which are displayed in the vehicle. Additional objects such as stop lights, stop signs and select road markings now appear on the screen. The stop sign and stop light visualizations are not a substitute for an attentive driver and will not stop the car, Tesla said in the release notes.

#automotive, #self-driving-car, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-autopilot, #tesla-model-s, #traffic, #traffic-light, #transport, #transportation

Tesla resurrects long-range RWD Model 3 for the Chinese market

Tesla is now producing and selling the long-range rear-wheel-drive version of its Model 3 electric vehicle at its Shanghai factory, a month after receiving approval from the Chinese government.

The move might not be a milestone, but it’s notable because Tesla discontinued production of the long-range RWD Model 3 in the U.S. and now only offers that variant as a dual-motor all-wheel drive. It also marks a shift from Tesla’s initial plan to sell a more basic version of the Model 3 in China.

The company updated its China website showing the standard-range-plus model — the first vehicle produced at the Shanghai factory — as well as the long-range RWD and performance versions of the Model 3. Bloomberg was the first to report the change. The long-range RWD version starts at 366,550 yuan, or about $52,000 after incentives. Deliveries of the long-range RWD version are expected to begin in June.

The standard-range-plus model starts at 323,800 yuan, or about $46,000, before local subsidies.

The standard-range-plus Model 3 can travel 276 miles on a single charge, according to Tesla’s China website. The same website says the long-range RWD Model 3 has a range of 668 km, or 415 miles. Those range estimates are based on the New European Driving Cycle, a forgiving standard that Europe replaced several years ago with the WLTP. The real-word range is likely much lower.

Tesla model 3 long range RWD china

Image Credits: Tesla/screenshot

Tesla started producing a standard-range-plus rear-wheel-drive version of the Model 3 at its Shanghai factory late last year. The first deliveries began in early January. The March approval from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology gave Tesla permission to add another variant to its Chinese portfolio.

Eventually, Tesla plans to manufacture the Model Y electric vehicle at the China factory.

#asia, #automotive, #cars, #china, #europe, #information-technology, #ministry-of-industry-and-information-technology, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #tesla-model-y, #united-states

Tesla CEO Elon Musk: New York gigafactory will reopen for ventilator production

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Wednesday that the company’s factory in Buffalo, New York will open “as soon as humanly possible” to produce ventilators that are in short supply due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

His comments, which were made Wednesday via Twitter, follows previous statements by the CEO outlining plans to either donate ventilators or work to increase production of the critical piece of medical equipment needed for patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by coronavirus. COVID-19 attacks the lungs and can cause acute respiratory distress syndrome and pneumonia. And since there is no clinically proven treatment yet, ventilators are relied upon to help people breathe and fight the disease. There are about 160,000 ventilators in the United States and another 12,700 in the National Strategic Supply, the NYT reported.

Last week, Tesla said in a statement it would suspend production at its Fremont, Calif. factory, where it assembles its electric vehicles, and its Buffalo, N.Y gigafactory, except for “those parts and supplies necessary for service, infrastructure and critical supply chains.”

It isn’t clear based on Musk’s statements when the Buffalo plant would reopen or how long it would take to convert a portion of its factory, which is used to produce solar panels. Musk didn’t say if this was part of a possible collaboration with Medtronic .

Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak told CNBC on Wednesday that it is increasing capacity of its critical care ventilators and partnering with others such as Tesla. He said Medtronic is open sourcing one its lower end ventilators in less acute situations for others to, to make as quickly as they can. These lower end ventilators, which are easier to produce because there are fewer components, can be used as an intermediary step in critical care.

Tesla is one of several automakers, including GM, Ford and FCA that has pledged support to either donate supplies or offer resources to make more ventilators. Earlier this week, Ford said it is working with GE Healthcare to expand production capacity of a ventilator.

GM is working with Ventec Life Systems to help increase production of respiratory care products such as ventilators. Ventec will use GM’s logistics, purchasing and manufacturing expertise to build more ventilators. The companies did not provide further details such as when production might be able to ramp up or how many ventilators would be produced.

#automotive, #buffalo, #california, #cars, #elon-musk, #ford, #fremont, #gigafactory, #health, #medtronic, #new-york, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #transportation, #united-kingdom, #united-states

Tesla is eyeing Nashville for Cybertruck gigafactory

Tesla is in talks with Nashville officials to locate a factory there that will produce its all-electric Cybertruck and Model Y crossover, according to a source familiar with the discussions.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted Tuesday evening that the company is “scouting” locations to build a new U.S. gigafactory that will produce the Cybertruck and Model Y crossover.

“Scouting locations for Cybertruck Gigafactory. Will be central USA,” Musk tweeted Tuesday. He added that the factory would be used to produce Model Y crossovers for the East Coast market. The first Model Y vehicles are being produced at its plant in Fremont, Calif.

Musk didn’t provide further information in the tweets. However, a source with knowledge of the talks said Nashville is on a short list of contenders.

Tennessee is already shaping up to be a hub of electric vehicle production. Volkswagen is spending $800 million to expand its U.S. factory in Chattanooga, Tenn. and turn it into the company’s North American base for manufacturing electric vehicles. Electric vehicle production at the Tennessee site will begin in 2022, VW said at the time. Meanwhile, Nissan has been producing the Nissan Leaf in Smyrna since 2013.

Tesla assembles its Model S, Model X and Model 3 vehicles in Fremont, Calif. at a factory that was once home to GM and Toyota’s New United Motor Manufacturing Inc (NUMMI) operation. Tesla acquired the factory in 2010. The first Model S was produced at the factory in June 2012.

Tesla turned its efforts to battery production and in June 2014 broke ground on its first “gigafactory” on land near Reno, Nevada. The massive structure, which has surpassed. 1.9 million square feet, is where Tesla produces battery packs and electric motors for its Model 3 vehicles. The company has a joint venture with Panasonic, which is making the lithium-ion cells.

Tesla also has a “gigafactory 2” in Buffalo, New York where it’s producing solar cells and modules.

In 2018, Tesla struck a deal with the Chinese government to build a factory in Shanghai, a milestone for Musk, who has long viewed China as a crucial market. The China factory started producing the Model 3 late last year. The first deliveries began in early January.

Tesla is now clearing land for another factory near Berlin. Once complete, this German factory will produce the Model 3 and Model Y for the European market.

The story has been updated to reflect new information about the possible location of the factory. 

#automotive, #berlin, #buffalo, #california, #cars, #ceo, #china, #east-coast, #elon-musk, #fremont, #germany, #gigafactory, #model-s, #nevada, #new-york, #panasonic, #reno, #shanghai, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #united-states