By on June 7, 2017

Model Y teaser, Image: Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors has released its first official teaser image of the Model Y, a future entry in the highly profitable compact crossover segment. At a shareholder meeting yesterday, CEO Elon Musk said he believes the Model Y will eventually outsell the Model 3. While he made similar claims about Model X volume before the vehicle entered production — a prediction which did not pan out — Musk says the company has learned from the errors made in the larger CUV’s development.

Unlike the Model X, the Model Y will use a unique platform and receive a dedicated assembly line at its own factory. Musk also told investors that production expenditures would be significantly lower for the small crossover, compared to the Model 3.  (Read More…)

By on June 4, 2017

tesla model-s-rear, image: Tesla Motors

The American Automobile Association thinks Tesla cars should cost more to insure due to abnormally high claim frequencies and expenditures compared to similar vehicles. The group said premiums for Tesla’s Model X and Model S could increase by up to 30 percent, based primarily on data from the Highway Loss Data Institute. “Looking at a much broader set of countrywide data, we saw the same patterns observed in our own data, and that gave us the confidence to change rates,” said Anthony Ptasznik, chief actuary of AAA.

Obviously, Tesla Motors isn’t pleased and is offering a rebuttal before other insurers follow in AAA’s footsteps.  (Read More…)

By on June 2, 2017

tesla factory fremont, Image: Tesla Motors

Elon Musk has taken some rather extreme measures to ensure Tesla Motors’ employees don’t unionize. The CEO has a rigid production schedule he hopes to adhere to and doesn’t want organized labor throwing unforeseen variables into the mix. However, the UAW has made headway in the last twelve months after half-heartedly courting Tesla’s workforce for years.

Musk’s initial opposition came by way of written rebuttals to very specific criticisms regarding workplace safety and pay. He later accused a particularly aggressive critic of being a paid union stooge. Musk then hinted at the prospect of free frozen yogurt and roller coasters once the company approaches profitability.

Now, he’s apparently decided to reenact the circumstances of specific work-related injuries to prove the company is taking the appropriate safety precautions (or to sniff out areas needing improvement). It’s bizarrely parental but also kind of endearing, if you forget about the union angle. (Read More…)

By on May 25, 2017

tesla model-s-rear

Tesla Motors has won back some of Consumer Reports’ respect after being criticised for failing to include automatic emergency braking in recently built vehicles. The absence of the safety system really irked CR, resulting in a points deduction on all of the brand’s existing models. Tesla said it was abnormal to see vehicles of the same generation missing preexisting safety features and docked the Model S and X two points apiece.

“When we purchased our latest test car, we were assured automatic emergency braking would be enabled by the end of 2016,” explained Jake Fisher, director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center. “We’ve been waiting for this important safety feature, which is standard equipment on much cheaper cars.”  (Read More…)

By on May 5, 2017

Tesla Factory California

Tesla Motors has said it is making efforts to resolve outstanding issues with Grohmann Engineering’s legacy clients, including Daimler, BMW, Bosch, Intel, and Volkswagen Group. After the Tesla takeover last November, CEO Elon Musk indicated to Grohmann’s management team that the brunt of its efforts should be diverted away from former customers in order to focus primarily on production facilities related to the Model 3.

The move placed Musk at odds with company founder Klaus Grohmann, eventually resulting in his abrupt departure, and was a major source of tension among the German workforce — which, backed by IG Metall, has threatened to strike. Negotiations have already yielded improved worker pay and hiring promises, but Tesla now appears to be tackling the issue of how to handle the numerous clients who have been hung out to dry. (Read More…)

By on May 1, 2017

tesla factory fremont

Tesla Motors is headhunting engineers from Mexico to work on automated equipment at its Freemont, California factory. While the brand can still call the forthcoming Model 3 “the most American” car in the world — once it takes delivery of Nevada-produced 2170 battery packs — it might not be able to make the same claim for its workforce.

The brand has had union troubles with the German robotics unit supplying the automated assembly lines essential for the Model 3’s timely production. While the recruitment effort in California may not be a direct response to that, it is definitely part of Tesla’s efforts to ensure it can adhere to the timetable it has set for the electric vehicle. The company has preorders out the wazoo and wants to build 500,000 cars a year at the Fremont plant by 2018, which requires a sextupling of 2016’s production figures.  (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2017

Tesla Factory California

Tesla Motors has smooth-talked its Californian workforce out of unionizing for some time, but the labor war is now being waged on two fronts.

Since acquiring German supplier Grohmann Engineering, that company’s workforce has accused Tesla of unfair wages and dissolving established business ties to focus solely on the upcoming Model 3. Elon Musk was forced to personally reassure Grohmann, now called Tesla Advanced Automation Germany, to keep it from syncing up with autoworkers’ union IG Metall and going on strike.

Since the supplier is an essential part of the Model 3’s timely production, Tesla has changed tactics and is now throwing more money at Germany and promising extra jobs in the hope of avoiding work stoppages. It also apparently removed the company’s CEO and founder, Klaus Grohmann, after repeated clashes with Musk over the firm’s future.  (Read More…)

By on April 26, 2017

tesla model x

Consumer Reports has been pretty hard on Tesla Motors over the past year. The primary point of contention in 2016 was the automaker’s perceived misrepresentation of the company’s Autopilot feature. CR wanted the automaker to disable hands-free operation until its system could be made safer and insisted that it make clear to consumers that it was not capable of true self-driving capability.

While Tesla addressed some of those concerns with its 8.0 software update last autumn, the consumer advocacy publication said it didn’t go nearly far enough — demanding that Tesla stop calling it Autopilot, disable automatic steering, and quit beta testing on its own customers.

Continuing those safety concerns into 2017, Consumer Reports has downgraded both of Tesla’s existing models, claiming the company failed to enable automatic emergency braking features it said would come as standard equipment. This is perplexing, as Model S and Model X vehicles equipped with first-generation Autopilot systems actually had this function.  (Read More…)

By on April 24, 2017

[Image: Tesla Motors]

With the “affordable” Tesla Model 3 on its way to an anticipated July production date, the company has promised to double the number of fast-charge plug-in points to feed the company’s growing fleet.

The electric automaker has already installed over 5,400 Supercharger outlets and about 9,000 lower-voltage Destination Charging connectors at various locations around the globe. In North America, Tesla promises a 150-percent increase in the number of charging points. However, don’t expect many of those stations to look like the photo above. (Read More…)

By on April 20, 2017

Tesla Model 3

It’s no secret that the success of Tesla’s forthcoming Model 3 will dictate its position as a mainstream automaker for the foreseeable future. Tesla’s current status as the most valuable carmaker in the United States is riding, almost entirely, on the problem-free assembly of its “affordable” EV this summer. So, when one of its German suppliers threatened to go on strike earlier this month, you can imagine the series of panic attacks CEO Elon Musk probably suffered.

Last week, the company’s recently acquired industrial robotics unit Grohmann began labor negotiations over insufficient wages and Tesla’s decision to suspend all contracts that didn’t pertain specifically to the Model 3. And, to ensure things went his way, Musk has become directly involved in the process.

(Read More…)

By on March 31, 2017

Bob Lutz

If you’re unfamiliar with Bob Lutz, it’s likely that you’re a recent addition to the world of automotive enthusiasm. Allow me to be the first to welcome you. The rest of us have been following Lutz’s career shift from extremely outspoken auto executive to extremely outspoken car blogger for years. Now 85, he hasn’t become any less critical of the industry after entering his “retirement,” nor has his advanced age done much to soften his frank rhetoric.

Love or hate him, Lutz’s time spent jumping between the Big Three has provided him with unique insights — and he always has plenty to say on the current state of the American automotive industry. His most recent revelations circle around the unsustainable nature of Tesla and his growing distaste for president Trump, despite his having voted for him.  (Read More…)

By on March 21, 2017

tesla model x

Despite garnering below-average reliability ratings, Tesla is probably the one car brand with the most fervent disciples. While not all Tesla fans are blindly loyal, most are willing to cut the company much more slack than you would Ford the next time your Focus’ bum transmission acts up. Granted, Tesla’s automobiles do possess elements that most Fords do not — namely prestige and a highly unique driving experience.

An elegantly fashionable car will, of course, be more easily forgiven for its missteps than some plain-Jane model. However, the Model S and X have suffered more than just the occasional mechanical error. The Model X is infamous for its malfunctioning electronic doors and wonky electronic interface, while the Model S has suffered from quality control issues since day one. Still, every time an owner voices a concern about reliability or the company’s lackluster ability to service its vehicles, their complaint usually comes with an addendum specifying that they still adore their purchase.  (Read More…)

By on March 20, 2017

tesla model-s-rear

Tesla is taking its most affordable model off the market next month. In order to “simplify the ordering process,” the automaker has decided to abandon the Model S 60 and 60D, according to its official newsletter.

It hasn’t even been a full year since the 60kWh trim returned after the more-expensive Model S 70 replaced it in 2015. Good riddance. (Read More…)

By on February 27, 2017

Elon Musk ice cream

With his employees showing a growing interest in unionization, Tesla CEO Elon Musk shot off a lengthy email to staff urging them to forgo joining the United Auto Workers. While the UAW has romanced Tesla’s growing workforce for years, a recent — and highly publicized — blog post written by an employee expressed renewed concern over the company’s treatment of its workforce, as well as his hope to see them join the labor federation.

Musk initially reached out to the press to defend his company and is now appealing to workers directly, refuting allegations about subpar wages and condemning an earlier investigation into worker safety. “After looking into this claim, not only was it untrue for this individual’s team, it was untrue for any of the hundreds of teams in the factory,” he wrote. (Read More…)

By on February 23, 2017

tesla factory fremont

After posting a profitable fall quarter, Tesla returned to spending more than it made. However, its fourth quarter losses, announced on Wednesday, were substantially less than originally assumed by analysts. The electric carmaker’s stock price continued to climb during the final three months of 2016, despite losing $448 million from its operations.

Tesla has been throwing a lot of money at projects and acquisitions. It recently purchased SolarCity and Grohmann Engineering, so going into the red was to be expected. However, the dark cloud looming in the distance isn’t related to capital — it’s about production. (Read More…)

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