By on October 13, 2017

Tesla Model X

Tesla is issuing a voluntary recall of the Model X before the government can whip out its red pen. The company claims a small percentage of SUVs suffer from a manufacturing defect that could prevent the rear seats from locking into place securely.

The risk comes in the event of a crash, when the center row — and those occupying it — could become projectiles aimed squarely at the back of the driver’s seat. (Read More…)

By on October 8, 2017

renaissance center Detroit

Promoting a future for wide electrification appears to be the Achilles’ heel for bearish investors. Despite some bad publicity last week, Tesla Motors’ already sky-high share price resumed its relentless upward trend after a brief September slump. However, Tesla isn’t the only domestic company benefiting from electrification. Both General Motors and Ford have also seen marked improvements on Wall Street following tech-forward corporate announcements.

For General Motors, that meant the promise of widespread electrification. CEO Mary Barra pressed the issue by reaffirming GM’s three-tiered policy of, “Zero Crashes. Zero Emissions. Zero Congestion.” On a LinkedIn posting, Barra elaborated on the company’s vision where technology minimizes accidents via driver’s aids and autonomous hardware, nullifies emissions through alternative powertrains, and reduces congestion using inter-vehicle connectivity.

In addition to GM’s proposal to launch 20 new electric or fuel cell vehicles by 2023, the company has seen its share price jump twice in the same week. But Ford saw similar, although more modest, improvements in value following it’s own announcement of a tech-driven future.  (Read More…)

By on October 4, 2017

tesla factory fremont, Image: Tesla Motors

Yesterday, we mentioned how Tesla was behind schedule with its everyman Model 3 — delivering only 220 units to the half-million reservation holders since the start of production in late July. While we knew it would get off to a slow start, CEO Elon Musk previously assured the public that production would increase exponentially through the end of the year by way of a “production hell” trial by fire.

Musk claimed there should be “zero concern” about Tesla achieving a production rate of 10,000 cars a week before the end of next year. But many wondered if that was even possible. Despite Tesla making serious strides to increase production volume this year, we remained dubious that the proposed numbers were even feasible for a fledgeling automaker.

As it turns out, they weren’t — and the company knew it.  (Read More…)

By on September 27, 2017

eq concept mercedes-benz

Daimler has fired back after Telsa CEO Elon Musk returned to Twitter to speak his mind on the company’s decision to drop $1 billion into its Alabama plant. The investment is intended to aid production of a forthcoming electric SUV but, earlier this week, Musk said that wasn’t “a lot of money for a giant like Daimler/Mercedes. Wish they’d do more. Off by a zero.”

The following day, the Daimler responded over social media, suggesting Musk was “absolutely right” and pointed out that it’s actually investing over $10 billion, with only the first billion going into the assembly plant.

Whether you’re interested in electric vehicles or not, you have to admit these inter-automotive squabbles make the entire happening a lot more interesting. While cars themselves can be exciting, the corporate environment that facilitates their production is usually much less so. There’s also a chance that this type of good-natured clashing might result in a more competitive spirit — something we definitely would not mind seeing more of.  (Read More…)

By on September 12, 2017

Tesla AutoPilot cruise control

According to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board, the “operational limitations” of Tesla’s Autopilot system played “major role” in a highly publicized crash in May of 2016 that resulted in the death of a Model S driver.

On Tuesday, the NTSB cited the incident as a perfect storm of driver error and Tesla’s Autopilot design, which led to an over-reliance on the system’s semi-autonomous features. After a meeting lasting nearly three hours, the agency’s board determined probable cause of the accident was a combination of a semi truck driver failing to yield the right-of-way, the Tesla driver’s unwillingness to retake the wheel, and Tesla’s own system — which may have set the framework for the accident.  (Read More…)

By on September 1, 2017

tesla factory fremont, Image: Tesla Motors

The National Labor Relations Board has filed an official complaint against Tesla Motors, saying the company violated workers’ rights by suppressing their efforts to unionize.

While automakers hoping to keep employees from joining a union is nothing new, the NLRB’s issue focuses around an obligatory confidentiality agreement that may have prohibited them from openly discussing their working conditions and safety concerns at the company’s facility in Fremont, California. The agency also investigated allegations from the workers that Tesla intimidated and harassed them, which would be a violation of workers’ rights under federal labor law.

Meanwhile, Tesla has decided not to take any of this sitting down. The electric automaker has issued a scathing response to the complaint by giving the United Auto Workers a piece of its mind.
(Read More…)

By on August 30, 2017

Tesla Model X

August saw Tesla Motors slashing prices on practically everything that wasn’t the Model 3. The automaker has a history of endless shifting trims and pricing, and the most recent round of changes focused entirely on top-spec versions of the Model S and Model X. Earlier this month, base-model MSRPs received a haircut.

Assumedly, the automaker wants to move its existing inventory while production of the Model 3 progresses towards the coveted 500,000-units-per-year mark. Yet that ambitious goal is still miles away.

Tesla has been hesitant when it comes to providing sales figures and, while it has begun releasing delivery numbers on a quarterly basis, making monthly estimations is extremely difficult. The automaker said it hit its target of 47,000 units for the first half of 2017 but also referenced a “severe production shortfall” that hindered sales during the second quarter. It plans to make up the difference through the rest of the year and the pricing shift is likely to play a factor.

How much are you saving, exactly, if you buy a Tesla now? (Read More…)

By on August 25, 2017

tesla-semi-teaser

Tesla Motors will be dabbling in the commercial freight industry when it unveils its electric semi-trailer next month. But, with news of it only possessing a 200- to 300-mile range between charges, dabbling may be a best-case-scenario. Diesel-powered rigs traditionally run in excess of 1,300 miles between stops, even though they also go through hundreds of gallons of fuel in the process. And it’s all that burned fuel that makes the concept of an electric tractor-trailer so appetizing to the trucking industry.

However, the EV prototype “long-hauler” won’t be fit for cross-country trips due to its limited range — meaning the inevitable Smokey and the Bandit remake probably isn’t going to have the Bandit or Snowman driving Teslas.  (Read More…)

By on August 8, 2017

tesla model 3

Tesla Motors launched the Model 3 last month and has been scrambling to improve production volume as over 500,000 eagerly await delivery. However, by the time Tesla hits its targeted production rate of 10,000 units per week in 2018, it is still going to have months — if not a full year — of orders sizzling on the back burner.

It’s not the worst problem to have, since each reservation holder tossed down a $1,000 deposit. But CEO Elon Musk is aware that meeting demand is going to be an uphill battle. “We’re going to go through at least six months of manufacturing hell,” Musk told the press ahead of Model 3 launch event.

With the company already having spent over $2 billion in capital this year, restocking the safe is probably a good idea. As an upstart automaker framing itself as going into battle with traditional manufacturers, Tesla is issuing $1.5 billion in junky war bonds to fund the coming onslaught.  (Read More…)

By on July 24, 2017

Tesla Supercharger

Tesla Motors changes its lineup more frequently than I replace my soiled bed sheets and, with the Model 3 fast approaching, it’s tweaking things yet again. This time the manufacturer is getting rid of the rear-wheel drive variant of the Model S 75, leaving the all-wheel version as the new base-trim — presumably to make room between its $74,500 price tag and the $35,000 Model 3.

This move also streamlines production, as eliminating the RWD car results in the Model S being an exclusively AWD build. However, that doesn’t mean the upscale sedan will be slim on options. Tesla has claimed the Model S will maintain gobs of premium features, unimaginable on the Model 3, for a grand total of 1,500 possible configurations. Do you need that much choice? Probably not. But you have to differentiate yourself from the plebs in the more-common EV somehow — apparently, superior size, speed, and free access to the company’s charging network isn’t enough.  (Read More…)

By on July 3, 2017

tesla-model-3

Production of the Model 3 is set to begin two weeks ahead of schedule, according to Tesla Motors chief executive and second most famous Twitter user in America, Elon Musk. While that news would probably be more exciting if we had ever been given a definitive timeline for the vehicle, the CEO claims it should equate to the very first car rolling off the assembly line by the end of this week.

“Model 3 passed all regulatory requirements for production two weeks ahead of schedule. Expecting to complete SN1 on Friday,” Musk tweeted late last night, causing half a million Tesla fans to engage in a collective round of giddy, high-pitched squealing. However, the most enthralled members of the company’s rabid fan base are likely to be the 30 people who get to wrap their quivering digits around the steering wheel of their very own Model 3 before the end of July.  (Read More…)

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…)

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