Operational Limits Played 'Major Role' in Fatal Tesla Autopilot Crash, Says NTSB

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.

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Tesla Discovers an Obvious Place for Urban Owners to Fuel Up

Until now, Tesla’s growing network of Supercharger stations was generally aimed at the long-distance crowd. If a (very) premium-priced sedan can’t make the five-hour trip to your sister’s house for Thanksgiving, well, second thoughts might crop up about that purchase.

To accomplish the goal of Tesla proliferation, much of the automaker’s fast-charge network sprouted up in locales convenient for travellers. Places like Holiday Inn Express parking lots, restaurants, visitor centers, and Macadoodles Fine Wine & Spirits in Springfield, Missouri. In the Midwest, hungry travellers can hop off the Interstate and charge up at Meijer while shopping for juice boxes and potato wedges.

However, logic (and infrastructure) states that the majority of Tesla buyers, current and future, live in large cities and don’t leave town all that often. They’re also more likely live in condos with garages free of any plug-in points. Tesla’s latest round of Supercharger construction takes this into account, dropping the fast-charge stations directly where those urbanites inevitably show up once a week.

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National Drive Electric Week Events, Free and Probably Near You

Since 2011, National Drive Electric Week has taken place in venues across the United States, some Canadian locations, and at select international venues. This year, it runs from Saturday, September 9th through Sunday, September 17th.

There are 262 event locations for 2017, so there’s probably an event not far away, assuming you’re electrically inclined.

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Labor Relations Board Files Worker Rights Complaint Against Tesla; Musk Fires Back

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.

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Like Mercury, Tesla Pricing Is in Retrograde

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?

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Stopping Short: Tesla's Electric 'Long-hauler' Rumored to Have a Maximum Range Under 300 Miles

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.

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Enough With the Negatives: What Do the Auto Industry's Good Panel Gaps Look Like?

We’re auto writers. By our very nature, we’re irritable complainers, apt to harp and carp. Yet while we enjoy a humorous headline, needling readers, and looking far into the future, you’ll more likely find us sharing photos of horrendous automotive disappointments on TTAC’s digital HQ, Slack.

Sometimes the disappointments are obvious and consequently publicized. Departed managing editor Mark Stevenson, for example, profiled a 2015 Ford Edge Titanium’s build issues in late 2015.

Panel gaps are one means of quantifying perceived quality. Industry observers and many customers use perceived quality to make educated guesses about future real quality. If a vehicle appears to be built well, surely it is. If a vehicle appears to be built poorly, how much worse is the quality of assembly under the skin?

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Tesla Hoping to Scrounge $1.5 Billion With Automotive War Bonds

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.

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With the Model 3 Out of the Bag, Tesla Investors Worry (While Musk Won't Stop Talking About 'Hell')

The production Tesla Model 3, revealed in full at a Friday evening handover ceremony, is an impressive vehicle, but it’s also the California automaker’s most important vehicle. With 220 miles of range in stripped-down base trim, or 310 miles for the starting sum of $44,ooo (the only version available at launch), the curvaceous sedan has no shortage of fans. It’s also facing no shortage of threats.

The company’s future as a mass-market “disruptor” of the American automotive landscape hinges on the Model 3’s trouble-free production at Tesla’s Fremont assembly plant, as well as timely deliveries to the half-million reservation holders. Unforeseen quality issues, a breakdown in the supply chain, or worker strife could all conspire to give the vehicle — and company — a black eye.

After a year spent giving investors everything they wished for, the company’s once-skyrocketing stock isn’t on the same firm ground as before. The first trading day after the event reflected this. Investors are nervous about a number of things: the model’s easily inflatable price, the company’s extremely lofty production target, and CEO Elon Musk’s repeated mentions of “hell.”

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Tesla Model 3 Launches at $44K in Long Range Form; Cheaper Version to Follow

Perhaps the most anticipated automotive event of the year (Tesla disciples might say millenium) took place in California last night, as electric car guru Elon Musk handed over the first 30 production Tesla Model 3 sedans to customers — most, if not all, of them employees — at a glitzy, livestreamed event.

Eyesight was restored to the blind. Others rose from their wheelchairs, walking for the first time in years. Okay, that’s not true, but the depths to which some Tesla fans deify Musk and his car company cannot be understated. Certainly, after seeing the final production model, learning its specifications, and hearing Tesla’s lofty production plans, even a cynic drowning in a vast ocean of media-driven hype can’t help but feel impressed.

Hailed as the first affordable, long-range, mass-produced electric car — a crown stolen by the Chevrolet Bolt months ago — the Model 3 will retail for $35,000 before federal incentives, but not just yet. The only version available at launch is the $44,000 Long Range model, good for 310 miles of range per charge.

The 220-mile base sedan, which carries that vaunted lower sticker price, won’t be available until this fall. So, what can the roughly 500,000 reservation holders expect? If they’re on a budget, black had better be their favorite color.

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Fall Guy: Tesla Stock Dives as Storm Clouds Rain on Musk's Parade

If Tesla stock was an airplane, it would have left Earth’s atmosphere sometime this spring. By June, that aircraft — let’s call it the Model P — would have been within striking distance of Mars. Indeed, Tesla investors made out like bandits as the company’s shares soared and its market cap sailed past that of Ford and General Motors, making it the most valuable domestic automaker.

For a while, it seemed nothing could stop Tesla’s meteoric rise. Not labor strife, not worries about the Model 3’s production timeline, not a cracked A-pillar on a freshly delivered Model S, not Model X doors trapping people inside a burning vehicle, not allegations of subpar working conditions, nothing. Tesla may as well have tried buying the rights to the word Teflon.

Well, CEO Elon Musk said it best himself in May. The company’s market valuation was “higher than we have any right to deserve,” he told The Guardian, a month before Tesla shares rose to a record $383.45. As the saying goes, “What goes up…”

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First Production Tesla Model 3 to Appear This Week, Says Musk

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.

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QOTD: Do You Want a Tesla Model 3 or an Electric BMW 3 Series?

BMW intends to unveil an all-electric 3 Series at the Munich Auto Show in September, according to German business newspaper Handelsblatt.

Will BMW report the intake of hundreds of thousands of $1,000 deposits for an all-electric, next-generation BMW 3 Series? Probably not.

But which car are you more likely to purchase: a 3 Series EV from long-heralded BMW with roughly 250 miles of range, or the much-hyped, oft-discussed Model 3 from nascent Tesla, production of which should be in full swing by the time the 3 Series EV appears?

This may be the next Mustang vs. Camaro, a quasi Accord vs. Camry battle to end all Accord vs. Camry battles, an F-150 vs. Silverado skirmish without the 87 octane.

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Tesla Model S Gas Pedal Snaps Off After Driver Tries Showing Off Launch Mode

One Tesla owner got a big shock yesterday as his accelerator pedal snapped off while driving.

The story comes from user benjiejr on the Tesla Motor Club forum. He was showing off his Model S P85D to a friend and his nephew. After going through the car’s features it was time to show off the massive acceleration of the P85D’s twin electric motors and 503 horsepower.

“I turned around and was going to do another launch, but this time without Launch Mode – just stomp on the pedal – like I do most often. When I punched it, the accelerator pedal broke off.”

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When a Brand Becomes Your Identity, Bad Things Can Happen

A horrible situation transpired in Midtown Detroit yesterday evening, in which the driver of an old Chevrolet Silverado pickup crossed the center line on Canfield Avenue, near Second Street, and struck four people standing outside the Shinola store.

According to the latest reports, a 73-year-old man has died, while two others remain in hospital in serious condition. The 42-year-old driver, who has reportedly never held a license in his life and was driving with illegal plates, was arrested at the scene. He told police he had taken two Ecstacy pills, Xanax, and officers also suspect he was under the influence of alcohol.

An unidentified passenger riding in the truck told media he didn’t know why the driver crossed the line, adding that he tried to stop the vehicle by jamming the gearshift lever into “park.”

What makes this story different from the many instances of innocent bystanders being injured by passenger cars not being where they’re supposed to be (not to mention criminally irresponsible behavior on the part of vehicle operators) is the location of the crash, and the reason those pedestrians were standing along Canfield.

It was a Tesla pop-up event. And those bystanders were looking at Tesla vehicles near a mobile design studio. As early reports filtered out, some decided to take speculation to new heights.

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Tesla Teases Upcoming Model Y; Promises Revolutionary New Assembly Method

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.

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Researchers Cast Doubt on Viability of Tesla's Electric Big Rig

It’s not just the range — it’s the weight, too. Oh, and don’t forget about cost. These are some of the potential stumbling blocks facing Tesla’s introduction of an electric semi truck, say Carnegie Mellon University researchers in a peer-reviewed study expected later this month.

Tesla has two trucks up its sleeve. One, an electric big rig, is slated for reveal this September, while an electric pickup should appear within the next two years. So far, it’s looking like the latter vehicle is the viable one.

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New 'People Officer' Arrives at Tumultuous Time for Tesla

For some reason, the term “Chief People Officer” is at the same time cringe-inducing and rational. That’s what Tesla calls its head of HR. “Human Resources,” of course, is another cringe-inducing term that could only have come from the mid-century expansion of the federal public service. It’s an awful thing.

At Tesla, the face of HR — or people, if you will — has suddenly changed, and at a very interesting point in the electric automaker’s history. The company has announced the departure of longtime HR head Arnnon Geshuri, who oversaw workers at the company for eight years. In his place is Gaby Toledano, a veteran of high tech.

The timing of the departure could simply be a benign career change, but what’s occurring in the background at Tesla have many thinking otherwise.

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Consumer Reports Restores Half of Tesla's Missing Points After Braking Update

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.”

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After Snatching Away the Perk, Tesla Returns Free Charging to Certain Owners

Chatty Tesla owners who compel their friends and family to consider buying a Model S or X are apparently behind the company’s U-Turn on paid Supercharger use.

At the beginning of the year, Tesla, in a bid to fund a doubling of its fast-charge network, withdrew a big perk from the purchase of one of its vehicles: free Supercharger use. No longer would new buyers be able to sail off in their new Tesla, confident in their ability to juice up at one of the 750-plus stations scattered across North America. Owners who purchased their vehicle prior to January 1st were grandfathered.

Supercharger hogs were also slapped with an “idling” fee, all in the hopes of freeing up space at the stations. While the pricing structure remains — new buyers receive 400 kWh of annual free charging with their purchase, after which a variable fee applies — there’s now a way to get unlimited free power.

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Tesla Releases Statement on Worker Safety Days Before Scathing Report

In the face of what it describes as “a concerted and professional media push intended to raise questions about safety at Tesla,” the California electric automaker has attempted to counter an apparent unionization tactic.

In a May 14th blog post titled “Creating the Safest Car Factory in the World,” Tesla said it was contacted by numerous media sources claiming to have spoken with similar workers at its Fremont assembly plant. The automaker sees this as an attempt by both the United Auto Workers and Tesla employees intent on organizing the plant to use instances of workplace injury as an organizational tool.

This morning, the story Tesla was working to get ahead of landed in The Guardian.

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Model Confusion, Losses and a Distinct Lack of SEX at Tesla

Tesla CEO Elon Musk isn’t getting any. By that we mean profits, as the electric automaker reported a $397 million first-quarter loss yesterday, adding to the red ink spilled in the previous quarter.

While the company’s revenue rose 18.4 percent in Q1 and deliveries climbed 12 percent, spending on Model 3 production more than offset the increase in cash flow. Musk took the loss in stride, playing the long game in a quarterly investors call, and claimed a combination of higher production numbers and lower operating costs will send those gray clouds packing.

Finances aside, the conference call yielded far more interesting topics, including details of the upcoming Model Y. Also, it seems people are becoming confused by Tesla’s naming strategy, and Musk has no one but Ford — and a dirty mind — to blame.

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Tesla Is Recruiting Mexican Engineers for Its California Assembly Plant

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.

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Tesla Teases a Big Rig; Musk Wants Your Car to Go Sledding

Break out the acai berry juice — there’s another futuristic transportation vision emerging from the fevered mind of Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

During a TED talk in Vancouver on Friday, Musk teased an image of his company’s upcoming electric big rig. The vehicle, scheduled for a September reveal, isn’t the only truck bound for Tesla showrooms — the automaker expects to debut a pickup in the next 18 to 24 months.

While we’ve known about the impending semi truck for some time, Musk also choose Friday to drop a video showing what he feels is the Next Big Thing in efficient transportation: underground electric sleds for your car.

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Tesla Ousts Supplier's Management and Sweetens Pay Deal to Avoid German Strike

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.

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Consumer Reports Downgrades Tesla Models Over Safety Concerns

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.

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Tesla Planning to Double the Number of Supercharger Stations

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.

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After Fiery China Crash, Model X Rear Doors Are Still Causing Problems for Tesla

The fiery aftermath of a crash on a Chinese highway has Tesla on the defensive, rebuffing claims the rear “Falcon Wing” doors of the Model X pose a danger to passengers trying to escape.

Unlike past high-profile crashes, this story doesn’t concern the potential risks of the vehicle’s Autopilot system, as it seems the cause of the accident can be entirely attributed to driver error. The chauffeur-driven Model X reportedly hit cement barriers in Guangzhou, China, while travelling at 47 miles per hour, spinning the vehicle around and sparking a head-on impact from a Ford Focus.

The vehicle’s underfloor battery pack, damaged and exposed to oxygen, erupted in flames. However, it’s what happened next that prompted a $1 million lawsuit against Tesla.

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You Like Trucks? We've Got Two Trucks Coming, Says Tesla

If Tesla CEO Elon Musk knows what’s good for him — and his bottom line — he’ll arrange a product placement in a Hollywood remake of Smokey and the Bandit, probably starring Ryan Reynolds. Maybe that Stifler guy, if he’s still bankable.

America’s electric-only automaker figures it has the conventional EV passenger car and SUV markets covered, so it’s time to fulfill a promise made last year: trucks. Specifically, a pickup and a semi truck, the first of which is due for an unveiling this year.

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Owner of Tesla With Cracked A-pillar Gets Action, But No Answers

Earlier this month, we detailed the plight of a Toronto-area man whose newly delivered Tesla Model S 90D — a six-figure vehicle boasting cutting-edge technology — arrived from the factory with a sizable crack in the A-pillar.

Because the A-pillar forms part of a one-piece aluminum side member, the defect represented a structural fault that couldn’t be ignored. It wasn’t the kind of PR Tesla wanted, especially as it ramps up production (and stock value) ahead of the Model 3 launch, and it certainly wasn’t something a first-time owner and admitted Tesla fan wanted to find.

After airing his story on the Tesla Motors Club forum, the owner provided TTAC with updates on his vehicle’s status.

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Tesla Owner Finds Torn A-Pillar on Freshly Delivered Model S

Imagine you’ve just taken delivery of a car with a price tag of $127,100. You’re leasing it for a monthly sum that could pay for a nice two-bedroom apartment in most North American cities.

The A-pillar is torn. Split. Structurally compromised. And it was delivered that way from the factory.

According to one Toronto-area man, that’s the situation he’s facing with a brand-new Tesla Model S 90D.

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Tesla's Market Value Beats GM's, Making It Number One Among Domestics

Workers are likely spinning in office chairs and there’s probably a second frozen yogurt machine on its way to Fremont as you read this.

After hitting a springboard on Monday morning, Tesla’s stock market value has now surpassed that of the former top-ranked U.S. automaker General Motors. This comes just a day after the electric automaker’s surging shares pushed past Ford, placing it in the number two spot.

There’s nowhere to go except down. What, too cynical?

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We're Number Two! Tesla Tramples Ford in Investor Value, Targets GM

For a car company that sells a tiny fraction of the volume put out by the likes of Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Tesla’s investors have given the electric automaker clear bragging rights.

Despite generous debt, tight timelines and razor-thin profitability, Tesla’s stock market value sprinted past Ford today, placing it in the number two spot among domestic automakers. The company, which has yet to offer a vehicle most normal Americans can afford, holds a market cap of $47.81 billion at last count.

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This Low-voltage Tesla Model X is Powered by Irony

The disproportionately smug owner of this Tesla Model X is having a bad day.

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Tesla Model X on Autopilot 'Collides' With Phoenix Police Motorcycle

A Tesla Model X driving in semi-autonomous Autopilot mode rear-ended a police motorcycle last week, according to The Arizona Republic.

The incident happened on March 21, when both vehicles stopped at a traffic light after exiting a freeway in Phoenix. The Tesla stopped “briefly” before it began to move forward again. The officer managed to bail before the Tesla bumped the bike.

No damage was reported on either vehicle, since the officer estimated the Model X was only going three miles per hour.

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Elon Musk Clarifies Tesla Model 3 Won't Outperform Model S

Tesla founder Elon Musk recently cleared the air in regards to the automaker’s upcoming Model 3 sedan, telling his Twitter followers the more budget friendly Tesla won’t outperform the Model S.

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Tesla Owners Maintain a Deep Affection for Their Cars, Despite Quality Issues

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.

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Tesla Skips a Step, Goes Straight to 'Early Release' Model 3s

After deciding that its analytic tools are top-notch and will tell it everything it needs to know, Tesla is skipping the “beta” phase of the Model 3’s development cycle.

In a conference call to investors last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the automaker doesn’t need to bother with that crop of pre-production models. Early release model 3s built on the company’s production assembly line — not specialty one-offs built in a corner of the shop — should be rolling by this week or next, he said.

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Tesla Kills 'Affordable' 60 KWh Model S as Model 3 Approaches

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.

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Fifth Grader Gives Elon Musk Advice, Promotes Dad's Autojourno Career

Perhaps you’ve noticed, by its absence, that there isn’t any advertising for Tesla products. Elon Musk is pretty good at generating buzz without having to pay for it. For example, a number of media organizations recently ran the news that Musk took the advice given to him by a fifth-grade girl — via her dad’s Twitter account — on how to publicize his electric cars.

Bria Loveday had a school assignment involving writing and mailing a letter to a noted person and, the way the story goes, she chose Musk. In her letter she noted that while Tesla doesn’t advertise, a number of Tesla enthusiasts have produced their own entertaining commercials for the EV maker, and Bria suggested that Tesla hold a contest for the best one. The winner would get his or her ad aired and then receive some kind of prize like a free year’s worth of supercharging at a Tesla station.

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Old-school Autopilot Users Are Still Crashing for the Same Reasons

We’ve covered a number of accidents involving Tesla’s nifty but not fully-autonomous Autopilot system already — some unfortunate, one fatal, but mostly just embarrassing.

This video, shot months after Tesla founder Elon Musk hammered home the technology’s limitations as investigations swirled, shows a crash that falls into the latter category. It also perfectly showcases the technological and human failings that have led to Autopilot-related crashes.

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Tesla Could Have Trouble Meeting Its Looming Production Targets

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.

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Tesla, the Worker, the Union, and the Bill That Can't Help Elon Musk

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk knows a unionized workforce would add another variable to his lofty, carefully crafted production plans, and an unpredictable one at that: labor strife.

Until now, the electric automaker’s top boss has fended off the possibility in a progressive-sounding way, but a simmering unionization movement, which reared its head this week, shows no signs of abating. Since the appearance of a scathing blog post written by a Tesla assembly plant worker, Musk has found himself on the defensive. A paid union agitator, Musk claimed, wrote the post to rile employees. Then the UAW jumped into the fray.

Now, it’s one big battle. Musk likely wishes a recently introduced bill to amend the National Labor Relations Act was on his side.

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As Tesla Plant Shows Early Signs of Unionizing, Musk and UAW Trade Blows

Some employees at Tesla Inc.’s Fremont, California factory have been moving ahead with efforts to unionize. Fronting that campaign is Jose Moran, who claims to have worked at the plant for the last four years. He and other disgruntled Tesla employees have reached out to the United Automobile Workers, claiming they work long hours for low pay under unsafe conditions as the company pursues aggressive production deadlines.

While Tesla’s CEO has responded with his own claim that Moran was paid by the UAW to join his company and proselytize for a union, the organization promptly refuted that suggestion by accusing Tesla of spreading dreaded “fake news.”

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Tesla to Temporarily Halt Factory as Model 3 Pre-production Looms

Tesla is planning to halt vehicle production for one week in February to prepare for Model 3 pre-production, which the company says will begin February 20.

According to Reuters, the short-term shutdown of its Fremont, California assembly plant will give Tesla time to add capacity to its paint shop as it plans for full-scale production of the Model 3.

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Say Goodbye to 'Tesla Motors' and Say Hello To…

In the world of corporate automotive name changes, this one isn’t on the same level as, say, anything involving Chrysler over the past 10 years.

Tesla Motors, builder and purveyor of tech-laden ecomobiles, isn’t the same fledgling company it was when the Tesla Roadster was still a hazy promise a few could conceive of an automaker offering home energy products on the side.

Now that its business umbrella covers both vehicles and the offerings of recently acquired SolarCity, the company needs to change things up. Well, just the name, really.

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'Startling Paranoia': Ex-Autopilot Director Sued by Tesla, Fires Back

The former director of Tesla’s Autopilot program has choice words for his former employer.

Sterling Anderson is being sued by Tesla for stealing confidential information, which he allegedly put to use at a new autonomous vehicle start-up. According to Bloomberg, the electric automaker isn’t happy about his attempts to hire away Tesla employees, either.

In his response to the suit, Anderson doesn’t have very nice things to say about Tesla.

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Missed It By That Much: Tesla Falls Short of Its 2016 Goal

2016 wasn’t just a disappointing year for celebrities.

After stating that it would place between 80,000 and 90,000 vehicles in the hands of adoring customers before year’s end, Tesla failed to clear the delivery bar it had set for itself. While production numbers crossed the threshold, 2016 deliveries fell short, numbering only 76,230.

Still, the electric automaker — which has set much loftier production goals for the near future — doesn’t seem too concerned.

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Tesla Hits Supercharger Hogs With New Fee, Hopes to 'Never Make Any Money From It'

Tesla announced Friday that it will impose an additional fee of forty cents per minute on vehicles left idle in a Supercharger space for more than five minutes.

The new expense is apparently another attempt by the company to clamp down on the habitual misuse of its charging network. Since many Supercharging locations are literally parking spots and a Model S takes longer to “refuel” than a gas-powered car, it makes sense that Tesla drivers might wander off to search for coffee.

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Tesla Flings Cash at 126 Norwegians to Settle Low-horsepower Lawsuit

For a company that prides itself on clean performance, a massive lawsuit and public claims of less-than-advertised power wasn’t great PR.

Tesla just swept an annoying bit of litigation into the dustbin of history by promising a different kind of green to 126 Norwegian owners, all the while claiming it did nothing wrong.

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Tesla Service Includes a Long Wait or a Long Drive - or Both

With lengthy repair times, parts shortages, and colossal distances between locations, Tesla is having real difficulties effectively servicing its current customer base as complaints begin to mount.

While certainly unfortunate news, this will be nothing compared to what it will face when the upcoming Model 3 starts needing the EV equivalent of an oil change.

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Tesla Supercharger Stations Will Be Charging More Than Just Your Car in 2017

Tesla’s free Supercharger network was one of the best parts of being a Tesla owner. Free electricity and the lofty social status that comes with EV ownership? What’s not to like? Well, the the company just announced it’s about to make a “change to the economics of Supercharging.”

After issuing emails urging customers to stop hogging the network last year, Tesla has decided only to allow certain early adopters to make use of the fast-juicing power grid free of charge. Meanwhile, all customers purchasing vehicles after January 2017 will have to pay up.

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Tesla Rearranges Pricing and Trims for the Umpteenth Time, and You'll Pay for It

Tesla’s Model S 60 has come and gone only to show up again as the “bargain” Tesla, even though it’s actually just a cheaper Model S 75 with a stingy computer.

Now, inside information suggests it’ll be going up in price even if you decided not to add the company’s cool new transparent roof. With the automaker seemingly hoping to squeeze every last buck out of its lineup, the top-flight versions of both of its models have now been propelled into the pricing stratosphere.

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Tesla Crash Shows What Firefighters Deal With When a Battery Pack Catches Fire

A severe head-on crash in Indianapolis last night claimed the lives of two people — but because it’s a Tesla, the story made national news.

According to the Indianapolis Star, the Model S impacted a tree, throwing debris 150 yards and starting a fire that consumed the vehicle. This isn’t a story about whether the vehicle or its electronic systems may have caused the crash — police made it clear that speed was a factor.

Rather, the aftermath of this crash shows what firefighters face when the lithium-ion battery pack in an electric car catches fire.

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TTAC News Round-up: Ford's Ominous 'Cult of Disruption' Has Produced Some E-Abominations

Are you an absolutely shameless individual who is sick to death of walking and loves gimmicks? Ford has you covered with an entry from what it has dubbed a “Cult of Disruption Innovation.”

That, there’s a certain popular Japanese vehicle built in Canada that won’t be going to Europe (thanks to the United States), Tesla is now inexplicably in the glass making business, and minivans are in danger of going seatless in the event of a supplier strike… after the break!

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TTAC News Round-Up: Even When Volkswagen Group Wins, It Loses

Volkswagen’s expensive diesel emissions scandal has forced cost cutting on anything that isn’t electric and its rally team is next on the chopping block. Quitting while ahead is ideal but abandoning a program due to financial woes and public shame after a hot streak doesn’t exactly smack of going out on top.

That, Toyota invents a box that allows anyone to use your car, Tesla’s zero-emission credits may soon be worth less, and Ford makes peace with its Canadian autoworkers at the buzzer… after the break!

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TTAC News Round-Up: Bob Lutz Says Tesla's Most Successful Product is Kool-Aid

Bob Lutz has worked as an executive for General Motors, Chrysler, Ford, and BMW at various points in his storied life. Saying he’s a man who is well-versed in the automotive industry would be a colossal understatement. And that expertise has led him to the assertion that a certain manufacturer is a cult led by a false god.

That, Audi has abandoned its wildly successful career in endurance racing for something far less popular, Ford takes a financial body blow, and Volkswagen Group continues to suffer with Porsche as its sugar daddy… after the break!

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Tesla Adds Fully Self-Driving Hardware to All Models, But You'll Still Do The Work

Yesterday, after a brief delay and weeks of teasing, Tesla Motors said it will equip all of its new vehicles with the hardware needed for fully autonomous driving. Starting yesterday, the technology comes standard on every model, including the upcoming Model 3 sedan.

But that doesn’t mean you can use it anytime soon.

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The LAPD Just Can't Quit the Idea of Electric Patrol Cars

The Los Angeles Police Department loves the idea of Tesla patrol cars so much, it’s rekindling a dream it put on ice earlier this year.

The city’s coffers haven’t suddenly become flush with cash, and a previous testing cycle saw the LAPD cross the automaker off its list of potential electric vehicle suppliers. Still, it looks like the idea of a black-and-white Tesla Model S with Ludicrous Mode is just too great to pass up.

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Exploring the Bay Area With Audi on Demand and Getaround

My wife and I visited the Bay Area a couple of weeks ago. Our plan was open-ended and started with a one-way ticket to Oakland and two nights at the Westin in Union Square. Since parking in San Francisco is expensive, we decided to forgo renting a car at the airport and took an Uber into the city.

After exploring the city for a bit, we decided to head up north and visit some wineries. One of the more convenient options to rent a car for the day is the new Audi On Demand service, so we picked up an A4 and headed north.

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  • FreedMike Can the final last call edition be the Secretary Special, with a V6 and a vinyl roof?
  • FreedMike I’ve never heard of this so I’ll have no problem not attending.
  • ToolGuy As I understand it, the Toyota Prius basically lasts forever because the engine gets a gentle duty cycle and the battery gets babied. This seems like the opposite of that.[Impressive tech, not for me, but then neither is the Prius.]
  • Dusterdude Excellent work ! Your stories are always linguistically interesting . Even if you weren’t writing about a quirky car on a long and adventuresome journey - I know your write up would still be interesting ! ( I also have a Soft spot for large cars - as my daily driver is a 2000 Chrysler Concorde )
  • MaintenanceCosts There have always been just two reasons to buy AMG cars: the menacing, hard-edged V8 warble, and the styling with subtle shapes but perfectly aggressive details. This is missing both of those things: the styling has gotten cartoonishly aggressive, and the engine will sound like a fart-can Civic. I don't understand why I should want it.