Consumer Reports Tricks Tesla's Autopilot

We wrote earlier this week about a Tesla crash in Texas in which the car may or may not have been driving itself, although the driver’s seat was apparently unoccupied.

It’s still not clear if Tesla’s Autopilot feature was activated or otherwise played a part in the crash.

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QOTD: Does Hyundai's 2021 Ioniq Hybrid Deserve Awards?

Hyundai’s 2021 Ioniq hybrid and plug-in hybrid received the Best Hybrid Car and Plug-In Hybrid awards from U.S. News & World Report. Our question is, are they the best hybrids or not? Did the right car(s) win?

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Authorities Claim No One Was in the Driver's Seat in Tesla Crash

A crash involving a Tesla Model S in Texas killed two passengers.

We say “passengers” instead of “occupants” because it appears there was no one in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash.

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Professional Troll Elon Musk At It Again

In addition to Elon Musk’s title as CEO — sorry, Technoking — of Tesla, along with his role as boss of SpaceX, we need to add professional troll to his resume.

How else to explain his latest Twitter spat?

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Volkswagen Reportedly Buying Carbon Credits From Tesla China

One of Volkswagen’s joint ventures in China has reportedly offered to purchase regulatory credits from Tesla in order to adhere to the regional environmental ascendancy. While VW may be doing everything in its power to swap over to an electric-vehicle manufacturer, it’s apparently falling short of government dictums.

FAW-Volkswagen — which shipped a little over 2 million automobiles in Asia last year — happened to be one of the biggest polluters of 2020 according to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. As it turns out, selling internal combustion vehicles consumers actually want to purchase in large quantities has some kind of environmental cost. Fortunately, it’s one regulators think can be solved by buying green credits from rivals who do all of their polluting during the initial assembly process and launder any future emissions through the national energy grid.

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Tesla Lawsuit Against Rivian Moves Forward in California Superior Court

The lawsuits continue against EV startup Rivian. Though it hasn’t built any vehicles to date, the company has an aggressive plan to manufacture its “Tesla killer” vehicles at the former Diamond Star Motors plant at Normal, Illinois, and sell its wares directly to customers via nine showrooms across the nation. Various parties take issue with both the building and selling facets at Rivian, and the company has lawsuits with dealers in Illinois as well as Tesla.

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Tesla Demands Return to Obama Fueling Restrictions, Reasons Obvious

Tesla is demanding the reinstatement of a 2016 Obama regulation that more than doubles penalties for manufacturers who fail to adhere to fuel efficiency requirements. Gee, I wonder why it would do such a thing.

While focusing on the environment is an admirable endeavor, much of the discussion surrounding environmentalism on the corporate level really skirts around the periphery of Scamville. Elon Musk is no fool and understands that the more stringent regulations are enacted against his competitors, the more desperate they will be to buy up Tesla’s mountain of carbon credits. With a little help from the government, electric-vehicle companies can effectively bankrupt their more-traditional rivals while earning a nice payday for themselves. In fact, Tesla has only managed to become a profitable company because of this practice.

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Consumer Reports Worried Tesla Could Spy on Customers

Consumer Reports has taken umbrage with Tesla’s new cabin camera designed to monitor the driver by suggesting there might be some privacy concerns. While that sounds like the understatement of the year, we’ve seen other companies (e.g. Cadillac) deploy similar devices with little pushback. Uncoverable lenses on our laptops and phones are creepy enough. When the auto industry starts affixing driver-monitoring cameras to the dashboards of automobiles, you have to sit back and ask yourself how much longer you’re willing to be a party to the prologue for George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Trapped like a dog inside the hot car of progress, we’ve been attempting to honk the horn until someone pays attention. Mercifully, Consumer Reports doesn’t seem to have forgotten its roots in consumer advocacy and is walking up to our window with a rock. It’s demanding more privacy protection for vehicle operators, and not just from a single automaker.

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Report: Chinese Military Bans Tesla Vehicles From Facilities

The Chinese military has decided to ban all Tesla vehicles from housing complexes and bases after citing them as a potential security risk. Since the cars use an array of ultrasonic sensors and cameras to create a panoramic view used for advanced driving features, China is concerned the American brand could use the cars to covertly map out sensitive areas.

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Teutonic Tesla: Volkswagen Now Building 'Gigafactories'

As much as we’ve criticized American luxury brands for emulating the Germans, we’ve failed to do the same for Volkswagen Group’s pathetic attempts at copying Tesla. That changes with Monday’s announcement that VW will assemble six “gigafactories” in Europe by 2030. Shared on “Power Day” — the company’s bastardized version of Tesla’s Battery Day — the plan is supposed to result in a production capacity of 240 GWh annually when completed and help VW reduce battery costs while also securing access.

It’s not a half-bad plan for a company entirely devoted to electrification, which is probably why Tesla follows a similar model using nearly identical terminology. Though, considering the absolute mess Volkswagen seems to have made of its EV transmission thus far, some might find it difficult to blame the automaker for looking at the competition and breaking out the notepad.

Others will be less sympathetic while acknowledging this is probably VW’s best play if it’s serious about EVs.

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Tesla Bumps up Pricing on Most Models

Tesla quietly increased pricing on several models via its website this week, with the new Model S Plaid Plus representing the largest jump. The performance variant is said to be capable of 200 mph and breezing through 60 mph in under 2 seconds. It also boasts the brand’s updated interior and an alleged range of 520 miles, which really opens it up to becoming the kind of vehicle you might actually want to take on an extended road trip.

But it’s going to set you back $151,190 (including the $1,200 destination charge), which is exactly $10,000 more than Tesla said it would cost just a few months ago. While that increase has not been extended to other Plaid models, none of which offer a massive bump in range, forthcoming Plaid Plus models are likely to see loftier price tags than originally expected.

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Tesla's Gambit: Secretive Battery Project Launched in Texas

When it comes to automakers jumping into electrification, nobody does it like Tesla. Its complete reliance on the success of battery-electric vehicles has encouraged it to make the kind of big moves that cause trepidation in traditional manufacturers. While other companies were debating how many EVs they should target years down the road, Tesla was building the proprietary charging network that actually helped those vehicles make sense to consumers.

Now, it’s using a new subsidiary to place another piece of the puzzle directly into Texas’ energy grid. Gambit Energy Storage is reportedly building a 100-megawatt energy hub in Angleton, following widespread outages in the greater Houston area. While it’s known that Tesla has started shifting operations to The Lonestar State after CEO Elon Musk announced he had enough of California at the start of 2020, the Gambit project is not something the automaker has decided to advertise — even though it seems to play favorably into its long-term strategy.

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Tesla Model S Prototype Spotted With Fabled Steering Yoke

Several weeks ago, Tesla officially announced planned updates to the Model S and Model X as part of a comprehensive refresh. The vehicles would be getting more interior screens, improved software, and a top-of-the-line “Plaid” trim. Customers are also supposed to be given the option of purchasing a butterfly-shaped steering rig — which was quite the surprise.

While the system works well on airplanes and dedicated racing vehicles, using a yoke to navigate smoothly around town is an exercise in futility. Their design may make it easy to make mid-corner adjustments at high speeds, but they lack the ability to make a complete rotation with any fluidity. As such, many believed Tesla would tone things down from conceptual renderings and the steering wheel would be a yoke in name only. But they appear to have been mistaken. Over the weekend, a Twitter user started leaking shots of a prototype Model S sporting the rectangular steering… uh… wheel?

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Tesla CEO Accused of Kowtowing to China: A Tale of Two Musks?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk came under fire this week after Bloomberg wrote a piece accusing him of playing nice with totalitarian China following years of showing totalitarian California a complete lack of respect. With the semiconductor shortage leaving the industry in a holding pattern, tabloid journalism seems to be filling in the gaps to the dismay of yours truly. However, Musk’s relationship with both countries remains relevant since they represent the two largest automotive markets on the planet and will dictate the trajectory of the business.

He’s being accused of being extremely apologetic to Chinese regulators, despite having become infamous for acting in the exact opposite manner in the United States. As you might recall, American Musk is all about flagrantly ignoring the rules and telling the government regulators to take their concerns into the bathroom where they’ll have the privacy necessary to stick them where the sun doesn’t shine. When it comes to high-IQ billionaires, our Elon is the bad boy’s bad boy. But Chinese Musk is said to be deferential and happy to comply with the request of oversight groups before they become official mandates.

He sounds like a total traitor! At least, that’s how China’s state-run media framed it before Western outlets took the reporting and made Elon seem even worse on Tuesday. The story has since been spreading online, encouraging this website to take another look to see if Mr. Musk is actually the double-crossing villain that’s being claimed.

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Your Regular Reminder That Fully Self-Driving Cars Don't Exist Yet

While we’re on the subject of Super Bowl commercials, there wasn’t just one, but two, that irritated me on Sunday.

This one has little, if anything, to do with politics, so you can relax and cancel out that angry email you were about to send me.

Nope, this one has to do with the misinformation circulating about autonomous cars.

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  • Ravenuer 15 Overpriced Vehicles? I'd say they all are.
  • Ravenuer Bought a new 96 GXE. Paid $25002 for it. Hands down the best, most reliable car I ever owned! Put 300k on it with only minor repairs. Miss it.
  • Bfisch81 My friend's mom bought a fully loaded 96 and I remember really liking it. I still thought my granddad's 89 was cooler and sportier but the 96 felt more luxury which wasn't a bad thing in and of itself.
  • Art Vandelay Battery issues aside, I didn’t hate it. I’d have just been paying for range I didn’t need.
  • THX1136 Saying that because 'marked up' vehicles are selling means they are not over priced assumes the folks paying over MSRP know that they are paying more than the manufacturer price set for the vehicle and are happy to do so. I'm guessing in some instances it may be the buyer is ignorant of the situation - or buys with a 'I gotta have it now, I can't wait' attitude. As others have mentioned if one does the work to find a fair price, they don't have to pay an inflated price. Laziness enters into the equation too. But I would agree, generally, that if folks are paying an unreasonably high price they must be okay with that. If demand drops significantly, prices would moderate. Big if.