A report from the National Transportation Safety Board concludes that a fallible driver-assist system, and the driver’s overreliance on it, were the main causes of a fatal March 2018 crash on US-101 in Mountain View, California.
The violent crash of a Tesla Model X that killed a 38-year-old Apple software engineer is a perfect example of both Silicon Valley excess and the teething troubles facing our tech-obsessed world.
Tesla Model S sales have taken a backseat to the electric sedan’s hot-selling Model 3 sibling, but the model remains a valuable asset for the automaker. For one thing, it offers the most range of any Tesla vehicle. Now, buyers of both the Model S and X can expect greater driving distances, all thanks to a product upgrade added several months ago.
Real-world range is another matter, and on that front there’s reason for Porsche Taycan buyers to smile.
Later today, Tesla will release financial data for the first quarter of 2019, a quarter in which both deliveries and production fell compared to Q4 2019. The Model S and X returned their worst sales showings in years, and analysts fear a steep drop in revenue in a period where CEO Elon Musk pulled a U-turn on profitability predictions.
Should be fun.
However, there’s a more news coming out of Tesla than just anxious investors and head-scratching autonomy promises. There’s real, bonafide driving range added to the two aforementioned vehicles, and the company at least deserves kudos for improving its existing products.
Over the weekend, Tesla CEO Elon Musk asked the world to “please note” that prices on all Tesla inventory would rise by about 3 percent on April 1st. While it sounds like the setup to a particularly bland April Fool’s prank, Musk followed up by saying, “To be clear, this doesn’t affect Tesla website order prices. Existing inventory prices are currently slightly lower than on website. This will bring them in line,” which is only slightly funny.
The automaker is also scrapping its extended service plans, intended to provide annual maintenance on its vehicles. Considering how often Tesla adjusts pricing, this is the bigger story. But let’s give the money matters a little attention before making our deep dive into the company’s bold reliability claims (which is Tesla’s stated reason for the yearly maintenance program’s kiboshing).
There will be no Ace of Base prizes for the Tesla Model X or Model S in 2019. Just days after promising to cut prices of all its cars by $2,000 in response to the company blowing through its federal tax credits faster than a record producer with a bag of high-test cocaine, the company’s Chief Executive Tweeter has announced the discontinuation of the 75D X and S models.
This is in addition to Tesla cleaving off a number of color and interior trim choices last year. At the time, it was speculated the company was doing so in an effort to streamline production.
So Elon giveth, so Elon taketh away.
Hoping to simplify vehicle assembly, Tesla tweaked its online car configurator over the weekend, culling numerous options from both the Model S and X. This translates into a price bump for more-basic models and a few dollars saved on the higher trims, but less choice overall. The Model S ($78,000) and X 75D ($84,000) now cost a grand more and offer improved interiors, but the 100D units cost $500 less than before. Meanwhile, all trims play host to a slimmer options list.
It was an expected move, as the brand has previously limited options to grease the wheels of production. Elon Musk said the company would embrace further streamlining to “simplify the product offerings” last month, but it’s a little surprising how far the company went.
Tesla’s Elon Musk announced Tuesday that the automaker will limit its paint options to simplify production and, hopefully, improve volume. “Moving [two] of [seven] Tesla colors off menu on Wednesday to simplify manufacturing,” said the CEO via social media. “Obsidian Black and Metallic Silver will still be available as special request, but at higher price.”
The announcement comes after a busy press week for Tesla. Musk lost his chief accounting officer after a comically brief tenure and was lambasted for smoking marijuana on Joe Rogan’s podcast. However, the real crime was how much of it Elon wasted by puffing on the monster wrap in an attempt to appease the host, without ever inhaling any smoke. That’s no way to get high.
Complain about Tesla Motors’ hype machine all you like; it’s still an innovative company. Unfortunately, it has painted itself into a bit of a corner as a result. Still lacking the production might of its much larger competitors, it continues to brand itself as an upstart as it works on improving volume. That means its CEO, Elon Musk, has to continue coming up with new ideas and gimmicks to keep the public impressed.
This week, he came up with a special vehicle mode that would improve the vehicle’s usability while parked. But we can’t exactly tell if it’s a good idea or a bunch of meaningless fluff. Dubbed by Musk as “ party & camper mode,” the setting would allow drivers to maintain in-car airflow, regulate the temperature, play music, charge devices, and have access to lighting for up to 48 hours.
There’s no timeline for the feature, but it would likely be done through via over-the-air updates, meaning it could be applied to every Tesla vehicle currently on the road.
Tesla Motors announced Thursday that it officially reached 200,000 deliveries this month, which is good news in terms of overall sales. But the figure also means the company has surpassed the threshold requiring that federal tax credits be phased out, which is bad news.
Some speculate that, without government incentives, fewer people will be willing to buy Tesla-branded vehicles. While that’s a possibility, the brand offers unique, trendy models not readily available elsewhere. We’d presume a discount on an iPhone would probably help sales as well, but affordability it isn’t the main reason people purchase them.
We’ll see what kind of impact it has on the automaker as the $7,500 federal electric vehicle tax credit for new owners is gradually phased out. It will also be telling for the electric vehicle market as a whole, as Tesla is the first EV producer to reach the limit.
The March 23rd death of a Tesla Model X driver in Mountain View, California prompted the National Transportation Safety Board to probe why the vehicle, driving in Autopilot mode, left its lane and collided with a concrete lane barrier on a clear day. The impact killed 38-year-old Walter Huang, an Apple engineer.
In the wake of the crash, the safety agency booted Tesla from the investigation after the automaker released details relating to the vehicle’s (and victim’s) actions in the moments leading to the crash. We now have the NTSB’s preliminary report on what happened before, during, and after the collision.
While the investigation into Tesla’s most recent Autopilot-rated fatality continues, Waymo chimed in to remind everyone that the company’s self-driving system isn’t actually self-driving at all. That almost makes it sound like the Google offshoot is coming to the defense of Tesla Motors. However, the truth of the matter is this was a golden opportunity for Waymo to sneak in another humblebrag that its autonomous technology is the genuine article and that most of its competitors are playing catch-up.
It’s a valid point. We shouldn’t forget that Tesla’s Autopilot is not representative of true autonomy and the burden of safety still falls squarely on the driver. But the manufacturer didn’t always market it that way, and only updated the system to require hands on the wheel after the first fatality. This incident is different from the recent Uber crash in Tempe, Arizona. But just how different is debatable and largely dependent on what qualifies as “self-driving” to the average person.
“Tesla has driver-assist technology and that’s very different from our approach,” explained Waymo CEO John Krafcik last week, before Tesla revealed that Autopilot was engaged during the Model X crash. “If there’s an accident in a Tesla, the human in the driver’s seat is ultimately responsible for paying attention. We don’t know what happened here, but there was no self-driving.”
After two years of playing hard to get, Jaguar has finally revealed the production version of the I-Pace SUV. Actually, “revealed” may not be the best word to use, as it feels like we’ve already seen it.
The model looks so much like the earlier concept vehicle that most people wouldn’t be able to tell the two apart, even if they sat inside them. The only real difference is that the production Jag has a cushier-looking interior and a tad more ground clearance. Other than that, both vehicles are practically indistinguishable — even down to the flush door handles.
Despite the bewildering decision to name its non-electric compact luxury crossover the E-Pace and its larger, battery-driven brother the I-Pace, the automaker doesn’t appear to have done a bad job with either. While the E-Pace caters to those seeking a small-and-fancy “sport utility vehicle,” the I-Pace is for those seeing an alternative to Tesla’s Model X.
A quartet of suspected baddies were arrested on Friday after being caught with four vehicles believed to be stolen from a Tesla dealership in Salt Lake City. While an automotive theft ring isn’t anything special, the way in which this particular incident unfolded is beyond strange.
According to South Salt Lake police detective Gary Keller, the incident began around 1 a.m. when a Highway Patrol trooper conducting a traffic stop near the dealership noticed a sparkly new Tesla vehicle stop behind his squad car. Smelling something fishy, the patrol trooper assumed the driver wasn’t the owner of the car and called for local backup as he conducted another stop.
Keller said the man had a bag of keys on his person and told police he had come to return the vehicle to the dealership. “I don’t know if he had a guilt complex or whatever, but he claimed his name was Tesla and once [police] started talking to him, he didn’t want to talk to police; he wanted an attorney,” Keller explained.
Unless you were living under a rock or on the moon late last week, you know Tesla introduced not one but two concepts on Thursday night — a Class 8 semi truck and a kinda-sorta-maybe Roadster (is it a roadster or a targa? It’ll only cost you a quarter mil to find out).
Since then, many corners of the internet have been yammering about the feasibility of Tesla’s plans, not to mention the wisdom of taking eyes off the very important ball that is the Model 3 in favor of two models that likely won’t appear until the next decade.