By on March 27, 2020

With Panasonic having already made plans to ramp down production at the Nevada battery facility it shares with Tesla, followed by a 14-day closure to curtail the spread of the new coronavirus, its business partner has decided to follow suit. Tesla now plans on reducing on-site staff at Gigafactory 1 by 75 percent, according to the local county manager Austin Osborne.

“Tesla has informed us that the Gigafactory in Storey County is reducing on-site staff by roughly 75 [percent] in the coming days,” he explained via the county’s website on Thursday.  “Our companies at [Tahoe Reno Industrial Center] TRIC are taking the COVID-19 matter seriously, and regularly report to us the measures they are taking to adhere to the established guidelines while maintaining essential operations. Checking employee temperatures, creating central access, allowing remote work, maintaining workstation distance, and others are occurring.” (Read More…)

By on March 19, 2020

tesla factory fremont, Image: Tesla Motors

Tesla has earned no shortage of criticism for being the only American manufacturer yet to suspend production as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Rather than enact a full-blown shutdown, the California-based automaker opted to reduce its active workforce to just 2,500 employees — about a quarter of its total strength.

Six counties in the San Francisco Bay Area have issued a “shelter-in-place order” aimed at curtailing the spread of the novel coronavirus. Tesla’s Fremont facility is located in Alameda County — one of the municipalities telling residents to stay in their homes and close all nonessential businesses. Noticing that the factory had failed to comply with the notice, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office tweeted out that Tesla was “not an essential business as defined in the Alameda County Health Order.”

But we’re not even sure what the company is legally obligated to do.  (Read More…)

By on March 18, 2020

Last month we covered an alarming trend where Tesla appeared to be intentionally removing features from vehicles as they entered the secondhand market. Used automobiles are typically sold with their original equipment intact. The previous owner may have wanted to yank out the tape deck or remove the fuzzy steering wheel cover before handing it over, but these are things you probably negotiated before any money changed hands. Unfortunately, things have only grown more complicated in the (post)modern era.

Reports have rolled in of Tesla stripping cars of thousands of dollars worth of features (mainly Autopilot and Ludicrous Mode) simply because they’re in line for a new owner. This sets an ugly precedent for the industry and undermines the time-honored tradition of the private sale. However, there seems to be some amount of confusion surrounding the company’s official policy and its behavior.  (Read More…)

By on February 7, 2020

Tesla Model S Grey - Image: Tesla

I’m a broken record when it comes to consumer protections. Environmentalism may be more fashionable but the green movement has already amassed a sizable army in the current year. Someone needs to be watching out for Joe Customer because companies are stepping up their game. While we’ve often focused on data privacy, right-to-repair laws, and the hidden perils of subscription services, ownership rights also deserve a bit of attention because they’re all sort of interconnected.

As products become increasingly digital, it’s becoming fuzzy as to who actually owns something. In previous decades, someone wanting to outfit their computer with the latest software meant they had to go out and buy it. Now you can simply download stuff over wifi, with no need to have the physical copy cluttering up your desk. But this convenience factor has ramifications. A subset of the video-game community is up in arms over backwards compatibility and the ability to truly own their purchases. With games and movies beginning to occupy internal storage almost exclusively, they’ve grown concerned that companies will attempt to force them to repurchase old games on new platforms to turn a quick buck.

Why is this being explained to you on a car website? Because the automotive industry may be about to engage in similar practices. Jalopnik recently published an account of a man buying a secondhand Tesla Model S, only to see it stripped of thousands of dollars in features.  (Read More…)

By on February 4, 2020

Despite it only being a little over a month into 2020, Tesla’s stock has already doubled since New Year’s. Share prices surged to over $900 before Tuesday’s trading, leaving many scratching their heads as to how one of the smallest global manufacturers manages to clean up so well on Wall Street.

Seeking answers, Bloomberg looked to industry analysts and executives from rival car manufacturers to better understand Tesla’s mojo — and determine whether all the stock heat is warranted. The gist appears to be that Elon Musk and company are simply running away with battery technology, something that’s difficult to refute. However, some claims that Tesla has surpassed what constitutes an automaker feel overblown and not entirely consistent with reality.  (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2020

Following confirmation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that it will look into a petition calling on the agency to formally investigate 500,000 Tesla vehicles over reports of unintended acceleration, the automaker took to the internet to defend itself.

On Monday, Tesla issued a blog post to say the allegations against it are wrong. It believes claims of unintended acceleration are erroneous, pushed by someone hoping to scoop up Tesla shares at a lower price so they can be swiftly flipped.

The short-seller defense is a popular one with CEO Elon Musk. He’s previously called short sellers “value destroyers,” repeatedly suggesting that the practice should be made illegal. But it’s also in his interest to keep Tesla’s stock ludicrously high, which it is. Despite being several times smaller than either General Motors or Ford, Tesla’s market worth has surpassed their combined value.  (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2020

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration agreed to review a petition requesting the agency formally investigate 500,000 vehicles manufactured by Tesla Motors. The petition cites 127 consumer complaints to NHTSA involving models produced since 2012 and asks the NHTSA look into 500,000 units it believes may need to be recalled.

Many of the complaints involve incidents of unintended acceleration when attempting to park vehicles; others cite events where a vehicle’s advanced driving systems (namely Autopilot) led to erratic behavior or crashes in traffic. On Friday, the agency said it would look into the issue.  (Read More…)

By on January 3, 2020

Next week, Tesla Motors will begin deliveries of its Shanghai-made Model 3 to Chinese customers — who stand to get a bit of a deal on them. Unlike Western markets, China is already loaded with local companies manufacturing electric vehicles and Tesla doesn’t want to lose out on market share simply because it priced its vehicles too high.

Originally, the manufacturer intended on selling introductory Model 3s at 355,800 yuan ($51,000 USD) a pop. That was soon lowered to 323,800 yuan ($46,500) to pull shoppers from automakers like BYD, NIO and Xiaopeng Motors. Broad profit margins are nice, but the Chinese EV market is too crowded for the brand not to focus on market share.  (Read More…)

By on December 16, 2019

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says it will investigate a 12th crash relating to Tesla Motors’ Autopilot system. The automaker has found itself under increased scrutiny as the public grows increasingly weary of technological gaps in today’s advanced driving aids. Truth be told, it’s probably shouldering more of the burden than it needs to. Whereas most driving aids manage to fly beneath the radar, Tesla’s marketing of Autopilot has always framed it as being on the cusp of true autonomy.

It’s always just one over-the-air-update away from genuine self-driving capabilities.

That’s why you don’t read reports about some poor dolt in a Toyota rear-ending someone and the government doing a deep dive on Safety Sense to figure out why. Nobody cares, and there aren’t countless examples of people taking their hands off the wheel of their Camry with confidence after being confused into thinking it could drive itself. But it happens in Tesla models with uncomfortable frequency, even among drivers who really should know better.  (Read More…)

By on December 11, 2019

Image: Porsche AG

Porsche has taken payments from 30,000 European customers eager to be among the first to drive the brand’s first all-electric vehicle, the Taycan sedan. The number of reservations exceeded the automaker’s expectations, according to CEO Oliver Blume.

It also gives some amount of hope that electric vehicles still have a place in the premium market space. EV sales remain weak and high-end models like Jaguar’s E-Pace and Audi’s e-tron have struggled, though both have suffered supply-related struggles since entering production. (Read More…)

By on December 9, 2019

Coming into work under false pretenses is what December’s all about. Everyone’s productivity is whittled down to a bare minimum in order to spend additional time browsing the internet for gift ideas, travel arrangements, and polishing off their list of must-watch holiday films. As a result, the news cycle gets slow and silly.

Over the weekend, the big automotive story was Elon Musk showboating the Tesla Cybertruck around Malibu while on his way to pick up some Japanese food — smacking into a traffic pylon and breezing through a red light after leaving the eatery. While a quick satellite view of the area absolves the CEO of any illegal maneuvers (Nobu’s parking lot is before the intersection), the fate of that poor barricade left us wondering about Musk’s driving ability and/or the visibility available from inside the Cybertruck.  (Read More…)

By on November 26, 2019

As part of Tesla Motors’ debut of Cybertruck, CEO Elon Musk showed a clip in which the EV pickup yanks a Ford F-150 uphill against its will. The Blue Oval is also building an all-electric pickup, in addition to already manufacturing the best-selling truck model in history. Clearly, Tesla clearly wanted to place both on notice, though the video only provides evidence that Cybertruck can tug a rear-drive F-Series uphill in a video Tesla produced to show exactly that outcome.

Media outlets began musing if this was really a fair fight, apparently forgetting how advertising works, while science celeb Neil deGrasse Tyson offered a public physics lessons. “We all love Torque. But high Torque just spins a tire in place if there’s not enough weight to provide traction,” he said in response to the video. “Fully load the F150, giving highest traction to its rear wheels, then try to drag that up the hill. I otherwise agree: Load both to the max and the highest torque wins.”

Mr. Tyson’s new role as a Ford Truck Man remains unconfirmed, but the more likely scenario is that he’s simply trying to make sure the test is at least mildly scientific. Ford agreed, saying a fair test between brands was just what the doctor ordered.  (Read More…)

By on November 22, 2019

Taking a moment away from my cheese sandwich, I looked at the countdown. Only four more minutes. Four minutes were all that separated me from Tesla Motors’ live unveiling of Cybertruck. Another bite while I checked my phone messages; just two minutes left now. Dear Lord, was I ready? Needing to calm myself, I poured a glass of cold water, drinking most of it before splashing a bit on my face. Thirty seconds. Things were serious now. Pretty soon, Elon Musk was going to appear and change the face of motoring once again. This will be the automotive announcement by which all others will be measured for weeks.

An ominous horn sounded as my screen illuminated to show me a blood-red stage. This was it. It was like they were announcing the first Terminator. Dark music subsided to a rowdy crowd, as a hologram told us we were addicted to oil. The solution? Cybertruck. Fashionable. Functional. Electric. Elon Musk walked out on stage like God Himself. Everyone started screaming. Humble, he chatted briefly with the front row.

“We need something different,” said after accusing all other truck models to be largely indistinguishable.

Then Cybertruck blasted on stage and I couldn’t believe what I saw.  (Read More…)

By on October 25, 2019

Eager to minimize import costs, Tesla has made impressive progress laying down roots in China. The company secured a long-term lease on a 210-acre site near Shanghai in October of 2018. Ground was broken at the start of January, with the $5 billion facility estimated to begin producing cars as early as this November. While all of this effort was aimed at expanding the brand in Asia while minimizing costs, it’s not translating into a cheaper Model 3 for the Asian market.

Tesla, being Tesla, has decided to launch the Model 3 with a starting MSRP of $50,000. According to Bloomberg, that’s only 3 percent less expensive than the versions it had to ship across the ocean. Rather than attempting to build more budget-conscious variants, the automaker decided to offer all vehicles sold in China with Autopilot and additional standard content.  (Read More…)

By on October 17, 2019

As the most-successful manufacturer of electric vehicles, Tesla is often at the forefront of new challenges relating to advanced automotive technologies. While the brunt of this has revolved around its software, mainly Autopilot, it’s also going to be among the first automakers to confront widespread battery recycling ⁠— something it’s already planning for at its Nevada Gigafactory.

Nothing last forever and, like every internal combustion vehicle, EVs have parts that go bad. Over the last six months, there’s been a growing number of reports of customers claiming their Teslas are bricking out like old phones. Displays are going dark, accessories are… inaccessible, and charging is often not an option. The culprit appears to be the embedded Multi-Media Controller (eMMC) embedded on MCUv1 units, which logs data using flash memory.

Apparently, Tesla is overworking these systems (at least on some models) to a point where they can’t take it anymore. It’s basically the same thing that would happen if you filled and wiped a USB drive hundreds of times everyday. One morning you’d plug it in and find that it’s no longer functional due to being burnt out from overuse.  (Read More…)

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