Tag: Tesla

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…)

By on October 15, 2019

No one really expected electric pickup trucks to take off as a concept, save for the people developing them. While EVs still need to improve their maximum range to truly surpass combustion-reliant vehicles, modern examples perform much better than their predecessors. But battery size and vehicle weight remain important issues for the segment, making the idea of an electric work vehicle seem about as useful as an edible diaper.

Then the concepts started arriving, sucking far less than most of us expected. There were loads of new ideas, like interesting storage solutions and auxiliary power ports for tools — all stemming from electrification. What’s more is that the vehicle itself seems like it could benefit from the instant torque and lower center of gravity furnished by electric powertrains. Battery packs can also be made larger (improving range), as pickups have more areas to stash cells without intruding into the passenger compartment. Maybe this wasn’t a dumb idea after all.

Ford and General Motors have both confirmed the development of electric pickups, with the former currently running prototypes. Meanwhile, Rivian and Bollinger have already shown off their designs. EV darling Tesla had a truck it wanted to debut over the summer, but the model saw its release pushed back. Now, CEO Elon Musk has confirmed that the vehicle will emerge next month.  (Read More…)

By on October 8, 2019

Elon Musk

If you’ve grudgingly followed the unseamly goings-ons in the defamation case filed against Tesla CEO Elon Musk by a British cave diver, things just took a turn. Documents filed to a California federal court this week by Vernon Unsworth’s lawyers reveal a plotline worthy of a better-than-average sitcom.

In stating their client’s side of the story, Unsworth’s legal team showcased communications from from Musk, in which the CEO expressed regret for calling the cave diver “pedo guy” on Twitter and sending accusatory emails to a Buzzfeed reporter. It also seems that the private eye Musk hired to dig up dirt on Unsworth is a convicted fraudster who’s now back in jail for parole violation. (Read More…)

By on October 3, 2019

Sentries stand on guard for our safety, keeping watch over sleeping or unprotected persons, and Tesla’s “Sentry Mode” system pretty much does the same. While two-legged assailants can’t slip a Fairbairn-Sykes dagger between the digital guardian’s ribs to disable the feature, the external camera security system can, in return, set that assailant up for a date with the police.

That’s what happened when one Tesla went up against an angry Coloradoan. (Read More…)

By on October 3, 2019

Tesla’s Model 3 became the best-selling car in the Netherlands last month, edging out the Volkswagen Polo. If you’re wondering how an electric automobile that goes for the domestic equivalent of $47,300 in Europe outsold VW’s $18,650 hatchback, take a look at the United States. Ford’s F-Series is always at the top of the charts here and, while it can be had for under $30,000, most have sticker prices nearly identical to the aforementioned Model 3.

Tesla also has the advantage of the Netherlands’ eagerness to adopt EVs, which has resulted in some heavy incentivizing. Honestly, if this author could bring himself to be surrounded by the Dutch on a daily basis, he’d be tempted by the parking perks alone.  (Read More…)

By on October 3, 2019

For some strange reason, U.S. road safety regulators are showing an interest in a Tesla feature that allows driverless vehicles to navigate tight, crowded public spaces on their own — one Tesla admits “may not detect all obstacles.”

Clearly, by investigating reports of Tesla’s Smart Summon feature going awry, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is standing in the way of progress, or so some brand diehards would have you believe. To others, the agency’s scrutiny is overdue. (Read More…)

By on September 28, 2019

Tesla Model 3, Image: Tesla

As you read here yesterday, Tesla’s biggest over-the-air software update to date has brought Model S, X, and 3 owners a host of new features, with an especially ominous (or exciting, depending on your level of trust) feature reserved for the true believers.

That Software Version 10.0 feature is Smart Summon — a way of getting your vehicle to drive to you upon exiting a building. Open the mobile app on your phone, press the necessary buttons, and your Tesla will pilot itself like the Mary Celeste to your arranged rendezvous point. Presumably, you’ll have your hands full of children and shopping, though Tesla says you’ll have to keep tabs on your vehicle — keeping it in in your field of vision — lest you find yourself liable for a fender-bender or worse.

It kind of defeats the purpose of the feature. If your attention is distracted by whiny kids or something else, how is it more convenient (or even possible) to stand there and watch your car make its way towards you, alert and ready to release that button and stop the Tesla in the event of a wayward shopper, vehicle, or rogue action on the part of your own car? How hard is it to walk over and get into your own car and drive off, especially considering the feature’s beta nature and Tesla’s long list of Autopilot fails?

Naturally, owners began testing Smart Summon the second it arrived. (Read More…)

By on September 27, 2019

Tesla owners who purchased Full Self-Driving Capability or Enhanced Autopilot from the company will soon be able to enjoy new self-driving functions. Software Version 10.0 is officially out for the Model X, S, and 3 — adding new driver assistance features, navigation settings, multimedia libraries (music, movies, video games), security options, and a new karaoke mode.

Since the enhanced Autopilot features are the most notable by far, let’s begin there. Tesla’s new “Smart Summon” feature enables the vehicle to navigate through a parking lot sans driver, so long as the car is within sight. “It’s the perfect feature to use if you have an overflowing shopping cart, are dealing with a fussy child, or simply don’t want to walk to your car through the rain,” Tesla said in its Version 10 announcement.

However, the automaker noted that customers remain responsible for their vehicle’s actions and should be aware of the car and its surroundings at all times. If you didn’t purchase Enhanced Autopilot or Full Self-Driving Capability, then there’s nothing to worry about. Smart Summon is only available if you’ve already bought into one of Tesla’s advanced driving suites. Version 10.0 does come with updates for everyone, though. (Read More…)

By on September 23, 2019

In the realm of electric vehicles, there’s always a major breakthrough in battery technology just over the horizon. Such an event would make the technology more viable, likely improving EV sales to a point of true competitiveness. But the reality is that battery advancements have been incremental, with no earth-shattering advancements to speak of. The chemistry continues to be improved and fine-tuned for automotive applications — gradually lowing charging times while improving overall capacity.

On a long enough timeline, this results in electric vehicles that easily embarrass their gasoline and diesel-dependent ancestors across the board. Unfortunately, we’re living in the present where EVs have shortcomings that frequently offset their greatest attributes.

One of the biggest hurdles is long-term battery life. While some modern-day EV battery packs can last roughly as long as the powertrain in any reputable internal-combustion car, they still degrade over time, becoming progressively less useful. New research has suggested the chemistry necessary for a million-mile, lithium-ion battery has been finalized.  (Read More…)

By on September 19, 2019

Tesla scored its first big win with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) this week after the group graced the 2019 Model 3 with its coveted Top Safety Pick+ award. “Vehicles with alternative powertrains have come into their own,” IIHS Chief Research Officer David Zuby said. “There’s no need to trade away safety for a lower carbon footprint when choosing a vehicle.”

The Audi e-Tron and hydrogen-powered Hyundai Nexo also qualified. But Tesla’s position as North America’s electric vehicle sales leader is held by a wide margin, making its crash-test results a tad more noteworthy.  (Read More…)

By on September 17, 2019

After Porsche’s Taycan secured its status as the fastest electric production vehicle ever to grace the Nürburgring, Tesla Motors was keen to steal the title. This evolving rivalry also resulted in Elon Musk tossing some light shade at the German manufacturer over its liberal use of the word “turbo.” What followed were some sedan-based lap records set by the American company at Laguna Seca, which was little more than a distraction from the main event while Tesla got its ducks in a row.

In Nürburg, Porsche’s Taycan Turbo S set the highly impressive time of 7 minutes and 42 seconds in August. The following month, Tesla starting running the Model S. This week, reports coming in from Germany claim the American manufacturer set an unofficial time of 7 minutes and 23 seconds. But there are issues with Tesla’s record-breaking run.  (Read More…)

By on September 16, 2019

Elon Musk + Tesla Model S Circa 2011

Man, it never ends. Removed from the many, many issues at play both inside and outside Tesla’s Palo Alto HQ, a lawsuit sparked by a childish spat between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and a British cave diver still hangs over Musk’s head.

If you don’t recall the ridiculous episode, Vernon Unsworth, who was instrumental in organizing the successful rescue of a Thai soccer team last summer, told Musk to shove his experimental, homemade submarine up his ass. Musk responded by referring to him as “pedo guy”on Twitter.

On Monday, Musk sought to have the defamation suit tossed out on the grounds that “pedo” could mean a lot of things. This is 2019, people, and it’s Silicon Valley.  (Read More…)

By on September 6, 2019

Image: Porsche AG

The one thing we don’t know about Porsche’s sexy and prohibitively expensive Taycan EV happens to be one of the most important aspects of any electric car: its range. While many of you (read: almost certainly all of you) have no use for the Taycan and couldn’t afford one without a Brinks holdup, the newly revealed model is nonetheless making waves.

Mostly among argumentative nerds, mind you, but bear with us.

Call it pettiness, call it schadenfreude, call it whatever you like, but it’s quite enjoyable watching an established and storied automaker attempt to beat Tesla at its own game. The Fremont, California-based automaker had it coming after years of pencil-snapping pronouncements by its larger-than-life CEO. And maybe there’s some satisfaction to be had on the part of Tesla for creating a segment other rivals want to carve a slice out of.

But about that range… (Read More…)

By on September 6, 2019

Image: Porsche AG

One of the first electric cars I ever drove was also one of the slowest cars I’ve ever piloted. It was a first-generation Nissan Leaf, which on its own was hardly a powerhouse. Certainly, it didn’t go the distance in other ways, as well. Pressing the “eco” button to conserve what limited range I had, the Leaf turned into the biggest slug this side of a Chevette diesel. It was almost dangerously slow.

But it was electric, and the Leaf, at the time, was one of a precious few real EVs any buyer could get their hands on. It’s unlikely those in the market for a non-luxury EV were all that concerned about acceleration back in 2011 or 2012, or whenever it was.

Has anything changed? (Read More…)

By on September 6, 2019

Tesla Model S Grey - Image: Tesla

Years of boasting from Tesla over the capabilities of its Autopilot driver-assist system — boasts the automaker dialed back after a series of fatal crashes — are in part responsible for a Culver City, California crash in January 2018, the National Transportation Safety Board states in a new report. Driver-assist features aim to make the monotonous task of driving easier, with the most advanced systems allowing users to take their hands off the wheel for varying periods of time.

Tesla’s system, which doesn’t employ the driver-monitoring camera fielded by Cadillac’s Super Cruise, is not as rigorous at ensuring the driver actually pays attention to the road ahead as its main rival. Videos of sleeping Tesla drivers continue to show up on the internet. Is it the driver’s fault for misusing the system, or the automaker’s for designing a system that’s ripe for abuse? The NTSB says it’s both. (Read More…)

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