Archive for the ‘Tesla’ Category

Audi e-tron wins top crash rating, beating Tesla Model S and Chevy Bolt

August 16th, 2019
Ars Technica's Jonathan Gitlin spotted this e-tron being prepared for crash testing during a visit to IIHS testing facilities.

Enlarge / Ars Technica's Jonathan Gitlin spotted this e-tron being prepared for crash testing during a visit to IIHS testing facilities. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

Crashes hurt car insurance companies' bottom lines, so the industry-funded Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducts comprehensive crash tests to help consumers buy safe cars—and encourage the industry to raise its standards. The IIHS recently put Audi's new e-tron through its paces, and Audi boasts that the e-tron is the first fully electric car to win the organization's highest rating: Top Safety Pick+.

The IIHS conducts several different crash tests as well as evaluating a vehicle's headlights and crash prevention technology. The e-tron earned the highest possible mark, "good," for every one of the dozens of sub-categories in the IIHS report.

"The dummy's position in relation to the door frame, steering wheel, and instrument panel after the crash test indicates that the driver's survival space was maintained very well," the IIHS writes of one of its crash test results.

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Feds told Tesla to stop making “misleading statements” on Model 3 safety

August 7th, 2019
Elon Musk.

Enlarge / Elon Musk. (credit: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for E3/Entertainment Software Association)

Last October, after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released crash test data for the Model 3, Tesla declared that it had the "lowest probability of injury of any vehicle ever tested by NHTSA."

Two days later, the NHTSA responded in the understated way typical of a federal agency. Without naming Tesla, the NHTSA argued that its "5-star rating is the highest safety rating a vehicle can achieve. NHTSA does not distinguish safety performance beyond that rating, thus there is no 'safest' vehicle among those vehicles achieving 5-star ratings."

But documents recently obtained by the website Plainsite using a freedom-of-information request show that the NHTSA's private communications with Tesla weren't so diplomatic.

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Posted in cars, model 3, NHTSA, safety, Tesla | Comments (0)

Elon Musk: “Anyone relying on lidar is doomed.” Experts: Maybe not

August 6th, 2019
Elon Musk: “Anyone relying on lidar is doomed.” Experts: Maybe not

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

Lots of companies are working to develop self-driving cars. And almost all of them use lidar, a type of sensor that uses lasers to build a three-dimensional map of the world around the car.

But Tesla CEO Elon Musk argues that these companies are making a big mistake.

"They're all going to dump lidar," Elon Musk said at an April event showcasing Tesla's self-driving technology. "Anyone relying on lidar is doomed."

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Posted in cars, Features, lidar, self driving cars, Tesla | Comments (0)

Tesla loses $408 million in Q2 2019

July 24th, 2019
Elon Musk, co-founder and chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., speaks during an unveiling event for the Tesla Model Y crossover electric vehicle in Hawthorne, California, U.S., on Friday, March 15, 2019.

Enlarge / Elon Musk, co-founder and chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., speaks during an unveiling event for the Tesla Model Y crossover electric vehicle in Hawthorne, California, U.S., on Friday, March 15, 2019. (credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The second quarter of 2019 was banner one for Tesla in terms of building and delivering new electric vehicles. As it reported earlier in July, the company built 87,048 EVs and delivered 95,356 of them. However, the company lost $408 million over the same three months according to the latest earnings report. Although it's the second loss-making quarter in a row, it's still an improvement on Q1 2019.

Encouragingly, automotive revenue grew healthily compared to Q1. Tesla brought in $5.3 billion in this category, only $111 million of which was for selling emissions credits. Now that the Model 3 is on sale in several continents, and 77,634 were delivered to customers during the quarter, Tesla says that the majority of orders were for the long range Model 3. The company reports that the average sales price is around $50,000 and that manufacturing costs are declining. Tesla also reveals that, now that it has sold several hundred thousand cars on three continents, it is beginning to gain some insight into the mix of options its customers prefer.

Tesla says that all the equipment in the factory in Fremont, California has been tested at a run rate of 7,000 Model 3s a week. The company says it's now aiming to build 10,000 cars a week by the end of 2019.

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“Close to 10%” of Autopilot software team reportedly departs after shakeup

July 9th, 2019
Elon Musk.

Enlarge / Elon Musk. (credit: DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)

Tesla has always been a turbulent place to work, and that has been especially true of Tesla's Autopilot team. Between 2016 and 2018, Tesla lost three Autopilot chiefs in a period of 18 months, with a number of lower-level Autopilot managers and engineers leaving as well.

The Information's Amir Efrati reports that Tesla has suffered a fresh wave of Autopilot departures.

"At least 11 members of the software team, or close to 10% of the total group, including some longtime members, departed in the past few months," Efrati writes. "These departures follow Mr. Musk's removal of the Autopilot group's leader Stuart Bowers around the start of May."

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Posted in autopilot, cars, Elon Musk, self driving cars, Tesla | Comments (0)

Elon Musk puts kibosh on hopes of refreshed Model S and X vehicles

July 9th, 2019
Elon Musk puts kibosh on hopes of refreshed Model S and X vehicles

Enlarge (credit: Tesla)

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, Elon Musk revealed that the much hoped-for updates to Tesla's Model S sedan and Model X SUV are not in fact going to happen. Replying to a fan on Twitter, Musk told him that there are no changes planned to either vehicle beyond the minor tweaks that Tesla implements every so often.

For months, the Tesla fan community has been speculating that a radical new interior—perhaps similar to the minimalist Model 3—was planned for the Model S, which first launched in 2012. But Musk specifically disabused his interlocutor of this notion as well. As Musk noted, Tesla recently switched the front motors of the Models S and X over to the newer, more efficient electric motor used to drive the rear wheels of the cheaper Model 3. Musk has also previously insisted that there are no plans at Tesla to switch the Models S and X to the lithium-ion battery cells used by the newer Model 3.

It's standard practice in the auto industry to give a vehicle a mid-life refresh, usually after a model has been on sale for four years. Indeed, Tesla itself is no stranger to this. In 2016—four years after the Model S went on sale—the car got a front-end restyle, new headlights, and a number of interior changes. But Musk's tweets should serve as notice not to expect any such redesign of the Model X, which is now approaching the four-year mark.

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Posted in cars, Tesla, tesla model s, tesla model x | Comments (0)

Tesla delivered a record number of cars in the second quarter

July 2nd, 2019
Tesla cars on a delivery truck in 2018.

Enlarge / Tesla cars on a delivery truck in 2018. (credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Image)

Tesla beat its own previous record—and Wall Street's expectations—by delivering 95,200 cars in the second quarter of 2019. That's a big jump from the first quarter, when Tesla delivered a disappointing 63,000 vehicles. And it's modestly higher than Tesla's previous record of 90,700 vehicles delivered in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Wall Street reacted positively to the news, sending Tesla's stock price up 6 percent in after-hours trading.

Tesla reported producing a solid 87,048 vehicles in the second quarter—up from 77,100 vehicles produced in the first quarter and up slightly from 86,555 vehicles produced in Q4 2018.

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Posted in cars, Elon Musk, model 3, model s, model x, Tesla, Vehicle deliveries, vehicle production | Comments (0)

Report: Tesla working on battery-cell R&D to loosen ties with Panasonic

June 26th, 2019
A Tesla being charged.

Enlarge / A Tesla Motors Inc. Model S electric automobile sits connected to a charger inside a Tesla store in Munich, Germany, on Monday, March 30, 2015. (credit: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

According to a report today from CNBC, Tesla is working on research and development of battery cells in a lab near its manufacturing facility in Fremont, Calif. Five anonymous current and former employees said the R&D is focused on "designing and prototyping advanced lithium-ion battery cells," as well as systems that could help the company produce cells at high volume.

Currently, Tesla has a partnership with Panasonic to make the battery cells it uses in its cars and stationary batteries. That relationship extends out to Tesla's Buffalo, NY-based solar panel factory, which Tesla also co-owns with Panasonic. But recently, the fraternity between the two companies seems to be wearing thin.

In September of last year, a Panasonic executive said that the bottleneck for Model 3 production had been the speed at which Panasonic could manufacture battery cells. In October 2018, Panasonic reported that it lost $65 million to the part of its business that makes battery cells for Tesla's vehicles. In April 2019, the Nikkei Asian Review reported that Panasonic would not make additional investments into Tesla's Gigafactory beyond what it had already committed to. Tesla's recent purchase of Maxwell Technologies, which makes automotive- and utility-grade battery components, may also have driven a wedge between the companies.

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Posted in battery, battery cells, cars, Energy, Tesla | Comments (0)

Claims of Tesla hack wide of the mark—we dig into GNSS hacking

June 22nd, 2019

On Wednesday of this week, an Israeli firm called Regulus Cyber issued a press release stating that "spoofing attacks on the Tesla GNSS (GPS) receiver could easily be carried out wirelessly and remotely." In the firm's demonstration attack on a Model 3, "the car reacted as if the exit was just 500 feet away—abruptly slowing down, activating the right turn signal, and making a sharp turn off the main road," according to Regulus. "The driver immediately took manual control but couldn't stop the car from leaving the road."

Tesla's official response could best be described as "brusque."

So, a company most of us haven't heard of tells us that it's demonstrated disturbing vulnerabilities in Tesla. Tesla, in effect, says said company is just looking for a buck and there's no problem, but it doesn't really provide any details. Where does the truth lie? That question necessitates a look at the merits of this specific Regulus-vs-Tesla claim—and then a broader glance into the history, technology, and possibilities of GNSS spoofing itself.

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Posted in autonomous vehicles, cars, GNSS, GPS hacking, GPS spoofing, Regulus, Tesla | Comments (0)

Survey: Autopilot name causes people to overestimate Tesla capabilities

June 20th, 2019
Multicolored bar graph.

Enlarge (credit: IIHS)

Does the name "Autopilot" cause people to overestimate the abilities of Tesla's driver-assistance technology? It's a question that comes up in the Ars comments almost every time we write about Autopilot.

Critics warn that some customers will assume something called "Autopilot" is fully self-driving. Tesla's defenders counter by pointing out that autopilot capabilities in planes aren't fully autonomous. Pilots still have to monitor their operation and intervene if they have a problem, and Tesla's Autopilot system is no different.

A new survey from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety brings some valuable hard data to this debate. The group asked drivers questions about the capabilities of five advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). They identified the products only by their brand name—"Autopilot," "Traffic Jam Assist," "Super Cruise," etc. Survey participants were not told which carmaker made each product, and they did not learn the capabilities of the products. There were 2,000 total respondents, but each was asked about only two out of five systems, leading to a few hundred responses for each product.

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