Archive for the ‘Tesla’ Category

20 Tesla P100Ds with slicks and wings? Meet Electric GT

March 17th, 2017

Electric GT

Its cars are blindingly fast, but as a company, Tesla appears to be utterly indifferent to racing. This is perhaps understandable; Tesla is up to its eyeballs in orders for cars and is hard at work on developing the Model 3, as well as the Nevada “Gigafactory.” After all, why bother spending money on a side activity when you can sell every vehicle you can build? But that hasn’t stopped people wanting to take Teslas racing. We’ve seen a privateer Model S run at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and with any luck an all-Tesla racing series—called Electric GT—will field a grid of 20 Tesla Model S P100Ds later this year.

I’ve been keeping a watchful eye on the Electric GT series for a while now, but over at Motor Sport, Jack Phillips has an interesting piece on the series, including an interview with racing drivers Karun Chandok and Alice Powell, who have actually driven one of the cars.

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Geohot’s new automated-driving device can only be redeemed by coughing up data

March 11th, 2017

AUSTIN, Texas—At the first day of the SXSW Interactive festival, George “Geohot” Hotz announced an updated business plan for his company, all while revealing a new piece of hardware that will be given away, as opposed to sold: the Panda.

Sam Machkovech

The small circuit-board device comes with an ODB2 connector on one end, which Hotz described as compatible with any car made after 1996 (though ideal for cars made later than 2006), and a USB port on the other. The device’s crowded circuit board also includes a 32-bit processor, a Wi-Fi driver, and a 4A charger, which he described as “an awesome phone charger.” Hotz said the Panda can be used to expose more active car data than the ODB2 plug-in devices used by apps such as Torque, including individual wheel speeds, steering wheel angles, blinker functions, and even the ability to issue accelerator and brake commands to a car.

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After fatal Tesla crash probe, US regulators conclude there’s no need for recall

January 19th, 2017

A Tesla S with autopilot features. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

On Thursday afternoon, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded a months-long probe of Tesla’s Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) and Autopilot systems without finding any defects in the systems (PDF). The NHTSA opened the probe following a fatal crash that occurred in Florida while the car was in Autopilot.

Soon after the May 2016 crash, an internal investigation by Tesla concluded that the cameras on the Tesla did not register a truck that was turning left into the Tesla’s lane due to glare from the sun. While critics suggested this meant the car was unsafe, Tesla countered that having Autopilot engaged did not cede responsibility from the driver. A month later, the NHTSA then opened its probe to conduct “a preliminary evaluation into the performance of Autopilot.”

In the document the NHTSA released today, the administration found that the AEB system was “designed to avoid or mitigate rear end collisions” but that “braking for crossing path collisions, such as that present in the Florida fatal crash, are outside the expected performance capabilities of the system.”

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5mph wiggle room no longer observed by Tesla autopilot on undivided roads

December 23rd, 2016

Enlarge (credit: Tesla)

In a recent update, Tesla seems to have changed Autopilot to make sure its cars obey the speed limit exactly while using Autosteer on surface roads and undivided highways. Tesla vehicles in Autopilot used to have a 5mph buffer in such situations, but that no longer seems to be the case, according to Electrek.

If the Tesla is on a highway, however, the enforced speed maximum in Autopilot mode is still 90mph.

In a November earnings call, Tesla CEO Elon Musk promised to restrict people from doing “crazy things” while they’re driving Teslas in Autopilot mode.

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Tesla needs better interiors, hires Volvo’s head of interiors to help

December 22nd, 2016


Anyone who has driven a Tesla can’t help but be impressed by what the company has achieved in just a few short years. OK, the Roadster was basically a Lotus Elise underneath, but the Model S and Model X are ground-up designs and feature a very impressive powertrain. But at the same time, anyone who has driven a Model S or Model X also can’t help but notice the company’s weakest point—the terrible interiors. Evidently Tesla has realized this, and has poached Volvo’s head of interiors, Anders Bell, in order to remedy the problem.

I’m sure writing this will enrage some of the company’s more vociferous online supporters, but I make no apologies. It’s evident to see all the R&D money has been spent on that powertrain and on software (particularly Autopilot); the cabins have been almost an afterthought. It’s not just a lack of design flair—although that is certainly true. It’s also the materials used, most of which would look out of place in an economy car in 2016, let alone a luxury SUV or sedan that starts out at more than $60,000. And this stuff is important. As a driver, the interior of a car is the bit that you’ll look at and touch almost all the time.

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Tesla introduces idle fees to free up Supercharger slots

December 19th, 2016

Enlarge / This is what every Tesla driver wants to see upon arrival at a Supercharger station. (credit: Tesla)

Tesla’s high-speed Supercharger network, and the effect it has in countering range anxiety, has had a lot to do with the company’s success in the electric vehicle marketplace. Who doesn’t appreciate free power-ups in a fraction of the time it takes other EVs? For early adopters, the deal was even sweeter: plenty of plugs and few fellow Model Ses to share with.

But these days there are many more Teslas on the road. Model S production has been flat-out for the past couple of years, and, despite teething troubles, Model Xes are also becoming thicker on the ground.

In EV-dense areas like Southern California, this has meant congestion at some Superchargers, and that in turn has led to frustration among customers who turn up needing juice only to find all the Supercharger spots being hogged by fully charged vehicles. Tesla says things have to change, so it has introduced an idle fee: block a Supercharger port with your fully charged Tesla from now on and you’ll be charged $0.40 a minute.

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Nikola reveals hydrogen fuel cell truck with range of 1,200 miles

December 2nd, 2016

Enlarge (credit: NMC)

Donald Trump’s incoming administration might be going full steam ahead in returning to fossil fuels, but the clean energy sector might have other ideas. Nikola Motor Company has just unveiled a huge class 8 truck (as big as they get) that’s powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, claiming it will have an operational range of as much as 1,200 miles (1,900km) when it’s released in 2020.

The Nikola One, which is designed for long-haul good transport across a large landmass, will according to its creators be able to travel between 800 and 1,200 miles on a single tank of fuel, while delivering over 1,000 horsepower and 2,000 foot-pounds of torque.

If these claims are true, it will provide nearly double the power of the current generation of diesel-powered semis/articulated lorries.

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Tesla bans customers from using autonomous cars to earn money ride-sharing

October 20th, 2016


On Thursday night, Tesla announced the new Model X and Model S electric vehicles will now come with the necessary hardware to allow them to drive completely autonomously at a future point in time. But buried in the notes about this new functionality there was also a warning to future Tesla owners: don’t expect to be able to use your EV driving for Uber, Lyft, or any other ride-sharing service that isn’t owned by Tesla.

On Tesla’s website, the section that describes the new “Full Self-Driving Capability” (A $3,000 option at the time of purchase, $4,000 after the fact) states “Please note also that using a self-driving Tesla for car sharing and ride hailing for friends and family is fine, but doing so for revenue purposes will only be permissible on the Tesla Network, details of which will be released next year.”

In Elon Musk’s “Master Plan part 2,” the company’s CEO included plans for a Tesla ride-sharing network, which we know will be called the Tesla Network. However, no other information about this program has escaped into the wild as yet.

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Teslas will now be sold with enhanced hardware suite for full autonomy

October 20th, 2016

Enlarge (credit: Tesla)

Late Wednesday, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk announced that the company would be adding its own hardware to new all new Tesla cars to allow up to Level 5 autonomy. In the automotive industry, Level 5 denotes a fully self-driving vehicle. Musk said that it would be some time before Tesla’s software would advance to meet capabilities of the new hardware available, which the company is calling “Hardware II.”

Still, the CEO stressed that all new cars would come with the new hardware suite, even if the software isn’t activated.

The hardware includes eight cameras for a 360-degree view, twelve ultrasonic sensors, “forward-facing radar with advanced processing,” and an Nvidia Titan GPU that’s capable of 12 trillion operations per second.

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After promising a 180 in manufacturing, Tesla looks poised to deliver

October 3rd, 2016

Tesla Factory in Fremont, California. (credit:

Tesla Motors sent out a press release late Sunday saying that it had delivered 24,500 vehicles in the company’s third quarter. According to Tesla, that number doesn’t account for 5,500 vehicles which had already come off factory lines but were still in transit to customers.

In Q2, CEO Elon Musk told investors and the press that Tesla would deliver 50,000 vehicles by the end of the year. That goal was a lofty one considering the company had only delivered 14,402 vehicles that quarter. Musk noted that his priority at the time was perfecting Tesla’s factories, or “the machine that makes the machine,” as the company’s executives have taken to calling it.

Tesla’s press release notes that Q3’s deliveries represent a 70-percent increase over last quarter’s deliveries. In total, 15,800 of the deliveries were Model S vehicles, and 8,700 were Model X vehicles.

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