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Will the Tesla Model 3 Be the Safest Car Ever?

New battery-sedan could prevent 90% of accidents, says analyst.

by on Mar.24, 2017

Tesla promises to launch Model 3 production in July, with retail sales following later in 2017,

Tesla has promised that its upcoming Model 3 will be loaded with a variety of high-tech features, including the latest version of the maker’s semi-autonomous Autopilot system. And now, automotive analysts from Morgan Stanley are predicting the sedan will be the safest car ever made.

With “a supercomputer in every car,” they estimate in a new report that the new Model 3 will be 10 times safer than existing vehicles – or 90% less likely to be the cause of either vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-pedestrian fatal crashes. But that actually could disrupt both the conventional new and used car markets, Morgan Stanley is forecasting.

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“Look for an acceleration of the market’s awareness of the obsolescence of used cars and an acceleration of insurance company awareness to reprice premiums,” the report suggests.

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Despite Ongoing Quality Issues, Tesla Owners Bond with Their Cars

“Owners see themselves as pioneers.”

by on Mar.21, 2017

Despite endemic quality problems, Power finds strong emotional attachment to Tesla products.

Tesla owners could be accused of having a love/hate relationship with their vehicles. The maker’s Models S and X have repeatedly been slammed for serious quality issues, yet owners retain a strong emotional bond to those battery-electric vehicles, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates.

But the question is whether those buying the next generation of Tesla products, starting with the Model 3 sedan set to go into production in July, will be nearly as forgiving. Moving into the mainstream carries significant risks, according to various analysts.

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“Tesla owners see themselves as pioneers who enjoy being early adopters of new technology,” said Kathleen Rizk, director of global automotive consulting at J.D. Power. “Spending $100,000 or more on a vehicle that has so many problems usually would have a dramatically negative effect on sales and brand perception. Right now, though, Tesla seems immune from such disenchanted customers.”

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Wall Street Throws Tesla a Lifeline

Stock offering does better than expected.

by on Mar.17, 2017

Tesla needed cash to ensure the Model 3 launch.

Despite growing concerns among industry analysts, investors haven’t given up on Tesla. Anything but.

Wall Street came up with another $1.2 billion in capital for the Silicon Valley battery-carmaker this week as it went back for an infusion aimed at helping complete development of the critical new Model 3 SUV set to go into production in July. And it’s possible the figure could climb to $1.4 billion.

Stay Plugged In!

The latest stock offering went off barely a year after Tesla’s previous turn to the market, and was meant to “reduce any risks associated with the rapid scaling of (our) business due to the launch of Model 3, as well as for general corporate purposes,” the company said. It also came just weeks after Tesla CEO Elon Musk warned that the maker’s finances were “getting very close to the edge.”

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Forget the Freeway, Tesla’s Musk Now Aims for the Moon

His SpaceX set to send two “tourists” into lunar orbit.

by on Feb.28, 2017

If all goes according to plan, two paid "tourists" will get to see this view for the first time since the Apollo mission ended in 1972.

Elon Musk has long been shooting for the moon, and now he wants to do it quite literally. The founder of both Tesla, the electric vehicle maker, as well as rocket launch company SpaceX, says he intends to send two “tourists” on a week-long trip to orbit the moon a little more than a year from now.

They’d ride in a modified version of the Dragon spacecraft that SpaceX is planning to use to begin ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station as early as 2018, allowing NASA to stop relying on the Russians to get there. According to Musk, there are already two paying customers who have plunked down a “significant deposit” for the lunar mission.

Blast Off!

“Next year is going to be the big year for carrying people,” Musk said during a news conference. “This should be a really exciting mission that hopefully gets the world really excited about sending people into deep space again.”

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Tesla Updates Autopilot – But Faces Federal Lawsuit

Owner claims Model X experienced unintended acceleration.

by on Jan.03, 2017

Tesla was sued last week by a Model X owner who claimed the vehicle suddenly lurched forward running into a garage wall and into the house.

Thousands of Tesla owners have gotten a surprise, post-holiday gift from Tesla Motors, the battery-carmaker issuing a major, over-the-air update for its Autopilot system that significantly enhances the car’s semi-autonomous capabilities.

The move happened as Tesla comes under scrutiny for alleged problems with earlier versions of Autopilot linked to at least one fatal crash and several other accidents. Separately, the carmaker was sued in federal court on Friday by an owner who claimed his Model X unexpectedly surged out of control, smashing through the wall of his garage and into his living room.

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The latest Autopilot update – dubbed HW2, or Hardware 2 – is likely to disappoint some owners. It will only work on Tesla Model X SUVs and Model S sedans built after October 2016. That’s when Tesla began updating the vehicles with an array of new radar, camera and ultrasonic sensors – but minus the cameras the cars were equipped with previously. (more…)

Tesla Will Now Charge to Supercharge

Maker also announced purchase of German engineering firm to help boost production capacity.

by on Nov.08, 2016

A Tesla Supercharger station in Hawthorn, CA.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch – or free energy, it seems. Tesla Motors plans to stop offering unlimited use of its cross-continent network of high-speed Superchargers to anyone who buys one of its vehicles after January 1, 2017.

The system, which currently includes 734 chargers worldwide, most in the U.S. and Canada, allows motorists to travel long distances without range anxiety. Until now, they have been open to any Tesla owner at no charge. The battery-carmaker hasn’t said what it will now charge new buyers but claims it will “cost less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car.”

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Tesla had already signaled it would not include free charging for buyers of the Model 3, which is expected to go into production during the second half of 2017. The company says it now has more than 300,000 advance registrations on the books. And to help ensure it meets the aggressive production ramp-up outlined by CEO Elon Musk last March, Tesla is now buying Grohmann Engineering, a German firm that develops automated manufacturing systems for batteries.

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Tesla Delivers Unexpected Profit

Shares surge, though not everyone is convinced.

by on Oct.26, 2016

Tesla overcame quality problems enough to boost production and crawl into the black during Q3.

Long struggling in the red, Tesla Motors delivered a surprise profit, the maker delivering more cars than expected for the third quarter, after a shortfall during the first half of the year.

The black ink, a total of $22 million, or $0.14 a share, was a much-needed boost for a carmaker struggling to launch its first mainstream product next year. The announcement came just days after Tesla took a sharp hit from influential Consumer Reports magazine, which declared the California carmaker suffers from serious quality and reliability issues.

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The black ink sent shares of Tesla soaring after months of weak performance to $211.83 a share. But not all observers were convinced the company had achieved a long-sought breakthrough.

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More Trouble for Tesla: Consumer Reports Trashes Reliability

Model X rated “sixth least reliable vehicle” in latest owner study.

by on Oct.25, 2016

Tesla's Model X has had a series of major quality problems, especially with the falcon doors.

Already facing growing concerns about quality issues with its newest electric vehicle, the Model X SUV, Tesla Motors was hammered by influential Consumer Reports magazine this week, the non-profit publication ranking the California carmaker 25th of 29 brands in its annual automotive reliability study.

It wasn’t all bad news. After faring poorly in the 2015 auto survey, CR said the Tesla Model S actually had “improved reliability.” But the newer Model X “has a long way to go,” with a variety of issues including balky falcon wing doors, locks, latches and other systems.

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The Model X is “the sixth least reliable vehicle in our survey, and there are some monumental challenges with that vehicle,” Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of automotive testing, said during an appearance before the Detroit Automotive Press Association. “It’s unclear,” he added, “whether they will get the ‘falcon wing’ doors right ever.”

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Faraday Future Set to Reveal First Car at CES

LeEco’s autonomous debut short-circuited when its car wouldn’t run.

by on Oct.20, 2016

The LeEco LeSee concept.

Tesla Motors isn’t the only automotive upstart attempting to make news about electric and autonomous vehicles. Several potential competitors have their own, futuristic models to reveal – though, as Chinese-owned LeEco demonstrated Wednesday, there are plenty of pitfalls along the path.

With billionaire investor Jia Yueting on hand for a public unveiling in San Francisco, LeEco’s event went off the rails when the LeSee, its prototype autonomous electric vehicle, couldn’t drive down the runway, forcing Jia to run down the ramp on his own.

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Jia, who made a fortune in the Chinese electronics industry, is clearly hoping to do better with a second automotive start-up he is funding, California-based Faraday Future. That company made its debut last January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and will be back at the 2017 CES in less than three months to unveil its first production model.

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Tesla Delays “Unexpected” News, but Announces Solar Cell Deal with Panasonic

“Needs a few more days of refinement,” tweets CEO Musk.

by on Oct.17, 2016

Panasonic claims to make the world's most efficient rooftop solar cells.

Those who were hoping for a big announcement from Tesla Motors are going to have to wait a couple more days, according to CEO Elon Musk, though the Silicon Valley-based electric car company did have some significant news to report on Monday.

Tesla says it will expand its alliance with Japanese electronics giant Panasonic to start producing solar cells. That could be a major development for SolarCity, the solar panel company Tesla recently said it will acquire. Panasonic already produces batteries for Tesla’s electric vehicles and is a major partner in the massive Gigafactory battery plant being erected in Reno, Nevada.

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Tesla’s Musk had hinted earlier this month that the company would make an “unexpected” product announcement on October 17th, but in an overnight tweet, the South African-born entrepreneur said the project “needs a few more days of refinement,” and won’t be revealed until Wednesday.

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