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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.”


Tesla Deliveries Surge 70% in Q3

Upturn after EV maker’s first-half sales shortfall.

by on Oct.03, 2016

The Tesla Model X launch has been a thorn in the company's side, production still a challenge.

Tesla Motors saw third-quarter deliveries of its Models S and X battery-electric vehicles surge 70% during the third quarter, a significant improvement over recent quarters that saw the California-based manufacturer fall short of its targets.

Tesla also said that it expects deliveries during the fourth quarter to come in “at or slightly above” the July to September numbers, something that would put the maker on a path to rolling out more than 2,000 of the battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, each week for the rest of the year.

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In turn, company officials have indicated that could translate into a profit for the maker – using non-standard accounting procedures – after some recent, heavy losses.


Tesla Updates Software After Chinese Hackers Take Control of Model S

Researchers take complete control of vehicle from up to 12 miles away.

by on Sep.21, 2016

Chinese researchers take control of a Model S, even remotely popping open its rear hatch.

Tesla has issued an urgent update to the software controlling virtually aspect of its high-tech battery-electric vehicles, a move triggered by reports that a Chinese security team had managed to hack into the Model S sedan’s control system.

Researchers from Keen Security Lab were able to take remote control of the vehicle from distances of up to 12 miles. They were able to take control of functions such as the vehicle’s brakes and windshield wipers.

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The news only adds to growing concerns about automotive cybersecurity at a time when the industry is in the midst of what some are calling a “transportation revolution.” Just this week, federal regulators issued the first national guidelines for the development of autonomous and even more advanced driverless vehicles. Some observers fear hackers could make such vehicles a target for criminal efforts and even for terrorist activities.


China Fatal Crash Focuses New Attention on Tesla Autopilot

"No way of knowing" if semi-autonomous system was to blame, says Tesla.

by on Sep.14, 2016

Dash cam footage chronicles the second fatal crash involving Tesla's Autopilot program. This one was in China in January. Photo credit: Jalopnik.

A second fatal crash, this one in China, may have been the result of a malfunction by Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot system.

The incident, which occurred last January but is only now being revealed, took the life of 23-year-old Gao Yaning, the son of the Model S owner. A video captured by a dash camera mounted in the car showed that it appeared to hit a street sweeper at highway speeds, rather than moving aside.

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The crash preceded a May 9 collision between a Model S operating in autonomous mode and a truck that turned into the battery-car’s path. Tesla confirmed the Autopilot system was operating when that accident, which took the life of a 40-year-old former Navy SEAL, occurred on a Florida highway. Because of the extent of the damage in the China crash, Tesla says there is “no way of knowing” if the system was enabled. (more…)

Another Tesla Autopilot Accident Reported in Beijing

Did Tesla salesperson oversell car’s capabilities?

by on Aug.10, 2016

Another Tesla Model S has been involved in an accident while in Autopilot mode. This time the minor collision happened in China.

With two federal safety investigations already underway in the U.S., Tesla Motors could face scrutiny in China, as well, in the wake of an incident involving a Model S sedan operating in Autopilot mode.

The crash last week was relatively minor – unlike the fatal accident in Florida on May 9 – but it raises questions about both the capabilities of Tesla’s semi-autonomous technology and the way Autopilot is being sold and explained to the public. The driver, a 33-year-old computer programmer, claims he was told by the dealer’s staff that Autopilot allowed the vehicle to be operated hands-free.

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Tesla confirmed the crash, but noted that the driver, Luo Zhen, was not following its guidelines. “As clearly communicated to the driver in the vehicle, autosteer is an assist feature that requires the driver to keep his hands on the steering wheel at all times, to always maintain control and responsibility for the vehicle, and to be prepared to take over at any time.” (more…)

Tesla Losses Mount as Sales Fall Short

CEO Musk insists production getting back on track.

by on Aug.03, 2016

Tesla CEO Musk with an image of the troublesome Model X which missed production targets.

Burdened by a slower-than-expected roll-out of its Model X sedan, with sales overall falling short, Tesla Motors delivered an unexpectedly deep loss for the second quarter of the year.

The automaker, which has been using its own accounting procedures, said it lost $293 million, or $2.09 a share, for the April to June quarter. Excluding special one-time items, the loss narrowed to $150 million, or $1.06 a share. But that was still well below Wall Street’s expectations, analysts predicting the maker would lose $0.65 a share.

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The maker tried to put a positive spin on the weak performance by looking forward. “Production and demand are on track to support deliveries of approximately 50,000 Model S and Model X vehicles during the second half of 2016,” CEO Elon Musk and CFO Jason Wheeler said in a joint statement announcing the earnings.


Better Late Than Never: Chevy Volt Sales Finally Hit 100,000 Mark

Tesla Model S outselling Volt despite rising sales.

by on Aug.01, 2016

Chevy hit a milestone: it recently took an order for the 100,000th Volt.

Chevrolet is marking an important milestone, General Motors’ biggest brand taking an order for the 100,000th Volt plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle.

The Chevy Volt has been one of the world’s top-selling plug-based vehicles ever since its launch in December 2010, but tempering any celebration is the fact that the Volt hasn’t come close to meeting the brand’s once-ambitious sales targets. At one point, GM officials were hoping to deliver as many as 40,000 of the vehicles annually in the U.S. alone.

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“Not only is the Volt a class-creator, it serves as the foundation of a Chevrolet electric family that will soon add the first long-range, affordable EV available to customers across the U.S., the Chevrolet Bolt EV,” said Steve Majoros, director of marketing, Chevrolet Cars and Crossovers, in a statement. (more…)

GM Reveals More About Supercruise

Semi-Autonomous tech delayed until late 2017.

by on Jul.25, 2016

GM will debut Supercruise on the Cadillac CT6.

Wary of the problems that appear to have caused the fatal crash of a Tesla Model S running in semi-autonomous mode, General Motors wants to take a bit more time before rolling out its own Supercruise system.

And that should allow GM to be much more confident that the technology will work as planned, said Mark Reuss, General Motors’ global product development chief. Among other things, once Supercruise makes its debut on the Cadillac CT6 sedan, it will feature a retinal recognition system designed to make sure that a driver is paying attention to the road, even if their hands aren’t on the wheel.

Tech Talk!

The May 9th Tesla crash appears to have been the result of a system malfunction that failed to recognize when a truck turned in front of the Model S sedan. But there are also some indications the 40-year-old driver was distracted, possibly watching a video on a laptop computer, rather than acting as a human backup to the Autopilot system.


Chevrolet Volt Plugs into the Battery Car Sales Lead

Nissan Leaf loses momentum despite increased range.

by on Jun.02, 2016

The second-gen Chevy Volt got a new, roomier design, better performance and longer EV-mode range.

After seemingly coming unplugged, the newly redesigned Chevrolet Volt has charged into the U.S. sales lead among plug-based vehicles, overtaking long-time rival Nissan Leaf.

That’s based on the likelihood that at least 10% of the demand for the Tesla Model S has come from abroad through the end of May, a strong likelihood considering the long-range electric sedan now is being marketed in a number of countries, including China and the European Union.

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Even factoring out those overseas sales, and with a number of manufacturers not yet breaking out May battery-car numbers, there’s good reason for EV advocates to celebrate. After taking a tumble last year in the wake of a sharp downturn in gas prices, sales of plug-based vehicles have been recharged in recent month.


Tesla Model 3 Buyers Won’t Get Free Lifetime Use of Superchargers

CEO Musk confesses to a series of “clueless” moves during shareholders meeting.

by on Jun.01, 2016

Tesla eventually plans to have "several 100" Supercharger stations across the U.S. and Canada.

When the new Tesla Model 3 goes on sale later next year, buyers will spend barely half as much for the 200-mile battery-car as the company currently charges for its original Model S sedan – but they could be in for some hefty, additional fees, especially if they also want to use Tesla’s Supercharger system.

That’s a network of high-speed chargers that let a motorist get up to an 80% “re-fill” in 30 minutes or less, depending upon the capacity of the battery. Use of the Supercharger system is free for life for owners of the Model S and newer Model X.

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“Free supercharging fundamentally has a cost. The obvious thing to do is decouple that from the cost of the Model 3,” Musk said during Tesla’s annual shareholders meeting. “It will not be free long distance for life unless you purchase that package.”