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Tesla Autonomous Vehicle Chief Drives Off; Latest in a Series of High-Level Departures

But new AI researcher was waiting in the wings.

by on Jun.22, 2017

Chris Lattner, Tesla's director of artificial intelligence, just parted ways with the company.

Tesla has lost another senior manager, this time the head of its self-driving car program who joined the battery-electric automaker only six months ago.

But the departure of Chris Lattner, who had previously been working at Apple, isn’t expected to have more than a short-term impact, Tesla quickly announcing that it would assign some of Lattner’s duties to a new hire, prominent artificial intelligence, or AI researcher Andrej Karpathy.

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“Turns out that Tesla isn’t a good fit for me after all,” Lattner said in a tweet, prompting Tesla to fire back in a statement that, “Chris just wasn’t the right fit for Tesla and we’ve decided to make a change.” (more…)

Tesla Closing in on Deal to Build Cars in China

EV maker inking deal with city of Shanghai.

by on Jun.21, 2017

Tesla is apparently closing in on a deal to build new cars in Shanghai.

Not long after suggesting a new plant in India was coming, it appears Tesla’s Elon Musk is making headway on plants around Asia, especially China.

The EV maker is reportedly close to an agreement with the city of Shanghai to build a new plant in the city’s Lingang development zone. The deal could be done in just a few days, Bloomberg reported.

Technology and Business News!

China’s central government has been pushing hard for an increase in electric vehicle sales in the last two years, providing incentives and easing regulations to help manufacturers get moving on the needed escalation of EVs. (more…)

NTSB Report Largely Clears Tesla in May 2016 Fatal Crash

Joshua Brown repeatedly ignored warnings to put his hands back on the wheel.

by on Jun.20, 2017

The Tesla Model S was completely destroyed in a May 2016 crash that killed Joshua Brown.

A fatal Florida crash that took the life of a former Navy SEAL in May 2016 likely could have been prevented if the driver had responded to warnings to put his hands back on the wheel, rather than relying on the Tesla sedan’s semi-autonomous Autopilot system, according to a new report by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Joshua Brown was killed when his Tesla Model S ran into a semi-truck near Williston, Florida. The Autopilot system appeared not to have recognized the danger when the truck turned in front of Brown’s vehicle. But the NTSB said Brown should have been able to spot the problem and react. Instead, he “took no braking, steering or other actions to avoid the collision.”

Breaking News!

Brown had set the cruise control on his electric sedan to 74 miles per hour – while operating in a 65 mph zone—just two minutes before the crash.


Automakers Want Free Hand to Test Autonomous Vehicles – But GOP Might Cut Out Federal, State Safety Regulators

Industry insists a freer hand will bring self-driving technology to market more quickly.

by on Jun.16, 2017

Waymo recently launched a pilot ride-sharing program in Phoenix using autonomous Chrysler minivans.

As they move closer to bringing autonomous and fully driverless vehicles to market, automakers and tech firms such as General Motors, Ford, Waymo and Tesla are pressing the federal government to loosen up regulations limiting the way they can test their prototypes on public roads.

Even before the Obama Administration concluded its second term, the feds were working up new autonomous guidelines. But now, under the Trump Administration, it appears Congress could give the auto industry even more freedom to move forward while limiting the power of both individual states and even federal safety regulators.

Tech News!

Congress wants to “continue working with all parties in a bipartisan manner as we refine language and move forward towards a consensus package,” said U.S. Representative Bob Latta, chairman of a panel that oversees automotive regulations.


Tesla Looking to Make Move to India

Indian government may be looking to lure EV makers to the country.

by on Jun.15, 2017

Tesla CEO Elon Musk says the EV maker is in talks to sell vehicles and build a new plant in India.

The world seems to be Elon Musk’s oyster and he keeps finding pearls. The latest gem comes as the Tesla founder confirms that the company is in talks with the Indian government to sell and build vehicles in the country.

As is so often the case with Musk, he broke the news on Twitter, following another of dozens of requests from Indian tweeters asking him to bring his ever-expanding line-up of electric vehicles to the sub-continent.

Global Auto News!

“In discussions with the government of India requesting temporary relief on import penalties/restrictions until a local factory is built,” he tweeted recently. (more…)

Going for Maximum Plaid: New Tesla Roadster Could Break the 2-Second Barrier

Reborn two-seater still “some years away.”

by on Jun.14, 2017

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, shown with the original battery-powered Roadster.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has made no secret about plans to bring back the brand’s original model, the Roadster. He’s also hinted for some time that there’s a performance mode in the works that would go a step beyond the current Ludicrous Mode found on both the Models S and X.

But could Maximum Plaid deliver what, not all that long ago, seemed impossible to achieve without strapping on a pair of rockets? According to at least one report, the highest-performance version of the upcoming Tesla Roadster could hit 60 mph in less than 2 seconds.

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Tesla currently is in a spitting match with Dodge, both claiming bragging rights for the world’s fastest factory-built vehicles: the Model S and the new Dodge Challenger Demon launching from 0 to 60 in about 2.3 seconds. With its high-torque electric motors, the Tesla Roadster could lay down numbers that would be difficult for an internal combustion-powered vehicle ever to beat.


Tesla CEO Musk Says Superchargers Going Solar

Company expects to add 10,000 new stations by end of year.

by on Jun.12, 2017

Tesla is expanding its Supercharger network in the U.S. and, Musk recently tweeted, aims to convert them to using solar power.

As quickly as President Donald Trump ended U.S. involvement in the Paris Climate Treaty, automakers – and more than 100 other companies – with equal speed said they planned to continue meeting the goals of the treaty.

The move so upset Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk that he resigned from a committee that advises the president on a variety of business matters. However, not long after, a Twitter follower of Musk’s called him out, implying his stance was a bit hypocritical.

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“Unfortunately I can stand at the Tesla superchargers and see the coal power plant. Play the shell game all you want these are coal powered,” wrote David Kennedy. (more…)

Musk Tells Shareholders Tesla Will Need “Possibly 10 or 20” Assembly Plants

To expand product line beyond three cars, company will need more space.

by on Jun.07, 2017

Tesla CEO Elon Musk told shareholders that the company may need 10 or 20 plants in the future.

With strong early demand for the Tesla Model 3 and still more new products in the pipeline, Tesla may need anywhere from three to “possibly as many as 10 or 20” new assembly plants, CEO Elon Musk told shareholders during an annual shareholders meeting that took on the air of a superstar love fest at times.

With shouts and applause for the charismatic company founder and entrepreneur, shareholders largely gave Musk what he wanted, among other things rejecting a pension fund proposal to make Tesla board members have to stand for re-election annually, rather than every three years. The issue of high worker injuries rates also came up, however, though a pending sex discrimination lawsuit was not a topic during the event’s question-and-answer session.

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The 2017 stockholders meeting comes at a critical time for Tesla. Though the company has turned a profit during only two quarters since going public, its share price has been soaring, buoyed by early expectations for the Model 3, its first mainstream model, which appears ready to go into production next month. (more…)

AAA Charging Tesla Owners Higher Premiums

Insurer says vehicles are have more claims and cost more to repair.

by on Jun.05, 2017

It's going to cost more to insure a Tesla Model S or Tesla Model X – as much as 30% more – with AAA, the company says.

New Tesla buyers apparently are going to need that $7,500 federal tax break electric vehicle buyers get to offset the increase they’re going to see in their auto insurance premium from at least one company.

AAA-The Auto Club Group plans to raise its rates on Tesla vehicles by as much as 30% in the coming months. The insurer claims that data reveals the Model S and Model X have abnormally high claim frequencies and high costs of insurance claims compared with other cars in the same classes.


Tesla disputes the analysis. (more…)

Toyota Pulls Plug on Long-Standing Relationship with Tesla

Japanese makers sells off its remaining shares of battery-carmaker.

by on Jun.05, 2017

Toyota is ramping up its own electric vehicle program instead of relying on former partner Tesla.

Toyota revealed over the weekend that it had sold off all of its remaining shares in Tesla Inc., the Silicon Valley-based battery-electric automaker, ending what had once been seen as a promising tie-up.

The move – which, it turns out, was completed by the end of 2016 – comes as Toyota ramps up its own, tenuous electric vehicle program, shifting some of its resources away from its long-standing hydrogen fuel-cell program.

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“Our development partnership with Tesla ended a while ago, and since there has not been any new developments on that front, we decided it was time to sell the remaining stake,” Toyota spokesman Ryo Sakai told the Reuters news service, adding that the move was part of a periodic review of investments. (more…)