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Tesla Autopilot Cleared by Feds

But investigators will continue monitoring system – and fault name, Autopilot.

by on Jan.19, 2017

Federal investigators cleared Tesla and its Autopilot system of any safety defects that may have caused this fatal crash in Florida last year.

Federal safety regulators have determined there is no known safety defect with Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot system, wrapping up an investigation that was launched after a fatal Florida crash last May that resulted in the death of a former Navy SEAL.

A handful of other crashes were tentatively linked to the technology, though the battery-carmaker strongly disputed those claims. With Autopilot considered one of the key selling attributes for Tesla products like the Model S and upcoming Model 3, getting the all-clear from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was a significant development for the automaker.

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In a Twitter post, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk declared the wrap-up of the investigation was “very positive,” Tesla following up with a statement that said “the safety of our customers comes first, and we appreciate the thoroughness of NHTSA’s report and its conclusion.” (more…)

Tesla Looking to Set New Solar Record

Model S 60 owners get a price break on upgrade.

by on Jan.16, 2017

Tesla's Gigafactory is expected to be the world's largest lithium-ion production plant.

Tesla’s been a groundbreaking company on many levels since its inception and now the company is looking to set a new benchmark on ground its already broken: the world’s largest solar array on the roof of its under-construction Gigafactory.

The California-based EV maker is planning to create a 70-megawatt rooftop installation of solar panels that will provide the facility with all of its power needs and will, once completed, nearly seven times bigger than the next biggest rooftop array.

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While this may sound like a rather expensive proposition, Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity, the solar panel manufacturer, will more than offset the costs associated with producing the panels needed to generate the power for the plant. (more…)

Tesla Deliveries Miss Mark as Year Ends – But Production Up

Launch of updated Autopilot takes blame.

by on Jan.04, 2017

Tesla fell short of its goal of delivering 80,000 vehicles in in 2016, but only narrowly as it produced nearly 77,000 vehicles.

Tesla ended 2016 with some good news … and some bad.

The California EV maker said it delivered a total of 76,230 vehicles last year, but it still fell short of its goal of handing customers the keys to 80,000 vehicles for the year. That said, production was up a full 64% in 2016, in part due to the ramp-up of the all-new Model X battery-SUV.

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Put the blame for the sales shortfall on the updated Tesla Autopilot system. Since October, Tesla has been adding a variety of new sensors to both the Model X and the Model S sedan to give those cars advanced, semi-autonomous capabilities. But the changeover caused initial problems slowing production early in the fourth quarter. (more…)

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 Reaches New Deal with Panasonic

Musk hints at higher kW superchargers coming soon.

by on Dec.28, 2016

Tesla owners can now be charged an "idling fee" if they leave their vehicle in a charging stall after its fully charged.

As Tesla charges ahead with construction of its Gigafactory in the Nevada desert, it got a bit of welcome news: Panasonic Corp. is investing $256 million into its production facility.

However, it’s the plant in Buffalo, New York, where Tesla makes photovoltaic cells and modules, not the Gigafactory. The investment isn’t much of a surprise really as the two companies have been partners for years, including in the factory just outside of Reno.

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In this case, the California-based company is making a long-term purchase commitment from Panasonic as part of the deal, in addition to providing factory space and infrastructure. (more…)

NHTSA Concerned About GM’s Super Cruise Stopping Plan

Regulators worried stopping vehicle could cause additional problems.

by on Nov.29, 2016

General Motors Staff Researcher Dr. Jeremy Salinger road tests a Cadillac using the semi-autonomous Super Cruise technology.

The concerns U.S. regulators have about the implementation of semi-autonomous or autonomous vehicles appears to be growing as safety officials really dig into the inner workings of these new technological marvels.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently urged General Motors to exercise caution in the implementation of its Super Cruise semi-autonomous system, specifically the fact that the system will slowly bring the car to a full stop if it senses the driver is sleeping, incapacitated or simply not paying attention.

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NHTSA confirms the automaker’s plan to bring the car to a stop and activate the vehicle’s hazard lights if the driver is inattentive or unresponsive is compliant with federal automotive standards. However, it is also concerned the flashing lights could be misinterpreted by other drivers creating a more serious safety issue. (more…)

Tesla Shareholders Approve $2.6B Buyout of SolarCity

Some shareholders file suit trying to block acquisition.

by on Nov.18, 2016

Tesla CEO Elon Musk told shareholders their "faith will be rewarded" for approving the SolarCity acquisition.

In Elon we trust.

At least that’s what Tesla shareholders appear to be saying after approving the $2.6 billion acquisition of Musk’s SolarCity Corp. by a more than three-to-one vote.

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“I think your faith will be rewarded,” Musk told shareholders. (more…)

Musk Likely to Face Pressure from Trump Administration

New president's focus on old guard fuels likely to hinder EV guru's companies.

by on Nov.10, 2016

The Tesla Model X earned an award in Germany, but Elon Musk and his company's may not feel so welcome in the U.S. with the next administration.

The Tesla Model X has been honored with Germany’s “Golden Steering Wheel,” one of the automotive world’s most prestigious awards, which has rarely gone to an American vehicle.

The EV maker may want to bask in the friendly glow of the European honor because back home a new and unsympathetic administration in Washington D.C. is moving into the White House.

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Elon Musk, Tesla founder and chief executive officer, has been targeted by Breitbart, the conservative alternative new site favored by President-elect Donald Trump. In the past, Breitbart has criticized Musk for accepting large grants from the federal government. (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.

(more…)

Feds Launch Alt-Fuel Highway Network

Corridors will cover 25,000 miles, 55 routes in 35 states.

by on Nov.04, 2016

The new project should make it much easier for owners to find places to charge up on the road.

With the upcoming launch of longer-range, more affordable electric vehicles the auto industry is taking several critical steps towards making alternative power mainstream, but range anxiety isn’t yet a thing of the past.

Now, the federal government is taking steps to address the other big problem: a lack of places to charge electric vehicles. The plan announced by the Obama Administration will include 55 different interstates, covering 25,000 miles of highway in 35 states. Add in efforts to boost the availability of natural gas and other alternative fuels and the network grows to 85,000 miles of roadway.

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“Alternative fuels and electric vehicles will play an integral part in the future of America’s transportation system,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We have a duty to help drivers identify routes that will help them refuel and recharge those vehicles and designating these corridors on our highways is a first step.”

(more…)