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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.

Plug In!

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 to Complete SolarCity Takeover Despite Concerns

All-stock deal worth $2.6 bil, but critics cite conflicts of interest.

by on Aug.01, 2016

A series of SolarCity solar panel installations.

Despite concerns about potential conflicts of interest, Tesla Motors said Monday morning that it would complete its takeover of the solar power company SolarCity, a move it believes will lead to numerous synergies in its broader green energy strategy.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the all-stock, $2.6 billion deal will almost immediately result in $150 million in cost-savings, describing the deal as a “no-brainer” that “we should have done sooner.” But reaction has been skeptical since the proposed takeover was announced more than a month ago.

Power Up!

Together, Tesla and SolarCity “expect to save customers money by lowering hardware costs, reducing installation costs, improving our manufacturing efficiency and reducing our customer acquisition costs,” Tesla said in a statement.

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Chinese-Funded Faraday Future Breaks Ground on $1 Bil Las Vegas Plant

Project set to be ready within two years.

by on Apr.14, 2016

Officials dig in at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Faraday Future plant near Las Vegas.

The Chinese-backed battery-car start-up Faraday Future has broken ground for a $1 billion assembly plant set to rise in the Las Vegas suburbs.

The factory, which will eventually employ 4,500, is expected to produce a series of new electric vehicles, though the California-based company has provided only a faint glimmer of what it has in store once production begins in 2018.

Electrifying!

“Our aim is to complete a program that would normally take four years and do it in half the time, while still doing it right,” Dag Reckhorn, the head of global manufacturing for Faraday Future, said during a groundbreaking ceremony on a desert field in the Sin City suburb of North Las Vegas.

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Model S Quality Problems a Blow to Both Tesla and Consumer Reports

How can you be both the “best ever” and “undriveable”?

by on Oct.21, 2015

Tesla and Consumer Reports: friends no more?

Can you ever be both “the best ever” and “below average”? Apparently, you can if you’re the Tesla Model S and the one handing out the superlatives is Consumer Reports magazine.

Barely two months ago, the non-profit publication issued a breathless report announcing that the high-priced battery sedan had effectively broken its rating system, actually scoring more than a perfect 100 points. But on Tuesday, at a presentation to the Automotive Press Association of Detroit, Consumer Reports announced the very same vehicle had major reliability issues, at least according to the owners it surveyed.

Take Stock!

“Reliability has moved from ‘Average’ to ‘Below Average,’” said Jake Fisher, CR’s director of automotive testing. As a result, he added, “We’re no longer recommending the Model S.”

That move was the biggest surprise to emerge from the magazine’s annual Automotive Reliability Survey, and while it delivers a clear blow to Tesla, it also creates a cloud around Consumer Reports itself.

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Tesla Ready to Launch Model X, Autonomous Driving Tech to Follow

Meanwhile, CEO Elon Musk takes aim at Mars.

by on Jun.10, 2015

Tesla's Elon Musk said the long-awaited Model X will hit showrooms in the last quarter of this year.

After a two-year delay, Tesla finally plans to bring its much-anticipated second product line, the Model X battery-electric SUV, to market within the next three to four months.

The California-based manufacturer also expects to start offering its new auto-pilot, a semi-autonomous driving system, in the coming months, said CEO Elon Musk during Tesla’s annual shareholder’s meeting. Musk also suggested he is looking forward to a time when rocket launches to Mars become relatively routine, possibly by the SpaceX private rocket company he also controls.

We Keep You Plugged In!

The Model X is expected to greatly expand the potential audience for Tesla’s products considering the strong demand for utility vehicles. Like the Model S sedan, it will feature a fully electric drivetrain that is expected to be offered with a variety of different battery-pack sizes and performance levels. (more…)

Panasonic Aims to Help Tesla Launch Gigafactory

Japanese tech giant sending “100s” of workers to Nevada.

by on Jun.09, 2015

A rendering of the Tesla Gigafactory.

Tesla Motors will get a big helping hand from its Japanese tech partner Tesla in a push to get the planned Gigafactory battery plant into production next year.

Panasonic plans to send “hundreds” of its own employees to the Reno, Nevada plant site in an effort to help Tesla get it completed. The $5 billion Gigafactory is expected to become the world’s largest producer of lithium-ion batteries once it gets up to full speed, those batteries used not only for Tesla’s electric vehicles but also for backup energy systems and other applications.

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“We’ll need hundreds of people at the start,” Yoshio Ito, Panasonic’s automotive and industrial systems division chief said in Japan. “We should actually see that starting around the autumn.”

Panasonic, which has been supplying batteries for the Tesla Model S, is a major partner in the Gigafactory, with its own investment expected to approach $500 million.

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Consumer Reports Name Top Brands and Models

Japanese makers dominate again.

by on Feb.24, 2015

The Toyota Highlander was one of the top-ranked models according to Consumer Reports readers.

Consumer Reports’ latest list of top-ranked automotive brands and models contained some big surprises and reinforced some long-standing reputations. Notably, little battery-car start-up Tesla Motors had the top-ranked product overall in the form of its Model S sedan.

Toyota, a manufacturer long associated with high-quality products, managed to place two of its brands in the Top Ten, meanwhile. But Kia, a marque may traditionally associated with lowball pricing, also managed to place among the industry’s best, nudging aside BMW to take the ninth place spot in Consumer Reports’ annual automotive brands report card.

Top-Ranked!

Who led the list and who lagged behind? Here’s a quick look at some of the key findings from the study, which looked at how individual models scored in both road and crash tests, while also looking at what the magazine’s readers reported in terms of real world reliability.

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Chevrolet Planning to Launch 200-Mile Bolt Electric Vehicle in Late 2016

GM wants to “put a muzzle on” outspoken Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

by on Feb.06, 2015

The Chevy Bolt would deliver significantly longer range than almost any current battery-electric vehicle - for around $30,000. Photo by Len Katz.

General Motors will begin building a production version of its Chevrolet Bolt battery-electric concept vehicle in October 2016, several well-placed company sources told TheDetroitBureau.com, a move that will put GM into direct competition with California EV start-up Tesla Motors, as well as more traditional automakers such as Nissan and BMW.

Stay Informed!

Unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month, the Chevy Bolt concept was expected to deliver about 200 miles of range per charge – more than double that of most of the electric vehicles currently on the market. That would address the issue of “range anxiety’ which, industry analysts say, has held back demand for battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs.

GM officials, meanwhile, said they would deliver the Bolt for around $30,000, which would put it much closer to the price tag of a comparable, gas-powered vehicle.

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Detroit Electric Releases “Final” Design of SP:01 Electric Sports Car

Over a year late, the maker promises to launch production before year-end.

by on Oct.27, 2014

An obvious digital rendering shows the revised rear of the Detroit Electric SP:01 sports car's "final design."

Better late than never? That’s apparently the philosophy at Detroit Electric, the ambitious, if struggling, battery-carmaker that has been promising to put the world’s fastest electric sports car into production.

First teased at a splashy Motown event in the spring of 2013 – with a concept vehicle unveiled at last year’s Shanghai Motor Show, Detroit Electric has missed all of its original targets. But despite the legions of skeptics, it has today released an image of what it is billing “the final exterior design” of its pure battery electric sports-car, the SP:01.

Plugged In!

Apparently, quite a bit has changed since Detroit Electric first announced plans to revive a brand name that has been gone since the Great Depression.

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Tesla Announces “Auto-Pilot,” AWD Updates for Model S

But news falls short of some expectations.

by on Oct.10, 2014

Tesla claims the high-performance AWD version of the Model S will deliver McLaren-like performance.

Tesla Motors is giving its Model S battery-electric vehicle a “D,” but some buyers – especially those in the Snowbelt – are likely to reward the company with an “A.” As for investors, well, that’s another matter.

The new Tesla Model S D edition will be the first to get all-wheel-drive, a must in many parts of the country, as competing luxury carmakers have discovered. Meanwhile, a high-performance version of the AWD Model S will now be capable of launching from 0 to 60 in barely 3 seconds, on a par with a $1 million McLaren supercar, Tesla CEO Elon Musk boasted during a preview in Hawthorne, California.

Plug In!

Musk’s frequent tweets had been triggering a flurry of speculation about what Tesla might have in store. And, among other things, the start-up battery-carmaker also announced a new “auto-pilot” system that will allow nearly hands-free driving on the highway. But the technology fell short of expectations that Tesla would reveal a fully autonomous version of the Model S – or of its next-generation Model III.

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