Tesla is set to unveil something big tonight. Here’s everything we know about it

Tesla is a hype machine. What other company can make a live crowd ooh and ahh over at-home battery storage, or line up hundreds of thousands of pre-orders for a sedan? But even for Elon Musk, making a big rig sexy and desirable is a stretch. However, with his usual hyperbole, that’s exactly what he’s promising to do, and while he’s at it, he’s going to “blow your mind clear out of your skull.”

Elon Musk’s vision has always been for Tesla to be more than a car company. He wants to shift the world to sustainable energy, using electricity generated by the sun to power a range of vehicles, from cars, to SUVs, to busses, and yes, Class 8 trucks—the massive 18 wheelers that loom over all other freeway traffic. So before the 8 pm reveal in Los Angeles, here’s what we know.

Elon has been thinking about trucks for a while. In his Master Plan, Part Deux, a mission statement for Tesla he published in July 2016, Musk said he wanted to “expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments.”

In order to be skull-shattering, though, Musk is going to have to unveil something very special. Because while Tesla can take credit for igniting the electric car market, that was a sparse space before the company jumped in. The electric truck market, on the other hand, is already plenty competitive: Startups and established constructors alike all recognize that an electric drivetrain can be greener, cheaper, and easier to drive.

On Instagram he joked his truck will transform into a giant robot, fight aliens, and make one hell of a latte. (Well, he was probably joking.) Tesla has released teaser images of the truck, and we know it’s going to be sleek, probably black and silver, and have LED headlights. Beyond that, all we can do is make some informed inferences.

Bet on Batteries

Elon Musk is perhaps the world’s largest battery fan, so his semi-truck isn’t going to be a hybrid, with a diesel engine tucked away somewhere for emergencies. It’s not going to have a hydrogen fuel cell on board.

Expect the truck to be 100 percent battery powered, probably with lithium ion cells laid flat along the floor, as with Tesla’s cars. That keeps the center of gravity low, and helps with handling, which is especially important in a high sided vehicle that drives through strong cross winds.

Tesla builds its batteries in modules, and then uses as many modules as it takes for each application, whether that’s stationary storage for Powerwalls in homes, large scale grid storage like it deployed in Puerto Rico, or movable storage in cars. Multiplying that up to truck scale shouldn’t be too challenging, technologically, but the logistics are another matter.

Tesla’s big Model 3 bottleneck has so far been the battery pack, after all. The company has struggled to get the automated production line at its Gigafactory in Nevada running, so investors will be looking for Musk to explain how, and where, he plans to build his trucks, and how he’ll avoid the same problem.

Spoiler Alert

Tesla is big on aerodynamics, and Musk cites the physics of air resistance often—it increases with the square of speed. Just punching through the air is a huge power drain, even on a sleek car with retracting door handles to make it as slippery as possible. A Tesla truck will employ the latest aerodynamic science, likely with active spoilers and deflectors that adjust their angle to give the best performance.

Charge It

Electric trucks will still need charging, even if Tesla manages to stuff in enough batteries to give a range of a few hundred miles. Tesla’s current network of Superchargers can rejuice a Model S car in 40 minutes, but a truck is going to need a commensurately larger charger.

Musk may suggest that the vehicles are best for fixed routes between two points where chargers can be installed, or where the truck can sit overnight. Hauling goods from a port to an inland distribution center would be an ideal use case. Lugging lumber out of an isolated forest and across the country, less so.

The Case for the Cost

Finally, there’s the price. Cost-sensitive fleet operators are much less prone to buying on a whim than car purchasers, no matter how flashy the tech. But Musk will likely make the case that even if his truck is more expensive upfront, over five years it will repay the investment with lower fuel and maintenance costs.

Source: wired.com

 

Tesla Truck Unveiling Is Tomorrow

From its origins as a small company turning out two-seat electric convertibles for the wealthy, Tesla sure has come a long way. Tomorrow, the California automaker will officially expand its offerings to include semi trucks. Rumors and hints of this new all-electric vehicle have been in the air for a long while. Now we finally get to see what the fuss is all about.

Tesla Semi Truck unveil to be webcast live on Thursday at 8pm! This will blow your mind clear out of your skull and into an alternate dimension. Just need to find my portal gun …

That’s some hyperbole there from Tesla CEO Elon Musk. As we wait for the official details, here’s what we know (or think we know) about the Tesla semi:

  • The truck will be a Class 8 semi prototype. As you can see in the teaser image above, that means it will look at least a little like the many semis barreling down the highway across the U.S.
  • The powertrain, though, will be unlike anything on the road today. Powered by at least two electric motors and some big batteries, there won’t be a hood to house all of the bits.
  • The truck’s range, some say, will be 200-300 miles, but Musk says the specs are, “better than anything I’ve seen reported so far.”
  • A 300-mile range might mean a battery pack cost of around $160,000 and $210,000, according to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. They estimate that 300 miles of range would need a battery pack that weighs almost nine tons.
  • Some sort of autonomous driving ability is expected, given Tesla’s Autopilot technology. Developed and tested in Tesla’s passenger cars, this is a “neural net for vision, sonar and radar processing software” that “provides a view of the world that a driver alone cannot access, seeing in every direction simultaneously, and on wavelengths that go far beyond the human senses.”
  • It might look like this.
  • Musk said that his truck team spoke with trucking experts as they were designing the truck, so one would think it should meet the needs of at least some segment of the industry.

For all the hype – and there is a lot of it – Tesla has pushed back the semi truck’s reveal at least twice.

Tesla Semi truck unveil set for September. Team has done an amazing job. Seriously next level.

Tesla Semi truck unveil & test ride tentatively scheduled for Oct 26th in Hawthorne. Worth seeing this beast in person. It’s unreal.

It’s likely Tesla will have at least one feature no one outside the company knows about yet, one that will dominate the news cycle for a few days. That’s the company’s style.

But Tesla isn’t the only company trying to electrify the trucking industry. From Embark to Nikola to Otto, a lot of interesting things are happening.

Source: forbes.com

 

Tesla says world’s largest battery installation is halfway done

At a Jamestown, South Australia event on Friday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the company was halfway done installing a 100MW/129MWh utility-grade battery bank near the site of the 100MW Hornsdale Wind Farm.

The battery bank will be the largest grid-tied system in the world when it’s complete. (Currently, the largest grid-tied system is a 30MW/120MWh facility built by AES Energy Storage in Southern California.) The project grew out of a Twitter bet between Australian software billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes and Telsa and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. In response to Cannon-Brookes’ incredulity about the speed that Tesla was claiming it could install grid-tied batteries, Musk promised to deliver a system to South Australia, a state that’s suffered debilitating blackouts in recent summers, “in 100 days or its free.”

But “100 days or it’s free” didn’t include time negotiating contracts, and after the bet Tesla went though a competitive bidding process with the state of South Australia for access to an A$150 million ($115 million) renewable energy fund to cover the cost of the batteries. Earlier this year, Musk gave estimates on Twitter that suggested a 129MWh system would cost $32.35 million before taxes and labor. Tesla won the bidding round and partnered with French company Neoen, the owner of the Hornsdale Wind Farm in the mid-north region of South Australia. Musk later commented that if Tesla missed its 100-day deadline, the company could stand to lose “$50 million or more.”

This Friday, Tesla announced the start of its 100-days countdown, initiated after the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) approved the project.

Tesla Powerpacks in South Australia

 

The Tesla CEO also seemed to make an opening bid for more Tesla projects in Australia. According to ABC, the CEO told the Friday night crowd that “Australia could be powered by 1,890 square kilometers of solar panels—roughly a tenth the area of Sydney backed up by seven square kilometesr of batteries.” Tesla’s recent purchase of solar panel manufacturer SolarCity could put the company in a position to offer solar fields, as well.

 

 

Tesla might have ditched the Model X’s relatively affordable 60D trim, but that doesn’t mean it’s insensitive to your price concerns. Elon Musk’s outfit has lopped $3,000 off the price of the base 75D model, bringing the entry point down to ‘just’ $79,500 before tax credits — right around where it was when the electric SUV launched nearly two years ago.

As for why? Simple economics, Tesla says in a statement. When the Model X 75D launched, it had a low profit margin –“efficiencies” have let Tesla reduce the price without taking a hit to its bottom line.

The move probably won’t lead to a giant surge in sales for a luxury machine like the Model X, but it could help keep the existing sales momentum going at a time when Model 3 sales are still too new to represent a significant factor.

If you can afford the Model X but found the premium over a Model S a little too hard to swallow, you might be tempted to take a second look. The gap between the 75D variants of both EVs is down to $5,000, which might be justifiable if you have kids and cargo to haul.

 

It’s no secret that Tesla wants to open Gigafactories around the world to keep up with demand for electric cars and storage batteries, but how many of those will open in the US? Now we know: Elon Musk has confirmed that “2 or 3” additional factories will open in the US over the “next few years.” He’s not offering a firm timetable, to no one’s surprise (the first factory isn’t even finished yet), but the news makes it clearer than ever that Tesla expects plenty of demand.

Musk was definitely strategic with the announcement. He was speaking in front of the National Governors Association, which is full of politicians looking for economic opportunities — he’s no doubt hoping that governors will jockey for a Gigafactory (and offer incentives) in their state. At the same time, though, it may be a realistic forecast. Musk expects most new cars in the US to be EVs within 10 years, and to virtually dominate the market in 20. If Tesla doesn’t have enough factories in place, it risks losing business as electric transportation hits the mainstream.

 

The talk also saw Musk weigh in on a few other topics. He’s not opposed to self-driving car regulations, but he believes they should expire as technology evolves. Also, he believes that car security is a high priority. He notes that Tesla cars already have “special encryption” that protects vital systems like the powertrain and brakes, and he’s entertaining the idea of a kill switch (of sorts) that no hacker could touch. Don’t count on governors heeding his regulatory advice, but it won’t be surprising if future Teslas are better-equipped to deal with online threats.

A new set of crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety questions Tesla’s claim that the Model S is the safest car in history. In fact, the person who oversaw the Model S crash tests tells CNBC, “If you’re looking for top-line safety, we believe there are other, better choices than the Model S.”

Dave Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer, made that assessment while discussing the results of a new round of crash tests focused on six large cars, including the Model S.

Pre-crash studio shot

In one test, the small overlap front collision, the front driver’s side corner slams into a barrier at 40 mph. According to the Insurance Institute, the head of the crash test dummy in the Model S slammed into the steering wheel, which is why IIHS only gave the popular electric car an “acceptable” rating in the small overlap test. “Acceptable” is one notch below “Good,” the best rating possible by the IIHS.

The nonprofit says the driver’s side seat belt did not have enough tension to protect the crash test dummy’s head. Furthermore, after Tesla said it corrected the problem, the Insurance Institute did the small overlap crash test a second time and came up with a similar result.

“We’re not saying the Model S is unsafe,” Zuby said. “But, the fact we got the same result the second time doing the test was disappointing.”

Action shot taken during the second of two small overlap frontal crash tests.

Tesla defends the Model S and its safety record.

In a statement to CNBC, a Tesla rep said: “Tesla’s Model S received the highest rating in IIHS’s crash testing in every category except for one, the small overlap front crash test, where it received the second highest rating available. While IIHS and dozens of other private industry groups around the world have methods and motivations that suit their own subjective purposes, the most objective and accurate independent testing of vehicle safety is currently done by the U.S. government, which found Model S and Model X to be the two cars with the lowest probability of injury of any cars that it has ever tested, making them the safest cars in history.”

It’s true the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given both the Model S and the Model X five-star safety ratings, the highest score possible. In fact, the Model X is the only SUV to ever earn a five-star rating from the federal government.

So, why the difference between the two crash tests? NHTSA’s evaluation does not include small overlap front-end collisions, which the IIHS blames for about a quarter of the injuries and fatalities in front-end crashes.

“We would argue, that to be considered the safest vehicle on the road, it should earn a ‘Good’ rating from the IIHS as well as a five-star safety rating from NHTSA,” Zuby said.

Of the six large cars to be tested by IIHS, three received the designation of being “Top Safety Picks.” Those models include the Lincoln Continental, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Toyota Avalon.

Taking to Twitter in the wee hours of Monday morning, restless Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed that the much-anticipated Model 3 electric car makes its debut this month, with a ceremony marking an initial production run of just 30 cars planned for July 28. Separately, Tesla reported sluggish second-quarter Model S and Model X production and deliveries owing to battery inventory issues.

“Model 3 passed all regulatory requirements for production two weeks ahead of schedule. Expecting to complete SN1 on Friday,” he tweeted. “Handover party for first 30 customer Model 3’s on the 28th!” (Presumably, his SN1 reference is serial number 1, or the first sellable unit.)

While Tesla is meeting a goal set by Musk to begin delivering cars to customers in July, the production timetable laid out isn’t fast by conventional auto industry standards. The company’s Fremont, California, plant will make just 30 in July, 100 in August and more than 1,500 in September, Musk said. High-volume production won’t kick in until late in the year, it appears.

“Looks like we can reach 20,000 Model 3 cars per month in Dec,” he said.

Elon Musk tweets

The small sedan is a major step for the youngest and most valuable U.S. carmaker by market capitalization, which for nearly a decade has specialized in premium electric vehicles selling for an average of $100,000. In fact, selling an affordable, high-volume electric car has been Musk’s goal since August 2006, when he published Tesla’s “Secret Master Plan.”

The first Tesla Model 3 electric car for the masses should come off the assembly line on Friday with the first deliveries in late July, the company’s CEO says.

CEO Elon Musk, in several Twitter messages early Monday, says the new car passed all government regulatory requirements for production to begin two weeks ahead of schedule. The company plans to hold a party to hand over the first 30 Model 3s to customers on July 28, Musk wrote in a tweet.

The Model 3 is to start around $35,000 and with a $7,500 federal electric car tax credit, could cost $27,500. Tesla says the five-seat car will be able to go 215 miles (346 kilometers) on a single charge and will be sporty, accelerating from zero to 60 miles per hour in under six seconds.

Musk tweeted that the company expects to produce 100 cars in August and more than 1,500 in September. “Looks like we can reach 20,000 Model 3 cars per month in December,” he wrote.

That figure is less than previous estimates. Musk earlier had said Tesla would make 10,000 Model 3s per week by December.

Tesla also said Monday that it delivered about 22,000 vehicles in the second quarter, bringing first-half deliveries to about 47,100.

That’s at the low end of the company’s prediction earlier this year of 47,000 to 50,000 Model S sedan and Model X SUV deliveries in the first half, as much as a 71 percent increase over a year ago.

While second-quarter deliveries rose 53 percent from a year ago, they still were about 12 percent below first-quarter deliveries. Tesla said in a statement that second-quarter production was hampered by a severe shortfall of battery packs. Production averaged 40 percent less than demand until early June, the company said.

Tesla said that as long as global economic conditions don’t worsen considerably, it is confident that second-half Model S and Model X deliveries are likely to exceed deliveries in the first half.

Musk’s tweets about the Model 3 appear to erase doubts that Tesla would be able to meet deadlines for mass producing the cars, which is key to the company making money. Previously it has faced delays in getting vehicles to market. The Palo Alto, California-based company aims to make 10,000 Model 3s per week in 2018.

Tesla hasn’t said how many people have put down $1,000 refundable deposits for the Model 3, but Musk has said people who put down a deposit now won’t get a car until the end of 2018, suggesting it could be close to 500,000.

Tesla’s last new vehicle, the Model X SUV, was delayed nearly 18 months. Musk says the Model 3 is much simpler to make, but 14-year-old Tesla has no experience producing and selling vehicles in high volumes. Tesla made just 84,000 cars last year. Bigger rivals like General Motors, Volkswagen and Toyota routinely sell around 10 million vehicles per year.

Even if the Model 3 is on time, servicing all those vehicles will still be a challenge. Model S and Model X owners are already worried about having to share Tesla’s company-owned charging stations with an influx of new cars. And while Tesla is promising to increase its network of stores and service centers by 30 percent this year, it began 2017 with just 250 service centers worldwide. That leaves many potential owners miles from a service center.

Musk has said a new fleet of mobile service trucks will be deployed to help customers who are far from service centers. Tesla also plans to double its global high-speed charging points to 10,000 by the end of this year and increase them by another 50 percent-100 percent in 2018.

Until recently, Tesla owned the market for fully-electric vehicles that can go 200 miles (322 kilometers) or more on a charge. But that’s changing. GM beat Tesla to the mass market with the Chevrolet Bolt, a $36,000 car that goes 238 miles (about 383 kilometers) per charge. Audi plans to introduce an electric SUV with 300 miles (483 kilometers) of range next year; Ford will have one by 2020. Volkswagen plans more than 30 electric vehicle models by 2025.

Automotive competitors like Mercedes and Volvo — not to mention tech companies like Google and Uber — can also match Tesla’s efforts to develop self-driving vehicles. And they have deeper pockets. Tesla has had only two profitable quarters in its seven years as a public company