Tags Posts tagged with "Tesla"


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electric vehicle

Electric Vehicles Go To Two Wheels

What To Expect With A Zero Motorcycles’ Electric Vehicles, I mean, Motorcycles.

With growing popularity, electric vehicles have started taking over. Some of the most popular brands on American roads are: Bolt, Prius, Proterra, and Tesla. It is rare to see or hear of a fully electric or hybrid motorcycle. Harley and Honda are two of the more popular brands of motor bikes. Their customers have expressed interest in the greener approach to riding but not many startups have been successful. Zero Motorcycles, Lightning Motorcycle, and Alta Motors are some US Companies still in the game.

electric vehicles

Zero Motorcycles CTO, Abe Askenazi, has been in the motorcycle industry for almost twenty years. He said right now a lot of Zero Motorcycles’ customers buy the company’s EV bikes alongside market-leading V-twins and V-4s. To him, that indicates Zero’s bikes perform at the same or better levels as riders’ long-held favorites. He continued, electric bikes are quiet, so riders can hear what’s happening around them, and won’t disturb the peace, which their neighbors appreciate. That quietness is one reason police departments buy Zero Motorcycles for their fleets. They can ride at any hour, and approach suspects stealthily if they drive electric.

Zero’s products range from lightweight “hot rods” to off-road models that cost anywhere from about $8,500 to $16,000. Some of the new bikes are promising 200 miles per charge, which is a significant improvement from past models. The motorcycles’ easy to read instruments, speed control, and acceleration are some of Zero’s customers’ favorite qualities.

Askenazi stated, “Optimization of chemistry has gotten us here. The beautiful thing is that batteries are plug-and-play. When that battery comes that will give you 1,000 miles, we’ll be able to use it. Where the industry is going though is not so much a bigger battery to go further between charges, but faster charging so you can go grocery shopping, plug it in, come back and then you’re ready to go again.”

The CTO said that batteries will eventually weigh less and take up less space on the e-bikes. This will allow more space for cargo and other components. Askenazi stated, “You gain a lot of practicality with this bike.” He believes over time there will be many improvements with lighter weight and stronger materials.

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Where companies like Tesla, Google, and even Uber are racing at break neck speeds to be a leader in self driving automobiles, Ford is taking a slower pace. According to reports, the long standing US automotive companies could see its first self driving car in 10 years, versus 10 months but for good reason. Last month Ford CEO Mark Fields said that the company will put self driving vehicles into mass production in 2021 but only for “ride hailing duty”. Normal consumers will have to wait longer in order to be able to self park one of these new rides in their garages.

Why will it take so long? Mostly, this hesitation has a lot to do with the safety issues this new technology faces. There was already a reported death from the malfunctioning of Tesla’s new self driving electric car. With this comes many more questions regarding the fail-safes that should and hopefully will be put in place by automakers. Basically the greater level of automation implemented, the more time it will take for the human driver to get reengaged in actually driving the vehicle when the system needs that “human touch.”

The results may show Ford becoming a laggard in the marketplace of self driving cars but then again it allows the company to sit back and watch companies like Tesla become to test subjects for the formal roll-out of the eventual Ford Self-Driving Auto. For investors of Ford, they’re just going to have to sit back and wait, which may actually work out for the better considering the missteps already going on within the market via some of the other “early birds”.

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There’s been much debate surrounding electric auto maker, Tesla over recent months.  Following the death of a driver who was using Tesla’s automated driving function at the time of the accident, everything Tesla has fallen under strict scrutiny.  Over the weekend however, Tesla may have found a way to change all of that .

In a phone conference, Elon Musk stated that a new update to the car will be accessible for download in about two week for models delivered after October of 2014.  He also said that is was “very likely” that this update would have saved the life of the drive who died in the May crash in Florida.  In short, the new update would have identified the large metal object…which was a TRUCK!…to prevent the first and only deadly crash that the driverless system had been involved with to this point.

This new radar technology that is now used as a primary control sensor as opposed to reliance on a standard camera system, can easily detect things through fog, dust, rain, snow, etc. Tesla stated that the effect of this new update combined with the ability for a radar system to “see through” most visible hindrances caused by weather conditions, will allow the car to put on the brakes “even if a UFO were to land on the freeway in zero visibility conditions.”

The main goal for Tesla is to improve and even perfect the safety of its vehicles (shocker).  Improving the liklihood of safety will help the company retain a “zero fatality rate” moving forward…until the next accident I suppose.  Estimates by Tesla show that the new system was a major improvement for the safety of the vehicle and would allow the company to simply deploy the update rather than issue a full recall.  In our opinion, until we see real world improvements and a true zero failure rate, the jury is still out.

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Though Elon Musk isn’t building a Hyperloop transportation system physically, SpaceX is currently in the process of building a test track for Hyperloop pods. SpaceX is hosting a Hyperloop Pod Design Competition for engineering teams and students, and 23 winners were chosen earlier in 2016 to help build their pod prototypes. They also will race them on the test track, which consists of a 1-mile tube with the ability of achieving 99.8% vacuum.

Pod testing would be a major milestone for Hypeloop technology. The two main companies battling to build the first operational Hyperloop systems, Hyperloop One, and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, currently have not initiated any pod tests. HyperloopOne has begun construction on its own test track in Nevada, but the SpaceX project seems a lot further along.

Previously when SpaceX first released the competition, the timing of the final round, which entailed the actual test of final prototype pods, was set for summer of this year. Though, in July, SpaceX announced that would be pushed back till January 2017. It’s still not clear if the setback SpaceX recently experienced via the loss of Falcon 9 rocket along with Facebook’s Internet.org satellite this past week will affect those timelines.

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streaming technology

So there you are just driving along the road, you stop at a red light and look to your left and see…NO ONE DRIVING! Now I know, normally you’d be scared but technology is quickly making this a possible “norm of the future”.

Between Google, Uber, Tesla, and a host of other tech companies focusing on “the driver-less car,” this has begun to turn more into reality than science fiction. California, for example, has amendments to a bill before its legislative assembly that would essentially allow for the testing of cars without any driver present in the driver’s seat. And this could be conducted on actual roads!

Michigan’s state legislators introduced a bill that would also give the right to test cars without a safety driver present. Both bills limit the situations where these kinds of vehicles can operate. For instance, the bill in California specifies that pilot projects cannot have their autos exceeding 35mph. Also, only approved areas will be allowed for use during the testing phase. There’s also a provision that automobile manufacturers along with their suppliers will be held liable for any accidents that would result from these trials.

So far, every one of the 50 states require that a drive be operating a vehicle on a public road. In the case of Michigan, the bill actually represents a major economic opportunity and an option to keep car technology research and development within the state. Introducing these proposed amendments in California is also potentially going to increase Michigan’s process on the matter. Its bill already has support from Republican and Democratic legislative reps.

The bottom line is that this technology is no longer a thing of the future and state lawmakers are highly likely to give the “OK” to vehicles without human drivers!

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The news has been confirmed by Tesla that it will buy Solar City in a deal for 2.6 billion dollars. This deal will tie both of the companies together as one giant company. The newly merged company will sell different products like power wall batteries, solar panels, etc. Elon Musk is currently serving as the Chairman of the board in both companies.

Tesla which is known for electric car manufacturing and Solar City which is known for producing solar panels and their installation are going to be joined as the chairman of both the companies, Musk, is planning something big for them according to recent press. The CEO further explains the reason to merge both companies in the “Master Plan Part Deux,” a follow up to his original Master Plan that he wrote more than 10 years ago.

“Now that Tesla is ready to scale Powerwall and SolarCity is ready to provide high differentiated solar, the time has come to bring them together.”

The merged company anticipates saving as much as $150M on Solar City/Tesla merger after the deal was approved by the companies’ boards. There would be a single application to control, monitor and access all the energy products of Tesla by using your smartphone. There are 45 days for both the companies to look for a better deal as they need regulatory approval. But because Musk is the chairman of both Tesla and SolarCity companies, there are most likely fewer chances for anyone to put a stop to this deal.

SolarCity was founded by the cousins of Musk, but Musk is the largest shareholder of both the firms. There will be no impact of the merge on any plans of both of the firms. Therefore, they could quite possibly do what they had initially planned to do, in near future.

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Faraday Future, the Chinese-backed electric car maker recently reported that they are working on an autonomous vehicle. The LeTV owned company will now join a growing list of tech companies who are developing self-driving cars. The list includes Google, Tesla, Apple (rumored), and even IBM, to name a few. Faraday revealed their first concept car, the FFZERO1 at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in early 2016. The car will be made with variable platform architecture, and will be made in the style of a UFO, designed around dividing the body between black and silver. The car also comes with a space helmet for no reason whatsoever.

Faraday’s chief engineer did advertise the shiny vehicle but has yet to inform the public about exact what’s under the hood. The company recently acquired an Autonomous Vehicle Tester (AVT) permit in California, which will allow the automotive company to start testing the self-driving car on public roads within the state. At the date of publication, California has granted 14 companies permission to test autonomous vehicles on public roads. Those companies include GM’s Cruise Automation, Google, Volkswagen, and now Faraday.

However, the company is looking to expand nationwide and has reported plans to start testing their self-driving vehicles in Detroit. According to the Detroit News, the company approached Michigan Dept. of Transportation director Kirk Steudle with plans to apply for autonomous vehicle plates in January. Although Faraday has yet to produce a working prototype, it says that it will be testing autonomous driving software, sensors, hardware, and more in real world environments. California law requires that a test driver is present inside all driverless vehicles no matter what. Faraday reported that it is working on a car that allows for both manual and autonomous modes.

“Through this enhanced testing, and under the constant supervision of our qualified test drivers who will be behind the steering wheel at all times, we are confident in the success of the autonomous technologies that we are developing for future FF products,” a Faraday spokesperson said in a statement.

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BMW i has now joined Tesla and Mercedes-Benz in bringing energy storage home with its new system, which has not been named yet. The system uses new or used batteries from the BMW i3 electric car to hold power from solar panels for later use, basically an energy box. It integrates the charging station car owners are likely to have in the garage, so the stored energy from the sun can power your i3 overnight while you rest. So, if you keep your i3 long enough that the battery outlives its useful lifespan as a power source for your car, it can be recycled. According to BMW’s press release, they are calling this a “plug and play” in which you can use the battery’s remaining storage power in the stationary system after you get a replacement battery for the car.

BMW i is also expecting the near-future availability of second-life batteries, which would be retired batteries from other people’s i3 cars. Because the i3 has only been in production for three years (2013), there’s going to be several years of waiting time before those batteries are ready to be recycled for in-home storage, sadly. However, early batteries used in the Mini E test fleet have already been installed in a similar way at the University of San Diego. Moreover, energy provider NextEra has already signed a contract for 20M of second-life batteries, the largest order of used automotive batteries till this date.

The BMW i lithium-ion battery has a holding power of 22 kWh or 33 kWh. The company states that’s enough to power a typical American household, which the estimate is around 15-30 kWh day, for up to 24 hours. The BMW Group Technology Office is linking up with Pacific Gas & Electric Company and i3 owners in California to study how home energy storage and charge management can lower the overall cost of Electrical Vehicle ownership. This study would allow BMW to delay or interrupt charging during peak times.

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News from Tesla was recently released reporting that the electric automobile company is planning on acquiring SolarCity. The news came as a surprise to traders early Wednesday. As a result, traders bit up SolarCity by 13% and drove Tesla down by 12%. During an acquisition, it is normal for the stock market to spike the target and drag down the buyer. SolarCity has a debt-to-equity ratio of 3.492 as of March 2016, while Tesla as a ratio of 3.215. Tesla is currently in a unique position because the market for electric cars is still considerably underdeveloped. Competitors such as Fiat Chrysler and General Motors still have lower ratios in the industry.

Good news for Tesla is that most of SolarCity’s debt is project-level debt. Michael Morosi, of Avondale Partners, notes that the debt is consolidated on the SolarCity balance sheet, and is set against their cash flow producing assets. What that means is that the debt behaves like that of a mortgage debt instead of credit card debt. SolarCity has a highly visible burn-rate and is yet to break even. Tesla will have to deal with the debt before they can proceed with their plans for expansion.

“Tesla doesn’t view this as a reaction to GE breathing down their necks,” said Troy Ault, Director of Research at Cleantech Group.

Tesla and SolarCity do have a history however, as Elon Musk and Antonio Garcias both have overlapping roles between the two companies. The generous 21 percent to 30 percent premium that Tesla gave SolarCity were affected by markets because of the post announcement shift in price. Tesla is currently 4 years away from its target of hitting full capacity, and therefore is making a bold move by acquiring SolarCity. Most experts claim that SolarCity will continue to operate at their normal pace, even after the transaction is completed. This is mostly because Tesla is busy completing the release of the Model 3. SolarCity’s immediate role within Tesla was not reported.

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Those who frequent Nordstrom in the Grove in Los Angeles are in for a surprise. Because the next trip they make to the store, alongside racks of clothes, shoes, handbags, and accessories, the store will now carry … Teslas.

Yes, the premium electric car company. The vehicle maker recently confirmed that they are planning on doing a pop up Tesla shop in the upscale department store this weekend as a test run. If customer flow is good the companies are considering a partnership to bring Tesla Galleries nationwide. All of this is according to a statement published on Fast Company. And with a small space of 400 square feet, Tesla’s gallery is significantly smaller than the typical gallery location, which can range from 2,000-4,000 square feet, (all though they do showcase more than one vehicle).

“The Nordstrom shopper embodies a lifestyle that parallels that of many Tesla owners — people who are forward-thinking, savvy, and curious to explore the latest and best trends,” said a Tesla spokeswoman. Tesla is “working on obtaining a sales license for this location, which will allow us to not only demonstrate the vehicles, but to actually sell them as well.”

The Tesla Gallery, which will be located in the men’s department section on their first floor, will house an electric Model X SUV for customers to view, sit in, and schedule a time to test drive. The partnership is the first of its kind for the automaker, who currently own over a dozen galleries in malls nationwide. Even though Tesla is aiming to gain traction in the store, they have promised Nordstrom shoppers a “low pressure environment,” where customers will not be lured in to buying a car, but rather educated on what it takes to build and drive an all-electric SUV.

Tesla does not currently have a sales license for the gallery, but is working to get that fixed as soon as possible. For the purpose of this weekend, Nordstrom shoppers that are interested in buying a Tesla will simply have to go to an off-premise sales associate, make their purchase online, or visit a Tesla Store (the closest to the Grove location is 5 miles away).

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