Tag Archives: Elon Musk

Tesla Makes Reno a Critical Stop on Way to Las Vegas and CES

 Investors invited to exclusive tour of Elon Musk’s Gigafactory

  • Driving down battery costs is key as Model 3 production nears

As far as Tesla’s concerned, what’s happening in Las Vegas can stay in Las Vegas. The real action is some 400 dusty miles northwest, across the state in Reno.

The electric-car maker is seizing on next week’s consumer electronics show to host investors and analysts at Gigafactory 1, the sprawling Nevada plant where it makes batteries and energy storage packs. Tesla Motors Inc.’sinvitation-only “investor event” will take place Jan. 4, as the tech and automotive industries swarm into Las Vegas for CES 2017. Though self-driving technology will be in the spotlight this year at CES, Tesla typically skips large industry trade shows, preferring to announce products separate from the pack.

Tesla Gigafactory 1

Source: Tesla Motors

“We are excited to see the scope and scale, not just of the facility itself, but in the levels of automation and potential advancements in manufacturing,” said Joe Dennison, associate portfolio manager of Zevenbergen Capital Investments in Seattle. Dennison said he’s eager to learn more about Tesla Energy products and hear any updates on timing or battery-cost reductions ahead of the Model 3 introduction.

While visitors have to pay their own air fare and hotel costs, they’ll get some time with Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk and Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel, according to guests who have received invitations. Tesla may need the good graces of Wall Street and investors this year as it spends heavily to expand production to 500,000 vehicles annually by 2018, some 10 times the number of vehicles delivered in 2015.

Battery Demand

The $5 billion Gigafactory 1 plant was born out of Tesla’s massive need for lithium-ion batteries both for its vehicles — including the Model 3 due in late 2017 — as well as energy storage-devices such as the Powerwall. Tesla, in partnership with Panasonic Corp., is working to collapse its battery supply chain and drive down costs. In its third quarter letter to shareholders, Tesla said “the Gigafactory remains on track to begin cell production later this year.”

A vehicle charger, right, in the lobby of the Gigafactory 1.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Reno has clawed its way back from the recession, embracing tech and the arts alike as the city sheds its image as a second-tier destination for gamblers and visitors to Lake Tahoe. The hope is that Tesla’s gigafactory will attract other manufacturers and help to transform the region.

Musk has said that he expects the fourth quarter to be profitable. It will be the first earnings period that includes SolarCity Corp., the solar-panel installer it bought for $2 billion.

Machinery inside Gigafactory 1

Photographer: Troy Harvey/Bloomberg

Tesla boosted a credit linewith Deutsche Bank AG by $200 million, according to a regulatory filing last week. The company has the potential to add another $50 million to that agreement and increased a separate credit facility by another $300 million. Musk surprised investors in October by saying Tesla didn’t need to raise equity or borrow money this quarter, when some analysts were projecting it might soon need $2.5 billion to cover the company’s ambitious growth plans.

CES is heavy on autonomy this year and includes an opening keynote from Jen-Hsun Huang, the CEO of Tesla supplier Nvidia Corp. Tesla’s forthcoming Model 3 sedan will be equipped with hardware to enable full self-driving, and Musk hopes to showcase an autonomous cross country drive from Los Angeles to New York by the end of 2017.

Source: Dana Hull. Bloomberg Business

The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (just between you and me)

Tesla_logo

Background: My day job is running a space transportation company called SpaceX, but on the side I am the chairman of Tesla Motors and help formulate the business and product strategy with Martin and the rest of the team. I have also been Tesla Motor’s primary funding source from when the company was just three people and a business plan.

As you know, the initial product of Tesla Motors is a high performance electric sports car called the Tesla Roadster. However, some readers may not be aware of the fact that our long term plan is to build a wide range of models, including affordably priced family cars. This is because the overarching purpose of Tesla Motors (and the reason I am funding the company) is to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy, which I believe to be the primary, but not exclusive, sustainable solution.

Critical to making that happen is an electric car without compromises, which is why the Tesla Roadster is designed to beat a gasoline sports car like a Porsche or Ferrari in a head to head showdown. Then, over and above that fact, it has twice the energy efficiency of a Prius. Even so, some may question whether this actually does any good for the world. Are we really in need of another high performance sports car? Will it actually make a difference to global carbon emissions?

Well, the answers are no and not much. However, that misses the point, unless you understand the secret master plan alluded to above. Almost any new technology initially has high unit cost before it can be optimized and this is no less true for electric cars. The strategy of Tesla is to enter at the high end of the market, where customers are prepared to pay a premium, and then drive down market as fast as possible to higher unit volume and lower prices with each successive model.

Without giving away too much, I can say that the second model will be a sporty four door family car at roughly half the $89k price point of the Tesla Roadster and the third model will be even more affordable. In keeping with a fast growing technology company, all free cash flow is plowed back into R&D to drive down the costs and bring the follow on products to market as fast as possible. When someone buys the Tesla Roadster sports car, they are actually helping pay for development of the low cost family car.

Now I’d like to address two repeated arguments against electric vehicles — battery disposal and power plant emissions. The answer to the first is short and simple, the second requires a bit of math:

Batteries that are not toxic to the environment!
I wouldn’t recommend them as a dessert topping, but the Tesla Motors Lithium-Ion cells are not classified as hazardous and are landfill safe. However, dumping them in the trash would be throwing money away, since the battery pack can be sold to recycling companies (unsubsidized) at the end of its greater than 100,000-mile design life. Moreover, the battery isn’t dead at that point, it just has less range.

Power Plant Emissions aka “The Long Tailpipe”
(For a more detailed version of this argument, please see the white paper written by Martin and Marc.)

A common rebuttal to electric vehicles as a solution to carbon emissions is that they simply transfer the CO2 emissions to the power plant. The obvious counter is that one can develop grid electric power from a variety of means, many of which, like hydro, wind, geothermal, nuclear, solar, etc. involve no CO2emissions. However, let’s assume for the moment that the electricity is generated from a hydrocarbon source like natural gas, the most popular fuel for new US power plants in recent years.

The H-System Combined Cycle Generator from General Electric is 60% efficient in turning natural gas into electricity. “Combined Cycle” is where the natural gas is burned to generate electricity and then the waste heat is used to create steam that powers a second generator. Natural gas recovery is 97.5% efficient, processing is also 97.5% efficient and then transmission efficiency over the electric grid is 92% on average. This gives us a well-to-electric-outlet efficiency of 97.5% x 97.5% x 60% x 92% = 52.5%.

Despite a body shape, tires and gearing aimed at high performance rather than peak efficiency, the Tesla Roadster requires 0.4 MJ per kilometer or, stated another way, will travel 2.53 km per mega-joule of electricity. The full cycle charge and discharge efficiency of the Tesla Roadster is 86%, which means that for every 100 MJ of electricity used to charge the battery, about 86 MJ reaches the motor.

Bringing the math together, we get the final figure of merit of 2.53 km/MJ x 86% x 52.5% = 1.14 km/MJ. Let’s compare that to the Prius and a few other options normally considered energy efficient.

The fully considered well-to-wheel efficiency of a gasoline powered car is equal to the energy content of gasoline (34.3 MJ/liter) minus the refinement & transportation losses (18.3%), multiplied by the miles per gallon or km per liter. The Prius at an EPA rated 55 mpg therefore has an energy efficiency of 0.56 km/MJ. This is actually an excellent number compared with a “normal” car like the Toyota Camry at 0.28 km/MJ.

Note the term hybrid as applied to cars currently on the road is a misnomer. They are really just gasoline powered cars with a little battery assistance and, unless you are one of the handful who have an aftermarket hack, the little battery has to be charged from the gasoline engine. Therefore, they can be considered simply as slightly more efficient gasoline powered cars. If the EPA certified mileage is 55 mpg, then it is indistinguishable from a non-hybrid that achieves 55 mpg. As a friend of mine says, a world 100% full of Prius drivers is still 100% addicted to oil.

The CO2 content of any given source fuel is well understood. Natural gas is 14.4 grams of carbon per mega-joule and oil is 19.9 grams of carbon per mega-joule. Applying those carbon content levels to the vehicle efficiencies, including as a reference the Honda combusted natural gas and Honda fuel cell natural gas vehicles, the hands down winner is pure electric:

Car Energy Source CO2 Content Efficiency CO2 Emissions
Honda CNG Natural Gas 14.4 g/MJ 0.32 km/MJ 45.0 g/km
Honda FCX Nat Gas-Fuel Cell 14.4 g/MJ 0.35 km/MJ 41.1 g/km
Toyota Prius Oil 19.9 g/MJ 0.56 km/MJ 35.8 g/km
Tesla Roadster Nat Gas-Electric 14.4 g/MJ 1.14 km/MJ 12.6 g/km

 

The Tesla Roadster still wins by a hefty margin if you assume the average CO2 per joule of US power production. The higher CO2 content of coal compared to natural gas is offset by the negligible CO2content of hydro, nuclear, geothermal, wind, solar, etc. The exact power production mixture varies from one part of the country to another and is changing over time, so natural gas is used here as a fixed yardstick.

Becoming Energy Positive
I should mention that Tesla Motors will be co-marketing sustainable energy products from other companies along with the car. For example, among other choices, we will be offering a modestly sized and priced solar panel from SolarCity, a photovoltaics company (where I am also the principal financier). This system can be installed on your roof in an out of the way location, because of its small size, or set up as a carport and will generate about 50 miles per day of electricity.

If you travel less than 350 miles per week, you will therefore be “energy positive” with respect to your personal transportation. This is a step beyond conserving or even nullifying your use of energy for transport – you will actually be putting more energy back into the system than you consume in transportation! So, in short, the master plan is:

  1. Build sports car
  2. Use that money to build an affordable car
  3. Use that money to build an even more affordable car
  4. While doing above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options

Don’t tell anyone.

Tesla Model S Self Driving Autopilot Software

 Tesla’s commitment to developing and refining the technologies to enable self-driving capability is a core part of our mission. In October of last year we started equipping Model S with hardware to allow for the incremental introduction of self-driving technology: a forward radar, a forward-looking camera, 12 long-range ultrasonic sensors positioned to sense 16 feet around the car in every direction at all speeds, and a high-precision digitally-controlled electric assist braking system. Tesla’s Version 7.0 software release allows those tools to deliver a range of new active safety and convenience features, designed to work in conjunction with the automated driving capabilities already offered in Model S. This combined suite of features represents the only fully integrated autopilot system involving four different feedback modules: camera, radar, ultrasonics, and GPS. These mutually reinforcing systems offer realtime data feedback from the Tesla fleet, ensuring that the system is continually learning and improving upon itself. Autopilot allows Model S to steer within a lane, change lanes with the simple tap of a turn signal, and manage speed by using active, traffic-aware cruise control. Digital control of motors, brakes, and steering helps avoid collisions from the front and sides, as well as preventing the car from wandering off the road. Your car can also scan for a parking space, alert you when one is available, and parallel park on command.

Tesla Autopilot relieves drivers of the most tedious and potentially dangerous aspects of road travel. We’re building Autopilot to give you more confidence behind the wheel, increase your safety on the road, and make highway driving more enjoyable. While truly driverless cars are still a few years away, Tesla Autopilot functions like the systems that airplane pilots use when conditions are clear. The driver is still responsible for, and ultimately in control of, the car. What’s more, you always have intuitive access to the information your car is using to inform its actions.

This release also features the most significant visual refresh yet of the digital displays for every single Model S around the world. The Instrument Panel is focused on the driver and includes more functional apps to help monitor your ride.

The release of Tesla Version 7.0 software is the next step for Tesla Autopilot. We will continue to develop new capabilities and deliver them through over-the-air software updates, keeping our customers at the forefront of driving technology in the years ahead.

Source: Tesla

Tesla to open electric vehicle supercharge infastructure in UK

tesla

Tesla the pioneering high end electric car company founded by Elon Musk has installed a network of supercharging stations across the UK’s motorways and plans to open them this summer.

The charging stations are located in the following locations:

  • South Mimms services Hertfordshire at the junction of the M25 and the A1
  • Dover M20
  • Bristol M4
  • M25
  • M1

Tesla’s efforts to build a network of supercharger stations aims to broaden the appeal of electric cars which have failed to gain widespread acceptance in the UK.

The Tesla supercharge stations are capable of giving the electric cars a range of 130 miles with a 20 minute charge enough time for the driver to have a quick lunch break. Owners of Tesla cars will have unlimited access to the charging stations for a one off payment or free with the purchase of the top range vehicles.

Elon Musk is advising the government on electric vehicle technology in a bid to transform the UK’s concept of electric vehicles and break down the millage range anxiety barrier which has been the main factor for poor electric car sales in the UK. The Government is hoping that this initiative from Tesla and other high speed charging stations planned by Ecotricity & ChargeMaster will kick start the electric vehicle revolution in the UK.

The Tesla Model S is capable of doing a range of 300 miles on a full charge.

Source: Tim Cosgrove

 

Tesla Motors, AT&T partner on connected car

Tesla-Moters-Musk

Companies Collaborating to Deliver Wirelessly Connected Vehicles with Safety, Security, Diagnostic and Infotainment Services

AT&T, the leader in connected cars, and Tesla, the premier all-electric vehicle manufacturer, have entered into a new multi-year exclusive agreement to enable current and future Tesla vehicles in North America with high speed wireless connectivity. AT&T connectivity will power Tesla’s remote engine diagnostics, telematics, and industry-leading infotainment features such as Internet radio, Web browsing, live traffic, weather and navigation, all accessed through the 17-inch touchscreen.

“It’s an honor to work with a company as innovative as Tesla on delivering a connected experience inside automobiles for both drivers and passengers,” said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T Mobility.

“Tesla’s goal has always been to catalyze the market for electric vehicles for all consumers while providing an exceptional driving experience,” said Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO of Tesla. “AT&T’s advanced and reliable wireless connectivity will help Tesla continue to deliver a cutting-edge ownership experience.”

In addition, AT&T announced yesterday two major initiatives to lead innovation in the connected car market – a first-of-its-kind connected car innovation center in Atlanta, called the AT&T Drive Studio, and a new global automotive solution and development platform, now called AT&T Drive.

AT&T Drive Studio features a working lab, showroom to build and exhibit the latest innovations, and serves as an overall hub where AT&T can work hand in hand with companies and respond to  opportunities presented by automotive manufacturers.

AT&T Drive is the company’s connected car platform – a modular and flexible, global solution that allows automakers to pick and choose what services and capabilities are important to them and allows them to differentiate their solutions in the marketplace.  From connectivity and billing solutions to data analytics and infotainment, this platform will allow auto makers and developers to develop their own innovative and customized connected car solutions, now and in the future.

As a telematics leader, AT&T already provides mobile internet access in vehicles manufactured by both domestic and foreign automobile makers. AT&T was the first to enter the market with a proprietary, global SIM platform which made it possible for automotive, consumer and M2M equipment makers to work through a single carrier to wirelessly enable and connect products across the globe, and cars are being sold throughout world today with this SIM.

Source: Tesla

Tesla Using AT&T Service in Cars

 
Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), the electric-car maker led by billionaire Elon Musk, picked AT&T  to provide high-speed wireless service to its vehicles, giving the carrier a boost in its effort to expand beyond mobile phones.

All Tesla cars come equipped with AT&T network chips, which allow two-way connections for services such as roadside assistance and stolen-vehicle location, the Dallas-based carrier said today. The Tesla service also includes Internet access, navigation and entertainment on a 17-inch (43-centimeter) touch screen. Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.

Tesla, which sells its cars directly to consumers at prices starting at about $70,000, is AT&T’s latest connected-car partner. In February, AT&T replaced Verizon Wireless as OnStar service provider to General Motors Co. (GM) cars beginning with 2015 models. Carmakers and mobile carriers are seeking to extract more revenue from users while they’re on the road.

“Tesla is the most appealing car to technophiles,” said Roger Entner, a wireless-industry strategist with Recon Analytics LLC in Dedham, Massachusetts. “Connecting cars makes a tremendous amount of sense.”

Chris Penrose, an AT&T executive in charge of emerging devices, plans to announce the partnership at an event in San Francisco today. AT&T’s service also could be used to provide in-car Wi-Fi hot spots, letting anyone in the vehicle connect to the Internet via mobile devices.

“We’ve been working with AT&T. They’ve been the service provider for Model S” in North America, said Elizabeth Jarvis-Shean, a spokeswoman for Palo Alto, California-based Tesla. She declined to comment on cellular or data service changes provided by AT&T.

Cellular System

“Cars are becoming multimedia entertainment systems and there’s a lot of money in that,” Entner said.

Unlike conventional cars, Tesla’s Model S receives wireless programming updates via an installed cellular system to improve vehicle operations. Such updates typically occur when the car is recharging overnight.

Navigation, mapping and data functions in the Model S also rely on the cellular system. Some owners have said the speed of refreshing Google Maps displayed in the car needs an upgrade.

Model S owners such as Douglas Carlisle of Menlo Park, California, cite cellular speed as one of the few areas in which the car needs improvement. Tesla doesn’t currently charge data fees for the installed cellular system.

“At times the map refresh isn’t as smooth as it could be, so that could get better,” Carlisle said in a July interview.

Source: Bloomberg