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Transportation

Aiming To Beat Tesla's "3", Chevy Tests and Teases a Cheaper 200-Mile Electric Car 249 249

PC Magazine is one of many to note Chevrolet's upcoming effort to beat Tesla's Model 3 to market with a car that is "affordable" (a lot more affordable than the Model S) but which tops the 200-mile range that right now only Tesla beats in a widely available pure electric car. The Model 3 is expected to feature many of the features of the currently Tesla S variants, but in a smaller package and with a much lower price tag. The linked article features GM-supplied video of Chevy's all-elecric bolt, about which it says The car maker doesn't reveal much beyond what we already know: 200-plus-mile range and a starting price tag of $30,000. The video shows various Chevy engineers putting the camouflage-wrapped Bolt EV through its paces—climbing hills, accelerating, and coming to a stop, as well as enduring extreme heat and charging.
Apple

Woz To Be Immortalized In Wax 72 72

mikejuk writes: Having already made wax figures of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, the Madame Tussauds museum recently put out a call for nominations for who should be next, with the stipulation that the nominees have a connection with the Bay Area. The shortlist was then whittled down to ten, including Google co-founder Larry Page, Tesla's Elon Musk, Marc Benioff of Salesforce, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer of Yahoo. Any of them would look great as wax figures, but outcome of the public vote was a clear winner — Steve Wozniak. Once his statue is complete Woz will be on display next to Steve Jobs in San Francisco and an ideal setting for a selfie.
Bug

Tesla Rewards Hackers With Bug Bounty 33 33

An anonymous reader writes: Tesla Motors is offering up to $1,000 to anyone who uncovers security issues on its website. Forbes reports that the program is not yet available for its vehicles however. Using a security crowdsourcing company called Bugcrowd, researchers have found 22 bugs for Tesla so far. A statement on the Tesla Bugcrowd page reads in part: "We are committed to working with this community to verify, reproduce, and respond to legitimate reported vulnerabilities. We encourage the community to participate in our responsible reporting process."
Businesses

How Does Musk's Government Funding Compare To Competitors? 216 216

Rei writes: We recently discussed an article in the LA Times complaining about how Elon Musk has built his corporate empires — Solar City, Tesla Motors and SpaceX — on the back of government subsidies. However, how does the funding compare in context to various competitors? USC professor Greg Autry breaks it down, noting among other things that SpaceX's competitors have benefited from decades of tremendous government money and a launch monopoly, while the Volt receives — on a percentage basis — 2 1/2 times greater subsidy than a Model S, and was developed on the government's dime.
Power

Researchers Power a Security Camera With Wi-Fi Signals 59 59

Kristine Lofgren writes: Nikola Tesla dreamed of a world full of free, wireless power. While he never accomplished that dream during his lifetime, researchers at the University of Washington are doing their part to make it a reality with a breakthrough in wi-fi powered electronics. Dubbed PoWi-Fi, the team led by Vamsi Talla were able to recharge and maintain consistent low-level power over a number of different devices at distances of up to 28 feet.
Power

Mercedes-Benz Copies Tesla, Plans To Offer Home Energy Storage 116 116

cartechboy writes: It's like a game of follow the leader. First, Tesla announced its Powerwall Batteries, and now Mercedes-Benz plans to follow suit by entering the energy-storage business as well. A division of parent company Daimler has been testing battery packs that can power houses, and plans to launch commercially in September. Supposedly a battery pack for "light industrial, commercial, and private" use is being tested with sizes ranging from 2.5 kWh to 5.9 kWh. While Tesla's building a massive Gigafactory to make all its batteries for its Powerwall and electric cars, it's unclear exactly how Daimler plans to produce its batteries in a larger-scale energy-storage operation.
Businesses

Foxconn Offers Electric Car Rental Service In China 20 20

Taco Cowboy writes: Foxconn plans to expand its electric-car rental business in ten more cities in China. Since starting the business in Beijing last year, they have launched similar services in Hangzhou and Changzhou. Another business in Guiyang will open with 100 electric vehicles in July. The service is activated through an app, website, or WeChat platform, and customers will be able to use the car with a QR code. The vehicles come equipped with internet connectivity and warns drivers of low battery and shows the nearest charging stations. The company is also working on a platform for the operation of new energy vehicles saying: "Foxconn's telematics devices have also entered BMW's supply chain, and the company is also shipping 17-inch in-car displays to Tesla. Additionally, Foxconn has also teamed up with China-based Chery to supply the automaker with digital dashboards, telematics devices, wireless charging boards and vehicle safety systems."
Businesses

How Elon Musk's Growing Empire is Fueled By Government Subsidies 356 356

theodp writes: By the Los Angeles Times' reckoning, Elon Musk's Tesla Motors, SolarCity, and SpaceX together have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support. The figure compiled by The Times, explains reporter Jerry Hirsch, comprises a variety of government incentives, including grants, tax breaks, factory construction, discounted loans and environmental credits that Tesla can sell. It also includes tax credits and rebates to buyers of solar panels and electric cars. "He definitely goes where there is government money," said an equity research analyst. "Musk and his companies' investors enjoy most of the financial upside of the government support, while taxpayers shoulder the cost," Hirsch adds. "The payoff for the public would come in the form of major pollution reductions, but only if solar panels and electric cars break through as viable mass-market products. For now, both remain niche products for mostly well-heeled customers." And as Musk moves into a new industry — battery-based home energy storage — Hirsch notes Tesla has already secured a commitment of $126 million in California subsidies to companies developing energy storage technology.
Power

How Tesla Batteries Will Force Home Wiring To Go Low Voltage 597 597

CIStud writes with a story at CEPro suggesting that solar power and home batteries like Tesla's PowerWall "will force the reinvention of home wiring from primarily AC high voltage to DC home-run low voltage to reduce power conversion loss," writing "To avoid the 20% to 40% power loss when converting from DC to AC, home wiring will have to convert to home-run low-voltage, and eventually eliminate the need for high-voltage 110V electrical wiring." As a former full-time Airstream dweller, I can attest to the importance of DC appliances when dealing with batteries.
Transportation

GM's Exec. Chief Engineer For Electric Vehicles Pam Fletcher Answers Your Question 107 107

Pam Fletcher was propulsion system chief engineer on the first Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and is now executive chief engineer for electrified vehicles at GM, overseeing electrified vehicles company-wide. A while ago you had a chance to ask about her work and the future of electric cars. Below you'll find her answers to your questions.
Businesses

The Brainteaser Elon Musk Asks New SpaceX Engineers 496 496

Nerval's Lobster writes: The latest biography of Elon Musk, by technology journalist Ashlee Vance, provides an in-depth look into how the entrepreneur and tech titan built Tesla Motors and SpaceX from the ground up. For developers and engineers, getting a job at SpaceX is difficult, with a long interviewing/testing process... and for some candidates, there's a rather unique final step: an interview with Musk himself. During that interview, Musk reportedly likes to ask candidates a particular brainteaser: "You're standing on the surface of the Earth. You walk one mile south, one mile west, and one mile north. You end up exactly where you started. Where are you?" If you can answer that riddle successfully, and pass all of SpaceX's other stringent tests, you may have a shot at launching rockets into orbit.
Space

How SpaceX and the Quest For Mars Almost Sunk Tesla Motors 126 126

braindrainbahrain writes: Elon Musk and his rocket company are well known to Slashdottters. This article and book excerpt tell the story of the creation of SpaceX and how it almost sank Musk's other company, Tesla Motors. Musk recalls, "I could either pick SpaceX or Tesla or split the money I had left between them. That was a tough decision. If I split the money, maybe both of them would die. If I gave the money to just one company, the probability of it surviving was greater, but then it would mean certain death for the other company." But then, at the last moment, years of work at SpaceX finally paid off: "[O]n Dec. 23, 2008, SpaceX received a wonderful shock. The company won a $1.6 billion contract for 12 NASA resupply flights to the space station. Then the Tesla deal ended up closing successfully, on Christmas Eve, hours before Tesla would have gone bankrupt. Musk had just a few hundred thousand dollars left and could not have made payroll the next day." Also, it turns out the inspiration for SpaceX was the idea of sending mice to Mars.
Transportation

Tesla To Unveil Its $35,000 Model 3 In March 2016 318 318

An anonymous reader with the news, as reported by Ars Technica, BGR, the WSJ, and more, that Tesla, in the course of the company's most recent earnings call, has announced plans to show off its much-anticipated Model 3 in March, 2016, and somewhat more tentative plans for actual availability; "late 2017" might be optimistic, but it's a start. You can listen to the whole earnings call here. Other bits gleaned from this call include a "late summer" planned delivery for the Model X SUV, and the fact that the PowerWall household battery is sold out until the middle of next year.
Power

Tesla's Household Battery: Costs, Prices, and Tradeoffs 317 317

Technologist Ramez Naam (hat tip to Tyler Cowen's "Marginal Revolution" blog) has taken a look at the economics of Tesla's new wall-mounted household battery system, and concludes that it's "almost there," at least for many places in the world -- and seems to already make sense in some. From his analysis: For some parts of the US with time-of-use plans, this battery is right on the edge of being profitable. From a solar storage perspective, for most of the US, where Net Metering exists, this battery isn’t quite cheap enough. But it’s in the right ballpark. And that means a lot. Net Metering plans in the US are filling up. California’s may be full by the end of 2016 or 2017, modulo additional legal changes. That would severely impact the economics of solar. But the Tesla battery hedges against that. In the absence of Net Metering, in an expensive electricity state with lots of sun, the battery would allow solar owners to save power for the evening or night-time hours in a cost effective way. And with another factor of 2 price reduction, it would be a slam dunk economically for solar storage anywhere Net Metering was full, where rates were pushed down excessively, or where such laws didn’t exist. That is also a policy tool in debates with utilities. If they see Net Metering reductions as a tool to slow rooftop solar, they’ll be forced to confront the fact that solar owners with cheap batteries are less dependent on Net Metering. ... And the cost of batteries is plunging fast. Tesla will get that 2x price reduction within 3-5 years, if not faster.
Transportation

Tesla Adds Used Models To Its Inventory, For Online Purchase 65 65

Jalopnik reports that Tesla Motors Inc. has very quietly started to sell used cars online, following in the footsteps of larger car companies. Its new certified vehicle program brings down the staggering costs of one of their electric cars while still ensuring manufacturer maintenance and repairs. Most of the cars that are on Tesla’s website were previously owned by people who have since traded up to the AWD Model S. Soon, this stockpile will also include leased Teslas. Engadget adds You're limited to shopping in a handful of cities in the U.S. and Canada, but the cars come with a 4-year, 50,000-mile warranty to assuage fears that you've bought a lemon. No, the move doesn't make the company's luxury EVs much more attainable -- the best offer we've seen so far is for a $59,000 'entry' model.
Power

Tesla Announces Home Battery System 514 514

An anonymous reader writes: Early this morning, Elon Musk finally revealed Tesla's plans for the home: battery systems designed to store up to 10 kWh of power. The company is leveraging the battery technology they've developed for their electric cars to enable more people to switch to renewable power for their homes. There will be two models of the battery. The 10 kWh version will cost $3,500, and the 7 kWh version will cost $3,000. They can deliver power at a continuous rate of 2kW, with peaks up to 3 kW. Crucially, the batteries will be warrantied for 10 years. Musk thinks the market for home batteries will expand to at least two billion, eventually. But even a much smaller uptake for now will validate the creation of Tesla's "gigafactory."

"The gigafactory is the recipient of the largest incentive package ever given by Nevada at $1.3 billion, which followed a hotly contested tax incentive bidding war between various states to land the Tesla battery plant. For the investment to pay off, Tesla needs to convince hundreds of thousands of consumers per year to buy its cars and battery products, with the gigafactory serving as a cornerstone to the company's sales strategy. ... An early gigafactory rendering released by Tesla stated that the plant will have an annual battery pack output of 50 gigawatt hours — the bulk of which will go toward batteries for cars with most of the remainder to be allocated for stationary batteries, according to figures mentioned by Tesla's chief technology JB Straubel last year. The gigafactory's sheer scope makes other battery products a possibility as well."
Transportation

New Study Suggests Flying Is Greener Than Driving 280 280

New submitter Desert Leap writes: The Washington Post reports a new study that suggests it is more environmentally friendly to fly rather than to drive. Analysis from the University of Michigan Transport Research Institute found that driving uses 57% more energy than flying per passenger mile. This is largely due to the number of occupied plane seats increasing while passengers per car decreased. Of course, "results may vary" for individual trips depending on many factors, such as distance flown (long flights are more fuel efficient) and the kind of car, and how many riders. One factoid is interesting: it takes 4,211 BTUs per person mile to drive. This number will fall as we switch over to electric vehicles. For example, a Tesla Model S takes about 1,100 BTUs per vehicle mile. Will future aircraft be able to also make the switch to electric?
Power

Why Our Antiquated Power Grid Needs Battery Storage 334 334

Lucas123 writes: Last year, renewable energy sources accounted for half of new installed electric-generation capacity (natural gas units made up most of the remainder). As more photovoltaic panels are installed on rooftops around the nation, an antiquated power grid is being overburdened by a bidirectional load its was never engineered to handle. The Hawaiian Electric Company, for example, said it's struggling with electricity "backflow" that could destabilize its system. Batteries for distributed renewable power has the potential to mitigate the load on the national grid by allowing a redistribution of power during peak hours. Because of this, Tesla, which is expected to announce batteries for homes and utilities on Thursday, and others are targeting a market estimated to be worth $1.2B by 2019. Along with taking up some of the load during peak load, battery capacity can be used when power isn't being generated by renewable systems, such as at night and during inclement weather. That also reduces grid demand.
Power

Tesla To Announce Battery-Based Energy Storage For Homes 299 299

Okian Warrior writes: Billionaire Elon Musk will announce next week that Tesla will begin offering battery-based energy storage for residential and commercial customers. The batteries power up overnight when energy companies typically charge less for electricity, then are used during the day to power a home. In a pilot project, Tesla has already begun offering home batteries to SolarCity (SCTY) customers, a solar power company for which Musk serves as chairman. Currently 330 U.S. households are running on Tesla's batteries in California. The batteries start at about $13,000, though California's Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PCG) offers customers a 50% rebate. The batteries are three-feet high by 2.5-feet wide, and need to be installed at least a foot and a half off the ground. They can be controlled with a Web app and a smartphone app.
Google

Elon Musk Bailed Out of $6bn Google Takeover To Save Tesla From 2013 Bankruptcy 118 118

An anonymous reader sends word that Elon Musk almost sold Tesla to Google in 2013 when the company was close to bankruptcy. "Elon Musk had a deal to sell his electric car company Tesla, to Google for $6bn (£4bn) when it was heading for bankruptcy with just two weeks' worth of cash left in the bank. During the first week of March 2013, Musk spoke to his friend Larry Page, chief executive of Google, about the search giant buying his car company, which at the time was suffering from falling sales amid technical problems with the few Model S luxury sedan cars it had delivered. Ashlee Vance, author of upcoming book Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, claims in an extra for Bloomberg two people 'with direct knowledge of the deal' said Musk and Page agreed to the buyout and shook on a price of around $6bn. This was plus promises from Google to invest $5bn for factory expansion and to not break Tesla up or close it down."