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Businesses

California In the Running For Tesla Gigafactory 171

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-you-build-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes Thanks to some clean-energy tax incentives approved late this spring, California appears to be in the running again for Tesla's "Gigafactory". From the article: "The decision should have been made by now, and ground broken, according to the company's timeline, but is on hold, allowing California, which was not in the race initially — CEO Elon Musk has called California an improbable choice, citing regulations — to throw its hat in the ring. 'In terms of viability, California has progressed. Now it's a four-plus-one race,' said Simon Sproule, Tesla's vice president of global communication and marketing, referring to the four named finalists — Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada — for the prize. That's heartening. Having the Gigafactory would be a vindication of Gov. Jerry Brown's drive to make California the home of advanced manufacturing, of which Tesla's battery technology is a prime example. With its technology, 'Tesla may be in position to disrupt industries well beyond the realm of traditional auto manufacturing. It's not just cars,' a Morgan Stanley analyst told Quartz, an online business publication last year.
Transportation

Tesla Model S Hacking Prize Claimed 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the to-the-victors-go-the-electric-spoils dept.
savuporo sends word that a $10,000 bounty placed on hacking a Tesla Model S has been claimed by a team from Zhejiang University in China. The bounty itself was not issued by Tesla, but by Qihoo 360, a Chinese security company. "[The researchers] were able to gain remote control of the car's door locks, headlights, wipers, sunroof, and horn, Qihoo 360 said on its social networking Sina Weibo account. The security firm declined to reveal details at this point about how the hack was accomplished, although one report indicated that the hackers cracked the six-digit code for the Model S's mobile app.
Technology

Rand Paul and Silicon Valley's Shifting Political Climate 533

Posted by Soulskill
from the businesses-going-into-protection-mode dept.
SonicSpike sends this story from NY Magazine: Rand Paul appears to be making a full-court press for the affections of Silicon Valley, and there are some signs that his efforts are paying off. At last week's Sun Valley conference, Paul had one-on-one meetings with Thiel and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. ... Next weekend, Paul will get to make his case yet again as the keynote speaker at Reboot, a San Francisco conference put on by a group called Lincoln Labs, which self-defines as "techies and politicos who believe in promoting liberty with technology." He'll likely say a version of what he's said before: that Silicon Valley's innovative potential can be best unlocked in an environment with minimal government intrusion in the forms of surveillance, corporate taxes, and regulation. “I see almost unlimited potential for us in Silicon Valley,” Paul has said, with "us" meaning libertarians.

Today's Silicon Valley is still exceedingly liberal on social issues. But it seems more skeptical about taxes and business regulation than at any point in its recent history. Part of this is due to the rise of companies like Uber and Tesla Motors, blazing-hot start-ups that have been opposed at every turn by protectionist regulators and trade unions, in confrontations that are being used by small-government conservatives as case studies in government control run amok.
Transportation

White House Punts On Petition To Allow Tesla Direct Sales 382

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the look-at-those-hands-wave dept.
First time accepted submitter neanderslob (1207704) writes Last Friday, over a year after the petition gained the required signatures for a response, the White House rejected a We the People petition to "Allow Tesla Motors to sell directly to consumers in all 50 states." The letter went on to defend the administration by citing their initiatives "in promoting vehicle efficiency." In response, Tesla is firing back, blasting the White House for a lack of leadership on the issue and stating "138,469 people signed the petition asking the White House to allow Tesla Motors to sell directly to consumers in all 50 states. More than a year later, at 7.30pm EST on Friday as most of America prepared for the weekend, the White House released its disappointing response to those people. Rather than seize an opportunity to promote innovation and support the first successful American car company to be started in more than a century, the White House issued a response that was even more timid than its rejection of a petition to begin construction of a Death Star." There's a legal issue here: the executive can't just wave state law aside. But they could suggest Congress write new laws instead of just noting that Congress would need to take action.
Transportation

The First Person Ever To Die In a Tesla Is a Guy Who Stole One 443

Posted by Soulskill
from the marketed-as-a-thief-termination-feature dept.
mrspoonsi sends this news from The Verge: Elon Musk can no longer say that no one's ever died in a Tesla automobile crash. But few people will be pointing fingers at the electric car maker for this senseless tragedy. Earlier this month, 26-year-old Joshua Slot managed to successfully ride off with a Model S he'd stolen from a Tesla service center in Los Angeles, but police quickly spotted the luxury vehicle and gave chase. According to Park Labrea News, the high-speed pursuit was eventually called off after officers were involved in a fender bender of their own, leaving the police department strained for resources and without any feasible way of catching up to Slot. Reports claim he was traveling at speeds of "nearly 100 mph," but losing the police tail apparently didn't convince Slot to hit the brakes. Instead he sped on, eventually colliding with three other vehicles and a pair of street poles. The final impact was severe enough to "split the Tesla in half" and eject Slot from the car's remains. The Tesla's front section wound up in the middle of the road and caught fire. Its rear portion flew through the air with such force that it slammed into the side of a local Jewish community center and became wedged there.
The Almighty Buck

The Oatmeal Convinces Elon Musk To Donate $1 Million To Tesla Museum 78

Posted by timothy
from the carreon-should-donate-too dept.
Ars Technica notes (as does Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman) that Elon Musk has agreed to donate $1 million towards the restoration of Nikola Tesla's old lab as a museum, a project that Inman has been pushing for some time now. And if you happen to get there in a Tesla, you're in luck: Musk is also planning to install one of his company's superchargers in the parking lot. (At the other end of the east coast, you can visit a very different kind of Tesla museum.)
Transportation

Hacking a Tesla Model S Could Net $10,000 Prize 77

Posted by timothy
from the usb-port-under-the-gas-cap dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "It seems there's a new hack challenge set every week, but this time, it seems different. A challenge has been thrown down to hack a Tesla Model S with a $10,000 prize. The organizers of a computer security conference have set the challenge and it's open to anyone that registers for the Syscan conference. Taking place in Beijing from July 16-17, the rules for the hack competition haven't been revealed yet but a Model S will be on display for hackers to try their luck on. It's important to note that Tesla itself isn't involved in the competition in any official capacity, nor does it support the competition. If successful, this wouldn't be the first time a Tesla Model S has been hacked. In that instance Tesla was quick to warn people that making changes in the Model S' software would immediately void the car's warranty. Given the car's high-tech nature, it's no shock Tesla's taking security seriously. With $10,000 on the line, it'll be interesting to see if anyone manages to crack the code."
The Almighty Buck

Tesla Aims For $30,000 Price, 2017 Launch For Model E 247

Posted by Soulskill
from the economics-of-scale dept.
An anonymous reader writes The biggest complaint about Tesla Motors' electric vehicles is that they're far too expensive for the average motorist. The Roadster sold for $109,000, and the Model S for $70,000. Chris Porritt, the company's VP of engineering, says their next model will aim for much broader availability. The compact Model E aims to be competitive with the Audi A4 and BMW 3-series, which both start in the low $30,000 range. To reduce cost, the Model E won't be built mostly with aluminum, like the Model S, and it will be roughly 20% smaller as well. The construction of the "Gigafactory" for battery production will also go a long way toward reducing the price. Their goal for launch is sometime around late 2016 or early 2017
United Kingdom

Cambridge Team Breaks Superconductor World Record 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the light-as-a-feather dept.
An anonymous reader writes University of Cambridge scientists have broken a decade-old superconducting record by packing a 17.6 Tesla magnetic field into a golf ball-sized hunk of crystal — equivalent to about three tons of force. From the Cambridge announcement: "A world record that has stood for more than a decade has been broken by a team led by University of Cambridge engineers, harnessing the equivalent of three tonnes of force inside a golf ball-sized sample of material that is normally as brittle as fine china. The Cambridge researchers managed to 'trap' a magnetic field with a strength of 17.6 Tesla — roughly 100 times stronger than the field generated by a typical fridge magnet — in a high temperature gadolinium barium copper oxide (GdBCO) superconductor, beating the previous record by 0.4 Tesla."
Transportation

It's Not a Car, It's a Self-Balancing Electric Motorcycle (Video) 218

Posted by Roblimo
from the two-wheels-good-four-wheels-bad dept.
Two gyros under the seat keep this vehicle standing up at a stop, which is easier on the driver's legs than putting a foot down the way you do while riding most motorcycles. And no vroom-vroom sound, either. This is an electric motorcycle. The prototype you see in the video gets up to around 20 MPH, but production models are supposed to hit 100 MPH, and go as far as a Tesla S on 1/6 the juice. So little tiny batteries are all the Lit C-1 needs to drive (up to) 200 miles with the gyros spinning merrily away -- keeping the C-1 upright even in crashes, as a simulation in this Lit Motors YouTube video shows. They claim to have more than 200 pre-orders against a projected retail price of $24,000, which is not shabby for a company that hasn't made a single production vehicle so far. (Alternate Video Link)
Transportation

NADA Is Terrified of Tesla 455

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-on-our-playing-field dept.
cartechboy writes It's no secret that the National Automobile Dealers Association has been trying to block Tesla from selling cars directly from consumers, but to date, it has been defeated countless times in many states. Now NADA put out a release and promotional video touting the benefits of dealer franchises, something Tesla has shunned. NADA mentions price competition, consumer safety, local economic benefits, and added value.
Power

Elon Musk's Solar City Is Ramping Up Solar Panel Production 262

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
MarkWhittington writes: Elon Musk is well known as a private space flight entrepreneur, thanks to his space launch company SpaceX. He is also a purveyor of high end electric cars manufactured by his other company, Tesla Motors. But many people do not know that Musk has a third business, Solar City, which is a manufacturer of solar panels. On Tuesday that company announced a major play to increase the output of solar panels suitable for home solar units. Solar City has acquired a company called Silevo, which is said to have a line of solar panels that have demonstrated high electricity output and low cost. Silevo claims that its panels have achieved a 22 percent efficiency and are well on their way to achieving 24 percent efficiency. It suggests that 10 cents per watt is saved for every point of efficiency gained. Solar City, using the technology it has acquired from Silevo, intends to build a manufacturing plant in upstate New York with a one gigawatt per year capacity. This will only be the beginning as it intends to build future manufacturing plants with orders of magnitude capacity. The goal appears to be for the company to become the biggest manufacturer of solar panels in the world.
Transportation

BMW, Mazda Keen To Meet With Tesla About Charging Technology 137

Posted by timothy
from the let's-talk-about-supercharger-deserts dept.
PC Magazine reports that following Elon Musk's announcement that Tesla would be freeing for other electric car makers to use the various patents that the company has amassed, at least two companies — Mazda and BMW — are said to be interested in meeting with Tesla, for a very good reason: According to undisclosed sources speaking to the Financial Times, both Nissan and BMW would be interested in working with Tesla to craft up some universal vehicle charging standards. To quote unnamed official: "It is obviously clear that everyone would benefit if there was a far more simple way for everyone to charge their cars."
Patents

Tesla Releases Electric Car Patents To the Public 211

Posted by timothy
from the your-good-news-of-the-day dept.
mknewman (557587) writes with a welcome followup to the broad hints that Tesla might release some of its patents for others to use patents that it has amassed. Now, Elon Musk writes on the company's blog: Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology. Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.
Patents

Musk Will Open Up Tesla Supercharger Patents To Spur Development 230

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-you-go dept.
redletterdave (2493036) writes "Elon Musk has said repeatedly he wants to 'do something controversial' with Tesla's collection of electric car patents, but he finally offered specifics at the UK launch of his Tesla Model S on Sunday. The Tesla Motors CEO said he would like to open up the designs for his Supercharger systems — the free fast-charging stations designed to quickly refuel Tesla's electric cars — to create a standard for other car makers to use. Musk previously said he didn't want Superchargers to become a 'walled garden.'"
Transportation

Tesla Makes Improvements To Model S 136

Posted by samzenpus
from the better-and-better dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In a lull between product launches Tesla intends to keep making improvements to the Model S according to Elon Musk. Tesla will automatically push software to the Model S fleet that will help the car learn the driver's habits and the navigation system will offer directions to avoid traffic jams. 'This year, Tesla is offering only the single model, the Model S that is EPA rated at up to 265 miles on a single charge, the most of any electric car. The company's next model won't come until next year, when the delayed Model X crossover goes on sale. Musk says the holdup has centered on making sure its signature design element, gullwing doors to make it easier to get in the rear, works properly and is leak-proof. "Getting the door right is extremely difficult," he says.'"
Transportation

Driver Study: People Want Fewer Embedded Apps, Just Essentials That Work Easily 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-news-for-apple dept.
Lucas123 writes 'A study released at the Telematics Detroit 2014 conference revealed the obvious: Most people don't want more distracting embedded apps in their cars; they just want essential apps like navigation and music to be intuitive to use and reliable. Part of the study involved a focus group of 46 people who were asked to evaluate infotainment systems from three luxury car makers and four "mass consumer" car makers. The drivers were asked to do three things: Navigate home, find a pizza shop and find a radio station. Only 40% were able to complete all three tasks. Not surprisingly, the highest rated infotainment system was Tesla because its icons were "large" and it was easy to figure out.'
Canada

Group Demonstrates 3,000 Km Electric Car Battery 363

Posted by samzenpus
from the keep-on-trucking dept.
Jabrwock (985861) writes 'One of the biggest limitations on lithium battery-powered electric cars has been their range. Last year Israeli-based Phinergy introduced an "aluminum-air" battery. Today, partnering with Alcoa Canada, they announced a demo of the battery, which is charged up at Alcoa's aluminum smelter in Quebec. The plant uses hydro-electric power to charge up the battery, which would then need a tap-water refill every few months, and a swap (ideally at a local dealership) every 3,000km, since it cannot be recharged as simply as Lithium. The battery is meant to boost the range of standard electric cars, which would still use the Lithium batteries for short-range trips. The battery would add about 100 kg to an existing Tesla car's battery weight.'
Transportation

Tracking Tesla's Quiet Changes To the Model S 106

Posted by timothy
from the silent-upgrades dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Tesla won't reveal its production figures every quarter, but it has now likely built about 50,000 all-electric Model S luxury sport sedans. Unlike other automakers, Tesla doesn't group its changes to a model year, rather it makes running changes to cars whenever updates are tested, validated, and ready to roll out. Which raises the question, are model year 2012 Model S sedans already outdated? The answer is it depends how you look at it. From a powertrain perspective, no. There are still two battery-size options and the shape is still the same. But under the surface of the car there are a surprising number of updates and new options. Not including software changes (of which there are dozens already pushed to the car), changes range from power folding mirrors and a new cold-weather package (which cannot be retrofitted) to a new ultra-high-fidelity sound package and three-zone, three-mode rear seat heaters. It's worth noting that none of these are mandatory changes — there are merely options that have been added to the roster of available equipment."
Transportation

Google Unveils Self-Driving Car With No Steering Wheel 583

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-soviet-google,-car-drives-you dept.
cartechboy writes: "We've already discussed and maybe even come to terms with the fact that autonomous cars are coming. In fact, many automakers including Mercedes-Benz and Tesla have committed to self-driving cars by 2017. Apparently that's not ambitious enough. Google has just unveiled an in-house-designed, self-driving car prototype with no steering wheel or pedals. In fact, it doesn't have any traditional controls, not even a stereo. The as-yet-nameless car is a testbed for Google's vision of the computerized future of transportation. Currently the prototype does little more than programmed parking lot rides at a maximum of 25 mph, but Google plans to build about 100 prototypes, with the first examples receiving manual controls (human-operated). Google then plans to roll out the pilot program in California in the next several years. So the technology is now there, but is there really a market for a car that drives you without your input other than the destination?"

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