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  1. The company won't let you downgrade the new 2021 refresh to make it cheaper With the 2021 Model 3 refresh on its way, Tesla is reportedly winding sales of the $35,000 2020 Model 3 and will no longer offer its mainstream EV at that price point any longer. According to Electrek, the company has told its sales staff they can’t downgrade the forthcoming 2021 model and sell it for $35,000. Provided your local Tesla dealer has any remaining inventory of the vehicle, you may still be able to get the 2020 model at that price, but that’s unlikely to be the case for long. The $35,000 Model has been elusive for much of its existence. Not only did it take Tesla far longer than anticipated to start manufacturing the variant, but when it did finally become available, you could only buy it online for a short time. As of April 2019, the only way to purchase a $35,000 Model 3 was to order one in-store or over the phone. We’ve reached out to Tesla for comment, and we’ll update this article if we hear back from the company. That said, unless Elon Musk tweets something on the topic, we may not get official confirmation from the company; Tesla shut down its PR department earlier this year. As Electrek points out, Tesla may end up offering a $35,000 Model 3 again before long. And in any case, sometime in the next two years, the company plans to start making $25,000 electric cars with the help of its upcoming tabless battery tech. Source
  2. Tesla shows off Chinese-made Model 3s ahead of Shanghai factory start Tesla broke ground on its Chinese factory in January. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. Tesla is famous for missing deadlines, but the company's Shanghai factory, dubbed Gigafactory 3, seems to be on schedule. Tesla broke ground on the facility in January. Now media reports indicate that work is just about finished, and the company is weeks away from beginning large-scale manufacturing. According to Bloomberg, Tesla chairman Robyn Denholm said last week that Tesla is waiting for manufacturing certification from local government. The company hopes that will happen before the end of the year. Tesla recently posted images of some of the first Chinese-made Model 3s on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform similar to Twitter. Tesla allowed Chinese reporters to take additional photos of the vehicle. There are a couple of obvious differences from the American model. The back of the car has Chinese characters on the left and "Model 3" on the right. Like the cars Tesla is currently shipping to China, these new Model 3s also sport dual charging ports. One port is for the European Type 2 charging standard, while the other is for a Chinese charging standard. Tesla will initially use batteries from Panasonic in its Chinese-made cars, just as it does in the United States. Bloomberg recently reported that Tesla is negotiating a deal to start using batteries from Chinese battery maker CATL starting next year. Tesla is aiming to produce at least 1,000 vehicles per week at its Chinese factory before the end of the year. That could help Tesla achieve its overall goal to deliver at least 360,000 vehicles for the calendar year. Tesla delivered 255,200 vehicles in the first nine months of 2019, so the company will need to deliver 104,800 vehicles in the fourth quarter. Tesla delivered 97,000 vehicles in the third quarter, so it will need to step up its game a bit in the current quarter. A few thousand Chinese vehicles could be enough to push the company over the top. Listing image by Tesla Source: Tesla shows off Chinese-made Model 3s ahead of Shanghai factory start (Ars Technica) (To view the article's image gallery, please visit the above link)
  3. An Oct. 17, 2018, letter shows the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) accused Tesla of failing to conform to the agency’s guidelines when it claimed the Model 3 had the lowest probability of injury of any vehicle ever tested by NHTSA. Tesla, founded and run by Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk, on Wednesday stood by its safety claims, saying it used NHTSA’s own data to back them up. The documents also showed that the carmaker filed a confidential response in August 2018 to one of the subpoenas from that April. NHTSA said it was referring Tesla’s safety claims about the Model 3 to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate whether the automaker’s statements constitute unfair or deceptive acts or practices. An FTC spokesman declined to comment, saying “investigations are non-public, and we don’t comment on ... the existence of an investigation.” Asked about the documents, a Tesla spokesman on Wednesday pointed to statements made in the company’s Oct. 31, 2018, letter to NHTSA in which it maintained that the Model 3 had the lowest risk of occupant injury of any vehicle in U.S. government tests. In that letter, the company’s deputy general counsel, Al Prescott, said: “Tesla’s statement is neither untrue nor misleading. ... We had hoped NHTSA would welcome such an achievement because it was presented in an objective manner using the agency’s own data.” NHTSA did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment by phone and email. In its Oct. 17 letter to Musk, it said Tesla’s safety claim was “inappropriate” and “inconsistent” with the agency’s guidelines. “The guidelines warn against comparison statements like these because such statements mislead consumers about the relative safety of different vehicle models,” NHTSA chief counsel Jonathan Morrison said in the letter. “To say Tesla’s midsize sedan has a lower probability of injury than say a larger SUV could be interpreted as misunderstanding safety data, an intention to mislead the public, or both,” he added. The Model 3 had received the top rating on the agency’s 5-Star Safety Ratings Program that uses three crash tests and a rollover resistance assessment. The U.S. Department of Transportation released the documents after legal transparency group PlainSite obtained them under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Tesla has still not changed the blog post that says its cars “are engineered to be the safest cars in the world.” It also says Tesla cars “have achieved the lowest probability of injury of any vehicle ever tested by the U.S. government’s New Car Assessment Program.” Safety groups have criticized Tesla for being unclear about the need for “hands-on” driving with its autonomous driving feature. The carmaker’s use of the term “full self-driving” garners criticism, as the option is not yet “Level 4,” or fully autonomous by industry standards, in which the car can handle all aspects of driving in most circumstances with no human intervention. Source
  4. Customers rave about Model 3 in new Bloomberg survey More than 90% of customers say Autopilot makes them safer. Enlarge / A truck full of Model 3 cars. Andrei Stanescu / Getty An impressive 99.6% of Tesla Model 3 customers describe the vehicle as a pleasure to drive, Bloomberg reports in a new survey. The first three installments of Bloomberg's four-part survey have been published in recent days. Bloomberg talked to almost 5,000 customers about their experiences owning the Model 3. Many customers reported having specific problems with their cars—minor manufacturing defects, long wait times for repairs, mistakes by Tesla's Autopilot software. Some of these problems related to the ramp-up of Model 3 production over the last two years. In 2018, Tesla struggled to manufacture the Model 3 in volume and without defects. More recently, the company has struggling to provide timely service as the number of Tesla cars on the road swelled. Yet these experiences don't seem to have made a big impression on customers, who overwhelmingly gave the automaker high marks. Most customers believe Autopilot makes them safer More than 90% of survey respondents told Bloomberg they believed that Tesla's Autopilot technology has made them safer. This is despite the fact that some of those same drivers said the driver-assistance system had put them in a dangerous situation. "Autopilot saw an emergency braking event two cars ahead of me," a Tesla owner in Texas told Bloomberg. Autopilot's radar is able to see "through" cars, allowing it to apply the brakes before a human driver would have been able to. Sometimes Autopilot gets overzealous, however. "The forward collision-avoidance function is very twitchy with a lot of false alarms," a Virginia owner told Bloomberg. One such false alarm almost caused a crash from the car behind. Autopilot also makes more serious errors. "Navigate on Autopilot tried to steer the car into a concrete wall along an exit ramp," an owner from California wrote. "This keeps happening at the same spot multiple times." In 2018, another California Tesla owner, Walter Huang, died under similar circumstances. Federal investigators concluded that Autopilot steered his vehicle into a concrete lane divider. But many owners also said Autopilot had prevented crashes. "A deer jumped in front of me on a dark road at night. By the time my foot moved to the brake pedal, it was already pressed to the floor," a colourado customer told Bloomberg. Overall, 28% of drivers said Autopilot had saved them from a dangerous situation, more than double the 13% who said that Autopilot had put them in a dangerous situation. Tesla owners were less positive about Smart Summon, Tesla's recently released technology for driverless operation in parking lots. Seventy percent of Tesla owners said it was useful, while just 41% described it as safe enough for the average driver. Improved manufacturing leads to growing pains at service centers Bloomberg's data shows that Tesla has dramatically improved the quality of its vehicle manufacturing over the course of 2019. Tesla's manufacturing problems peaked in February 2019, with slightly more than 100 defects for every 100 Model 3 vehicles sold. By September, the rate was down to 35 defects for every 100 sales. While Tesla seems to have hit its stride with manufacturing the Model 3 at scale, soaring sales have strained Tesla's network of repair centers. More than 20% of customers said they were dissatisfied with the timeliness of Tesla's repairs, and a similar number were unsatisfied with repair adequacy. Elon Musk made improving the Tesla repair process a top priority in 2019, and the company has made progress on some dimensions. The company moved parts from regional warehouses into repair centers, which meant less time spent waiting for necessary parts. But a third of customers in the third quarter of 2019 reported having to wait for 10 days or longer for an appointment at a Tesla service center. Bloomberg's data shows that it took about a month, on average, for a car to be repaired after a crash. That's an improvement over early 2018, when it took more than two months for the average customer to have a working car after a crash. This is significant because it's harder to find an independent mechanic qualified to service Tesla's electric vehicles than a conventional gasoline-powered car. One final bit of interesting data from the Bloomberg survey: the Model 3's battery seems to maintain its capacity better than those of earlier models. All batteries suffer from declining capacity after many charge cycles. But Bloomberg's data shows that the average Model 3 loses only 2.5% of its rated capacity after 40,000 miles on the road. A typical Model S sold in 2014 lost more than 4% of its charge after driving the same distance. Source: Customers rave about Model 3 in new Bloomberg survey (Ars Technica)
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