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  1. Tesla and Mobileye autopilots duped by “phantoms” Researchers at RSA Conference 2021 demonstrated how Tesla and Mobileye autopilots can be tricked by “phantom” images. It’s a common movie plot device, the main character thinking they saw someone step onto the road, so they swerve and end up in a ditch. Now imagine it’s real — sort of — and instead of a trick of the light or the mind, that image comes from a cybercriminal projecting, for a split second, something the car autopilot is programmed to respond to. Researchers from Georgia Tech and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev demonstrated that sort of “phantom attack” threat at RSA Conference 2021. The idea of showing dangerous images to AI systems is not new. Techniques usually involve using modified images to force the AI to draw an unexpected conclusion. All machine-learning algorithms have this Achilles heel; knowing which attributes are key to image recognition — that is, knowing a bit about the algorithm — makes it possible to modify images so as to hinder the machine’s decision-making process or even force it to make a mistake. The novelty of the approach demonstrated at RSA Conference 2021 is that the autopilot was shown unmodified images — an attacker need not know how the algorithm works or what attributes it uses. The images were briefly projected onto the road and nearby stationary objects, with the following consequences: In a variation on the theme, the images appeared for a fraction of a second in a commercial on a billboard by the side of the road, with essentially the same outcome: Thus, the authors of the study concluded, cybercriminals can cause havoc from a safe distance, with no danger of leaving evidence at the scene of the crime. All they need to know is how long they have to project the image to fool the AI (self-driving cars have a trigger threshold to reduce their likelihood of producing false positives from, for example, dirt or debris on the camera lens or lidar). Now, a car’s braking distance is measured in dozens of feet, so adding a few feet to allow for better situation assessment wasn’t a big deal for AI developers. Length of time required to show a phantom image to Tesla and Mobileye recognition systems. Source However, the figure of a couple of meters applies to the Mobileye artificial vision system and a speed of 60 km/h (about 37 mph). In that case, response time is about 125 milliseconds. Tesla’s autopilot response threshold, as experimentally determined by the researchers, is almost three times as long, at 400 milliseconds. At the same speed, that would add almost 7 meters (about 22 feet). Either way, it’s still a fraction of a second. Consequently, the researchers believe such an attack could come out of the blue — before you know it, you’re in a ditch and the image-projecting drone is gone. One quirk in the system inspires hope that autopilots will ultimately be able to repel this type of attack: Images projected onto surfaces that are unsuitable for displaying pictures are very different from reality. Perspective distortion, uneven edges, unnatural colors, extreme contrast, and other oddities make phantom images very easy for the human eye to distinguish from real objects. As such, autopilot vulnerability to phantom attacks is a consequence of the perception gap between AI and the human brain. To overcome the gap, the authors of the study propose fitting car autopilot systems with additional checks for consistency in features such as perspective, edge smoothness, color, contrast, and brightness, and ensuring results are consistent before making any decision. Like a human jury, neural networks will deliberate on the parameters that help distinguish real camera or lidar signals from a fleeting phantom. Doing so would, of course, add to systems’ computational load and effectively lead to the parallel operation of several neural networks at once, all necessarily trained (a long and energy-intensive process). And cars, already small clusters of computers on wheels, will have to turn into small clusters of supercomputers on wheels. As AI accelerators become widespread, cars may be able to carry several neural networks, working in parallel and not draining power, on board. But that’s a story for another day. Source: Tesla and Mobileye autopilots duped by “phantoms”
  2. Man Riding in Driverless Tesla Is Arrested in California Param Sharma, 25, was arrested on charges of reckless driving. “I’m about to go in the back seat right now,” he said after being released from jail. A screenshot from KTVU showing a person in the backseat of a Tesla moving with no driver. Credit...KTVU A California man seen traveling in the back seat of a driverless Tesla was arrested in the Bay Area, the authorities said on Tuesday, following a call on social media to report similar behavior to the police. The man, Param Sharma, 25, was arrested on misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and disobeying a peace officer, the California Highway Patrol said in a statement on Tuesday. The Highway Patrol said that police officers responded at about 6:35 p.m. on Monday after 911 dispatchers received calls about a Tesla Model 3 with no one in the driver’s seat traveling east on Interstate 80 across the Bay Bridge. A highway patrol officer at the bridge’s toll plaza spotted the Tesla “with its sole occupant in the back seat,” according to the Highway Patrol. While trying to pull the car over, the officer saw the passenger move into the driver’s seat. The occupant then stopped the Tesla on the shoulder of Interstate 80 and Mr. Sharma was arrested, the police said. Mr. Sharma was booked into Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County, and the Tesla was towed from the scene as evidence. Mr. Sharma did not respond to a request for comment on his case on Wednesday. It is illegal in California for an autonomous vehicle to operate without a person behind the wheel, said Officer John Fransen, a spokesman for the highway patrol. “We want people to recognize the fact the driving is an immense responsibility,” he said. “It’s not having distractions. It’s not playing around with the technology.” After his release from jail, Mr. Sharma insisted to the news station KTVU that his use of the car was not dangerous, and said that he would not change his behavior. “I’m about to go in the back seat right now. You feel me? Like, I’m waiting for my car to charge,” Mr. Sharma told the station. A man who appears to be Mr. Sharma on Instagram posted a video of himself sitting in the back seat of a moving Tesla with his foot on the steering wheel. In the video, posted Tuesday, a device is visible showing the headline: “Man seen riding in the back seat of Tesla with no driver.” Mr. Sharma also praised the chief executive of Tesla, Elon Musk, telling KTVU that he “really knows what he’s doing and I think people are just tripping and they’re scared.” Before the arrest, Bay Area residents had also captured video of someone who resembled Mr. Sharma using a driverless car in “the same reckless manner,” the Highway Patrol said. Mr. Sharma had been cited on April 27 for similar behavior by the agency’s Oakland area division. On Saturday, the Highway Patrol posted on social media that it “has been made aware of an incident involving a man riding in the back seat of a Tesla traveling on Bay Area roadways, with no other person being seated in the driver’s seat.” The post featured two photos of the driverless car with a smiling man visible in the back. The Highway Patrol asked people to immediately call 911 if they saw “an unusual incident such as this one.” The department was looking into whether the man in those images was Mr. Sharma, said Officer Fransen. Tesla and Mr. Musk have argued that the company’s Autopilot system makes its cars safer than other vehicles, even as the technology and the ways drivers use it come under greater scrutiny. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. In April, two men were killed north of Houston after a Tesla they were in crashed and caught fire with neither of them behind the wheel, the authorities said. Mark Herman, a constable in Harris County Precinct 4, said last month that physical evidence from the scene and interviews with witnesses led officials to believe “no one was driving the vehicle at the time of the crash.” In April, Consumer Reports said that its engineers had “easily tricked” a Tesla Model Y “so that it could drive on Autopilot, the automaker’s driver assistance feature, without anyone in the driver’s seat.” The publication said that during trips on its half-mile closed test track, the vehicle “steered along painted lane lines, but the system did not send out a warning or indicate in any way that the driver’s seat was empty.” In March, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that it was investigating nearly two dozen crashes involving Teslas that either were, or may have been, using the automatic steering and braking technology. Source: Man Riding in Driverless Tesla Is Arrested in California
  3. Tesla Could Face Class-Action Lawsuit For Drastic Solar Roof Price Increases Image: Tesla Over the past month, multiple outlets have reported that Tesla has been jacking up Solar Roof installation prices after agreeing to contracts with homeowners. Customers informed of the changes are free to decline the new rate, but one Pennsylvania couple has filed a lawsuit against the company for breaching its contract with an eye toward formalizing it as a class action. Philip Dahlin and Mary Arndtsen of New Hope, Pennsylvania agreed to have Tesla install its Solar Roof tiles on their home in September 2020, Insider reported on May 9. Their story follows the same pattern as many others. The price in the contract, signed last fall, was $46,084.80. Then, on March 24, Tesla notified the couple of an upcoming pricing change, citing “adjustments for individual roof complexity,” before revealing the revised price on April 23: $78,352.66. Three days after Dahlin and Arndtsen learned of the $32,000 hike in the price for their roof, Tesla CEO Elon Musk addressed the pricing revisions in the company’s first-quarter earnings call amidst a flurry of reports of drastic last-minute adjustments: “We did find that we basically made some significant mistakes in assessing the difficulty of certain roofs, but the complexity of roofs varies dramatically. Some roofs are literally two or three times easier than other roofs. So you just can’t have a one-size-fits-all situation. If a roof has letter protuberances or if the core structure of the roof is rotted out or is not strong enough to hold the solar roof, then the cost can be double, sometimes three times what our initial quotes were.” According to the couple’s suit, there are more than 100 potential class members, covering more than $5 million in contracts Tesla had with homeowners. However, Insider reports that an arbitration clause included in Solar Roof installation contracts may impede the case’s class-action eligibility: A copy of a Tesla Solar Roof contact filed alongside the complaint included an arbitration agreement between the parties. That clause could be a roadblock for the case to gain class-action status, said Gregory Klass, associate dean and professor at Georgetown University Law Center. “Tesla’s arbitration clause almost certainly forestalls this class action under current Supreme Court precedent,” he said on Friday, citing a 2011 case, AT&T v. Concepcion. In the legal complaint, [Dahlin and Arndtsen’s lawyer Peter] Muhic wrote that the arbitration clause would be struck down as invalid under Pennsylvania law, in part because of the way it had been formatted on the page. He wrote that the clause also “does not contain a separate line for each party to indicate assent.” What makes this all very strange is that in October 2019, Tesla introduced its V3 iteration of its Solar Roof tiles that were supposed to drop the price by virtue of being cheaper to produce and faster to install. Early quotes of V3 systems seemed to come in anywhere from a few thousand to tens of thousands less than what comparable V2-based systems would have cost. Evidently, those quotes were gravely wrong, at least in part because they didn’t account for differing complexities of certain roof designs. Tesla has historically cautioned prospective customers that it may need to raise the agreed-upon installation price after conducting an on-site assessment of a home, though the amount of that adjustment varies. One customer in The Verge’s story who’d already signed a contract for a $69,000 roof budgeted between another $5,000 and $10,000 to cover a potential increase; he was later informed the new price would be $104,000. Tesla’s online configurator recently added a field for “roof complexity” within the last several weeks, allowing customers to perhaps see a more accurate quote depending on whether they have a “simple,” “moderate” or “complex” roof. On April 21, Musk announced on Twitter that Tesla would be including its Powerwall home backup battery with all future Solar Roof installations — perhaps to make the price increases a bit more tenable to some buyers. Powerwall’s price also varies; including installation it typically falls between $9,000 and $15,000. Tesla was issued a summons on May 3 by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. As of Saturday, the company hadn’t yet responded. Source: Tesla Could Face Class-Action Lawsuit For Drastic Solar Roof Price Increases
  4. Tesla privately admits Elon Musk has been exaggerating about ‘full self-driving’ ‘Elon’s tweet does not match engineering reality’ Photo by Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been overstating the capabilities of the company’s advanced driver assist system, the company’s director of Autopilot software told the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The comments came from a memo released by legal transparency group PlainSite, which obtained the documents from a public records request. It was the latest revelation about the widening gap between what Musk says publicly about Autopilot and what Autopilot can actually do. And it coincides with Tesla coming under increased scrutiny after a Tesla vehicle without anyone in the driver’s seat crashed in Texas, killing two men. “Elon’s tweet does not match engineering reality per CJ. Tesla is at Level 2 currently,” the California DMV said in the memo about its March 9th conference call with Tesla representatives, including the director of Autopilot software CJ Moore. Level 2 technology refers to a semi-automated driving system, which requires supervision by a human driver. In an earnings call in January, Musk told investors that he was “highly confident the car will be able to drive itself with reliability in excess of human this year.” (It would appear the DMV was referring to these January comments, which Moore misunderstood as a tweet from Musk.) Last October, Tesla introduced a new product called “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) beta to vehicle owners in its Early Access Program. The update enabled drivers to access Autopilot’s partially automated driver assist system on city streets and local roads. The early access program is used as a testing platform to help iron out software bugs. In the DMV memo, Tesla said that as of March 9th there were 824 vehicles in the pilot program, including 753 employees and 71 non-employees. Musk has said the company was handling the software update “very cautiously.” Drivers still are expected to keep their hands on the steering wheel and should be prepared to assume control of their Tesla at any time. But he has also offered lofty predictions about Tesla’s ability to achieve full autonomy that conflict with what his own engineers are saying to regulators. Tesla is unlikely to achieve Level 5 (L5) autonomy, in which its cars can drive themselves anywhere, under any conditions, without any human supervision, by the end of 2021, Tesla representatives told the DMV. The ratio of driver interaction would need to be in the magnitude of 1 or 2 million miles per driver interaction to move into higher levels of automation. Tesla indicated that Elon is extrapolating on the rates of improvement when speaking about L5 capabilities. Tesla couldn’t say if the rate of improvement would make it to L5 by end of calendar year. This isn’t the first time that Tesla’s private communications with the DMV have contradicted Musk’s public declarations about his company’s autonomous capabilities. In March, PlainSite published communications from last December between Tesla’s associate general counsel Eric Williams and California DMV’s chief of the autonomous vehicles branch, Miguel Acosta. In it, Williams notes that “neither Autopilot nor FSD Capability is an autonomous system, and currently no comprising feature, whether singularly or collectively, is autonomous or makes our vehicles autonomous.” In other words, Tesla’s FSD beta is self-driving in name only. (Al Prescott, acting general counsel at Tesla, was also involved in the December meeting with the DMV. Prescott has since left Tesla for LIDAR maker Luminar.) Tesla and Musk have long been criticized for overstating the capabilities of the company’s Autopilot system, which in its most basic form can center a Tesla vehicle in a lane and around curves and adjust the car’s speed based on the vehicle ahead. The use of brand names like Autopilot and FSD has also helped contribute to an environment in which Tesla customers are misled into believing their vehicles can actually drive themselves. There have been a number of fatal crashes involving Tesla vehicles with Autopilot enabled. The latest took place in Spring, Texas, in which two men were killed after their Tesla smashed into a tree. Local law enforcement said there was no one in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash, leading to speculation that the men were misusing Autopilot. Later, Tesla claimed that Autopilot was not in use at the time of the crash and someone may have been in the driver’s seat, too. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are both investigating the crash, in addition to dozens of other incidents involving Tesla Autopilot. Tesla didn’t respond to a request for comment, likely because the company has dissolved its press office and typically doesn’t respond to media requests anymore. Source: Tesla privately admits Elon Musk has been exaggerating about ‘full self-driving’
  5. Tesla Car Hacked Remotely From Drone via Zero-Click Exploit Two researchers have shown how a Tesla — and possibly other cars — can be hacked remotely without any user interaction. They carried out the attack from a drone. This was the result of research conducted last year by Ralf-Philipp Weinmann of Kunnamon and Benedikt Schmotzle of Comsecuris. The analysis was initially carried out for the Pwn2Own 2020 hacking competition — the contest offered a car and other significant prizes for hacking a Tesla — but the findings were later reported to Tesla through its bug bounty program after Pwn2Own organizers decided to temporarily eliminate the automotive category due to the coronavirus pandemic. The attack, dubbed TBONE, involves exploitation of two vulnerabilities affecting ConnMan, an internet connection manager for embedded devices. An attacker can exploit these flaws to take full control of the infotainment system of a Tesla without any user interaction. A hacker who exploits the vulnerabilities can perform any task that a regular user could from the infotainment system. That includes opening doors, changing seat positions, playing music, controlling the air conditioning, and modifying steering and acceleration modes. However, the researchers explained, “This attack does not yield drive control of the car though.” They showed how an attacker could use a drone to launch an attack via Wi-Fi to hack a parked car and open its doors from a distance of up to 100 meters (roughly 300 feet). They claimed the exploit worked against Tesla S, 3, X and Y models. “Adding a privilege escalation exploit such as CVE-2021-3347 to TBONE would allow us to load new Wi-Fi firmware in the Tesla car, turning it into an access point which could be used to exploit other Tesla cars that come into the victim car’s proximity. We did not want to weaponize this exploit into a worm, however,” Weinmann said. Tesla patched the vulnerabilities with an update pushed out in October 2020, and it has reportedly stopped using ConnMan. Intel was also informed since the company was the original developer of ConnMan, but the researchers said the chipmaker believed it was not its responsibility. The researchers learned that the ConnMan component is widely used in the automotive industry, which could mean that similar attacks can be launched against other vehicles as well. Weinmann and Schmotzle turned to Germany’s national CERT for help in informing potentially impacted vendors, but it’s currently unclear if other manufacturers have taken action in response to the researchers’ findings. The researchers described their findings at the CanSecWest conference earlier this year. That presentation also includes a video of them hacking a Tesla using a drone. Over the past years, cybersecurity researchers from several companies have demonstrated that a Tesla can be hacked, in many cases remotely. Source: Tesla Car Hacked Remotely From Drone via Zero-Click Exploit
  6. U.S. safety agency reviewing 23 Tesla crashes, three from recent weeks WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. auto safety agency disclosed on Thursday it has opened 27 investigations into crashes of Tesla vehicles, 23 of which remain active, and at least three of the crashes occurred in recent weeks. FILE PHOTO: The logo of car manufacturer Tesla is seen at a branch office in Bern, Switzerland, October 28, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirmed Thursday that it will send a team to investigate a recent Tesla crash in the Houston area. Four of the 27 NHTSA investigations have been completed and the results published. Earlier this week, NHTSA said it was sending its special crash investigation team to probe two crashes in Michigan, including a crash early Wednesday involving a Tesla suspected of being in Autopilot mode when it struck a parked Michigan State Police patrol car. Tesla did not immediately comment. NHTSA said in July that its “(Special Crash Investigations team) has looked into 19 crashes involving Tesla vehicles where it was believed some form of advanced driver assistance system was engaged at the time of the incident.” Michigan State Police said a parked patrol car was struck by a Tesla apparently in Autopilot mode while investigating a traffic crash near Lansing on Interstate-96. No one was injured and the 22-year-old Tesla driver was issued traffic citations. On Monday, NHTSA said it was sending another team to investigate a “violent” March 11 crash in Detroit in which a Tesla became wedged underneath a tractor-trailer and left a passenger in critical condition. Detroit police said Tuesday they do not believe that Autopilot was in use. The Autopilot feature was operating in at least three Tesla vehicles involved in fatal U.S. crashes since 2016. Tesla advises drivers they must keep their hands on the steering wheel and pay attention while using Autopilot. However, some Tesla drivers say they are able to avoid putting their hands on the wheel for extended periods when using Autopilot. NHTSA’s Special Crash Investigation team typically looks at more than 100 crashes a year with a focus on emerging technologies. Issues in recent years include performance of alternative fueled vehicles, child restraint systems, adaptive controls, safety belts, vehicle-pedestrian interactions, and potential safety defects. Separately, the agency said it had been briefed on Tesla’s “full self-driving” (FSD) software. Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk wrote on Twitter last week that the beta FSD software had been expanded to about 2,000 owners while other drivers had access to the program revoked. The agency said it “will monitor the new technology closely and will not hesitate to take action to protect the public against risks to safety.” NHTSA said the system does not make the Tesla “capable of driving itself. The most advanced vehicle technologies available for purchase today provide driver assistance and require a fully attentive human driver at all times performing the driving task and monitoring the surrounding environment.” Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Aurora Ellis and Richard Pullin Source: U.S. safety agency reviewing 23 Tesla crashes, three from recent weeks
  7. Two people killed in fiery Tesla crash with no one driving Authorities said it took four hours to extinguish the fire KPRC2 Houston Authorities in Texas say two people were killed when a Tesla with no one in the driver’s seat crashed into a tree and burst into flames, Houston television station KPRC 2 reported. The cause of the crash, which happened at about 9PM local time in Spring, Texas (near Houston), is under investigation. According to KHOU in Houston, first responders had to use 30,000 gallons of water over four hours to put out the fire, as the Tesla’s battery kept reigniting. Authorities tried to contact Tesla for advice on putting out the fire; it’s not clear whether they received any response. Two men dead after fiery crash in Tesla Model S. “[Investigators] are 100-percent certain that no one was in the driver seat driving that vehicle at the time of impact,” Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said. “They are positive.” #KHOU11 https://t.co/q57qfIXT4f pic.twitter.com/eQMwpSMLt2 — Matt Dougherty (@MattKHOU) April 18, 2021 Preliminary reports suggest the car was traveling at a high rate of speed and failed to make a turn, then drove off the road into a tree. One of the men killed was in the front passenger seat of the car, the other was in the back seat, according to KHOU. Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman told KPRC that “no one was driving” the fully-electric 2019 Tesla at the time of the crash. It’s not yet clear whether the car had its Autopilot driver assist system activated. Tesla didn’t respond to a request for comment on Sunday. The company dissolved its press office and doesn’t usually respond to media inquiries, however. There have been at least 23 Autopilot related crashes under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but this appears to be the first fatal crash where there was no driver in the driver’s seat. Tesla has previously cautioned its customers that Autopilot is not an autonomous driving system and still requires constant attention to the road while in use. The company’s cars only check that attention with a sensor that measures torque in the steering wheel, though, leaving room for misuse — something the National Transportation Safety Board admonished Tesla for last year. Tesla has previously provided guidance for first responders who encounter fires involving its EV batteries. Reignition of the battery can be a problem, because unlike gas-powered vehicles, even if the fire is extinguished, an EV battery still has stored energy. Tesla’s guidance suggests it’s better to let the fire burn out than continuing to try to put it out. In the past, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has rejected calls from Tesla engineers to add better safety monitoring when a vehicle is in Autopilot, such as eye-tracking cameras or additional sensors on the steering wheel, saying the tech is “ineffective.” He said in 2018 that Tesla would regularly release safety data about its Autopilot feature, but added that “negative” press coverage about it might persuade customers not to use it. “When there is a serious accident it is almost always, in fact maybe always, the case that it is an experienced user, and the issue is more one of complacency,” Musk said on a May 2018 call with investors. “They just get too used to it. That tends to be more of an issue. It’s not a lack of understanding of what Autopilot can do. It’s [drivers] thinking they know more about Autopilot than they do.” Source: Two people killed in fiery Tesla crash with no one driving
  8. Tesla delivered more cars than it made in the first quarter of 2021 Tesla’s production capacity continues to grow Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge Tesla delivered nearly 185,000 cars in the first quarter of 2021, more than it produced over the three-month period, according to numbers the company shared on Friday. Tesla has been ramping up production capacity and just nearly missed CEO Elon Musk’s goal of delivering 500,000 cars in 2020. Of the cars Tesla delivered in Q1 2021, nearly 183,000 were Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, more than the 180,000 of those models produced in Q1. On top of the Model 3 and Model Y deliveries, the company also sold an additional 2,020 Model S cars that had been produced in previous quarters. Tesla announced redesigns for the Model S and Model X in January 2021, which added new powertrains, higher range options, and the landscape in-car display from the more popular Model 3. Tesla says the redesigns were “exceptionally well-received” and that it’s in the early stage of ramping up production on both new models. The company didn’t break out specific delivery numbers for cars in China, but Tesla says it continues to be happy with the reception of its newer Model Y in the country. China has been a focus for Tesla since it opened its Gigafactory there in 2019, which the company seems to see as critical for meeting demand for its cars. When Tesla shared its Q4 2020 financial figures, it announced that its factory in Shanghai could allow it to produce as many as 1.05 million cars in a year. Tesla and Musk haven’t yet announced any ambitious delivery goals for 2021, but in comparison to 88,400 cars it delivered in Q1 2020, Tesla seems like it’s starting on the right foot to beat last year’s 500,000-car goal. Source: Tesla delivered more cars than it made in the first quarter of 2021
  9. Elon Musk confirms that you can now use Bitcoin to buy a Tesla Back in February, Tesla announced that it had made a $1.5 Billion investment into Bitcoin and is planning to add Bitcoin as a mode a payment. Now, the company has confirmed that customers can buy Tesla cars using Bitcoin. Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed on Twitter that customers in the US can now book cars using Bitcoin. He further noted that the company plans to expand the ability to buy Tesla using Bitcoin to other countries later this year. Musk also confirmed that Tesla will operate the Bitcoin node directly and will not convert Bitcoin to fiat currency (like USD, EUR, etc). Tesla is using only internal & open source software & operates Bitcoin nodes directly. Bitcoin paid to Tesla will be retained as Bitcoin, not converted to fiat currency. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 24, 2021 Tesla has also published a FAQ page answering some of the basic questions regarding the announcement. The company has clarified that it will only accept Bitcoin and will not deal with other cryptocurrencies. According to the FAQ, once the customer initiates the transaction, a timer will begin, and the customer will have to complete the transaction before the timer ends or the transaction will expire. The timer is added to ensure that Tesla or the customer does not incur a loss due to price fluctuation especially during extreme volatility in the crytocurrency market. Tesla also recommends the customers to send the payment in one transaction to avoid any delays with the order. Immediately after Elon's tweet, Bitcoin saw a spike in the price. Currently, Bitcoin is trading at $57,081, up 3.4% from yesterday's price of $54,350. Bitcoin has seen an increase in popularity recently with companies like Apple working with cryptocurrency companies to add support for cryptocurrency payments. PayPal, on the other hand, acquired Curv to improve its cryptocurrency expertise. However, not everyone is excited about cryptocurrency boom as the Indian government is working on a new bill to penalise traders, miners, and digital asset holders. Source: Elon Musk confirms that you can now use Bitcoin to buy a Tesla
  10. Russian pleads guilty to Tesla hacking and extortion attempt Russian national Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov has pleaded guilty to recruiting a Tesla employee to plant malware designed to steal data within the network of Tesla's Nevada Gigafactory. His end goal was to extort the company using the sensitive information stolen from Tesla's servers as leverage to convince the company to pay a ransom to avoid having the data leaked. To convince the company's employee to act as an insider for his criminal gang, Kriuchkov told him that he would be paid $1,000,000 worth of bitcoins after the malware got deployed on the company's network, according to court documents. Plans foiled after a series of other ransom attacks Kriuchkov also told the Tesla employee that he was earlier involved in other similar "projects" where one of the victim companies paid $4 million after negotiating down from an initial $6 million ransom. Kriuchkov explained that "the 'group' has performed these 'special projects' successfully on multiple occasions, and identified some of the targeted companies," according to the indictment. The Tesla employee was also told that during their "special project" targeting Tesla's network, the criminals would launch a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack to divert attention from the insider's attempt to deploy malware. The employee would have also had to provide info on Tesla's network to help with the malware's development process. However, the 27-year-old defendant's plans were thwarted by the FBI after the Tesla employee revealed Kriuchkov's attempts to recruit him via WhatsApp and in multiple face-to-face meetings where they discussed details of the conspiracy. Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, later confirmed in a Twitter reply that Kriuchkov was indeed trying to recruit a Tesla employee to help with his extortion scheme. Much appreciated. This was a serious attack. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 27, 2020 The defendant was arrested in August 2020 after he received a phone call from an FBI agent and hurried to leave the US to avoid getting caught. He was indicted one month later and was charged with a count of conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer, facing a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. "The swift response of the company and the FBI prevented a major exfiltration of the victim company's data and stopped the extortion scheme at its inception," Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department's Criminal Division said. "This case highlights the importance of companies coming forward to law enforcement, and the positive results when they do so." According to the guilty plea, Kriuchkov agreed to a sentence within four to ten months of imprisonment and three years of supervised release. Source: Russian pleads guilty to Tesla hacking and extortion attempt
  11. Tesla will dramatically expand its Full Self-Driving beta It could be available for more than a handful of EV drivers. Xinhua/Ding Ting via Getty Images Now might be your chance to join Tesla's Full Self-Driving beta. Elon Musk has revealed that Tesla's new 8.2 software is "doubling" the size of the beta test program, and 8.3 will "probably" expand the size of the program by ten times. You'll want to get in touch if you're interested, Musk said. The company chief warned that you still had to "be careful" with these newer betas, but that the code was "getting mature." Tesla first released the Full Self-Driving beta in October of last year, and has been making frequent improvements ever since. It's already capable of making some long journeys without significant intervention. With that said, this isn't a fully autonomous system — you still need your hands on the wheel, and it's mainly meant to reduce the amount of input needed compared to standard Autopilot. The expansion shows that Tesla is growing confident about Full Self-Driving's abilities, and could accelerate its development as testers reveal more real-world bugs. The company certainly has motivation to hurry. Drivers are still waiting on a planned FSD subscription service that was due in early 2021 (we wouldn't count on it at this stage). That offering can't realistically roll out until the feature is considered ready, and more testing could accelerate that launch. If you want the Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta downloaded to your car, let us know. Doubling beta program size now with 8.2 & probably 10X size with 8.3. Still be careful, but it’s getting mature. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 6, 2021 Source: Tesla will dramatically expand its Full Self-Driving beta
  12. Tesla owner in Canada charged with ‘sleeping’ while driving over 90 mph ‘They are not self-driving systems, they still come with the responsibility of driving’ A Tesla Model S owner in Alberta, Canada, was charged with dangerous driving after being pulled over for sleeping while traveling at speeds of 150 km/h (93 mph). The case raises questions about Tesla’s partially automated driving system, Autopilot, and driver complacency. On July 9th, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they received a complaint of reckless driving on Highway 2 near Ponoka in Alberta. The 2019 Tesla Model S “appeared to be self-driving,” police said, “traveling over 140 km/h, with both front seats completely reclined and both occupants appearing to be asleep.” Officers began to pursue the vehicle with their emergency lights flashing, at which point the vehicle “automatically began to accelerate,” eventually reaching a speed of 150 km/h, police said. After pulling over the vehicle, the driver, a 21-year-old male from British Columbia, was charged with speeding and driving while fatigued, resulting in a 24-hour license suspension. Later, the man was also charged with dangerous driving. “Although manufacturers of new vehicles have built in safeguards to prevent drivers from taking advantage of the new safety systems in vehicles, those systems are just that — supplemental safety systems,” Superintendent Gary Graham of Alberta RCMP Traffic Services said in a statement. “They are not self-driving systems, they still come with the responsibility of driving.” A spokesperson for Tesla did not respond to a request for comment. Autopilot is a Level 2 partially autonomous system that combines adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, self-parking, and, most recently, the ability to automatically change lanes. It uses a suite of sensors, including eight cameras, radar, and ultrasonic, to automate some of the driving tasks, but it also requires drivers to stay engaged with the vehicle in order to operate. The automaker’s Autopilot system has been proven by traffic investigators to have contributed to a number of fatal crashes in the past, and the families of deceased drivers have sued Tesla for wrongful death. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has blamed crashes involving Autopilot on driver overconfidence. “When there is a serious accident it is almost always, in fact maybe always, the case that it is an experienced user, and the issue is more one of complacency,” Musk said in 2018. But by marketing its system as “Autopilot,” Tesla has been shown to encourage driver inattention. It’s unclear to what extent the Tesla owner in Canada was misusing Autopilot. Tesla has said the advanced driver assist system will only work when it detects a driver’s hands on the steering wheel. If a driver’s hands aren’t detected, the display behind the wheel will begin to flash, followed by audible warnings, and eventually, Autopilot will disable itself. Since its launch in 2015, Tesla owners have sought out new and creative ways to trick Autopilot. People couldn’t wait to upload videos sitting in the backseat while their cars drove “autonomously” down the highway. Tesla responded by updating its software to require drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel — which seemed like a smart fix until one driver figured out all you needed to do to fool the system was wedge an orange against the wheel to simulate the pressure of a human hand. “Autopilot Buddy” was a piece of magnetic plastic that attaches to the steering wheel in order to create the impression that the driver is keeping his or her hands there. Federal regulators issued a cease and desist order to prevent its sale. People love tricking technology, even if it could cost them their lives. Tesla owner in Canada charged with ‘sleeping’ while driving over 90 mph
  13. Tesla’s slow self-driving progress continues with green light warning Tesla is adding Autopilot features much slower than Musk predicted last year. Enlarge / The interior of a Tesla Model X at the Brussels Expo in January 2020. Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images 118 with 67 posters participating, including story author Tesla has released a new version of its Autopilot software that adds the ability to read speed limit signs, improving the accuracy of the speed limits displayed on the dashboard. The new version of the software also recognizes when a stoplight turns green. The car will notify the driver but won't start moving on its own. Tesla first added the ability to spot stoplights and stop signs back in April. The initial version of the stoplight feature would slow down whether a traffic signal was red or green. The driver had to make the car proceed through the intersection if the light was green—otherwise, the car would stop. The first version of Autopilot, which was based on technology from Mobileye, included the ability to recognize speed limit signs. But Tesla split with Mobileye in 2016 and began building more of its Autopilot technology in-house. As a result, prior to the latest software update, newer Tesla vehicles displayed speed limits based on a GPS-based database of roadway speed limits. Full self-driving software is progressing slower than Elon Musk expected In April 2019, Tesla CEO Elon Musk predicted that Tesla's self-driving software would be "feature complete" by the end of 2019. He predicted that the software would take another six months to become reliable enough that drivers would no longer need to keep their hands on the wheel. By the end of 2020, Musk predicted, the company's self-driving technology would be so good that customers could send their Teslas out to operate as self-driving taxis when they weren't being used, generating extra income in the process. We said at the time that this timeline was unrealistic, and the events of the last year have confirmed that. Tesla's current self-driving software isn't close to being "feature complete;" Teslas don't turn autonomously at intersections, for example. It's not clear that Tesla's software will even reach this milestone by the end of 2020. More importantly, even after the software can handle most situations under human supervision, it's likely to take a lot more than six months to achieve a level of reliability sufficient to dispense with a human safety driver. For comparison, Google's self-driving project, now called Waymo, achieved "feature complete" status in limited geographic areas around 2015. Yet today the company operates fully driverless vehicles only on selected routes. It still makes heavy use of safety drivers for other routes. Tesla is tackling a more difficult technical problem than Waymo. Its self-driving software needs to operate everywhere, not just in geofenced areas. And Tesla is trying to develop self-driving capabilities without lidar sensors, which most companies view as essential to their self-driving stacks. But Elon Musk continues to be optimistic about Tesla's efforts. Earlier this month, Musk tweeted that Tesla was preparing to release a "fundamental architectural rewrite" of the full self-driving software that "will come as a quantum leap" and not an incremental tweak. Musk added that there he was "almost at zero interventions between home and work" with the latest development versions of the software. While he seemed to view that as an impressive accomplishment, it's also an admission of how far Tesla still has to go. A system that regularly requires intervention during a typical commute to work is far from the level required for fully driverless operation. Tesla’s slow self-driving progress continues with green light warning
  14. Tesla will cash in on surging stock price with $5 billion stock sale Tesla needs to expand rapidly to justify its soaring stock price. Enlarge David Butow | Getty Images 122 with 67 posters participating, including story author Tesla will sell up to $5 billion in new shares, the company announced in a Tuesday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company didn't give any specific timeline for completing the stock sale. The announcement comes one day after Tesla completed a five-for-one stock split that sent Tesla's stock soaring. When Tesla announced the split on August 11, Tesla's stock was worth less than $1,400. Investors reacted enthusiastically, pushing the stock up 60 percent to over $2,200 over the following three weeks. Since the split took effect on Monday, the stock has surged even higher and is now worth $480—$2,400 in pre-split terms. The stock's high price means that Tesla can raise a lot of cash by issuing a comparatively small number of shares. Tesla announced its last fundraising round of $2 billion in February when the stock was worth less than $800—$160 in post-split terms. With the stock now at roughly triple that value, Tesla will likely be able to raise $5 billion while giving up a smaller share of the company to new shareholders. In previous years, Tesla was a cash-strapped upstart that needed to issue new shares to avoid running out of cash. But that's no longer true. After February's fundraising and four consecutive quarters of modest profits, Tesla has $8.6 billion in cash in the bank. The company could easily get by without this latest fundraising round. In its SEC filing, Tesla says that the cash will be used to "further strengthen our balance sheet, as well as for general corporate purposes." However, Tesla's soaring share price puts new pressure on the automaker. The market now values Tesla around $450 billion, far more than any of its rivals. Yet Tesla's manufacturing capacity is a small fraction of theirs. For example, Tesla produced 367,500 vehicles in 2019, compared to 7.7 million for GM. The market values GM at $42 billion. So to maintain its high stock price, Tesla needs to rapidly expand production—likely increasing its output by a factor of 10 or more compared to 2019. Tesla is in the process of opening three new car factories in Shanghai, Berlin, and Austin, Texas. But the company probably can't stop there. We can expect Tesla to announce additional facilities in the next year or two. The company's new $13.6 billion war chest will help. Tesla will cash in on surging stock price with $5 billion stock sale
  15. Where Was the Battery at Tesla’s Battery Day? Musk made some big promises at Tesla’s highly anticipated Battery Day. But a prototype never made an appearance, and it was unclear what Tesla had actually achieved. Photograph: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images On Tuesday afternoon, Elon Musk greeted several hundred investors sitting in their Teslas from a makeshift stage in the parking lot of the Tesla factory in Fremont, California. After months of Covid-induced delays, it seemed like an appropriate setting for the company’s much-hyped Battery Day event. Details about what the outspoken CEO had in store were scarce leading up to the event, but Musk had promised to show the world something “very insane” that would result in a “step change in accelerating sustainable energy.” This turned out to be a fat lithium-ion battery called a 4680—a reference to its diameter, 46 millimeters, and its length, 80 millimeters—that is being produced in-house at Tesla. To be sure, Tesla’s new battery appears to offer large performance gains in a few key areas, but it was unclear whether Tesla has actually achieved these upgrades or whether this is the projected performance for the finalized battery. Neither Musk nor Drew Baglino, the senior vice president of powertrain and engineering at Tesla who shared the stage, offered specific numbers about the new 4680 cell’s actual performance achieved during tests, only relative percentages of improvement compared to existing Tesla batteries. They claimed to be “unlocking” up to a 54 percent increase in the range for Tesla vehicles and energy density for its energy products like the Powerwall. (A battery’s energy density describes its capacity to do work given its weight or volume.) Baglino and Musk also claimed a 56 percent reduction in the dollars per kilowatt hour compared with Tesla’s existing cells, but did not name a dollar figure. Battery experts say that $100/kwh is necessary to make electric vehicles cost competitive with gas guzzlers, but it is unclear if Tesla hit this mark since the company doesn’t publish the dollars per kilowatt hours for its existing batteries. Analysts estimate that Tesla achieved somewhere around $150 per kilowatt hour last year, which means that it’s new battery may have broken through that barrier. Baglino said that the company had already produced tens of thousands of batteries at its new production facility down the street—but not a single physical cell made an appearance at the event. “I want to stress that this is not just a concept or a rendering. We’re starting to ramp up manufacturing of these cells at our pilot production facility just around the corner,” said Baglino. Both Musk and Baglino acknowledged that Tesla engineers are still in the process of refining the manufacturing process, so it’s possible that the cells currently coming off the line don’t quite meet this mark. “We’re still ironing out the kinks,” Baglino said. “It’s super demanding because every atom has its place, if you want to deliver the energy density and the cycle life. We’re confident we can get there, but it will be a lot of work along the way.” Based on the digital mockups shown at the event, the new 4680 cell is a lot different than the lithium-ion cells currently used in Teslas. For starters, it’s big. The diameter of the cylindrical cell is twice as wide and it is 14 percent longer than the largest batteries that power Musk’s electric empire today. Altogether, that makes its volume about six times greater than that of the Panasonic 2170 cells used in newer model Teslas. The upshot of its size is that it increases capacity while reducing the number of cells needed to provide a given amount of power in a battery pack. According to Baglino, the larger form factor alone was enough to boost the energy by five times, the power by six times, and the range of a car using these batteries by 16 percent. Baglino didn’t elaborate, but presumably this is relative to the current batteries used by Tesla. “Large format reduces all the ‘inactive’ materials, like packaging. So pack-level energy density will improve and cost will come down,” says Shirley Meng, a materials scientist who runs the Laboratory for Energy Storage & Conversion at the University of California, San Diego. It’s exactly the sort of beefy power supply that Tesla will need for its planned heavy-duty vehicles like the Cybertruck and its electric semi. But the real innovation in Tesla’s battery is what you can’t see. In all EV batteries, a thin layer of copper foil serves as a current collector for the anode and a layer of aluminum foil for the cathode. A tab is joined to each of these current collectors and serves as the battery’s connection to the outside world. But these tabs hobble the performance of the cells and make them more difficult to produce. Manufacturers must use a specialized welding technique to connect them to the foil current collectors, which results in wasted time and material. Even worse, the tabs reduce the battery’s efficiency, because electric current must travel the full length of the electrode to reach each tab. One of the major innovations in Tesla’s new battery is that it is tabless. “Taking the tabs out of the equation will allow you to have more coated area on your electrode, increasing the capacity of the cell without changing anything else about the design,” says Greg Less, the technical director of the University of Michigan’s Battery Lab. “It's not a new idea, but there are a lot of engineering challenges to making something like this work reliably and reproducibly.” The key to Tesla’s battery breakthrough was an image emblazoned on the black graphic t-shirts worn by Baglino and Musk: What looked like a bunch of random white lines was, according to Musk, a “very esoteric” representation of a tabless battery’s structure. According to Baglino, the company laser-patterned existing foil current collectors so that they can have dozens of connections to the electrode materials. The result is a current collector that Baglino described as a “shingled spiral” that looks a bit like a curled up, copper-plated armadillo. “The distance the electron has to travel is much less,” Musk said. “So you actually have a shorter path length in a large, tabless cell then you have in a smaller cell with tabs. So even though the cell is bigger, it actually has a better power-to-weight ratio.” Researchers at Tesla also significantly altered the chemistry of their electrodes to boost performance. Tesla is now one of several manufacturers producing silicon-rich anodes, which are meant to supplant the more common graphite anodes used in lithium-ion batteries today. When a lithium-ion battery is charging, lithium ions flow to the anode, displacing electrons and creating an electric charge. Compared to graphite, silicon can absorb a lot more ions. “Silicon can store roughly 10 times the number of lithium atoms as graphite, which gives silicon-containing batteries 20 to 40 percent higher energy density,” says Francis Wang, the CEO of NanoGraf, a company that has developed a silicon-graphene battery anode. But silicon can also cause the battery to swell like a balloon. Over time, wear and tear on the components will make performance plummet. Safely incorporating silicon into an anode typically requires nanoengineering the cathode components in ways that contain the swelling. Nanograf, for instance, wraps its silicon-based anodes in graphene, which acts like a flexible blanket when the anode expands, protecting it from corrosion. Tesla has been using small amounts of silicon oxide in its anodes for years. This silicon blend effectively comes prepuffed to reduce damage from swelling, but this means it also enables only modest performance gains. To get a bigger boost typically requires nanoengineering the particles of silicon to retain their benefits as lithium ion sponges while reducing the risk of destruction. But Baglino and his team opted to take a simpler route. Their silicon anodes aren’t nanoengineered at all; they’re raw silicon stabilized with some elastic ions. According to Baglino, this can increase the range of Tesla’s vehicles by 20 percent. “The first silicon anode companies were started as far back as 2006, so folks were thinking about it even back in the Roadster days,” says Gene Berdichevsky, who was Tesla’s seventh employee until he left the company to found SilaNano, which is developing pure silicon anodes. “It’s taken them longer to get there than anyone thought, but it was pretty obvious even back then that that was where the biggest gains can be had.” Tesla is also working on improvements to its cathode chemistry. Most lithium ion batteries found in electric vehicles today—including Tesla’s—use a cathode made from lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide, otherwise known as NMC. But Musk and other manufacturers have indicated their desire to ditch NMC for cathodes that don’t use cobalt, which is one of the most expensive materials in an electrode and is also linked to unethical mining practices in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The idea has been to use a nickel-rich cathode instead, which is cheaper, lighter, and, depending on how it's sourced, better for the planet. Although cobalt-free cathodes have been around for a while, they typically come with large performance tradeoffs, like shorter battery life and reduced energy density. “Increasing nickel is a goal of ours and really of everybody in the battery industry,” Baglino said. “But one of the reasons cobalt is used at all is because it's very stable.” He indicated that Tesla is working on developing a nickel-rich cathode with zero cobalt by using “novel coatings,” but didn’t say how close the company was to achieving that goal or detail what those coatings would be. Baglino also said the company is exploring different cathode options for different applications. For instance, some batteries would use iron cathodes for vehicles that have shorter range, nickel manganese cathodes for medium-range vehicles, and then high nickel cathodes for long-range applications like an electric semi. Musk suggested that the reason for this is supply chain uncertainty. “We really need to make sure that we’re not constrained by total nickel availability,” Musk said. “I spoke with the CEOs of the biggest mining companies in the world and said, ‘Please make more nickel.’ So I think they are going to make more nickel. But I think we need to have a three-tiered approach to making batteries.” Tesla’s entry into the world of battery production is also notable. For the company’s entire history, it has purchased the batteries at the heart of its cars and Powerwalls from other companies like Panasonic and LG. At Tuesday’s event, Musk confirmed the existence of Tesla’s fabled Roadrunner project—previously reported by the EV blog Electrek—which has spent the last few months standing up a pilot production facility at the Fremont factory. Although Musk acknowledged that Tesla would continue to purchase batteries from Panasonic and other suppliers, he said that on their own these companies wouldn’t be able to meet Tesla’s growing appetite. According to Musk, the projected annual output of Tesla’s Roadrunner project production facility, in terms of the energy capacity of the batteries, is about 10 gigawatt-hours per year. But the big question, says Berdichevsky, is how fast Tesla can scale production to that level. “You can show a widget that's high-performing, but that manufacturing scale is really, really hard,” he says. Musk himself acknowledged, as he often does, the difficulties that come with “building the machine that builds the machine,” a nod to the fact that Tesla will have to create a bunch of battery bots to make it happen. He says he expects it to be “about a year” before Tesla’s new battery factory is producing cells at its full capacity—but even that is a remarkably fast turnaround by the industry’s standards. Musk is known for making big promises on aggressive timelines and then blowing right past them. The battery he hyped at the Tesla event is full of promise, but without an actual cell to show off or published performance metrics, it still felt like just a promise. Now he has to deliver. Where Was the Battery at Tesla’s Battery Day?
  16. Tesla aims to build its most affordable electric car yet within the next three years, with Elon Musk suggesting a $25,000 EV would be possible. The promise came during the Tesla Battery Day 2020 event, an opportunity for Musk & Co. to set the scene for where battery technology is today, and where the automaker believes it will be in the coming years. It’s an important topic as, while exceedingly fast electric cars might make headlines, it’s battery capacity and production bottlenecks that control factors like affordability and supply. Tesla, Musk said today, aims to expand 30-40 percent in 2020 and ahead, and for that it needs a source of not only batteries, but more affordable and power-dense versions. Progress on that is what could make a $25,000 Tesla possible, or at least contribute significantly to that. If the automaker can get the price per kilowatt-hour of its batteries down – Musk suggested Tesla could potentially halve that figure from its current value – then suddenly the single most expensive component of a modern EV drops massively. In turn, electric vehicles that are more affordable, but which don’t compromise on range, become possible. All that requires time, however, and according to Musk it’ll be at least three years before Tesla’s work on battery tech reaches that sort of level. It’s not just one factor that will help drive down the cost: switching from cobalt for the cathode to nickel, which is cheaper; bringing cathode production in-house; and sourcing its own lithium from a mine in Nevada it has apparently retained the rights to. Together with other factors, like using the battery’s shell as a structural component in the end vehicle, that should be enough to boost production for maximum economies of scale, while also reducing vehicle complexity. That latter factor has been a hard-fought battle for Tesla over the years. Musk has blamed complexity for part of the expense of earlier vehicles like the Model S and Model X, and indeed trimming that down was instrumental in making the Model 3 more affordable. The Model Y crossover may look a lot like its compact sedan sibling, but Musk says that it actually has 79 fewer parts, in part because Tesla has invested in machinery that can cast much larger components in a single piece. The target is 370 fewer parts in the new, most affordable Tesla. In turn, Musk said, production costs could be trimmed by as much as 69-percent. Get to those levels, and suddenly a $25k entry-level Tesla is possible. What sort of demand there is for that exact vehicle, of course, remains to be seen. Tesla finally delivered its long-promised $35,000 Model 3 in 2019, several years after first announcing the EV. However it doesn’t exactly make it easy to buy it: unlike the other variants, shoppers must call Tesla rather than use the online ordering tool. It’s also compromised in specifications, with the Standard Range Model 3 getting 220 miles on a charge, versus the 250 miles from the Model 3 Standard Range Plus that Tesla makes much easier to buy. As with any Tesla announcement – and timeline – it pays to be a little skeptical. Nonetheless, while Musk’s promises might be ambitious, underestimating the automaker’s engineering capabilities is something the auto industry at large has learned is unwise. In the meantime, other manufacturers are pushing their own, more affordable EVs, but the allure of one with the Tesla logo on the hood could prove a wildcard. Source
  17. Tesla with Autopilot hits cop car—driver admits he was watching a movie The crash threw two officers to the ground, but no one was seriously injured. Enlarge / A law enforcement vehicle damaged in Wednesday's crash. North Carolina State Highway Patrol 141 with 101 posters participating, including story author Police in North Carolina have filed charges against a driver whose Tesla crashed into a police car early Wednesday morning, Raleigh's CBS 17 television reports. The driver admitted to officers that he had activated the Autopilot technology on his Model S and was watching a movie on his phone at the time of the crash. "A Nash County deputy and a trooper with the Highway Patrol were on the side of the road while responding to a previous crash when the Tesla slammed into the deputy’s cruiser," CBS 17 reports. "The impact sent the deputy’s cruiser into the trooper’s vehicle—which pushed the trooper and deputy to the ground." Thankfully, no one was seriously injured by the crash. The driver was charged with a violation of the state's "move over" law and with having a television in the car. It's an important reminder that no car on the market today is fully self-driving. Drivers need to pay attention to the road at all times, regardless of what kind of car they have or what kind of driver-assistance technology their car has. Tesla could use better driver monitoring technology In the last year, there have been at least three similar incidents involving Tesla vehicles crashing into police cars. This happened in Arizona in July and in Connecticut and Massachusetts last December. To be fair, this isn't just a Tesla problem. Studies have found that driver-assistance systems like Autopilot—from Tesla and other automakers—are not good at stopping for stationary vehicles. A study earlier this month found that driver assistance systems from BMW, Kia, and Subaru failed to consistently stop for stationary vehicles on a test track. Still, Tesla clearly has room for improvement. Obviously, it would be good if Autopilot could actually detect stopped vehicles. But Tesla could also use better driver monitoring technology. Tesla vehicles use a steering wheel torque sensor to try to detect whether a driver is paying attention. This kind of sensor is easy to defeat. It's also possible to keep a hand on the wheel without actually paying attention to the road. Tesla could learn from Cadillac, whose Super Cruise technology includes an eye-tracking camera that verifies that the driver is looking at the road. An eye-tracking system like this would likely prevent incidents like Wednesday's crash in North Carolina. If the driver had tried to watch a movie while Autopilot was engaged, the system would have detected that he was not watching the road, warned the driver, and eventually deactivated itself. Tesla with Autopilot hits cop car—driver admits he was watching a movie
  18. Elon Musk says Apple refused a meeting to acquire Tesla He considered selling during Model 3 ‘production hell’ in 2017, but Tim Cook wouldn’t talk Photo by Sean O’Kane / The Verge Elon Musk said Tuesday that he wanted to sell Tesla to Apple during the “darkest days” of the Model 3 rollout but that CEO Tim Cook “refused” to take the meeting. Musk dished about the proffer in response to a tweet about how Apple has reportedly reignited its desire to make and sell an electric, autonomous vehicle. He noted that Tesla was worth about one-tenth then what it is now, as the electric vehicle company rounds out a remarkable year where a meteoric stock price run turned it into the most valuable automaker on the planet. Of course, in 2017 Tesla was still hemorrhaging money and had not yet produced an electric vehicle at high volume. Musk has previously said that Tesla was “single-digit weeks” away from collapse in 2017 as he directed all of the company’s resources toward ramping up production of the Model 3 sedan. Tesla ultimately survived, and has since gone on to roll out the Model Y SUV and announce new vehicles like the Cybertruck. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Apple has spent the last half-decade toying with an entry into the worlds of electric and self-driving cars, but up until this week was thought to be focused on developing software and other technologies that could be sold to other companies. But on Monday, Reuters reported that the Silicon Valley giant has retrained its focus on making an electric, autonomous car for general consumers. One of the reasons Apple reportedly changed directions again is that it has made progress on a potential breakthrough with regards to the battery. According to Reuters, Apple has been developing a lithium iron phosphate battery that can be packaged more tightly in the car’s battery pack, cutting down on weight while increasing the potential energy density. Musk pointed out on Twitter on Tuesday that Tesla is already using iron phosphate batteries in some of the cars it’s making in China. “Strange, if true,” he wrote. Tesla and Apple have swapped a lot of talent over the last decade. When rumors of an “Apple car” first emerged in 2015, Musk joked that Apple was a “Tesla graveyard.” “If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I’m not kidding,” he said. Musk said at the time that an electric car was “the next logical thing” for Cook and Apple to work on. “It’s good that Apple is moving and investing in this direction. But cars are very complex compared to phones or smartwatches,” Musk said. Elon Musk says Apple refused a meeting to acquire Tesla
  19. For years, Tesla, as well as its eccentric founder and CEO Elon Musk, proudly proclaimed to recent customers that if they were unhappy with the vehicle they had just purchased, they could simply return it. The catch? Hardly anything. It just had to be done within seven calendar days. That was then. Now, as reported by Electrek, recent Tesla customers experiencing buyer’s remorse over their new vehicle may just be stuck with it. In other words, it probably won’t be that easy to return it. Electrek reports that Tesla eliminated its seven-day return policy, which the company had maintained was proof of the confidence it had in its cars, this week. Indeed, when you search “Tesla seven day return policy” in Google, you see the old return policy as one of the top results. However, once you click on the link to Tesla’s official site, it redirects you to the Tesla support page, which makes no mention of the old return policy. But this is the internet, which allows you to reminiscence over old Tesla policies if you wish. A cached version of the Tesla return policy page from Oct. 15—the same day Tesla reportedly decided to axe the policy, per Electrek—shows the old policy in all its glory. It reads: According to the now-defunct policy, to be able to qualify for a seven-day return, the vehicle must have less than 1,000 miles on the odometer, a New Vehicle Limited Warranty that has not been voided, be in new condition without damage or abnormal wear and tear and not have been resold or transferred to someone else, among others. Nonetheless, unnamed sources cited by Electrek said that dissatisfied buyers would now be referred to Tesla’s service department if they want to return their vehicle for whatever reason. As noted by Electrek, the move seems a bit strange, especially considering that the policy was meant to show how confident the company was that people would love its cars. Just a year ago, Musk proudly proclaimed on Twitter, his social media vice, that you could order a new Model S online “in 2 mins for home delivery & return in 7 days for full refund.” But at the same time, is this really a great loss for current and future Tesla buyers? Per Electrek, we don’t know how many people actually used the policy to return their cars. Since Tesla closed its PR department, we may never know why the seven-day return policy was axed (of course, there’s also no guarantee that if the department was still in existence it would tell us). Maybe Musk will tweet about it someday and provide an answer to this mystery. Source
  20. (Reuters) - Tesla Inc said on Tuesday it cut the price of its Model S “Long Range” sedan by 4% in the United States, days after the electric-car maker reported record quarterly deliveries. A Tesla Model S electric vehicle drives along a row of occupied superchargers at Tesla's primary vehicle factory after CEO Elon Musk announced he was defying local officials' restrictions against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by reopening the plant in Fremont, California, U.S. May 12, 2020. The company, which is expected to report third-quarter results on Oct. 21, cut the price to $71,990 from $74,990 in the United States. It also trimmed the starting price of the Model S by 3% in China. Earlier this month, Tesla cut the starting price of its Chinese-made Model 3 sedans by about 8% to 249,900 yuan ($36,805). The world’s largest carmaker has been trimming prices on various models in its lineup at the same time legacy automakers are trying to make inroads in the electric vehicle market by launching their own electric cars. Tesla said it delivered 139,300 vehicles in the third quarter, an all-time record, yet shares fell as some analysts doubted if Tesla could hit its ambitious year-end target. Last week, the company’s Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk told employees that Tesla has a chance to produce a half-million cars this year, according to an internal email seen by Reuters. Tesla said in January that 2020 vehicle deliveries should comfortably exceed 500,000 units, a forecast it has left unchanged despite the COVID-19 pandemic. This means the company will have to increase deliveries to nearly 182,000 in the fourth quarter to reach that target. Shares of the electric carmaker, which have surged more than five times this year, were up nearly 1% at $445.10 in pre-market trade. Source
  21. Tesla wants to use its car sensors to detect children left in hot cars But it's going to need approval (Image credit: Tesla) The latest safety feature planned at Tesla is a sensing system that can warn you if you've left a child behind in a car that's too hot. As an added bonus, it could customize airbag deployment to each particular passenger, and deter thieves as well. As per Reuters, Tesla is seeking approval for the new system from the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) in the US, as it would involve millimeter-wave sensors being boosted to higher power levels than current laws allow. If permission is granted, the system would make use of four transmission antennas and three reception antennas driven by a radar unit at the front. The setup would be able to 'see' through blankets and child restraints better than a standard camera. What's more, the hardware that Tesla is proposing would be able to detect breathing patterns and even heart rates, so there would be no confusion between a toddler and a teddy bear left on the back seat of a Tesla vehicle. Internal upgrades Being able to more accurately determine the size and weight of passengers would help with safer airbag deployment too, Tesla says – offering a more reliable system than the ones currently offered by in-seat weight sensors. The millimeter-wave sensor monitoring would also be an upgrade on existing systems in terms of being able to detect someone breaking into the car or smashing one of the windows, according to the application filed by Tesla. Tesla reports that official statistics show that more than 50 children died after being left behind in hot cars in both 2019 and 2018. More than half of those incidents were because the child was forgotten. There's no fixed timescale for when this application might be approved or when the technology might find its way into Tesla's motor vehicles. The company's cars already come with a wealth of sensors, in part to enable certain self-driving features. Via Engadget Tesla wants to use its car sensors to detect children left in hot cars
  22. Musk: Tesla may be able to produce batteries with 50% more energy density Tesla CEO Elon Musk has suggested that the automaker may be able to produce batteries with 50% more energy density within three to four years. This news comes ahead of the firm's "Battery Day" event where it is expected to reveal improvement in its battery performance. According to researchers, the energy density of Panasonic's "2170" batteries that Tesla uses in its Model 3 cars is roughly 260Wh/kg, which would mark a 50% surge from current energy density. Battery Day will take place on September 22, which is when Tesla is also holding its annual shareholders' meeting. Due to coronavirus restrictions, the automaker will have limited attendees who will be selected via a lottery. The event's background image shows white-colored dots clustered in line formations, which Park Chul-wan, a South Korean-based battery expert, believes to hint at "silicon nanowire anode." This breakthrough technology could help Tesla substantially increase both battery energy density and battery life. Currently, Tesla's batteries are manufactured in partnership with Panasonic at the Nevada Gigafactory, and the automaker also has battery contracts with LG Chem and Contemporary Amperex Technology. Earlier this year, it was reported that Tesla was planning to build a battery research and manufacturing facility in Fremont. Source: Reuters Musk: Tesla may be able to produce batteries with 50% more energy density
  23. Tesla research partnership progresses on new battery chemistry Lithium metal batteries could increase EV range, but longevity must improve. Enlarge / Here's what the lithium deposited at the anode looks like under a scanning electron microscope. Full charge in top row, depleted charge in bottom row. Louli et al./Nature Energy 52 with 39 posters participating, including story author Electric vehicles have come a long way in terms of going a long way on a charge. But everyone is still seeking the next big jump in battery technology—a battery with significantly higher energy density would mean more range or lower costs to hit the current range. There is always some room for incremental progress on current lithium-ion battery technology, but there is a lithium holy grail that has remained out of reach for decades: ditching its graphite anode to shrink the cell. A lithium metal battery would simply use solid lithium as the anode instead of requiring a graphite framework for lithium atoms to tuck into as the battery charges. The problem is that the lithium doesn't form an order surface during recharging, so the battery capacity drops drastically—declining to 80 percent within 20 charge cycles in some configurations. Rogue lithium also tends to build up dangerous, branching, needle-like structures that can pierce the separator between the anode and cathode and short-circuit the cell. Last year, a Dalhousie University lab group with ties to Tesla developed a lithium metal battery with somewhat better performance. Lithium atoms electroplate onto a copper electrode as the battery charges and then move back into a conventional lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt cathode as charge depletes. Through a new electrolyte, they were able to get this battery to last about 90 cycles before hitting 80 percent capacity to control the nasty short-circuit problem. In a new study, the team reports on a post-mortem of that design that identifies the causes of capacity loss. As a result, they find a tweak that gets them up to about 200 cycles. Enlarge / The slimmer anode-free lithium battery compared to a current lithium-ion design. Energy density is compared and illustrated for a cylindrical cell, bottom left, with EV range/cost compared, bottom right. Louli et al./Nature Energy This battery would be a major advance if it reached viability, holding about 60 percent more energy per unit volume than lithium-ion batteries in use today. That could increase electric vehicle range from 400 kilometers to 680 kilometers (or 250 miles to 400), the researchers note. The improved stability is owed to an electrolyte composed of two lithium-boron-fluorine salts in an organic solvent. To see what was going on inside the battery, the team analyzed changes in the electrolyte over time and also tracked changes in the behavior of the solid lithium forming on the anode. The salts in the electrolyte, it turns out, were being consumed as the battery went through charge cycles. Reactions on the cathode side convert one of the salts into the other, but reactions on the anode side consume both salts without regenerating either. So as the battery went through more and more cycles, there was less of the electrolyte available to do its job. Throwing the anode side under an electron microscope showed that the cyclical plating and removal of solid lithium became less and less orderly over repeated cycles. It starts out forming a very smooth layer but develops topography by the fiftieth cycle or so. Pockets form between ring-like walls, leading to increasing portions of lithium that are electrically isolated—no longer playing along with the battery’s back-and-forth dance. (See the image at the top of this page.) This also means the surface area of the solid lithium grows, so more electrolyte would be required to maintain contact everywhere. One possible solution would be to increase the volume of electrolyte so it takes longer for the salts to deplete, as well as better maintain contact over the whole surface area. That would decrease the energy density of the battery, though, so the team decided to try upping the concentration of the salts dissolved in the electrolyte. With the concentration cranked up, the battery was able to maintain its capacity for more charge cycles—hitting at least 150 cycles before dropping to 80 percent. Or to put it another way, it took about 200 cycles to drop to the equivalent capacity of a lithium-ion battery of that size. Another thing that helps is actually some simple clamping pressure, as this encourages the solid lithium to pack together better. All these numbers come from batteries placed in a small toggle clamp. Without that pressure, capacity drops significantly more quickly. These results show considerable progress on a stubborn problem, but this design has a way to go to meet the longevity of current lithium-ion batteries, which can top 1,000 cycles before declining to that 80-percent mark. The researchers write, “Nevertheless, increased lifetime is required before such cells will be viable for electric vehicles or electrified urban aviation. If further progress in lifetime can be achieved, anode-free lithium metal cells with liquid electrolytes present the most straightforward and low-cost path towards viable high energy density lithium batteries.” Nature Energy, 2020. DOI: 10.1038/s41560-020-0668-8 (About DOIs). Tesla research partnership progresses on new battery chemistry
  24. Elon Musk taunts Tesla critics as stock soars to new highs Tesla, valued at $250 billion, is the world's most valuable automaker. Enlarge Tesla 145 with 86 posters participating Tesla's stock leapt above $1,400 for the first time on Tuesday morning—a nearly 50 percent increase over the price just a week earlier. As of publication time, Tesla's stock has slumped a bit to around $1,380. That's still more than the stock was worth at any time before today and a six-fold jump from Tesla's share price a year earlier. The primary villains in Tesla's mythology are "shorts": investors who short-sell the company's stock in hopes of profiting from a falling price. CEO Elon Musk has regularly taunted these critics about the company's rising stock price. On Sunday, Musk gleefully announced that Tesla was selling "limited edition short shorts" on its website. The shorts are red with gold trim, with a small Tesla logo on the side. "S3XY" is emblazoned across the back in large type. The shorts cost "only $69.420," Musk wrote. As I write this on Tuesday morning, the shorts are sold out. Tesla's latest rally was kicked off by strong delivery numbers, announced last week, for the second quarter. Tesla's deliveries were about 5-percent lower than their level a year earlier. Ordinarily, that would be nothing to celebrate. But it's a strong showing compared to other car companies, most of which saw quarterly sales decline by double digits, year over year, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, Tesla became the most valuable car company on Earth when its market value blew past Toyota. Wall Street now values Tesla at $250 billion, compared to $205 billion for Toyota. That despite the fact that Tesla's manufacturing capacity is a small fraction of its established rivals. Tesla sold around 360,000 cars in 2019. Toyota sold 10.7 million. But Tesla has big expansion plans. The company recently opened a factory in China and has plans to open a German factory in the next couple of years. Rumors indicate that Tesla is close to announcing a fourth factory in Texas. Tesla will need more manufacturing capacity to build the company's growing lineup of vehicles, including the Model Y—introduced earlier this year—the Cybertruck, and an updated edition of Tesla's Roadster sports car—both due out in the next year or two. Elon Musk taunts Tesla critics as stock soars to new highs
  25. Stock surge makes Tesla the world’s most valuable automaker Market cap rise above $200 billion could get Musk another huge payday. Enlarge Aurich Lawson vs Disney 104 with 70 posters participating One share of Tesla stock traded for more than $1,130 on Wednesday, pushing the company's market capitalization to nearly $210 billion. That sent Tesla's market cap past Toyota, which is worth either $170 billion or $203 billion, depending on how you count it. Tesla is now the world's most valuable car company. It's a remarkable milestone for a company that sells far fewer cars than its leading rivals. Toyota and its subsidiaries sold 10.7 million vehicles in 2019, while Volkswagen and its subsidiaries sold almost 11 million vehicles. Tesla sold a comparatively tiny 367,500 vehicles last year. But Wall Street is apparently very optimistic about Tesla's prospects for future growth and profits. Many experts expect a global shift to battery electric vehicles over the next decade or two, and Tesla is leading that revolution. Tesla's Model 3 was by far the most popular battery electric vehicle in 2019. It sold 300,000 vehicles, almost triple the sales of the next most popular model: the EU series from Chinese automaker BAIC Group. The Model 3 sold four times as many vehicles as the Nissan Leaf, the most popular battery electric vehicle not made by Tesla or a Chinese company. If Tesla can maintain or expand that lead in electric vehicles—something it hopes to do with the introduction of the Model Y this year and the Cybertruck next year—the company could become one of the world's biggest automakers (by vehicles sold) over the coming decade or two. What investors might be thinking Tesla could also enjoy fatter profit margins than other automakers. Tesla boosters draw a parallel to Apple, which only controls 15 percent of the global smartphone market but rakes in a much larger share of the industry's profits. While Android phone makers duke it out in a low-margin commodity market, Apple is able to charge a premium to customers who want the distinctive iOS experience. Like Apple, Tesla is a vertically integrated manufacturer, which allows the company to deliver a unique user experience. And like Apple, Tesla has a fanatically loyal customer base that's willing to pay a premium for that experience. If Tesla can maintain its mystique as it grows, it could wind up making significantly more money per vehicle than its electric vehicle rivals. And ultimately, Wall Street cares about profits, not the number of vehicles sold. This is far from a sure thing, however. Manufacturing a car is a complex process—a far more labor- and capital-intensive process than assembling a smartphone. So far, Tesla has struggled to turn any profit at all, to say nothing of printing money like they do in Cupertino. While Tesla undoubtedly has an edge in designing and manufacturing electric vehicles right now, it's not obvious that this advantage will last as Tesla attempts to scale up its manufacturing capacity by a factor of 10 or more and as rivals pour billions into their own electric vehicle designs. And that's what's truly remarkable about Tesla's high market capitalization. There's a real risk that the company will stumble and Tesla's stock will become worth a fraction of its current value. So investors must believe that the potential upside is large enough to justify this significant downside risk. Certainly that's what Elon Musk believes. All of his current compensation is tied to Tesla's stock price, with the CEO receiving a massive payout each time Tesla's stock price rises by $50 billion. If Tesla stays above its current level of $200 billion (and the company reaches other revenue or profit milestones) Musk will be eligible for another stock option payout worth hundreds of millions of dollars—in addition to payouts for reaching $100 billion and $150 billion. And Musk will be eligible for additional awards if Tesla's stock continues to rise—going all the way up to a market capitalization of $650 billion. Stock surge makes Tesla the world’s most valuable automaker
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