Tag Archives: tesla

Rows of Tesla batteries will keep Southern California’s lights on during the night

Southern California has just added another arrow in its quiver of clean energy. The state can feed power into a storage center of Tesla batteries by day to supply its grid when the solar panels go to sleep.

Tesla battery packs awaiting to be unleashed upon California’s power grid.
Image credits Tesla.

If you have too much of something, why not bottle it up for a rainy day? Well that’s what California is planning on doing with their power. The state’s Public Utilities Commission has installed 396 refrigerator-sized stacks of Tesla batteries with impressive haste just off a freeway in South California. Capable of powering 15,000 homes for over four hours, the battery packs will be tasked with sucking up any excess juice from the grid when production is high and feed it back to consumers when needed.

The installation will officially come online on Monday, and showcases how utility companies can use storage mediums in lieu of conventional systems, with round the clock production.

Waste not, want not

California has been an ardent pursuer of clean energy to combat climate change. But in doing so, the state has also turned traditional energy patterns on their head — California has excess energy during the day when its plentiful solar panels are churning out energy. But with most of the state’s nuclear plants either closed down or in the process of being shut down, strict environmental regulation, lack of space for new plants, and a growing distrust in peakers (natural gas plants) after the 2015 leak at the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility, the conventional generation system is struggling to pick up the slack at night.

When the sun sets and people come home from work, production figures plummet at the same time demand rises sharply. True to their clean energy efforts, the state has been exploring ways to use that excess energy rather than limit solar production. Usually considered too costly elsewhere, battery storage offered a solution since its price is comparable to peakers in California.

 

Ironically, these Tesla-made batteries were manufactured, shipped, and installed for the Southern California Edison company. They’re hooked up at the Mira Loma substation in Ontario, roughly 40 miles east of LA. The whole process took three weeks to complete — a very impressive feat.

“I had relatively limited expectations for the battery industry in advance of 2020. I thought that it would not really accelerate and begin to penetrate the electric grid or the transportation world for a while to come,” said Michael J. Picker, president of the California Public Utilities Commission.

“Once again, technology is clearly moving faster than we can regulate.”

Part of this speed comes down to the fact that California already has several storage projects in the works, some of which involve Tesla. On the other hand hey, it’s Tesla. If anyone knows their way around batteries, it’s got to be them — we come in at a close second, though. The company designed and built all the important parts — the batteries themselves, support systems, and all the equipment — in independent modules inside the battery packs, ready to be shipped wherever they’re needed.

“Our vehicle work lays a lot of the architectural foundation for this,” said JB Straubel, Tesla’s chief technical officer. “It’s not as if we’re starting from scratch.”

“Essentially, we can go and pour a slab and install the basic wiring, but each one of our Powerpacks is quite self-contained,” All of the batteries, cooling and safety systems, and other equipment are inside the casings, ready to load onto delivery trucks.

Compared to power plants, batteries are more flexible and don’t require complex infrastructure, such as water or fuel pipes. That also means they don’t need to get environmental permits for said infrastructure, so they can be set up much faster and with less red tape than conventional reactors.

And California’s efforts now will only reduce storage costs for the rest of us, so battery storage stations just like this one might pop up in a town near you pretty soon.

 

The microgrid – 1.4 megawatts of solar generation capacity from SolarCity and Tesla and 6 megawatt hours of battery storage from 60 Tesla Powerpacks – was implemented within just one year from start to finish. Credit: SolarCity

Tesla converts an entire island of American Samoa from 100% diesel to 100% solar energy

The microgrid – 1.4 megawatts of solar generation capacity from SolarCity and Tesla and 6 megawatt hours of battery storage from 60 Tesla Powerpacks – was implemented within just one year from start to finish. Credit: SolarCity

The microgrid – 1.4 megawatts of solar generation capacity from SolarCity and Tesla and 6-megawatt hours of battery storage from 60 Tesla Powerpacks – was implemented within just one year from start to finish. Credit: SolarCity

Yesterday morning, Tesla Motors’ shareholders approved the company’s merger with SolarCity, one of the biggest residential solar energy contractors in the United States, with over 300,000 customers. If you remember Elon Musk’s amazing press conference in October, the merger positions Tesla as a fully sustainable energy trident made of transportation (Tesla EVs), energy generation (SolarCity), and energy storage (Tesla’s Powerwall).

In anticipation of the merger, Tesla and SolarCity were already working together on several projects. One of the most exciting is the complete energy transformation of Ta‘ū, one of the five islands in American Samoa — a remote island chain and territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, some 4,000 miles away from the West Coast.

For as long as they can remember, all of the island’s 600 inhabitants have relied on diesel generators to power their homes, small shops, harbor or the indispensable water pumps. Every year, 100,000 gallons of fuel had to be imported. A significant portion of this fuel was reserved for the transportation of the energy itself, and there were countless times when the supply boats didn’t arrive on time, forcing power outages throughout the island.

“I recall a time they weren’t able to get the boat out here for two months. We rely on that boat for everything, including importing diesel for the generators for all of our electricity. Once diesel gets low, we try to save it by using it only for mornings and afternoons. Water systems here also use pumps, everyone in the village uses and depends on that. It’s hard to live not knowing what’s going to happen. I remember growing up using candlelight. And now, in 2016, we were still experiencing the same problems,” said Keith Ahsoon, a local resident, quoted by SolarCity.

Now, Ta‘ū is completely self-sustained thanks to the combined efforts and tech of Tesla and SolarCity. A 1.4-megawatt solar array is more than enough to meet the islanders’ energy requirements and 60 Tesla Powerpacks amounting to 6-megawatt hour store enough energy to power the island for up to three days if the solar panels are cut off.

“Ta’u is not a postcard from the future, it’s a snapshot of what is possible right now. Renewable power is an economical, practical solution for a growing number of locations and energy needs, and islands that have traditionally relied on fossil fuels can easily transition to microgrids powered by solar and storage today,” a SolarCity statement reads. 

A snapshot of some of the 60 PowerWalls installed on the island. Credit: SolarCity

A snapshot of some of the 60 PowerWalls installed on the island. Credit: SolarCity

“It’s always sunny out here, and harvesting that energy from the sun will make me sleep a lot more comfortably at night, just knowing I’ll be able to serve my customers,” said Ahsoon.

“This is part of making history. This project will help lessen the carbon footprint of the world. Living on an island, you experience global warming firsthand. Beach erosions and other noticeable changes are a part of life here. It’s a serious problem, and this project will hopefully set a good example for everyone else to follow,” the Samoan resident added.

The project was funded by the American Samoa Economic Development Authority, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Interior.

Updated November 25, 2016 for clarity. The initial draft mistook the island of Ta’u for the whole island chain of American Samoa. Ta’u is one of five islands belonging to American Samoa. 

 

Watch Tesla’s new completely self-driving cars in action

Just the next day after Elon Musk revealed to the world one of Tesla Motors’ best kept secrets — a massive hardware upgrade that will see every Tesla fitted with complete self-driving features — a promo video showing off these new mad skills was posted.

In the video, we can see a human seated inside a Model S but for all driving intents and purposes, he’s completely useless. The car is in control now.

While Autopilot had limited autonomous features, the new upgrade enables the car to travel through any environment: highways, crowded intersections, anything a human driver can do. It can even detect which parking spaces are available and stick to only those spaces that are eligible, i.e. not reserved for the disabled.

“When searching for parking, the car reads the signs to see if it is allowed to park there, which is why it skipped the disabled spot,” Musk wrote on Twitter Thursday morning. “When you want your car to return, tap summon on your phone. It will eventually find you, even if you are on the other side of the country.”

By the end of the year, Tesla plans to demonstrate a fully self-driven trip from LA to New York.

tesla elon musk

All Tesla cars coming out of the factory get complete self-driving hardware. Each car is basically a supercomputer now

tesla elon musk

Credit: Flickr // Maurizio Pesce

In a conference with reporters on Wednesday, Tesla Motors’ CEO Elon Musk said all of its vehicles coming out of the assembly line, including the upcoming Model 3, will be equipped with self-driving hardware. While the company’s Autopilot is impressive, it can only drive the car by itself on the freeway. The new features will, theoretically, enable a Tesla car to drive anywhere by itself. By the end of the year, Musk said Tesla will demonstrate a completely self-driven trip from LA to New York.

There will be a ton of new hardware installed in Tesla cars, which the company spent a year preparing. Each new vehicle will include eight surround cameras that offer 360-degree visibility at a range of up to 250 meters, compared to only one camera installed before. These cameras will work in concert with 12 ultrasonic sensors — together, they will work to detect soft or hard objects will be at twice the distance the system achieved before.

Tesla EVs will have eyes everywhere. the 'brains' to matche them too. Credit: Tesla

Tesla EVs will have eyes everywhere. the ‘brains’ to matche them too. Credit: Tesla

Object detection will also be much faster since the computing power was improved 40-fold. A Tesla car can now perform 12 trillion operations per second. Your typical desktop computer can only perform about two billion operations per second. One can only wonder how much this all costs.

“It’s basically a supercomputer in a car,” Musk said.

Now that all Teslas come with a fundamental hardware upgrade, the software-side can be a lot more reliable. Key to self-driving safety is helping the car make the right decisions very fast. In this respect, big data and machine learning algorithms clock millions of miles each day, learning with every inch those wheel turn. But ultimately, this is a chain which is as strong as the weakest link. With this massive hardware boost, that chain got a lot stronger.

However, all these gadgets don’t mean anything before we see the cars in action. Most importantly, it’s the policy makers that need convincing, not Tesla owners.

“It will take us some time to complete the validation of the software and get regulatory approval but the important thing is that the foundation is laid” for fully autonomous driving, said Tesla CEO Elon Musk

Musk was even bold enough to call anyone who writes negative stories about self-driving cars a murderer, basically.

“If you’re writing an article that’s negative that essentially dissuades people from using [autonomous tech] you’re killing people.”

Indeed, it would be irresponsible not to pursue a new technology which has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives around the world yearly. How this transition will happen is another question. Many critics have argued that Tesla’s Autopilot, which has semi-autonomous features and requires constant human supervision, is unethical. There’s a legal disclaimer that says all owners acknowledge that Autopilot is not self-driving and drivers need to be prepared to take control of the wheel at all times. The reality is different as many videos on YouTube show Tesla drivers reading on tablets and even taking naps while Autopilot takes care of everything. Meanwhile, all those millions of miles logged by Autopilot are put to good use teaching machines to control the self-driving Teslas of the future. If it sounds like one huge experiment, you’re not wrong.

I don’t know if this is negative, maybe just critical. I might actually score points with Musk.

According to the company, the switch to fully self-driven functionality will not happen overnight. Much like Autopilot updates, users will be introduced to new features incrementally, every two or three months. Exciting times ahead!

 

musk-vs-asshole

Elon Musk schools CEO of biggest coal producing company in the U.S. after calling Tesla a ‘fraud’

musk-vs-asshole

Robert Murray, the 76-year-old CEO of Murray Energy Corp, showed up on CNBC this Monday to criticize Tesla for taking taxpayer subsidies and failing to turn enough profits.

“Tesla is a fraud! He’s gotten two billion dollars from taxpayers, has not made a penny in cash flow — here again, it’s subsidies! Hilary Clinton said ‘they need government help’. She was talking about Elon Musk,” Murray said in an Ohio accent. He runs the biggest coal producing company in the U.S.

“You could close down every coal-fired plant in the United States today and you would not affect the temperature of the earth at all. Not at all,” he added gleefully.

Those are bold accusations. To add insult to injury, almost everything Murray said is factually incorrect. This didn’t bode well with Elon Musk who took to twitter to school the old fox who isn’t quite ready yet to accept he’s dealing in an obsolete business — a cancerous one, too.

May I remind everyone that 99% of climate scientists, a.k.a. the experts here, agree that climate change is real, caused by humans and requires immediate mitigating action. Concerning Murray’s financial allegations, I don’t know if he is the worst investor ever or simply out to misdirect people. I stand by the latter because you can’t be in his business for this long and be that ignorant.

In 2015, Tesla received $2.4 million in subsidies after selling 50,000 vehicles. That’s just shy of two billion. I guess Murray missed three frigging zeroes.

Meanwhile, coal received $20 billion in subsidies last year. The US’s largest coal field, the Powder River Basin, makes $2.9bn a year in federal subsidies. This equates to $8 per tonne, almost 25% of the sale price.

Did I mention coal kills millions of people worldwide each year?

With that many Model S sales, there are more than a few pennies in cash flow. I hate to say it, though, but Elon’s company is also in a bit of financial trouble, much to Murray’s delight. Tesla Motors lost about $4,000 for every Model S it sold last year, and it burned $359 million in cash last quarter in a bull market for luxury vehicles.

Elon isn’t phased out about this minor setback, though. He has almost half a million pre-orders for the upcoming Tesla Model 3. He’ll have all the cash he needs in no time if Tesla Motors finds a way to honor all of these reservations. 

In the meantime, coal is tanking. The year 2014 saw demand for coal peak for the first time and has since dropped. Coal plants all over the world are getting shut down. The UK wants to get rid of all of them by 2025, for instance. Peabody Energy, the world’s biggest coal company, sold stocks below $1 when it used to be $72 in 2011. Really, coal is done for. As for Mr. Murray — he’s just another old owl who just can’t get with the program.

 

Freeman Shen. Credit: svd.se

New Chinese mass-market Electric Vehicles (EV) startup got $1 billion in funding

Freeman Shen. Credit: svd.se

Freeman Shen. Credit: svd.se

Freeman Shen, a former Volvo China CEO and top executive in the auto business for the past two decades, just announced his new EV startup has been granted $1 billion in funding. The company called WM Motor wants to sell its first car in 2018 and make as many as 100,000 units/year by 2021.

“We will target the mass market”, WM Motor

It’s been a super hot year for the electric vehicle market as Tesla Motors unveiled its first production car priced below $35,000, but also new companies backed by a lot of Chinese cash have joined the picture. There’s Faraday Future, which is backed by Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting and is building a $1bn. factory in Nevada; Karma Automative, formerly known as Fisker Automotive and now poised to sell new cars starting next year thanks to a revamp by Chinese company called Wanxiang Group; and now WM, which is short for weltmeister, meaning “world champion” in German.

“We have profound experience in the industry, which distinguishes us from other startup companies, even Tesla,” Shen said in an interview for Bloomber. “We don’t want to make toy-like luxury cars for the minority. We will target the mass market.”

Details on WM are scarce, which is dubious considering the $1 billion valuation. We also don’t know who the investors are, as Shen as declined to disclaim them. We only know they’re Chinese and that they’re not involved in tech, unlike other Chinese EV start-ups including LeSee, NextEV, Future Mobility and Qiantu Motor, which are mostly backed by big internet groups such as Alibaba and Tencent.

The Chinese government might have a hand in all of this, though, seeing how the nation wants to drastically reduce its reliance on import fossil fuels and cut back on greenhouse emissions. Specifically, China wants to add three million new EVs each year by 2025, or a ten-fold increase from only 300,000 in 2015. China is already the biggest EV market in the world, having surpassed the United States last year.

“Building a fancy car to impress people is actually fairly easy as long as you’re willing to spend the money,” Shen says. “The most challenging part is mass production – coming up with a car everybody can buy, with high quality but at a significantly lower cost.”

Other than that, all we know so far is that WM will be building cars using two platforms and is already conducting road tests. A factory is planned for eastern China. That’s about it.

With WM, and the other two dozen Chinese EV startups opening this year, the market is now rich with over 200 EV companies. Which will last five years from now? How will the EV landscape look like in 2025? Very interesting times ahead. Stay tuned.

 

 

Tesla Model X with beautifully extended Falcon Wings. Credit: Tesla Motors

Tesla Autopilot might have saved this guy’s life

Tesla Model X with beautifully extended Falcon Wings. Credit: Tesla Motors

Tesla Model X with beautifully extended Falcon Wings. Credit: Tesla Motors

Joshua Neally, a 37-year-old attorney in Springfield, Missouri claims his recently purchased Tesla Model X saved his life. After suddenly becoming engulfed in pain, not being able to see or drive properly, Mr. Neally quickly activated the Autopilot feature and basically left his car drive itself all the way to the nearest hospital, more than 20 miles away.

“Car, to the hospital quickly!”

In May, Tesla came under serious fire after a Tesla Model S driver was killed in an accident while Autopilot was on. It’s not clear yet if Tesla is responsible in any way for the unfortunate fatality, but a government investigation is underway.

It’s worth noting that Tesla’s Autopilot is an experimental feature, cut with a lot of legal fine tape. Even so, the company claims there have been fewer accidents involving Tesla’s cars on Autopilot than there ought to be otherwise, statistically speaking mile per mile. Later, Electrek reported a pedestrian’s life was saved by Autopilot’s Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), and most recently news outlets reported the story of Neally.

Joshua Neally and his Tesla Model X. Credit: Facebook

Joshua Neally and his Tesla Model X. Credit: Facebook

It was July 26 when Neally was commuting home for his daughter’s birthday when a sudden spasm of intense pain struck his chest and abdomen. The Tesla owner reported the pain was so severe he had bouts of blindness. Clearly, he was in no condition to drive, but he did manage to muster enough strength to order his Model X to drive him to the nearest hospital. He reasoned this would be faster than calling for an ambulance. The car obliged and took him to the off-ramp near a hospital in Branson. At this point, Neally took control of the vehicle and steered it for the final stretch and quickly found himself in ER.

Neally later found out from a doctor that he suffered a pulmonary embolism, a medical condition that blocks the artery and kills around 50,000 each year. The doctor told him he was fortunate to be alive.

This episode is quite inspiring and will likely bring Tesla some much needed positive PR following the unfortunate fatal Tesla accident which involved Autopilot. Yet again, Tesla Motors stresses that Autopilot is an experimental feature designed to work solely on highways where traffic is predictable and the car can easily coordinate itself. In this particular incident, Neally was lucky enough to find himself on a motorway when his pulmonary embolism struck, but had he been in the middle of a busy town the Autopilot couldn’t have helped him. All the more reason, maybe, for Tesla to roll out Autopilot 2.0 — but very, very carefully. Right now, thousands of Tesla drivers are willing participating in a huge experiment, recording millions of miles and terabytes of data for Tesla. How the company will intend to use this data will remain to be seen.

 

Tesla just changed one word in its mission statement – and it’s a big change

Earlier this week, Tesla and SpaceX founder and mastermind Elon Musk tweeted that he is contemplating what’s next for Tesla, after accomplishing all the objectives they set out to do in 2006. But while the official statement is still yet to be announced, a subtle change speaks greatly about their plans for the future: “sustainable transport” has been changed to “sustainable energy”.

As was previously spotted by Bloomberg, the previous mission statement looked like this:

Now, it looks like this:

Why this matters

Tesla has already been making innovations in sustainable cars for years already, and the next logical step is to move in renewable energy – namely solar energy. Specifically, we’re looking towards their acquisition of SolarCity, and this makes a lot of sense. If you have an electric car you’d charge at home or some charging station, then you’re going to need more electricity, and solar is the easiest renewable to incorporate in urban areas. As Bloomberg and ScienceAlert reported, this is more than a business move. This could very well pave the way for a new solar/car revolution.

“Tesla Motors Inc.’s bid to buy the biggest US rooftop solar installer has little to do with selling cars. Rather, it’s about solving two of the biggest problems standing in the way of the next solar boom. And perhaps a good deal more,” Bloomberg reporter Tom Randall wrote in an article last month.

Normally, we wouldn’t care about things like this – but this is not just about a company looking to expand into a different market. What they’re looking for is to merge three big puzzle pieces into one sustainable conglomerate. Those pieces are cars, solar energy, and batteries. As we previously reported, Tesla has been diving into the battery world for quite a while, and while SpaceX has more ambitions in outer space, Tesla seems convinced to take care of things down here on Earth.

Tesla Model S. Credit: Wikipedia

First fatal crash involving Tesla’s Autopilot raises some serious ethical questions

Tesla Model S. Credit: Wikipedia

Tesla Model S. Credit: Wikipedia

Yesterday, Tesla Motors announced in a blog post titled “A Tragic Loss” that one of their customers died in a fatal crash while Autopilot was activated. Autopilot is a Tesla proprietary technology which has some self-driving features. The man in question was killed after his car rammed into the side of a tractor trailer which drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S.

In the aftermath of the crash, Tesla notified the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), as is the common procedure, which has now opened an investigation. The NHTSA will determine whether or not Autopilot was working properly at the moment of the crash. If this was not the case, the NHTSA could enforce a recall procedure.

Joshua Brown and his Model S. Credit: YouTube

Joshua Brown and his Model S. Credit: YouTube

In Tesla’s blog post, the company was quick to shift the blame on the driver. The company reminds everyone that Autopilot is a beta product which is not meant to replace human drivers, who are expected to be ready at any minute to take control of the wheel.

“It is important to note that Tesla disables Autopilot by default and requires explicit acknowledgment that the system is new technology and still in a public beta phase before it can be enabled. When drivers activate Autopilot, the acknowledgment box explains, among other things, that Autopilot “is an assist feature that requires you to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times,” and that “you need to maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle” while using it. Additionally, every time that Autopilot is engaged, the car reminds the driver to “Always keep your hands on the wheel. Be prepared to take over at any time.” The system also makes frequent checks to ensure that the driver’s hands remain on the wheel and provides visual and audible alerts if hands-on is not detected. It then gradually slows down the car until hands-on is detected again,” Tesla said in a statement.

The accident occurred on May 7 on a divided highway in central Florida after a tractor trailer drove perpendicular to the Model S. The brightly lit sky reflected across the trailer which was painted in white, so neither the driver nor Autopilot noticed the truck and drove right under the trailer. No brakes were applied, and the first impact was with the windshield. “Had the Model S impacted the front or rear of the trailer, even at high speed, its advanced crash safety system would likely have prevented serious injury as it has in numerous other similar incidents,” Tesla said.

[ALSO SEE] How Tesla’s Autopilot works

The driver, Joshua Brown, 40, was a longtime Tesla enthusiast and an active member of the EV community. As an irony of life, Brown posted a video online in April in which he is seen seated in his car while Autopilot is on. Out of nowhere, a truck makes a dangerous maneuver in an attempt to pass the Model S, but Autopilot is quick to correct the car’s course and avoids a possibly dangerous collision. The video posted on Youtube was titled “Autopilot Saves Model S” and as I’m writing this, it has garnered more than 2 million views.

“I have done a lot of testing with the sensors in the car and the software capabilities,” Brown wrote praising Tesla’s Autopilot. “I have always been impressed with the car, but I had not tested the car’s side collision avoidance. I am VERY impressed. Excellent job Elon!”

Tesla points out that Autopilot was used for more than 130 million miles until this first fatal crash occurred, noting the average mileage each fatality takes place in the US is 94 million miles. This statistic in is Tesla’s favor, but critics say Tesla was too hasty in its introduction of Autopilot.

Tesla’s legal disclaimer will save it from any lawsuit, but that doesn’t exempt it from some serious ethical concerns. If your Tesla drives safely and effortlessly for thousands of miles, many drivers will be tempted to keep their eyes off the road and do something else. One man was caught taking a nap in his Model S. Another boasted on the internet with the things he does while Autopilot is on, including “playing air guitar to Billy Idol.” Other examples are plentiful.

Once the now famous $30,000-Model 3 hits the road 2018 onwards, America’s highways will see hundreds of thousands of Autopilot-enabled cars. These cars will drive billions of miles a year, and with each mile, the system will learn from its mistakes and become better and better. Society stands to win from the incoming self-driving car revolution, with Tesla’s Autopilot on the forefront.

Many Tesla owners might want to wonder at this point, however, if they’re willing to take part in a huge experiment.

The accident is sure to affect Tesla’s reputation, and many drivers will be more careful after hearing the news which spread like wildfire on the internet — but only for a few weeks before its all recedes from memory.

Elon Musk at Tesla Factory. Credit: Wired Photostream // Flickr Commons

How will Elon Musk honor half a million Tesla Model 3 pre-orders?

Last month at an Applesque press conference, Elon Musk unveiled the Tesla Model 3 — a magnificent $35,000 car which is more than 50% cheaper than any previous Tesla. The launch was so successful that Tesla secured no less than 180,000 reservations in the first 24 hours. That’s the most successful launch in the industry’s history. Few companies actually sell that much in a year. For now, the tally has gone up to 400,000 Model 3 reservations.

Elon Musk at Tesla Factory. Credit: Wired Photostream // Flickr Commons

Elon Musk at Tesla Factory. Credit: Wired Photostream // Flickr Commons

A lot of car makers are definitely jealous of Elon Musk and his success, but how many would actually want to be in his shoes right now? Tesla has achieved a monumental launch, that’s for sure, but its troubles are only beginning. This year, Tesla will finish with maybe 90,000 cars manufactured. The first Model 3’s should ship at the end of 2017, as promised. This means that Tesla has to at least quadruple its manufacturing performance in a year or so.

That’s definitely a stressful margin for most of us, yet Elon Musk proved time and time again that he actually feeds on this kind of adversity. Impossible deadlines seem to work very well for him, whether at SpaceX or Tesla. Both companies were founded or taken over by Musk only ten years ago, and today they’re worth $100 billion combined. One company wants to disrupt space flight, the other transportation.

If anyone can quadruple production for an electric car in 16 months, that’s Elon Musk. It’s still worrisome, though. The company has never met a delivery deadline for its models so far because it was over-ambitious to begin with. The Model X sales are below estimates. It’s also in a heck load of debt – about $1.8 billion so far, according to the latest earnings call made by Elon Musk on Wednesday. This is how great companies end up overburning.

Some might feel surprised to hear that Tesla is in so much debt, despite cashing in on so many Model 3’s. These orders are worth $14 billion, but only $400 million have been cashed — the rest on delivery. The Kickstarter-like launch, however, brought in a lot of equity as investors flocked to buy Tesla stock. But it’s still not enough. The huge expansion plans, like the Gigafactory and forthcoming production line upgrades, have taken their toll burning hundreds of millions each quarter.

It’s a huge challenge, but Musk seems determined. To impress investors, Musk said he’s now moved his office near the production line to supervise manufacturing first hand. He also said he’s brought a sleeping bag, presumably to sleep on the factory floor. Are investors impressed by this aura of relentless work to deliver ambitious targets? Some, maybe. Personally, I was impressed by his forecast of 500,000 Model 3 delivered worldwide by 2018, which will be production ready starting July 1st 2017.

Right now, no one seems to know where Tesla is going to get more cash, nor how exactly it will deliver 500,000 cars in 2018.

Spirits must be high, but confidence seems good. At the earnings call, Musk jokingly said, “if you can make a baby in 9 months, you can make a tool too”. This comparison is pretty weird even for Musk, who seem half-robot at times.

What do you think? Will Tesla make it or will it crash and burn?

 

Expert warns smart-cars will promote sex behind the wheel and distracted driving

Will widespread use of smart cars make roads safer or actually more dangerous? One Canadian expert is raising concerns that as automated systems take up the bulk of navigating tasks, drivers will keep their hands less on the driving wheel…and more on the person (persons?) next to them.

Image via scmp.com

Drop whatever you were doing and rejoice because science has delivered.

“I am predicting that, once computers are doing the driving, there will be a lot more sex in cars,” said Barrie Kirk of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence.

It truly is a wonderful time to be alive. But, before we go about congratulating and patting each other on the back in satisfaction, is this a good thing? I mean beyond the obvious fact that we all like to get it on.

There is legitimate concern around this question, not because of the cars themselves but because of the drivers. I see people texting or talking on the phone at the wheel — and these aren’t particularly enjoyable activities — every day, driving regular vehicles without any computers to watch the road for them. But if people trust their cars enough to handle themselves in traffic, they’ll throw their phones along with their pants on the back seat before you can say “responsible driving practices.”

“That’s one of several things people will do which will inhibit their ability to respond quickly when the computer says to the human, ‘Take over.'”

Canadian Press obtained several federal emails discussing Tesla’s self-driving cars under the Access to Information Act. In them, officials tasked with constructing the legislative framework for autonomous cars took up the issue in the briefing notes compiled for Transport Minister Marc Garneau after his appointment last fall.

“The issue of the attentive driver is … problematic,” one such email reads. “Drivers tend to overestimate the performance of automation and will naturally turn their focus away from the road when they turn on their auto-pilot.”

The emails cite several pieces of footage showing Tesla drivers doing anything else than paying attention to the road, such as reading a newspaper for example. Other videos show Tesla owners recording flaws in how the car’s autopilot system reacts to changes in road markings.

Therein lies the problem: Tesla itself made it clear that the autopilot system only has limited autonomy and functionality. It’s designed to work in tandem with a human, not to replace him. And people still behave like it’s their personal chauffeur. Transport Canada tested several semi-autonomous vehicles, such as Mercedes’ C-Class or the Infiniti Q50 (but not the Tesla so far,) the documents go on to detail. While they found the systems efficient at what they do, the technology is still in its infancy.

“It really needs to be emphasized that these vehicles are not truly self-driving,” officials said. They predicted that fully-autonomous cars and trucks are “still a few years away.”

Current vehicle safety standards don’t prohibit driverless cars from zooming on Canada’s roadways, and the country is now considering how to regulate such vehicles.

“But last month’s federal budget included money for Transport Canada to develop regulations around automated vehicle design. Those regulations, at least initially, would require that the vehicles are equipped with a ‘failsafe mechanism that can respond to situations when the driver is not available,'” CBC writes. “Ontario also set out some regulations, including a requirement that an expert in autonomous vehicles be in the driver’s seat and able to assume full control at a moment’s notice.”

The “failsafe mechanism” basically means that the car should be able to safely get out of traffic until a human assumes control — and that should be at the center of how we handle this I think. Because that “expert in autonomous vehicles,ready at a moment’s notice” part? I think that’s wishful thinking.

The whole point of having autonomous cars is that no driver is required, and people won’t be willing to wait, clutching the wheel, on the off chance they’re needed. It’s got to go all the way, or at least allow for a window of time in which the driver can analyze the situation, plan his movements and assume control. Assuming that a driver who may not have been paying attention to his or her surroundings can control a vehicle right off the bat is a tall order however, Kirk believes.

“People will not be able to respond in time.”

It’s a good thing that we come face to face with these issues now, before autonomous vehicles truly hit the roads. But they just aren’t here yet, so you’ll have to keep your eyes on the road until they do. And yes, your hands on the wheel, too.

 

tesla-autopilot

Tesla’s Autopilot reduces car accidents by 50%. Are you ready to give up the wheel?

Tesla’s autonomous driving features aren’t perfect, but they already seem safer than the average driver. During a meeting with  Norway’s Minister of Transport and Communications, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk claimed that since ‘autopilot’ was rolled out, there have been 50% fewer accidents involving the company’s cars.

tesla-autopilot

Credit: YouTube

The claim is based on data fed by Tesla cars which drove 47 million miles with the autopilot feature enabled. Anything that triggers an airbag is counted as an “accident”.

“The probability of having an accident is 50% lower if you have Autopilot on. Even with our first version. So we can see basically what’s the average number of kilometers to an accident – accident defined by airbag deployment. Even with this early version, it’s almost twice as good as a person.”

Before you get excited, remember that Tesla’s autopilot doesn’t make its cars self-driving. For now, you can only use it on highways and drivers may be prompted at any time to take control of the vehicle if the road surface changes or there’s not enough data to make a safe decision. A completely self-driving Tesla will likely soon surface, but right now no Tesla car is self-driving.

[ALSO SEE] Tesla wants to make a car so good you’ll never care about oil prices

Musk is boasting, but even if autopilot can reduce accidents by 20 percent that’s still a lot.  In 2010, there were an estimated 5,419,000 crashes in the United States, killing 32,999 and injuring 2,239,000. A lot of lives could be saved even if a fraction of vehicles are self-driven. A car that’s riddled with sensors and sophisticated algorithms will have better ‘reflexes’ than the average driver and can thus dodge an unpredictable road maneuver.

A robot, it seems, is more responsible than a human as far as driving is concerned. Are drivers ready to renounce control to their new overlords, though?

Model S interior. Photo: Capadeora.com

Tesla want to make cars so good you won’t ever care about oil prices

In a time when a barrel of oil can cost less than a … barrel, the EV market suffers. Market leader Tesla Motors saw its shares take a dive this month after it reported sales in the bottom range of its forecast for the 2015 fourth quarter. So, how can Tesla, Nissan or any other player in the EV space right now protect themselves against fluctuating oil prices.

When the price is high, the EV market flourishes and, conversely, goes down with oil that sells for pennies. Tesla’s boss, Elon Musk, has this covered: he wants to make electric cars so exceptional that you won’t care anymore about how much a full tank costs.

Model S interior. Photo: Capadeora.com

Model S interior. Photo: Capadeora.com

Speaking at the “StartmeupHK” event, Musk said the company is hiring 1,600 software engineers to mature “Autopilot” — Tesla’s autonomous self-driving feature which the company hopes will be ready by 2018. Another interesting feature is “Summon”. Musk said earlier this month that it will be possible to summon your Tesla to come pick you up from anywhere in the country, even if you’re in NYC and the car sits idle in San Francisco. Sounds audacious, but really the only thing that can seriously hinder this plan is legislation. The technical challenges aren’t as hard you might think (not for Tesla at least).

“What we’re aspiring to do is to make the cars so compelling that even with lower gas prices, it’s still the car you want to buy,” said Musk.

“If you go long, long term my guess is there isn’t (going to be) a steering wheel in most cars, it would be something that you’re going to have to special order.”

There are a couple of market and economics of scale challenges that Tesla needs to address before people can safely ignore oil prices. For one, Tesla’s cars are expensive. The Model 3 seeks to address this by expanding the company’s reach. The Model 3 will be 20 percent smaller than the Model S, but will cost half as much, expecting to sell for $35,000. Production is scheduled for 2017. The GigaFactory will also help level the costs by dramatically reducing battery-related expenses. Infrastructure-wise, Tesla is adding hundreds of Supercharger stations throughout the country each year. By 2018 you will be able to drive your Tesla anywhere without fear of having nowhere to plug it. To me at least, it seems like Tesla is on the verge of a tipping point. If it can climb and pass it safely, it will become one of the most prosperous companies in the world.

Tesla-Elon-Musk

In 2018 your Tesla could drive itself from L.A. to New York City, says Musk

horse whistle

There was a time when people whistled for their horses. Soon, you might be able to summon a Tesla roadster. “Good boy!” (grabbed from Assassin’s Creed)

Elon Musk is a man of bold claims, the most outlandish being round trips to Mars for $500,000. At the same time, he also walks the talk so we definitely pay attention to what he has says. Maybe overly optimistic, Musk tweeted the other day that in two years’ time it will be possible to summon your Tesla electric car across the country.

Bold indeed, and the challenges are many. For one, Tesla just recently made its car semi-autonomous when it rolled out its last major update. We have no way to tell what’s going on in their labs in Palo Alto of course. Maybe there’s some immense progress going on. Secondly, you need to charge the car which implies 1) the car needs to charge itself 2) an extensive network of charging stations thousands of miles long between New York and L.A., for instance. Let’s say that the car can indeed charge it self using the “charging snake”, but what about the infrastructure?

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Tesla Supercharger stations available today. Screen capture.

Seems a bit of a stretch, but check out the map with the 2016 Supercharger forecast.

What the Tesla Supercharger station network will look like by the end of this year. Screencapture.

What the Tesla Supercharger station network will look like by the end of this year. Screencapture.

By 2018, we can expect the network to expand even further — and not just along highways.

Tesla’s Summon feature was initially rolled out as a cool feature that would make your car park itself once you push a button on the car key. In time, it seems to have evolved into a personal lackey feature.

At this point, considering Tesla’s engineering track progress, it seems quite likely that Musk is right. In two years, the technical challenges could be done with. The biggest roadblock might be United States legislation. Will self-driving cars be allowed on public roads in 2018? A lot of people are placing some big bets already.

Faraday Future EV rendering on its home page. (Credit: Faraday Future)

Faraday Future, a new electric car company, opens $1bn. factory in Nevada

Faraday Future EV rendering on its home page. (Credit: Faraday Future)

Faraday Future EV rendering on its home page. (Credit: Faraday Future)

Electric cars have fallen short of President Obama’s stated goal of having 1 million such vehicles on the road by 2015. We’re almost in 2016 and there are no more than 35,000 in the country so far. But the market is changing. EVs have become a lot more attractive – the cost is down, the mileage is up and, among Tesla’ offerings at least, these look amazing to boast. Another sign that EVs are in for a major comeback is that there’s a new player in town called Faraday Future. The company to the scene is backed by a Chinese billionaire who made a fortune on the internet (just like Elon Musk), and which now plans to open a plant near Las Vegas, Nevada.

For a company that’s about to invest $1 billion in a new 3-million square-foot factory, Faraday Future is dubiously mysterious. Not much is known about it, even thought it already has around 400 employees or so in California, some of whom were headhunted from rivals. This includes Nick Sampson, who serves as Faraday’s senior vice president and was a former director of vehicle and chassis engineering at Tesla.

One of the investors is Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting, the chief executive of Leshi TV (a sort of Netflix). He’s not alone though, since “there is also a diverse funding strategy to help us fully realize our mission and vision,” Yueting says. Fortune reports that Faraday Future is operating in Silicon Valley for technology, Los Angeles for R&D, and also has offices in Duesseldorf, Germany, and Beijing. Now, in Las Vegas for manufacturing — only a couple hours drive from Tesla’s $5 billion Gigafactory where new lithium-ion batteries are already being assembled to serve as off-grid storage and the new car batteries that will allegedly make Tesla’s cars 50% cheaper.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval says the factory will create 13,000 direct and indirect jobs, $760 million in tax revenue over 20 years and $85 billion for the economy. Several states were considered by Faraday Future, but Nevada was ultimately chosen. The state will offer up to $215 million in incentives, including tax breaks and help with infrastructure.

“Nevada gave us the best overall deal,” said Dag Reckhorn, Faraday Future’s vice president of global manufacturing and a former director of manufacturing for Tesla’s Model S. “It’s still close to the West Coast, we have Highway 15. It’s good for our supply chain — getting parts in and out of the plant.”

Faraday Future claims it wants to make electric cars that are different than the rest of the offering. “Many people look at Tesla and think they’ve done it differently than the traditional auto industry — and they have,” Nick Sampson said for The Verge. “But there’s other ways and other things we can capitalize on.”

The company is allegedly working on side-projects like mobile applications, self-driving features or  in-vehicle content.The first first concept car is expected t obe unveiled at the CES electronics show in Las Vegas next month. Faraday Future said it would launch its first model in 2017.

elon musk cop21

Carbon tax critical to stopping runaway global warming, Elon Musk said in Paris

elon musk cop21

Photo Credit: TeslaClubBE via Compfight cc

While world leaders, policy makers, corporate CEOs and pretty much everyone that matters are gathered here in Paris to hammer out a deal that might see the planet aligned around a common framework, elsewhere in Paris a tycoon is addressing a different crowd. Elon Musk – involved with cutting-edge tech companies like Tesla, SpaceX and Solar city – told youngsters gathered at an event at the University of Sorbonne, Paris that carbon pricing would accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to a renewable energy economy. He estimates this is the single most impactful action policy makers can make, estimating it would halve the time it would take to transition. With this in mind, he urged the young crowd listening to talk to their representatives about this.

“If countries agree to a carbon tax and it’s real and it’s not super watered down and weak we could see a transition [to clean energy] that has a 15- to 20-year timeframe as opposed to a 40- or 50-year timeframe, we could probably cut it in half and that would have a huge impact on the … welfare of the world … it really matters where we do this transition sooner or later,” Musk said.

The alternative, Musk continued, implies going forward with what can only be described as “the dumbest science experiment in history”.

Specifically, Musk is referring to a revenue neutral tax, which implies gov. treasuries would still receive as much money as before. This net zero approach means heavily taxing carbon, but lowering taxes in other areas. This approach proved to be successful when taxing tobacco and alcohol. Musk says.

The tech entrepreneur and inventor underlined how simple to take this decision is, reasoning that everyone can agree that eventually fossil fuels will run out – sustainable energy is thus a mandatory prerequisite if we’re to preserve both our lifestyles and the planet’s climate. Vile and hidden fossil fuel subsidies, worth $5.3 trillion a year according to the IMF, seriously hinders this transition.

“The fundamental problem is the rules today incent people to create carbon; this is madness,” Musk said. “So what can you do? Whenever you have the opportunity, talk to your politicians, ask them to enact a carbon tax.”

elon musk

Owning a car that can’t drive itself will be like having a horse, says Elon Musk

elon musk

Image: Tesla

At the turn of the last century, the most widely used means of transportation was still the horse driven carriage or buggy. In fact, horse carriages were threatening public health similarly to how internal combustion automobiles do today, only much worse due to carbon emissions and particle matter.  In the 1800s, the manure crisis threatened urban sanitation with a disaster. The Times of London estimated in 1894 that the situation was so dire that in 50 years every street in the city would be buried 9ft deep in horse droppings. Now, Elon Musk – the founder of Tesla Motors – says cars as we know them today will soon join horses. He says cars that aren’t capable of driving around autonomously will be so obsolete that you won’t find them anywhere else than collections.

“I think that all cars will go fully autonomous in long-term. I think it will be quite unusual to see cars that don’t have full autonomy,” Musk said.

“Any cars that are being made that don’t have full autonomy will have negative value. It will be like owning a horse. You will only be owning it for sentimental reasons,” he added during a conference call on on Wednesday.

Last month, Tesla rolled out an update that equipped every Model S car with self-driving features, like auto-pilot. The system enables functions like automatic braking, automatic steering, self-parallel parking, and automatic lane change. No Tesla Car is self-driving yet, but evolution in this direction is inevitable.

tesla autopilot

How Tesla’s autopilot works

tesla autopilot

Earlier this week Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to twitter announcing a new software update for the Model S will come bundled with an autopilot feature for highway cruising. Previously, Tesla worked with a couple hundred early adopters, but come October 15th, everyone will be able to enjoy the spoils. The v7.0 autopilot features include auto-steering, lane change activated by the turn signal and auto-parking in parallel spaces.

Besides autopilot, v7.0 also comes with improved climate control, improved efficiency and performance for RWD Model S’s, as well as  new and improved “hill start assist”, electrek reports.

Tesla has been preparing for this feature for some time now, having rolled out autopilot enabled hardware which includes forward-looking camera, radar, and 360 degree sonar sensors for every Model S shipped since late 2014. Using smart software and these sensing systems, the Model S (when enabled with the tech package) can read speed signs, recognize animals and objects in front of the car, can recognize lanes and lane changes, and can see far better than a human can through fog, rain and dust storms.

tesla autopilot

Now, Model S drivers can sit back and relax while the car does all the boring work on the highway. The autopilot isn’t completely automated, though. The driver still has to choose when to switch lanes (yes, the car does it for you), and when ‘Autopilot’ software doesn’t have enough data to properly steer the car, it will alert you to either “hold the steering-wheel” or  “take control immediately”. Something as simple as a faded road line or the sun glaring on the road can cause this alert to popup. This may sound a bit scary, but it shouldn’t be – not if you doze off that is.

Right now, the Model S has the most advanced autonomous drive features out of any commercial offering. At the same time, the Model S isn’t a self-driving vehicle with a bunch of redundant autonomous features. Rather, it’s an evolutionary step toward self-driving.

Image credit: Tesla

Elon Musk stepping out of the Model X. Image: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Tesla’s Model X crossover looks straight from the future

Tesla Model X

The gorgeous Model X. Credit: Tesla Motors

In front of hundreds of guests, Tesla’s CEO, the ever resourceful Elon Musk, unveiled the company’s new model: the Model X crossover. It’s been a long heralded and waited vehicle, and it sure didn’t disappoint. This beauty, all dressed in white, looks more like a bird than a car with its upward-opening “falcon doors”. It also flies like one, reaching 0 to 60mph in 3.2 seconds making it the world’s quickest SUV. Wait ’till the kids see it.

Elon Musk stepping out of the Model X. Image: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Elon Musk stepping out of the Model X. Image: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Though they look great, have plenty of space and are very comfortable, I personally hate SUVs since they eat up too much gas. That’s not friendly to your pocket, nor the environment. While Tesla will definitely hurt that wallet (the Model X sells for a breathtaking $132,000…), at least there’s less environmental strain. It’s definitely refreshing to see an all electric SUV on the streets for a change.

“The mission of Tesla is to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport,” CEO Elon Musk said at the car’s reveal, held at the company’s factory in Fremont, California. “It’s important to know that any kind of car can go electric.”

Besides its falcon doors (wings?), which can open with as little as 12 inches on each side of the vehicle, the Model X also has a couple of other very interesting, let’s say unique, features. One of them is the windshield – the largest ever seen in a car. This extends all the way over the driver’s head so you have a complete 90 degrees view. It might prove hard to keep your eyes on the road though when you can perfectly see the sky from the front seat.

Tesla employees demonstrate how much luggage you can fit it in the car. It's been described as "cavernous". Image: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Tesla employees demonstrate how much luggage you can fit it in the car. It’s been described as “cavernous”. Image: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Other things of note is the car’s incredible high torque capable of easily towing 5,000 pounds, or more than enough for a boat or trailer. The batteries were also cleverly placed at the low of the vehicle so it’s harder for it to topple over. Just like the Model S P85D, the Model X has a 250 mile range. In other words, it all looks and behaves awesomely. It’s really hard to spot a flaw (apart from the pricing, of course). Maybe those falcon doors, since you wouldn’t dare opening it in your garage. Just kidding, the doors are equipped with smart sensors that stop or revert when an obstacle is sensed.  Then again, if you can afford a car nearly as expensive as a house (not in San Francisco, I know, calm down) you should re-design your garage as well.

[MORE] Why Tesla’s Battery Might Spell a Global Energy Revolution

If you’re an audiophile, you’ll instantly fall in love with the Model X. It has 17 speakers worth 560 watts littering the car’s interior. These were developed in-house by Tesla to make sure it falls under their strict specifications, like power consumption – always a top consideration for EVs.

It looks like the Model X is the first luxury electric SUV, but it might not be alone for long. Bently plans to release its plug-in hybrid Bentayga SUV in 2016,  Audi showed off an all-electric crossover concept which might be ready by 2019, and leading companies like BMW, Lamborghini and Aston Martin all want a cut. Tesla is first, though. Can you believe people call this a family car? Amazing!

Not much is known about the Edison Electron One, apart from it will change the world if claims behind it hold.

Tesla vs Edison reloaded: this time, it’s the hydrogen vs electric car battle

This is the biggest news that no one seems to notice. Sunvault Energy and the Edison Power Company quietly announced they’re incorporating a new company called the  the Edison Motor Cars Corporation which will focus on selling hydrogen powered cars running on a graphene-based fuel cells. Based on the press release, this is the dream vehicle the world was promised by the now disappointing hydrogen economy: a car that only runs on water and a bit of electricity, is lightning fast, has a high autonomy, is safe and charges within minutes to be ready to hit the road again. To top everything over, the car will allegedly be ready in 2016. That’s less than a year from now. But we don’t know how the car looks like and considering all these bombastic claims, it all looks like a bunch of star dust in the eyes.

Not much is known about the Edison Electron One, apart from it will change the world if claims behind it hold.

Not much is known about the Edison Electron One, apart from it will change the world if claims behind it hold.

The first model is called  Edison Electron One. It runs with an electric drive for each of the four wheels enabling  1,355 Newton meters of torque or double that of the Ferrari 488 GTB and a third more than Tesla’s P85D, Edison Motor Cars’ direct competitor. The car is also expected to do zero to sixty in 2.0 to 2.2 seconds and be rechargeable in 5 minutes, subject to power availability at charging stations. Basically, according to the company, you need to add water and while its charging, electricity will split the molecules into hydrogen – fast enough to fill the tank, apparently. Which brings the question of autonomy, reportedly at the same level of other competitive electric cars. Tesla’s latest model,  P85D, can run 200 miles on a single charge.

Edison Electron One, the ghost car

The flagship technology seems to be the Graphene Energy Storage System, which we have no additional information on other than it will be used to stored the hydrogen molecules. Storage is one of the biggest concerns as far as hydrogen cars are concerned since the molecule is so tiny that it easily leaches out of most containers. Several proposals based on the design of advanced materials such as metal hydrides and carbon structures have been made to overcome the limitations of the conventional solution of compressing or liquefying hydrogen in tanks. Neither have proven to work well, particularly at controlling the adsorption/desorption processes. Did the Edison Company succeeded where everyone else failed with a graphene-based storage system? They might be on to something. In 2014, University of Maryland researchers made the world’s highest-density hydrogen storage system, using “graphene origami.” This year, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a grant of around $4.6 million for four projects to develop advanced hydrogen storage materials that hold the potential to enable longer driving ranges and help make innovative fuel cell systems.

From the storage system, hydrogen is then transferred to fuel cells (which kind? again, we don’t know) which convert the chemical energy into electricity used to power the drives.

“We are excited to be producing this truly revolutionary automobile that will put our Graphene Energy Storage Device front and center on the world stage at the simple turn of a key,” says Sunvault Energy chief executive officer Gary Monaghan. “The Electron One will not only be able to challenge any vehicle in performance, but will also be fully flexible, functional and convenient, just as a fuel-filled vehicle is today.”

“With our Energy Storage Device, reliability and peace of mind are wrapped in one design,” added Monaghan.

The Graphene Energy Storage System will be showcased at the The Battery Show 2015 in Detroit in two weeks. Hopefully, we’ll get more specs when a physical model is unveiled. As for the car itself, Sunvault says it will be ready in the first quarter of 2016. Manufacturing and assembly will be handled by a partner, MK Technologies Ltd. The Edison Electron One is only available to customers on a special-order basis.

“The Electron One will not only be able to challenge any vehicle in performance, but will also be fully flexible, functional and convenient, just as a fuel-filled vehicle is today.”

Will it make me a sandwich, too? Maybe I’m far too cynical right now, but something doesn’t smell right. Granted, press releases never cover the shortcoming and fails. Right now, they’re feeding people with what they want to hear: “it only runs on water”, “it won’t blow up!”, “it charges in 5 minutes”. What really grinds my gears is how they plan on scaling this car or how much will it cost for that matter. For instance, Tesla had to build its own battery manufacturing plant, which cost $5 billion, to stay competitive. In contrast, the Edison Motor Cars Corporation just got incorporated this year and expects selling its first car in just a matter of months. Yeah, and people still don’t know what it looks like. Does it even exist? At this point, Tesla Motors vs Edison Motor Company can’t be called a competition – nothing nearly as close to the archrivalry between the great scientists at the turn of the past two centuries.