Sunday, July 30, 2017

Tesla Model 3 - The Good, the Bad, and the Fugly

Well the dream car arrives, a select few, as the first Tesla Model 3's roll off the lot.

Yes on 28 JUL 2017 the delivery party was held for about 30 employees and about 40 or so Model 3 Teslas. They came in one battery size Long Range with 75kwh ratings and 310 mile range. We also got the scoop on the base model.  Finally a few more questions were answered about specs and features. A few other prices

The next question - what do I think of Tesla and the 'Dream Car'? MSRP $35,000.







The Good:

Specs - excellent coefficient of drag = 0.23 most efficiency of any Tesla to date.
Two battery sizes 55kwh & 75kwh.  Range (est not yet EPA) are 220 and 310 miles.
Weight base 55kwh bat. = 3549 lbs, 75kwh = 3814 lbs. (Model 3 Long Range LR ).

Standard that's just a bit more than the Leaf with 2.3 times the battery - impressive.

Faster than I need in either model-
Base 5.6 sec 0-60mph, 130mph top speed, Supercharging 130 miles in 30 minutes.
LR    5.1 sec 0-60mph, 140mph top speed, Supercharging 170 miles in 30 minutes.

The Bad:

Long range battery is 20kwh more battery for a $9000.00 upcharge. Nine Thousand Dollars. If you want it before Xmas and you stood in line on the first day my fellow East Coasters. Oh and you have another Five Thousand Dollars for the "Premium Package". Like auto pilot and future autonomy? Add Five and Three Thousand more.  Total of must have 'options' for receipt this year + delivery + MSRP = $50,000. Auto pilot and the promise of future autonomy - Fifty Eight Thousand Dollars.  

The Fugly:

That's in black paint. With ok wheels. Add another grand if you'd like a little color in your life.  Even White or Silver.  No one knows how much All Wheel Drive cost is unknown ($4K?) but whatever the cost US residents add at least $3750 if you thought you would receive the US tax credit because it will take too long for the full credit...  Don't ask the price for performance or ludicrous no one knows. Elon tweeted about little faith. Many of us had faith. 

Now after the delivery, admittedly this has me and a number of price sensitive reservation holders down on the configurable options cost. That and still not being able to plan for still unknown options cost.  I think the more average line standers hope to participate in the vision at an upper but attainable cost.  Musk often tweeted or gave investors comments that seem to say options would be reduced from luxury line cost levels. Ah not so far.

I do get the competing view. I'm a stockholder too and I get with 500,000 reservations demand is extreme. So on the other hand I accept Elon having to turn the Model 3 into a solid money maker. His job is to help fund the incredible CAPEX spending ramp that is growth from boutique Porsche sized automaker to a electric Ford sized car company. Given that he has a board of directors like any other CEO he has to walk a fine line between alienating customers and leaving money Tesla must have to survive with on the table.

So despite 'The Fugly" - I'm still in.  One option Elon has kept is the low cost plain Jane TM3 will deliver for many reservation holders within the federal rebate time limits early next year for us line standing East Coasters. Sadly the dual motor option will not. I live on a 1200' hill that gets covered in snow and ice every so often so that option represented safety.  I'll struggle will the lower range too probably and miss the pretty glass roof. The color I wanted:
























The color (Black) that comes free, I'll probably do this to afford a single thing - autopilot:




With standard aero wheels and 18" tires:



Let's be clear though.

Color and the other luxury appointments won't matter!  After having my Leaf drop to sub 50 mile range in the winter a new Tesla is on the way.  I also think the cost and difficulties of obtaining the TM3 will be forgiven by all much less myself.  Talk about 1st world problems - ha!




Thursday, June 15, 2017

Tesla Model 3 Watch as The Leaf looks at retirement

Again - long time no post. Is Tesla visible from the crow's nest?

Basically despite loss of range the Nissan Leaf continues to pull it's weight. The Tesla Model 3 continues to be admired from afar as we wait of the 'final reveal' next month. The Leaf being Mr Reliable deserves a pic. It may have to pull through another winter. Shown with my son.



Here's the latest in Tesla Model 3 speculation - the most rumory I'll mark with an asterisk.

The first deliveries to Tesla and SpaceX employees begins by end of July.

Two battery sizes 60 kwh and 75 kwh.

* Major rumor instead of 215+ mile range the numbers will be 250 and 300.  Would be amazing.

All wheel drive (AWD) will not be available - major blow! - for 6-9 months. Ouch Mar 2018!

Fastest chance of delivery will be a RWD with the 75 kwh battery. Despite standing in line prior to the unveil to plunk down my grand I'm inclined to still go after my dream car (AWD 75) even if it means mid 2018. Argh....

Interior is going center console control screen only with just a few controls on stalks and the steering wheel.  No HUD. Interesting conjecture- more voice control options? Early pictures show a very clean look I like.



* At least one release candidate (RC) TM3 car has pictures folks think may be the 'Signature Red' paint job.  While I like the idea of a badge like that I think I may be unable to resist blue.


Well if you've read earlier posts you already know the rest - full autopilot and autonomous driving hardware. If I can afford it add the all glass roof and I may have my 'last car'.

My earlier estimates were 15K of these this year. Teslanomics is considerably more optimistic with 83K which given the Model T approach - they could be correct.

TeslanomicsbyBenSullins

Well more to come in 45 days or so......

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 Here We Go

Politics is tough to separate from the environment.  So with the election of president elect Trump the impacts on the renewable energy movement and electric cars are unknown. We seem to hit the take off point with 400,000 known Tesla model 3 reservations. There may be more - Tesla no longer updates the figure. Transport is America's biggest carbon producing sector. So I continue to have faith that this path to restrict fossil fuels in time to limit damage will eventually payoff. Like a spark a half a million US Tesla Model 3's could be the vanguard that electrify US roadways and the world. 



Many look at the evidence of accelerating global effects and say we are already too late. I hope we can still technically engineer our way out of this slow moving disaster. It seems it's coming faster than all thought. 


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tesla and Model ☰ Updates

Man... Tesla moves fast.



A month ago I published a few electric car notes and promised a Tesla only entry. Talk about a lot happening in a month - Tesla has been a roller coaster.

With the election behind us we've seen a real flip in direction. Sadly the GOP has not figured out that climate protection is in their long term interest. The Koch brothers future looks like their millions poured into policy fronts against electric vehicles may pay off.  (Hoping not.)

Already Tesla may be looking at a firm end to the federal $7500 credit rebate. Worse, I would not be surprised if the limit was not only enforced but the US government with all three branches controlled by the GOP might change or rollback the rules. At the time the rules were made to allow a tapering down system of credits that Tesla could play via increased production speed. This would have allowed them to reward most or all of the 400,000+ in line with at least partial credit (see my earlier post on this). Now all bets are off on the incentive although it would expose the forces of FUD to some bright light if they change the rules.

Still I believe the average Model ☰ reservation holder is in it for the car - incentives or not. Because incentive rebates are granted after the car is bought all of us were going to pony up full price anyway at the time of the deal. I have a revised estimate for my ☰ as well.



Before I go on I'd like to add a link to a site that I believe gives you a great overview of all things Model ☰ and Tesla. Trevor and his associates have just done a bang up job.

Youtube Videos for Tesla Model 3

As well as their website:

Model 3 Owners Club

I give you the youtube site first because it's so easy to access their information that way. A couple of their first videos had sound issues but very quickly they put those to bed. The content is magnificent and easy to digest. If you want not only all the known data on the Model ☰ but the best deductions for what is coming watch this channel. These Canadians are on the ball, eh?

Autopilot and Self Driving.

Tesla and Mobileye ( former Autopilot system OEM) had a falling out. Each has tried to spin it their way but the upshot is a temporary setback to an autopilot that had been winning the review war with Mercedes and Lexus. Tesla again nimbly is turning this into a big win for a WAY improved system. Hopping to Nvidia seemingly overnight we have seen a tremendous leap in both the vehicle sensors and a quantum leap in computing power. Nvidia's watercooled PX system is added to the already high tech car. A system with high redundancy, tremendous CPU horsepower, and serious neural network capability. Compared in horsepower to 140 Macbook Pros this CPU is something new:

Nvidia Px2 Analysis

Want to learn more? I suggest the videos on Tesla's site. Remember we are looking at a hardware system on every new Tesla that can deliver three modes each with strong benefits. For Free - Safety Mode - Collision alarms and auto dimming headlights. Actually not a bad deal as you can upgrade. Autopilot mode $5000 at purchase / $6000 enabled later. An enhanced autopilot that can lane keep and function on all levels of road but still requires driver supervision and direction. Last full self driving. $3000 at purchase / $4000 after. Subject to regulatory approval. To appreciate this go to Tesla's website and run their videos of where this capability is shown working today! Both videos have Tesla deliver a rider not touching the controls over all kinds of traffic situations, drop off the rider and autopark. This will require regulatory approval with a timeframe that is anyone's guess but is much farther along past what we assumed. Amazing.

Supercharging

A new model for SC ( Supercharging ) is here. While destination (slower) charging is pretty much unchanged, SC will no longer be unlimited for Tesla's configured and ordered after December 2016. Instead Tesla's will be credited a free 400 KWH a year and pay per KWH (KiloWatt Hour) after that allowance. Think of it like 3-4 tank fill ups for free long distance travel. This is a wise move. Home charging - which is about 3 cents a mile should be the native mode of all Tesla's. This frees SC to serve the traveller in need and expand the network with recharge profits. So I no longer envision an purchase option for Super Charging on the Model ☰.

My new upgraded estimate - still high siding with maybe a grand off autopilot for early adopters:

Base               -  $35000   ( As promoted )
Dual Motor    -  $05000   ( No discount - assume motors most costly upgrade )
Autopilot       -  $04000   ( 1K discount for we early line standing folk? )
Supercharge  -  $0    ( SC 400kwh yearly then pay as you go )
ColdWeather -  $01000   ( Similar to S )

Dest & Doc   -  $01000   (20% off S guess)
-----------------------------
                          $46000
PA Tax              $02760
PA Title Tags    $00200
-----------------------------
                          $49000
Less Fed Incent $07500
-----------------------------
                           $41500
Less PA Incent   $02000
-----------------------------
                            $39500
Less Deposit       $01000
------------------------------
Optimistic price  $38500
Opt cash needed $46000
------------------------------
Pessimistic price $48000
Pesm. cash needed $48000

Ok there is no real difference but I may be $1K optimistic. As before I am undeterred regardless.

Tesla Stock continues to be shorted in record amounts and the faithful continue to buy the dips. The market remains skeptical of the Solar City merger we approved - at least that is the excuse. I think the proven innovation that continues everyday, Tesla's new profitability, pack leading autopilot, increasing by magnitude production numbers, and guaranteed interest measured in 400,000 $1K reservations will crack the shorts like eggshells. I look forward to an omelette whipped up from their tears and lost fortunes.

Comments (reasonably polite please) welcome.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Electric Ascension



Electric Vehicles are having a great year,

I'll save Tesla for it's own post. Let's just go for a top five for the rest of electric motoring.

1. GM's Bolt.  Regardless of so-so corporate behavior, the team at GM clearly continues to outdo themselves. In fact look back. The EV1 - ahead of it's time and potentially a game changer although buried by short sighted GM management - the fault was not the engineers. The Volt - certainly the most worry free way to drive electric for many years as the infrastructure improved. The Spark - ok lets move on. Now the 100% electric Bolt - easily 238 miles on a charge makes this new vehicle instantly a competitor. While I will continue my wait for the Model 3, this $37,500 MSRP with $7500 in federal incentives is a pretty interesting contender and has good reviews.

2. 2016 up 70% on electric sales.

3. VW throws in the diesel towel. Settles with owners and US government. Diesel - Scrapheap.

4. VW picks up the EV gauntlet. Admittedly they are still a gleam in German eye but I believe VW will be competitive.

5. Nissan continues to sell the mid upgrade Leaf and confirms 60KWH battery Leaf with a 200 mile range. The bad news 'it's coming' with little firm timeframe. Still progress.

** Bonus Point ** - Hydrogen seems to be melting away!



Some links for recent self driving developments



First let me link to Tesla's Autopilot page:

Tesla.autopilot

Next let's look at the NVIDIA supercomputer:

Electrek.on NVIDIA px-2

That's a good start because the Tesla autopilot link includes a video showing the autopilot system already driving completely over all types of street to a Tesla facility and auto parking itself. If the prototype software is this far along I believe more advanced auto piloting will be ready to go in the TM3 in Fall 2017, and self pilot not far behind depending on regulators. The second article talks about the very advanced supercomputer being added The NVIDIA PX2. Here is more on that:

NVIDIA Supercomputer Video

PX2 details

Finally a quick link to an article on a self driving Big Rig called OTTO. He hauls beer! Good times:

https://electrek.co/2016/10/25/uber-otto-first-shipment-self-driving-truck-autonomous-beer-run/

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Tesla - New AI driving hardware!

The safety/autopilot/self driving on Teslas - model S, X, and ☰ just went to hyperspace...

Yesterday ( for my birthday ha!) Tesla unveiled this upgrade to STANDARD hardware.

From one camera -> 8 surround cameras, 3 redundant forward, higher res/range.
Twelve updated ultrasonic sensors 2 times the range and resolution.
Better forward radar 160m ( 524' - 1/10th mile, able to see around and under cars)
GPS upgrade to higher accuracy plus software upgrades.
IMU Inertial measuring unit upgrade.

Last and biggest a new NVIDIA processor that delivers a more than order of magnitude (40x) processing upgrade - basically a small supercomputer utilizing NVIDIA's newest parallel graphic processing tech. Motley Fool has been recommending buying NVIDIA for this very reason.

Safety improvements from 2x standard human safety now to potentially a 10x safety improvement when using the autopilot and self driving suite.

Activating the hardware on an S or X costs $5000 to unlock enhanced auto pilot and another $3000 to unlock self driving. However the standard upgraded hardware will support a standard safety set of features: Automatic Emergency Braking - Designed to detect objects that the car may impact and applies the brakes accordingly.  Side Collision Warning - Warns the driver of potential collisions with obstacles alongside the car.  Front Collision Warning - Helps warn of impending collisions with slower moving or stationary cars. Auto High Beams - Adjusts high/low beams as required.

So even the standard set if I can't afford the increased cost of autopilot is pretty cool. Still autopilot going from $2500 to $3000 to $5000 is a bit tough on the wallet.  Also self driving won't unlock until regulators allow it. Does that mean you pay for it but have to wait 4 years for the Federal Highway Safety folks to approve it?  Finally not unlocking a feature at purchase means it costs $1000 more to unlock at a later date. Yuck - that is a bit stiff. Still - a self driving car?

Tesla self driving and autopilot