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Tesla issues battery software update after Hong Kong vehicle fire

Posted by on May 15, 2019 in Automotive, Cars, electric vehicles, lithium-ion battery, Tesla Model S, Transportation | 0 comments

Tesla has started pushing out a software update that will change battery charge and thermal management settings in Model S sedans and Model X SUVs following a fire in a parked vehicle in Hong Kong earlier this week.

The software update, which Tesla says is being done out of “an abundance of caution,” is supposed to “protect the battery and improve its longevity.” The over-the-air software update will not be made to Model 3 vehicles.

Tesla has not yet identified the cause of the fire or found any issues with the battery pack. But the company said it will act if it discovers a problem.

“The safety of our customers is our top priority, and if we do identify an issue, we will do whatever is necessary to address it,” Tesla said in a statement.

Here is the company’s statement in its entirety on the software update:

We currently have well over half a million vehicles on the road, which is more than double the number that we had at the beginning of last year, and Tesla’s team of battery experts uses that data to thoroughly investigate incidents that occur and understand the root cause. Although fire incidents involving Tesla vehicles are already extremely rare and our cars are 10 times less likely to experience a fire than a gas car, we believe the right number of incidents to aspire to is zero.

As we continue our investigation of the root cause, out of an abundance of caution, we are revising charge and thermal management settings on Model S and Model X vehicles via an over-the-air software update that will begin rolling out today, to help further protect the battery and improve battery longevity.

A Tesla Model S caught fire March 14 while parked near a Hong Kong shopping mall. The vehicle was sitting for about a half an hour before it burst into flames. Three explosions were seen on CCTV footage, Reuters and the Apple Daily newspaper reported at the time.

“Tesla was onsite to offer support to our customer and establish the facts of this incident,” a Tesla spokesperson said. The investigation is ongoing.

Only a few battery modules were affected on the Model S that caught fire, and the majority of the battery pack is undamaged, according to Tesla.

The company noted that the battery packs are designed so that if “in the very rare instance” a fire does occur, it will spread slowly and vent heat away from the cabin. The aim is to give occupants time to exit the vehicle.

The Hong Kong fire followed video footage posted in April that appears to show a Tesla Model S smoking and then exploding while parked in a garage in Shanghai.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Elon Musk’s ‘pedo guy’ defamation case is going to trial

Posted by on May 10, 2019 in Automotive, Buzzfeed, drew olanoff, Elon Musk, Lawsuit, SpaceX, TC, Tesla, Vernon Unsworth | 0 comments

A defamation case filed last year against Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk after he repeatedly called a British cave diver “pedo guy” will go to trial on October 22, a U.S. district judge determined Friday.

Vernon Unsworth, the British cave diver, filed a defamation lawsuit in September 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California after Musk called him a “pedo guy” and made other statements insinuating he was a pedophile in a public attack on Twitter.

The Verge was the first to report the court decision.

A Tesla spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment

U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson denied a motion to dismiss the case and instead scheduled a date for trial. The decision means that Unsworth’s case is strong enough to go to trial.

Musk’s lawyers argued that statements on the internet, and more specifically on unmoderated forums like Twitter, are presumptively opinion, not objective fact. Defamation law doesn’t apply to opinions or insults. But Wilson rejected Musk’s argument, in part because of an email interaction he had with BuzzFeed reporter Ryan Mac.

“Considering the totality of the circumstances—including the general context of Defendant’s statements, the specific context of the statements, and the statements’ susceptibility of being proved true or false—a reasonable factfinder could easily conclude that Defendant’s statements, as pleaded in the complaint, implied assertions of objective fact,” Wilson wrote in the decision.

The lawsuit alleges that between July 15 and August 30, Musk periodically used Twitter and emails to the media to publish false and defamatory accusations against Unsworth, including accusations of pedophilia and child rape.

The initial “pedo guy” attack came after Unsworth gave a critical interview to the media saying Musk’s mini sub “had absolutely no chance of working.” The diving expert ended an interview segment by suggesting Musk should “stick his submarine where it hurts.”

Musk lashed out on Twitter and insinuated that Unsworth was a pedophile. He later deleted the offending tweet and tried to backpedal — even offering an apology of sorts on Twitter. And it could have all ended there. But then Musk dug it all up again during a debate with and ex-TechCrunch journalist Drew Olanoff — once again on Twitter. Olanoff had brought up the “pedo guy” attack as an example of Musk telling untruths.

 


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Uber’s trading debut: who was (and wasn’t) at the opening bell

Posted by on May 10, 2019 in Apps, Automotive, carsharing, Dara Khosrowshahi, Exit, Expedia, Garrett Camp, Rachel Holt, Startups, thuan pham, Transportation, Travis Kalanick, Uber, Uber IPO, vmware | 0 comments

Uber finally made its debut Friday on the New York Stock Exchange, ending its decade-long journey from startup to publicly traded company.

So far, it’s been a ho-hum beginning, with shares opening at $42, down from the IPO price. The share price is hovering just under $44.

Thirteen people, including executives, early employees, drivers and customers, were on the balcony for the historic bell ringing that opened the markets Friday. Noticeable absentees were co-founder Garrett Camp and former CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick, who was ousted from the company in June 2017 after a string of scandals around Uber’s business practices.

Kalanick, who still sits on the board and has an 8.6% stake in Uber, wasn’t part of the opening bell ceremony. However, Kalanick and Camp were both at the NYSE for the event.

Here is who participated in the opening bell ceremony.

The bell ringer

Austin Geidt, who rang the bell, was employee No. 4 when she started as an intern in 2010, and is one of Uber’s earliest employees.

Geidt joined Uber in 2010 and has since worked in numerous positions at the company. She led Uber’s expansion in hundreds of new cities and dozens of new countries. Geidt now heads up strategy for Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, the unit working on autonomous vehicles.

Executives

CEO Dara Khosrowshahi stood next to Geidt at the opening of the market Friday. Khosrowshahi joined Uber in 2017 after Kalanick resigned and the board launched an extensive search for an executive who could change the culture at the company and prepare it for an eventual IPO.

Khosrowshahi was the CEO of Expedia before joining Uber. Khosrowshahi gave a one-year update on his time at Uber during TechCrunch Disrupt in September 2018.

Uber CTO Thuan Pham has been with the company since 2013. Prior to coming to Uber, Pham was vice president of engineering at VMware.

Rachel Holt, vice president and head of New Mobility, was also on hand. Holt has worked at Uber since October 2011, when the company was live in just three cities. In May 2016, she became VP and regional general manager of Uber’s operations in the U.S. and Canada.

She was promoted to head up new mobility in June 2018. She’s responsible for the ramp-up and onboarding of additional mobility services, including public transit integration, scooters, car rentals and bikes.

Rachel Holt (Getty Images)

Other executives included Pierre-Dimitry Gore-Coty and Andrew MacDonald, both vice presidents and regional general managers at Uber, as well as Jason Droege, a vice president who heads up Uber Eats.

Droege, who joined Uber in 2014, has the official title of head of UberEverything. This is the team that created the food delivery service Uber Eats, which now operates in 35 countries.

Drivers

Uber had five drivers on hand for the opening bell, who represented different services and geographies.

Among the drivers were:

  • Jerry Bruner, a Los Angeles-based driver who is a military veteran and former professional golfer. Bruner has completed more than 30,000 Uber trips.
  • Tiffany Hanna, a military veteran, is based out of Springfield, Missouri. Hanna is a truck driver who uses the Uber Freight carrier app. 
  • Jonelle Bain, a New York-based driver. Uber, which shared the bios of the drivers, said Bain is taking coding classes and plans to become a software engineer.
  • Onur Kerey is a driver based out of London. Kerey is deaf. According to his bio, “He doesn’t let his disability get in the way of his passion for driving or connecting with others.”
  • J. Alexander Palacio Sanchez is based in Australia and has been driving with Uber since 2015. His true passion is acting, according to Uber, and at the urging of his riders, he auditioned for the role of Kevin in “The Heights” — and landed it.

Customers

One customer, Elise Wu, also participated in the opening bell. Wu owns Kampai, a family of restaurants in France that serves affordable cuisine made available for delivery through Uber Eats.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Tesla plans to launch an insurance product ‘in about a month’

Posted by on Apr 24, 2019 in Automotive, Transportation | 0 comments

Tesla is developing an insurance product, which could be launched in about a month, CEO Elon Musk said during a call with analysts Wednesday following its first-quarter earnings report.

“It will be much more compelling than anything else out there,” he said.

Musk didn’t provide further details on what the insurance product might look like, but it will most certainly place value on its Autopilot system, an advanced driver assistance system that is considered one of the most robust and at times, most controversial, in the industry.

Musk later added that Tesla already shares information with insurance companies about Autopilot. The information is meant to help reduce insurance rates.

“As we launch our own insurance product next month, we will certainly incorporate that information into the insurance rates,” Musk said.

Tesla has an “information arbitrage opportunity,” Musk said. The is able to capture driving data, giving the company direct knowledge of the risk profile of the driver and car. If customers want to buy Tesla insurance they might have to agree to “not drive the car in a crazy way,” said Musk, who added they can they’ll just have a higher insurance rate.

Companies like insurance startup Root have introduced programs that give Tesla owners a discount if their electric vehicles are equipped with Autopilot.

Tesla reported Wednesday wider-than-expected loss of $702 million, or $4.10 a share, in the first quarter after disappointing delivery numbers, costs and pricing adjustments to its vehicles threw the automaker off of its profitability track.

The loss included $188 million of non-recurring charges. When adjusted for one-time losses, Tesla lost $494 million, or $2.90 a share, compared with a loss of $3.35 a share a year ago. Tesla reported that it also incurred $67 million due to a combination of restructuring and other non-recurring charges.

Tesla’s first-quarter revenues were $4.5 billion, compared to $7.2 billion in the fourth quarter. The company’s operating cash flow less capital expenditures dropped to a loss to $920 million, compared to a positive $910 million in the fourth quarter.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Tesla reports $702 million loss in first quarter

Posted by on Apr 24, 2019 in Automotive, electric vehicles, Elon Musk, Model 3, Model S, model x, Tesla, Transportation | 0 comments

Tesla reported Wednesday wider-than-expected loss of $702 million, or $4.10 a share, in the first quarter after disappointing delivery numbers, costs and pricing adjustments to its vehicles threw the automaker off of its profitability track.

The loss included $188 million of non-recurring charges. When adjusted for one-time losses, Tesla lost $494 million, or $2.90 a share, compared with a loss of $3.35 a share a year ago. Tesla reported that it also incurred $67 million due to a combination of restructuring and other non-recurring charges.

While analysts had anticipated a loss — an adjusted loss of $1.15 a share on sales of $5.4 billion for the quarter, according to Factset — actual losses stretched far beyond those expectations.

“This was one of the most complicated quarters” in Tesla’s history, CFO Zachary Kirkhorn noted during an earnings call Wednesday, noting the automaker’s push to deliver Model 3s overseas as well as several other activities.

Tesla and CEO Elon Musk warned earlier this month that it expected first-quarter profits to be negatively impacted by lower than expected delivery volumes and several pricing adjustments. This was the first earnings report since losing a federal tax credit (more specifically half of it) for its buyers on Jan. 1.

Tesla reported April 9 that it delivered 63,000 electric vehicles in the first quarter of the year, nearly a one-third drop from the previous quarter. Deliveries included about 50,900 Model 3 vehicles and 12,100 Model S and X SUVs.

Musk reiterated the delivery problems due to unforeseen challenges in the earnings call Wednesday, noting that a large number of vehicle deliveries has shifted to the second quarter.

“Everyone expected a first quarter loss for Tesla, but nobody expected it to be this big,” Karl Brauer, executive publisher at Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader said in an emailed statement. “What’s interesting is how there really isn’t a single, substantial factor driving this.”

Brauer pointed to a combination of smaller factors coming together, including the tac rebate loss, more competition and the “initial rush of Model 3 demand fully satiated”. And you have the increased level of Tesla alternatives. He also noted that these issues are going away. “This is the new normal for Tesla,” Brauer said.

The results reported Wednesday follow two consecutive quarters of profitability that were fueled by sales of the Model 3. Tesla reported a $139 million profit in the fourth quarter and in October posted its first profit after seven consecutive quarters of losses.

Tesla reported that its cash position decreased by $1.5 billion from the end of 2018 to $2.2 billion mainly due to the repayment of convertible notes, of which $188 million negatively impacted operating cash flow. Tesla paid off its $920 million convertible bond obligation in cash in March.

Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Tesla’s Q1 revenues were $4.5 billion, compared to $7.2 billion in the fourth quarter
  • Tesla’s Q1 operating cash flow less capital expenditures dropped to a loss to $920 million, compared to a positive $910 million in the fourth quarter

Tesla first-quarter earnings follows a series of announcements by the company, including changes to the drivetrain design on the Model S and X that will increase the range of the vehicles about about 10 percent. The newly equipped Model S will now have an EPA estimated range of 370 miles, while the Model X long range variant will be able to travel 325 miles on a single charge. The cars have the same 100 kwH battery packs.

Tesla also held an event centered on its efforts to develop autonomous vehicle technology and included insight and news around its custom-built computer chip, Musk’s plans to launch a robotaxi business in 2020 and a demo ride.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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