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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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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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Tesla issues $13.8M in stock to buy trailers in bid to improve electric vehicle deliveries

Posted by on Mar 11, 2019 in Automotive, California, Cars, electric vehicles, Elon Musk, hyperloop, Tesla, tesla model 3, Tesla Model S, Transportation | 0 comments

Tesla is using more than $13 million worth of stock to buy trucks and trailers that will transport its electric vehicles to customers, the latest effort by the automaker to improve its logistics and delivery services.

Instead of using cash, Tesla issued $13.8 million in stock, a new securities filing posted Monday shows. Tesla used 49,967 shares at a maximum price of $277.05 a share as of February 12 to buy the trailers from Central Valley Auto Transport.

The California-based company specializes in car carriers. Tesla’s statement within the securities filing:

As part of Tesla’s ongoing logistics strategy to increase its vehicle transport capacity, reduce vehicle transportation time, and improve the timeliness of scheduled deliveries, Tesla agreed to issue shares of Tesla’s common stock in connection with its acquisition of certain car-hauling trucks and trailers from Central Valley Auto Transport, Inc. (“Central Valley” or the “selling stockholder”), an automotive transport provider. We are registering these Tesla shares pursuant to registration rights granted to the selling stockholder in connection with the acquisition.

In November, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the electric automaker had “acquired trucking capacity,” a move aimed to boost deliveries of its Model 3 vehicles before the federal tax credit began to wind down December 31. Musk nor the company revealed more details. The company never posted any regulatory filings of an acquisition.

Musk later tweeted that Tesla had both purchased trucking companies and secured contracts with major haulers to “avoid trucking shortage mistakes of last quarter.”

It’s not clear if this latest purchase from Central Valley Auto Transport reflects actions that Tesla took last year or if this is additional capacity. Tesla did note in its fourth-quarter shareholder letter that it is “continuing to purchase our own car-hauling truck capacity for vehicle shipments.”

Source: The Tech Crunch

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Pininfarina’s $2 million electric ‘Battista’ hypercar is faster than a Formula 1 race car

Posted by on Mar 5, 2019 in Automobili Pininfarina, Automotive, electric vehicles, pininfarina, Transportation | 0 comments

Automobili Pininfarina, the automaker brand infused with Pininfarina design house DNA and owned by India’s Mahindra Group, revealed its first production car this week at the Geneva International Motor Show. And it’s an audacious inaugural effort.

The Pininfarina Battista — a nod to design house founder Battista “Pinin” Farina — is an all-electric beast of a hypercar that is faster than a current Formula 1 race car and can travel from 0 to 62 miles an hour in less than two seconds. Automobili Pininfarina showcased three Battista design models at the show.

All of them have the same foundation: a carbon fiber monocoque chassis (meaning integrated into the body) and carbon fiber body. The electric hypercar has four electric motors (one on each wheel) and a power output of 1,400 kW, or the equivalent of 1,900 horsepower and 2,300 Nm torque. The Battista will have a top speed of more than 223 miles per hour.

The 120 kilowatt-hour battery pack, which has a T-shape and is in the central tunnel and behind the seats, will give the vehicle an estimated range of nearly 280 miles. In the hands of its well-heeled owners, and considering the performance capabilities of this vehicle, the range will likely be much lower.

The interior has the kind of details expected in a multimillion-dollar vehicle. But vehicles like these are expected to be highly customizable, and the Battista is no different. Automobili Pininfarina-Grigio

The vehicle will be available in 2020. But not just for anyone. Only 150 will be made at the Pininfarina SpA atelier in Turin, Italy. The vehicles will be spread out equally with 50 designed to each major region of North America, Europe and Asia.

The automaker showed off the Battista back in August during Monterey Car Week to select potential customers and some media, including TechCrunch. The Battista, which was codenamed PFO at the time, was displayed in a luxurious home, a setting that befit the vehicle.

As an Italian design house, Pininfarina SpA has a long history of partnerships — its relationship with Ferrari perhaps the most famous of them. Automobili Pininfarina appears to be taking the same approach. The automaker has partnered with Pirelli on the tires and Rimac Automobili, the Croatian hypercar and electric vehicle components company in which Porsche took a 10 percent stake last year. Rimac is the battery and drivetrain supplier for Pininfarina.

Rimac should be familiar to hypercar and EV enthusiasts. The company, which was founded by Mate Rimac in 2009, brought a two-seater electric hypercar with a 1,914-horsepower engine to Geneva last year. 

But it’s not just a small hypercar shop. Rimac also engineers and manufactures high-performance electric vehicle powertrain systems and battery systems. The company has already worked with Renault, Jaguar and Aston Martin. 

Mahindra bought Pininfarina in 2015 for about $28 million. Three years later, and after additional investment, Mahindra announced the launch of Automobili Pininfarina as a “new sustainable luxury car brand based in Europe.”

Source: The Tech Crunch

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Audi’s new Q4 e-tron concept is a compact electric crossover with 280 miles of range

Posted by on Mar 5, 2019 in Audi, Automotive, Cars, electric vehicles, Geneva Motor Show, sedans, sports cars, transport, Transportation | 0 comments

Audi today provided an advanced look at what will be its fifth production electric vehicle, a compact crossover concept that is expected to come to market at the end of 2020.

The all-electric Q4 e-tron SUV concept, which was revealed at the Geneva International Motor Show, is equipped with dual motors with a power output of 225 kW. An 82 kWh battery provides 280 miles of range; that’s more than the bigger e-tron that debuted in September. Audi bases its range estimate off of Europe’s new WLTP standard.

The first e-tron vehicles — the larger production all-electric SUV — will be delivered to customers before the end of March, Audi said.

The Q4 e-tron is an all-wheel drive vehicle that can travel from 0 to 100 km/h (62 miles per hour) in 6.3 seconds and reaches a maximum speed at an electronically limited 180 km/h (112 mph).Audi Q4 e-tron concept

Inside the Q4 e-tron is the virtual cockpit. A digital display showing speed, charge level and navigation is located behind the steering wheel. A large-format heads-up display with an augmented reality function is a new feature, and displays important graphical information, such as directional arrows for turning, directly on the course of the road, Audi said.

The steering wheel has toggles that a driver can use to control some functions. A 12.3-inch touchscreen located above the center console caps off the whole infotainment system. Meanwhile, the center console is designed as a stowage compartment that  includes a cell phone charging cradle.

Audi Q4 e-tron concept


There are details about the Q4 e-tron that remain a mystery. For instance, there’s no word on the price. But expect the Q4 to be cheaper than the $74,800 e-tron.

Audi is working toward electrifying its portfolio, a commitment that was borne out of parent company VW Group’s diesel emissions scandal that erupted in 2015. Audi plans to have 12 all-electric models by 2025.

Like other electric vehicles under the VW Group umbrella, the Q4 e-tron has a modular electric drive toolkit chassis, or MEB. The MEB, which was introduced in 2016, is a flexible modular system for producing electric vehicles that VW says will make it more efficient and cost-effective.

Later this year, Audi will introduce the e-tron Sportback, and the first Audi Q2L e-tron, which was designed specifically for the Chinese market, will roll off the assembly line.

In the second half of 2020, the company will unveil the production version of the four-door high-performance coupé Audi e-tron GT, which is being developed at Audi Sport GmbH. The compact Audi Q4 e-tron is expected to make its production debut at the same time.

Source: The Tech Crunch

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Elon Musk says Tesla Model Y will be revealed at its LA design studio on March 14

Posted by on Mar 3, 2019 in California, Cars, electric vehicles, Elon Musk, Fremont, gigafactory, hyperloop, Los Angeles, Nevada, shanghai, TC, Tesla, Tesla Model S, Tesla Semi, The Boring Company | 0 comments

Tesla will pull back the curtains and unveil its Model Y crossover vehicle at an event in Los Angeles on March 14th, according to a tweet from chief executive Elon Musk.

It’s the fifth new car design to come from Tesla’s shop since the company was founded in 2003. Musk has been teasing the car’s release since 2015, and in a January letter to shareholders said that high volume production would begin by the end of 2020.

Tesla said that it would begin tooling for the Model Y later this year and that the company would be producing the vehicle at its “gigafactory” in Nevada. In the same letter, Musk predicted that the cost of the Model Y line would be substantially lower than the Model 3 line in Fremont, Calif., because it will share roughly 75% of the same components with the new low-cost vehicle.

Tesla’s Model Y reveal comes amid sweeping changes that the automaker announced last week in tandem with the commercial availability of its $35,000 low-cost Model 3.

Tesla said that to achieve this lower price it will shift all sales globally to online only, meaning the company will be closing many of its stores over the next few months. The stores that remain, in high-traffic locations, will be turned into information centers, Musk said on a call with reporters. There will be some layoffs as a result. Musk later said they would be hiring more service technicians.

“Shifting all sales online, combined with other ongoing cost efficiencies, will enable us to lower all vehicle prices by about 6% on average, allowing us to achieve the $35,000 Model 3 price point earlier than we expected,” the company wrote in a post.

Tesla’s management expects that all of these changes should result in better results for the company. “Model 3 will become a global product, the profitability of our business should become sustainably positive, our new Gigafactory Shanghai should start producing cars, and we will start tooling for Model Y production,” the January shareholder read.

If the Model Y were to finally go into production, it could mean a phase out of older Tesla models, although that’s not a certainty.

Tesla also has two other models that are waiting in the wings — the Roadster and the Tesla Semi, which are both under development.

As the Verge noted, Musk joked about unveiling the new Model Y on March 15th “because the Ides of March sounded good.”

Source: The Tech Crunch

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Tesla closing retail stores in shift to online-only sales strategy

Posted by on Feb 28, 2019 in Automotive, Cars, electric vehicles, Elon Musk, Model 3, Tesla, tesla roadster, Transportation | 0 comments

Tesla is moving all of its sales online, a dramatic shift in its sales strategy that will result in the closure of stores and some layoffs as the automaker looks for ways to reduce costs in order to bring a cheaper Model 3 to market.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk didn’t say how many stores would close. He noted that some stores would remain and turn into information centers and showrooms. The company didn’t provide specific numbers on how many retail employees might be affected.

“We will be closing some stores and that will be some reduction in head count as a result; there’s no question about that,” Musk said. “There’s no other way for us to achieve the savings required to provide this car and be financially sustainable. I wish there was another way, but unfortunately, it will entail reduction in workforce on the retail side, no way around it.”

The shift to online-only sales, plus other cost efficiencies, allowed the company to lower all vehicle prices by about 6 percent on average and finally offer a $35,000 Model 3.

Meanwhile, Tesla plans to hire more service technicians, or mechanics, Musk noted during a call with reporters Thursday. Tesla didn’t provide details on how many mechanics it plans to hire.

In order to mitigate the need for a test ride, Tesla is extending the return policies on its vehicles. New customers will be able own a car for a week and drive for 1,000 miles and still return it for a full refund if they don’t like it, Musk said. 

“That’s why we’re going to essentially allow somebody to use the car for free for a week, and return it for a full refund,” Musk said. “And we’re going to make it super easy to get a refund, like one-click refund.”

Tesla announced Thursday that it was offering a $35,000 version of the Model 3, which will have 220 miles of range and be able to reach a top speed of 130 miles per hour. 

The company also said it’s introducing a Model 3 Standard Range Plus version — which offers 240 miles of range, a top speed of 140 mph and 0-60 mph acceleration of 5.3 seconds, as well as most premium interior features — at $37,000 before incentives.

Source: The Tech Crunch

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The $35,000 Tesla Model 3 has arrived — but it comes with a price

Posted by on Feb 28, 2019 in Automotive, Cars, electric vehicles, Elon Musk, Tesla, Tesla Model S, Transportation, Twitter, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission | 0 comments

The long-awaited $35,000 Tesla Model 3 has finally arrived, three years after CEO Elon Musk promised to bring the electric vehicle to market at that price point. But that cheaper Model 3 comes with a dramatic shift for Tesla.

Tesla said that to achieve this lower price it will shift all sales globally to online only, meaning the company will be closing many of its stores over the next few months. The stores that remain, in high-traffic locations, will be turned into information centers, Musk said on a call with reporters. There will be some layoffs as a result. Musk later said they would be hiring more service technicians.

“Shifting all sales online, combined with other ongoing cost efficiencies, will enable us to lower all vehicle prices by about 6% on average, allowing us to achieve the $35,000 Model 3 price point earlier than we expected,” the company wrote in a post.

Tesla announced Thursday that the $35,000 version will have 220 miles of range and be able to reach a top speed of 130 miles per hour. 

The company also said it’s introducing a Model 3 Standard Range Plus version, which offers 240 miles of range, a top speed of 140 mph and 0-60 mph acceleration of 5.3 seconds, as well as most premium interior features, at $37,000 before incentives.

“I’m excited to finally meet this goal, which has been insanely difficult,” Musk said on a call with reporters.

Tesla will continue to offer its mid-range, long-range all-wheel drive and Model 3 Performance vehicles in the U.S. The company is also bringing back its original Model 3 long-range rear-wheel drive vehicle in the U.S. All Model 3s come standard with a tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection, auto dimming, power folding, heated side mirror and driver profiles via the center screen.

Tesla plans to roll out a number of firmware upgrades for both new and existing customers that will increase to 325 miles the range of the long-range rear-wheel drive Model 3, increase to 162 mph the top speed of Model 3 Performance and add an average of about 5 percent peak power to all Model 3 vehicles.

Just hours before the announcement, the “order” webpages for the Model 3, Model S and Model X vehicle redirected to show a message that read “The wait is almost over.” Below the main message, it read “Great things are launching at 2 pm.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted February 27 “Some Tesla news,” followed by equally vague tweets “2 pm” and “California.”

The tweets had led to widespread speculation of what Musk would announce. Others argued that the teasing tweets were merely a tactic to distract investors and the media from his recent scuffle with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission .

The SEC asked a judge February 25 to hold Musk in contempt for violating the settlement agreement reached with the agency last year. The SEC argued that a tweet sent by Musk on February 19 violated their agreement. Musk is supposed to get approval from Tesla’s board before communicating potentially material information to investors.

A U.S. judge issued an order February 26 that gives Musk until March 11 to explain why he should not be held in contempt for violating a settlement agreement with the SEC.

Source: The Tech Crunch

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Porsche’s best-selling Macan SUV is going all-electric

Posted by on Feb 26, 2019 in Automotive, electric vehicles, porsche, Transportation | 0 comments

Porsche plans to turn its best-selling U.S. vehicle, the Macan SUV, into an electric vehicle following the introduction of its first EVs, the Taycan and its crossover cousin, the Cross Tourismo.

Production of the next-generation all-electric Porsche Macan will begin early in the next decade, the company announced Tuesday. It will be produced in Leipzig, Germany, the same factory where the current gas-powered Macan is manufactured.

The Taycan, the company’s first all-electric vehicle, will launch at the end of 2019. The Taycan Cross Turismo will follow shortly afterwards.

Porsche says it decided to turn the next-generation Macan into an electric vehicle because it creates the “opportunity to produce fully electric vehicles on the existing production line.”

It’s also a bet on U.S. drivers. The Macan compact crossover was Porsche’s best-selling vehicle in the U.S. The company delivered more than 23,500 Macan SUVs in 2018, up 9.7 percent from the previous year.

The Macan compact SUV will also feature 800-volt architecture, just like the Taycan. This will allow the vehicle to take a 350 kW charge, which translates to about 60 miles of range, in just four minutes on certain fast chargers.

The model will be based on the PPE architecture (Premium Platform Electric) developed in collaboration with Audi AG, according to Porsche.

“Electromobility and Porsche go together perfectly; not just because they share a high-efficiency approach, but especially because of their sporty character,” Porsche AG board chairman Oliver Blume said in a statement.

Blume added that the company plans to investment more than €6 billion, or more than $6.8 billion, into “electric mobility” by 2022. By 2025, 50 percent of all new Porsche vehicles could have an electric drive system, Blume said.

Porsche isn’t backing away from gas-powered vehicles altogether. At least in the short term.

Over the next decade, the company “will focus on a drive mix consisting of even further optimized petrol engines, plug-in hybrid models, and purely electrically operated sports cars,” Blume said. “Our aim is to take a pioneering role in technology, and for this reason we will continue to consistently align the company with the mobility of the future.”

Source: The Tech Crunch

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VW’s Electrify America will use Tesla battery packs to lower charging costs

Posted by on Feb 4, 2019 in Automotive, charging stations, electric vehicles, Electrify America, energy storage, GreenTech, TC, Tesla, Transportation, volkswagen | 0 comments

Electrify America, the entity set up by Volkswagen as part of its settlement with U.S. regulators over its diesel emissions cheating scandal, plans to install Tesla Powerpack battery systems at more than 100 of its electric vehicle charging stations this year.

Electrify America aims to use the Tesla Powerpacks to offset the cost of charging for customers. Owners of electric vehicles face high costs if they charge their vehicles during peak demand hours. The Tesla Powerpack battery systems store energy drawn from the grid during off-peak hours. That stored energy can then be used during peak demand hours when charging costs are higher. Each site will consist of a 210 kW battery system with roughly 350 kWh of capacity, according to Electrify America.

“Our stations are offering some of the most technologically advanced charging that is available,” Electrify America CEO Giovanni Palazzo said in a statement. “With our chargers offering high power levels, it makes sense for us to use batteries at our most high demand stations for peak shaving to operate more efficiently. Tesla’s Powerpack system is a natural fit given their global expertise in both battery storage development and EV charging.”

Electrify America has committed to investing $2 billion over 10 years in clean energy infrastructure and education. The VW unit expects to have 484 electric vehicle charging stations with more than 2,000 charging dispensers installed or under construction by July 1.

The company will begin the next phase of installations this summer.

Electrify America’s bet on Tesla battery systems illustrates the deep need for electric vehicle charging infrastructure that is low cost, easy to access and as fast as possible. It’s not enough to simply dot highways and urban areas with public chargers.

The deal also represents a small, yet possibly fruitful area for Tesla as it tries to grow its energy storage business.

Electrify America says it has designed its sites and electrical systems to enable future upgrades. Fast charging is part of that vision. The Electrify America charging system features liquid cooled-cable 350 kW chargers.  These chargers — which currently no EV can actually use — can theoretically charge a vehicle at speeds up to 20 miles per minute – seven times faster than today’s most commonly used 50 kW fast chargers.

Porsche Taycan, the automaker’s first all-electric vehicle, is designed to have an 800-volt battery that can take a 350 kW charge. The Taycan is coming out late this year.

Electrify America’s charging locations will have an average of five charging dispensers, with some having as many as 10. The highway stations will have a minimum of two 350 kW chargers per site, with additional chargers delivering up to 150 kW.

Source: The Tech Crunch

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