From the first press release outlining Tesla’s Autopilot technology, potential customers have wondered how the system works, what its limitations are, and whether it will be welcomed or shunned. Since Joshua Brown’s fatal crash while using Autopilot in a Tesla Model S, these questions have grown larger and more pointed. Without a doubt, popular opinion has shifted toward negativity. But should it?
Ten years ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk showed the world his plan to grow his electric car company into an international powerhouse. In his original master plan, posted in 2006, Musk summarized his ambitions by saying Tesla would:
- Build a sports car
- Use that money to build an affordable car
- Use that money to build an even more affordable car
- While doing the above, also provide zero-emission electric-power generation options
With 2016 upon us, Musk has published his new master plan. It’s equally ambitious, if not more so, and includes some bombshells that give clues to Mr. Musk’s intentions to change our world for the better.
Perhaps the best idea in Musk’s “Master Plan, Part Deux,” is for an electric semi truck. Shocking, right?
Tesla has seen a lot of time in the news during the past couple of weeks over crashes involving its Autopilot system. Low gas prices also might be hurting its business plan, and there are some growing questions about reliability. This all begs the question: is now the right time to think about buying a Tesla? The answer is a qualified “maybe,” because the decision essentially comes down to how much risk you’re willing to assume.
Chances are, anyone reading this post learned to drive a car with some sort of traditional gauge setup. Speedometer, tachometer, engine temperature, gas level, maybe a warning that someone needs to fasten their seatbelt. But is it possible the near future will leave such an interior feeling old-fashioned, obsolete, better suited for classic cars and car shows? We all know how fondly our zealously up-to-date culture likes to deride (or sometimes obsess over) old technological “breakthroughs” like cassette tapes or first-generation iPods, computing devices that look and feel like bricks in comparison to the sleek devices of today. With their growing computing power and ever-more-sophisticated interiors, why would cars be exempt from this double-time march of progress?
Surely we’ve seen this coming. Nothing moves as quickly as technology or has quite the same way of spreading across all parts of a particular product or experience. We have our award-winning infotainment systems; how long could it have been before some of the operating philosophy behind fighter-jet cockpits or the crisp graphics and formidable computing power of smartphones began showing up right in front of drivers’ noses? Not long, apparently: just take a look at the new display setups appearing in consumer vehicles, from the head-up displays (yes, like fighter jets, sort of) to fully computerized dashboards. But if you haven’t necessarily been keeping an enthusiast’s eye on the automotive market, you might not quite know what these new features are all about. They are, after all, still pretty new. So here’s a quick rundown of a few of the more important (or common) among them.
Last night may be remembered as the night cars and technology officially became one.
In the hours leading up to Tesla’s unveiling of the Model 3, CEO Elon Musk sent out a series of Tweets saying that online orders would be opened up an hour before the unveiling event kicked off. The company also announced via Twitter that orders would be welcomed from India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Slovokia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Ireland, in addition to the United States, but that a 2 car-per-household limit would be in effect.
It sounds more like a tech unveiling than an auto event, but the hype evidently worked. As of last night, more than 133,000 people put down at least $1,000 each to reserve a car.
But enough about that. This is the car that’s been hyped for about a decade and could change EVs as we know them.
Day Two began with the World Car Awards. Backed by a surprisingly loud, club-ish soundtrack and some odd song choices (maybe intended to help attendees wake up after a very long Day One?), the Toyota Mirai fuel-cell vehicle got the World Green Car Award, the Audi R8 Coupe took the World Performance Car Award, and the BMW 7 Series won the World Luxury Car Award. Mazda managed to take two trophies, as 2016 World Car Design of the Year and World Car of the Year, with its MX-5 Miata, and having driven the car ourselves, we heartily applaud the WCA jurors’ decision.
With the exception of a home, a car is the most expensive purchase a person will likely make (and we hope that home and car aren’t the same thing). Considering the improvements in safety, powertrain, and infotainment technologies, it’s not surprising to see vehicle prices rising at or above the rate of inflation. So, with the fiscal scope of a vehicle purchase firmly in mind, we have to ask: why don’t more people share cars? We posted an earlier article about the prevalence of ride-sharing services and their impact on consumer purchasing trends. While Uber and Zipcar have certainly given drivers more ways to get around, car ownership still seems to be the clearest path to unlocking the flexibility and freedom that a set of wheels can provide.
Everyone’s had that moment, while looking for a new car, when they ask themselves, “What’s the least I can spend on a new Dodge Charger?” Well, you’ll find the answer is in the $30k area for your everyday Charger SE, but then you may notice that next to that SE is the $70k Charger SRT Hellcat. That’s right, you can get two basic Chargers for the price of a single Hellcat. Granted, the Hellcat engine transforms the Charger into a completely different animal, but the Charger isn’t even close to the most egregious example of price disparity within a single model’s lineup.
Remember all the recall-related headlines of the past two years? Those manufacturer errors account for only about 2% of deaths on the road. Conversely, 94% of lives lost in motor-vehicle accidents are due to human error. These are startling numbers, which lead to sobering realizations. Back in 1970, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was formed to study our highways and roads in an effort to minimize the risks associated with driving. As technology has advanced, this administration’s scope and responsibilities have advanced as well. Dr. Mark Rosekind, the current NHTSA Administrator, spoke with Bryan Reimer, of the New England University Transportation Center and MIT’s AgeLab, regarding the NHTSA’s role in the current and future state of autonomous driving technology.
I wish I could call up my best friend from high school and tell him that Ludicrous Speed is real.
We spent a good portion of our teenage years in front of a television watching the Mel Brooks classic comedy Spaceballs.
In it, Rick Moranis plays the villain Dark Helmet and needs to chase after the good guys. He doesn’t think light speed will be fast enough, so he skips it, passing over the next-fastest Ridiculous speed and heading straight to Ludicrous speed.
Naturally, hilarity ensues.
Now we have news that Tesla, the same folks responsible for bringing us Insane Mode on the Model S P85D, will create its own version of Ludicrous speed.