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Tesla Stands By Its Claim That The Model 3 Is ‘Safest Car Ever Tested’

tesla model 3

Despite a warning from a federal safety regulator last fall that Tesla stops advertising its Model 3 as the “safest car ever tested,” the Palo Alto-based company is standing by its claim.

According to Tesla, Model 3 passengers will have “the lowest probability of injury of all cars the safety agency has ever tested.” This is still on the company’s website. However, documents showed that in at least five instances, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sent subpoenas to the company, seeking information on crashes involving their vehicles.

In October last year, the same federal agency sent a cease-and-desist letter to Tesla for not complying with the agency’s guidelines in its Model 3 safety assertions. NHTSA apparently chided Tesla, which is led by billionaire Elon Musk, for publishing misleading statements about the safety of the car.

In a letter dated October 31, 2019, Tesla stood by its analysis of NHTSA’s data. Tesla deputy general counsel Al Prescott said that Tesla’s statements “are neither untrue nor misleading.”

“To the contrary, Tesla has provided consumers with fair and objective information to compare the relative safety of vehicles having 5-star overall ratings.”

According to the automaker, 40% of cars have five-star safety ratings from the NHTSA. The advertisement aims to help consumers know the difference in safety features among the cars currently in the market.

A letter from NHTSA chief counsel Jonathan Morrison to Musk on October 17 last year said that this was not the first time that Tesla did not heed the guidelines of the agency “in a manner that may lead to consumer confusion and give Tesla an unfair market advantage.”

Safety groups have criticized Tesla and Musk for being unclear about the capabilities of its Autopilot, a partial autonomous driving feature that falls just short of not needing driver intervention whatsoever.

 

Fisker Electric SUV Will Rival Tesla Model Y

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EV brand Fisker is reviving its lineup with a new SUV with a 300-mile range in the works. The company, who released a series of teaser shots of the EV, said it plans to introduce the new SUV to the market in 2021 with a debut scheduled this December.

Fisker said it is in the final stages of choosing a production site for the SUV. The company added that it will be priced below $40,000, meaning that the price point will rival the Tesla Model Y which is due to be released in the second half of 2020.

Back in 2018, Fisker introduced the EMotion sedan that will supposedly be the foundation of the EV SUV. But the teaser images revealed by the company showed a different design that the concept introduced a year ago. This vehicle has sharper lines and an indicator lamp mounted in the C-pillar. This design is supposed to improve the safety features of the EV, Fisker said.

There were earlier photos of the SUV that revealed a somewhat similar front design to the EMotion. Both of the vehicles placed their safety sensors within the cars’ grille. They will also have massive wheels of up to 22 inches in diameter for the SUV and 24 inches for the sedan.

Under the hood, the SUV is going with a dual-motor system that can drive for 300 miles. Its battery is a conventional lithium-ion although Fisker is planning to develop its own battery. It’ll be no surprise if the battery is switched halfway into the production.

The EV SUV is one of the three most affordable models in the company’s plan. The two others will follow the SUV while the EMotion is going to be launched soon after. The EMotion will retail for a whopping $190,000 with top specifications.

The EMotion was originally scheduled for a 2019 reveal but the plan has been put to test by Fisker wanting to perfect its solid-state battery, the same one it plans to use in this new SUV. The solid-state battery will be able to go 500 miles on a single charge. It will also be recharged in just a few minutes.

Tesla Sets Model 3 Starting Price To £38,900 In UK

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Tesla just released the pricing details for its Model 3 as the car goes on sale in the United Kingdom. Thanks to the government’s £3,500 ($4,564) plug-in car grant, the Model 3 with the Standard Range Plus rear-wheel-drive car will only cost £38,900 ($50,727).

If you want a faster Model 3 version, which is aptly named the Model 3 Performance, you need to shell out £56,900 ($74,249). The Performance version can bring the car from 0 to 62 mph in just 3.2 seconds. But if longer mile range is more of your priority, you can get the Long Range AWD, a trim level that sits between the two versions. With a selling price of £47,900 ($62,524), the Long Range AWD can get you 348 miles as tested under the WLTP standards.

Although the entry-level Model 3 is more expensive than we have anticipated, it comes with a slew of special features that include an Autopilot system that can accelerate, brake, and steer the car in the right lane. It can also be set up to overtake maneuvers on motorways and dual-carriageways.

For an extra £4,900 ($6,394), Tesla can also equip the Model 3 with full self-driving capability. This will give the car the ability to drive automatically in the city and respond to traffic lights. It is worth taking note, however, that choosing the upgrade after the car has already been delivered will cost £6,800 ($8,867).

Inside, the Model 3 is fitted with the most basic of equipment—a steering wheel and a 15-inch touchscreen that faces the driver. The screen eliminates the need for physical display and control functions.

Buyers can choose from five colors. If you choose solid black, you won’t have to pay extra. Midnight Silver and Deep Blue will go for an extra £950 ($1,239) while the Multi-Coat Red and Pearl White will cost £1,900 ($2,478).

Feds Subpoenaed Tesla Records About Model 3 Production

A parking lot of predominantly new Tesla Model 3 electric vehicles is seen in Richmond, California, U.S. June 22, 2018. Picture taken June 22, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Investigators from the United States’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) subpoenaed information about the earlier production forecasts for the Tesla Model 3 electric car that were made last year before its distribution. Tesla admitted this in a regulatory filing last Friday.

Based on the disclosure in Tesla’s quarterly financial report, the company said that the SEC asked to see records and public statements made about the predictions for the Model 3 production. The report said that Tesla is cooperating with the Justice Department in its investigation.

There have been widespread news reports that the SEC has asked to look into the records of the company regarding its Model 3 predictions. This is the first time that Tesla acknowledges the SEC subpoena though it said that it is cooperating with the Justice Department.

The Model 3 is an integral part of Tesla’s plan to become a household name, to move away from the luxury-vehicle-maker tag and appeal to a broader audience. And as the company pledges to meet quarterly net profits into the future, Tesla has to find a stable cash flow, which the Model 3 signifies.

In 2017 though, the company had trouble meeting the production requirements. It draws a lawsuit from investors who believed they were misled by Tesla CEO Elon Musk about the company’s production targets.

Early last year, Tesla announced that it plans to produce up to 5,000 units of Model 3 a week by the end of 2017. But because of automation problems at its Fremont, California factory, the company fell short of its target and made only 793 in the last week of 2017 and 2,700 for the entire year. It hit the 5,000-a-week target only starting June this year.

Tesla said in the filing that as far as the company knows, no government agency in an ongoing investigation has found out the Palo Alto company did anything wrong. There were no further comments from Tesla, the SEC, or the Justice Department.

 

Range-Topping Tesla Model 3 Is Now Standard With Performance Package

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For Tesla, if you want the Performance Package, you would have to pay about $5,000 more. The fee will get you some really cool features such as a carbon-fiber spoiler, a 310-mile estimated range, and 20-inch alloys on Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. But the electric-vehicle producer is now offering the $5,000 Performance Package as standard to the range-topping Tesla Model 3 without any increase in the base price.

Tesla has been known to change, mostly increase, its prices from time to time. This time though, the change is good because the Performance Upgrade option will now be added to the most expensive trim in the Model 3 lineup—the Dual Motor Performance. The package comes with an all-wheel-drive system and has a 310-mile estimated range. The starting price for the top-range trim is $65,200 even after the $5,000 upgrade.

It also includes a carbon-fiber spoiler, aluminum pedals, lowered suspension, new 20-inch alloys on Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, upgraded brakes, and a 10-mph increase in its top speed. This boost will allow the range-topping Tesla Model 3 to hit 155 mph.

However, many Tesla Model 3 owners have already paid the $5,000 fee so this news doesn’t really sit well with them. After they complained to Elon Musk on Twitter, the controversial Tesla CEO agreed to refund the $5,000 fee or the disgruntled customers can choose for free Supercharging for the entirety of the ownership. It’s a pretty sweet deal so all you Tesla Model 3 owners who shelled out $5,000 for the package can now proceed to dealerships and get more value for your money.

A couple of months ago, Tesla offered free “unlimited” Supercharging to current Model 3 Performance owners. They can also gift new buyers the same benefit under the company’s referral scheme. The program ended in September so the Model 3 is no longer being offered with the free Supercharging.

Tesla Rolls Navigate On Autopilot In North America

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Tesla cars are close to being able to drive on their own as the company that controversial CEO Elon Musk started just announced the activation of its Navigate on Autopilot feature. This will allow the car to change lanes and take exits under minimal driver supervision.

A couple of weeks ago, Tesla rolled out its 9.0 software, which included a new dashcam feature, games that can be played while the car is parked, and updates to the vehicle’s navigation settings. The update held back one feature: the Navigate on Autopilot.

On Saturday though, Musk tweeted: “Tesla Autopilot Drive on Navigation going to wide release in North America tonight.” This brings the company closer to a fully autonomous self-driving car with no driver interference.

For the Navigate on Autopilot, the system will require drivers to confirm lane changes before the car moves into an adjacent lane. Future versions of the technology will allow customers to waive the confirmation requirement. But until such time that regulators approve and validate the use of self-driving technology, Tesla maintained that “drivers are responsible for and must remain in control of their car at all times.”

The Navigate on Autopilot “guides a car from a highway’s on-ramp to off-ramp, including suggesting and making lane changes, navigating highway interchanges, and taking exits.” The system is designed to allow users to find and follow the most efficient path to their destinations. And while drivers must always be attentive when using Autopilot, the system adds another layer of security by ensuring that drivers are paying attention since the lane-change feature won’t work without a driver confirmation.

With eight external cameras and radar and ultrasonic sensors, the Navigate on Autopilot “provides an additional layer of safety that two eyes alone would not have,” a statement from Tesla said.

The introduction of the Software Version 9.0 allowed Tesla to collect performance and safety data at scale based on real-world driving. The data collected was used to configure the features of the Navigate on Autopilot.

 

Tesla Under FBI Investigation For “Misstating” Model 3 Production Numbers

tesla model 3

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigation electric-vehicle-producer Tesla for possibly misstating information about Model 3’s production going back to early 2017. The FBI is probing documents to see whether Tesla was capable of producing the numbers announced by its CEO Elon Musk in 2017.

The report from The Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed sources “familiar with the matter,” said that the criminal probe will involve comparing Musk’s pronouncements with the company’s manufacturing capability back in 2017. Specifically, the bureau wants to know if Musk made predictions and projections he knew the company wouldn’t be able to meet.

This news comes after a separate settlement of civil charges between the US Securities and Exchange Commission and Tesla and Musk. According to the same report, the FBI investigation has gained steam since then and has now asked former Tesla employees about the company’s production capability in 2017. The investigation is being headed by the US Attorney’s office in San Francisco.

Tesla Model 3’s production was launched in July 2017 but the company was only able to build 2,700 units in the whole year, including the 793 models it produced in the final week. It was only able to reach its goal of 5,000 units in June of this year but has since eased off that pace.

Bloomberg has its own Model 3 Tracker and it currently estimates that Tesla is building 4,562 units of Model 3 every week, bringing the total produced to 111,315 units.

In an email to Autoblog, Tesla admitted that the Justice Department requested documents pertaining to the public guidance for the Model 3 ramp. It did not specifically address the issue about the FBI probe. The statement said that the company has not received a subpoena, a request for testimony, or any other formal process. The Justice Department did not request additional documents, too.

“Tesla’s philosophy has always been to set truthful targets — not sandbagged targets that we would definitely exceed and not unrealistic targets that we could never meet.”

And while Tesla gets criticized for the delay in reaching its goals, the statement reminded everyone that the company has completed some ambitious goals that most doubted.

 

Production of Tesla Model Y To Start In 2020

Now that Elon Musk has approved the production of a prototype of the Tesla Model Y, we can, therefore, proceed to expect the mass production to begin sometime in 2020. There’s no word on an official date for the debut but if Musk’s tweets are any indication, it looks like we’re going to see the prototype by the middle of next year.

During Tesla’s third-quarter earnings calls earlier this week, the CEO let out that he approved Model Y’s prototype to enter production but that does not mean that volume production will begin by late 2019, which he previously hinted would be the timeline. On May 24, this year, in a series of tweets, Musk said that Tesla could unveil Model Y “from late this year to mid next year, so March 15 is about right.”

Model Y’s production has been delayed because Tesla apparently was not starting new vehicle production to first achieve GAAP profitability. During the earnings call, the electronic vehicle company announced that it achieved a $312-million profit during the third quarter of 2018.

When it comes to other projects, Musk focused on the significant progress the company made on the Semi and the next-generation Roadster. He then talked about Tesla’s upcoming pickup truck, which he believed is going to be “some next level stuff.”

It is not yet clear where Tesla plans to build the Model Y, though it is very possible that it can share the assembly line with the Model 3 in the automaker’s Fremont factory. Both cars will share the same platform. However, since the Fremont facility is nearing its capacity of 7,000 vehicles per week, it is very possible that Model Y’s production could move someplace else, possibly even China, where Tesla has a new Gigafactory in eastern Shanghai province. The facility will be built on a 534-square-mile land and it will cost around $2 billion.

 

Tesla Increases Price of Mid-Range Model 3 By $1,000

tesla model 3

Tesla increased the price of its recently announced mid-range Model 3 by $1,000, bringing the new total to $47,200 from $46,200. This is not a major price hike, but it’s unusual to increase the price of a car only a few days after it goes on sale.

The long-range dual-motor Model 3 will still start at $54,200, including destination fee while the mid-range rear-drive Model 3 will sell for the new price tag of $47,200. If you visit Tesla’s online configurator, the price change is live there.

It was just last week that Tesla announced the sale of the mid-range Model 3 in a bid to make the electric vehicle accessible to more drivers. It did not specify a reason for the price increase, though.

The mid-range Model 3 has an estimated range of 260 miles and can run from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds, or so at least it claims.

This model should not be confused with the long-rumored base Model 3 that will be priced at $35,000. Tesla boss Elon Musk said on Thursday that the automaker still can’t deliver its promise of a $35,000 Tesla. While that is still their goal, Musk said there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to produce a $35,000 base Model 3 that will have a “positive gross margin.”

During the conference call for Tesla’s third quarter financial results, in which the company posted positive sales margin, Musk said that the base model might arrive in six months. Or at least, that’s the timeline the Tesla CEO has given us for now. Previously, Tesla said that the base version of the Model 3 will be available as soon as four months but it looks like the plan will be delayed once more.

The company will also have to completely redesign a battery pack for the $35,000 Model 3 instead of repurposing a bigger battery like what they did for the mid-range model.

 

Full Self-Driving Option Removed From Tesla’s Configurator

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Prior to October 19, Tesla still had an item listed as “Full Self-Driving Capability” on its online configurator. It was offered as an option for its buyers. However, after that date, the feature was no longer among the choices.

According to reports, the Full Self-Driving option has been removed from the electric vehicle maker’s configurator indefinitely. The feature added $3,000 to $5,000 to the cars it was fitted on.

What was unusual about the option though was that Tesla didn’t have the technology yet. The company only promised that the feature will only be activated once the system was ready. For short, it was a pre-order scheme ensuring those who purchased the add-on that they will be the first to get it when it rolled out.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk addressed the issue in one of his Tweets saying, “Also available off menu for a week. Was causing too much confusion.”

We’re wondering why it took Tesla so long to realize that selling the Full Self-Driving feature before they even had the technology would be confusing for customers. The option has been in their configurator since 2016. Therefore, many people have already been baited into buying the non-existent item.

In fact, some buyers who paid for the feature were livid. A number of them even sued the company. They alleged that they were deceived into purchasing a feature that didn’t exist.

Despite that, Tesla continues to assure their buyers that they are still developing the Full Self-Driving system. But the company failed to give a timeframe for its release.

So far, there are no talks about a possible refund for the complaining customers. And, for sure, the removal of the feature in the configurator just added to the worries of the people who already paid for it.

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