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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

tesla

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.

Entry-Level Tesla Model 3 Gets a Cheaper Version

tesla model 3

The Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle is now being offered at a lower price, thanks to the introduction of a new cheaper variant.

According to CNN, Tesla CEO Elon Musk made the announcement last week. The controversial boss of the American car brand said that the Model 3 will now start at $45,000. The cost is $4,000 below the prior introductory price of the auto.

The report noted that the electric range of the model is one of the determining factors of Tesla’s pricing. With that, the upcoming cheapest Model 3 will be offered with a 260-mile electric range on a fully-charged battery.

The long-range battery with 310 miles will be reserved for the more expensive trim of the EV priced at $54,000. The $49,000-worth version of the vehicle has the long-range battery with a rear-wheel-drive system but it is no longer available.

The automaker also revealed that there will be another Model 3 trim with a standard battery pack good for 200 miles. The car will be sold for $35,000 but it won’t be available in the market four to six months from now.

Those who will buy a Tesla vehicle before December 31 comes will get to enjoy a $7,500 tax credit. However, the deliveries of the new version of the Model 3 will only begin in six to ten weeks. Customers will still be eligible for a $3,750 credit though when they make their purchases from January 1, 2019, to June 30, 2019.

Despite the delayed rollout of the Model 3, Tesla assured their investors that they will realize their profits by the third and fourth quarters of this year.

James Murdoch In Line To Replace Elon Musk As Tesla Chairman

elon musk and james murdoch

Outgoing Twenty-First Century Fox Chief James Murdoch is the leading contender to replace Elon Musk as Tesla chairman. The leading electric car manufacturing company was given until November 15 by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to replace Musk as chair.

This came after a settlement between Musk and SEC following the Tesla’s CEO’s tweet last August that he had secured funding to take the company private. The SEC said the statement was fraudulent but together with Tesla and Musk, the parties agreed to allow the billionaire to continue in his capacity as Tesla CEO but not as chairman of the board. The SEC also imposed a $20-million penalty fee on each party.

According to a report on the Financial Times, two people briefed on the internal discussion in Tesla said Murdoch, the son of controversial media mogul Rupert Murdoch, was the lead candidate for the role. As a non-executive director at Tesla, Murdoch fits the bill that SEC requires—an independent chairman. The report from the Financial Times, however, said external options are still being considered because there were some disagreements among the board members.

Musk initially did not comment on the issue about Murdoch’s takeover but he replied with a terse tweet to an FT post on Twitter. “This is incorrect,” he said of the post about Murdoch’s candidacy. Asked further for comment, Musk did not respond.

Musk is known to favor Antonio Gracias, another independent director, but he has been advised that Gracias may not exactly be independent because of his investments in Musk’s other companies, more specifically the Space X, a rocket business.

Earlier this year, leading US proxy advisers Glass Lewis & Co and Institutional Shareholder Services, and union-affiliated investment adviser CtW Investment Group, recommended that investors cast votes “against” Murdoch during Tesla’s annual meeting on June 5.

Both proxy firms are worried that Murdoch is serving on too many boards and that he lacks experience in the car manufacturing industry.

Murdoch, who signaled he wants the job, will soon step down as chief executive of the 21st Century Fox and News Corp after it completes the sale of its entertainment assets to Walt Disney. Reports said he is considering setting up a technology investment firm, making the job at Tesla incredibly alluring.

 

Tesla Model 3 Gets Five-Star Rating From NHTSA

tesla model 3

The 2018 Tesla Model 3 earned a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), acing its government safety evaluation. It got five stars overall and in every category it was tested on.

The NHTSA put the Tesla Model 3, a rear-wheel-drive model, through several tests: front driver side, front passenger side, side barrier (driver and rear passenger), side pole, and rollover crashes. Previous Tesla cars, the Model S and the Model X, were also rated five stars by the same agency.

On the other hand, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not released a full rating for the Model 3, though it already got an “Acceptable” headlight score and the top score of “Superior” in front crash prevention. The Tesla Model 3 passed the tests due to its ability to avoid collision in both 12-mph and 25-mph examinations.

It’s no wonder that the Tesla Model 3 was able to pass the NHTSA tests as it is offering a number of advanced safety technologies, including forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency braking.

Tesla has been suffering from a slew of bad press because of its inability to reach the production deadline of the Model 3. As it failed to meet its production targets, it also suffered greatly from building the Model 3 in an assembly line under a giant tent.

Earlier this month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Twitter revealed that the company has “gone from production hell to delivery logistics hell.” This was jokingly hinted earlier this week when Musk answered a tweet from Twitter handle @megangale, who posted a photo of several Teslas lined up at the Union Pacific Railroad in SLC.

On Twitter, @megangale said that one of her cars are parked at the Union Pacific Railroad. “I’ve been told I was getting delivery the 8th, then the 15th, then the 20th, then the 22nd, and now my delivery has been delayed indefinite. Please make this right.”

Musk then replied, “Sorry, we’ve gone from production hell to delivery logistics hell, but this problem is far more tractable. We’re making rapid progress. Should be solved shortly.”

Tesla Model S and X Will Receive Interior Refresh

model s and x

Tesla hasn’t been paying much attention to the Model S and the Model X because the company has been busy fast-tracking the production of the Model 3, the latest in its line of electric vehicles.

According to the images published by Electrek, however, the larger sedan and the SUV models are due for an interior refresh. This is great news for those who still want to spend their money on either a Model S or a Model X because they will be getting the same spartan interiors as the Model 3.

Tesla Model SX interior (1) Tesla Model SX interior (2)

We hope you certainly like how the Model 3 looks like in the cabin because that’s exactly how the interiors of the new Model S and Model X will look like. The images published show a horizontal touchscreen unit that replaces the vertical screen we have found endearing in the Model S and Model X from the beginning. The unit looks thinner than the Model 3’s screen with ultra-thin bezels. Since this was the latest intel we got from Tesla, it looks like the dashboard of the Model S and X will look better than the one in the Model 3.

Interior of the Model 3

Interior of the Model 3

The cockpit will also be similar to the Model 3 with its single-vent design and the center gauge cluster removed for a minimalist display readout.

The new spartan interior looks less luxurious than what we’ve come to love about the Model S and the Model X, which are both geared for the higher market than the Model 3. But the refresh will reportedly give both cars access to premium materials such as new seat cushions, additional front storage, and a wireless phone charger.

This latest move from Tesla is part of an effort to catch up with other premium brands that offer electric vehicles, too. The final designs are going to be released next year, so everything can still change and we might face a better interior upgrade for the Model S and X.

 

Tesla Reveals Model 3 Performance Prices, Specs

tesla model 3

Tesla just unveiled new details about the performance variant of the Tesla Model 3. Tweets from both Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the company itself claimed that the fastest version of the compact sedan will offer BMW M3-beating speed and handling.

According to Musk, the Model 3 Performance will be “15% quicker & with better handling” than BMW’s M3. It boasts that it can go from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds and it has a top speed of 155 mph. The boldest claim from Tesla? The new Model 3 Performance will “beat anything in its class on the track.”

The company has not released the official power output for the car yet, but the Model 3 will use a dual motor setup—one powering each axle and running individually from the other. This means that if the other motor breaks, the car would still be drivable, thanks to the other motor.

The claimed range is 310 miles, but it will be possible to have 170 miles more in 30 minutes, thanks to Tesla’s Superchargers. Model S owners will get that for free, but Model 3 drivers would have to pay for that service.

On the outside, the Model 3 Performance will get the larger set of 20-inch wheels and they will house upgraded brakes. There’s also a carbon fiber lip spoiler that will improve the car’s rear downforce, but no official figures have been released yet.

Inside, the Model 3 Performance has a single 15-inch touchscreen that features live traffic updates and over-the-air updates. The seats are heated and they are trimmed in black and white leather. A panoramic glass roof will also come as standard.

The Model 3 Performance will have a starting price of $78,000, excluding the Autopilot system. production of the Model 3s will begin in 2019.

Tesla Model 3 Starts Offering “Summon” Feature

The Tesla Model S and the Model X have been enjoying the self-parking Summon feature for quite some time now. But finally, it has arrived in the Tesla Model 3, as announced by the company in a tweet.

Tesla said on Twitter, “Summon [is] now available in the Model 3.”

Apparently, news and press releases are not the venues where we’re going to learn new updates about Tesla. Everything’s on Twitter these days, so better stick with following Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

The Summon feature allows cars to park autonomously without anyone in the car. No one is also remotely controlling the car. This is a huge help when you need to park the car in a very tight space and very close to a wall or a pillar. Getting out of the car is not a problem anymore since you could simply stand and watch your car park itself. Neat, right?

If programmed to do so, the system can even open and close the garage door as it parks and powers down. It can be called out by the owner, too, making it far easier for the driver to get in the car after it has been parked in a tight space.

The tweet was a response to a video posted by Twitter handle @28delayslater, showing the Model 3 parking itself in a tight space in a home garage. The garage door also closed behind it. Mr. Musk replied to the video tweet, saying “Note, no one is in the car or controlling remotely. [The] Car is driving entirely by itself.”

Similar with other Tesla models, the Model 3 can add new features and upgrade existing ones through over-the-air software. Yes, that’s right. There’s no need to bring the car to a dealer and have the system installed. All you need is a pretty strong connection and you’re good to go. Interestingly, this move of downloading software over the air is being adopted by other automakers.

 

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