Elon Musk’s cameo on The Simpsons

In case you missed it, Elon Musk was a guest star on tonight’s episode of The Simpsons. In an episode titled “The Musk Who Fell To Earth”, the Tesla CEO comes to Springfield where he helps transform Homer’s hairbrained schemes into innovative ideas. Overall, the episode was good, though hardly an instant classic. Still, there were a few well thought out gags not to mention some tongue-in-cheek jabs about Musk’s brilliance and perhaps some subtle references to Tesla’s financial stability. A few of the highlights can be seen below.

Here we see Mr. Burns meeting Elon Musk for the first time.

Here’s Musk’s arrival to Springfield.. “He changed the way Hollywood drives!”

In this clip, Musk makes it known that he only talks when intellectually stimulated.

Here we see Homer with an autodriving car.

BMW and Volkswagon team up with ChargePoint to light up East and West Coast US with fast DC chargers

BMW of North America, Volkswagen of America and ChargePoint Inc. will construct up to 100 charging stations in “express charging corridors” from San Diego to Portland, Ore., on the West Coast and Boston to Washington on the East Coast.

Construction has already started on the Western corridor, where a string of new charging stations will allow vehicles to travel the length of California and into Oregon. As many as 100 stations will be up and running by the end of 2015, said Pasquale Romano, ChargePoint’s president and chief executive.

Each station will include one or two 50-kilowatt DC Fast chargers or 24-kilowatt DC Combo Fast chargers, developed by BMW in partnership with Bosch. Those chargers — typically used for BMW and VW vehicles, as well as the Chevy Spark EV — can bring a vehicle up to 80% power in less than 30 minutes.

A lot of important considerations here (original Press release). These may or may not be compatible with Chademo cars (Nissan Leafs in particular) and Tesla will need an adapter if these will work at all with their vehicles. (All Electric Vehicles can take advantage of the Level 2 AC chargers but those only provide 20 or so miles per hour of charge).

The bigger consideration for the broad idea of these chargers is that for sub-100 mile vehicles, it doesn’t represent a complete long distance solution. The BMW i3, Chevy Spark, Volkswagon eGulf and all of the other cars that get <100 miles/charge and indeed what Chargepoint is calculating in the Press release and the graphic – this only represents a stop gap.

You travel for an hour (maybe 90 minutes tops) then you charge for a half hour (20 minutes gets you to 80% in a perfect situation).

Wash-Auto-Show-InfographicThat’s not going to be a great trip, though it may make a trip from Boston to New York or other 150-200 mile trips bearable.

Tesla is still king of the EV road trip wit its 200-300 mile batteries and Supercharger network which allows fast charging up to 130kW. That means Tesla drivers can easily travel 3 hours between charging and get back on the road in about a half hour – which is similar to gas road trips.

GM and others are planning 200+ Mile EVs for 2017 and beyond however these charging stations are going to max out at 50kW meaning that to fill a 200Mile range battery will take an hour plus – still not a great situation for road trips. SAE Level 2 DC charging spec maxes out at 90A, already far below Tesla’s 130KW Superchargers.

SAE DC level 3 charging however might be a solution with its insane 240kW max. That would theoretically take a 300 mile battery pack to 80% charge in 10 minutes…the future.

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Press release follows:

Read more

Elon Musk talks Model 3 cost ($35,000), launch window of 2017, and potential to work with franchise dealers in the future

elon musk

In a corporate world often teeming with bland political correctness, Elon Musk, whether you love him or hate him, is a breath of fresh air. Not afraid to call it like he sees it, whenever Musk delivers a talk or sits down for an interview — or even a Reddit AMA — it’s always a good idea to listen closely.

Most recently, Musk on Tuesday spoke at the Automotive News World Congress event in Detroit where the Tesla CEO touched on a wide array of topics.

Of particular interest were Musk’s comments on the highly anticipated Model 3. Though a few years away, the Model 3 remains Tesla’s big bet to bring electric cars into the mainstream. Moreover, the potential success of the Model 3 is the big bet that multitudes of investors are banking on.

According to Musk, the Model 3 remains on track for a 2017 release and the company remains optimistic that it will be able to sell approximately 500,000 vehicles (of all models) per year by 2020. Looking even beyond that, Musk relayed that the company has plans to up production to “at least a few million a year” by 2025.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

Silicon Valley automaker Tesla Motors will be making “a few million cars” by 2025, enigmatic CEO Elon Musk said in Detroit today.

That would make the company about the size of BMW today.

That’s an ambitious goal, to be sure, but Musk didn’t get to where he is today by thinking small.

Of course, a key, if not the most important, variable in the Model 3 equation will be cost. If Tesla really wants the Model 3 to be a mainstream hit, it will have to be priced much lower than the premium, yet still wildly successful, Model S.

On that note, Musk earlier today said that the Model 3 will be priced at around $35,000 without any tax credits. If Tesla is, in fact, able to reach that pricepoint thanks to economies of scale via the in-progress Gigafactory, the Model 3 would be well positioned to have a discernible and sweeping impact on the auto industry. What’s more, by the time 2017 rolls around, Tesla’s network of superchargers will be even more ubiquitous and the positive word-of-mouth praise surrounding the Tesla brand will be even stronger. Note that the average price of a new car in 2013 checked in at about $32,000, thus making the Model 3 an attainable purchase for many.

While we still don’t have a clue as to what the Model 3 will look like, Musk noted in a recent Reddit AMA that it “won’t look like other cars.” Meanwhile, Tesla lead designer Franz von Holzhausen has said that it’s the coolest thing he’s ever worked on. Intriguing, to say the least.

Musk also added that the Model 3 “will be way different from any other car on the road”, albeit in a way “that’s really useful and just doesn’t feel like a weird-mobile.”

On a related note, Musk also touched on the potential for Tesla to work with franchise dealers, something the company has avoided like the plague for years. Arguably, for Tesla to truly have a mainstream hit with the Model 3, it will need to rely on franchises due to logistics alone.

Reuters reports:

… Musk said he was open to partnerships with retailers to sell Tesla vehicles, but not until after the company no longer has production bottlenecks.

“Before considering taking on franchised dealers, we also have to establish (more of) our own stores,” he said. Musk said “we will consider” franchising “if we find the right partner.” He did not elaborate, but said Tesla “is not actively seeking any partnerships” with other manufacturers “because our focus is so heavily on improving our production” in Fremont.

With the Model 3 hopefully just two years away, the next big item on Tesla’s radar is the impending launch of the Model X. Though already delayed, Musk reiterated that the vehicle is on target for a Summer 2015 launch.


Tesla adds executive rear seat option aimed at Chinese market


At a earnings call last year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk noted that the Chinese market for Teslas was tricky because most of the target audience was chauffeur-driven. At the time, he said an executive back seat option was in the works. Together with the update of the site this weekend, Tesla introduced a new option for an executive rear seat which unsurprisingly looks like the front seats with cupholder/armrest but not as much lateral support.

I have a feeling these will be popular outside of China as well.  Read more

Chevrolet unveils the Bolt EV concept, cites over 200 mile range and $30,000 price tag

As predicted, Chevy announced a Tesla Model 3 competitor called the Bolt EV concept today.

I can’t say I agree with the color choice but I like the specs. Specifically “over 200 miles on a charge for a $30,000 price tag” makes it a game changer and puts it in line with the Tesla Model 3. It also doesn’t look like it will be crippled in the interior space category like the Volt.

As for aesthetics, it looks like a Spark EV super-sized.

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Tesla Model X shown off at CES 2015 Panasonic booth [Gallery and video]

This is the same prototype Model X that has been shown off at other venues and isn’t the final version but it was nice to get a good look at it.  Seeing it in person, I noticed the frunk is huge. What isn’t huge however is the legroom in back. I’m hoping Tesla has some novel solution to adding more legroom in the back.

Also, where does my snowboard go  on the roof with those Falcon wing doors?