Tesla Motors’ website and Twitter account were hacked

Tesla Motors’ website and Twitter account were hacked late Saturday afternoon by a group claiming to be the “Autismsquad” or “RIPPGANG” on Twitter. From about 4:30 PM ET and for a little less than an hour, the website displayed the following images:

Tesla_website_hacked

At about 5:25 PM ET Tesla’s website was back to normal. Then half an hour later, the website was back to the homepage displaying the hacked notice.

It’s not clear what are the intentions of the hackers, but they might be linked to the black hat hacking group “Lizard Squad”.

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Tesla updated its website to include pre-owned Model S with 178 cars available in the US

It is without any public announcement that Tesla updated its website Friday night to include a section for pre-owned vehicles. 178 cars were available in 11 locations in the US.

Unsurprisingly, most of the cars are equipped with the performance package. 116 out of the 178 pre-owned vehicles available in the US are P85 or P85+. When Tesla announced the new Model S versions with dual motor in October 2014, a significant number of performance Model S owners were showing interest in upgrading to the P85D.

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New Tesla Model S 70D are significantly more efficient than 2WD models it replaces

Tesla-empg

The US Dept of Energy released its eMPG ratings for Tesla’s new Model S 70D and it is the first Model S to go over the 100 MPGe.  In fact it is more that a 6% gain over the Model S 60 it replaced. Some of that efficiency will be chalked up to the dual motors that Elon Musk discussed in the launch of the D lineup. However, such a huge gain in performance might also be attributable to losses made in the weight in the vehicle since the S60 was launched 3 years ago.

If you look at the compare to the heavier battery 85KW models, you see particular gains in city driving where stopping and starting is more prevalent – a place where weight matters. Musk noted that the P85D would see some loss in efficiency due to the performance tires on the 3 second 0-60 supercar model.

Some older Tesla Model S stats below:

Tesla-effecient-gas

Tesla’s Model 3 prototype should be ready by the end of 2015

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled “Tesla Offers Slight Glimpse Into Model 3’s Status”. The article is based on yesterday’s filings with the SEC about Tesla’s upcoming shareholders meeting. The only new information we have about the Model 3 from these documents is that Tesla didn’t complete the alpha prototype of the Model 3 in the last 4 months. I don’t think this is the best way to look at this information.

In their last 10K filing published February 26th,  Tesla estimated the completion of the Model 3 alpha prototype as “probable of achievement”. The completion of the prototype is a milestone for Elon Musk’s CEO stock compensation plan and Tesla needs to disclose the probability of achieving the milestones in order for shareholders to estimate potential stock compensation expenses.

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Elon Musk confirmed a timeframe for the Roadster update via Twitter

Late last year, Tesla announced the Roadster 3.0, an update for Tesla’s first model that will include a new 70KWh battery pack. The new pack combined with an upgraded body is expected to allow for a range close to 400 miles.

Details about the timeframe for this update were unclear until now. Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, confirmed via Twitter that the update should be available to Roadster owners in August this year after safety validation in July.

Details of Tesla’s agreement with SolarCity on stationary batteries emerge from Tesla’s recent SEC filings

Earlier today, Tesla filed their notice with the SEC for their 2015 annual shareholders meeting to be held on June 9th. In these filings, Tesla is required to review transactions with related parties. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, is Chairman and an important shareholder of SolarCity. Therefore Tesla needs to publicly acknowledge transactions between the two companies.

Tesla recently confirmed in an email to investors that their announcement on April 30th will indeed be a home battery system and an energy storage system for utilities. It has been known for a while that Tesla was testing these home battery systems through SolarCity. In the same filings last year, the company confirmed approximately $1.6 million in revenue from SolarCity during fiscal year 2013 for the sales of stationary batteries.

Today, Tesla confirmed that the revenue from SolarCity for stationary batteries went up to $2.7 million for the fiscal year 2014.

According to Rod Lache from Deutsche Bank, if SolarCity were to reach their goal of 1 million customers by 2018 and if Tesla would equip half of their customers with home battery systems, Tesla could generate $1.5 billion of revenue through 2018 from SolarCity. Tesla made $3.2 billion in revenue last year.

Many of Tesla’s new battery announcement details hidden in plain site

Screenshot 2015-04-17 13.25.25

Tesla is going to make a home battery announcement on April 30th. It will be a big deal. But it isn’t hard to find some of the details on the batteries Tesla is going to offer. Analysts, like above^ are claiming to have “secret info” on the announcement: Tesla secretly tested its battery solution with 300 customers.

But that info and much more is available on Solar City’s website. In fact, Tesla’s Home Batteries including pictures and lots of details are all  hidden in plain sight:

Tesla-battery

Tesla also gave plenty of details on their earnings call in February where Musk talked about releasing a consumer battery project:

Yes, we’re going to do — we’re going to unveil some of the Tesla home battery consumer battery that will be for you using and people’s houses or businesses, fairly soon. We have to design and it should start going into production probably about six months or so. We’ll probably got to wait to have sort of product availing it’s probably in the next month or two. It’s really great. I’m really excited about it.

If you’ve talked to Solar City, they may have provided you with the specs of Tesla’s prototype battery:

Tesla-home-battery

Tesla will certainly announce some new innovations that perhaps differentiate them from other batteries. Being able to Supercharge your Model S at home would be nice. Perhaps a Webb/App controller with some novel uses would be good.

I’d like to see it compared against home generators which cost a lot more, even before considering the savings against time of use metering in power. We’ll be on hand on the 30th to see what is on offer.

 

 

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.

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.

 

Economist interviews Tesla CTO JB Straubel on cars, planes, batteries and the energy industry

Great interview, not much new however if you follow Tesla and its CTO into the energy industry. Some interesting bits:

Why did Tesla act differently? For a start, it does not think of itself as a carmaker. “I see us more as an energy-innovation company,” says Jeffrey “JB” Straubel, the firm’s chief technology officer, and one of the co-founders of Tesla, along with Elon Musk, the chief executive. “If we can reduce energy-storage prices, it’s the most important thing we can do to make electric vehicles more prevalent,” says Mr Straubel. “Add in renewable power and I have a direct line of sight towards an entire economy that doesn’t need fossil fuels and doesn’t need to pay more to do it.”…

Mr Straubel met Mr Musk, a freshly minted multimillionaire from the sale of his PayPal digital-payments company to eBay. “One lunch was the beginning of what eventually became Tesla,” says Mr Straubel. “We spent most of the meal talking about electric aeroplanes. But as we were wrapping up, I said I was working on a fun crazy project with cars, trying to build a lithium-ion battery pack that could last 1,000 miles.”…

“Most other companies do not believe that battery volume will grow as fast as it’s going to,” Mr Straubel counters. “They don’t understand the tight linkage between cost and volume. We’re at this crossing-point where a small reduction in cost is going to result in a ridiculously big increase in volume, because the auto industry is so big.”…

“No one wishes we could come up with a technology that makes today’s chemistry obsolete more than me,” says Mr Straubel. “We could sell more cars at a lower price. But we’re not waiting.”

Elon Musk talks Model S P85D, “This is a halo car for Tesla”, and much more in GQ interview

In case you missed it, Elon Musk sat down for an interview with GQ Magazine last week where the Tesla CEO commented on a random smattering of interesting tidbits.

While much of the interview treads on familiar ground, such as Tesla opening up their patents and Musk’s general thoughts on the state of the car industry, there are a few nuggets worth highlighting.

For instance, Musk talks briefly about development of the Tesla Model S P85D:

This is a halo car for Tesla. We didn’t do it from the beginning because it adds complexity, and we already had enough fish to fry just making a car that worked. But it was always something we expected to do. We wanted to position it as the fastest in order to change the public mindset. It had to be something dramatic. And getting those few extra 10ths of a second was hard.

As for consumer interest in Tesla’s highest-end model, it appears that the problem is supply more so than demand, certainly an enviable problem to have. Speaking to that, Musk notes that “demand for the P85D is off the charts.”

With respect to the highly anticipated Model 3, Musk noted that Tesla is hoping to get the sticker price down to just half that of the Model S, a goal which precipitated development of the gargantuan Gigafactory in Nevada.

We need the Gigafactory because there currently isn’t enough battery cell capacity for a high-volume, pure electric car at any price. The Model 3 is 20% smaller than the Model S, so the battery pack can be just 80% of the size, but we’re aiming for a 50% price reduction from the S, so we need the factory to make it affordable.

Musk is certainly a colorful personality, and the interview is well worth checking out in its entirety. Again, you won’t find too much new information to digest, but the story provides a good background of Tesla’s goals and Musk’s strategy to bring said goals to fruition.

Elon Musk takes to Twitter to end the “debate”: Model X will have Falcon Wing doors

Franz von Holzhausen

The Model X is coming. No, really, it is. Despite some delays, Tesla earlier this week sent out an email reassuring reservation holders that the hotly anticipated Model X will begin shipping to customers with pre-orders sometime during the third quarter of 2015.

Of course, anytime a highly anticipated product — whether it be a smartphone or a car — is subject to delays, the rumor mill starts churning, often times taking us down a path completely soaked with idle speculation.

Such was the case with the Model X earlier this week when an analyst from none other than Morgan Stanley issued a note to investors articulating that engineering difficulties with the Model Xs’ Falcon Wing doors are likely behind the vehicle’s delay. Naturally, some folks took the report and ran with it, leading some to start wondering, “Is there any chance the Model X won’t come with Falcon Wing doors?”

In a word, “No.”

But don’t take my word for it. In an effort to nip such rumors in the bud, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter early on Wednesday to dispel any notion that the Model X would be doing away with its, dare I say, iconic doors.

Well that settles that. And now we can all go back to impatiently waiting for the Model X to hit the streets.