Tesla battery researcher unveils new cell that could last 1 million miles in ‘robot taxis’

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Tesla’s battery research partner has released a new paper on a battery cell that could last over 1 million miles, which they say is going to be particularly useful in ‘robot taxis’ — something that Tesla wants to bring to market.

When talking about the economics of Tesla’s future fleet of robotaxis at the Tesla Autonomy Event, Tesla CEO Elon Musk emphasized that the vehicles need to be durable in order for the economics to work:

The cars currently built are all designed for a million miles of operation. The drive unit is design, tested, and validated for 1 million miles of operation.

But the CEO admitted that the battery packs are not built to last 1 million miles.

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U.S. to test mirrorless, camera-based systems in autos

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An Audi 55 e-tron is seen ahead of the company’s annual news conference at its headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany, March 14, 2019.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to test how drivers could use cameras to replace traditional rearview mirrors in automobiles, a technology already allowed in other countries, the agency said on Tuesday.

The planned test by the agency known as NHTSA would examine “driving behavior and lane change maneuver execution” in cars with traditional mirrors and camera-based visibility systems, the department said in a notice offering the public a chance to comment.

In March 2014, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers — a trade group representing General Motors Co, Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE), Toyota Motor Corp and others, along with Tesla Inc, petitioned NHTSA to use camera-based rear or side-vision systems. A similar petition was filed by Daimler AG in 2015 seeking approval for camera use instead of rearview mirrors in heavy-duty trucks. Those petitions are still pending.

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Tesla’s Megapack battery is big enough to help grids handle peak demand

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A new industrial storage product coming as the company’s lost its lead in home solar

Tesla announced a new massive battery today called Megapack that could replace so-called “peaker” power plants, which provide energy when a local electrical grid gets overloaded. Tesla says that Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) will deploy several Megapacks at Moss Landing on Monterrey Bay in California, which is one of four locations where the California utility plans to install more cost-effective energy storage solutions.

Each Megapack can store up to 3 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy at a time, and it’s possible to string enough Megapacks together to create a battery with more than 1 GWh of energy storage, Tesla says. The company says this would be enough energy to power “every home in San Francisco for six hours.” Telsa will deliver the Megapacks fully assembled, and they include “battery modules, bi-directional inverters, a thermal management system, an AC main breaker and controls.” Tesla says the Megapack takes up 40 percent less space, requires a tenth of the parts to build, and can be assembled 10 times as fast as alternative energy storage solutions.

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Tesla launches its Megapack, a new massive 3 MWh energy storage product

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Tesla is launching today its ‘Megapack’, a massive new energy storage product that combines up to 3 MWh of storage capacity and a 1.5 MW inverter.

Electrek exclusively reported last year that Tesla has been working on a new energy storage system called ‘Megapack’.

We found out that Tesla was going to use the Megapack at a giant new energy storage project in California.

Today, almost a year later, the company is now officially launching the product.

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Tesla to charge $1,000 more for ‘full self-driving’ Autopilot package in August

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A reminder, though, that Tesla’s cars still aren’t fully autonomous

Tesla will increase the price of the “full self-driving” version of its Autopilot driver assistance system by around $1,000 starting August 16th, according to CEO Elon Musk. The higher-tier package currently costs $6,000 if customers choose the option when buying a car, but Tesla charges $8,000 if they decide to upgrade after taking delivery. It’s not clear if Musk was referring to increasing both those price tags, and Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tesla brought back the “full self-driving” package earlier this year after shelving the option in late 2018 amid criticism that the company was overselling the autonomy of its vehicles. While Tesla sells the package under the name “full self-driving,” it should be noted that Tesla’s cars still cannot operate autonomously. Musk has said the company will make that possible by the end of 2019, and earlier this year he showed off the custom chip that Tesla will use to tackle this tall task, though he is well-known for missing deadlines.

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Elon Musk: Tesla will stop selling cars to consumers once autonomous driving is perfected


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Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been talking a lot about Tesla Network lately, part of Tesla’s “Master Plan, Part Deux” which will enable Tesla cars with full self-driving hardware to operate as autonomous robotaxis to generate revenue for owners and for Tesla itself.

This is all still a ways off, but that hasn’t stopped Musk and others from theorizing about what might happen when the technological problems behind self-driving are solved. Recently, Musk stated that any Tesla bought today is an “appreciating asset” due to its potential to be used to generate revenue in the future. But an asset wouldn’t really appreciate unless a new, similar asset couldn’t be bought at the same price. So now, Musk has committed to making that happen, stating that once robotaxis become possible, Tesla will likely stop selling cars to consumers, at least at anywhere near the same price.

The exchange came, as it often does, as part of a nighttime tweetstorm from Musk. Among various other questions about the timeline for upgrading HW2+ hardware to Tesla’s new FSD computer and a comment about Tesla’s potential to have a million-robotaxi-fleet by the end of next year, Musk was asked whether prospective buyers would be able to keep buying Teslas well into the future, or if their potential as a revenue generating asset would make that price unattainable for a typical consumer:

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Tesla Navigate on Autopilot drives itself poorly, Consumer Reports finds

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Tesla says it has improved its self-driving Navigate on Autopilot system with its latest software update. Consumer Reports begs to differ.

Last month, Tesla updated its Navigate on Autopilot software to allow its cars to change lanes automatically, without prompting or warning the driver. This gives the system the ability, for example, to navigate highway interchanges by choosing the appropriate lane. The system fulfills Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s promise to develop a system that can drive itself from highway on-ramps to off-ramps without intervention (though several system warnings note that the driver still has to pay attention, and it will shut off if the driver doesn’t hold the steering wheel for too long.)

Only, Consumer Reports says that the system does a poor job changing lanes and that watching over the system and correcting its mistakes is more work for drivers than just driving themselves.

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Tesla pickup truck to be priced below $50,000, makes Ram seem puny

 

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The target starting price is even lower.

This is a real shocker. In fact, it’s a bit hard to believe.

According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the upcoming Tesla truck will have a target price of under $50,000. This seems an impossible figure given the fact that other Tesla products (aside from the Model 3) start at a price that’s much higher. However, Musk stated this in a recent Ride The Lightning Podcast:

“You should be able to buy a really great truck for $49k or less.”

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How we get to the next big battery breakthrough

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Electric planes could be the future of aviation. In theory, they will be much quieter, cheaper, and cleaner than the planes we have today. Electric planes with a 1,000 km (620 mile) range on a single charge could be used for half of all commercial aircraft flights today, cutting global aviation’s carbon emissions by about 15%.

It’s the same story with electric cars. An electric car isn’t simply a cleaner version of its pollution-spewing cousin. It is, fundamentally, a better car: Its electric motor makes little noise and provides lightning-fast response to the driver’s decisions. Charging an electric car costs much less than paying for an equivalent amount of gasoline. Electric cars can be built with a fraction of moving parts, which makes them cheaper to maintain.

So why aren’t electric cars everywhere already? It’s because batteries are expensive, making the upfront cost of an electric car much higher than a similar gas-powered model. And unless you drive a lot, the savings on gasoline don’t always offset the higher upfront cost. In short, electric cars still aren’t economical.

Similarly, current batteries don’t pack in enough energy by weight or volume to power passenger aircrafts. We still need fundamental breakthroughs in battery technology before that becomes a reality.

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Self-driving cars might kill auto insurance as we know it

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Without humans to cause accidents, 90% of risk is removed. Insurers are scrambling to prepare.

Dan Peate, a venture capitalist and entrepreneur in Southern California, was thinking of buying a Tesla Model X a few years ago—until he called his insurance company and found out how much his premiums would rise.

“They quoted me $10,000 a year,” Peate recalled.

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Tesla proposes microgrids with solar and batteries to power Greek islands

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Tesla has met with the Greek government to propose ways to modernize the electric grid of the country’s many islands in the Mediterranean sea with microgrids and renewable energy to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.

Several Greek islands are relatively remote and rely heavily on fossil fuels to power their electric grid.

Over the years, Tesla has acquired some experience in building microgrids to power remote islands using solar panels and its energy storage systems, like the Powerpack.

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Tesla CEO Musk breaks ground at Shanghai Gigafactory to launch China push

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SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) broke ground on Monday for its Shanghai Gigafactory where it plans to begin making its Model 3 electric vehicles (EV) by year-end, a first step in localizing production in the world’s largest auto market.

At a ceremony at the site of the plant on the outskirts of Shanghai, Chief Executive Elon Musk joined the city’s mayor and other local government officials to formally begin construction of a factory that Tesla has said will cost around $2 billion.

“We think with the resources here we can build the Shanghai Gigafactory in record time and we’re looking forward to hopefully having some initial production of the Model 3 towards the end of this year and achieving volume production next year,” Musk said at the event.

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