All posts in “Tesla”

People in the U.S. and Canada can now order a Tesla Model 3 without a reservation

North American buyers looking for a mid-sized electric sedan donning a “T” sign, rejoice: Tesla has opened up orders for its Model 3 electric car for everyone in the U.S. and Canada. 

Until now, buyers had to cash out a $1,000 fee to reserve their spot in line for the Model 3, but — as reported by Electrek — they can now go ahead to Tesla’s website and order the car without a reservation. 

Buyers can currently only order three variants of the car: the $49,000 rear-wheel drive version, the $53,000 dual-motor all-wheel drive version (both of which include a long-range battery and premium interior trim), and the $64,000 Performance version of the latter. 

Image: Tesla

The standard range battery variant, which will start at $35,000, will be available in “6-9 months,” according to Tesla’s website. That’s bad if you’re in the market for an “affordable” electric sedan but you can take some comfort in the fact that that version of the car isn’t yet shipping to people who have placed a reservation, either. 

And if you’re one of the folks who have been waiting for your Model 3 for a year or more, don’t worry — Electrek’s sources say Tesla will still prioritize reservations over new orders. 

The news comes shortly after Tesla finally hit its goal of producing 5,000 Model 3 cars per week. Ramping up the Model 3 production to desirable levels has been a huge challenge for Tesla, but now that it’s finally happened, the company is making it easier to buy the car, as well as modestly ramping up marketing efforts. Hopefully that won’t make the wait even longer for buyers. 

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Thai cave rescue saga shows how Elon Musk’s narcissism gets the best of him

Elon Musk’s kid-size submarine may have gone unused. But his efforts to help with the rescue of the Thai soccer team trapped in a cave were definitely useful for anyone trying to understand what motivates his eccentric genius.

Elon Musk has literally offered to move mountains in order to help save 12 children and their soccer coach on the other side of the world. 

His actions, the social media response, and his own defense of his involvement in the Thai cave saga, have prompted two big questions about the controversial inventor and mogul.

What was Elon really after in all of this? And what drives him to do the possibly maddening, certainly meddling, and often amazing, things that he does? 

The answer, of Musk’s own admission, is that he “might” be a narcissist who justifies his actions with the thought that he is contributing to the greater good. But it’s that same conviction that also gets Musk into the messy, unflattering positions, in which he so frequently finds himself these days.

The story of a Thai boys’ soccer team trapped in a flooded cave took an odd turn on July 4 when Elon Musk offered his services to help on Twitter. He did so in response to a plea for help from the Twitterverse. His initial answer was humble yet earnest, and he deferred to the efforts of the Thai government.

But then he sprung into action, commissioned the development of a whole new piece of technology, basically live-tweeted the construction and testing of the “kid-size submarine,” and deployed it to Thailand as a backup — where the rescuers ultimately didn’t end up using it.

That should have been the end of it; Musk, beneficent billionaire, really put his best foot forward. And while the tech wasn’t useful in that specific instance, it was appreciated and impressive. Ultimately, I thought, as of 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, it’s a good thing that there is a person in the world willing to move heaven and earth to save children. He was even willing to not take (much) credit.

But then, at 10:03 a.m., Musk went on a weirdly defensive Twitter rant in response to reports that his tech was ‘not practical.’ He provided email evidence that the mini-sub was both sanctioned and praised by rescuers. He insisted that it would be useful in the future. And he lamented that being labeled a “billionaire” was basically a slur. 

Elon, this was a win for you. You had managed to avoid making this rescue about you. What were you thinking?

The saga of the mini-sub left me wondering: what were Elon’s motivations for getting involved? This is a question on a lot of people’s minds. Since Musk first started working on possible rescue solutions, people on Twitter have been alternately lambasting him for egotistical busy-body-ness, and praising him for the big brains and surely huge sum of money he devoted to literally saving children. Several people I spoke with, and many people on Twitter, even seem to think it was all a publicity stunt. 

I was never in the publicity stunt camp. As I’ve watched Elon’s involvement begin and then deepen and then implode, I’ve come to believe he genuinely wanted to help, and also can’t resist an engineering challenge. He also probably believed that he really could make a difference. And, he had the financial and braintrust resources to make it happen; clearly, he’s the kind of guy that when he says jump, those around him say, “how high?”

Up until this morning, he managed to (mostly) stay above the fray about his motivations. His tweets had consisted of practical updates and demonstrations of the mini-sub. And, erm, some odd statements about the natural splendor of Thailand.

But then, the BBC and multiple news outlets published that Thai rescuers criticized the mini sub as “not practical.” And Musk’s Twitter tone changed.

Although he had previously said that his team hadn’t been useful “yet,” apparently allegations that the actual tech wasn’t useful — and that his help wasn’t wanted — was the last straw. 

The rant changed how I viewed the story. Even if Musk really had wanted to help, his publishing of the emails and negation of the “not practical” narrative added a gross look-at-me, give-me-credit sheen to his efforts that hadn’t overtly been there before. It had been about getting credit, after all. 

It’s easy to see why reports that his invention wasn’t useful pushed that Initiate Egotistical Tweet Storm button — the kind of Twitter storms that Musk has been more famous for lately than his world-changing inventions. The allegations that everything he’d done had been useless was too much for him — and one tweet shows why.

Over the weekend, Musk tweeted “If I am a narcissist (which might be true), at least I am a useful one.”

This tweet shows that Musk’s defense for what some would call narcissism, what others would call ambition-and-brains-in-action, is that he is ultimately doing good in the world. 

For Musk, that’s why it’s ok to skirt normal construction regulations in order to dig tunnels beneath Los Angeles. That’s why it’s okay to launch driverless cars that sometimes get in crashes. That’s why it’s okay to push your factory workers to the brink. That’s what gives him the confidence to think he might have answers that rescuers on the ground don’t. And that’s why it’s good and necessary to insist that some of the world’s top engineering talent work around the clock on a national holiday and weekend to create an extremely niche and timely piece of technology. It’s all for the greater good; it’s all “useful.”

This is an attitude that permeates much of the tech world in general: It wants to disrupt the way things are, and cut through government bureaucracy, because it believes in the conviction that it is making the world a better place — and that it knows better than the people standing in its way.

With many companies, this is problematic. The advent of Uber has jeopardized the livelihoods of cab drivers, and even caused suicides, so that getting a ride can be cheaper and easier for millennials. There are countless other examples of how tech “innovation” can hurt more than it helps.

But with Musk, the scope of his contributions means that that narrative may not be exactly the same. In Beverly Hills, I saw the preferred luxury car transform from a gargantuan, climate change-causing Range Rover, to a clean, lean, Tesla. That has trickled downmarket to nearly every other luxury car-maker. Electric vehicles are starting to replace luxury gas-guzzlers, and it might be thanks to Musk’s narcissism; he believed that he was the guy who could make an electric car cool, before every other automaker would do so. 

He is also, apparently, doing all of this to support what he believes to be the future of the human race on Mars. Even if you think that’s ridiculous, it definitely falls under the umbrella of the “greater good.”

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Then again, that egotism has also been responsible for a lot of Musk’s behavior that people most routinely criticize. He lashes out at the press when  he doesn’t like what reporters they write about him, which makes him look egotistical and petty. He has dismissed concerns about the way he treats his employees, which has made him appear cruel. Now, that same narcissism gave him the confidence to push ahead on the invention in less than a week of a mini-submarine that could save lives in the future. But the anger-tinged egotism also totally changed the narrative from one of Musk just trying to help, to one of Musk trying to take credit in the midst of a crisis. 

Elon Musk does not deserve the credit for rescuing the Thai boys — that, even Musk has acknowledged, goes to the actual rescuers. 

But maybe some appreciation is still due our generation’s alternately benevolent or volatile billionaire with, clearly, a bit of a God complex — fueled by a narcissistic motivation that both enables his greatness, and causes him to turn around and shoot himself in the foot, at least in the court of public opinion.

In Greek tragedy, every hero has a fatal flaw; the driving quality that formulaically pushes the story forward, and leads to the hero’s downfall. Elon Musk’s tweets, inventions, and tweets again, follow a formula as predictable as any ancient play.

And, it sure is fun to watch.

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Tesla builds first factory outside United States in Shanghai

Right after Tesla raised the prices of its cars by at least $20,000 each due to China's increased import tariffs on American-made cars, the company announced it would open its first international factory in Shanghai today. This will allow the car manufacturer to circumvent the newly imposed taxes.
Right after Tesla raised the prices of its cars by at least $20,000 each due to China’s increased import tariffs on American-made cars, the company announced it would open its first international factory in Shanghai today. This will allow the car manufacturer to circumvent the newly imposed taxes.

Image: Shanghai Municipal People’s government

A looming trade war with China hasn’t slowed down Elon Musk or his beloved brainchild Tesla.

Right after the car company was forced to raise the prices of its cars by at least $20,000 each due to China’s increased import tariffs on American-made cars, Tesla announced it would open its first international factory in Shanghai.

This will ultimately allow the car manufacturer to circumvent the newly imposed taxes once completed.

Musk was in Shanghai on Tuesday attending a government event — although he did not previously disclose why he was there. Now, it’s safe to say that at least part of the reason was that he was announcing this new factory.

A Tesla spokesperson told Mashable that the deal was signed today, which follows up on the company’s talks last year with the Shanghai Municipal Government to possibly establish a factory in the region.

“Today, we have signed a Cooperative Agreement for Tesla to start building Gigafactory 3, a new electric vehicle manufacturing facility in Shanghai,” a Tesla spokesperson told Mashable in a statement.

“We expect construction to begin in the near future, after we get all the necessary approvals and permits. From there, it will take roughly two years until we start producing vehicles and then another two to three years before the factory is fully ramped up to produce around 500,000 vehicles per year for Chinese customers.”

The spokesperson said that the new factory — the largest foreign-invested manufacturing project in Shanghai — will not impact Tesla’s manufacturing operations in the United States, which should continue to grow.

“It will be a state-of-the-art vehicle factory and a role model for sustainability,” Elon Musk said in the statement released by the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government.

“We hope it will be completed very soon. We’ve been impressed by the beauty and energy of Shanghai and we want our factory to add to that.”

This new facility will hopefully help Tesla meet its manufacturing goals in the years to come.

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Teslas in China cost at least $20,000 more after U.S. tariffs

President Donald Trump is brawling with Chinese President Xi Jinping over trade, and the latest victims in their tariff squabble are prospective Tesla owners in China.

Prices for Elon Musk’s electric cars are skyrocketing by at least $20,000 after China increased the car import tax by 40 percent last week. This hike comes about a week after China lowered the foreign car import taxes from 25 to 15 percent.

Although some car labels like Ford may absorb the heightened costs to mitigate price increases, Tesla is so far the first American carmaker to raise its prices.

So the cheapest Tesla, the Model S sedan, now costs $128,500 compared to $107,400 before the tariffs went into effect, and the company’s most expensive car, the fully loaded Model X crossover, costs $240,000 compared to its previous $200,000 price tag.

China is a major market for Tesla, and Tesla has long considered opening a factory in Beijing to avoid paying import taxes, but a solid plan hasn’t taken shape. Musk said in November that manufacturing his electric cars in China remained a handful of years away, while he told shareholders that it could start as early as July this year.

The Tesla chief executive is, however, attending a government event in Shanghai today and will drop by Beijing later this week. Although we don’t know what he’s doing during his visits, we do know China in 2017 accounted for around 17 percent of Tesla’s revenue, so Musk could be making money moves this week.

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Elon Musk tweets photos from cave where Thai soccer team is trapped

Me. It's about me.
Me. It’s about me.

Image: Brian Lawless/getty

Elon Musk is here to save the day, even though it’s probably not necessary

The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX was  — if his Twitter and Instagram accounts are to be believed — in Thailand on Monday touring the cave where a team of 12 soccer players, aged 11 to 16, became stuck with their coach on June 23. Musk says he’s there to help, and you better believe he brought his kid-sized submarine with him. 

Importantly, as of the time of this writing, eight of the 13 trapped people have already been saved by the heroic actions of rescue divers and support teams. Musk, who has been documenting his efforts to build the aforementioned sub to possibly help in the rescue, still clearly felt like he had something to offer. 

“Just returned from Cave 3,” tweeted the CEO. “Mini-sub is ready if needed.”

“Thailand is so beautiful,” he added.

Musk also acknowledged the hard work of the rescuers on the ground. Which, yes. 

Five people remain trapped in the cave, and according to the New York Times, the plan is to rescue them on Tuesday. 

No word on whether Musk and his kid sub will play a role. 

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