Tesla Failed to Meet Elon Musk’s Model 3 Goals. Now What?

Overpromise and Underdeliver

One of Tesla’s 2017 highlights was the launch of their highly anticipated Model 3 electric vehicle (EV). The first 30 new owners received the keys to their Model 3s during a special hand-over event on a Friday night in July 2017, but the following months didn’t see nearly as many vehicle deliveries as the company had hoped.

According to Tesla’s 2017 fourth quarter (Q4) production and deliveries report, the company delivered a total of 1,550 Model 3s during the three-month period, just over half the 2,917 figure investors had expected. An additional 860 vehicles on their way to their respective owners by the end of that quarter will be counted under Q1 2018.

The Model 3 body line slowed down to 1/10th speed

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on Oct 8, 2017 at 3:20pm PDT

Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk hyped up his company’s Model 3 production and delivery abilities quite a lot before and during the vehicle’s launch. He famously promised that production would match the high demand for Tesla’s first mass-market, lower-cost EV, which generated roughly half a million preorders.

The original plan was for production to increase incrementally toward a goal of producing 20,000 units per month in December 2017. Despite making improvements to production speed by addressing bottlenecks, Tesla still fell well short of that milestone.

Still a Tesla-Driven Industry

What could this mean for the future of Tesla? Alain L. Kornhauser, chair of the Princeton Autonomous Vehicle Engineering (PAVE) research group and director of the Transportation Program at Princeton University, remains optimistic.

“I wouldn’t suggest that Tesla is failing. It is just that [Elon Musk’s] expectations are unrealistically high,” he told Futurism.

Kornhauser said that observers have learned to manage their expectations when it comes to Musk’s promises. Instead of believing Tesla will meet production levels by the dates asserted by Musk, they’ve come to expect that production levels will eventually reach those figures, according to Kornhauser, who noted that the quality of vehicle has played a role in keeping Tesla in the good graces of prospective Model 3 owners.

“What hasn’t been discounted is that the Model 3 is a good vehicle. That seems to be holding true,” he said. “The quality holding and the production lagging simply has increased, not decreased, demand. All good for Tesla.”

Overall, Tesla’s Q4 2017 performance was actually promising. The report presented a 27 percent improvement from Q4 2016 and a 9 percent increase from Q3 2017.

According to the Q4 statement, Tesla has a “slightly more gradual” production ramp planned for the coming months. The new goal is to achieve a weekly rate of 2,500 Model 3 units by March 2018, eventually growing to 5,000 per week by June 2018.

As long as Tesla’s quality remains uncompromised, the company won’t be failing any time soon, Kornhauser told Futurism. However, if Tesla did experience quality issues, he has a few thoughts on the companies most likely to fill their role in the industry.

“It will be some Chinese manufacturer that will fill the gap — a new one or maybe Volvo,” he said. “I’m not convinced that GM or BMW or Toyota or Hyundai will fill the gap.”

Right now, though, Musk’s penchant for overpromising won’t be enough to knock Tesla from their place atop the EV industry.

The post Tesla Failed to Meet Elon Musk’s Model 3 Goals. Now What? appeared first on Futurism.

Futurism

Elon Musk’s final SpaceX launch of 2017 put on an amazing holiday light show

Southern California’s close encounter

People used to pay attention when Elon Musk sent one of his rockets into space. Now it’s totally routine — up until Friday night, his SpaceX had flown 17 missions in 2017, and chances are you weren’t aware of any of them.

SpaceX’s 18th launch of the year was different.

Last night, some combination of the Falcon 9 rocket’s flight path and the southern California sky created a fantastic light show that people captured on their phones and cameras.

And then they shared them on social.

Here’s Musk’s contribution. Two demerits for the monochromatic video; three bonus points for a caption that references multiple anxiety-producing news memes.

And here’s one from Liz Phair, because I wanted a 100 percent legit reason to reference Liz Phair in a Recode story this year. Just made it in at the buzzer:

Recode – All

2017: As Told Through Elon Musk’s Tweets

Musk’s Year

2017 could arguably be called the year of Elon Musk. Love him or hate him, he seemed to be everywhere, doing just about everything. From Australian megabatteries, to teasing the world by suggesting he might blast a Tesla Roadster into space, Musk has dipped his toes into every sector. From Neuralink to Tesla to SpaceX and even the Boring Company, Musk is revolutionizing the way we think about and approach transportation, space travel, and even our own brains. So let’s take a look back at 2017 through the Twitter of the man who is taking reality and shaping it for the future:

Musk’s first tweet of 2017 marked progress in the reusable Falcon 9 rockets. Within this year alone, SpaceX launched 16 Falcon 9 rockets. In the new year, they expect to launch the Falcon Heavy, which includes boosters and modified first-stages from Falcon 9 rockets. The advancement of reusable rockets will allow us to further embrace space exploration.

Later in January, Musk retweeted Tesla on exploring the potential of long-term battery life and charging networks for electric vehicles. These developing technologies will be a firm part of the foundation that allows us to develop EV-friendly infrastructure and break away from fossil fuels.

He also tweeted about Hyperloop, which was not yet Virgin Hyperloop One. This year, more serious testing began for the advanced transportation technology.

Musk also made clear social commentary. He denounced the travel ban that the president signed in late January, while also asking for specific public suggestions on how to present his dissatisfaction to Donald Trump, as Musk was still on his advisory board at the time.

NASA announced in February that solar arrays were deployed on the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, an announcement that Musk retweeted. This cargo craft has furthered the relationship between the government-based and private aerospace organizations.

When a group of scientists revisited the Drake equation in March, Musk even eloquently inquired about the current status of extraterrestrial detection. This year, many advances have been made to further our understanding of what could make life in the universe possible, as efforts made to detect habitable planets and contact potential extraterrestrial neighbors continued to move forward.

Musk also retweeted OpenAI, which he helped to found. This year saw an incredible array of advancements in artificial intelligence and in the ability of these systems to learn.

Neuralink took the world by storm as it brought to the forefront the concept of brain-computer interfaces. Musk’s work towards this “cyborg” goal became actualized this year.

In May, as throughout the year, Musk joked about his pun-titled Boring Company while they continue to dig and make progress in building a tunnel under Los Angeles. The L.A. tunnel will be used to ferry cars and people, and eventually, the company hopes, house a working Hyperloop.

After President Trump announced his intentions to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, Elon Musk publicly stated his departure from the President’s advisory council. He concisely expressed his feelings about the departure and the very real threats of climate change on Twitter.

Looking beyond the problems of our own planet, Musk also further legitimized plans to go to Mars. Previous inklings of future hopes to colonize the red planet became developing plans.

Through Tesla, Musk bet the cost of the battery that he could build the world’s largest lithium-ion battery for Southern Australia. And amazingly, he pulled it off ahead of schedule.

Despite his continued investment and work in its advancement, in August Musk warned the public of the potential dangers of AI. He stressed the need for regulation of this potentially disruptive technology.

Musk unveiled the aptly named “BFR” rocket, which is a work in progress that is part of SpaceX’s plan to get to Mars.

In October, Tesla jumped into action to assist Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, sending Powerpacks and solar panels to the island as well as discussing plans to restore its grid. Musk retweeted a series of pictures sent by Tesla from the island.

October’s Musk tweet of the month was perhaps this haunting photo, of a competed section of the Boring Company’s tunnel under L.A:

In November, Musk and Tesla finally revealed the Tesla semi, the electric semi truck that promises to make long-distance shipping a greener and more energy-efficient industry. Large companies have already responded to the new semi with enthusiasm.

He also took to Twitter to publicly confirmed rumors that the Boring company would compete for the contract to build a tunnel connecting Chicago’s airport to the city’s downtown, but clarified that the short route would not be a hyperloop.

In December, Musk managed to sneak one last success through the closing door of 2017, when the battery Tesla built for South Australia smoothly kicked in to save the region’s energy grid after a coal plant failure. Afterwards, he retweeted an article about how the battery is already re-shaping the energy market in Australia.

From defying government decisions to supporting efforts against climate change, revolutionizing transportation, and making a human future on Mars seem possible, Elon Musk has had a big year. As it drew to a close, however, he did take time to appreciate the network that let him share it all with us.

Here’s to hoping that this pioneer will be just as busy in 2018.

The post 2017: As Told Through Elon Musk’s Tweets appeared first on Futurism.

Futurism

Virgin Hyperloop One’s System Just Broke Elon Musk’s Speed Record

Hyperloop Speed Record

On December 18, Virgin Hyperloop One announced the completion of third phase testing on the DevLoop, the world’s first full-scale hyperloop test site. During these tests, the system clocked a lightning-fast speed of nearly 387 kmh (240 mph), breaking the 355 kmh (220 mph) hyperloop speed record set by Elon Musk’s hyperloop in August.

This Infographic Highlights All You Need to Know about the Hyperloop
Click to View Full Infographic

During this phase of testing, the company experimented with using a new airlock that helps test pods transition between atmospheric and vacuum conditions.

By combining magnetic levitation, extremely low aerodynamic drag, and the level of air pressure experienced at 200,000 feet above sea level, the system proved that it is capable of reaching airline speeds over long distances.

“The recent phase three testing continues to prove the incredible persistence and determination of our DevLoop team — the close to 200 engineers, machinists, welders, and fabricators who collaborated to make hyperloop a reality today,” Josh Giegel, Virgin Hyperloop One’s co-founder and chief technology officer, stated in a press release announcing the new hyperloop speed record.

Advancing Travel

Alongside breaking previous speed records, Virgin Hyperloop One also announced that they’d raised an additional $ 50 million ahead of their Series C round of funding. “The continued support from our existing investors Caspian Venture Capital and DP World highlight their adamant belief in our ability to execute,” said Giegel.

The company also named Richard Branson their non-executive chairman. “I am excited by the latest developments at Virgin Hyperloop One and delighted to be its new Chairman,” said Branson in the press release.

These positive developments and others confirm that the future of hyperloop transportation is bright. As the repercussions of climate change are realized, many are looking toward the advancement of public transportation to replace personal vehicles.

If proposed hyperloop routes come to fruition, you may soon be able to travel at the speed of a plane but with the convenience of hopping on a train — all with the added bonus of a decreased environmental impact.

The post Virgin Hyperloop One’s System Just Broke Elon Musk’s Speed Record appeared first on Futurism.

Futurism

SpaceX’s first Falcon Heavy will carry Musk’s Tesla Roadster to Mars

SpaceX chief Elon Musk has revealed the new schedule for Falcon Heavy's maiden flight: the company is aiming to send it to the Martian orbit next month from the same launch pad where Apollo 11 took off. The business magnate has also divulged that Fal…
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