Automotive

Tesla FSD’s vision-based approach critiqued by Waymo CEO: ‘Our sensors are orders of magnitude better’

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Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Beta may be improving at a rapid pace since its first iteration was released back in October, but Waymo CEO John Krafcik seems to be under the impression that there is a ceiling for the electric car maker’s current autonomous driving efforts. In an interview with German business publication manager magazin, Krafcik stated that Tesla is not a competitor to Waymo, as the EV maker’s tech is just a “really good driver assistance system.”

Waymo’s vehicles, which are equipped with a variety of sensors including LiDAR, are designed to be operated without a human driver. The company has even requested its passengers to not touch its autonomous cars’ steering wheel while the vehicles are operating. In comparison, Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Beta, as well as the company’s tech Navigate on Autopilot, still requires drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel to prepare for manual intervention. 

Tesla aims to develop a full self-driving suite through a vision-based system that relies on incremental improvements that are rolled out over time. Through constant updates that are built on real-world driving data gathered from its fleet, Tesla hopes to roll out a version of its FSD suite that would truly be a hands-off system. Once this is achieved, the EV maker aims to launch its own ride-hailing service, dubbed by Elon Musk as the Robotaxi Network. 

This, according to the Waymo CEO, is a misconception. He also remarked that between Tesla’s camera-based approach and Waymo’s more robust sensor suite, his company’s sensors hold a massive advantage over Tesla’s electric cars. “It is a misconception that you can just keep developing a driver assistance system until one day you can magically leap to a fully autonomous driving system. In terms of robustness and accuracy, for example, our sensors are orders of magnitude better than what we see on the road from other manufacturers,” Krafcik said

One of the notable arguments against Waymo’s autonomous vehicles is their cost, especially considering that their sensor suite includes expensive components. The CEO, however, notes that the cost of its vehicles is actually overestimated, especially as the price of sensors such as LiDAR has gotten significantly lower over the years. Today, Krafcik notes that the cost of a Waymo autonomous car is on the same ballpark as a moderately-equipped Mercedes-Benz S-Class. 

“Let me paraphrase it like this: If we equip a Chrysler Pacifica Van or a Jaguar I-Pace with our sensors and computers, it costs no more than a moderately equipped Mercedes S-Class. So for the entire package, including the car – today. The costs for the technology are greatly overestimated – at least in our case” he said. 

Krafcik noted that he expects the hardware cost per mile of Waymo’s autonomous vehicles to come in at around $0.30 per mile before maintenance and service costs, including fleet technicians and customer support representatives. In comparison, ride-hailing services today such as Uber and Lyft operate at around $2-$3 per mile. Tesla, on the other hand, is aiming to achieve an $0.18 per mile operating cost for its Robotaxi Network. 

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Tesla FSD’s vision-based approach critiqued by Waymo CEO: ‘Our sensors are orders of magnitude better’

Source: https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-elon-musk-fsd-approach-wont-work-waymo-ceo/

Automotive

Elon Musk satirically encourages SEC to probe his Dogecoin tweets

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk has no respect for the SEC, but he hopes they look into his recent string of Dogecoin memes and tweets after rumors of a probe by the Commission was rumored to be coming soon.

“I hope they do! It would be awesome,” Musk said to a Twitter follower last night.

Musk has spent the last few weeks encouraging the popular Cryptocurrency by sharing several memes and tweets that have been taken on by his band of followers. Dogecoin is arguably the most popular Cryptocurrency, right up there with Bitcoin, which Tesla purchased $1.5 billion worth according to a filing that the automaker released in January.

Rumors of an SEC probe into Musk’s Dogecoin tweets were first reported by @FirstSquawk on Twitter, who indicated that “sources familiar with the matter” said Musk would be under investigation. However, many were skeptical for a number of reasons. The SEC hadn’t formally released a statement that the investigation would take place, the SEC doesn’t regulate Cryptocurrency, and Musk, who would be the subject of the probe, hasn’t been warned by the agency.

Dogecoin has exploded in 2021, going from less than a cent a share to over eight cents per share during an early February rally. Due to its low cost, some investors cashed in big on the surge, but the Crypto has since settled down to around five cents per share. According to CoinDesk, Dogecoin has increased by 837.82% so far this year.

If Musk were to be under investigation by the SEC, it wouldn’t be the first time he was entangled with the federal agency. After indicating that he could take Tesla private at $420 a share in September 2018, the SEC accused Musk of committing securities fraud, and fined him $20 million, and forced him to step down as the Chairman of Tesla’s Board.

Musk has cast a few jabs in the SEC’s direction, including a not-so-friendly acronym, which the CEO Tweeted in July.

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Source: https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-elon-musk-sec-dogecoin-rumors/

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Tesla shifts to LFP as Elon Musk’s call for Nickel goes unanswered

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk asked Nickel suppliers to mine more of the metal for the company’s electric vehicle batteries, but his call went unanswered. Now, the company is shifting its Standard Range cars to LFP, or lithium iron phosphate batteries, citing supply concerns as the real bottleneck between the company and a more efficient Nickel cathode.

Rewinding back to Summer 2020, Elon Musk hopped on the Q2 2020 Earnings Call and told Nickel miners to mine more of the metal. Offering a “giant contract” worth a lot of money, Musk was ready to put his money where his mouth is, looking to shift toward Nickel cathodes in an attempt to scale production of the cells.

During the Earnings Call, Musk said (via The Motley Fool):

“Well, I’d just like to reemphasize, any mining companies out there, please mine more nickel, OK? Wherever you are in the world, please mine more nickel, and don’t wait for nickel to go back to some long — some high point that you experienced some five years ago or whatever. Go for efficiency, as environmentally friendly, nickel mining at high volume. Tesla will give you a giant contract for a long period of time if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way. So hopefully, this message goes out to all mining companies.”

Tesla has been producing the Standard Range Model 3 in the United States with Nickel cathodes in its lithium-ion battery cells. This could change after Musk tweeted that Nickel availability isn’t what the company may have thought it would be.

While Nickel-based cells have a higher energy density, which helps electric cars increase their range ratings, iron phosphate packs are capable of storing less energy. They are ideal for Tesla’s Standard Range vehicles, where consumers sacrifice range and performance for a lower price tag. While Tesla’s SR vehicles are still worthy of the purchase, it is no secret that people would much rather have more range. The issue is Nickel isn’t being mined in large enough quantities to support Tesla’s goal of moving to a Nickel cathode across all of its cars. Instead, it will save these cells for the Long Range and Performance variants of the vehicle.

Tesla in talks with another potential nickel supplier from Canada

Musk also said that the Standard Range vehicles have the ability to hold a “high 200…almost 300-mile range” with the iron phosphate pack. It seems that this is sufficient enough for Tesla’s Standard Range vehicles, and lines up with what he said last July.

The CEO added:

“So we think that getting a range that is in the high 200 — basically, we think you probably getting a range of almost 300 miles with an iron phosphate pack, taking into account a whole bunch of powertrain and other vehicle efficiencies. And that frees up a lot of capacity for things like the Tesla Semi and the other projects so far higher energy density. So, yes, so you have like two supply chains that you can tap into iron phosphate or nickel. We use very little cobalt in our system already, and that’s — that may to zero along, so it’s basically about nickel.”

Additionally, the Nickel cathode will be used in other cars that Tesla has not yet manufactured. The Semi is one example, as increased cargo volume decreases range, so Nickel cathodes are advantageous for the upcoming all-electric commercial vehicle.

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Source: https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-elon-musk-nickel-batteries-unanswered-calls/

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Elon Musk’s Starlink faces opposition over ‘electromagnetic wave’ concerns

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Elon Musk’s Starlink system is designed to bring the internet to the farthest reaches of the globe, and so far, it’s off to a great start. Starlink beta users currently residing in rural areas in the United States have praised the satellite-based system, noting that it is superior to alternatives presently available on the market. For some residents in France, however, the idea of Starlink is worth resisting. 

To accomplish its worldwide internet connectivity goals, SpaceX needs to build a network of ground stations that link Starlink’s satellites to the internet’s physical backbone. Among the locations proposed for such a station is Saint-Senier-de-Beuvron, a village in France located less than 12 miles (20km) from the Mont Saint-Michel World Heritage Site. The area only has about 350 residents, but they have voiced their opposition to the Starlink site. 

In a statement to the Agence France-Presse (AFP), Francois Dufour, a retired farmer and Greens council member, argued that the facility might present risks for residents in the area. The Greens council member argued that the dangers of factors such as electromagnetic waves are something that residents have experienced in the past. 

“The risks from electromagnetic waves is something we’ve already seen with high-voltage power lines, which have disturbed lots of farmers in the area. Social networks, internet – they already exist. Why do we need to go look for internet on the moon?” Dufour said. 

Interestingly enough, some residents seem to have a less negative reception to the Starlink site. Anne-Marie Falguieres, who lives just 60 meters away from the proposed Starlink station, noted that the village simply wants to know of any dangers that the site may pose. 

“We’re not attacking Elon Musk. We’re not technophobes. I’m a guide on the bay, I have an internet site, my husband works from home. But these antennas are completely new, at least in France, and we want to know if they’re dangerous or not,” she said. 

Saint-Senier-de-Beuvron issued a decree in December to block the construction of a Starlink ground site, despite the station already receiving regulatory approval from France’s national radio frequency agency, ANFR. As noted in a report from The Independent, however, the refusal was based on a technicality, which SpaceX’s contractor, Sipartech, could overturn. 

The village’s deputy mayor, Noemie Brault, shared some insights about Saint-Senier-de-Beuvron’s opposition to the Starlink ground site. “This project is totally new. We don’t have any idea of the impact of these signals. As a precaution, the municipal council said no. That worries us because we have no data on the effects of the signal on the health of animals and humans in the long run. And when you hear that he wants to implant a chip in people’s brains, it’s frightening,” she said. 

SpaceX has launched over 1,000 of its Starlink satellites, though these are only a fraction of the 42,000 that are planned for the constellation. Elon Musk, for his part, has noted that the Starlink beta currently has over 10,000 users, both in the United States and abroad. 

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Source: https://www.teslarati.com/elon-musk-starlink-resistance-france/

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Teslas and other EVs could enter a golden decade with newly-introduced US bill

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Teslas and other electric cars may very well enter a golden age of sorts in the United States, if a newly-proposed bill makes it through. Dubbed as the Electric CARS Act, the bill aims to update the EV tax credit by extending it for ten years and removing the number of eligible vehicles per manufacturer. The bill also seeks to support the buildout of more electric car charging infrastructure. 

A federal tax credit of up to $7,500 is currently available for customers who purchase an electric vehicle. However, the current system phases out this credit after an automaker sells its first 200,000 electric cars. Tesla and General Motors have both passed this threshold, which means buyers of both companies’ electric vehicles no longer receive their $7,500 tax credit. With this system in place, the United States practically makes incentives for car buyers to purchase imported EVs instead of those from local automakers like GM. 

Credit: peekaystudio/Instagram

Tesla, for its part, has been pushing its electric vehicles without the $7,500 tax credit since the end of 2018 (reduced credits were implemented over 2019), when the company passed its 200,000-vehicle threshold. Fortunately, Tesla’s vehicles like the Model 3 and Model Y have stood well on their own merits, garnering critical and consumer support even without tax credits. If the Electric CARS Act passes, companies like Tesla could make an even stronger push into the automotive sector. 

The Electric CARS Act aims to improve the federal tax credit through the following means: 

  1. The elimination of the cap for EV makers. The bill would allow consumers access to the tax credit for the next ten years, regardless of the manufacturer they buy their EV from. Under these terms, even Tesla and GM electric car buyers would be able to get their tax credits once more. 
  2. A 5-year use period. The bill would allow buyers to use their respective tax credits over a 5-year period, meaning that EV customers could apply the credit either at the point of purchase or later on. Such a system would make the tax credit more applicable to buyers without large tax liabilities. 
  3. Charging infrastructure support. The bill would provide a 10-year extension of tax credits for alternative fuel vehicles and charging infrastructure. This incentivizes the buildout of EV charging systems like Tesla’s Supercharger Network and other rapid charging services like Electrify America. 

The Electric CARS Act is sponsored by Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), both of whom highlighted the importance of the electric vehicle sector in the United States. In a statement to Channel 21 News, Merkley stated that the bill is apt considering the ongoing climate chaos. He also highlighted the importance of supporting EVs made by American workers in American factories. 

“As climate chaos continues to ramp up with record-setting winter storms, violent hurricanes, and catastrophic wildfires, it is imperative that we transition away from gasoline-powered vehicles, which are fanning the flames of the crisis. Consumers are already looking for electric cars, and this bill will help drive adoption faster—and make sure more of those cars are made by American workers in American factories,” Merkley said. 

(Credit: Tesla)

Welch, for his part, explained that supporting electric cars would be a common-sense win for consumers, especially considering that EVs are practical to own. 

“We need to quickly and aggressively invest in electric vehicles to combat the global climate emergency that threatens all of our local communities. Owning an electric vehicle can be cheaper and offers significant public health and environmental benefits, but for many Americans, they are unaffordable at the dealership. This bill makes the next generation of electric vehicles accessible to more people by allowing them to receive the electric vehicle tax credit right away. Encouraging electric vehicle adoption is a common-sense win for consumers, the environment, and American workers,” Welch noted. 

Led by Tesla and its S3XY line, electric vehicles have disrupted the automotive industry, even without the presence of the $7,500 tax credit. With the Electric CARS Act in effect, companies like Tesla could reach an even bigger consumer market, bringing EVs further into mainstream buyers. Ultimately, the newly-proposed bill has the potential to usher in a golden age of electric cars in the United States. After all, if Tesla could emerge as a competitive automaker even without the country’s primary EV incentive, one could only imagine the heights the company could reach with less handicaps. 

The text of the Electric CARS Act could be viewed below. 

21.02.23 Electric Cars 2021 by Simon Alvarez on Scribd

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Source: https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-golden-age-electric-cars-act/

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