Tesla has received federal approval to remove more trees from the property it owns in Brandenburg, Germany. The site, which is currently being used for the company’s European production facility, known as Giga Berlin, is under development. However, the automaker requested permission to remove trees from more of the property and received approval early this morning.
The State Office for the Environment in Brandenburg approved an early start for the clearing of further forest areas for the construction of a pipeline system and storage areas on the Tesla Giga Berlin property. The Office approved 82.8 hectares, or 204.6 acres, of land to be cleared to prepare the pipeline and storage systems to be installed.
Tesla initially sought out approval for the tree clearing process in late August 2020, but constant revisions to what the company would be allowed to do on the site delayed the announcement until now. The scope of the area that the automaker would be allowed to remove trees from was reduced several times in accordance with environmental concerns, and the Office decided that the removal of 82.8 hectares of trees was “absolutely necessary” for Tesla to continue its efforts, Land Brandenburg first reported.
Comprehensive requirements have been outlined and must be followed in order to protect the land and the species that inhabit the area. Tesla has made it obvious that it aims to protect the area and the wildlife that call it home and have taken necessary steps to alleviate any concerns of wrongdoing. When the automaker performed the first deforestation efforts in 2020, it made several promises to citizens and the Environmental Office, including replanting three trees for every tree it removes and protecting wildlife in the area. For example, Tesla did not remove the Giga Berlin land’s final tree until the bats who live in the tree had vacated it.
The State Office for the Environment has stated that the deforestation work may only take place during weekdays and must occur between 7 AM and 8 PM local time. Tesla must document compliance with these requirements and must also submit noise measurements to ensure that volume levels comply with local standards. Construction should not interfere with the life of local residents.
It should be noted that Tesla continues to carry out the approved measures at its own risk. This means that if the project’s final approval is not granted, the entire facility, including its buildings, must be removed, and the entire area must be reforested on the company’s dime.
Tesla Powerwalls selected for first 100% solar and battery neighborhood in Australia
Economic Development Queensland (EDQ) recently announced a landmark deal with Tesla for the use of its Powerwall 2 batteries in a massive sustainability community project. The initiative aims to establish the first government-backed community in Australia that is 100% powered by solar energy and batteries.
The project would involve 80 homes in the Brisbane suburb of Oxley, with each home receiving a AU$5,000 rebate if they purchase a heavily discounted package for the Tesla batteries and solar panels from Natural Solar. All homes in the community would come with solar panels, batteries, heat pump hot water systems, WiFi air conditioning, and electric vehicle charging equipment.
Each home in the community would be fitted with seventeen 365w solar panels from Natural Solar and one 13.5 kWh Tesla Powerwall 2 battery. Such a setup is expected to generate an average of 9000 kWh annually, which equates to an estimated savings of AU$2,100 per year for every household.
Considering that the homes in the Oxley project are expected to generate 120% of their electricity needs, as well as the fact that each house could store energy in their Tesla Powerwall batteries, homeowners would have the option to sell surplus power on the energy market. This also allows the homes in the Oxley project to become part of Australia’s Virtual Power Plants initiative.
In a statement to local news outlets, Michael Kane from Economic Development Queensland highlighted the potential of virtual power plants to Australia’s power grid. He also noted that interest has been fairly high about such projects among consumers. “They’re little power stations, and they’re generating more than enough power for each individual home. The market interest has been very strong,” he said.
Tesla is currently building a massive virtual power plant in South Australia. The system, which is expected to involve 50,000 homes, would deliver 250MW of solar energy and store 650MWh of backup energy for the region. This makes Tesla’s South Australia virtual power plant far larger than battery installations such as the Hornsdale Power Reserve, which is one of the world’s largest batteries.
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Tesla ruins David Einhorn’s near-perfect Q4 at Greenlight Capital
Greenlight Capital Re’s David Einhorn is coming off of his best quarter as a hedge fund manager at the New York-based firm. With substantial growth to report in Q4 2020, Einhorn was a big winner in a year filled with losers. But even if Einhorn saw spectacular gains in his portfolio, it isn’t all bright because Tesla still gave him a substantial loss due to its surge on Wall Street in 2020.
Einhorn’s fund backed off of their short position slightly following news of Tesla’s inclusion in the S&P 500 on December 21st. Upon the announcement in November, it was obvious that the stock would surge in value, so Einhorn made the right play to lower his short position. Still, he maintains that Tesla stock is a “fad,” even though he admits that owning its products is not.
“Tesla cars are not a fad; if they were, Tesla would sell many more than it does,” the Greenlight Capital Q4 2020 Earnings Letter said. “The fad is in owning TSLA stock. We have equipped before that twice a silly stock price is not twice as silly; it’s still just silly. But what about 20 times a silly price? In the 2000 internet bubble, Cisco Systems peaked out at 29x revenue, which would be a discount to where TSLA now trades.”
Tesla stock bounced up over 700% in 2020 due to battery tech developments, profitability, scalability, and growth in the EV sector, something other automakers couldn’t do in the pandemic year. Tesla managed to continue its growth with several record quarters, all making a substantial hit on short-sellers portfolios. It was one of the toughest years in history for short-sellers, and TSLAQ was the victim. $38 billion in losses were applied to those who try and make money off of Tesla’s downfall, an event that just didn’t happen, unfortunately for them.
However, TSLA’s long-term investors pushed hard and continued to buy the stock on every opportunity. Any slight dip in price was a chance to gain more holdings. It was an occasion that was oftentimes celebrated in a very public fashion by the automaker’s biggest supporters. Now, they’re tasting the fruits of their patience as TSLA continues to grow in value.
Greenlight ended up finishing with a 25% gain in Q4 and a 5.2% gain in valuation for the full-year. Tesla’s growth in the second half of 2020 was “sidestepped” by Einhorn and Greenlight after the S&P inclusion news, so, likely, the only reason the firm ended up profitable for 2020 as a whole is because of the strategy to back off of shorting the stock.
What if Tesla doesn’t refresh the Model S or X?
One of the more popular Tesla rumors that has made its way through the community is the possibility of a refreshed design of the Model S and Model X. The two cars have had very minor cosmetic adjustments since their introduction in 2012 and 2015. While they contribute to Tesla’s quarterly sales and delivery figures, they are, in essence, sentimental vehicles. At least, that is what Tesla CEO Elon Musk said during a 2019 Tesla Earnings call. “To be totally frank, we’re continuing to make them more for sentimental reasons than anything else. They’re really of minor importance to the future,” Musk said.
Which begs the question: Why is Tesla planning a refresh of the two vehicles now, a year and a half after Musk called the S and X “sentimental” cars that had relatively minor importance to the future. While the Tesla community has certainly convinced itself that a newly designed Model S and Model X are on the way, there is the possibility that it isn’t even going to happen.
It all started when Tesla shut down Model S and Model X production lines in late 2020. The catalyst to all the rumors was that the company was upgrading production lines to handle the redesigned vehicles, and Tesla could agree upon the right modifications to make for the new models. It all makes sense of why many people jumped to “They’re refreshing the cars” right away. After all, the Model 3 just had an update of its own, and it was mostly cosmetic.
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However, the S and X have been around for so many years, with the only huge change being the nosecone modification. There have been many software updates and performance upgrades, but those apply to every Tesla vehicle, for the most part, with very few exceptions included.
The Model S and Model X production lines being shut down led to me getting nosy and calling my local showroom. I decided to give them a call because they’re always willing to talk about Tesla, and they’re so knowledgeable that it is nice to have a reasonable conversation with someone who knows what is going on within the community. According to who I spoke to, they received emails stating that the lines were being shut down for efficiency reasons. There was no hint toward a redesign of the Model S and Model X. Of course, Tesla isn’t going to tell the showroom associates and sales advisors this. It’s obviously going to stay among the company’s executives.
But if we dig into the efficiency of the Model S and Model X lines at Fremont, it makes a lot of sense. The Model S and Model X only accounted for 18,920 of the over 180,000 vehicles that Tesla delivered in Q4 2020. The car was only delivered 57,039 times for the full year, while Tesla delivered just shy of half a million cars in total.
Does it make sense to have two production lines dedicated to cars making up only around 12-13% of the total output at Fremont? Could these lines be consolidated into one, with the other line being converted to a 3/Y line? This would alleviate some of the supply constraints that Tesla has with Model 3 and Model Y production. It could enable faster deliveries as demand climbs, and it could enable Tesla to be more efficient in its production of the S and X moving forward.
Musk has been a huge proponent of increasing manufacturing and production efficiency. It makes a lot of sense to me that Tesla would consider shutting down S/X lines to upgrade one line to a 3/Y line; the demand for S/X just isn’t great enough to dedicate two lines to the operation. 3/Y production is much more important.
This is all speculation, and while I do think that Tesla will upgrade and update the S and X in some ways, I don’t see how they can make major changes, especially since the company has already announced and shown the Model S Plaid, which is set to begin deliveries later this year. If Tesla were to refresh the S, there would be a major cause for concern for those who already ordered the Plaid S because it would likely mean a new vehicle would be on its way that would look entirely different than the current Plaid Model S.
It just seems like IF Tesla is going to refresh the S, they will widen the body style as the Plaid Model S has influenced. It will likely not have the rear diffuser or the spoiler. It may just be a wider body style.
Of course, Tesla will also likely implement the 4680 battery cells in the cars, which would revamp the battery pack with more life, power, and longevity. That is if Tesla has the supply for it because the company is still very early on in its battery manufacturing efforts at Kato Road. It is not unlikely that the S and X could be the first cars to use Tesla’s structural battery pack to increase safety and rigidity. Once again, these are all speculation and only thoughts that make sense.
Of course, there is always the possibility that Tesla could be attempting to rebirth the S/X with a complete revamp of its design and infrastructure. It could lead to a less expensive cost. Tesla having 4 vehicles that are mass-market instead of 2 could bring Tesla closer to price parity, increasing the growth of the EV sector. How they will do this, it likely depends on the batteries, which make up so much of the vehicle’s cost. However, the cars will likely need some kind of cosmetic update as well to appeal to customers moving forward. The 3 and Y seem to be more widely accepted, not only because of price but because of look.
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Tesla Model S and X ‘refresh’ rumors rekindled after covered body-in-whites spotted in Fremont
Rumors for a potential Tesla Model S and Model X “refresh” were rekindled recently after a drone flyover of the Fremont Factory revealed three mysteriously covered body-in-whites being transported within the facility. While the body-in-whites were fully covered, the vehicles resemble the size and shape of Tesla’s flagship sedan and SUV.
Footage of the mysterious vehicles was shared on YouTube by drone operator Gabeincal, a Tesla enthusiast who has been following the progress of the company’s Roadrunner site and Giga Press facilities over the past months. In his recent video, the drone operator was able to capture some footage of the Giga Press in action, together with the covered body-in-whites.
As noted by some electric vehicle advocates on Twitter, it was pretty odd for Tesla to have the three body-in-whites wrapped fully as there are hundreds of other finished, uncovered cars in the area. Granted, there are some other covered vehicles in the footage, but those seemed to be Model 3 or Model Y vehicles, at least based on their compact body. The three body-in-whites captured on video, however, featured a long hood and curved rear, which are trademark features of the Model S and Model X.
Tesla shut down the Model S and Model X lines at the Fremont Factory last December despite the company’s efforts to hit its half-a-million vehicle production target. The electric car maker did not specify the reasons behind its decision to halt the production of the flagship sedan and SUV, though expectations were high that updates to the vehicles would be announced when production resumed on January 11, 2021. The date for the Model S and Model X’s return to production passed and no updates for the two vehicles were released.
Despite the lack of concrete information about a Model S and Model X refresh, there have been sightings of some new Model S cars with an updated body kit in recent weeks. On New Year’s Day, pictures of a Model S with a wide body kit, new rear diffuser, and new wheels were photographed near Tesla’s Palo Alto headquarters. The vehicle, which sparked more speculations about a Model S refresh, was quite similar to the track-ready cars that Tesla sent over to the Nurburgring in 2019.
Watch some footage from the Fremont Factory in the video below.
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