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Tesla Model S 420 Plaid Is The Best Car In The World (But Not For Me)

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The previous iterations of the Model S were the best driving machines for years. But they lacked the finesse and aura of quality the competition offered. The Mercedes E-class, Audi A6, or BMW 5 Series had not only the luxury, but also the long legs and high speed they showed on the Autobahn. Speeds even illegal in the rest of the world gave drivers of these machines a feeling of superiority.

Over the years, a lot has changed. Electric driving is no longer a hobby of a few rich eco fanatics. With the introduction of the Ford F-150 Lightning, even in the USA, the realization that electric driving is the future is taking hold. Mercedes with its EQS and EQC, Audi with its series of e-tron models, the Jaguar I-PACE, and the Porsche Taycan have redefined what can be expected from an electric car.

The voices that ask for a 600 mile range at 100 mph followed by a 5-minute refill are mostly silenced. The plethora of dials, switches, and knobs that makes the cockpit of some of these cars as intimidating as the cockpit of a large 747 airplane are no longer the sign of technology they once were. The more user friendly and simpler design philosophy started by Tesla is now the leading design method for most new cars.

In this new world, Tesla has relaunched its Model S. The new Model S, both the normal Long Range and the overpowered Plaid versions have functionally the same interior. Only the vented seats and some carbon accents are different. This new interior is as luxurious and of the same high quality as the interiors of the MABP (Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Porsche) competition. The differences are differences in taste. And as is well known, there is no accounting for taste.

What is really different between the Long Range AWD Model S and the new Plaid version is the tech. The Plaid is the successor to the performance version. It has three motors and many big and small enhancements to make it the best sports sedan in series production that money can buy. Both have a range of around 400 miles, or nearly 420 as Musk joked. That 420 will become reality when we see the next battery or other upgrade, perhaps even coming over the air. Tesla has increased range over the air before.

Image courtesy of Tesla.

Image courtesy of Tesla.

Now you expect of me a list with the specs. Preferably, in comparison with the specs of the competition. This is not that kind of article. I have the same answer as was standard at Rolls-Royce when a customer inquired about the horsepower. It is enough.

For the nerds that really like a long list of numbers, I have a link to an excellent source. It’s the best on the web in my eyes.

The new Model S Long Range All Wheel Drive is again the best in class below $100,000. If you have a strong preference for technology and performance, you probably find this Tesla on the top of your short list of favorite cars.

For those willing and able to spend between $100,000 and 1 million, it is a different case. Those cars are for bragging rights. If you want the best performance on a circuit, even if it is the Nürburgring Nordschleife, you need very creative arguments to explain why you do not have the Tesla Model S Plaid. Perhaps something like: “My kids did not like the Tesla colors” or “My wife insists on real leather seats” or “The acceleration is too much for my heart.” Even the argument “I did not want show up in a cheap car costing less than $250,000” could be a valid excuse. If it is ostentatious luxury in that price segment you seek, perhaps a Rolls-Royce or Maybach is the better choice.

For all other big spenders, many of you will be seduced to buy the best car your money can buy. In this category, it is likely the Model S. That is why I predict higher sales for this renewed model. The previous Model S was stuck at 50,000 vehicles per year. For this next-generation Model S G2, sales of the same volume as the MABP competition enjoy are more likely IMNSHO. That is over 150,000 per year.

Image courtesy of Tesla.

The normal Model S G2 was expected to start delivery in February, the Plaid version was scheduled for October, and the Plaid+ somewhere in the middle of next year. The Plaid+ with its bigger battery and longer range is no longer on the books. Now, both the Long Range AWD and Plaid are in production for delivery. It’s “Elon time” with an extra dimension — four months too late combined with three months too early.

The plain Plaid is nearly as good on all sport-associated specs, which made the Plaid+ redundant. The larger Plaid+ battery that enabled extra range and towing ability should be in the standard Model S LR AWD. That is the version that benefits the most from a larger battery.

The new Tesla Model S’s sound/speaker system, visualized. Image courtesy of Tesla.

Image courtesy of Tesla.

These are really great cars, if you are into this kind of vehicle. To be honest, if I got one for free, I would only be interested in the resale value. It is far too big for my taste. It is too low for my oversized belly to get into. The 22 speaker sound system would only be used for telephone conversations. I don’t play games anymore. Netflix in 4K on my tablet is good enough for me. Parking this land yacht is often impossible. I never have thought driving on 4 wheels is sporty. In a closed box, you do not feel the wind in your face. You cannot hang into corners. For sporty, 2 wheels are better. On 4 wheels, I expect to be transported to my destination while I sit relaxed behind the wheel — preferably, with Full Self Driving taking over my duties as driver.

For me, it is either a Tesla the size of my Zoë, or the Cybertruck. (The Cybertruck I can convert into an RV. That is worth the burden of it being too large.) The type of performance I am interested in is of the endurance and resilience type. Perhaps driving one day to China, never the Nürnbergring.

The all-new Tesla Model S Plaid. Photo courtesy of Tesla.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/06/12/tesla-model-s-420-plaid-is-the-best-car-in-the-world-but-not-for-me/

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Sandy Munro Experiences Tesla’s FSD Beta V9 — “I’m pretty happy with what I see in the way of progress here.”

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YouTuber DirtyTesla, aka Chris, recently picked up Sandy Munro and took him for a ride to show Munro Tesla FSD version 9, which was released earlier this month. To start, though, the video below is a behind-the-scenes look at Sandy Munro Live — Chris got to have a tour of Sandy’s work and the recording area where Sandy recently compared a teardown of a Tesla Model Y with a Ford Mustang Mach-E. Sandy Munro’s take on Tesla FSD version 9 is further down.

Behind The Scenes

Sandy quickly gave him a tour of the studio and showed him the second Model 3 he tore down. Sandy noted that compared to it, the Model Y was definitely an improvement. On a table was a side-by-side comparison of Tesla’s Hardware 3 and Hardware 2.5 chips for the Model 3 and the Model Y. Sandy explained that the Model Y has the new Tesla chips (HW3) on them while the Model 3 has Nvidia chips on them (HW2.5). The Model Y has two chips while the Model 3 has 3.

Sandy thinks the chip in the Plaid Model S will be different again. “I think the one that’s going to be in the Plaid is going to look different than that. I have a suspicion, anyway.”

He moved over to the Model Y frame and pointed out that this was made from a giant chunk where before Tesla would use two pieces. He explained that this vehicle would give the owner a ride that was more stable and didn’t have noise, vibration, or harshness.

Sandy Munro’s Thoughts On FSD Beta V9

Dirty Tesla didn’t show the drive itself and instead asked Sandy what he thought afterward. (Sandy’s video of the drive is further down.)

“This is my second time in a beta vehicle, but this is really, really nice. I was really impressed. It did everything that the beta 7 did. We never tried, like, 160-degree turns in the beta 7 unit that I was in before. This one handled beautifully.

“No issues, no complaints, no nothing. So I’m pretty happy with what I see in the way of progress here. I’ve been a big advocate of self-driving because, quite frankly, I think this is going to save more lives than seatbelts. I really do. This is the right way to go. If the car can take over in a bad situation most people aren’t really prepared for, how can we possibly go wrong? So I’m very excited about it.”

Recap Of The Drive

Dirty Tesla shared a super quick recap of the drive with Munro and noted that it was a lot of fun. “We did a pretty simple drive. We basically went into a neighborhood and came back.”

He noted that Sandy will have his experience on his channel. “The drive was pretty much flawless. Zero disengagements. I had to intervene, I think, one time. I just hit the accelerator because it wasn’t moving through a blinking yellow, but it did very well. We had some sharp left and right turns. Everybody there was incredibly nice, so thank you again to everyone there who was part of the filming and making of the video. They showed me around the whole shop — a lot of fun.”

The Drive From Sandy’s Perspective

The first thing Sandy mentioned once they were inside Chris’s Dirty Tesla was that the screen looked different — it was not like his Model 3’s screen. Sandy, upon finding out that Chris’s Tesla was a Model Y, said:

“This is the only electric vehicle I’ve ever recommended. Period. I based all of that on the fact that it’s got the castings in the back and I knew that this is going to be a much more positive kind of ride than anything you’re going to get. And the Model 3 is good — not bad. But this is the one that I said, ‘You know what? If you’re going to buy an electric car, I’d try and buy this one.’”

The Drive

Once they picked their destinations, Chris explained that it wasn’t ready for parking lots yet, and even Tesla hasn’t advertised that it was ready for parking lots. The vehicle navigated out of the lot and onto the street, stopping at a red light. Sandy asked Chris what has been the most exciting part of being a beta tester for Tesla’s FSD.

“The Beta — it’s just nice to see the progress, and I know you said earlier that I’m one of the lucky few. I’m rooting for it to come to everybody, I really am. I want it to get pushed out, but I want it to be safe. Just seeing the progress and, you know, there’s still a lot to be done. It does make mistakes pretty often.

“I’m sure you’ll see a few in this video, but the progress has been noticeable. I mean, it is getting better. There’s no doubt. I actually track the interventions per mile that I get and they have been going down, especially with this version.”

Sandy noted that the car did move faster than normal speed and Chris explained that he set that up in the settings — it goes 10 mph over. He also pointed out that driving through neighborhoods is more of a challenge for FSD compared to the highway.

“The real big trick here is driving in cramped quarters. So this has done really well I think.”

The next thing Sandy wanted to know is if Chris had experienced anything that was shocking or scary.

“I wouldn’t put it that way, but it definitely makes mistakes, and it is a good idea — I mean, Tesla tells you in the release notes that you always have to pay attention. Keep your hands on the wheel, of course. Sometimes, like that lane change we had back then without a turn signal, it’ll kind of make quick moves like that.

“It’s a lot freer than the public build of Autopilot that’s kind of stuck in its lane. If it thinks it needs to, you know, move on the center line to get out of a bicyclist’s way, it’ll do it. And you have to kind of be prepared for when it does that when it’s not supposed to. So, I wouldn’t say anything has scared me, but yeah, there’s definitely times I take over because it’s getting too close to a wall or maybe too close to some barrels or something like that. But I’ve never been scared by it.

You can watch both videos here and here.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/24/sandy-munro-experiences-teslas-fsd-beta-v9-im-pretty-happy-with-what-i-see-in-the-way-of-progress-here/

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30 Million Solar Homes Initiative Promises 1.77 Million Jobs

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A coalition composed of the Institute For Local Self-Reliance, Solar United Neighbors Action, the Initiative For Energy Justice, and Solar United Neighbors has created a white paper urging the federal government to create policy and funding initiatives that would support the addition of rooftop solar to 30 million US homes.

The proposal claims the 30 Million Solar plan would create 1.77 million new jobs and save $69 billion in energy costs in the first 6 years. Thereafter, it would reduce the nation’s energy bills by $30 billion a year. In addition, the amount of carbon dioxide kept out of American skies would be equivalent to shuttering 48 coal-fired generating plants for an entire year or taking 42 million conventional gasoline and diesel powered vehicles off the road. 

That last part gets a Wow! from us here at CleanTechnica. Imagine how long it is going to take to get 42 million cars off the road at the current rate of EV adoption.

Policy Help & Financial Assistance

A big part of the 30 Million Solar initiative is convincing Congress to expand and extend the federal investment tax credits available for solar projects, many of which are scheduled to shrink in the near future before expiring altogether. The plan calls for bumping those credits back up to 30% and extending them for an additional 10 years. The critical elements include:

  • Restoration, extension, and democratization of the Investment Tax Credit to provide a direct pay option for distributed solar projects and a 30% credit.
  • Substantially increased investment in energy assistance and weatherization programs to permanently reduce energy burdens, especially with rooftop and community solar.
  • New financing programs, including a national green bank and Clean Energy Victory Bonds.
  • Substantial expansion of federal matching grants and loan guarantees for schools, rural homes and businesses, tribal communities, and equitable community solar projects.
  • Loan loss reserves, especially to support clean energy portfolios within community development financial institutions.
  • Virtual permitting, a national solar marketplace, rules supporting net metering and community solar requirements, and other market-boosting policies.
  • Support for solar workers and small business owners from underrepresented groups.
  • Measures to make sure federal programs and agencies are accountable to communities.

The Executive Summary of the plan reads as follows:

“The 30 Million Solar Homes policies leverage federal power to spark investment that can serve more than 30 million households with rooftop or community solar over the next five years. This decentralized approach to reaching one in four households with solar maximizes and disperses the economic benefits of expanding clean energy in the fight against climate change, directly benefiting as many Americans as possible.

“More than three quarters of total federal investment benefits marginalized communities, including low and moderate income communities, environmental justice communities, and solar deserts. Over 300 advocacy organizations, solar businesses, and faith communities have signed on in support of 30 Million Solar Homes.”

Two Thirds Of Benefits Will Flow To Underserved Communities

As of the end of the first quarter of this year, the U.S. solar industry had installed 102.8 GW of capacity, enough to power roughly 18.6 million homes. Adding rooftop solar to 30 million homes would equate to 151 GW in new solar capacity — 50% more than all the solar capacity currently in place.

Along with job creation, installing solar on 30 million homes would lead to 100 GW of the 151 GW of proposed capacity being installed in marginalized communities, helping to improve access equity to solar and easing the historic economic imbalance of the resource. The benefits of local solar are particularly important for these communities as many have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and face a slow economic recovery. Specific proposals that would benefit underserved communities include:

  • A bonus 10% tax credit for commercial projects that provide Davis-Bacon prevailing wages and benefits.
  • A 10% bonus credits to commercial projects primarily serving marginalized communities, or that provide resilience by combining solar and energy storage.
  • A 10% bonus credits to residential projects also serving marginalized communities or providing resilience.
  • Modifications to prioritize projects that provide a direct financial benefit to residents through electricity bill credits and other benefits.

The proposal also calls for:

  • DOE loan guarantees for equitable community solar projects.
  • Reauthorizing clean energy block grants for state, tribal, territorial, and local governments.
  • Establishing solar plus storage grants for resiliency in marginalized communities.
  • Instituting solar grants for schools to reinvest energy savings into operations.
  • Establishing grants for developing residential and community solar in marginalized communities.

Speeding Up Solar Permitting

The so-called soft costs associated with rooftop solar can add a third to the cost of a system. The Solar Automated Permit Processing platform from the US Department of Energy hopes to speed up the permitting process and lower costs. It provides a standard portal for local governments to process permit applications that automatically checks codes to ensure safety while generating a standardized inspection checklist installers and inspectors can use to verify compliance in the field.

The DOE piloted the SolarAPP+ program in Tucson and Pima County in Arizona, and Menifee and Pleasant Valley in the California. “In Tucson, for example, SolarAPP+ reduced permitting reviews from approximately 20 business days to zero,” according to DOE.

“We have 3 million households today that have solar on their roofs, but the potential is so much greater,” DOE’s solar energy director told Reuters. “Having streamlined processes and an automated permitting platform that can make it faster, easier and cheaper for homeowners to go solar promises to really help expand the residential solar sector.”

Local governments and installers can now sign up to get started with the app or attend webinars listed on the DOE’s blog. It’s all part of the its Summer of Solar campaign aimed at lowering soft costs — design, siting, permitting, installation, and so forth — associated with rooftop solar power.

The Takeaway

The distinguishing feature of rooftop solar is it typically is not something done by traditional utility companies. They love solar because the cost of fuel is effectively zero. But they hate to see electricity democratized. There are a few progressive utility companies out there, but most of them take the position that, “It’s our electricity, dammit, and we alone will decide who gets it and how much you pay for it.” It’s a natural consequence of the monopoly model that has been the standard of the industry for over a century.

The 30 Million Solar plan would explode that status quo. Utility industry lobbyist are salivating over the prospect of driving a stake through the heart of this proposal.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/24/30-million-solar-homes-initiative-promises-1-77-million-jobs/

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From the Sublime to the Ludicrous

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By David Waterworth

Back in 2014 I took a Tesla Model S for a test drive. The salesperson sat beside me, he put it in Ludicrous mode and Autopilot.  I drove out to the motorway and he said: “Floor it!” Then, “Take your hands off the wheel.” As my body pressed back into the driver’s seat, I knew there was no way I could take my hands off the wheel. It was a back-to-the-future, out-of-body experience.

My wife and grandson were in the backseat. “Wow,” they said. “Do it again, grandad,” said Oscar. 

Unfortunately, I did not have the funds to buy a Tesla at that time. Six years later and I was able to make the stretch to a Model 3 SR+.

In the meantime I had purchased a lovely old Wolseley. Built by BMC in 1964, he was the poor man’s Rolls. Elegant wood — glowing burr walnut — and leather trim. And power brakes for safety. Soft, high-riding suspension for comfort. According to the brochure, the Australian 6 cylinder Blue Streak engine gives a “really vivacious performance.” Luxury for a reasonable price.

I used to joke that I could do 0–100 km/h in 4.7 weeks.

From old BMC Wolseley Mark II brochure.

Now I drive a Tesla. Tess is not as soft to drive as George T. Wolseley — I have to slow down for the speed bumps. But she is faster, safer, and has tech to the eyeballs. I have not lost my love of the old marques and still appreciate the engineering of the “old days,” but nothing can compare dragging of a motor bike at the traffic lights.

I don’t miss filling up with petrol, checking the oil, and waiting for the next thing to break — fan belt, radiator hose, tappet cover gasket.

The internal combustion engine has been a great asset to civilization — transport being only one of its many uses. Its time is now passing and we are able to go from traveling in the sublime luxury of six-cylinder car comfort to the ludicrous nature of Tesla.

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He owns 50 shares of Tesla.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/24/from-the-sublime-to-the-ludicrous/

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Network Pushing For BICOC-Led Environmental Justice Funding Gains Momentum

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A campaign to increase philanthropic funding of environmental groups led by people of color is gaining momentum, but the vast majority of major donors still decline to make hard commitments, the AP reports.

Donors of Color Network, the group leading the campaign, is pushing major funders to commit to releasing funding data and direct 30% of their climate funding to those groups. So far, four of the top 40 have signed the pledge, with others only pledging transparency.

“Engaging those communities in decision-making (and) in the solutions for climate is essential,” Miya Yoshitani, the executive director of the Oakland-based Asian Pacific Environmental Network and a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, told the AP.

It’s important, she said, for communities “to see themselves as part of the solution to this incredible and enormous problem.”

In 2016 and 2017, just 1.3% of climate funding in the Midwest and Gulf regions went to environmental justice groups.

Source: AP

This is a quick news brief from Nexus Media.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/24/network-pushing-for-bicoc-led-environmental-justice-funding-gains-momentum/

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