Tag Archives: gas prices

Tesla Feature Story Assignment

*this assignment lost its three column formatting and quotes when posting to WordPress.

It was one of those first winter storms that rolled into the coast, drenching Victoria and surrounding areas in heavy rains that blew at you from all angles, obliterating umbrellas, prompting boil water advisories, and knocking out power. Chris Marks needs to get to an important meeting within an hour and he has nobody scheduled to drive him in his wheelchair van, he can take two buses although he is not sure what number the connecting one should be. So he dons his winter jacket, rain poncho, Southwester rain hat and heads off to the meeting thinking, “I cannot wait until Tesla finally releases the fully autonomous vehicle on the market”.

 

Chris can drive but does not because of a spinal injury 10 years ago that left him quadriplegic. He had taken driving lessons after the spinal injury and determined that the random, severe, muscle spasms that can be associated post injury would be too risky for him to drive himself. He has been closely following the progress of Tesla Motors and their fully electric vehicles; just last month, Tesla wirelessly bestowed an advanced autopilot feature into all their newer model cars in North America, overnight. This is widely viewed as the first step toward fully autonomous vehicles which Google and others are working on although Elon Musk of Tesla Motors predicts it will be getting this technology out to the public by 2017 or 2018; Google predicts 2020.

 

Chris’s decision to not pursue getting his license post injury means he travels by his electric wheelchair at up to 14 km/h, usually in a bicycle lane as sidewalks are too bumpy and unpredictable at that speed for a wheelchair. Being a student gives him a bus pass with good coverage in city limits that is diminished the evenings, Sundays, and at his main campus 8.5 km away from downtown. He has a modified van that accepts his wheelchair but has to schedule somebody with a valid driver’s license for a minimum of two hours, even if he just needs a 15 minute ride. To own an autonomous vehicle that can pull up to him when he calls it, take him safely to his destination, and then return him back home comfortably has seemed like science fiction in the future that is now becoming fact.

After a spinal injury, many people find creative ways to regain independence, with varying levels of success. Just modifying a zipper so that it can be used by somebody without the ability to grip lets someone unzip their coat a bit if they get too hot and zip it up if they are cold. The level of freedom, autonomy, dignity and independence that a self-driving vehicle represents is only a few levels below an actual cure for spinal injury.

 

It is not just Chris who will benefit from this technology, but the elderly, injured, developmentally delayed, and/or physically challenged demographic could see a revolution in their level of autonomy and independence. Families, business people, delivery services, taxis and transportation companies are all in line to be transformed by the introduction of self-driving cars.

The level of freedom this represents cannot be understated for many people. Having constantly different drivers increases Chris’s insurance costs, wear and tear on the vehicle, and stress levels. Some say that the autonomously driving cars being tested by Google for the last five years are already safer than humans, don’t get tired or fatigued or text while driving and will be embraced by the insurance companies. The only dings in his $60,000 wheelchair van were from an ex-girlfriend, not an employee but there were a couple employee related collisions in the past with inanimate objects like a wall in a parkade.

Some people remain skeptical of technology and may not want to trust their lives to a computer system that could possibly be as prone to randomly freezing up as an old version of Windows. Chris has been following leading edge technology in robotics, graphene and quantum computing, and of course, self-driving cars. Chris was excited about Tesla motors before he even heard there were pushing toward autonomous vehicles simply because they are all electric. His electric wheelchair goes pretty slow by bicycle or wheelchair standards but is sleek, fast, and high-performance by walking metrics. Chris likes to point out that the advances in battery construction necessary to power Tesla’s fleet will put high density lithium-ion batteries within reach of people who need them; when the distance you can go that day depends upon battery life, then battery technology can contribute to quality of life.

Victorians are usually smug about their good weather on the coast comparing themselves to Hawaii or Florida versus the rest of Canada that often gets unthinkably cold snaps and snowdrifts that can keep many people shut in for many of the winter months. Many like Chris dream of a safe, all-wheel-drive, self-driving vehicle that can get you where you need to go any time of any day like a cross between a chauffeur and a designated driver that never takes a day off.  For now, regular articles and press releases and news stories documenting the progress of autonomous vehicles to market are read with increasing interest. These are not popular mechanics articles written 20 or 50 years in the future, the technology exists today and is working and undergoing continuous refinement. With winter coming back to the coast in a wet, blustery onslaught of low pressure storms and high pressure freezing periods, Chris continues navigating the bus, covered areas in which to stay dry and scheduling helpers that scare him the least to drive him and his teenager around when necessary. The future may be here, and yet it cannot come soon enough for Chris.

 

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November 3, 2015

 

Tesla Motors was not started by Elon Musk, but it was jumpstarted by him. He is currently a cofounder of Tesla Motors, Chairman of SolarCity, CEO of Space X, and got his start by developing Zip2, a web software company, and co-founded X.com which later became PayPal and was bought by eBay (Contributors, 2015).

Before Tesla Motors, the North American, and global automotive industry seemed stuck in the old paradigm of internal combustion engines using fossil fuels. There was little innovation and hope for an exciting, fossil fuel free future was harder to envision. Tesla Motors has jumpstarted the global electric vehicle industry with all other major manufacturers following suit (Petty, 2015).

Tesla Motors is named after Nikola Tesla’s and the motors using the vehicles are direct descendents of Nikola Tesla’s original 1882 alternating current electric motor design (Contributors, Tesla Motors, 2015).

~More~

 

Tesla Motors was incorporated in July 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning and Elon joined the Board of Directors and led the first round of investment funding in 2004. Elon contributed $70 million of his own money and help secure five rounds of funding to keep the company alive until it announced its first profit in 2009 (Contributors, Tesla Motors, 2015).

 

In 2009 Tesla received 465 million in interest-bearing loans and in 2013 was the first car company to repay the government where Ford and Nissan etc. had not (Contributors, Tesla Motors, 2015).

On June 29, 2010 Tesla made an initial public offering at $17 per share; as of November 3, 2015, Tesla is trading at $210.70 per share.

Tesla Motors has a strong fan base and customers report a 98% satisfaction rate and they would happily buy another Tesla (Edelstein, 2015). Tesla also comes out on top in customer repair satisfaction surveys (DeMorro, 2015), and was given the highest safety rating and may be the safest vehicle ever tested to date and in fact broke the testing equipment (Lavrinc, 2015).

 

~More~

 

Tesla is doing more than just building luxury supercars at a fraction of the price, they are building a network of superchargers, a gigafactory that will nearly double the world’s output of lithium-ion batteries and help lower the price  as well as complement their residential and commercial Powerwall energy storage initiatives (Tesla Motors, 2015). With the success of Space X supplying the international space station and the overall success of Tesla Motors to date, it would be a mistake to underestimate Elon Musk and Tesla.

Other distinguishing features of Tesla Motors is the giant touchscreen that the vehicles use as an interface and the ability for Tesla Motors to push out software upgrades to its fleet all at once, overnight, while you sleep. Recently, Tesla Motors upgraded their Model S and Model X vehicles wirelessly to utilize the pre-existing hardware installed that allows the vehicles to access an advanced cruise control. This is seen as a precursor to fully autonomous vehicles which are predicted to hit the market as early as 2017 according to Elon Musk and 2020 according to Google.

While the future is always uncertain, the enthusiasm of Tesla’s owners and supporters along with the consistent top 10 ratings in customer satisfaction, safety, and performance seem to indicate a bright future (Autoblog, 2015).

 

~End~

 

Works Cited

Autoblog. (2015, October 27). car and driver 10 best lists Tesla. Retrieved from Autoblog: http://www.autoblog.com/2014/11/21/car-and-driver-10best-list-tesla-model-s-bmw-2-series/

Contributors. (2015, October 3). Elon Musk. Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elon_Musk

Contributors. (2015, October 3). Tesla Motors. Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_Motors

DeMorro, C. (2015, October 3). Tesla tops Consumer Reports repair satisfaction survey. Retrieved from Gas 2: http://gas2.org/2015/02/05/tesla-top-consumer-reports-repair-satisfaction-survey/

Edelstein, S. (2015, October 3). tesla-model-s-tops-consumer-reports-customer-satisfaction-index-again. Retrieved from Green Car Reports.com: http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1095745_tesla-model-s-tops-consumer-reports-customer-satisfaction-index-again

Lavrinc, D. (2015, October 3). Tesla model S crash test. Retrieved from wired.com: http://www.wired.com/2013/08/tesla-model-s-crash-test/

Petty, A. (2015, October 3). Tesla-Nissan-Chevy-jumpstart electric vehicle market. Retrieved from The Piedmont Highlander: http://tphnews.com/2013/04/tesla-chevrolet-nissan-jumpstart-electric-vehicle-market

Tesla Motors. (2015, November 3). About. Retrieved from Tesla motors.com: http://www.teslamotors.com/en_CA/about

Tesla Motors. (2015, October 3). Supercharger. Retrieved from Tesla motors.com: http://www.teslamotors.com/en_CA/supercharger

 

How to Tesla: Better, faster, greener, farther, and smarter every day.

  • You wake up in the morning and get ready for your day, step outside and get into your Tesla. It is waiting for you where you told it to be, with the temperature where you like it, your favorite music or radio station on, and it drives better today than it did yesterday thanks to the overnight wireless upgrade.

If you are reading this then you have probably already heard of Tesla Motors somewhere and you may know that they are all electric, “may be the safest vehicle ever tested“, can accelerate insanely fast, and they have jumpstarted the electric vehicle market globally.

But it gets better.

Tesla’s blog reveals That their vehicles, improve “while you sleep. When you wake up, added functionality, enhanced performance, and improved user experience make you feel like you are driving a new car“. The vehicle communicates in real time with the growing network of supercharging stations while simultaneously working with trip planning software to figure out the fastest and most convenient route to your destination. Your vehicle automatically calculates the best supercharging station on your route (which are free for life), and while you are sleeping downloads automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, side collision warning, and valet mode to complement its autopilot feature.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk says that within two years they will get 1000 km on a single charge and be able to drive fully autonomously, within three years.

Entering the SUV crossover market with its gullwing doors, all-wheel-drive, seating for seven adults, low and stable center of gravity, the newly released Model X  again changes what is thought possible for electric vehicles. Many believe the real game changer will come with the $35,000 electric vehicle set to be able to be order-able in March 2016 and manufactured in 2017 once the gigafactory, and other manufacturing pieces are in place.

Does your vehicle currently improve itself while you are sleeping? Do you wake up with a full tank every morning? Would you like too? What are you waiting for?

You don’t have to wait, this is how to Tesla today.

P85D video.

Gas price back up, Oil price back down.

So climate change is real and there is a “90 percent probability that human activities over the past 250 years have warmed our planet.

The industrial activities that our modern civilization depends upon have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels [and] the rate of increase in global warming due to these gases is very likely to be unprecedented within the past 10,000 years or more”, if you believe NASA.

So why does that matter?

The worldwide price of oil still low at $48.50/barrel and on the decline, local gas prices have crept back up from $0.95/L to $1.05 in the last week; it seems like somebody is making profits. We may explore who in a later post.

The ripple effects through the economy really highlight our dependence upon oil. Personally I am a big fan of Tesla and hope to own of his electric automobiles one day. As MarketWatch reports:

“Maybe people are still going to line up to pay $70,000 for one of his fancy new battery-powered Tesla S models. But it was a lot easier to sell the concept when gasoline was $3.70 a gallon than it is at $2.25…According to data compiled by Edmunds, the automobile market research company, sales of light trucks and other “gas guzzlers” … are suddenly booming again. And sales of hybrids, electrics and other fuel-efficient vehicles have suddenly, er, tanked…already U.S. car buyers are shunning fuel-efficient vehicles and buying themselves a new SUV. When enough do that, gasoline consumption goes back up, and so do prices”.

Good thing Tesla makes a very good automobile.

Here in Canada, the lower price of oil has serious consequences for what is now Canada’s largest economic generator, tar sands. Already, “already, top Canadian player Suncor, .. has cut $1 billion from its budget and is slashing 1000 jobs”.

Discussions with a student at Camosun tonight had him wager that oil would stay below $80 per barrel for the next six years.

What would that do to Cenovus, Tesla, the Canadian economy and the human part of the human caused climate change? Does it matter? How will alternative energy and renewable energy industries react?

Works Cited

Arends, B. (2015, January 02). Can Tesla survive collapsing oil prices? Retrieved from MarketWatch.com: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/can-tesla-survive-collapsing-gas-prices-2014-12-31

French, C. (2015, February 03). Time to panic? Layoffs loom large in Canada’s oil patch: survey. Retrieved from Yahoo: https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/blogs/balance-sheet/layoffs-loom-on-oil-patch-but-not-panic-yet-165924793.html

Gasbuddy.com. (2015, Feb 04). Downtown. Retrieved from http://www.victoriagasprices.com: http://www.victoriagasprices.com/index.aspx?site=Victoria&area=Victoria%20-%20Downtown

NASA. (2014). Nasa. Retrieved from Causes: http://climate.nasa.gov/causes/

Reuters. (2015, Feb 04). Energy. Retrieved from CNBC: http://www.cnbc.com/id/102394676#.