Apple Poaches Telsa’s Engineering VP

Apple, hard at work developing its own electric car – codenamed Project Titan, and rumoured to be undergoing R&D at a secret facility in Berlin, Germany – has poached Telsa Motors’ Vice President of Engineering Chris Porritt to work on a “special project”, according to Electrek. I wonder what that could be..?

The move follows reports that former Project Titan lead Steve Zadesky has left Apple, with Porritt appearing to be his natural replacement. Porritt’s CV includes a stint as Aston Martin’s Chief Engineer, a period during which he helped develop the One-77 supercar, V12 Zagato, and Aston Martin DB9 before leaving in 2013. Do you know who one of the biggest Aston Martin fanboys is? Jony Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer, who famously owns both a DB9 and a Vanquish.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has previously joked about his company’s employees moving to Apple, calling the company the “Tesla graveyard”.

“They have hired people we’ve fired,” Musk said. “We always jokingly call Apple the ‘Tesla Graveyard.’ If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I’m not kidding.”

While much of the design work for the Apple Car is said to be handled from its Cupertino headquarters, the Berlin lab is handling the development side, while the vehicle is due to be built in Austria by automotive engineering outfit Magna Steyr. The car is expected to hit the market in either 2019 or 2020.

Upgraded Tesla Model S Expected Next Week

It is the Model 3 that has been getting all the attention towards Tesla lately with its remarkable preorder figures continuing to balloon. It isn’t the only car that the California-based EV firm have been working on lately, with rumours beginning to show that they have also been looking to upgrade their existing sporty saloon, the Model S.

Tim Stevens of CNET has reported that an updated version of the Model S could be making its debut as soon as next week according to sources at Tesla. The changes made to the Model S are said to include a number of new features to make it more “luxury” in order to compete with BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. The changes will also bring the Model S up to date with some of the features included in the Model X and Model 3, including new seats, ventilation and adjustments to the nose both aesthetically and functionally with the headlights employing LEDs. Of course, with all of these positive changes, the price is set to reflect the higher quality of the car, but the sources were unable to state exactly how much the price would be raised for this new Model S.

Tesla themselves have remained tight-lipped about the revision, issuing the following statement regarding it:

We don’t comment on rumor or speculation about future releases. Tesla is constantly innovating and adding new features to our vehicles to perpetually improve Tesla vehicles for our existing and future customers. We price our vehicles consistently throughout the world which requires us to adjust pricing to foreign currency exchange rates. We have let customers know that some price changes will take effect in early April. We always encourage those interested in purchasing Model S to place their order so they can start enjoying the many benefits of Model S today.

More news regarding this updated Model S will be covered as it becomes available.

Tesla Explains How to Reserve a Model 3

Tesla’s new Model 3 may be about to debut in only a few months, at an event scheduled to be held at the company’s Hawthorne, California facility. Any hopeful owners of Tesla’s newest offering will have a long wait ahead of them, though, as the car is only currently expected to be on roads by late 2017. The ordering process won’t be easy either, as Tesla announced in a recently published blog post.

Reservations for the Model 3 will be opening on March 31st in Tesla stores, which matches the date of the debut event for the car. They will also be available online starting at 8:30 PM PT, which is around the time the reveal will be made. The catch is, that to pre-order a Model 3, you’ll have to pay $1000 upfront to even get your name on the waiting list. Considering the car itself is set to cost $35,000, this is a lot of money, but for diehards who want a Model 3 as early as possible, it may be a price you have to pay considering Tesla still haven’t cleared their reservations for the Model X. Tesla states that the best way to stand a chance of getting a good spot on the waiting list is to visit Tesla stores in person, as when reservations finally go live online, many will have already pre-ordered.

Unfortunately, the Model 3 won’t be available everywhere initially either. Initially, the car will be available on the West Coast of the US, before moving east. After the US rollout is complete, versions will be made available for those in Europe, APAC, and right-hand-drive markets at later dates. Tesla “recognize that everyone wants to get their Model 3 as quickly as possible. Our overarching goal is to maximize total customer happiness within the bounds of what is physically possible.”

More news on the Model 3 itself will be available following the reveal next Thursday.

Tech Giants Plot to Stop Trump

The CEOs of Apple, Tesla Motors, and Alphabet joined a group of tech industry leaders and politicians at a secretive event where the key agenda was to stop Donald Trump from becoming the Republican Presidential candidate.

Tim Cook, Elon Musk, and Larry Page rubbed shoulders with the likes of Napster founder and Facebook investor Sean Parker, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), political guru Karl Rove, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Republican Senators Tom Cotton (Ark.), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Tim Scott (S.C.), Rob Portman (Ohio), and Ben Sasse (Neb.) at the American Enterprise Institute’s annual World Forum, which was held on a private island of the coast of the US state of Georgia, according to the Huffington Post.

“A specter was haunting the World Forum–the specter of Donald Trump,” wrote Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, in an emailed report from the conference. “There was much unhappiness about his emergence, a good deal of talk, some of it insightful and thoughtful, about why he’s done so well, and many expressions of hope that he would be defeated.”

“The key task now, to once again paraphrase Karl Marx, is less to understand Trump than to stop him,” Kristol added. “In general, there’s a little too much hand-wringing, brow-furrowing, and fatalism out there and not quite enough resolving to save the party from nominating or the country electing someone who simply shouldn’t be president.”

According to a presentation at the event by Karl Rove, former Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush, Trump’s weakness is the perception of him by the general public that he does not appear “presidential”, is not a strong role model for children, and should not be trusted with his “finger on the nuclear button”.

Image courtesy of Vanity Fair.

Tesla Pick up Tesla.com Domain

Often the simplest domain names are the best and unfortunately for Elon Musk, Tesla Motors has had to settle for the teslamotors.com domain instead of the more highly prized tesla.com. The tesla.com domain has been held since 1992 by a Nicola Tesla fan, Stu Grossman, however, it has remained largely unused for the last 24 years. Now a Tesla spokeswoman has confirmed that the electric car company has taken over the domain, with tesla.com now redirecting to the existing teslamotors.com.

It is unclear what prompted the acquisition of the domain after settling for the use of the Teslamotors.com domain for so long. The domain issue was raised by Elon Musk during the launch of Tesla Motors’ Tesla Energy wing when asked if he had plans to rebrand the company to simply ‘Tesla’ to match its new scope. With this solved, a Tesla rename could be coming up as well as giving Tesla a better grasp on the web for both their electric car business and battery units, as well as whatever Musk may have planned for the company’s future.

What caused Grossman to give up the Tesla domain is currently unknown. According to Bloomberg, John Berryhill, an attorney in Pennsylvania who represented Grossman in a past dispute with Tesla Industries Inc stated that Grossman had bought the domain for personal use due to his affinity for the inventor Tesla. Berryhill said that “Grossman had been approached by many people about giving up the name.” He went on to surmise that Tesla Motors’ acquisition of the tesla.com domain name was part of a voluntary arrangement between the two parties.

Whether it was due to a voluntary arrangement or a lapse in occupancy of the domain by Grossman, the tesla.com domain undoubtedly belongs to Tesla Motors now. This occupation of the tesla.com domain could kick-start a rebrand of the Tesla Motors company and allow them to expand their web presence beyond just cars, whether that expansion will include Musk’s desired electric VTOL remains to be seen.

Elon Musk Welcomes Apple’s “Open Secret” Electric Car

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of the Telsa Motors electric car company, has confirmed that, as far as he knows, Apple is developing its own electric vehicles, calling it an “open secret”, and a welcome one at that. Speaking to the BBC, Musk said that increased competition for electric cars means a healthier market and a big step towards his idealised world of electric cars, whether they are produced by Tesla or not.

“I think companies like Apple will probably make an electric car. It seems like the obvious thing to do. It’s pretty hard to hide something if you hire over a thousand engineers to do it,” Musk told the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones. When pressed by Cellan-Jones as to whether that means he knows that Apple is definitely developing an electric car, Musk responded, “Yeah, I do. It’s an open secret.”

Musk is supportive of Apple’s endeavour, claiming that “It will expand the industry.”

“Tesla will still aspire to make the most compelling electric vehicles, and that would be our goal, while at the same helping other companies to make electric cars as well,” he added, saying that, “In the long term, nobody will buy a car unless it is autonomous. You will only drive if you want to drive.”

Elon Musk Nominated for Luddite Award Over “Alarmist” Views on AI

Tesla Motors and SpaceX founder Elon Musk has had a fine year, capped off with the first successful Earth landing from space of one of his Falcon 9 rockets. The billionaire entrepreneur is being recognised for a less distinguished honour, however, with a nomination for this year’s Luddite Award.

A luddite, named to 19th Century loom saboteur Ned Ludd, is someone who seeks to suppress technological innovation. So, how can Musk, who has pioneered the electric car and launched the world’s most successful private astronautics endeavour, be accused of holding back innovation? For years now, Musk has been vocal about the dangers of emerging artificial intelligence, describing it as “our biggest existential threat” and “more dangerous than nukes”. Bill Gates and Professor Stephen Hawking have also been included in the nomination for holding similar views on AI.

The Luddite Award is an annual prize hosted by US thinktank, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

“In his book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, Oxford professor Nick Bostrom reflected the general fear that ‘superintelligence’ in machines could outperform ‘the best human minds in every field, including scientific creativity, general wisdom and social skills’. He argues that artificial intelligence will advance to a point where its goals are no longer compatible with that of humans and, as a result, superintelligent machines will seek to enslave or exterminate us,” the IFIT’s nomination list reads [PDF]. “Most of us are rightly amazed at AI applications like IBM’s Watson, our Nest thermostat that learns, and other learning devices. But to say that these devices and systems will be smart enough to take over the world is to misunderstand what AI is and where it stands today.”

The nomination comes at an odd time, not long after a new AI initiative, OpenAI, launched with the financial support of Musk.

Image courtesy of Business Insider.

Elon Musk Wants VW Forced to Produce Zero-Emission Vehicles

Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk – together with a group of 44 businesses and environmentalists – thinks that the punishment for Volkswagen’s lies regarding the exhaust emissions of its diesel cars should be to force the manufacturer to produce zero-emission vehicles, in lieu of fines and “impractical” recalls.

In an open letter to California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols, the group asks that they “cure the air, not the cars.” Instead of forcing a recall and repair of VW vehicles will emission-cheating software, the letter asks California to give VW the option of building zero-emission vehicles to allow it to make amends.

The letter proposes:

  1. Release VW from its obligation to fix diesel cars already on the road in California, which represent an insignificant portion of total vehicles emissions in the State, and which cars do not, individually, present any emissions-related risk to their owners or occupants
  2. Instead, direct VW to accelerate greatly its rollout of zero emission vehicles, which by their very nature, have zero emissions and thus present zero opportunities for cheating, and also do not require any enforcement dollars to verify
  3. Require that this acceleration of the rollout of zero emissions vehicles by VW result in a 10 for 1 or greater reduction in pollutant emissions as compared to the pollution associated with the diesel fleet cheating, and achieve this over the next 5 years
  4. Require that VW invest in new manufacturing plants and/or research and development, in the amounts that they otherwise would have been fined, and do so in California to the extent that California would have been allocated its share of the fines
  5. Allow VW some flexibility in the execution and timing of this plan by allowing it to be implemented via zero emission vehicle credits.

Image courtesy of International Business Times.

Elon Musk Fearful World War III Could Prevent His Mars Mission

Entrepreneur and budding supervillain Elon Musk, founder of electric car company Tesla and astronautics outfit SpaceX, fears that his audacious plan to force a habitable atmosphere on to Mars by nuking it into submission could be put at risk by the possibility of a Third World War. Speaking to GQ magazine, Musk said that his ambitions for colonising Mars  – a task he sees as a moral responsibility for the good of future mankind – might be hampered by more terrestrial concerns.

“I mean, I don’t think we can discount the possibility of a third World War,” Musk said. “You know, in 1912 they were proclaiming a new age of peace and prosperity, saying that it was a golden age, war was over. And then you had World War I followed by World War II followed by the Cold War. So I think we need to acknowledge that there’s certainly a possibility of a third World War, and if that does occur it could be far worse than anything that’s happened before.”

Musk’s view of colonising Mars is almost childlike; he sees it the same way as a computer, saying, “You back up your hard drive…. Maybe we should back up life, too?”

Faraday Future Officially Confirm Launch Date for Their First Electric Car

First thing’s first… who is Faraday Future? According to their website, they may be a soon-to-come competitor for Tesla Motor’s electric cars. But this is not why they are so interesting to talk about. What is more interesting is when they plan on releasing their first car and who they have on their side.

Faraday Future, commonly known as FF for short, may become the leading pioneers of electric cars in the near future. Oh sure, they follow the same “100% electric, zero-emission, fully-connected” principle as Tesla Motors and the rest of the electric car manufacturers, but there are two things that set them aside from the rest.

One of the things worth mentioning is that they plan on allowing customers to customize their vehicles “in ways you’ve never even considered possible”. We don’t know any specific details at the moment, but when you hear something like that and take into account the possibilities of what could be done to an electric car, your mind sparks, doesn’t it? Still, anyone could say that, but what makes their plans a bit more ‘believable’? Now we come to the second important bit.

According to sources, FF already has important people working for them. From Tesla’s chassis designers and the director of Wal-blue Chevrolet Volt, to the engineering staff who worked on BMW’s i8 concept car. This is probably what sets them aside from everyone else on the market right now. Also, when you get together people who worked on important projects like the ones previously mentioned, you pretty much can expect anything.

However, we still need to see more of what they plan to bring to the market. At the moment, all we know officially is that they will be releasing their first electric car in 2017. There is also a picture of what looks like their first model, though we don’t know if it is a concept or the actual car they are working on. More details about the company can be found over at their website here.

Image courtesy of Faraday Future

Tesla Acquired Rivera Tool

 

 

As any automakers are banned to sell directly to consumers in the state of Michigan, but it did not stop Tesla Motor’s CEO Elon Musk to stop the attempts to reach customers to offer its electric motor driven automobiles. Tesla Motors has acquired Michigan-based Riviera Tool. This purchase marks Tesla’s first presence in the state.

Grand Rapids-based Riviera Tool specializes in constructing stamping die systems, the machinery that stamps large sheets of metal into auto parts which will be shipped to Tesla’s assembly plant in Fremont, California. Tesla is expected to retain the staff of 100 employees and rename it to Tesla Tool & Die. “It’s not out of the question. Maybe Michigan shouldn’t stop us from selling cars here. That would be a nice gesture,” he said to laughter.

“We are excited to have reached a deal with Riviera and have a presence in the state of Michigan and bring additional tool building capabilities in-house,” a Tesla spokesperson said in an email. “This acquisition will help us to build new stamping and plastic parts in a cost-effective manner, support new metal forming technology development, and allow us to increase production as we introduce more models.”

We currently do not have any more information on terms of the acquisition, but we will keep you up to date as soon as we do.

Thank you Detroit Free Press for providing us with this information.

Tesla Motors’ Website Hacked

Following on from our story about the official Tesla Twitter being hacked, it seems that their website was targeted too. Whether this was by the same team of hackers as the Twitter attack, we can only assume that it was as this is to much of a coincidence to happen around the same time and to the same company.

While it seems that everything is back to normal, we were able to get a screenshot of the hack in place (see above) and have even found a video image of the hack too of which you can see here.

It does seem that everything is back under control but how and why both the official Twitter and website of Tesla were hacked is anyone’s guess, but for the most part we are assuming it’s because “they can”.

It is worth noting that the official Facebook page of the company does seem to remain intact but this could be the next target for the hackers, so keep your eyes peeled and we will be sure to bring you more information if the story develops further.