'So much sadness': Tesla autopilot killed 15-year-old Bay Area boy, lawsuit alleges

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SF Gate 06 July, 2021 - 04:58pm 56 views

A lawsuit filed by a Bay Area family places further scrutiny onto Tesla's autopilot system.

The New York Times reports that the family of Jovani Maldonado, a 15-year-old San Lorenzo boy who was killed on Interstate 880, is suing Tesla as well as the driver and owner of the vehicle involved in the crash that killed Maldonado in Alameda County Superior Court.

The crash took place on the evening of August 24, 2019; Maldonado was transported to Stanford Medical Center and died shortly after.

According to crash footage obtained by the Times, the autopiloted Tesla Model S — owned by Romeo and Vilma Yalung — did not slow down from its 69 mph speed until the very last second before crashing into the Maldonados' Ford Explorer, which rolled over and hit the highway divider. Maldonado was not wearing a seatbelt.

The family remains so devastated by the death of their son, according to the Times, that they only responded to questions provided by the publication with written answers.

"There is so much sadness inside," said Benjamin Maldonado, Jovani's father. "We take family walks and try to do things together like going to church. There is a massive hole in the family.”

Tesla did not respond to the Times' multiple requests, and will likely not as Tesla eradicated its press team.

Company representatives, however, have privately expressed doubts about Tesla's "self-driving" capabilities despite CEO Elon Musk's recent claims that autopilot accidents are "becoming rarer."

Most recently, two men inside a Tesla Model S were killed in Texas after the vehicle crashed and caught fire. Tesla executives claim that the vehicle was not on autopilot.

Read full article at SF Gate

Tesla Production And Deliveries Graphed Through Q2 2021

InsideEVs 06 July, 2021 - 09:36am

Tesla offers four models - Model S, Model X, Model 3 and Model Y - however, the Model 3/Y duo were responsible for about 99% of the result as the refreshed Model S was barely launched in June.

The most important thing is that the growth rates are high, which means that Tesla continues to enjoy very strong demand, although we must remember that the Q2 base was affected by lockdowns.

The overall production increased in the Q2 by 151% year-over-year to over 206,000. That's the best result ever. The Model 3/Model Y went up by 169% year-over-year to over 204,000.

Tesla produced a relatively small number of Model S/X in the quarter, just over 2,000 units. This number is expected to increase significantly later this year (at some point in the future it should reach 1,000 a week).

A similar image we can see in terms of deliveries - a new record of over 200,000 (we guessed that Tesla was pushing for it), mostly thanks to the Model 3/Y, which are at a record high of over 199,000 (up 148% year-over-year).

"In the second quarter, we produced and delivered over 200,000 vehicles. Our teams have done an outstanding job navigating through global supply chain and logistics challenges."

This Tesla Model S Plaid Raffle Has Amazing Odds, Enter To Win

InsideEVs 06 July, 2021 - 09:00am

The Model S Plaid is the range-topping high-performance version of Tesla's newly refreshed Model S. According to Tesla, it boasts a sub-2-second zero-to-60-mph time, the ability to run the quarter-mile in ~9.2 seconds, and a top speed of 200 mph.

This Tesla flagship sedan isn't just quick, however. It's a large, roomy, and upscale family sedan with two large touch screens, cutting-edge technology, and all sorts of new and exciting features. For those who are interested in the Plaid but can't justify the starting price, the Model S Long Range is available for $50,000 less. It's basically the same car as the Plaid inside and out, though it's not quite as quick.

If you want a new Model S and don't want to pay a dime for it (aside from the price of the raffle ticket), there's a raffle you can enter for a chance to win.

As reported by Teslarati, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network Action Fund is raising money by raffling off a Model S Plaid. The organization is only selling up to 4,500 tickets, and it will still raffle off the car even if not all tickets are purchased. This means the odds here are in your favor, at least compared to other, similar raffles. The winner's taxes will also be covered by the organization.

Learn More About The Tesla Model S Plaid:

The raffle is already underway, and it will be open through August 17, 2021, at 4:30 PM Eastern Time. The winner will be drawn immediately after the raffle is closed. Tickets are priced at $150 each, and you can purchase multiple at the same time.

Source: Teslarati

Tesla Model 3 Autopilot Crash: Operator Error Or Tech Issue?

InsideEVs 06 July, 2021 - 09:00am

As you can see in the video above, a Tesla Model 3 driver is using Autopilot to navigate a narrow and curvy single-lane road with oncoming bikes, nearby trees, and walls. In addition, the driver never puts their hands on the steering wheel or makes any attempt to take over. 

The Model 3 passes by the bicycles quite closely, which would be scary for us if we were behind the wheel, even if we were driving the car ourselves. Yet, the driver never even touches the steering wheel to assure that they're safe. As the Model 3 begins to leave the road and head into a bunch of trees, the driver doesn't move to grab the wheel or correct its path until it's too late.

As we always say, since we weren't in the car, and we weren't driving, we can't rush to judgment here. All we can do is watch the video and form opinions based on what we see. We can say that this probably isn't a proper use case for Tesla Autopilot, and if we were the Model 3 owner, it's not likely we would have engaged Autopilot under the circumstances.

Clearly, the driver was using Autopilot, which some will say is just fine so long as the driver was aware, had their hands on the wheel, and was ready to take over at a moment's notice. The Model 3 could have very easily killed the people on the bicycles, but instead, it killed some trees and got wrecked. Thankfully, it appears no one was badly injured.

We specifically wrote this article to start a conversation. We'd love to know what you think here? Who or what do you blame, and why?

Source: Empty Road (YouTube)

I just bought my very first Tesla. Here's what happened - Electrek

Electrek 05 July, 2021 - 05:35pm

- Jul. 5th 2021 3:35 pm PT

I’ve been writing for Electrek for nearly two years now, and last week, I took delivery of a Tesla Model 3 – my very first electric car. Here’s how the whole process went, from the initial order to final delivery.

A disclaimer: This is my own personal experience, not a sweeping generalization about the Tesla experience. I have no doubt that others’ experiences will be different from mine. While I have had 40+ hours a week of experience editing and reading about electric vehicles over a couple years, this is the first time that I actually have one of my own. I’ve driven a Model 3 once before, with the awesome Dory Larsen at Electrify the South. So I got a quick taste of Tesla Model 3s pre-pandemic, thanks to Dory.

When I joined Electrek, my husband and I were leasing two gas cars: a MINI Countryman and a Toyota RAV4. When we lived in Britain (we’re both dual citizens) we owned a series of MINIs and a couple Audis and VWs. The RAV4 was a purely practical purchase when we moved to the US – my daughter, who is now away at college, drove it to school and back. I work from home, and my husband’s workplace is only two miles away.

We really wanted to ditch the gas and go electric asap, but we were tied into those leases. The RAV4’s lease was due to end in June, and we decided once the MINI’s lease ended in two years beyond that, we’d buy a Tesla Model 3 and become a one-car household. As regular readers know, I write mostly about green energy, and I want to practice what I preach. Plus, we live in St. Petersburg, Florida, which is a small, accessible city. We can get to most places on foot or by e-bike, so one car will more than meet our needs.

Then the pandemic hit, and with it came supply chain disruption in the auto sector. Car dealerships don’t have the vehicle stock they need. Toyota called me in April and offered to pay me to bring it back early. So we got an idea – maybe MINI was desperate, too?

We called MINI and asked them if they wanted our Countryman back two years early, and they almost bit our hand off. We drove to the dealer in early May, signed a bunch of papers, handed in the keys, and left within an hour, free and clear. Their parking lot was about one-third full. No wonder they wanted it back so badly.

We held onto the Toyota, as there was no risk of them changing their minds, since the lease is actually ending.

With the MINI gone and the Toyota nearly out the door, we created an account on Tesla’s website and got down to business.

When we ordered the Standard Range Plus in May, the price was shown as “$35,000*.” (Now it’s showing as $35,690*.) Annoyingly, Florida doesn’t have state incentives for electric cars.

But here’s the thing about that asterisk after the price, which means, “Prices above include potential incentives and gas savings of $4,300.”

I’d have much preferred that Tesla showed the purchase price – now $39,990 – as is, with the incentives and gas savings separated out, in the upper-right-hand corner, so that it matched the number at the bottom of the screen.

Tesla makes the valid good point that you shouldn’t compare purchase prices between gas cars and EVs as they’re not like for like, but the way they do it is a little confusing for first-time buyers.

Choosing paint, wheels, interior, and (in our case not) opting for Full Self-Driving Capability was quick and easy.

My husband and I compared the three choices of cash, lease, or loan and started our lease process.

Everyone has their preferred method of buying cars, whether it’s switch them out every couple of years, or buy one and drive it into the ground. We’re lease people. That’s just what we like to do.

We tweaked the down payment numbers and annual miles using my Mac’s calculator for about 15 minutes, and then came up with figures that worked for our budget.

Then we put down the $100 non-refundable order fee, got approved for our lease by providing details that any credit card application would ask for, and the waiting period began.

It was great to not have to sit in a car dealership for five hours. I’ve negotiated many a car, and as everyone who has knows, it’s a long, tedious process full of silly games. Dealers usually have food to hand for a reason – so you don’t die of malnutrition while you negotiate and then sign 100 pieces of paper.

Here are the specs on my Model 3, and why we chose them:

I had a question about how and where to enter my referral code that I got from a colleague who drives a Model Y. (Hey, 1,000 miles of free Supercharging for him and for me – it’s a must!) So the website referred me to Tesla in Tampa, and I was assigned my own Tesla adviser, whose name was Nik Wyland. Nik called me, applied the referral code to my account, and gave me his phone number and email address. Very nice personal touch – I now had a contact person with a name in my local area. This felt very reassuring.

We placed our order on May 13. Nik said our car’s estimated delivery was sometime between mid- to end of June. (Unsurprising that the end date was June 30 – we all know what end of Q2 means to Tesla.)

Here’s where it got a bit unnerving. Every day I’d log into my account, and every day that date span would shorten: June 9-30. June 10-30. June 11-30. And so on. And so on. It would have been comical if there weren’t real financial repercussions.

I was due to turn in my Toyota at the end of June. I decided to extend the lease for a month to end of July, as I wasn’t feeling overly confident that my Model 3 was going to be delivered on time, thanks to that daily date creep.

And then finally, finally, the “schedule your pickup” email arrived on June 17. We scheduled it for Sunday June 27 at 2 p.m – the earliest date available. We needed to drive to the far side of Tampa, which is a real pain during weekday traffic, so Sunday was great. Until it wasn’t.

A Tesla rep (not Nik) called to say that the car carrier was delayed. Tesla ships their cars to the southeastern US on a train to Alabama – I do believe it’s Birmingham – and then the carriers deploy in all directions from there.

Tesla rep said, “So we’ll need you to come pick up your car on either Tuesday or Wednesday.” I replied, “I’m sorry, that’s not possible.” Tesla rep: “Ummmm… Why not?” Me: “We’re working. We can come the following weekend.” [Cue silence from Tesla rep.]

Then he says, “Then you might have to wait til August.” In other words, we’re going to give your Model 3 away if you don’t do as I ask. Not the best customer service approach in the world. I didn’t respond to that comment and asked him to speak to Nik, and then asked him to have Nik call me.

Nik to the rescue. He calls and says he’ll deliver our car, aka Tesla Direct, to our house on Monday, June 28. Superb.

Then Nik called on Saturday the 26th. The carrier was delayed again. Tesla Direct on Tuesday instead. Not a problem.

You know how one can track a Fedex package? That’s what Tesla needs to do. If customers can track the progress of their cars being built and shipped, it creates transparency and builds excitement. Because anticipation and communication are considerably better than dread, because your delivery date keeps getting pushed back and a rep you’ve never spoken to before insinuates that your car may be taken away because you can’t drop everything to meet their yet-again-revised date.

Tuesday afternoon, Nik showed up at our house with our car. Both my husband and I had already watched all our Support Videos. I worried I might forget everything once I climbed into the driver’s seat, but that fear was unfounded – the car is completely intuitive (or at least it was for my husband and me).

Once we carefully inspected our car for problems and flaws, of which there were none, Nik helped us get our profiles set up, then we parked it in our driveway, and Nik left in an Uber. He was professional, patient, and made the delivery fun. (And we almost adopted a kitten, because he showed us pictures of cute kittens he’s fostering, but we managed to keep our heads.) Charging is super easy – we currently charge at a charging station two miles from our house, and also do an overnight charge on a 120v outlet in our carport. I’m waiting on a quote from the electrician for a NEMA 14-50 outlet. Everything about the car is super easy.

I messaged Fred Lambert on Slack: “The Kool-aid has been drunk.”

I get it now. I always knew Teslas were extraordinary. I like cars. I like learning about cars. I used to hang out with my mechanic in college, to learn more about how my VW Golf worked. But I don’t like emissions.

And nothing prepared me for the weird euphoria I feel about our Model 3. This is the best kind of car, because it’s stupidly fun, it’s gorgeous, and it’s fast. I drive it with a stupid grin on my face. I truly get the fanaticism now. And we don’t have to go to the gas station anymore.

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The Tesla Model 3 is the first vehicle built on Tesla's third-generation platform. It aims to reduce the entry price for electric vehicles while not making any compromise on range and performance. The Model 3 starts at $35,000 in the US and deliveries to employees and company insiders began in mid 2017 - customer deliveries begin in late 2017.

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at michelle@9to5mac.com. Check out her personal blog.

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