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2013′s 15 best-read stories: Marissa Mayer’s funeral home, Elon Musk’s apology…

End of 2013 year

by  -

If I were to guess, I’d say a lot of readers were looking for new jobs in 2013: Many of our most-read stories of the year had to do with perks packages, best-paying gigs, and where to find the region’s happiest employees.

The stories you also read the most: Anything about impactful, top CEOs (Yahoo exec Marissa Mayer and Tesla head Elon Musk were two of your favorites), and the fresh-faced up-and-comers you wanted to add to your Roledex.

Below, see the top 15 stories of the year, ranked by your clicks.

1. Our readers’ No. 1 pick this year was a look at Silicon Valley’s most successful women of 2013 – the leaders of giant tech firms, savvy entrepreneurs, top lawyers and execs in healthcare and education.Meet Silicon Valley’s most influential women here. (Note: This is an annual special, and if you have great candidates for next year, let us know.)

2. This story highlighted the companies everyone wants to work at – the ones with ridiculous perks and inspirational leaders. Read “Silicon Valley’s 7 happiest companies (and what employees secretly say about them).”

3. Harvard prof Clayton Christensen wrote the book on tech disruption. Here he explains the real threats to Apple, Tesla, VCs and academia: “Disruption guru Christensen: Why Apple, Tesla, VCs, academia may die.”

4-5: Speaking of perks, Facebook and Google have a lot of them (an in-house ergonomics team anyone?). An inside look at the everyday perks at these two companies took the No. 4 and 5 spots. Read “Facebook’s 12 most fantastic employee perks” and “Google’s 10 best perks: Cars, sleep pods — you name it”.

6. Our readers love executive news, especially when it’s unexpected. Like when Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer bought a funeral home for a big chunk of change: “Marissa Mayer buys funeral home, report says. Price? $11.2 million.”

7. Despite Silicon Valley’s skyrocketing rental rates and crazy awful commutes, the region has some amazing perks the rest of the world doesn’t. Read all about them here: “The 10 employee perks Silicon Valley gets that America doesn’t.”

8. Hollywood has its star couples, Silicon Valley has its own power pairs. Take a look at who they are: “Meet Silicon Valley’s power couples.”

9. While many Silicon Valley employees enjoy crazy perks like free food or bikes, that doesn’t always mean they love their jobs. Our readers wanted to hear what companies are really the best places to work. Here employees ranked their companies, and we gave you the cream: “Bay Area’s Best Places to Work — See who topped the list.”

10. Remember No. 7? Well, the reverse can be said – there’s several perks America gets that Silicon Valley doesn’t: “9 perks the average American gets that Silicon Valley doesn’t.”

11. Getting a job at a top tech company in Silicon Valley is no easy task — especially at these companies. Learn who the toughest interviews in the Valley are: “Google, Facebook among toughest interviews — their questions revealed.”

12. Tesla CEO Elon Musk had a phenomenal year, from paying back his $535 million federal loan to presenting his Hyperloop transportation plan. But the charismatic CEO isn’t infallible: “Elon Musk admits Tesla’s math was wrong.”

13. Kids, plan early if you want to be a success in the Golden State. Here are the majors that can help you land the best jobs (and the majors you should avoid at all cost): “The 5 best and worst college majors to land a job in CA.”

14. Some of these eye-popping paychecks will make you want to head back to school and get those degrees from No. 13: “Silicon Valley’s 25 highest-paid CEOs — see who made the list.”

15. We found Silicon Valley’s young phenoms and gave you an inside view on how their brains work. (Note: Also an annual special, so feel free to nominate names for the next class.) “40 Under 40: All the winners revealed.”

Shana Lynch is Managing Editor at the Business Journal. Her phone number is 408.299.1831

 

 

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Tesla to unveil mainstream, cheaper model in 2015

CEO Elon Musk stands with Model S wheels at Tesla's plant in Fremont, Calif.

CEO Elon Musk stands with Model S wheels at Tesla’s plant in Fremont, Calif.

 by Sarah Drake -

Electric car maker Tesla Motors will tap into the mainstream car market with a vehicle that could sell in the $40,000 range, and become crucial to its future growth.

The Palo Alto-based company run by Elon Musk could introduce the new model in 2015 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, though it wouldn’t be up for sale until 2016 or 2017, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Aside from building a lower-priced model that could make Tesla a household brand, increasing vehicle production will be important for Tesla’s future success, according to the article.

Building a more affordable vehicle will require the company to find a way to combine battery size, capacity and cost with a 200-mile driving range.

Tesla Motors Inc.’s Model S premium sedan starts at about $71,000, and it’s Model X sport-utility vehicle will debut in the same price range late next year.

 

 

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Tesla Motors: Attacked by Dealers on Multiple Fronts

by Katie Fink -

While Tesla Motors is not the only electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer, the company may be the most effective in terms of gaining publicity for itself as it attempts to transform an industry.

The Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S
Credit: Tesla Motors

Named after Nikola Tesla, the father of alternating current, Tesla Motors launched in July of 2003 and has since delivered over 15,000 electric vehicles to eager customers in over 31 countries. Its initial model, the Roadster, was released in 2008 and was the first litium-ion battery-powered, highway-capable all-electric vehicle in mass production in the United States. Production of Tesla’s second model, the Model S, began in June of 2012 as a more accessible full-sized sedan and alternative to the Roadster.

Exceptional Quality

Tesla made a splash in the EV market not only because its CEO, Elon Musk, is a founder of famous entrepreneurial ventures including PayPal, Space X and Solar City, but also because of the high quality standards and innovative business model Tesla has established.

Consumer Reports recently rated the Tesla Model S a 99 out of 100 in innovation, performance, and attention to detail (a 99 is the highest score available for a car). Indeed, the Model S easily topped direct luxury competitors such as the Porche Panamera and the Fisker Karma, another luxury electric vehicle.

The Model S is also noted by Consumer Reports as the most practical electric car on the market with its 85-kWh lithium-ion battery that is capable of taking the car 200 miles before needing a charge. Its closest competitors in terms of range are the Ford Focus Electric and Nissan Leaf, which require more frequent charges with ranges between 75 and 80 miles, respectively.

Even with the longest range of any other electric vehicle, Tesla recognized the need for charging infrastructure for long distance driving. To solve this problem, the company has installed 21 Supercharging stations, some incorporating solar photovoltaics, between cities along well-traveled highways.

Charging stations are clustered in 6 groups, in the following cities and towns:

  • Northwest: Centralia, WA; Burlington, WA; and Woodburn, OR, all on I-5
  • California: I-15, I-105, I-5, US Route 50, Fremont Blvd, and 101 in Barstow, Los Angeles, Tejon Ranch, Buellton, Atascadero, Harris Ranch, Gilroy, Fremont, and Folsom
  • Texas: Waco and San Marcos are connected by I-35
  • Midwest: Rockford, IL and Normal, IL
  • Florida: Port St. Lucie and Fort Myers
  • Northeast: Milford, CT; Darien, CT; and Newark, DE are all along i-95.

While it is technically possible to recharge a Tesla at any charging station, regardless of brand, it is currently impossible to drive from coast to coast using only Tesla Supercharging Stations. Tesla anticipates that by 2015 every Supercharging Station will be within driving range of another for more, near seamless recharging. A map indicates current and planned charging stations.

These stations can provide half a charge in 20 minutes and are free for all equipped Model S vehicles for the lifetime of the car.

Attacks from Conventional Dealers

Tesla has come under attack by conventional auto dealers and dealer organizations for everything from misleading advertising to accusations of breaking the law.

Specifically, Tesla has drawn dealers’ ire as it has refused to adopt the traditional automobile franchise route, choosing instead to sell direct to consumer, just as Apple has done, and succeeded, in the consumer technology market with its retail stores.

Tesla claims it must do this because car buyers are uncomfortable with pushy salesmen, and dealers tend to be prejudiced against electric cars due to the longer sale cycle and education required with each customer. However, many dealers see this direct-to-consumer approach as a direct threat to their existence.

lndeed, through what are known as franchise laws, many states have rules forbidding carmakers from selling their cars directly to buyers. Instead, all vehicle sales must go through a licensed dealership franchise. Originally these laws were developed because of the capital-intensive nature of storing, marketing, and servicing cars and to address dealer concerns about foreign manufacturers overtaking American brands. However, Tesla points out, because of the franchise system, distribution makes up about 30% of a car’s final price, making car buying more expensive for consumers than buying direct from the factory.

Illegal in Texas

State laws that protect dealerships from competing with manufacturers have challenged Tesla’s expansion and car dealership associations in New York and Massachusetts have threatened to sue Tesla for selling their wares directly to the customer. Because of these policies, anti-Tesla legislation is pending in North Carolina, Colorado, and Virginia. In the State of Texas, the sale of Tesla vehicles has been outlawed completely under the Texas Occupations Code (TEX OC. CODE ANN. § 2301.476).

To overcome this law, Tesla is proposing a bill in Texas, SB 1659/HB 3351, aimed at creating a loophole to the franchise laws allowing all-electric or battery-powered vehicles to be sold directly to Texas consumers.

However, automobile dealers have no intention of allowing a loophole to be created. According to Bill Wolters, the president of the Texas Automobile Dealers Association, “If we made an exception for everybody that showed up in the legislature, before long the integrity of the entire franchise system is in peril.”

Accusations of Misleading or Deceptive Advertising

In August, Tesla’s Model S achieved the best safety rating of any car ever tested after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The organization awarded the car a 5-star rating not only in overall safety, but also in every subcategory. One reason the Model S is considered so safe is because it lacks a gasoline engine block. The space that would normally hold the engine is used as a second trunk, providing a longer “crumple zone,” to better absorb high-speed impacts from the front. Among other safety features, a double bumper in the rear of the car helps prevent permanently disabling injuries and protects third row passengers.

While only 1% of cars earn an overall rating of 5-stars for safety, Tesla reported that the Model S’s Vehicle Safety Score achieved better than perfect score of 5.4 stars, a new record for the NHTSA. The NHTSA has said it does not rate automobiles with ratings above a 5 and automobile industry observers have called Teslas claims misleading.

Other car dealers are crying foul about the company’s money saving claims. California New Car Dealers Association (CNCDA) is recently claimed that Tesla’s advertising makes misleading statements about the money savings potential of owning an electric car. The CNCDA is petitioning the California DMV to investigate Tesla’s practices and states that Tesla makes sweeping claims about tax credits and other benefits that do not apply to many people.

Regardless of the complaints from insiders, as Tesla prepares to release its Model X, the company’s answer to the SUV, in 2014 the company is setting the bar high for car manufacturers and has many people rooting for it.

- See more at: http://www.poplarnetwork.com/news/tesla-motors-attacked-dealers-multiple-fronts?goback=%2Egde_664267_member_274538682#%21

 

 

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Toyota Substitute’s Rare Earth Metals for Their New Product Line

Resources from the earth have been used since the dawn of man for technological advancement. Goldman Sachs, an investment firm, predicted that in 2013 there will be a rare earth surplus. Even though there are experts who refute this analysis, exploration and mining companies have set out to exploit these resources. Products can be developed utilizing these resources, thus satisfying both customers, and investors.

The Toyota Prius uses the resource neodymium. This mineral is increasing in demand because it is a metal used for building strength magnets. Analysts project that neodymium will have a significant value in the following years. Since many industries are switching to renewable energy sources, the demand for permanent magnets is increasing. These magnets are used in applications such as wind turbines, electric vehicles and electric motors. To supplement the research of these minerals, the U.S. Department of Energy is willing to offer $30 million for research in alternatives to earth elements. These alternatives are vital to securing the supply of materials and cost savings.

Dr. Chen Zhanheng who serves as a central figure in The Chinese Society of Rare Earths as Director of the Academic Department states that demand for NeFeB, or neodymium-iron-boron, will increase by 259,026 tons in the next decade, and 176,289 metric tons within the next few years. These neodymium-iron-boron magnets will primarily be utilized for the operation of wind turbines. A single wind turbine uses a ton of neodymium for each megawatt of generating capacity. With the demand for renewable sources increasing, the expected demand for neodymium will also increase.

As mentioned before, Toyota needs these minerals when constructing green cars such as the Prius. Toyota analyzed the high price of neodymium and decided to seek an alternative metal to be used in their motor vehicles. This company is currently constructing the RAV4 EV which is a pure electric vehicle; this car gets its energy from being plugged into a power source. This is Toyota’s first step in escaping the use of rare earth materials. This company is also designing a new car with a new partner, Tesla Motors who is an electric sports car manufacturer.

The Tesla motor is special because it does not require the need for magnets to power up. Instead, the motor utilizes stacked steel laminations when an electric current is produced. The laminations create a magnetic field that rotates, thus pushing the motor. The motors are able to recycle energy when the driver brakes. The regenerative braking system is used on hybrids, making the partnership between Toyota and Tesla, that much more convenient.

Toyota is making a great strategic business move. Not only have they diversified their resources, but their ambition to ensure the future developments of different vehicles is admirable. By slowly easing away from a necessary resource before the value increases, they will save on manufacturing costs in the future. Toyota’s project to develop an all-electric vehicle that is purely plug-in will attract consumers. Many drivers are slowly going green by taking the necessary steps to save our planet; soon, we may all be driving all-electric vehicles.

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