Tesla Model 3 Much Better Than Expected

Tesla 3

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I thought the Model 3 would be great, top of its class, similar to the Model S we’ve had for approximately a year. However, it seems I was caught off guard due to Tesla’s incessant improvements and all of the nitpicky, consistent attacks from Tesla critics (paid or otherwise) — which seem to have somehow influenced me a tad over time (yes, even me). The Model 3 is better than I expected. I expected to love it, but I didn’t expect to love it so much. In particular, there were a handful of little things that made the car significantly more comfortable as a passenger and more enjoyable to drive than our 2015 Model S 85D.

This is not our first comparison of these cars, and it will not be our last. A Tesla Model 3 will be joining the CleanTechnica fleet later this week when Kyle Field receives delivery of a black Model 3 in California. He has had ample time with the Model S (which he used to own), BMW i3, Mercedes B250e (which his wife has driven for years), Chevy Bolt, and a couple dozen other electric cars to write extensively about where the Model 3 excels and where it could use some work. My review here is just based on some short drives, sitting in a couple of Model 3’s for a while (two owners were kind enough to drive their cars down from Tampa for me to experience them), and how all of that compares to years of EV driving in 20–30 different electric cars.

Before I go further, I should say that I suffer from bias — I am hugely biased in favor of high-quality products. I like nice stuff. I like stuff that feels good, looks good, and sounds good. Heck, I even like stuff that smells good. Furthermore, I have cash money riding on Tesla [TSLA] because I think it’s a good company that makes amazing products, innovates like a maniac, and shows true leadership. I wouldn’t invest in the company if I didn’t consistently find that it creates high-quality products that are unmatched on the market. Did I mention that I’m biased in favor of high-quality products?

After having a Model S 85D in my stable for approximately a year, and even driving it from Poland to Paris, I thought I could guestimate fairly well how the Model 3 would feel. I was off on several topics. The Model 3 was better than I expected in at least 7 ways. Rather than doing a comprehensive, overall review (which there are plenty of), I’m focusing on the things that surprised me and things that I specifically find interesting to compare against the Model S and BMW i3, which I consider to be the closest electric competitor to the Model 3 in a few key ways (and not at all a competitor in other ways).

 

Opening the door: This may seem like a small thing, but I’ve found in time that the routine experience of opening and closing the door has a more important and lasting effect on people’s feelings about a car than we typically assume. Opening the door of a Model 3 from the outside is certainly not as difficult as various people made it sound. It didn’t take me any practice or odd maneuvering. I just pressed the handle on one side and pulled it on the other — easy. It felt good and clean. Maybe it could present challenges in certain situations, but I’d have to test extensively to discover if that’s the case.

Opening the doors from the inside feels awesome. There are two ways to do so in the front seats, with the seemingly preferred way being the press of a button near where your thumb rests when holding the door handle. That pops the door open automagically — in a way that is so typically Tesla. For some reason I can’t explain, I prefer that much more than a normal, manual door handle, which feels less premium and fun.

The doors sound great when you close them and the cars I checked out had superb fit & finish. With our 2015 Model S, I could see what people complained about with regard to the sound of the door when you close it, even though I didn’t see that as something that warranted complaining and don’t think any normal person noticed it. But for anyone complaining about the sound of a Model 3 as it closes, I have to recommend laying off the crack.

In net, while I would love to have the self-presenting door handles of the Model S back, the interior button to open the door makes up for that. And there’s surely less maintenance expense for the Model 3 door handles than for the Model S self-presenting handles.

So, when it comes to opening and closing the door, I’d give a slight advantage to Model 3. (I do reserve the right to change my opinion in time.)

Seats: After so much obsession over the years about Tesla not having comfortable seats, and after some public disappointment about the revealed seats when the Model 3 hit production, I didn’t expect much of the Model 3’s seats. I figured they’d be bearable, moderate. So, I was happily surprised when I sat down in the car and the seats were as comfortable as anything I recall in any car — whether Mercedes, Porsche, or BMW.

Seats are weird since different body types can have vastly different preferences. For my tall and slim body type, the front seats on the Model 3 seem to be as good as it gets. The back seats were comfier than I expected as well, but depending on who’s in front of me, they might be a bit cramped for a very long trip. I’m a bit more than 6 feet tall, and the space was close to cramped behind the 6’2″ driver’s seat, while there was an enormous amount of space behind his partner’s seat (she was not 6’2″).

Comparing to our 2015 Model S, the Model 3 seats are far nicer, but they are comparable to the seats in a new Model S. However, the surroundings of the front passenger seat seem better designed and I think more comfortable if you, say, wanted to write or edit articles while on a long road trip — or just around the city for that matter. Yes, maybe that’s not a normal need, but it’s one thing that gives the Model 3 a slight edge for me. (However, I could use a bit more time in a new Model S again to make sure I’m not forgetting design improvements in newer versions of the model.)

Comparing to our 2015 Model S, the Model 3 seats are far nicer, but they are comparable to the seats in a new Model S. However, the surroundings of the front passenger seat seem better designed and I think more comfortable if you, say, wanted to write or edit articles while on a long road trip — or just around the city for that matter. Yes, maybe that’s not a normal need, but it’s one thing that gives the Model 3 a slight edge for me. (However, I could use a bit more time in a new Model S again to make sure I’m not forgetting design improvements in newer versions of the model.)

Storage: The Model 3 trunk is huge. It’s not as expansive as what the Model S has to offer, but my wife and I are fine with the i3 trunk, so we definitely wouldn’t have any trouble with the Model 3’s much more cavernous storage areas. YMMV.

The frunk is also not as large as the Model S’s, but it’s clearly enough for groceries, small luggage, tennis equipment, or various other goodies you might prefer to put in the frunk than the trunk. This is one thing I miss now that we have an i3.

Drive quality: Acceleration felt extremely similar to me as acceleration in our Model S 85D. It would be hard for me to distinguish between them. Of course, a P100D is in an entirely different league — horsepower is horsepower — but I’d have to get behind the wheel of a Performance Model 3 and a P100D to chat more about those high-end options. (Maybe soon.)

Handling, as expected, was much more enjoyable in the Model 3. The smaller size, nearly invisible hood, and cool steering wheel make the Model 3 a special kind of Tesla. I expected to enjoy the Model 3’s handling, and long expected it would be one thing that would make me prefer the Model 3 over the Model S, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It is truly awesome. The turns also felt more enjoyable as a passenger than they did in our 2015 Tesla Model S 85D, which I assume is in good part because of the seats. (I need a bit more time in a new Model S to make a comfortable comparison.)

I was concerned that the Model 3 would still feel “too big” to me, but it didn’t. The short hood had a similar effect as the short hood of our BMW i3. The clean, minimalist dash similarly helps you to feel that much closer to the road and helps you to enjoy the driving experience that much more.

The roof: The glass roof of a Model S is wonderful, but I found the Model 3 roof a certain kind of cool. It is particularly helpful in the back seat. For a fairly tall person (not that tall, but as I wrote, over 6 feet), the glass roof makes the back seat much more comfortable than the back seat of a Model S. If I sit up straight in the back of a Model S, my head presses against the car. In the Model 3, it doesn’t. It doesn’t feel cramped at all thanks to the open, expansive windows in the roof.

One of the Model 3 owners who came down from Tampa to let me explore the car didn’t seem bothered by the glass roof despite the sun & heat of Southwest Florida, but the couple with the other Model 3 got full tinting because one of them found both the sun and heat pouring through to be too much. In my time in the car that had only a bit of tinting on the back, I couldn’t notice anything unpleasant with the air conditioning on, but this was later in the day and shortly after a thunderstorm in which I wiped out on a slippery sidewalk and got soaked, so I’ll have to evaluate another day. In the end, though, you know the phrase: YMMV.

The touchscreen: Dude, after so much freakin’ concern about the location of the speedometer, I have to say that I trust Tesla critics even less and trust Elon Musk even more. The location of the speedometer makes it extremely easy to see without distraction. The touchscreen is also easier to access than I expected — more so than in the Model S. This is in part because of the car’s smaller size and in part because of the horizontal orientation and the way the touchscreen pops out of the dashboard.

Center console: I like the Model 3 center console a bit more than the Model S center console. I just like the interior design and orientation a bit more, but don’t take this as a dramatic preference. Maybe my opinion will change next time I sit in the car. Both are more useful than the dinky console we have in the i3, but they also block the nice empty floor space between the front seats of the i3 that I actually love and do use every time I go somewhere. I’d call it a wash in net.

Minimalism: As I’ve said and written several times before, I’m a big fan of Tesla minimalism. The minimalism of the Tesla dash is unbeatable. Nothing that I’ve experienced compares to it. I hear it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s one of those “little things” about the car that pull me closer to the checkout register.

The hood: There are some things you just don’t notice well enough until you drive the car. I noted above that the hood is “nearly invisible” from the driver’s seat. However, there are some sharp, “muscular” lines toward the sides of the hood that pop up. They are subtle, but they also look freakin’ awesome from the driver’s seat. The Model S has something similar, but as I’ve said too many times, the Model S is too big for my tastes, and I think those lines on the hood of the Model S make the car seem narrower than it is, creating an invitation for an accident or at least a scraping.

The colors after a rain: The beautiful colors of the water drops on the roof after a rain are one of my favorite little things about the car. I’m surprised they don’t get more attention. These are the things that just make a Tesla a Tesla, imho. A Tesla’s not just a better BMW. A Tesla is special.

Extra special thanks to Paul Fosse (photo below next to the guy with the lunatic eyes and Bugs Bunny teeth) for taking his Model 3 on a road trip to let me test drive it and also bringing along a couple of friends in their own Model 3 — which might have sold me on white.

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Need a nap? Take one on your way to work in just the next two years.

Elon Musk sees us napping in self-driving vehicles within just the next two years

At a TED conference delivered the previous week, legendary innovator and visionary leader Elon Musk shone a light on his ambitious plan to reduce the on-road congestion by building a 3D network of underground tunnels. He not just talked about the project but also showed off a video rendering of his plans for the same.

In addition to talks about the Boring company, Musk also talked about the progress of his work at Tesla. He shared a teaser image for the company’s upcoming electric semi-truck, which is being expected to be a game changer for the electric automaker. The company expects to append its production by setting up three or four more Gigafactories across the globe. This aligns with his statement which he dispensed during Tesla’s shareholder’s meeting earlier this year.

But, that’s not all Musk talked about during his on-stage presence at the TED conference. While talking about Tesla, the conversation shifted gears and questions about self-driving vehicles — which are soon-to-become all the hype surfaced. Musk was questioned by the moderator about his opinion of when he thinks the populace would be able to just hop into an autonomous vehicle (surely without a steering wheel), input the directions, set an alarm, and take a nap until you reach the destination.

Musk answered that Tesla electric vehicles, which comes outfitted with eight camera and sensors, would be able to travel completely autonomously by the end of this year — November or December. But, the possibility of being able to just hop in and sleep while some Tesla Model takes you to your destination is still a couple years away. Talking about the same on stage at the TED conference, Musk said:

We’re still on track for being able to go cross-country from L.A (Los Angeles) to New York — fully autonomous by the end of the year. No controls touched during the entire journey.

He is very certain about the progress being made on that front and said that the treasure trove of data being collected through Tesla’s already on-road is further helping them build a robust infrastructure for its self-driving tech. And they plan on sticking to camera and radar sensors to build their tech instead of the popular LiDAR sensors. And this technology will enable the passengers to just rise and travel about without any hiccups, even when you change the route in the middle of the trip.

Now, once the electric vehicle maker achieves completely autonomy, the possibilities for the use of this technology are endless. They can be employed as ride-hailing taxis or driver-less semi-trucks carrying freight across the country. Though self-driving vehicles will swoop in and probably put several taxi drivers out of work, they’ll truly change the landscape of our current cities. The demos of such vehicles seen till date have been whimsical, but you can bet on Musk and his efforts at Tesla to launch autonomous vehicle by the end of 2018.

Shared from Animal Sachdeva

Here is exactly how Elon Musk plans to deploy tunnels to make car travel faster

Here is exactly how Elon Musk plans to deploy tunnels to make car travel faster

We know that The Boring Company is into tunneling. Indeed, that might well be an understatement. The company wants to create a network of tunnel under urban areas that will make travel that much faster. And as far as Elon Musk’s confidence into the premise of his scheme is concerned, he believes that it will outstrip flying cars.

At a recent Ted talk, we got our first in-depth look at exactly how Elon Musk plans the future of travel to be. The Tesla/SpaceX CEO showed off a video in which we get a glimpse of his highly ambitious scheme to revolutionize travel. And it is quite different from what most of us were imagining it to be.

So the idea here is not to create tunnels that would be mirror images of our roads. No. Instead, the surface roads will contain elevator shafts that will actually be a sort of sled that will enable cars to be transmitted from one elevator shaft to the other, all the while being underground.

Even while underground, it won’t be the car that is traveling. Instead, the sled, which we assume to be electric, will be doing the traveling on rails. Everything will be controlled by computers and cars will hurtle along at speeds in excess of 200 Kmph.

And in case you are wondering about where exactly the underground part comes in, well, it comes in because basing everything below the surface of the earth will allow the creation of layers upon layers of these tunnels. So you could have thousands upon thousands of cars traveling inside a tunnel (and those above and below it) at once.

Well, like most of Musk’s other schemes, this is very appealing as well. And Elon Musk has a thing for putting the impossible before you and making you think that it is possible. Reusable rockets? Electric cars that would have people clamoring to buy them? The plan is ambitious, but it sure isn’t as ambitious as a civilization on Mars. Indeed, it starts looking downright achievable. However, it might yet be a few years before we start burrowing underground to travel faster.

Shared from Mudit Mohilay

Tesla’s much-awaited solar glass roof tiles become available for order today, says Elon Musk

Tesla’s much-awaited solar glass roof tiles become available for order today, says Elon Musk

Much like every other day, Elon Musk has poured out another major announcement via his Twitter handle. The Tesla solar glass roof tiles were unveiled earlier last year as a co-joined effort between Telsa and its now owned solar roofing subsidiary SolarCity. We have since been waiting for the day when those beautiful tiles – which look just like normal roofing tiles — become available for order. And that day has finally arrived.

Through a tweet, Musk has shared the delightful news that the orders for Tesla solar glass roof will open today afternoon. No more details except the stipulated timeframe for the official release of its sleek and low-profile tiles have been shared with the masses. It may be a few days late but still falls in line with the rumored release date of April. Further, Musk has, as expected, cleared some air surrounding which tile variants will initially become available for order.

And the answer is that — Black smooth glass (the one which appears as a normal roof from the pavement, but contains a solar cell within) and textured solar roof tiles will be made available for order initially. The more premium-looking Tuscan and French Slate variants of these solar tiles will hit the order shelf in the next six odd months.

While most have presumed that the solar glass roof tiles will only be made available in the United States, Musk has announced that anyone from any country can order these tiles. Yes, you can just order them. You’ll have to wait for quite some time to be able to use the energy generated by them because U.S will be given priority in deployment. Once the State-side orders are completed over the span of the remaining year, Tesla-owned SolarCity would look towards international roof next year.

As for the efficiency, Musk had stated during the launch that the first iteration of no product is upto the mark and needs refining over time. The current iteration of these solar roof tiles are only 98 percent efficient as compared to traditional panels. They actually have a two percent loss in efficiency but Tesla is currently working with 3M on improved coatings to change the same.

The most prominent detail, i.e the cost of the solar roof tiles still hasn’t been divulged by Musk in the tweets. This means we will have to wait until afternoon to know the complete details about the same. But, during the launch, he had mentioned that pricing would be competitive and probably cost less than the full cost of installation of a traditional roof and electricity from the power grid. It has also been said that pricing may differ on the basis of the roof structure.

Shared from Animal Sachdeva

News About Tesla’s Auto Pilot

Tesla News

View Article Here At least that is what Elon Musk tweeted today, while giving out minute details on the upcoming Autopilot updates set to arrive to Tesla cars. The focus, as could well be interpreted from Musk’s tweet and Tesla’s more recent upgrades, suggest a more fluid, smoother ride while the autonomous highway driving system is engaged.

Musk tweeted this Monday night, hinting that the update might arrive anytime in early June. Here’s his tweet :

The new update revolves around the controlling algorithm, which makes sure that the car accelerates and brakes well while the autonomous highway driving system is engaged. This basically translates to less cramped up rides, and lesser jerks — discomforts which you generally wouldn’t like while driving your car on a highway.

While this autopilot update comes to Tesla, this also sets the tone well for the larger autonomous vehicle technology. All the autonomous driving tests and scheduled roll-outs are squarely focused on one specific thing — make the drive as human as possible. Now while that does seem to be a distant reality, considering the sheer permutations of manoeuvrability a human mind can think of in numerous situations, we can still achieve some sense of perfection in highway driving at least.

More so, what is even more important to understand here, is the fact that even the current Tesla autonomous solutions (or any other ones out the re in the US) need road testing in conditions not so US like, specially in densely populated countries like India.

Shared from Deepanshu Khandelwal

Tesla Model 3 could possibly include solar roofs, thanks to Panasonic’s latest technology

Tesla Model 3 could possibly include solar roofs, thanks to Panasonic’s latest technology

If you stay updated with Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk’s musings, then you might remember that he once talked about a solar roof variant of the Model 3 on Twitter last year. At the time, the masses were pretty divided about the same being true due to the non-existence of such solar technology. But, Panasonic, a long time supplier for Tesla, seems to have come through with a new solar roof tech in tow.

Panasonic recently unveiled its new technology called HIT Photovoltaic Module for Automobile, solving the power generation issue in solar roofing for vehicles. Earlier, we had been faced with the glaring problem that solar panels atop the vehicles don’t generate enough electricity to power much of anything. Panasonic integrated its solar cells in the roof of a Toyota Prius PHV last year, but it could only generate 50W. This was enough to power just the fans for the AC in the vehicle.

But, the Japanese technology giant has now developed a new solar roof product with the ability to generate 180W power. This module is the first-ever to successfully be able to generate enough power to charge an electric vehicle powertrain and other 12V batteries. This new solar roofing technology is particularly intriguing as it has the ability to charge lithium-ion batteries that make the powertrain in Tesla vehicles.

Panasonic has described the technology in its official blog post as under:

Panasonic’s solar cells have a unique structure that combines a crystalline silicon substrate and an amorphous silicon film, and feature high conversion efficiency and excellent temperature characteristics.

Conventional automotive solar cells can output up to several tens of watts and have been used only for the auxiliary charging of 12 V batteries and ventilation power sources for parked cars; however, the use of the features of Panasonic’s solar cells allow a high output (approx.180 W) in a limited area on a car’s roof, enabling the charging of the drive lithium-ion batteries as well as 12 V batteries, resulting in a possible extension of an EV’s travel distance and increased in fuel economy.

This new technology has currently only been launched for the new Prius Prime, but the company hints that the said technology would eventually make its way to other electric vehicles in the coming years. This means that a Model 3 with the solar roof will actually be an option available for people to choose from – but may be in the near future. Yes, it would take time as the said module isn’t as capable as we might have imagined. At the moment, it is only leading to a 10 percent increase in the car’s operational efficiency, which adds ~2 miles tops to an electric vehicle’s range — which is also questionable.

Panasonic is highly optimistic about the success of this technology and will continue to work on the advancement of its solar roof solution. It might also bring in Tesla to advice and participate in the development of the same at their Buffalo solar plant, which is being run co-jointly by them. Panasonic has recently pumped in a massive $256 million into the said operations and plans to begin production of SolarCity’s next-gen classy solar roof panels later this year. Also, Model 3 production and shipments are scheduled to begin in a couple months. So, stay tuned!

Shared from Anmo Sachdeva… 

Does Tesla have new competition?

The FF91 from Faraday Future was revealed Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. (Courtesy of Faraday Future)

At CES 2017, Faraday Future showed the car that could make or break it

An aerial view of the FF91 from Faraday Future, which is expected to ship in 2018. (Courtesy of Faraday Future)

An aerial view of the FF91 from Faraday Future, which is expected to ship in 2018. (Courtesy of Faraday Future)

Start-up automaker Faraday Future unveiled its first commercial electric vehicle at the technology industry’s annual Consumer Electronics Show on Tuesday as the Los Angeles company grapples with skeptics who question whether it has the financial means to bring the vehicle to market.

Faraday Future has endured its share of criticism, beginning at last year’s CES when the much-hyped company showed images of a Batmobile-esque vehicle that was not designed for actual use. Since then, several leaders have departed the company, and it has temporarily suspended construction of its production facility.

Amid these challenges, the company rolled out an electric vehicle, called the FF91, that is slated to ship in 2018. The price was not disclosed, but customers can reserve the car for a $5,000 refundable fee.

“If you look at all the other signals at Faraday right now, it still looks like more of a long shot for launch,” said Jeff Schuster, an analyst with LMC Automotive.

The FF91 possesses features becoming increasingly common among high-end electric vehicles. It has a 130-kilowatt battery that can drive 378 miles on a single charge, the company said, which would make the car’s battery among the most durable on the market.

The FF91 also integrates artificial intelligence and other smart technologies to anticipate the needs of its occupants. The car promises to unlock when it detects the driver’s smartphone nearby and to find its own parking space even after the driver exits the vehicle. (Faraday Future showed two demos of the valet parking technology Tuesday. One appeared to work, but one did not.)

“There is quite a bit of advanced technology and engineering that is involved in the vehicle itself. On the surface, the vehicle certainly has quite a bit to offer,” Schuster said.

The design of the FF91 does not fit neatly in any of the traditional automotive categories. The shape of the body resembles a sedan, yet the car sits higher off the ground, as a small SUV does. Its ability to reach 60 mph in an advertised 2.39 seconds suggests it has the guts of a sports car. (Tesla’s Model S requires 2.5 seconds, comparatively.)

“We’re not conservative. We’re not predictable. Disruption is what drives us in every facet of our business,” said Nick Sampson, senior vice president of research and development. “It pushes us to design what others call impossible, to create things that have yet to exist, and to engineer technology with purpose, intention and impact.”

The reveal was starkly different from the company’s event at CES last year, when it showcased a vehicle that had just one seat, an oxygen mask for the driver and no trunk space. Analysts said at the time that the impractical concept car was merely about grabbing attention, and the onus was on Faraday to deliver something more tangible.

Since then, the company has struggled with key executives’ departures and doubts that it could afford a $1 billion production facility in Nevada. Construction was halted in November so that the company could invest in developing a production-ready car in time for CES, Reuters reported.

Founded in 2014, Faraday Future is owned by Jia Yueting, the Chinese billionaire at the helm of LeEco holding company. The outspoken chief executive has tried to position Faraday Future as a formidable rival to Elon Musk’s Tesla, Bloomberg News reports, but some suppliers and business partners now doubt LeEco’s financial security and allege that the company has fallen behind on payments.

Meanwhile, its competitors have moved ahead with the production of their own vehicles. Tesla produced 83,922 vehicles throughout 2016, a 64 percent increase compared with the year before, the company said Tuesday. Of those, 76,230 were actually delivered to customers, just shy of Tesla’s goal of 80,000 for the year, the Wall Street Journal reported.

California-based Lucid Motors, which has designed its own electric and autonomous sedan, dropped the curtain on that car in December. Executives expect the first Lucid Air will roll off the line in late 2018 at a production facility that the company plans to start building next year in Arizona. The Air’s initial price is expected to be more than $100,000. LeEco is also an investor in Lucid.

Read more at the Washington Post…

Buy a Self Driving Car!

Tesla Self Driving Car

Buy a Self Driving Car!

You can buy self driving cars already!  The Mercedes S class drives in traffic jams under your supervision.   Most car companies have plans for similar products in the coming soon, covering things like traffic jams and highway driving.

Tesla is rolling out self driving cars but states, “It involves a lot of hardware and a steady stream of software updates.” Eighteen months ago, Tesla Motors embarked on an initiative that would sow the seeds for its self-driving car project. The Elon Musk-led automobile company wanted to give its vehicles the ability to drive themselves, but it didn’t just want to introduce the technology without thorough testing, Sterling Anderson, Tesla’s director of autopilot programs, explained on Tuesday at an MIT Tech Review technology conference in San Francisco.

So Tesla began to “quietly” install equipment into its existing Model S cars that would let Tesla engineers slowly make software updates over time, Anderson said. These software updates would take advantage of the newly installed 12 ultrasonic sensors embedded in the vehicle, forward-facing radar system, and GPS hardware. This hardware and software combination would also give Tesla the the ability to pull “high resolution” data from cars, Anderson said. The company could then analyze the data and learn how driver use their cars and how they react to the features Tesla steadily rolled out over the next 18 months like its cruise control, collision warning update, and its auto parallel parking feature.

With the upgrades, Anderson now believes Tesla is at the forefront, although that is open to debate.

“We have found that there is no substitute for empirical real world data,” Anderson said, saying his company gets data from real-life situations rather than experiments—a subtle dig at Google, which is testing its own self-driving cars.

Anderson said that Tesla vehicles with installed self-driving hardware have driven roughly 780 million miles since October 2014. Those vehicles drive on average, 2.26 million miles per day, he said. Over the last seven months, Tesla cars with the autopilot feature turned on have driven around 100 million miles, he continued.

Tesla has also learned from its driver data that its vehicles, when on autopilot, can drive better than their human operators in some situations. For example, Tesla cars in autopilot mode tend to better stay in the center of road lanes than humans, who tend to veer too far to the right or left.

That information will be helpful to Tesla as it continues to “refine the features” of autopilot, Anderson said. Still, Tesla has a lot more to learn about driver habits as it continues to improve its software. Musk told Fortune in December that it may be two years before Tesla has fully autonomous cars. Each software update essentially represents a step to a complete, autonomous car.

One of the biggest challenges facing the company is the having to introduce its software updates and new features worldwide. However, driving laws and road markings may be different from country to country, which makes it difficult for a one-size-fits all autopilot feature.

“It is easy to do a demo on a ten mile stretch of road that will wow spectators,” said Anderson. “It is enormously more difficult to robustly capture all the use cases in the world.”

Volvo Self Driving Car

It’s arriving sooner than you might think. Self-driving Volvos are already on Swedish roads, and by 2017, real-world customers will be using 100 self-driving Volvos on public roads—the world’s first large-scale autonomous drive project. It’s a partnership between Volvo Car Group, the Swedish Transport Administration, the Swedish Transport Agency, Lindholmen Science Park and the City of Gothenburg, and is endorsed by the Swedish Government. It’s all part of Volvo Cars’ IntelliSafe approach, helping reduce stress for you and congestion on our roads.

Volvo says it will have self driving cars by 2017 and are already on Swedish roads.  Tesla says they will have a product that does “90%” of driving in 2016.   Google says non-Googlers will be trying their cars for testing in a year.   Nissan says it will sell cars in 2018, Daimler in 2020 that do full self-driving.   Google will probably be sooner though. For information about Volvo’s self driving car visit Volvo. Even in a self-driving car, you’re always in control when you want to be. You can mix and match your journey with both autonomous and active driving. And there is no doubt that Autopilot driving technology has the potential to improve road safety dramatically, helping Volvo Cars to reach its goal that nobody should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020. Since you need to brake and accelerate less in your self-driving car, you’ll use significantly less fuel—up to up to 50 per cent in certain situations. That means lower bills for you, fewer harmful emissions for the environment, and better air quality for all.

Watch out Tesla!

Tesla has a new competitor, and it’s not from BMW or General Motors. It’s from Australian university students, whose electric Sunswift eVe set a new world record for fastest average speed—more than 60mph—over 500 kilometers (310 miles) on a single battery charge, on July 23. That’s a big deal: Range is the biggest issue holding back the widespread adoption of EVs, and this record shows the car can drive hundreds of miles at a reasonable highway speed. It stomped on the old record, a mere 45 mph, and drove farther than even the Tesla Model S, the current king of EVs, can go on a full charge.

The eVe is a lovely-looking car whose battery pack can be charged from a regular wall outlet, or using the array of solar panels on its hood and roof. It’s the fifth vehicle made by the students, from the University of New South Wales; its predecessors date back to 1996 and include the IVy, which still holds the record for fastest drive by a solar-powered vehicle at 55 mph, set in 2011.

The eVe is the most practical vehicle the team has produced yet, a big step up from prior versions that were little more than a driver’s seat, three wheels, and a pile of solar panels. It seats two adults and looks more like a regular car than a prototype, though don’t expect the comforts or features found in today’s luxury rides. The eVe is spartan, to help keep its weight to just 700 pounds, less than the battery that powers the Model S. (It’s worth noting the much heavier Tesla can seat seven people and has things like leather seats and air conditioning.)

It takes eight hours to charge the eVe’s 130-pound Panasonic battery using a typical household outlet. Plug it into an industrial port, and it can fill up in five. Sunswift says that if the car is parked in the sun for around eight hours, the 800-watt solar array will provide enough electricity for two hours of driving, plenty to cover the standard commute. The panels can collect energy while the car’s in motion, though not fast enough to replace what’s needed to actually drive.

sunswift
Daniel Chen, UNSW Australia Sunswift

The drive was made over 120 laps on the 2.6-mile “Highway Circuit” at the Australian Automotive Research Centre in Victoria. A pair of drivers drove in three stints, swapping when the teams did tire changes to avoid fatigue. The panels were switched off because the team wanted to set the record for fastest electric car, and solar-powered electric cars fall in a separate, smaller category.

The test was designed to prove the eVe is ready for practical use, capable of driving hundreds of miles at highway speeds, without recharging. The eVe is a “demonstrator of feasibility,” says Hayden Smith, project director for Sunswift. The team wants to show that solar-electric cars are a “viable alternative to conventional fossil fuel-powered vehicles.” As a student-run university project, the Sunswift team is also focused on training and educating the next generation of engineers through work on a practical project.

The team wants to inspire commercial research into the technology, but also hopes to make the eVe the first road-legal solar-powered car in Australia. That’s a big task, as many parts of the car both internally and externally (think turn signals and headlights) need to be up to code to register it with the proper authorities. The team thinks it’s doable within a year.

The speed record still needs approval by the FIA, the governing body of world motorsport, before it will be official.

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