Category: Tesla

June 11, 2019 Off

Tesla’s shareholder meeting: How to watch and what to expect

By Jill T Frey

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is expected to take the stage Tuesday for the company’s annual shareholder meeting following a volatile year that saw swings between profitability and wider-than-expected losses, production goals met and deliveries milestones missed, and a securities fraud charge, and subsequent settlement, with the SEC.

The board, like the company it governs, has also undergone changes in the past 12 months. In December, Tesla appointed two independent board members, Oracle founder, chairman and CTO Larry Ellison and Walgreens executive Kathleen Wilson-Thompson. Four months later, Tesla announced in regulator filings, that was reducing the board by more than one-third, to seven directors. Brad Buss, Linda Johnson Rice, Steve Jurvetson and Antonio Gracias will not stand for re-election once their terms end.

Like its earnings calls, Tesla shareholder meetings are rarely boring. If the past is a guide, the event will be run like an informal town hall … Read the rest

June 7, 2019 Off

On the road to self-driving trucks, Starsky Robotics built a traditional trucking business

By Jill T Frey

More than three years ago, self-driving trucks startup Starsky Robotics was founded to solve a fundamental issue with freight — a solution that CEO Stefan Seltz-Axmacher believes hinges on getting the human driver out from behind the wheel.

But a funny thing happened along the way. Starsky Robotics started a regular ol’ trucking company. Now, nearly half of the employees at this self-driving truck startup help run a business that uses the traditional model of employing human drivers to haul loads for customers, TechCrunch has learned.

Starsky’s trucking business, which has been operating in secret for nearly two years alongside the company’s more public pursuit of developing autonomous vehicle technology, has hauled 2,200 loads for customers. The company has 36 regular trucks that only use human drivers to haul freight. It has three autonomous trucks that are driven and supported by a handful of test drivers. Starsky also employs a … Read the rest

June 7, 2019 Off

Audi proves two little screens are better than one big screen

By Jill T Frey

I’m spending some time in the new Audi Q8, and the car company equipped the crossover with its latest infotainment system. I love it, fingerprints, dust and all.

The grimy screens are part of the story. I could have cleaned up the screens for the photos, but I thought it was essential to show the screens after a couple of weeks of use.

There are two screens placed in the center stack of the Q8. The top one features controls for the radio, mapping system and vehicle settings. The bottom screen is for climate controls and additional controls like garage door opener and the vehicle’s cameras. Both have haptic feedback, so the buttons feel nearly real.

Both screens are tilted at the right angle, and the shifter is built in a way that provides a handy spot to rest your wrist, steadying it as you hit the screens.

Car companies … Read the rest

June 3, 2019 Off

GM and Fiat Chrysler are buying Tesla’s regulatory credits

By Jill T Frey

One of the more opaque segments of Tesla’s business just became a little more transparent. Recent  filings show that GM and Fiat Chrysler have bought zero-emissions vehicle credits from Tesla, Bloomberg reported Monday.

Tesla’s ZEV credit program isn’t a secret. The company has brought in nearly $2 billion in revenue since 2010 when it started selling regulatory credits to automakers that needed to offset sales of polluting vehicles in the U.S. And it’s a revenue stream that has been either lauded or criticized for years now as analysts and the media debate whether this helps or hurts Tesla’s bottom line.

But little was known, until now, about who was doing the buying and why — beyond the assumed reason to offset sales of vehicles that produce tailpipe emissions.

Bloomberg found recent state filings in Delaware that reveal a little bit more about Tesla’s ZEV customers. GM and FCA both disclosed … Read the rest

May 23, 2019 Off

Fresh off a $530M round, Aurora acquires lidar startup Blackmore

By Jill T Frey

Aurora, the self-driving car startup backed by Sequoia Capital and Amazon, is in an acquiring mood. The company, founded in early 2017 by Chris Urmson, Sterling Anderson and Drew Bagnell, announced Thursday that it acquired lidar company Blackmore.

The Blackmore purchase follows another smaller, and previously unknown, acquisition of 7D Labs that occurred earlier this year, TechCrunch has learned. 7D, founded by former software engineer from Pixar animation Magnus Wrenninge, is a simulation startup that makes photorealistic synthetic data sets for street scenes. Aurora confirmed the acquisition.

Aurora’s larger Blackmore acquisition comes on the heels of its $530 million Series B funding round led by Sequoia Capital and “significant investment” from Amazon and T. Rowe Price Associates. Aurora did not disclose the terms of the deal.

Lidar, or light detection and ranging radar, measures distance. It’s considered by many in the emerging automated driving industry — with the exception … Read the rest

May 22, 2019 Off

Consumer Reports knocks Tesla’s Navigate on Autopilot feature

By Jill T Frey

Consumer Reports is calling the automatic lane-change feature on Tesla’s Navigate on Autopilot “far less competent” than a human driver and cautioned it could pose safety risks.

The consumer advocacy organization posted its review Wednesday on the newest version of Tesla’s advanced driver assistance system.

Navigate on Autopilot is an active guidance system that is supposed to navigate a car from a highway on-ramp to off-ramp, including interchanges and making lane changes. Once drivers enter a destination into the navigation system, they can enable “Navigate on Autopilot” for that trip.

Tesla pushed out a software update last month to allow for automatic lane changes. Drivers must enable this feature, which gives the car permission to make its own lane changes. If not enabled, the system asks the driver to confirm the lane change before moving over. Automatic lane changes can be canceled at any time.

The system has been

Read the rest
May 22, 2019 Off

Review of Elon Musk’s DC-to-Baltimore ‘Loop’ system reveals safety concerns

By Jill T Frey

The Boring Company’s Loop transit system that aims to shuttle people in autonomous electric vehicles between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. fails to meet several key national safety standards, a review of its proposal reveals.

The underground system appears to lack sufficient emergency exits, ignore the latest engineering practices and proposes passenger escape ladders that one fire safety professor calls “the definition of insanity.”

Details of the 35.3-mile system, the first segment in a high-speed network that Boring Company founder and serial entrepreneur Elon Musk hopes will one day run all the way to New York, emerged recently in a 505-page draft environmental assessment.

Musk founded The Boring Company, or TBC, in 2016 after becoming frustrated with Los Angeles’ infamous traffic congestion. The aim was to find an efficient and cost-effective way to dig networks of tunnels for private vehicles. That idea evolved into the Loop, a system that Read the rest

May 16, 2019 Off

Part fund, part accelerator, Contrary Capital invests in student entrepreneurs

By Jill T Frey

First Round Capital has both the Dorm Room Fund and the Graduate Fund. General Catalyst has Rough Draft Ventures. And Prototype Capital and a few other micro-funds focus on investing in student founders, but overall, there’s a shortage of capital set aside for entrepreneurs still making their way through school.

Contrary Capital, a soon-to-be San Francisco-based operation led by Eric Tarczynski, is raising $35 million to invest between $50,000 and $200,000 in students and recent college dropouts. The firm, which operates a summer accelerator program for its portfolio companies, closed on $2.2 million for its debut, proof-of-concept fund in 2018.

“We really care about the founders building a great company who don’t have the proverbial rich uncle,” Tarczynski, a former founder and startup employee, told TechCrunch. “We thought, ‘What if there was a fund that could democratize access to both world-class capital and mentorship, and really increase Read the rest

May 14, 2019 Off

Musk’s new lawyer fights ‘pedo guy’ defamation lawsuit claims, questions motive

By Jill T Frey

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s lawyer argued Tuesday in a court filing that the British cave diver who became embroiled in a public spat with his client and later sued for defamation can’t recover damages because his reputation was not harmed.

In court documents filed Tuesday, Musk’s new lawyer Alex Spiro of Quinn Emanuel questioned the motive of Vernon Unsworth, the British cave diver, who filed a defamation lawsuit in September 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The suit was filed after Musk called him a “pedo guy” and made other statements insinuating he was a pedophile in a public attack on Twitter. The fight erupted last summer after the rescue of youth soccer players trapped in a cave in Thailand.

Musk denies the allegations of defamation in the latest response. Spiro became Musk’s lawyer earlier this month.

“One has to question Mr. … Read the rest

May 10, 2019 Off

Elon Musk’s ‘pedo guy’ defamation case is going to trial

By Jill T Frey

A defamation case filed last year against Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk after he repeatedly called a British cave diver “pedo guy” will go to trial on October 22, a U.S. district judge determined Friday.

Vernon Unsworth, the British cave diver, filed a defamation lawsuit in September 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California after Musk called him a “pedo guy” and made other statements insinuating he was a pedophile in a public attack on Twitter.

The Verge was the first to report the court decision.

A Tesla spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment

U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson denied a motion to dismiss the case and instead scheduled a date for trial. The decision means that Unsworth’s case is strong enough to go to trial.

Musk’s lawyers argued that statements on the internet, and more specifically on unmoderated forums like … Read the rest