Final thoughts (guesses) before Model 3 event.

Admittedly wild speculation, but here goes…

  • Elon to start speaking only 7 minutes late (i.e. 9:07pm PST)
  • Model 3 options and pricing
  • Model 3 Day 1 line-waiters get Founders badge and Day 1 online orders get Signature badge.  All Day 1 orders get color selection, wheel selection, glass roof, and Premium Upgrades Package (including interior upgrades, premium audio, and subzero) for free, total $5,000 value
  • Model 3 ramp faster than Elon originally tweeted, 100 units already, 1000 units in August, possibly 100,000 total units by end of year
  • Model 3 test drives available next month on the West Coast, then rest of country soon after
  • Dual Motor AWD Model 3 on track for early next year
  • Tesla going Vegan, thanking owners for pushing for this, and reminder of how great the seats are
  • Model S and Model X interior refresh
  • Model S and X lineup changes including reintroduction of the Model S 60D with a $50,000 price point, compelling option for those who don’t want to wait for their Model 3
  • Coast to coast self-driving demo on track for end of year, already testing this now with significant weekly improvements, each iteration the number of human interventions gets less and less
  • Supercharger v3 with 350 kW charge rate and automatic plug, 80% charge in about 15 minutes, on track for early next year; all recent Model S, X, and 3 compatible
  • Tesla Network details next year
  • Tesla Semi unveiling this fall, drives like a racecar
  • Model Y unveiling next year
  • Next generation Roadster unveiling next year, goal of 0-60mph in 2 seconds
  • Update on Supercharger, Destination Charger, Service Center, Ranger Service expansions, discussion of new service scheduling
  • Updates on Solar Roof, PowerWall, and PowerPacks, recent utility level deployments
  • Update on number of Tesla employees and US jobs
  • Gigafactory 3 and 4 locations to be announced in the fall; GF3 for Model Y and Roadster, and GF4 for more batteries
  • Tesla Software v9 this fall with on-ramp to off-ramp autopilot, new streaming features, faster web browser, automatic supercharging (HW2), and smart summon (HW2)

Time for Tesla to partner with a high end audio company?

Tesla’s upgraded sound option has had a few minor hardware revisions over the years but is essentially the same system as it was when Model S began production in 2012.  However, the name of the upgraded sound system has gone through some major changes:

  1. Studio Sound
  2. Ultra High Fidelity Sound
  3. Premium Sound
  4. Custom Audio System

Unfortunately, all of these names are uninspiring especially in the sea of branded luxury car sound systems.   Really, they couldn’t even come up with something like “Tesla Audio”?  In fact, the newest name “Custom Audio System” wins the award for worst sound system name of all time and conveys a picture of this…

Tesla’s competitors partner with brands like Krell, Logic 7, Harman/Kardon, Bose, Bang & Olufsen, Burmester, Mark Levinson, Bowers & Wilkins, Lexicon, and Meridian.  Tesla’s current upgraded sound system is probably better than some of these, but there’s certainly room for significant improvement.  Luckily there are still dozens of high end audio brands that haven’t yet produced automotive sound systems and would probably be interested in a mutually beneficial partnership with Tesla.

While there may be tradition for Tesla to keep the audio system design completely in house or at least the supplier’s identity opaque, there is some precedent for Tesla calling out branded parts. For example the performance Model S and X are advertised to include Brembo brake calipers. And Recaro seats were a highlight of the very earliest P85D’s.  More recently Tesla has openly identified MobilEye, Bosch, and nVidia as key suppliers of autopilot components.

Ultimately, Tesla buyers wouldn’t mind spending several thousand dollars for any audiophile grade sound system.  But having a branded sound system would likely earn Tesla several thousand dollars more.


The following audio companies can afford full page advertisements in recent issues of Sound and Vision, suggesting they might have the resources to immediately partner with Tesla:

  • GoldenEar
  • SVS
  • Legacy
  • Martin Logan
  • KEF
  • Polk
  • Definitive
  • Revel
  • Zvox
  • Paradigm

Here are some additional high end audio companies that made the Best of 2016 list in Stereophile:

  • GamuT
  • KEF
  • mbl
  • Revel
  • TAD Laboratories
  • Vivid
  • Wilson Audio Specialties
  • YG Acoustics
  • Aerial
  • ATC
  • DeVore Fidelity
  • ENIGMAcoustics
  • Fujitsu
  • Joseph Audio
  • Marten
  • MartinLogan
  • Sony
  • Spendor
  • Technics
  • Triangle
  • Volti Audio
  • Boston Acoustics
  • Bryston
  • DALI
  • Focal
  • Line Magnetic
  • Monitor Audio
  • Nola Metro
  • Paradigm
  • PSB
  • Tekton
  • Vandersteen
  • Vienna Acoustics
  • Wharfedale
  • Canalis
  • Dynaudio
  • Falcon Acoustics
  • Harbeth
  • Sonus Faber
  • Stirling



Cool things you can do with your Level 5 self-driving car.

What does life with a Level 5 self-driving car look like?

  1. You’re at a party.  You’re drunk.  You hop in your car, and it drives you home safely.  The car parks itself in your garage.  You’re so drunk you end up sleeping in your car until the morning.  Good thing it’s an electric car so you don’t have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning.
  2. You’re driving alone.  Your smartwatch detects a cardiac arrhythmia and informs your car.  You pass out. Your car takes over and drives you to the nearest ER.
  3. You have a business meeting in the morning, in a city 8 hours away.  Rather than take a flight, you just hop in your car in your pajamas, go to sleep, and your car drives you to your destination overnight.  It’s like having a chartered redeye flight, in your car.
  4. Your car drops you off at the restaurant and finds its own free parking spot several blocks away.  When you’re done eating, it picks you up in front of the restaurant.  No waiting.  No need to pay for valet.  It’s like having your own chauffeur.
  5. You’re hungry.  You order takeout, pay by credit card over the phone, and send your car to pick up the food.  When your car arrives at the restaurant, you tell the restaurant to put the food in the trunk which you can open and close via your phone app.
  6. You just got home and realized you forgot your jacket at your friend’s house.  You send your car to pickup your jacket.
  7. Your “friend” needs a ride to the airport, but prefer not to see your friend today so you send your car to give them a ride without you.
  8. You and your family are flying across the country for vacation.  Rather than rent a car at your destination, you just send your car a day or two early.  You send some of your luggage in your car.  Your car even picks you up from the airport when you arrive.
  9. Your teenager who is still learning to drive wants to go to a party and wants to pick up her friends on the way.  You say ok, as long as the car stays in autonomous mode (which it will because you disabled manual driving mode via your phone app).
  10. You can do real work (including video conferencing or computing) or not (sleeping, reading a book or newspaper, or watching TV or a movie) during your morning and afternoon commutes.

Coming Soon… The $50,000 Tesla Model S.

Tesla recently confirmed that they will eliminate the base, rear wheel drive Model S 75 by the end of the year. And over the last few days, people have spotted software-locked 85 kWh battery packs in Model X 75D vehicles in Norway suggesting a battery lineup change is imminent.  Many are viewing this as a sign that Tesla wants to further widen the price, performance, and feature gap between Model 3 and Model S.  But that makes no sense from a business point of view.  More likely, Tesla is about to surprise us with a couple of additional configuration and pricing changes.

The 2017 Tesla Model S 75 is already an amazing value at $69,500 compared to other cars in the “Grand Coupe” segment (see prior post).  But long term, Tesla needs to bring the base price of Model S down to around $50,000 in order to ease the upgrade or upsell path for Model 3 owners or prospective buyers, and to strike the fatal blow on legacy automakers’ entire compact and mid-size luxury lineups.  Tesla Model S is a unique car that can fight competitors above segment, below segment, and even side-to-side (e.g. sedans, coupes, grand coupes, sport wagons, roadsters, hybrids, plug-ins, CUVs, and even small SUVs).  Tesla wins each segment when they can offer a significantly better car for significantly less money.  $50,000 is the magic price where Tesla can win every segment especially when factoring in total cost of ownership (i.e. gas and maintenance savings make a $50,000 Tesla less expensive than a $40,000 gas car).

While Model S is a “better” car than Model 3, it may be hard for Tesla to convince prospective buyers that Model S is worth twice the price of Model 3.  However, a 50% differential is much more reasonable and consistent with how other automakers price their different product lines (e.g. BMW 3 series vs 5 series).  Incidentally, “under $50k” was the starting price Tesla initially advertised for Model S though it was for a stripped down 40 kWh version and factored in the $7,500 federal tax credit to achieve that price point.  One could argue that Tesla has already broken through that magic $50,000 price point for a theoretical stripped down Model S since the new $69,500, 2017 Model S 75 includes $36,400 in free upgrades compared to the 2013 Model S 60 (see prior post). A new well-equipped base Model S at the around the $50,000 price point is both reasonable and follows Tesla’s regular pattern of battery capacity and price adjustments.

Again, we already know that the $69,500 Model S 75 is about to be removed from the lineup.  The first surprise is that the $74,500 Model S 75D will, at the same time, be replaced by a new $77,500 Model S 85D with 280 mile range.   This creates a larger price gap with the Model 3, one which Tesla can easily fill by… wait for it… re-introducing the Model S 60D for $57,500.  This new Model S 60D (with an actual 60 kWh pack, not a software locked higher capacity pack) will have a range of 225 miles. We end up with an easy to understand pricing structure; each $20,000 upgrade adds 55 miles range and 0.5 second quicker 0-60 mph acceleration. (Note: Model S 100D performance is currently software limited.  An acceleration improvement to 3.6 seconds will help differentiate it from the new 85D and put it on par with ~$100k competitors like the Audi RS7 and BMW M6 GC.)

So, expect the lineup to look like this by the end of 2017:

  • Model S 60D (225 mile range, 4.6 seconds) – $57,500
  • Model S 85D (280 mile range, 4.1 seconds) – $77,500
  • Model S 100D (335 mile range, 3.6 seconds) – $97,500
  • Model S P100D (315 mile range, 2.5 seconds) – $140,000

At a price of $57,500, Tesla would be able to advertise the well equipped Model S 60D for “$50,000 after $7,500 federal tax credit” at least until the credit starts to phase out (about 6 months or so).  At that point, we could see a $5,000 price drop, reintroduction of the rear wheel drive Model S 60 for $52,500, or some additional free upgrades (e.g. perhaps most or all of the $5,000 Premium Upgrades Package becomes standard).  Many people on the Model 3 waitlist would immediately switch to Model S given an opportunity like this.  And more importantly, legacy automakers’ entire lineup of compact and mid-size luxury gasoline vehicles (all segments) won’t stand a chance against a $50,000 Tesla Model S.

Buy and hold TSLA to support the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

Occupy Wall Street protesters gather in Duarte Square in New York November 15, 2011. New York police evicted Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park in the city’s financial district early on Tuesday, two months after they set up camp and sparked a national movement against economic inequality. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES – Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS BUSINESS)

TSLA stock has had a rollercoaster ride the last few years and especially the last few months.  While a few analysts are quite supportive of the stock, most are not. “Big Analysts” (i.e. those with ties to or a bias favoring “Big Oil”, “Big Auto”, “Big Banks”, etc.,) love to point out the quarterly losses, overly optimistic production and sales expectations, limited market and demand, and reliance on government subsidies and green friendly environmental regulations as reasons to avoid or short TSLA stock. Yet the true believers see past the market manipulation and focus on the bigger picture.

There has been a constant barrage of negative political, environmental, economic, and social news and people feel manipulated by the establishment and powerless to affect change. Perhaps Tesla has become part of the anti-establishment (and anti-Trump?) movement.  Small investors are buying and holding the stock (and buying even more every time there’s a dip) as protest against “Big Oil”, “Big Auto”, “Big Investor”, “Big Analyst”, and Wall Street in general.  Small investors are also buying and holding Tesla as action against air pollution and climate change, both of which disproportionately affect the world’s poor.

Tesla as a company is a brilliant business contradiction, only a stones throw away from “taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor”.  Tesla Roadster, Model S, and Model X are unashamedly cars for the “1%”.  Yet, Tesla is using the revenue from those cars to produce the Model 3, its first affordable mass market EV designed for the “99%”.  In fact, Elon Musk has on numerous occasions thanked buyers of the Roadster, Model S, and Model X for funding the development and production of the Model 3. The press release for P100D Ludicrous variants literally says so:

“While the P100D Ludicrous is obviously an expensive vehicle, we want to emphasize that every sale helps pay for the smaller and much more affordable Tesla Model 3 that is in development. Without customers willing to buy the expensive Model S and X, we would be unable to fund the smaller, more affordable Model 3 development.”

After Model 3 is the Model Y, another mass market EV.  Tesla’s expanding vehicle lineup, increasing production, and increasing market share has no doubt spurred other automakers into producing EVs, some with even lower starting prices than Tesla. VW for example has promised a 200 mile range EV priced $8,000 less than the Tesla Model 3.  One might think that Tesla would be fearful of such competition, but Elon Musk has on many occasions stated that’s the actual goal.  Tesla wants and encourages other automakers to make EVs.  Tesla has even opened up all of its battery and electric powertrain patents for competitors to use for free.  Imagine if Apple opened up its patent portfolio to the world and encouraged all its rivals to build cheap iPhone clones so that everyone in the world could have an iPhone! The steady production of affordable new EVs by Tesla and its competitors ensures a growing supply of even more affordable used EVs, all of which last longer and cost less to operate than gasoline cars.  The direct and indirect benefits of world’s automotive fleet transitioning from gasoline to electric cannot be understated.

Beyond the development of mass market electric vehicles, the buyers of the expensive Roadster, Model S, and Model X have also funded the development and deployment of the Tesla Supercharger Network which is critical to the success of Tesla.  Availability of inexpensive, reliable fast charging is as important or more important to the success of EVs than the range or price of the EVs.  Tesla is currently in active discussions with competitors and has stated on multiple occasions that they want their competitors to have access to the Supercharger network as long as they meet the technical requirements and help pay for the hardware and electricity.  This kind of cooperation is rare in the technology and automotive industries.

Tesla’s mission statement is “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy”.  No other automaker or tech company (or any multi-billion dollar company for that matter) has such an ambitious “save the world” mission, “we can’t do it alone” intellectual property sharing philosophy, or blatant “redistribution of wealth” product development plan.  The ludicrously accelerating $170k cars, self-driving technology, Model 3 ramp, stock prices, and Elon Musk will dominate the media coverage.  But all the while, Tesla’s vehicles, solar panels, and battery storage systems continue to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and particulate air pollution, and Tesla creates tens of thousands of jobs in the United States to the benefit of the lower and middle class.  That’s as beautiful an Occupy Wall Street story as one could ever come up with for a 50 billion dollar market cap company.


Beyond the creation of sustainable energy and transportation products, Tesla could actually help the world’s poor in a more direct sense:

Humanitarian applications of the Tesla Bundle.



Tesla just went Vegan and that’s a big deal.

Overnight, Tesla quietly adjusted some of the standard features and options of the Model S and X.  Leather seat options have been replaced by vegan Premium Seats.  Extended nappa leather has been eliminated.  This is a big deal on several fronts.

1. It shows that Tesla listens to its owners and shareholders.  At the 2015 shareholder meeting, there were two Pro-Vegan proposals that were voted down but Elon Musk at least agreed to explore the possibility.  The board members probably all watched Cowspiracy and Leilani Munter probably lobbied Elon and the board as well, but the voice of the owners and shareholders was critical.

2. It shows Tesla’s ability to innovate and manufacture quickly.  Tesla was able to create the vegan white seats in house within 6 months, and the vegan black and vegan cream seats within 2 years.  While there were some durability issues at the beginning, it seems Tesla is now ready for mass production of these seats which are regarded as the softest and most comfortable seats ever offered.

3.  It shows Tesla is committed to fighting climate change in domains beyond transportation and energy.  When Tesla is producing millions of cars per year, their choice to only offer vegan interiors will make a significant impact on carbon emissions especially as EV competitors are likely to follow suit.

4.  It shows Tesla is ready to expand to the modern mass market where the prospective buyers are tech savvy, environmentally conscious, and social media aware.  A Tesla Model 3 is cool.  But a Tesla Model 3 with a premium interior NOT made up of the skins of slaughtered calves is even cooler.  This becomes a part of the Tesla story and the Tesla movement.

UPDATED: Buy a new 2017 Tesla Model S for $69,500 and get $36,400 in free* upgrades!

Note: Updated to reflect inclusion of the Performance Inverter for cars ordered after 7/1/2017.  Updated to reflect inclusion of Premium Interior Lighting, Fog Lamps, and Smart Air Suspension for cars ordered after 7/22/2017.

It can be hard to keep track of all the changes Tesla has made to standard features, options, and pricing over the years, so let’s looks at how the new base 2017 Tesla Model S 75 compares to the old base 2013 Tesla Model S 60.  First, the 2017 Model S priced at $69,500 is $400 less expensive than the 2013 Model S which was priced at $69,900. Then there are numerous improvements and refinements to the car:

  • Autopilot 2.0 hardware and safety features (front and side collision warning and avoidance, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, speed limit display)
  • 3rd generation premium front seats, 12-way power adjustable and heated
  • 48 amp charger (instead of 40 amp)
  • 3-position LED dynamic turning headlights
  • Improved front fascia and aerodynamics
  • Improved instrument cluster screen
  • Improved rear camera
  • Improved sun visor and vanity mirrors
  • Improved rear seat headrests
  • Improved rear doors opening width
  • Improved chargeport door functionality
  • Decreased cabin noise
  • Air ionizer
  • 2 rear USB ports

But wait… There’s more!  *The following items are now standard but were previously paid upgrades:

  • Performance Inverter with 0-60mph acceleration time of 4.3 seconds (instead of 5.9 seconds) – $10,000
  • 75 kWh battery pack with 249 mile EPA range (instead of 60 kWh with 208 mile EPA range) – $8,500
  • Technology package (navigation with real-time traffic, auto-presenting door handles, power folding mirrors, homelink, driver profiles, daytime running lights, automatic liftgate) – $3,750
  • Premium Interior Lighting – $1,000
  • Fog Lights – $500
  • Smart Air Suspension – $2,500
  • Alcantara headliner – $1,500
  • Wood decor – $650
  • Supercharging – $2,000 (lifetime unlimited when referred by an owner)
  • Parking sensors – $500
  • Premium center console with rear cupholders – $1,250
  • Parcel shelf – $250
  • Glass roof – $1,500
  • Turbine-style aerodynamic 19” wheels – $2,500

Total value of upgrades – $36,400

In other words, not only is the base 2017 Model S $400 less expensive than the base 2013 Model S, it also comes with numerous improvements and refinements, plus $36,400 in free upgrades!

But wait… There’s still more!  Order your Model S (or Model X) before December 31st, 2017 using the following owner referral link and receive an additional $1000 off plus lifetime unlimited free supercharging for your new Tesla:

Referral Link for $1000 off and Lifetime Unlimited Free Supercharging

Order Now.  Operators are standing by!

Tesla Model XL.

At the Model X unveiling in 2012, the Tesla Model X was compared to the Honda Odyssey in several of the presentation slides.  Elon Musk claimed that Model X would be quicker than a Porsche, have better styling than an Audi SUV, and have more function than a Honda Odyssey.  But Model X is no Odyssey.  In fact, the only thing Model X has in common with the Odyssey is that it has 3 rows of seats.  The Odyssey far exceeds the Model X in terms of passenger seating and comfort, cargo capacity, and utility.  There’s a reason why there are long lines of Odyssey’s at every suburban elementary school dropoff and pickup each day.  Tesla should consider making a variant of the Model X to truly compete with the Odyssey.

While the Model X technically seats up to 7 adults, it does so in a compromised way as compared to the Honda Odyssey and similar minivans, and even compared to the Honda Pilot and similar SUVs.  The 7-seat Model X offers very little headroom and legroom for the 3rd row, and very little headroom and legroom for the middle seat of the 2nd row.  There’s limited luggage space behind the 3rd row due to the slopped roof.  On older 7-seat Model X, lack of folding 2nd row seats further limit cargo carrying capability.  On newer 7-seat Model X, the 60/40 split of the folding 2nd row severely limits child seat placement and 3rd row ingress/egress options.

Non-removable 2nd row seats further limits the utility of the Model X.  While there are 5, 6, and 7-seat configurations, it is unfortunate that prospective buyers have to make a choice at all. The 7-seat Model X has the most passenger capacity but many people opt for the 6-seat Model X to increase comfort for the 2nd and 3rd row (the open space between the 2nd row seats accommodates 3rd row passengers’ feet and gives an alternate ingress/egress pathway), or 5-seat Model X to maximize cargo capacity and utility.  But having to make a choice at time of order pretty much defeats the multi-purpose functionality of the SUV form factor.  The Honda Odyssey in comparison can quickly change between several dozen seating configurations of 2 to 8 seats.

What Tesla needs to do is create a Model X variant (it should be named Model XL) that is a few inches longer, with the roof extended further back over the rear, and the rear life-gate given a more vertical orientation, similar to most SUVs on the market.

This gives us a functional 3rd row with 3 seats, actual headroom and legroom for the 3rd row, and more room for luggage behind the 3rd row.  Tesla could even adopt the stow-and-go style 3rd row seats that flip and fold backwards into the trunk.

Tesla Model XL does NOT have to be a minivan.  The front 2/3rd’s of the vehicle can still keep the current Model X design.  This would only be a re-design of the rear 1/3rd.

Or… alternatively, Tesla should just embrace the minivan and make Tesla Model XL an actual minivan.  There should be no shame in it, especially when it expands Tesla into another massive market.  Tesla can remove the falcon-wing doors and use traditional doors or minivan sliding doors and an all-glass roof.  This results in significantly more headroom, shoulder room (due to not needing extra structural support for falcon wing doors), and cargo capacity. The 2nd row seats should be individually removable and foldable. The 2nd row middle seat in particular should have the multiple purpose role as an open space, a seat, and an armrest/console as is common in many minivans and SUVs.

The Model X and Model XL should be two different vehicles targeting two different markets.  While the Model X is the stylish, sporty, SUV, the Model XL is the ultimate multi-purpose family/cargo hauler.

What billion (or trillion) dollar market will Tesla enter next?

Elon Musk has dropped so many clues over the last few years, it’s probably just a timing/priority issue why he hasn’t outright said it…

That’s right, Tesla will at some point in the near future actually produce and sell robots.  And not just factory robots, Tesla will produce highly programmable and customizable robots for many different markets (consumer, healthcare, military, emergency services, etc.,).  The years of robotic experience setting up gigafactories and the years of experience developing self-driving technology means Tesla can enter and then immediately dominate the robotics market at their leisure.  Elon Musk made some recent comments supporting universal basic income once robots take our current jobs.  What he didn’t mention was that Tesla will definitely be one of the key players in creating and selling those robots.

In 3 years time, Tesla will have produced over 1 million cars and have 4-5 gigafactories with thousands of the most advanced robots in existence.  Tesla will be the experts at robotics and robotics software (including computer vision, machine learning, etc.,).  It’s just a matter of time before Tesla Robotics joins the Tesla product portfolio.





Tesla’s future in Hong Kong doesn’t depend on the number of cars sold to private owners.

As expected, sales and registrations of new Tesla’s in Hong Kong are down (to zero apparently) after the expiration of the sales tax incentive. But Tesla’s future in Hong Kong really isn’t about the number of cars it sells to private citizens.  This is because Hong Kong is a small island with one of the world’s best public transit systems and one of the world’s highest population densities.  Car ownership is unnecessary, expensive, really just a status symbol of the ultra-wealthy.  So whether Tesla’s market share (vs competitors like BMW, Mercedes, Audi, and Porsche) is 1% or 100%, it doesn’t really matter.

The real opportunity is for Tesla to work with the Hong Kong government to replace the aging taxi fleet.  Currently there are approximately 18,000 taxis in Hong Kong giving about 1 million rides a day (  Hong Kong is only 425 sq miles, just a little bigger than New York City.  Most Hong Kong taxis are of the Toyota Crown Comfort sedan variety and burn Liquified Petroleum Gas, a fuel that is “cleaner” than diesel but still polluting and greenhouse gas emitting.  There is a huge opportunity for Tesla to work with the Hong Kong government to deploy cutting edge, zero-emission, low-maintenance, self-driving Model 3’s.  Once Tesla has fully ramped Model 3 production, it could produce enough custom Model 3 taxi variants in 2 weeks to replace the entire Hong Kong taxi fleet. And as a vertically integrated clean energy company, Tesla can bundle superchargers, solar panels, and battery storage systems to support the taxis.