Ink barely dry, site work resumes

Lance Gilman, TRIC, TeslaMondoA Nevada TV station is tracking Tesla’s feverish pace. Lance Gilman, marketing director for the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, told a reporter Friday that as soon as Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the approval Thursday night, Tesla was basically ringing his doorbell. “They don’t let any grass grow under their feet. I had an email waiting for me, saying they wanted a meeting at 7:30 this morning to start the process.” Heavy equipment has resumed “Project Tiger.” Hey, the sign is still up, based on imagery in the news report. However, based on the size comparison on EComento, “tiger” hardly cuts it.

 

Gigafactory size TeslaMondo

 

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Vehicle-to-vehicle tech to see backlash?

V2V Technology TeslaMondoAssuming Tesla vanguards “autopilot” and ever-purer autonomous driving using V2V technology, Tesla may find itself on the front lines of yet another battle — this time from people who fear government tracking, terrorist hacking and myriad health hazards from radio-frequency overload.

The NHTSA is very bullish on V2V, and has just issued a big, thick, meaty update all about its efforts to bring it to market smoothly. It’s available here. Scroll down and click just below the big, yellow comment button. As with most government docs, even the executive summary needs a summary, so here is TeslaMondo’s summary of the NHTSA summary. We’ll get into the paranoia afterward.

1. This stuff could save your life. Just two of the myriad V2V components, Intersection Movement Assist and Left Turn Assist, would prevent 25,000 to 592,000 crashes and save 49 to 1,083 lives annually, if every vehicle had those features.

2. Cost? About $341 to $350 per vehicle in 2020, decreasing to $209 to $227 by 2058, as manufacturers gain experience producing this equipment (learning curve).

3. Experiments using SAE and IEEE protocols showed both were too vague, so new communication protocols are needed to ensure vehicles don’t get their signals crossed. GPS surely can help too, but exactly how is TBD.

4. Safety systems that focus on one particular scenario, such as left-turn assist, need to be better-tailored for that exact scenario. For example, current left-turn assist systems activate only when the driver uses the turn signal. What if he doesn’t?

5. The NHTSA does have the authority to mandate some V2V systems in new light vehicles but could also require they be retrofitted into commercial vehicles already in service.

6. Wi-Fi, cordless phones and V2V would share the same 5.8-5.9 GHz frequency. The FCC would have to get involved to make sure we’re not headed for a mess there.

7. The NHTSA has a lot of work to do in making sure every company offering V2V technology complies with a universal standard, or else some cars might not talk to each other properly.

8. What about end-of-life issues? Electronics do get old and die, and so older cars might not have a properly-functioning V2V system.

9. Tight security needs to govern every V2V transmission to ensure accuracy and protect from outside influence. Will a private entity step into this space? Probably, but “private entities have not committed to doing so to date.”

10. Lawyers. Remember them? Automakers are worried about increased liability. But the NHTSA can kick that can down the road a bit because the systems currently under consideration involve only warning the driver, not taking over the vehicle. Baby steps . . .

11. Privacy concerns. TeslaMondo had better post this one verbatim: “At the outset, readers should understand some very important points about the V2V system as currently contemplated by NHTSA. The system will not collect or store any data identifying individuals or individual vehicles, nor will it enable the government to do so. There is no data in the safety messages exchanged by vehicles or collected by the V2V system that could be used by law enforcement or private entities to personally identify a speeding or erratic driver. The system—operated by private entities—will not enable tracking through space and time of vehicles linked to specific owners or drivers. Third parties Weird Al tin foil hat TeslaMondoattempting to use the system to track a vehicle would find it extremely difficult to do so, particularly in light of far simpler and cheaper means available for that purpose. The system will not collect financial information, personal communications, or other information linked to individuals. The system will enroll V2V enabled vehicles automatically, without collecting any information that identifies specific vehicles or owners. The system will not provide a ‘pipe’ into the vehicle for extracting data. The system will enable NHTSA and motor vehicle manufacturers to find lots or production runs of potentially defective V2V equipment without use of VIN numbers or other information that could identify specific drivers or vehicles. Our research to date suggests that drivers may be concerned about the possibility that the government or a private entity could use V2V communications to track their daily activities and whereabouts. However, as designed, NHTSA is confident that the V2V system both achieves the agency’s safety goals and protects consumer privacy appropriately.”

12. Consumer acceptance. If people reject V2V, or don’t get system updates — and those might be MANDATED — we’re in trouble. Ergo, “The agency is exploring ways to make such downloads automatic, but more research is needed to understand this issue fully.”

13. Malicious attacks. “NHTSA acknowledges that privacy and system security are current and relevant areas of discussion and that some may have concerns about the vulnerability of this system to malicious attack. We understand those concerns and intend to explore the risks and safeguards fully in our in-depth analysis of system security. Recently, for example, we have been in contact with DARPA bout possible protections against software vulnerabilities.” DARPA stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Now, back to the problem. The NHTSA has a brand new comment section for V2V technology. So far, almost every commenter is scared of it. Are we seeing a mere vocal minority, or the start of a bigger backlash over motorist civil liberties etc., with Tesla stuck in the middle — clowns to the left and jokers to the right? A quick Google search will yield all manner of nail-biting over V2V in the blogosphere. Again, just a fringe crew, or is this the start of big turbulence?

Or is Tesla developing something totally proprietary, akin to its Supercharging network, and therefore outside the scope of any brewing pushback against the feds? But If so, wouldn’t that pose an “island” problem, given the need for consistency as stressed by the NHTSA? We’ll soon find out. If you consider three years “soon.”

Also, have you ever driven in Manhattan? Ever merged into the Holland Tunnel from NJ? TeslaMondo will hereby declare that V2Teslamondo Indian intersectionV technology would cause paralysis in some situations, so it needs to be user-defeatable. Sometimes you have to use YOUR OWN JUDGEMENT or else you’ll never get home. And we’re just talking about the USA. What about V2V in other nations? Say, India for example. See that GIF? Some driving is best left to the human brain.

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Nevada green-lights Electric Avenue

Musk caricature source TeslaMondoNevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has signed Gig legislation after the $1.3b tax concession package received unanimous approval from lawmakers, one of whom compared this project to the Hoover Dam. “It doesn’t get any bigger than this.” — Sandoval. There’s a sound bite for ya, and it’s not puffery. Apparently the Gig will be located on Electric Avenue per Musk, likely referencing the Eddie Grant song from the pre-horrible MTV days.

This next chapter, Gigafactory construction, is going to be the single biggest construction story of the decade. The finished product may not become one of the most photographed sites in the world, but most-photographed factory? Probably. The mere concept of the factory is already generating gravitational pull on tangent industries, making lithium-ion the committed medium of choice for AES and A123, both big players in energy storage.

While waiting for Nevada pols to stop debating, TeslaMondo doodled on MS Paint and, applying Elon’s “first principles reasoning,” deconstructed him as far as possible. What’s at the core? True grit. And TSLA investors share it too. This factory amounts to a 90-yard bomb in football, but the game is on the line, and Tesla tends to connect.

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Resistance is futile if < one ohm

Resistance: What if Tesla can’t deliver the 6,500 jobs?
Overcome: You really think Tesla casually mutters unrealistic numbers?

Resistance: Subsidizing a product for export invites anti-dumping tariffs.
Overcome: A worry for Tesla, not Nev-ADD-a. And Tesla will build overseas before long.

Resistance: This $1.3b in tax concessions sets a scary precedent.
Overcome: Precedent phobia is best left for car dealers, and they’ve conceded Nev-ADD-a.

Resistance: This will mean fewer tax breaks for Hollywood filmmakers.
Overcome: Here’s a list of films shot in Nev-ADD-a. Thanks, Hollywood.

Austin Powers in Goldmember, Bite the Bullet, California Split, The Call of the Wild, Cannonball Run II, The Cannonball Run, The Captive City, Charley Varrick, Cherry 2000, Chicken Every Sunday, The Covered Wagon, Dead Man, The Electric Horseman, Far from Home, Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag, The Gauntlet, The Hangover, Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, Hick, The Hollywood Sign, Independence Day, Into the Wild, The Island, Jinxed!, Kill Me Again, Kingpin, Louis and the Brothel, Love Ranch, Mafia!, Mars Attacks!, Melvin and Howard, The Misfits, The Motel Life, The Muppets, Next, Over the Top, Pearl Harbor, Rain Man, Rat Race, The Shootist, Showgirls, Sister Act, Smokin’ Aces, Solaris, Star Trek Generations, State Penitentiary, Static, Stir Crazy, Taking My Parents to Burning Man, Thunder Run, Time Piece, Total Recall, Transformers, Universal Soldier, Up in the Air, Vanishing Point (1971), Vegas Vacation, View from the Top, The Village Barbershop, Waking Up in Reno, The Wizard.

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Political footballing kicks off

Nevada legislature TeslaMondo

Gigafactory Football TeslaMondoNo sooner has the whistle blown than politicking has begun. San Antonio’s losing team says it offered more money than Nevada, but balked at Tesla’s suggestion of starting site work on mere speculation. D’oh! Plus, Nevada had an advantage due to a lithium mine, says San Antonio. No fair! In New Mexico, the governor’s race is now full of finger-pointing. Dems say the Republican governor blew it. Republicans say Dems blew it with a show of timidity while other states were going all-in. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry may run for president, but can he outrun press like this? California Gov. Jerry Brown is faring no better. Seems nobody is kicking Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, but that’s likely because Mother Nature is already kicking Arizona.  Meanwhile, in the winning state of Nev-ADD-a*, political groups are protesting the $1.3b price tag on the Tesla deal, which goes before a special session of the state Legislature this afternoon. Ironically, Tesla’s most pernicious political gnat, the car dealer lobby, has opted to stay on the sidelines. Dealers figure they’ll get a few more sales from the beehive of activity. That’s yet another way in which thinking not just big, but collosal, has paid off for Tesla. This factory is so darned big that even car dealers will derive some residual benefit.

*If you pronounce Nevada the normal way, you get stoned, and not in the peaceful way.

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One for the chartists

Cup with Handle TeslaMondoThe first image shows a classic cup with handle. Chartist theory holds it’s a sign of an imminent breakout and therefore warrants a buy. The second image, the two-year chart for TSLA, shows an even more bullish signal, specifically a double cup with underwire. This signifiies long-lasting support, not to mention comfort. Just cross your heart and hope chartist theory holds up.Cup and underwire pattern

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The revolution will be very quiet (Part II)

TeslaMondo the revolution will be . . . very quiet

Courtesy Orion Pictures or something

TeslaMondo has already confronted, with a bit of melancholia, the prospect of silent motoring in the post-ICE world. No grunt? No throttle blips? No back-burble? Life devoid of NVH seems a little bleak for old-school enthusiasts. Well, Steve Saleen agrees. He’s the aftermarket tuner most noted for his Ford Mustang work, and who now sells a modified Model S called the FourSixteen.

The FourSixteen body mods add nothing worthwhile to the original Franz von Holzhausen vision. Fail! But now he’s redeemed. He’s added an odd mod that attempts to bring joy without combustion, and will surely inspire similar EV adventurism. He’s added a soundtrack. And it’s not terrible! Certainly better than the infamous 60 Minutes attempt at same.* The Saleen sound evokes a supercharger/turbocharger whine but adds a bayonet somewhere. If we can’t have any guttural noises, we can at least have some ZING beyond the faint existing whizz already present in EVs. Want proof that ZING works on the adrenal gland? Think of how agitated and sweaty you feel after a dental visit, just from listening to the instruments ZING.

Okay, bad example.

Then let’s go back to the 1970s, to the movie THX 1138, the Lucas work that predated Star Wars. Here’s a grunt-free — and even music-free — chase scene involving zingy vehcles. Are they electric? Dunno, but they sound it. They whir and whine, a precursor to the TIE fighter noise that punctuated the Star Wars series. And the scene is pretty darned effective. Okay, so whirring and whining don’t measure up to, say, a Jag F-Type, but maybe it’s time to grow up. Sniff Sniff. 

Thank you, Mr. Saleen, for daring to fill an aural void. Maybe you will be ridiculed years from now when silent motoring becomes universally cool. Maybe your electric bayonet sound is tantamount to breast augmentation, but dammit, need something to get us through this adjustment period. Who will perform the same service for fuel cell vehicles? What will a gutsy FCV soundtrack comprise? Perhaps a human voice. Yes, of course! A narrator who constantly reminds the driver about why FCVs make any sense.

* Must see!

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Fool cell stronghold punctured

Tesla Japan TeslaMondoTesla is now delivering in Japan, whose profuse favoritism for Toyota/Honda fuel cell technology is either aggressive or desperate depending on your bent.

But on the amiable side of the coin, both Toyota and Tesla say they’re open to more collaboration, following the tracks of the RAV4 EV. Don’t be shocked if, despite big-view differences on the post-ICE future, the two companies decide there’s at least a little overlap in thinking. Toyota’s Jim Lentz has indeed said EVs have a role in his world view, albeit as short-range commute-mobiles.

Tesla’s assembly plant in Fremont is a former Toyota/GM joint venture that cranked out the Nova, Prizm and Vibe for GM — and Matrix, Corolla and Tacoma for Toyota. Why couldn’t Toyota/Tesla pull a shared product from the revamped Fremont plant, or even the Gigafactory?

UPDATE: Tesla expects to supply drivetrain components to Toyota in about three years. Also, it expects to have a semi-autonomous car running, using a Tesla proprietary system with some third-party componentry, within the same time frame.

Some linkage for you:

Toyota’s stance on Tesla
Tesla’s stance on Toyota
Lentz’s stance on EVs
Ian Anderson’s stance

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Model X a prime scalping candidate

Falcon Wing Doors TeslaMondo Tesla Model X

Model X concept. Production version will differ.

As the unofficial waiting list for the Model X sweeps past 20,000, and with production still months away, it seems we will witness three memorable phenomena when those wings finally start flapping:

1. Hype at a level unseen since the original Mustang.
2. Tesla cutting off new orders
3. Scalping

Recent examples of number 3 include the Chevy Volt and Camaro. Some of the scalpers were not scalpers in the baseball-game sense, but actually GM dealers who marked the cars up far over the MSRP. Others were indeed private buyers who simply cashed in on a chance to Ebay their cars at a profit.

Obviously, Tesla stores would never apply an addendum sticker on the Model X, but undoubtedly some X owners will sell at a profit to salivating enthusiasts desperate to be seen in a Model X pronto. The actual street value? TeslaMondo will hereby predict it’s $250,000. We’re likely talking about the world’s most-wanted vehicle 2015-2017, regardless of the vehicle’s real-world performance. Even in some nightmarish scenario — say those falcon doors develop an appetite for small children — you can replace children in a mere nine months or so. Try replacing your Model X.

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Another likely reason “Nevada is it”

The Gig’s energy usage is bound to be a big topic, since Tesla is expected to lead the world in renewable, sustainable, scalable and a bunch of other “ables.” Indeed, Elon does plan to make this diamond-shaped plant entirely self-sustaining. Well, TeslaMondo reader Tom Villars yesterday brought up an under-reported angle. The Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, future home of the Gig, sits in a geothermal “hot spot.” That means Tesla can tap into the Earth’s underground heat to supply energy, probably via a nearby geothermal powerplant. From the TRIC website:

Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center Geothermal TeslaMondo

These hot spots are fairly scarce, as suggested by the map below, and tend to occur near tectonic boundaries — a nice upside for Shake N Quake areas of the world. Imperial Valley in California is another geothermal corridor, but the coincidence of the Tahoe-Reno center and a geo corridor likely gave Reno yet another advantage, along with the amply-reported tax climate, rail access, lithium access. It’s looking more and more like Reno had this factory in the bag from day one, as suggested on this site back in May. Surely we’ll read a whole lot of weepy post-mortems about why other states lost this bid, but the planet itself might have rigged the contest some. Here’s an excellent crash-course in geothermal.

Geothermal map, TeslaMondo

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