September set oil-burning record


Click the image to read the consumption data. Yes, America really hearts its gas pickups and SUVs. It won’t be easy to unravel such a sticky love pretzel. It will require some serious chutzpah and mighty strong sex appeal.

When will cars stop hitting buildings?

How long before we stop seeing embarrassing scenes like these? Does the latest Tesla hardware/software update prevent this from happening? What level of machine intelligence is required for walls to be recognized as impassable? Seems it should be the first line of programming code in any “smart” car. Here’s how it should be entered:

“See that big flat thing in front of you? That’s a wall. Yes, it might have some transparent rectangles in it. In fact, the whole thing might be transparent. But it’s still a wall, and you cannot drive through it. Even if the driver has his foot in the accelerator, guess what, you’re stopping anyway. Ditto signage. There’s no circumstance under which it’s acceptable to smash into these things. Do we understand each other?”

Let’s hope the rise of machine learning brings the demise of these parking lot disasters. They’re long overdue for eradication, and Tesla should be the first brand to eradicate them. “Sudden unintended acceleration” is an American term for a conspicuously American phenomenon. The Audi fiasco of the 80s and Toyota fiasco of 2009-2011 never left our shores despite worldwide use of the same products. So it’s incumbent upon an American company to erase the term from the vernacular.

Then again, America did invent the drive-thru. Maybe this is in our blood. Oh dear.


Faraday Future’s Funky Funding

Once again, FF is making headlines for failing to pay bills. This is the third time.



Three Times

This doesn’t set the tone for trust between FF and the myriad component suppliers it will need to build cars. The check is in the mail from China, eh? There’s something shady about this company. Literally.

Original target for III now seems lax

The Model III wasn’t supposed to achieve big-volume production until 2020. Tesla shocked everyone this spring when it shortened that to 2018. But just imagine if the original timeframe were left intact. We’d be nursing ourselves through three more years of nothing but S and X. Seems like an awfully long stretch of nothing new, eh? It would strain the attention span of the average car buyer and allow myriad rivals to tiptoe from back burner to front. For Tesla devotees, those three years would have felt like three decades.

When Musk said the 2020 target wasn’t ambitious enough, it sure seemed like bizarre masochism. Not anymore.

Meanwhile, the woolly mammoth in the room is still growing. What mammoth? The number of Model III preorders. The nose-picking press seems to believe the preorders stopped coming in around 400,000 and have since ebbed to 375,000-ish due to people defecting to Model S or just giving up entirely. Well, TeslaMondo thinks the orders never stopped coming and now total at least 500,000. Tesla isn’t keen on discussing it because it’s a big, hairy creature at this point. Best to hang a sheet over it and focus on work, not slaying the beast.

This might also explain why Tesla is taking its sweet time in revealing the Model III interior. Does the company really need more preorders? Does it want to make the current S and X interiors look rickety by showing off the next generation interior? No and no.

Spy photographers will have a heck of a time trying to peer inside the Model III, but that’s where the money shot is, or soon will be. The hindquarters will attract some attention too, as people wonder about Tesla’s casual vow to enlarge the trunk opening so we can fit our fantasy lifestyles inside.

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Gratification again delayed

  • TSLA shares won’t benefit much, if at all, from tonight’s revelation. Investors wanted to see a new car, or a new something. But instead, when the game show host pulled back the curtain, the prize was a trip to a five-star resort that’s still under construction and hasn’t received occupancy permits yet.
  • Autonomy is still confusing. How and when will it become totally safe? How and when will it monetize? When will the eeriness wear off? Tesla’s autonomy demonstration video is narrated by the artificial intelligence piloting the car. It’s quite telling. Right off the bat, it plots the repainting of a door.* Moments later, it observes girls going by, dressed in their summer clothes — suggesting it has reproductive instinct.
  • Model III part II didn’t happen last night, despite promising tweets. TeslaMondo plans to pile back into TSLA stock when that event takes place. Until then, Tesla remains a potential investment.
  • Another few minutes of refinement could have made the difference here:


*Today, a door. Tomorrow, a whole town.

The unasked question is now glaring

TeslaMondo, and doubtless many others, never got around to asking a basic question — and very few are asking it even this afternoon. The question:

“Model III will be unveiled in how many parts?”

The popular assumption is two. But tonight it might become clear that Model III will be unveiled in SEVERAL parts. Musk is showing a few more cards tonight, but perhaps not all of them. This assumes, of course, he’s playing with a full deck.


EVs no sure cure for noise pollution

Tesla could lead a movement that greatly reduces air pollution by cleaning up energy production and consumption. Muy bien!

But what about noise? Researchers say living amid cacophonous city traffic can shorten your life due to noise pollution. Google it. Will the cities of the future, swarming with EVs, solve noise pollution? TeslaMondo says not necessarily. The soundscape could become harsher. How?

These here noises will take a very long time to go away. In fact, they might NEVER go away:

  1. Sirens
  2. Horns
  3. Squealing tires
  4. Alarms
  5. Car stereos
  6. Defective vehicles
  7. Heavy trucks bangin’ and clangin’
  8. Construction
  9. Loud people
  10. Heated arguments among animals

Without a steady baseline thrum, currently provided by ICEs, these sounds become more jarring. We need a buffer. Many of us use a white noise app to help us sleep, because it smooths out the soundscape. A steady thrum beats erratic clamor any day. If you live near a highway, you know what it’s like to have your overnight silence punctuated by an occasional Kawasaki. It’s a problem. But during the day, when the soundscape is couched by warm n’ fluffy car hum, you don’t notice motorcycles at all.

On the other hand, maybe electric traffic will bear its own distinct sound. EVs often emit artificial noises to warn pedestrians. The noises run the gamut from mosquito to garbage disposal. They’re not pleasant. When EVs rule the city, what kind of chorus will echo off the buildings? This will be the next engineering challenge: making traffic sound nice. Maybe automakers will collaborate on a symphony of sorts, with each brand bearing a signature element that blends with the others, so traffic will sound like a symphony warming up before a concert.

Or maybe we’ll decide the best solution is to simulate the ho-hum of gas engines.


The riddler again prods our imagination

Riddler TeslaMondo

Care to elaborate on the words “product” or “unexpected” or “most,” Mr. Riddler? Of course not, you scoundrel.

The Blair Witch Project was one of the most successful independent films of all time. Yet you won’t find any Blair Witch action figures. That’s because nobody knows what the Blair Witch looks like. No witch ever appeared on the screen.

Remember The Exorcist? How about Rosemary’s Baby? They didn’t show us the monsters. We got a nanosecond glimpse of an icky face in the former, and just some creepy eyes in the latter. Yet they’re both omnipotent horror films treasured by multiple generations.

The point is that human imagination can fill in the blanks quite well, often with better stuff than any Hollywood special effect could muster. Tesla knows this and uses it to torture us. Today Musk tweeted an upcoming product announcement that’s “unexpected by most.” Human imagination is now lighting up the internet on a Sunday night:

  1. It’s autonomy.
  2. It’s Model III.
  3. It’s Model Y.
  4. It’s Tesla Energy 2.0.
  5. It’s Roadster 2.0.
  6. It’s the debut of Gigafactories as a Tesla product line.
  7. It’s a collaboration with another automaker.
  8. It’s a motorcycle.
  9. It’s a Radio Flyer Model X.
  10. It’s vehicle-to-grid.

Quick reminder: Tesla has already built products that nobody thought possible, so an unexpected product announcement could mean just about anything including a Blair Witch action figure.

screen-shot-2016-10-09-at-7-28-52-pmWant an illustration of Tesla’s warping effect on the human imagination? Here’s an ostensibly serious infographic that compiles fun facts about Tesla. Well, fact #20 suggests the Gigafactory will swallow entire trains and turn them into batteries. Apparently it’s a wild misinterpretation of Musk’s comment about trains arriving on one end of the factory and finished packs emerging from the other. The trains will be carrying raw material, of course. They’re not the raw material themselves.

But, you see, Tesla has a devil’s grip on our imagination. Anything seems possible. Heck, cars could become submarines. Add that to the list above, why dontcha. We’re overdue for a Bond Submarine update. See below (far right). It’s been sitting there for so long that mice have probably infiltrated the glove box by now.


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Prius Prime is just a bridge to Tesla

Icons get old. Have you seen Burt Reynolds lately? If he were a car, he’d have cash on the hood and special financing. And that’s exactly what the new plug-in Prius Prime has, fresh from the factory. TeslaMondo’s Toyota sources say the Prime has factory incentives in some markets, yet it’s just rolling out. Pretty feeble considering it’s billed as the most advanced Prius yet. Shouldn’t it sell itself?

Regardless, the Anton Wahlmans of the world need a new Tesla-killer to write about, and this week is Prime time. TeslaMondo will render no opinion of the Prius Prime until it arrives. Must keep an open mind, you know. But it’s safe to render an opinion about Anton Wahlman. He’s already suggested a Nissan utility van would decimate Model X, and an Audi diesel weasel would decimate Model S. Now the Prius Prime will poach Model III customers, eh?

No it won’t. But it will indeed have a relationship with Model III. It will serve as a temporary substitute, a stopgap for people who would prefer a Tesla III but simply cannot get one because, well, NOBODY can get one. Once Tesla pumps up the volume and knocks down the wait period, we’ll witness a lot of Prius Primes on the used car market.

Yes, TeslaMondo’s trusted nose to the ground says the Prius Prime will be the last gas-powered car for lots of people. In short, the Prime is a bridge from Toyota to Tesla. If the word Prius means “to go before,” it’s time for a name change. How about Pontis? That’s the Latin word for bridge.

The Toyota Pontis will interest people who choose to let others “go before” while they nonchalantly ease on down the road. Now there’s a Pontis tagline for ya.

Toyota Pontis. Ease on Down The Road.