Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Newsflash : Tesla Model 3's will be delivered starting on friday.

Or not.

Friday is apparently The Big Day for the Model 3. It's the day Elon Musk has scheduled an event to hand over the first 30 Model 3's to their owners.
There's a slight wrinkle though - nobody knows what the finished spec of the car is, or even 100% what it looks like. The photos and videos that surfaced two weeks ago were supposed to be the first cars off the production line. Or not. And nobody knows at all what the interior looks like because there've been no photos or renderings and the ones shown off at the original event were known to be mock-ups.
The other problem is the sub-version. It doesn't matter if you wanted a fully-loaded 4WD version with a sunroof, Tesla will hand over the simplest, most basic versions on Friday. Musk has said previously that the initial production run will only be the bare-bones stripped-down version in an attempt to not replicate the over-complex Model X fiasco.
Or not. Nobody really knows, least of all the owners. Tesla hasn't contacted the people on the deposit list. (see this Bloomberg article). So right now, 30 people will be (or not) getting cars on friday, but those 30 people don't know who they are yet. In all reality they're most likely to be employees. Of the other owners, nobody has been contacted about final price, spec or delivery dates. That's troublesome because most people don't have $40k lying around to drop on a whim so they need to arrange financing, but without an actual price or date, they can't do that.
Tesla said originally that 373,000 people put down deposits on the car but that number hasn't been updated since mid-2016. What we DO know is that in the absence of ANY information from Tesla, some of those have now cancelled their reservations and received their money back. But again, we don't know HOW many that is. Of those still holding a deposit, many of them might pull the plug depending on what they see on friday.
The other option is that on Friday, Tesla just open up the order portal and if those people are not paying attention (and/or when the website crashes), they could lose their place in the line even if they DID put a deposit down.
Readers of this blog know I have no time for Musk or Tesla, hence my (sadly too) frequent bashing of the both of them. But be honest - if you look at the clown show going on right now, would YOU want to give that company any money?
Is the Tesla 3 going to be the No Man's Sky of cars?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

I said it last week. I'll say it again. Kvyat needs to lose his license.

Simple enough. Another race weekend, and Danny Crash causes another crash. This time he took out his own team mate. The FIA have to act. Kvyat will get someone killed.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

When will Daniil Kvyat be banned from F1?

Throughout his career in GP3, Daniil Kvyat became known as "Danny Crash" because of the sheer number of times he wrecked either his car, or his and one or other competitor cars during races. It seems that habit hasn't gone away as this weekend he caused yet another crash in F1 - this time hitting Alonso and bouncing him into Verstappen, taking both out.
This is nothing new. Just off the top of my head, these are the crashes he's caused recently that I remember:
2015 Japan, Q1 - crashed and missed everyone
2016 Russia, Lap 1 - crashed into Vettel twice and Ricciardo once. This was when he was demoted.
2016 Austria, Q1 - crashed and missed everyone
2016 Monaco, Lap 21 - crashed into Magnussen.
2016 China, Lap 1 - crashed into Vettel, who was bounced into Raikkonen.
2016 Brazil, crashed into Palmer.
2016 Spain, crashed into Magnussen.
2017 Spain, pre-season testing.
2017 Monaco, crashed into Perez.
Kvyat is a dangerous F1 driver. Yes, all F1 drivers take risks but most of those are calculated risks and when there just isn't room, the other drivers tend to back off and try again. Not so for Danny Crash - he'll jam that car in where it just won't fit and his attitude is "me first, and screw everyone else".
At some point the FIA are going to have to step in and take away his F1 license because at the rate he's crashing into other cars right now, he's going to get someone killed.

Friday, July 7, 2017

It's a bad week for Tesla fanboys.

So we learned this week that Tesla will start production of the Model 3 on time. That's a surprise for the company. That's also the end of the good news.
Tesla claimed they would produce 200,000 by the end of 2017. That figure has been revised down to 20,000 - 10% of what they promised. Which is largely what everyone with any common sense predicted, because there was no way Tesla was ever going to meet their target - they still don't have the capacity to build cars at the rate required to make those sorts of numbers. According to Tesla, the sales figure issue stems from a "severe production shortfall" of 100 kWh battery packs. This in turn is because their gigafactory is both late getting up to full speed, and running into production and QA issues in the parts of the factory that are operating (the gigafactory is a phased factory, meaning they're already in production at one end of the facility while the other end is still being built and fitted out). This is classic Tesla, with Musk personally overselling something and Tesla ending up under-delivering.
Add to that the increasing wariness about the Model 3 by both customers and the motoring press because at this late stage there are still no official photos or information of the production-ready version of the car. Pile on to that the sales figures released this week that show sales of the Model S are 'flat' and the Model X are 'declining' and the result of all of this is that the Tesla share price is down 20% from last week.
But wait! There's more!
The Model S just failed a crash test; the offset-frontal test is one of the most common accidents in almost every country in the world. It happens when cars turn across oncoming traffic and about 35% of the front of the car hits the same 35% of the front of the opposing car. This is the one test that every manufacturer wants to ace because it's so important and so common. It's been around in Europe since the late 1990s and the IIHS introduced it in America in 2012. Notable failures to date include the Dodge Challenger and Fiat 500.
The Model S was put through its paces and passed four of the crash tests but failed the critical offset-frontal crash, giving it a score rating of "acceptable" - which translates to a four star safety rating, not five. The reason was because the driver dummy smashed it's head on the steering wheel and driver's side A pillar, through the airbag, the front wheel shattered, and the brake caliper and rotor penetrated the passenger compartment.
So Tesla's stock price will likely drop a little more when the market opens on monday - how much nobody knows but don't be surprised if this drop totals 25% by the middle of next week. I'm not a stock-watcher but even in I know that when a company loses 20% of it's share price in a week, that's A Bad Thing.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Even racing drivers get red mist

If you didn't watch the F1 race from Baku yesterday, spoiler alert.
The face-off between Hamilton and Vettel yesterday demonstrates that even the best trained, fittest drivers at the top of their game suffer from red mist. Hamilton had been told to maintain 10 car lengths behind the safety car twice, and twice he didn't. Under the second safety car, he brake-checked Vettel (correction : telemetry would seem to indicate maybe he didn't), who then ran into the back of him and then made it so much worse by going around Hamilton and deliberately bumping wheels with him whilst giving him the finger.
Vettel got a ten second drive-through penalty - totally agree with that. But Hamilton got nothing for the brake-check (or the double safety car rule violation). In the end it didn't matter - Hamilton had to come in for a replacement cockpit bolster and once he came out behind Vettel, he lost his fire.
When it comes to dangerous driving, where do you draw the line in racing? Vettel risked both their cars when he deliberately bumped wheels with Hamilton. But then so did Hamilton with the brake-check and SC rules violation. In my mind, Hamilton should have been handed two separate penalties - the first for not maintaining proper distance from the safety car (twice), and the second for what he did to Vettel. (correction - maybe just the SC violation).
Apart from that, Baku was a good event again - I hope it stays on the F1 calendar.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Auto high beams

AHB, Auto high beams, high-beam assist - there's a dozen different ways car makers sell this particular driver aid and for the first time in years, it's something I'd actually want in a car. I was in England last week and had a rented car with auto high beams. On dark country roads and unlit sections of main roads, high beams are a must-have but you need to be on-point about dipping them when there's oncoming traffic. AHB systems do that for you. Rather than flick the light control between high and low, there's an intermediate setting for 'auto high' which dips the beams back to main headlights when the car senses something coming the other way (or the tail lights of the car in front) and then goes back to high beams automatically when the system considers it safe to do so.
This is a total godsend when driving on dark roads as you can concentrate on driving and not worry about dazzling oncoming drivers.
Long-time readers will know I'm not exactly the world's biggest fan of driver aids (I won't even get in a car with auto-braking and lane-change assist after that disastrous Volvo experience a couple of years ago). But AHB is something I'd actually want in a new car.
Side note: the owners manual on this particular car (Skoda Octavia) was less than useless when it came to explaining what the AHB system was. I had to figure it out by trial and error.