Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the electric-vehicle maker been wrong to lower the maximum charging capacity for some vehicles.
“If we are wrong, we are wrong,” he said on Twitter on Friday. “In this case, we were.”
Tesla agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle claims it had reduced the charging capacity on some vehicles in 2019, according to a settlement agreement filed in US District Court in San Francisco on Wednesday.
The agreement included payments of $625 each to the owners of 1,743 Model S vehicles that temporarily had their maximum charging capacity reduced.
In another Friday tweet Musk expanded on his company’s thinking about lawsuits and other claims.
“Tesla policy is never to give in to false claims, even if we would lose, and never to fight true claims, even if we would win,” he said.
The settlement agreement would bring to a close a class-action lawsuit filed in August 2019 by David Rasmussen, who said a software update reduced the range and charging speed of his Model S.
The lawsuit said the company released the update in May 2019, limiting battery charging on some vehicles by about 10%. After three months of a 10% reduction, it was lowered to 7% for seven months, the lawsuit said. Software updates in May 2020 restored much of the charging capacity, court filings said.
The settlement would provide “many times” the $175 estimated loss per vehicle, according to court filings.
A hearing on the settlement agreement was scheduled for December 9 with Judge Beth Labson Freeman.
A Tesla customer in California said in a class-action lawsuit that the tech company raised the price of Solar Roof projects multiple times after he signed a contract.
According to Babek Malek’s lawsuit, the first 41% price increase was a “corporate decision.” The suit called the company’s actions a “bait and switch.”
Malek, of West Hills, filed the complaint this month, adding to a handful of other federal class-action lawsuits over Solar Roof price changes filed in California and Pennsylvania. Each of the lawsuits said Tesla raised prices after customers signed contracts. A California judge was set to decide whether some or all of the lawsuits would be combined into a single class-action lawsuit.
The details of Malek’s contract changes followed a pattern similar to what other homeowners described.
In January, Malek he said signed a contract for $64,735 to have a Solar Roof installed on his 3,615-square-foot roof.
In April, Tesla on its website raised Malek’s contract price by 41% to $91,400, according to his complaint.
“[Malek] made several attempts to contact project advisors at Tesla to no avail,” the lawsuit said. “He finally was able to make contact with one advisor, who gave no explanation for the change in the contract price other than ‘corporate decision.'”
In June, Tesla again upped the contract price, raising it to $95,107, about 47% higher than his original contract, according to the complaint.
In July, Tesla decreased the expected electricity output of Malek’s Solar Roof and also decreased the price to $90,367.44, the complaint said.
Tesla didn’t respond to a request for comment. Lawyers for Malek also didn’t respond to a request for comment.
As with previous complaints filed over Solar Roof pricing, Malek’s suit sought class-action status. The suit said Malek in June opted out of an arbitration agreement in the newest contract.
The lawsuit said Tesla violated the Truth in Lending Act, breached its contract, and violated several California laws.
“Many customers have waited months before being presented with a new, more expensive contract, thereby starting a new clock for their installation timeline,” Malek’s complaint said.
Jeff Bezos has just been dealt a blow in his effort to challenge a big victory for SpaceX.
The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Friday denied a protest that Bezos’ Blue Origin had filed that contested NASA’s decision to award a lunar lander contract to SpaceX alone.
“GAO first concluded that NASA did not violate procurement law or regulation when it decided to make only one award,” the office said in a statement.
Elon Musk’s spaceflight company SpaceX was chosen to receive the $2.9 billion contract in April, edging out defense contractor Dynetics and Blue Origin. The contract is part of NASA’s goal to return astronauts to the Moon as early as 2024 through the agency’s Artemis program. NASA’s decision came as a shock since the agency had been expected to choose two of the three companies, not just one.
Shortly after, Blue Origin and Dynetics filed protests challenging the decision. Blue Origin said NASA was required to award contracts to multiple companies in accordance with its initial stated preference.
When announcing it had picked SpaceX, NASA said it only chose one company because of limited funding from Congress for the program.
Blue Origin says NASA never initiated talks with the company to try to negotiate the price of its human landing system, which NASA expected would cost the agency $6 billion, roughly twice as much as SpaceX’s price. Blue Origin says that NASA did, however, allow SpaceX to negotiate.
“The announcement reserved the right to make multiple awards, a single award, or no award at all,” GAO’s statement continued. “In reaching its award decision, NASA concluded that it only had sufficient funding for one contract award. GAO further concluded there was no requirement for NASA to engage in discussions, amend, or cancel the announcement as a result of the amount of funding available for the program.”
The office added that “the evaluation of all three proposals was reasonable, and consistent with applicable procurement law, regulation, and the announcement’s terms.”
A Blue Origin spokesperson told Insider the company will “continue to advocate for two immediate providers as we believe it is the right solution.”
“We stand firm in our belief that there were fundamental issues with NASA’s decision, but the GAO wasn’t able to address them due to their limited jurisdiction,” the spokesperson said. “The Human Landing System program needs to have competition now instead of later – that’s the best solution for NASA and the best solution for our country.”
Epic kicked off the lawsuit in the summer of 2020 after it skirted Apple’s App Store fee by implementing its own payment system into the “Fortnite” game. Apple booted the app from its store as a result.
Apple is one of the Big Four tech companies that has faced considerable antitrust scrutiny in recent years, scrutiny that has only mounted since last summer. CEO Tim Cook testified before Congress alongside other executives as part of an ongoing investigation into online market competition.
Lawmakers are cracking down on tech’s biggest players for various reasons. For example, Google has been probed over its search and online ads business, and Apple has been scrutinized over its App Store.
A new book reports that a testy phone call between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Apple boss Tim Cook ended abruptly with some not-so-kind words from the latter. Musk claims it never happened.
According to Tim Higgins’ “Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century,” around 2016, as Tesla struggled to ramp up production of the Model 3 sedan, Musk and Cook spoke on the phone about Apple potentially acquiring the fledgling car startup. Musk was open to a deal, but he had one condition Cook couldn’t stomach.
Musk wanted his job – he wanted to be CEO of Apple, Higgins reports, citing people familiar with Musk’s version of events.
“F— you,” Cook reportedly responded, and hung up.
Musk said in December that he wanted Apple to buy Tesla during the “darkest days of the Model 3 program,” when he was sleeping on Tesla’s factory floor as the company went through what he has called “manufacturing hell.” But, according to Musk, Cook never agreed to a meeting.
“Cook & I have never spoken or written to each other ever. There was a point where I requested to meet with Cook to talk about Apple buying Tesla,” Musk tweeted on Friday in response to the report. “There were no conditions of acquisition proposed whatsoever. He refused to meet.”
Cook, for his part, told The New York Times in April that he had never spoken to the Tesla CEO. In “Power Play,” however, Higgins notes that Cook and Musk have been photographed sitting next to each other and that they served together on a business school advisory board in China.
Higgins also notes that it’s hard to say whether Musk’s retelling of the phone call was accurate.
“It’s hard to imagine Musk was serious about wanting to be CEO of Apple,” he said.
Penguin Random House, the book’s publisher, declined to make Higgins available for comment. A representative for Apple did not immediately return a request for comment.
Since Musk’s hunt for an Apple acquisition, Tesla’s market cap has ballooned to $685 billion, making it the most valuable car company in the world. Apple is working on an electric car of its own, a project it started in 2014.
“Your goal is to provide a safe ride for the passengers, not an entertaining ride. Keep conversation to a minimum so you can focus on the road,” the company’s “Ride Script” says. TechCrunch obtained the script and other documents through a public records request.
The document instructs drivers to avoid questions about Musk at all costs.
“This category of questions is extremely common and extremely sensitive,” the script says. “Public fascination with our founder is inevitable and may dominate the conversation. Be as brief as possible, and do your best to shut down such conversation. If passengers continue to force the topic, politely say, ‘I’m sorry, but I really can’t comment’ and change the subject.”
If riders persist and ask a question about if they like working for him, drivers are supposed to say: “Yup, he’s a great leader. He motivates us to do great work!”
In response to questions about Musk’s tweeting, drivers are told to respond: “Elon is a public figure. We’re just here to provide an awesome transportation experience!”
The catch-all answer to a question like “Is it true what I’ve read about him in the papers that he [is a mean boss/smokes pot/doesn’t let employees take vacations/etc.” is: “I haven’t seen that article, but that hasn’t been my experience.”
Drivers are also told to evade questions about how long they’ve been working with The Boring Company (“Long enough to know these tunnels pretty well!) and about how many crashes the system has had (“It’s a very safe system”).
The LVCC Loop runs 1.7 miles and has three stops. The Boring Company plans to expand the Las Vegas system and is in talks to build similar tunnels in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
The company will begin what is called an early feasibility study later this year at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital. The study will examine the safety and efficacy of its flagship product, known as the Stentrode motor neuroprosthesis, in patients with severe paralysis. Synchron is hopeful that its device will allow the patients to use brain data to “control digital devices and achieve improvements in functional independence.” The study, called the COMMAND trial, will enroll six patients.
The FDA’s go-ahead “reflects years of safety testing performed in conjunction with FDA,” Synchron CEO Thomas Oxley said in the release.
“We have worked together to pave a pathway forward, towards the first commercial approval for a permanently implanted [brain-computer interface] for the treatment of paralysis,” he added in the release. “We are thrilled to finally be launching a U.S. clinical trial this year.”
The company says its device will allow patients to “wirelessly control external devices by thinking about moving their limbs,” which can help with activities ranging from texting and emailing to online shopping and accessing telemedicine.
“Synchron’s north star is to achieve whole-brain data transfer,” Oxley continued. “Our first target is the motor cortex for treatment of paralysis, which represents a large unmet need for millions of people across the world, and market opportunity of $20B.”
The device gets to the brain via blood vessels in a minimally invasive procedure of around two hours that Synchron says is similar to the placement of stents in the heart. The company adds that the procedure can be done in “widely available angiography suites” and that there are no wires coming out of the body after the device is implanted.
Synchron currently has a separate clinical trial underway outside of the US, with four patients in Australia having already received the implant. The company published a study last year showing that the first two patients from this study were able to “control their devices to text and type through direct thought.”
Primack said while the Mustang Mach-E, which has an estimated range of about 230 miles per full charge, has been efficient for short drives, he faced some difficulty on the over 200-mile commute to New York City. During what should have been a simple drive, he was forced to pull over at four different charging stations in order to find a station that he could use to recharge his Mach-E.
At two of the four stations, he was only able to find Tesla chargers, and at one there were no chargers. He said he was not able to recharge his car until he found the fourth station in a parking garage.
Primack said he felt “panic” during the experience – a feeling he had not expected to experience in an area of the country that had prioritized electrification. He pointed out that his trip cut through high traffic roads in the northeast – an area that was known for being early EV adopters.
His account raises the question of how much more stressful his trip could have been, had it taken place in a more rural area.
Efforts to expand the charging infrastructure in the US
As of February, there are just under 100,000 electric car charging stations in the US, according to a report from I. Wagner, a researcher on traffic and motor vehicle manufacturing. To date, Tesla supercharging stations alone account for over 25,000 stations, according to data from the company’s website. While regular Tesla stations can be used with non-Tesla EVs through a special adapter, supercharging stations are not yet compatible with other electric cars.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter earlier in July that he plans to make Tesla’s entire charging network accessible to all EV drivers by the end of the year. Though, the CEO said during the company’s earnings call on Monday that non-Tesla drivers will have to pay extra to use the company’s supercharging network and would likely have to purchase an additional adapter.
“It is our goal to support the advent of sustainable energy,” Musk said at the meeting. “It is not to create a walled garden and use that to bludgeon our competitors, which is sometimes used by some companies.
For now, Primack’s story highlights the need for greater charging infrastructure in the US, as well as the advantage Tesla holds over its competitors when it comes to EV charging.
Elon Musk trumpeted the rich potential of self-driving cars, bemoaned the microchip shortage, and underscored the challenges of manufacturing at scale during Tesla’s second-quarter earnings call this week.
The Tesla CEO also criticized Apple, urged people to pursue careers in manufacturing, and suggested he might skip future earnings calls.
Here are Musk’s 12 best quotes from the earnings call, lightly edited and condensed for clarity:
1. “The chip supply is fundamentally the governing factor on our output. It is difficult for us to see how long this will last, because this is out of our control, essentially. It does seem like it’s getting better, but it’s hard to predict.” – referring to the global shortage of semiconductors.
2. “Those who have not actually been involved in the manufacturing ramp-up just have no idea how painful and difficult it is. You gotta eat a lot of glass.”
3. “It takes a while to hire people and train people to operate the factory. The factory is like a giant cybernetic collective, and you can’t just hire 10,000 people and have them work instantly. It’s not possible.”
4. “Don’t think this is the messiah or something.” – downplaying a change to Tesla’s batteries that could reduce production costs by 10%.
5. “We have the Baskin-Robbins of batteries. We have so many formats and so many chemistries that it’s like we’ve got 36 flavors of battery.”
6. “I really encourage more people to get involved in manufacturing. The US has an overallocation of talent in finance and law. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have people in finance and law. I’m just saying that maybe we have too many smart people in those areas.”
7. “The value of a fully electric, autonomous fleet is gigantic – boggles the mind, really. That will be one of the most valuable things that is ever done in the history of civilization.”
8. “At scale, we’ll have billions of miles of travel to show that a car with autopilot on is 100% or 200% safer or more than the average human driver. At that point, it would be unconscionable not to allow autopilot because the car just becomes way less safe.”
9. “You used to have elevator operators with a big switch to move between floors. But they would get tired or maybe drunk or distracted, and every now and again, somebody would be sheared in half between floors. That’s kind of the situation we have with cars. Autonomy will become so safe that it will be unsafe to manually operate the car, relatively speaking. It would be quite alarming if elevators today were operated by a person with a giant switch. That’s how we’ll be with cars.”
10. “The really remarkable thing that Tesla’s done is not to make an electric car or to be a car startup. The thing that’s remarkable is that Tesla didn’t go bankrupt in reaching volume production. Out of all the American car companies, there are only two that have not gone bankrupt and those are Ford and Tesla. The seeds of defeat are sown on the day of victory. We will endeavor not to make that the case of Tesla.”
11. “Our goal is to support the advent of sustainable energy. It is not to create a walled garden and use that to bludgeon our competitors, which is sometimes used by some companies.” – likely referring to Apple’s ecosystem of hardware, software, and services.
12. “I will no longer be the default during earnings calls. Going forward, I will most likely not be on earnings calls unless there’s something really important that I need to say.”
During the company’s earnings call on Monday, Musk said: “We need to make Full Self-Driving work in order for it to be a compelling value proposition.”
He added customers were essentially “betting on the future” by buying the subscription because FSD is not yet widespread.
“Right now, does it make sense for somebody to do FSD subscription? I think it’s debatable. But once we have Full Self-Driving widely deployed, then the value proposition will be clear,” Musk said.
He was answering a question from an analyst about the subscription’s pricing.
FSD does not make Tesla cars fully autonomous – rather, it adds various driver-assistance features. Tesla says drivers must stay fully attentive with their hands on the wheel while FSD is enabled. The company warned on July 10, following the release of FSD’s most recent software update, that the vehicle may do the “wrong thing at the worst time.”