Tesla is raising the price of its full self-driving option

In a few weeks, Tesla buyers will have to pay more for an option that isn’t yet completely functional, but that CEO Elon Musk promises will one day deliver full autonomous driving capabilities.

Musk tweeted Saturday that the price of its full self-driving option will “increase substantially over time” beginning May 1.

Tesla vehicles are not self-driving. Musk has promised that the advanced driver assistance capabilities on Tesla vehicles will continue to improve until eventually reaching that full automation high-water mark.

Musk didn’t provide a specific figure, but in response to a question on Twitter, he said the increase would be “something like” around the $3,000+ figure. Full self-driving currently costs $5,000.

The price hike comes amid several notable changes and events, including an upcoming Investor Autonomy Day on April 22 meant [...]  read more

SpaceX has completed the first tethered hop for the “Starhopper”

SpaceX has completed the first tethered jump for its Starship prototyped, Elon Musk confirmed in a tweet Wednesday evening.

Called the Starhopper because it’s making limited hops to test the landing capabilities of the Starship vehicle, the tethered jump represents the first firing of a rocket engine at the company’s Boca Chica launch site.

The hops are similar to the testing that preceded the commercial development and use of SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 rockets. Those tests, the Grasshopper and the F9R Dev, were critical to the development of those earlier rockets in the same way that these early launches will pave the way for SpaceX’s interplanetary Starship.

The Starhopper is SpaceX’s smaller prototype for what will eventually be its Starship vehicle, which the [...]  read more

Transportation weekly: Nuro dreams of autonomous lattes, what is a metamaterial, Volvo takes the wheel

Welcome back to Transportation Weekly; I’m your host Kirsten Korosec, senior transportation reporter at TechCrunch. We love the reader feedback. Keep it coming.

Never heard of TechCrunch’s Transportation Weekly? Read the first edition here As I’ve written before, consider this a soft launch. Follow me on Twitter @kirstenkorosec to ensure you see it each week. An email subscription is coming!

This week, we’re shoving as much transportation news, tidbits and insights in here as possible in hopes that it will satiate you through the end of the month. That’s right, TechCrunch’s mobility team is on vacation next week.

You can expect to learn about metamaterials, how traffic is creating genetic peril, the rise of scooter docks in a dockless world, new details on autonomous delivery startup Nuro and a look back at the first self-driving car fatality.

ONM …

There are OEMs in the automotive world. And here, (wait for it) there are ONMs — original news manufacturers. (Cymbal clash!) [...]  read more

Elon Musk defends tweets in SEC’s contempt proceedings

Tesla CEO Elon Musk argued Friday that his Twitter use did not violate a settlement agreement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and that the agency’s request to have him held in contempt is based on a “radical interpretation” of the order, according to court papers filed in Manhattan federal court.

The SEC has asked a judge to hold Musk in contempt for violating a settlement agreement reached last year over Musk’s now infamous “funding secured” tweet. Under that agreement, Musk is supposed to get approval from Tesla’s board before communicating potentially material information to investors.

Musk contends he didn’t violate the agreement and that the problem lies in the SEC’s interpretation, which he describes as “virtually wrong at every level.” The filing also reveals new details about the settlement negotiations, notably that the SEC sent Musk a draft agreement that would have required him to obtain pre-approval for all public statements [...]  read more

Tesla’s customer referral program is back weeks after it was killed off

Tesla killed off its customer referral program way back on Feb. 1, 2019 because the popular program was getting too costly to maintain. But now, less than two months later, Tesla is bringing it back with new incentives aimed at rewarding its customers, and bringing in new ones.

Tesla’s customer referral program had offered a bevy of incentives, including six months of free charging at Supercharger stations, launching a chosen photo into deep space orbit, VIP invitations, and even free Roadsters. The prizes, CEO Elon Musk said at the time, were beginning to add cost to its vehicles. In short: incentives to keep existing customers engaged and drive new sales were cutting into the company’s margins.

Tesla announced Thursday it would introduce a new [...]  read more

Tesla Model Y orders are now open

Customers can already place an order for the Tesla Model Y, a mid-sized crossover SUV that won’t go into production until 2020.

Tesla requires a $2,500 deposit to complete the order for the all-electric vehicle, according to information posted on its website. A disclaimer on the order form states that “production is expected to begin late next year.” Under that timeline, deliveries wouldn’t begin until late 2020 or possibly early 2021.

There are other clues on the order page, including that the seven-seat interior won’t be available until 2021. The Model Y will come standard as a five seater.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the Model Y on Thursday night at the Tesla Design Studio in Los Angeles. During the presentation, Musk didn’t mention that customers could order the Model Y. That’s a departure from previous events, notably the Model 3 reveal in March 2016, which prompted thousands of people to put down $1,000 deposits.

The Model Y bears a striking resemblance to Model [...]  read more

Transportation Weekly: Waymo unleashes laser bear, Bird spreads its wings, Lyft tightens its belt

Welcome back to Transportation Weekly; I’m your host Kirsten Korosec, senior transportation reporter at TechCrunch. This is the fifth edition of our newsletter and we love the reader feedback. Keep it coming.

Never heard of TechCrunch’s Transportation Weekly? Catch up here, here and here. As I’ve written before, consider this a soft launch. Follow me on Twitter @kirstenkorosec to ensure you see it each week. (An email subscription is coming.)

This week, we explore the world of light detection and ranging sensors known as LiDAR, young drivers, trouble in Barcelona, autonomous trucks in California, and China among other things.

ONM …

There are OEMs in the automotive world. And here, (wait for it) there are ONMs — original news manufacturers. (Cymbal clash!) This is where investigative reporting, enterprise pieces and analysis on transportation lives.

This week, we’re going to put on our analysis hats as we explore the world of LiDAR, a sensor that measures distance [...]  read more

SpaceX launches first Crew Dragon capsule mission in preparation for astronaut flights

SpaceX caught itself a “W” early this morning with a successful launch of the Falcon 9 rocket with Crew Dragon capsule. Crew Dragon represents SpaceX’s first spacecraft meant to transfer humans to and from the International Space Station. This flight is the final test check for the spacecraft, and will include launch, docking with the ISS, and reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere for recovery.

Thus far, SpaceX has completed a successful launch of the Crew Dragon, complete with a test dummy and a very high-tech zero-g indicator.

Tomorrow morning, the craft will attempt to dock with the International Space Station, and after that, it will attempt re-entry.

NASA gave SpaceX approval for the launch earlier this week.

In case you missed the live stream last night, you can watch the full stream below:

social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #techcrunch http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/e8X2XT96eR8/

Tesla delivers big price cuts to Model S and Model X vehicles

Tesla made a flurry of announcements this afternoon with the highlight being the company’s reveal of its $35k Model 3. That reveal grabbed the most headlines, but updates to the Model S and Model X lines brought the costs of high-end models down with maxed out Performance + Ludicrous Mode versions of the S and X receiving healthy $18k discounts.

The Model S has the same entry-level price at $79k but the price bump to go from the Standard Range to more souped up versions is a lot more accessible with some huge price drops on the Long Range and Performance models.

The Long Range Model S, which takes the top speed from 140mph to 155 mph and the range from 270 miles to 335 miles, now prices in at $83k, down from $96k. With $4k separating the standard and long-range models, it’s interesting that they even decided to keep the Standard Range version and didn’t just have the Long Range as the entry-level model with the Performance version (now $13k cheaper as well at $99k) maxing things [...]  read more

Tesla closing retail stores in shift to online-only sales strategy

Tesla is moving all of its sales online, a dramatic shift in its sales strategy that will result in the closure of stores and some layoffs as the automaker looks for ways to reduce costs in order to bring a cheaper Model 3 to market.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk didn’t say how many stores would close. He noted that some stores would remain and turn into information centers and showrooms. The company didn’t provide specific numbers on how many retail employees might be affected.

“We will be closing some stores and that will be some reduction in head count as a result; there’s no question about that,” Musk said. “There’s no other way for us to achieve the savings required to provide this car and be financially sustainable. I wish there was another way, but unfortunately, it will entail reduction in workforce on the retail side, no way around it.”

The shift to online-only sales, plus other cost efficiencies, allowed the company to lower all vehicle prices by about 6 percent on average [...]  read more