500,000 Teslas to be investigated

Half a million Teslas to be investigated after claims of unwanted acceleration

500,000 Teslas to be investigated

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced it will review a request to investigate half a million Tesla vehicles. This comes after numerous reports of unintended acceleration. 

It seems that Teslas cars of all ages are affected, with 2012 to 2019 Model S examples (the life of the model), 2016-2019 Model X and 2018-2019 Model 3 included. The petition, which requests this review, references 127 complaints from consumers to the NHTSA regarding 123 individual cars, 110 crashes and 52 injuries.

Tesla Sentry Mode battery drain

This follows a recent incident with a Model 3 in Indiana, where a car collided with a parked fire engine, killing a passenger. It’s the 14th road incident involving a Tesla that has invoked the NHTSA’s special crash investigation program because the ‘Autopilot’ system was suspected to be in use. 

A similar issue affected the Toyota Prius a few years ago with a sticking pedal mechanism causing unintended acceleration.

Tesla Sentry Mode battery drain

There has been a great deal of debate around whether Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving system ‘Autopilot’ is inappropriately named. Numerous videos have surfaced online of drivers taking the ‘Autopilot’ name quite literally, and not paying adequate attention to the road. In the case of drivers that were filmed sleeping, that’s not paying any attention. 

Aside from the autopilot and acceleration issues, Tesla also had some unwanted attention from the NHTSA over fires. In October, it was announced the company would be reviewed over whether 2,000 of its cars should have been recalled over a fire risk, instead of rolling out a software update.

Tesla Sentry Mode: How much battery does it use?

Tesla Sentry Mode battery drain

Sentry Mode is one of the cleverer features Tesla has deployed in recent months. It’s also one that many owners could find themselves using regularly – so how does it work and how much power does it use?

We spoke to a Tesla owner, who gave us some insight into his experiences with Sentry Mode.

What is Tesla Sentry Mode?Tesla Sentry Mode battery drain

Sentry Mode uses systems already built into Teslas made after August 2017. These monitor the car’s surroundings and deter threats should they arise.

A Tesla in Sentry Mode rests in ‘Standby’, with the cameras active. If a mild threat is detected, such as someone leaning on the car, it switches to ‘Alert’, displaying a message on the touchscreen telling passers-by they’re being watched.

‘Alarm’ is when things heat up, as a response to a serious threat like a window being smashed. At this point, the car alarm goes off, music sets to full volume and the centre display jumps in brightness. The owner also gets a message to warn them of an incident. 

Each time you want Sentry Mode to run, you have to enable it via the a sub-menu, accessible through ‘Controls’, then ‘Safety and Security’.

Does Sentry Mode drain the battery?Tesla Sentry Mode battery drain

Sentry Mode sounds like a great idea. It’s essentially a free dashcam. There is however, a downside: the amount of power it uses. 

In spite of not being screen-intensive, or involving driving at all, our owner reports that it consumes battery life at a rate of one mile per hour. With 262 miles of range, that obviously equates to 262 hours, or 11 days, before the battery is fully drained.

Tesla Sentry Mode battery drain

Then consider that Sentry Mode is automatically turned off when the car reaches 50 miles of range, so that leaves 212 hours of Sentry Mode activity in this example. In the highest-range Model S, with 370 miles of power in the battery, that gives 320 hours of time that Sentry Mode can be active – or just under two weeks.

The Sentry Mode Catch 22Tesla Sentry Mode battery drain

So, the scenario in which you’re most likely to turn Sentry Mode on – long trips away – is also when you probably don’t want to in order to save battery. Of course, you can negate this by having long-term parking with charging.

Nevertheless, the battery drain of Sentry Mode is causing owners to think twice about using it.

Should you use Sentry Mode?Tesla Sentry Mode battery drain

Sentry Mode runs the cameras, and utilises the car’s brain. The entire Auto Pilot system is running while the feature is in use. Actual recording is triggered by motion detection, but in its ‘Standby’ state, there remains the significant power draw. A bit of forethought is therefore required before pressing the button.

Are you going to be away for a while? Will you be in range of a Supercharger when you return? Is there the option of leaving the car plugged in? Is Sentry Mode really necessary where you’ve parked it?

Assess the situation before you decide, or you risk being out of range when you return to the car. 

Tesla’s 1,000mph V3 Supercharger has arrived in London

Tesla V3 supercharger in London

Tesla has begun rolling out its super-fast V3 Superchargers in Europe, with the first appearing in London at the Park Royal service centre.

This also represents the 500th Supercharger station to open in Europe, following the network’s introduction in Norway in 2013.

Tesla V3 Supercharging: what it meansTesla V3 supercharger in London

V2 Superchargers already offer an impressive rate of charging for Tesla cars. Their maximum power output was recently upgraded from 120kW to 150kW. The V3 units move things on massively, offering a peak output of 250kW.

For context, pictured is a Tesla charging at a rate of 1,021 electric range miles per hour. It shows 20 minutes remaining on the charge to get to 100 percent from 18 percent.

An important aspect of V3 charging is that power isn’t split between you and another car sharing your stall. So you get that maximum output more of the time.

Tesla says V3 can provide 75 miles of charge in five minutes, at maximum capacity, to a Model 3 Long Range. Overall, the company reckons it will halve the amount of time drivers spend charging. Average charge time at V3 stalls should be around 15 minutes, or 225 miles, which is close to a full fill-up for some lower-end cars.

Charging this quickly might sound like it could damage the battery. Indeed, there are certain preparations the cars can make before being plugged in. ‘On-Route Battery Warmup’ is a feature that rolled out to Teslas when V3 Superchargers first appeared in March. Cars that are navigating to a Supercharger will ready their batteries to the correct temperature.

Tesla V3 supercharger in London

‘We are excited to continue to build the most extensive and advanced network in Europe whilst keeping the charging experience as affordable and convenient as possible for all our customers,’ said Tesla.

‘When we opened the first European station in Norway in 2013, driving across multiple countries in a fully electric car was inconceivable and seen as a unique accomplishment. With the Supercharger network, long distance EV travel has become the new normal. Every day, thousands of Tesla owners undertake a road trip through Europe and stop at Supercharger stations.’

Supercharge your Christmas by hiring a Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Fed up of reading about and watching videos of Teslas? Want to experience one for yourself? Well, Enterprise Rent-A-Car has bought some for its fleet.

Don’t worry, this isn’t the Cybertruck that Elon Musk was flaunting around LA. It’s the familiar, likeable-as-it-is-luxurious Model S.

The Model S has been on sale for a while, but it’s still the electric car to be spotted in. Short of a supercar or gas-guzzling performance SUV, it’s Instagram gold.

It also boasts one of the longest electric driving ranges money can buy: up to a claimed 370 miles on a full charge. So those who aren’t familiar with recharging an EV can enjoy more in the ‘tank’ between fill-ups.

Tesla battery life loss

Then there’s the performance. Why spend so much renting a McLaren or Ferrari, when you could have a Model S that’ll beat both away from the lights, while taking family and friends along for the ride? Yes, McLarens and Ferraris have redeeming features beyond their performance, but the Tesla’s numbers are truly shocking, every time, even for the initiated. Imagine the thrill for someone new to the Model S.

The car joins a fleet that Enterprise says is one of the cleanest in the UK. Around four in 10 alternatively-fuelled rental cars were bought by Enterprise last year. That includes EVs, plug-in hybrids and vans.

“We know that many customers are thinking about whether electric vehicles could be right for them, which is why we’ve extended our own EV fleet with this Tesla model,” said Brendan Grieve of Enterprise.

Tesla Model S Enterprise Rent-A-Car

“It means that in addition to enabling people to rent more low emission vehicles, we can also act as a ‘shop window’ so that people can get to try out something a bit different that they may want to buy later.

“With Christmas just around the corner, customers can treat themselves to a different kind of drive this holiday season, whether it is to do some festive shopping or simply to enjoy taking out a luxury zero-emission car for a day.”

Tesla batteries lose just 1% capacity each year

Tesla battery life loss

A real-world study of Teslas has revealed how much battery capacity the electric cars lose over time. And the good news is the losses are marginal: around one percent each year.

Just as an internal combustion car loses horsepower over time, electric cars have less battery capacity as they age. Think of it as your car’s fuel tank getting marginally smaller every year.

The Tesla research was carried out by Plug In America and analysed by NimbleFins. Five hundred Tesla Model S owners submitted data on the usage of their cars. These included when it was manufactured, bought, the battery size, the quoted range (when new) and the mileage the car has covered.

Tesla battery life loss

A general takeaway is that the more mileage an electric car has, the more battery capacity it will have lost. Remember, more mileage means more charging. The car with the highest mileage in the study, a Model S P85 with 232,442 miles, was capable of charging to a 220-mile capability. That’s 83 percent of its original 265-mile range when new. Up to around 150,000 miles, the cars seem to retain 90 percent of their charge capacity.

‘It’s interesting to see that a car with unusually high mileage for the age (over 143,000 miles for a car less than 5 years old) has more significant battery deterioration than a typical car of the same age,’ said the report.

‘This shows that mileage is also a considerable factor in how quickly a battery deteriorates—this makes sense, as more miles driven means more charge cycles, and it’s mostly the charge cycles that reduce a battery’s usable capacity.’

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The average mileage in the UK is 7,600 a year. On that basis, an original high-end Model S would take 30 years to reach that unusually high mileage of 230,000 miles, or 20 years to reach 150,000 miles. With the assumption, of course, that time doesn’t play into that degradation.

It would be very interesting to test a seven-year-old Model S that hasn’t covered any miles.

Tesla battery life loss

Overall, the results seem to show that battery tech used even in the very first Teslas is relatively robust. Many worry about the longevity of electric cars, but if their performance at what is considered end-of-life mileage (and even beyond) is as suggested, buyers can expect a decent life.

And as battery technology progresses, so too may the already impressive longevity.

Elon Musk spotted driving Cybertruck in LA

Elon Musk Tesla Cybertruck LA

In the weeks since its reveal, the furore around Tesla’s Cybertruck hasn’t relented. Some even speculated that this otherworldly all-electric answer to Ford’s F150 wasn’t actually real.

Well, speculate no longer. It’s been spotted out in the wild, with its windows fully intact, mingling with traffic in Los Angeles and heading out to dinner.

Elon Musk Tesla Cybertruck LA

It somehow looks even crazier out in traffic surrounded by normal cars. Jack Phan, the Twitter user who posted the snap, speculated about whether it was Mr Musk himself behind the wheel.

We can’t imagine it being anyone else and he can’t have been worried about being spotted. The Tesla Cybertruck could make a Lamborghini Countach driving with its doors up blend into the background.

In a follow-up post, the truck is pictured at Nobu Sushi stealing the show in a car park populated by McLarens and Range Rovers. A clear shot at the front shows Musk and friends six-up in the truck.

With all lights and eyes on the Cybertruck, its harsh sharp edges are almost glowing as they reflect.

Elon Musk Tesla Cybertruck LA

As of 27 November, over 250,000 people had placed an order for a Cybertruck. It remains to be seen how many people actually see it through to delivery. You can place an order with a fully-refundable £100 down payment.

Deliveries of the Cybertruck aren’t expected to begin until 2022, so those with a reservation have plenty of time to consider their purchase. That also gives Tesla and Mr Musk time to have a tug-of-war rematch with Ford and the F150, after he accepted a tongue-in-cheek challenge from a Ford high-up.

Tesla Income Tax Credit Running Out

Time is almost up for U.S. federal income tax credits on new Teslas

Tesla Income Tax Credit Running Out

Those interested in getting federal income tax credit on the purchase of a new Tesla Model 3, Model S, or Model X are fast running out of time.   

That is the message from Tesla itself, which sent subscribers to its newsletter a warning that they have just five weeks to take delivery in order to qualify.

The expiration of the federal tax credit for Tesla is controversial, with the initiative intended to encourage sales of plug-in vehicles.

Tesla Income Tax Credit Running Out

The origins of the federal income tax credits come from the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, signed into law by George W. Bush. 

Along with allowing the United States government to purchase assets affected by the global financial crisis, it also provided federal income tax credits for electric vehicles. 

Given that U.S. automakers were heavily affected by the recession, incentivising consumers to buy new plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles made sense as an effective short-term measure. 

Providing federal income tax credits of up to $7,500 for each car, the legislation included a ‘phase-out’ that would apply once a manufacturer delivered 200,000 qualifying cars. 

Tesla Income Tax Credit Running Out

Tesla triggered the phase-out limit in July 2018, which saw the maximum tax credit amount reduce to $3,750 for cars delivered between January 1st and June 30th, 2019. Those delivered after June 30th, but before December 31st 2019, will receive just $1,875 in credit.

All Tesla cars delivered on or after January 1st 2020 will receive no federal tax credit, although buyers may still qualify for various individual state incentives. 

Some have argued that this effectively penalizes early-adopters of plug-in vehicles, whilst others view this as the limit of legislation enacted more than a decade ago. 

Tesla Income Tax Credit Running Out

General Motors also triggered the phase-out procedure in November 2018, seeing tax credits for qualifying models currently reduced to $1,875. The IRS website notes that GM products will cease to receive any federal credit for cars delivered after March 31st 2020.

At present, all other manufacturers selling plug-in electric vehicles in the United States are still able to see their customers receive federal income tax credits. 

The federal tax credit operates by reducing the actual amount of income tax owed by an individual, rather than a deduction which reduces the amount that income tax is calculated upon. 

Elon Musk says ‘bring it on’ to Cybertruck tug-of-war rematch

Ford v Tesla Elon Musk challenge

Elon Musk has responded to Ford’s request for an ‘apples-to-apples’ truck tug of war. The Tesla CEO said “bring it on”, after the Sundeep Madra, vice president of Ford X at Ford Motor Company, threw down the gauntlet yesterday.

The reason for the rematch? A video of the Cybertruck winning a tug of war with an F-150 pick-up has been criticised for being unfairly tipped in the trapezoidal Tesla’s favour.

The F-150 in question was either a rear-wheel-drive model, or was in rear-wheel-drive mode. In short, with power going to all four wheels, it could have had the advantage.

Not quite the convincing proof that the Cybertruck is “better than an F-150” as Musk claims.

Interestingly, Madra said Tesla should send Ford a Cybertruck with which to perform the new tug-of-war. For all Musk’s retaliatory bravado, we’d be highly surprised if he does that.

It might not be an issue anyway, given that Ford itself has qualified Madra’s challenge as ‘tongue-in-cheek’ in a statement to InsideEVs. Will the rematch happen at all, if it was all Twitter posturing?

It’s not like Ford has much to prove. A few months ago, it released a video of a prototype electric F-150 towing one million pounds (453,592kg) of laden freight train.

Other manufacturers have poked fun at Tesla, too. In response to the Cybertruck’s rocky reveal, BMW showed off its armoured X5, saying it ‘comes with bulletproof windows and offers splinter protection in case it gets hit by a metal ball’.

Of course, that refers to the Cybertruck’s ‘unbreakable’ windows that broke on stage, causing Musk to blurt expletives.

BMW makes dig at Tesla Cybertruck launch

BMW makes subtle dig at Tesla following Cybertruck launch event

BMW makes dig at Tesla Cybertruck launchEven in a week which included the launch of a battery-powered Ford Mustang, the biggest talking point from Los Angeles has been the Tesla Cybertruck.

Revealed with typical Tesla theatrics, the futuristic all-electric pickup truck has generated controversy. This ranges from its looks, to the actual ability of Tesla to even build it.

Yet the shattered glass at the launch event, caused by a metal ball, prompted BMW to subtly remind the world that its vehicles already offer bulletproof windows. 

Tesla’s troubles came when design chief Franz von Holzhausen attempted to demonstrate the strength of the glass in the prototype Cybertruck. With Tesla CEO Elon Musk claiming the windows were “bulletproof to a 9mm handgun”, a metal ball should have been no issue. 

Instead, the side windows of the Cybertruck shattered when von Holzhausen lugged a metal ball at them, causing splinters and shocked faces in equal measure. 

Musk was keen to point out that previous attempts had failed to damage the glass. He added it would be sorted before customers took delivery of production Cybertrucks.

BMW’s tweet about metal balls and splinters was clearly referencing the Tesla event. But also reminding buyers about the impressive abilities of the armoured X5 Protection VR6.

The X5 VR6 has been certified as resistant to firearms and explosives, with its windows one of the key components. It uses multilayered safety glass capable of withstanding attacks by impact weapons – like metal balls – and comes with an internal polycarbonate layer to stop splinters.  

BMW makes dig at Tesla Cybertruck launch

BMW does not disclose prices for the X5 VR6, but the X5 M50i that serves as the base for the armoured version begins at £74,620 ($82,150). This makes it considerably more expensive than the anticipated £31,000 ($39,900) Cybertruck.

Although Tesla may have dominated social media with the reveal of the Cybertruck, the event has financial investors worried. Tesla’s share price fell by 6% on Friday after the launch, with Forbes noting that this would wipe $768 million (£599 million) from Elon Musk’s personal wealth alone.

BMW makes dig at Tesla Cybertruck launch

Tesla’s entry-level Model 3 has found success this year, becoming a UK top-10 best-seller earlier this year. Yet the company is also building up a backlog of models to launch, which the Cybertruck only adds to. 

Along with the new pickup for 2021, Tesla is promising to launch the Model Y compact crossover, new Roadster, and its Semi truck during 2020. This pressure to deliver, rather than the Cybertruck launch, may be causing investors to worry. 

For those needing an armoured pickup truck right now, there is always the option to try and persuade BMW to build a VR6 version of the X7 Pick-up concept.

Today’s non-Cybertruck news: Lara Croft, snow sticks and a stuck Skoda

Lara Croft wax model

Where were you when Tesla unveiled the Cybertruck?

It’s not quite the moon landing, the fall of the Berlin Wall or a meal at Pizza Express, but for Tesla fans, it’s another moment in history. A significant date for the memory bank.

Tesla – and more specifically, the Cybertruck – has been trending on Twitter ever since. It’s secured top billing on the BBC homepage, while the Daily Mail has even given it greater prominence than Millie Mackintosh’s ‘bare bump’ and the ‘plunging gown’ of Charli XCX.

When you’re getting more exposure than Charli’s ‘floral tubing around the bosom and asymmetrical hemline’, you know you’ve managed to spin the PR thing to perfection.

Aside from a well-known yeast extract, nothing divides opinion quite like a new Tesla. Everything Elon Musk does appears to usher in an open season for opinions, memes and witty critiques.

This morning, the Tesla Cybertruck was likened to everything from Lara Croft’s ‘enviable assets’ (to use the Mail’s terminology) to a rubber door wedge. Some were witty – a few were even original.

Every day except Wednesday, Motoring Research asks me to write an opinion piece on something topical or newsworthy. I get the day off on Wednesday, presumably because, aside from the bin collection, nothing ever happens on a Wednesday.

As today is Friday, I’m free to write something on the Tesla Cybertruck. But I won’t. Not only has Ethan got there first, but there are literally no opinions left. I’ve shone a torch into the bowels of the opinion-o-generator and there’s nothing there. Zilch. Zero. Nadda.

More news than you can shake a stick at

Toyota Corolla

Instead, allow me to take you on a tour of some of the stories you might have missed. While you were watching the Cybertruck break new ground – and windows – in Los Angeles, here’s what was going on in the real world.

‘Halfords has launched a ONE METRE snow salt stick which quickly removes ice.’ As press release headlines go, this one goes straight to work. Note the emphasis on the size, because in the world of snow salt sticks, size matters.

Forget pointy trucks, what you need is a pointy stick. ‘The monster stick works like shake ‘n’ vac and home-owners and motorists just need to shake their stick and spread the salt over the affected area,’ claims Halfords.

Get out there and shake your stick.

Halfords snow stick

Temperatures aren’t expected to drop below freezing in Keighley over the coming days, but the biggest news in West Yorkshire is the long awaited Keighley News verdict on the new Toyota Corolla.

“Plenty of clever stuff then in arguably the best-looking Corolla so far, that continues to prove that reliable does not have to mean dull,” is the verdict. Rest easy, residents of Keighley.

Meanwhile, shoppers in Milton Keynes are being invited to enter a raffle to win a Volkswagen e-Golf, with all the proceeds going to a local charity.

Dude, where’s my Range Rover?

Literally and metaphorically, MK is a long way from LA, but that’s where we head next for the startling revelation that Hollywood actress Jennifer Garner lost her car.

Garner, who starred in the film Dude, Where’s My Car, was so traumatised by a visit to Build-A-Bear that she spent 25 minutes searching for her Range Rover. Two things: why is this news and how can you lose a Range Rover?

Maybe she needs to order a Ford Mustang Mach-E in Grabber Blue Metallic. Try losing that in a parking lot.

Speaking of parking, the Advertiser & Times reports on a Skoda Karoq driver who, in a blatant attempt to avoid car park charges, headed down to the beach. Either that or it was an unsuccessful attempt to reach the Isle of Wight without paying for a ferry.

Skoda Karoq on the beach

‘Cleans ya window screen’

There’s more. Over in the world of commercial radio, Heart has revealed how a bottle of Dr Beckmann’s carpet stain remover can treat frozen windscreens. “I’m a genius, get ya self one of these bottles, fill it with warm water and ya sorted,” said the ‘inventor’.

“No cold hands scraping anymore and it cleans ya window screen too, the brush bit is ideal.” Still want that Ford Quickclear heated windscreen? “With a salt stick and Dr Beckmann by your side, the winter blues will be a thing of the past,“ said an onlooker. Probably.

Finally, Farmer Tom might not have the social media following of Elon ‘Major Tom’ Musk, but he has come up with a very good way to stem the ‘constant tide of littering’ in the countryside. Printing car registration numbers on takeaway packaging could reduce the amount of litter thrown from car windows.

Discarded McDonald’s wrappers nestled in the roadside verges of Britain is a world away from the glitz, glamour and dry ice of a Tesla launch in Los Angeles, but it’s somehow more authentic and relevant.

More than 800 words later, you’re still here (thank you) and I still don’t have an opinion on the Tesla Cybertruck. I really ought to get my carpet cleaned, mind. Is there a doctor in the house?