Though some of the news around Tesla and CEO Elon Musk went interplanetary this week, we’re going to keep things on terra firma, where there was still plenty happening for both Tesla vehicles and electric vehicles at large.
This includes a trio of Model 3 stories — including the elimination of an eagerly awaited feature — and some big news from other companies more known for their gas vehicles than electric ones (and it looks like it will be that way for the foreseeable future).
Here’s your weekly roundup of all the juiciest Tesla tidbits in the news:
Model 3 Air Suspension Hopes Deflated
The Model 3’s suspension is a bit high strung, which I liked when I tested it, but it can be a bit too stiff for others who like to drive less enthusiastically or use their Model 3 to commute on the daily. Initially, it was announced that the air suspension would be coming to the all-wheel-drive versions of the Model 3, but that doesn’t appear to be the case any longer, according to a tweet from Musk last week. That means potential buyers will have to make do with the standard suspension or the lowered suspension found on Performance models.
You Could Be the Key to Your Model 3
I’ve had my reservations about the whole “use your phone as a key” idea. What happens if you lose your phone? Or someone steals your device and can then break into your car? Or if your phone’s battery dies and you don’t have the keycard or the fob on you?
It seems that someone else got much more solution-oriented about this and decided to implant the radio-frequency identification tag from the keycard into her forearm — and she isthe key, now. Turns out, this isn’t the first time for her; she already has an RFID implant but couldn’t transfer the software to unlock and turn on her Model 3 to her existing chip, so she had to implant another chip.
And it works! She did issue a caveat that the range of the chip isn’t great — she has to put her arm about an inch from the console to get it to read — but she hopes that, as the swelling around the wound area goes down, it’ll get better.
Another Week, Another Tesla Fire …
… But least this time it wasn’t spontaneous. A Model 3 reportedly caught fire in Moscow after crashing into a parked tow truck on the side of the road. Two small explosions occurred after the crash, and the resulting fire burned the Model 3 down to the frame, according to Reuters.
According to the driver, the car was not operating in Autopilot mode at the time of the crash, and the driver had both hands on the wheel and failed to see the stopped truck. The Model 3 was traveling around 62 mph at the time of the crash; the driver suffered a broken leg while his two children escaped with just bruises.
Fords Spark Up EV Partnership With Rivian
Tesla could soon have some serious competition in the long-range-luxury-electric niche it currently dominates. Ford’s push for electric vehicles has led it to a partnership with Rivian. If the name sounds familiar, Rivian introduced a pair of electric concepts (a pickup truck and an SUV) that made big news during the 2018 auto show season with a promise of big range and some innovative features, such as the cargo pass-through on the truck.
Ford plans on using Rivian’s “skateboard” chassis, which is an electric powertrain (including battery pack), suspension and axles — think of it as the bottom part of a vehicle — and then Ford will design the body to go over that. Motor Trend reports that Rivian will still likely assemble the entire vehicle, and it should still have around 400 miles of range.
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GM, Volkswagen Giving the Heave-Ho to Hybrids
The two companies announced, according to the Wall Street Journal, that they will be scaling back their hybrid car plans in an effort to focus more on purely electric vehicles, seeing hybrids as sort of a temporary stop-gap and EVs as the future (and therefore a better long-term play).
Do I agree? Not entirely. I think hybrids are more than just a step along the way and provide many clear benefits to car shoppers who don’t want a fully electric vehicle for a myriad of reasons. Other car companies have continued to voice their support of hybrids and plug-in hybrids, and with both approaches we’ll have a more complete portfolio of electrified vehicles to choose from, which is a boon to consumers.
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