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The Week in Tesla News: Model S, X Range and Power Boosts, Supercharger Upgrades and More

2019 Tesla Model X

It was a big week in the land of Tesla, as the company paired a series of product announcements with its first-quarter earnings report for 2019. One could argue that the slew of product news was conveniently timed to take some of the sting out of the less-than-stellar earnings report. But it’s not all doom and gloom, as the updates to the Model S and Model X are exciting.

Related: Tesla Model Y: A Surprisingly Affordable Electric SUV … Eventually

Model S, Model X Add Range, Features

2019 Tesla Model X

Much of the news lately has revolved around Tesla’s smaller offerings (the Model 3 and forthcoming Model Y), but the company wants to remind would-be buyers that its larger vehicles are still around — and are now better than ever.

The two oldest vehicles currently for sale in the Tesla lineup get significant updates, including what Tesla is calling “an all-new drivetrain design.” Long Range versions of both models see a jump in range: The Model S can now go an EPA-estimated 370 miles on a charge, while the Model X offers 325 miles of range. Those are increases of 35 miles and 30 miles, respectively. These jumps happen with both vehicles’ existing battery packs; Tesla says the drive units (read: motors) have been updated and are more efficient. A permanent magnet motor in the front pairs with an induction motor in the rear, and the system is more efficient at both sending out power but also taking in power during regenerative braking, which accounts for the increase in range without growing the battery. The new models are faster somehow, as well, with quicker zero-to-60-mph times.

Added range isn’t the only update for the vehicles — they can also charge faster (200 kilowatts on V3 Superchargers and 145 kW on V2 Superchargers). The air suspensions also add fully adaptive damping, and Tesla says that should do a better job of keeping the vehicle flat at cruising speeds. The price is lowering to boot, with the re-introduction of the Standard Range version of both vehicles.

One final announcement on this front: If you’re a current Model S or Model X owner, if you buy a new Model S or Model X Performance, Tesla will include the Ludicrous Mode upgrade for no additional cost.

Supercharging the Superchargers

Tesla’s network of V3 Supercharging stations is starting to come online. Those stations can charge the Model 3 at 250 kW, and the Model S and Model X at 200 kW, as mentioned above. But in addition to the new chargers, Electrek reports that Tesla confirmed that it can push the power even higher at its existing V2 Supercharging stations — up to 150 kW. The existing stations used to only charge at 120 kW, and the jump up to 150 kW should cut Supercharging times by as much as 25 percent for those vehicles.

Hail the Tesla Model 3!

2017 Tesla Model 3

While Tesla has already announced plans for a Tesla-app-based ride-hailing program of self-driving cars, we are now getting a clearer picture of what that will look like. The system would include not only cars owned by Tesla, but also the vehicles of Tesla owners who agree to share their car while it’s not in use.

Left Lane News is reporting that Tesla announced an ambitious plan to sell Model 3s without a steering wheel or other human controls for $25,000. This would undercut the now-defunct $35,000 version of the Model 3 by a giant margin. Tesla projects the revenue potential of a Model 3 at $200,000 per year, which translates to about $30,000 in profit after factoring in costs. And much like other ride-hailing services, Tesla plans to keep a cut of the ride profits at around 30 percent.

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Tesla Reports Large Quarterly Loss

At its earnings call, Tesla reported a net quarterly loss of $702 million. Although production of the Model 3 increased in the first quarter of 2019, deliveries of the car actually decreased as Tesla started to deliver the vehicle overseas for the first time. The company still claims it will deliver between 360,000 and 400,000 vehicles this year, which would represent a 45 percent-65 percent gain versus 2018.

The report also made mention of Tesla’s new Gigafactory in Shanghai, which is targeted to reach full capacity in 2019, but the report says a more realistic goal for that factory to be completely online is mid-2020. It was also reported that to get the factory online and complete other development projects, Tesla may be preparing to raise additional capital as the company’s $2.2 billion in cash assets won’t be enough to cover its expenditures.

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