In terms of strange weeks for Tesla news, it doesn’t get much weirder than this one.
The headline-grabbing story involved a Model X that lived up to its name, with the SUV playing a starring role in an X-rated video. Seen by millions of online viewers, two occupants put the car into Autopilot mode and took advantage of the hands-off driving experience by, shall we say, getting handsy with each other.
What did Elon Musk, Tesla’s boisterous CEO, do in response? You can bet it involved a controversial tweet.
In other, more family-friendly Tesla news, a leased Model 3 is now available for only $399 per month, and Tesla is facing competition from the world of … vacuum-cleaner manufacturers? We told you, this was one unusual week for the automaker.
Putting the X in Model X
We don’t often we have to tread this carefully with automotive news. But when an amorous couple decided to put their Tesla Model X into its Autopilot semi-autonomous mode, the test drive took a surprising turn. Let’s put this in PG terms and say no one seemed interested in pumping the brakes, as it were.
The video went viral, and millions have viewed it online. Yes, we checked to see how popular this clip has become. And no, we won’t post the link here.
But we should note that Tesla CEO Musk appears to have weighed in on the video via Twitter. While not exactly condoning such hands-free driving, Musk didn’t do much to dissuade the behavior.
“Turns out there there’s more ways to use Autopilot than we imagined,” he tweeted May 9. Another tweet followed in the thread: “Shoulda seen it coming.”
The eighth-grade-level humor didn’t sit well with everyone, especially those who think automotive CEOs shouldn’t tweet about people having sex in a moving vehicle.
Model 3 Leasing for $399 Per Month
Tesla is now offering its Model 3 electric sedan for a three-year lease at $399 per month for those with approved credit. The deal is applicable to the Model 3 Standard Range Plus, which has a range of 240 miles per charge. To buy it outright, the car costs $41,100 including the destination and documentary fee — the latter unusual in a vehicle’s advertised price — before factoring in options or incentives.
The lease stipulates 10,000 miles per year, but two other offers permit 12,000 or 15,000 miles per year at $420 and $440 a month, respectively. All three assume a down payment of $4,500 and acquisition fee of $695.
Remember that when the lease is over, so is your time with that Model 3. Unlike with the Model S or Model X, you won’t be able to buy a Model 3 at the end of the lease. That’s because Tesla has announced plans to turn future off-lease Model 3 sedans into a self-driving taxi service. Yep, even seemingly normal lease deals have a strange plot twist.
Dyson Electric Car
Invariably, Tesla will face mounting pressure from mainstream automakers as more of them get into the business of building electric vehicles. It’s forgivable if you didn’t expect rivalries to break out between Tesla and a firm that specializes in luxurious vacuum cleaners.
Dyson, the maker of high-end cleaning equipment — including some pricey vacuums — could someday become one of Tesla’s unlikeliest competitors.
As reported by Autocar, the company plans to introduce an electric-powered SUV by 2021. Reportedly about the size of a Land Rover Range Rover, patent-application sketches – and Autocar’s fleshed-out renderings – show this sport utility will have an extremely long wheelbase. That should provide vast amounts of cabin room and could portend three rows of seating.
As for powertrains and pricing details, little is certain at this point. But with Dyson investing heavily into a 517-acre research facility in England, not to mention a production site in Singapore, the company looks ready to take on other EVs come next decade.
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