If You Haven’t Used Autopilot Yet, Why Not? (3 Essentials)

Tesla vehicles using Autopilot, credit Tesla

I’ve been using Tesla Autopilot with every drive since 2019, and testing Full Self Driving beta (FSD beta) daily since June 2022.

This article is for everyone who has ever thought, “I love my Tesla, but I will never do Autopilot, it’s too scary.”  I am with you, it can be scary. 

This article covers 3 areas,

  1. Tesla Autopilot is safer than a human driving
  2. Enabling Autopilot during a drive is easy
  3. You can use Autopilot on your daily drives and disable it anytime during a drive

Tesla Autopilot is safer than a human driving

Elon Musk had a conversation on the Lex Fridman podcast about the processes that happen when a human drives,

"When you drive down the road, and try to think about what your brain is actually doing, consciously, it’s like, you’ll see a car, because you don’t have cameras, you don’t have eyes in the back of your head, or the side, so you say like, you’re basically, your head is like a, you basically have like two cameras on a slow gimbal.  
And eyesight is not that great, okay? 
Human eyes are… and people are constantly distracted and thinking about things and texting and doing all sorts of things they shouldn’t do in a car or changing the radio station, having arguments, haha. 
Like, when’s the last time you looked right and left?  Or rearward? Or even diagonally forward to actually refresh your vector space? 
So, you’re glancing around and what your mind is doing is trying to distill the relevant vectors, basically objects with a position in motion, and then editing that down to the least amount that’s necessary for you to drive."  Elon Musk

When Tesla Autopilot is engaged, all 8 cameras on the vehicle measure the surroudings without any distractions and use pure vision to drive as safe as possible. Looking into the future, Elon continues his conversation with Lex and says,

"The cars will maneuver with super human ability and reaction time, much faster than a human.
I think, over time, the Autopilot, Full Self Driving will be capable of maneuvers that are far more than what James Bond could do in like the best movie type of thing. It’s like, impossible maneuvers that a human couldn’t do." Elon Musk

The Tesla 2021 Impact Report emphasizes how much safer Autopilot is,

“Tesla vehicles are engineered for safety and when Autopilot is engaged safety is enhanced. 
 In 2021, we recorded 0.22 crashes for every million miles driven in which drivers were using Autopilot technology (Autosteer and active safety features). 
For drivers who were not using Autopilot technology (no Autosteer and active safety features), we recorded 0.77 crashes for every million miles driven. 
By comparison, NHTSA’s most recent data shows that in the United States there are 1.81 automobile crashes for every million miles driven.”

Avoiding serious accidents when car is in Autopilot: 2 examples

In these 2 examples, major accidents were avoided because Tesla’s cameras and software slowed down the vehicle to avoid hitting cars that ran red lights. In both examples, the drivers did not notice the problem as quickly as Autopilot did.

Tesla’s software reacted quickly to avoid an accident at an intersection. credit @parzar1 on twitter who is testing FSD beta. Autopilot should react similar in this scenario.
Watch this video as Tesla vehicle slows down to avoid an accident.
I am sharing a personal experience with you.  After picking up a friend, I engaged Autopilot and we were waiting at a red light.  
As the light turned green, my Tesla moved into the intersection and my car suddenly made a warning sound and came to a stop.  
We did not see why until a Nissan zoomed right in front of us.  
My Tesla resumed moving as if nothing at all had happened.
We were shook, but the vehicle was not, and Autopilot got us safely home.  
My dashcam footage below shows the car pulling into the intersection while the light was red for them.  
You can see the Nissan running the red light below. 
Tesla’s software saw a car run a red light before the driver did, avoiding a major crash. credit, the author.
This chart created by Tesla for their 2021 Impact Report shows how much safer Autopilot is.

Enabling Autopilot during a drive is easy

Now that you may be considering using your car’s Autopilot, here are my simple suggestions for your Model Y or 3

  1. Start driving and then press down TWICE rapidly on the stalk.  Take your foot off the gas pedal and keep your hands on the wheel enough so the wheel FEELS slight torque.
  2. Practice also DISENGAGING the Autopilot by tugging on the steering wheel until you are comfortable with toggling between using it and not using it.  
  3. Use Autopilot as much as possible.  You will get better at using it with practice. Like any new technology, it will soon become second nature to you and you will master it before you know it.  
  4. I recommend watching the Tesla videos that explain it, here. And always, pay attention and be prepared to take over when using Autopilot or testing FSD beta.
Tesla Youtube explains how to engage Autopilot by pressing down TWICE rapidly on the stalk.

Let’s go back to my example above where we avoided getting T-boned in an intersection. It is important to engage Autopilot as much as possible when crossing through any intersections.  Accidents commonly happen in intersections so we all need maximum safety enabled. 

There were 35,766 fatalities and 1,593,390 injuries from crashes in 2020.
T-bone (angle) crashes led to 6,432 deaths in 2020.  
There were a total of 5,982 pedestrian fatalities from being struck by a car, NHTSA reported in their Overview of Motor Vehicle Crashes 2020.
NHTSA reported a staggering 42,915 fatalities from crashes in 2021 in their September 2022 report.*

Having Autopilot engaged will protect pedestrians from harm.  The 8 cameras on your Tesla capture images and weave them together to tell the computer the safest way to navigate when people are seen. Both pedestrian and T-bone type crashes cause the most deaths, and Autopilot helps us avoid these tragedies.

In my article, “Who Will Benefit Once Tesla Autonomy is Solved?”, I wrote about how Tesla expects the safety level of autonomous cars to be 10 times safer than non-autonomous cars.

As you master Autopilot you will enjoy a higher level of safety.

CONCLUSION

  • Tesla Autopilot may seem scary at first, and it is worth getting over that fear. This is because if you drive a Tesla without using Autopilot, there are 0.77 crashes recorded for every million miles driven. But if you drive your Tesla with Autopilot engaged, there are only 0.22 crashes for every million miles driven.
  • To enable Autopilot, just press down twice rapidly on the stalk. I am thankful I did this before passing through an intersection where I was almost T-boned by a car who ran a red light.
  • In time, you will master using Autopilot as you learn to master any new technology. Toggling in and out of Autopilot is worth learning so that you can enjoy the highest level of safety for you, your family, friends and pedestrians around you.
Austin Texas by Christofer Sherman photography prints.

Want to read more excellent articles? I suggest…

Who Will Benefit Once Tesla Autonomy is Solved? I believe a world where autonomy is the norm is closer than we realize.  This article attempts to answer the question, who will benefit once Tesla autonomy is solved? 

5 Takeaways from Tesla’s 2022 Shareholder Meeting This article features highlights of what Elon Musk said about Tesla Gigafactories, AI, Cybertruck, Optimus robot, how we can help support the mission, and more.

Reasons Why Tesla Has the Best Factory Safety in the Industry This article will bring you along with me as we look into how Tesla has become a leader in job site safety in manufacturing. Our focus will be on statements about workplace safety from Elon Musk at the 2022 Shareholder’s meeting and the Tesla 2021 Impact Report. 

Meet the author, Gail Alfar. Taken at Giga Texas Cyber Roundup, August 4, 2022.

Gail Alfar, author, with editing by Abraham Alfar. Thank you to Chuck Cook for consultation on this article. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – September 24, 2022 this article was revised on September 25. –  All Rights Reserved. * NHTSA September 2022 report can be found at https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813376

Reasons Why Tesla Has the Best Factory Safety in the Industry 

This article will bring you along with me as we look into how Tesla has become a leader in job site safety in manufacturing.  Our focus will be on statements about workplace safety from Elon Musk at the 2022 Shareholder’s meeting and the Tesla 2021 Impact Report.  You’ll look at Tesla’s approach to software as a way to improve safety. Finally, we’ll see how Tesla is making an extraordinary effort to protect over 5000 contractors. 

For fun, I share what it was like walking through Tesla’s employee cafeteria, where Elon says, “Everyone eats same food, uses same restrooms, etc – no executive chef or other ivory tower stuff.” You’ll see 2 rare pictures of the cafeteria area at the end of the article.

“In 2021, our focus remained on protecting people, the planet, our property and products.”

Tesla 2021 Impact Report

Elon Musk Spoke about Factory Safety on August 4th at the 2022 Shareholder’s Meeting

Elon Musk at Shareholder’s Day, credit: Tesla

While sharing a chart titled “Safety Records Continue to Improve,” Elon said,

“We’ve also made a lot of improvement with factory safety, so I believe we now have the best factory safety in the industry.

We are excited to have very good safety, and getting better, and a bunch of this is driven by just encouraging people in the factory to submit ideas for safety improvement.

We have passed our goal of three suggestions per employee this year.  This really is a game changer for improving safety.”

Elon Musk

“Safety Records Continue To Improve” credit: Tesla 2022 Shareholder’s Meeting

Tesla featured employee Sherry Ihrig in the 2021 Impact Report. Sherry made over 1,800 improvement suggestions using the “Take Charge” software.  Her suggestions were to safety, processes, cost-savings, and more since the program’s start in early 2021. Sherry stated,

“The Take Charge program encourages associates to increase their awareness of the work environment. 

When these and other potential safety hazards are noticed and resolved, it allows associates to improve their overall work performance.” 

“Driven by Increasing Employee Engagement” credit: Tesla 2022 Shareholder’s Meeting

Giant Cybernetic Collective Where Everyone is a Worker

I think the most important aspect of humans working alongside big machines is safety.  Software should be designed to improve processes and ensure safety instead of stagnating.  Elon Musk likens his factories to giant cybernetic collectives,

“You can think of the factory as a giant cybernetic collective.

So the factory is just an enormous cybernetic collective of humans and machines and software, and the better that software is, the better that cybernetic collective works.

I don’t think other OEMs think like that, but that’s what it is!”

Elon Musk, 2022 Shareholders Meeting

I think safety processes can improve when all workers operate at the same level.  On June 2, Elon Musk described this in a tweet,

“Everyone eats same food, uses same restrooms, etc – no executive chef or other ivory tower stuff.

There shouldn’t be this workers vs management two-class system. Everyone is a worker.”

Elon Musk

When I visited Gigafactory Texas on August 4th for the Shareholder’s Meeting, all participants got to walk through the employee coffee shop/cafeteria, food truck area, and use the company restrooms and it is true, there are no special areas for any executives, including Elon himself.

Tesla Builds New Software to Improve Safety

In Early 2021, Tesla developed new software to help workers build capacity to ensure safeguards are in place and functioning. 

“In order to build capacity and allow our workers to fail safely, we needed a more dynamic approach to how we collect and manage data that allows us to make decisions that reduce risk.

In response to that need, we developed an internal Environmental, Health Safety & Security [EHS&S] tool named MyEHS to help drive execution and improve outcomes by allowing the intake and visualization of data globally.

We designed and deployed 11 modules in 2021, allowing us to better manage our EHS&S information, identify emerging risks and take action to implement improvements suggested by our employees. 

Foremost in this effort was our improvement suggestion module — Take Charge.

Combined with Action Tracker, this module allows workers to submit improvement suggestions in various categories, including environment, health, safety, security, people and accuracy, while connecting with their supervisors and other work groups to identify and implement solutions to improve the presence of safeguards.” – Tesla 2021 Impact Report, p.48

Tesla Extends Safety Protection to over 5000 Contractors

Solar Roof Install credit: Tesla 

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the civilian occupations with the highest rates of fatalities include roofers and construction trade helpers.  Tesla employs solar roof installers and construction workers and contracts with over 5000 contractors.  Tesla is making an extraordinary effort to protect contractors and keep them safe through a new program they developed called ‘Constructing Our Future’ led by 87 Tesla Responsible Persons [TRP] and Contractor Responsible Persons who are all trained in the new process that includes meeting a TRP and EHS&S professional at the location of work to complete a Pre-Work Risk Assessment.

“We are on schedule to release the new and improved supplier and contractor onboarding and management system, Workforce Management, in the second quarter of 2022.

This simple, scalable, centralized system will build on the efficiencies of the interim onboarding process and provide better visibility for managers and engineers to track performance.

We will report our contractor injury rates in the 2022 Impact Report.”

Tesla 2021 Impact Report, p.54

CONCLUSION

Elon Musk called Tesla’s new improvement suggestion module, Take Charge, a “game changer for improving safety.”

One employee said Take Charge “encourages associates to increase their awareness of the work environment.”

When I toured Gigafactory Texas, it was easy to see why Elon Musk referred to it as an “enormous cybernetic collective.”  Within this gigantic space, Elon stated “Everyone eats same food, uses same restrooms, etc – no executive chef or other ivory tower stuff. There shouldn’t be this workers vs management two-class system. Everyone is a worker.”  

Safety is an integral part of this collective because it is based on humans and machines and software all working in symphony, and that includes Tesla’s over 5000 contractors.  In fact, Tesla will include contractor injury rates in the 2022 Impact Report. 

FUN FACT:  

At the Tesla 2022 Shareholder’s Meeting, all participants got to walk through the employee coffee shop/cafeteria area and it is true, there is no executive chef area, not even for Elon Musk.

The cafeteria was stunning with a beautiful clean white design featuring floor-to-ceiling glass on both sides. One side has a view of the City of Austin in the distance and the other side overlooks Model Y production. Also featured near the Coffee Bar were Model Y seats mounted on a structural battery pack, Model Y frame with castings, and a drive train!

Tesla Coffee Bar, credit: the author
Model Y structural frame by Coffee Bar at Tesla Giga Texas Cafeteria by glass overlooking Model Y production. credit: the author.

Article by Gail Alfar. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – All Rights Reserved. August 14, 2022. Featured banner photo, credit: Tesla Media

Frunk Stories from Tesla Owners

The term “frunk” was new to me when I bought my Model 3 in 2019. Tesla created a convenient and secure front trunk for storage for you that can carry up to 55 pounds of cargo.

Tesla owners are an amazing group of people and very inventive when it comes to ways to use the frunk! This article includes one of the latest inventions made just for the Tesla frunk, the “Fruble.”

The Fruble in action on a camping trip.

Frunk Animals and Frunk Parties

Dogs, cats, bunnies, birds, and other animals have posed for pictures in the frunk since the early days of Tesla. Earl of Frunkpuppy has created a literal dynasty based on the frunk. Earl features a weekly contest with prizes and international voting for the cutest frunkpuppy. Earl has awarded prizes to many animals, including to a frunk-duck!

The Tesla frunk is a truly a practical space, as Tesla Model S owner, Jonathan, describes,

“Our Classic Tesla Model S frunk is big enough for a birthday party of 12 + sleepover gear, leaving room for 7 in the car.

The excitement from 2 in the rear-facing seats is priceless. If finances allow we may never sell this Tesla it is such a freakishly functional machine.”

The Humane Society of Silicon Valley had 7 frunkpuppies up for adoption.

Cooking up a Storm in the Frunk

Tesla owners are practical and a few have built their own wooden frunk tables to make cooking easier in the wild. Jimmy explains,

“Calvin from Calgary invited me for a hike today in Alberta and I didn’t expect to see a full-blown Tesla camping setup.

I was shocked to see a frunk table existing elsewhere. We made sure to set up our kitchens and made some delicious tofu+salad+mashed potatoes!”

Calvin designed his own frunk-kitchen.

A frunk – table called the “Fruble” delights Tesla owners!

Jimmy is hand-crafting frunk tables to share with other Tesla owners! His concept, which he calls the “Fruble,” makes it easier to prep food to enjoy when camping. You can see how he makes his tables and all the many ways they can be used in your Tesla on his kickstarter site!

Jimmy says, “The frunk is the best place to store food in our opinion. In combination with the Fruble, you’ve got yourself a kitchen countertop on the mountain, at the beach – anywhere and everywhere the car takes you.”

Tesla Frunk Keeps Food Odors out of the Car

Chad, who helps lead the East Bay Tesla Club, loves to use his frunk to put take-out in.

“I love DOGS, and takeout in the frunk is the best! No food stank in the whip!” 

Chad was filling his frunk with vegetables at a Farmers Market when two women walked by, delighted to see a frunk in use,

“Is that a Tesla? Why yes it is! Oh, I love that front open space for extra storage.”

Baby Portrait in the Frunk

My heart went out to the dad who placed his newborn in his Model 3 frunk for a portrait soon after the infant was born. His love for a world with electric cars led him to celebrate his daughter’s birth in a unique and beautiful way!

Matthew had his baby daughter’s portrait done in the frunk.

Wedding Photos feature one in the Frunk

Newlyweds from Virginia decided to include a picture in the frunk of their Model 3, along with a message of gratitude to Elon Musk for their car’s safety features saving them from an accident just days before the wedding bells rang.

Emily Nachbar with her new Husband in the Frunk of her Model 3.

My searches on Twitter, Reddit, and all over the web led me to laugh at how funny and creative people can be with the Tesla frunk from Germany to New York, California, and beyond! I found people filling the frunk with flowers, lighting frunks up with psychedelic lights and making TikTok videos of people hiding from their bosses in the trunk. There are grown men so enamored with the frunk that they post videos of themselves studying, sleeping, and popping out of frunks. Most other electric carmakers also post frunk shots although no frunk matches the charm of the Tesla frunk.

My thoughts

Security from theft is one of many reasons I love my Tesla frunk. It is a very visible area of the vehicle, and difficult to access unless you own the car. Every time I open the frunk up to stash groceries, I’m reminded of how my vehicle does not contain a polluting combustion engine. I am also pretty excited about the frunk table (the Fruble) that Jimmy is developing for people!

In the upcoming few months, I’m looking forward to writing about what YOU like about your Tesla. I am excited to share with you what a family in Little Rock, Arkansas loves about their Model 3. A family in Tuskaloosa, Alabama also has a great story about their Tesla that I plan to write about soon!

What do you really like about your Tesla?

Austin, Texas. Credit: Truest B. on Unsplash

Want to read more excellent articles? I suggest…

Header image of White Maltese in Tesla Frunk used with exclusive permission from Reddit user u/mahkus11.

Article by Gail Alfar. Edited by Sarah Alfar. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – This blog post was created utilizing STARLINK satellite services. All Rights Reserved. July 17, 2022

Elon Musk: Discussion About Underpopulation

With the hot weather we are having this summer, why not grab a cold beverage, and join me to soak in what I think might be Elon Musk’s “first principles” approach to addressing today’s declining birthrate?

A Model S Family in S. Korea. Credit: Tesla

Historically, Being Wealthy Has Led to Having Fewer Kids

Elon Musk was asked about the declining birthrate on Johnna Crider’s podcast

Elon said,

“The declining birthrate is somewhat counterintuitive, but generally, the wealthier someone is, the fewer kids they have. 

I’m an exception, but it’s quite rare.  Basically, the higher the education level and the wealthier people are, the fewer kids they have. 

So it’s not a money thing.  In fact, it seems the opposite, like the more money that someone has, the fewer kids they have. 

Somebody who is living as the 2022 standard for the poverty level would be really, I mean they have access to things that the richest person didn’t have 100 years ago.”  

Population COLLAPSE is Coming. Credit: After Skool, see https://youtu.be/zC1khWr7wg8

Elon’s approach: Correcting the false perception that there are too many people

Johnna asked, “Do you have any other thoughts or ideas on how to reverse population decline?”

“The population decline problem, I think is possibly the biggest risk to civilization or its certainly one of the biggest risks. 

First of all, a lot of people think that there’s too many humans on the planet and the planet can’t sustain this number of humans.  This is absolutely not true. 

We could double the population without any meaningful damage to the environment. You can put all the humans on earth in the city of New York.  That’s the cross-sectional area of humans. They could literally fit in the city of New York on one floor, you don’t even need high-rises.  And if you’re on a plane flight and you look down and you say, “what percentage of the time, if I were to drop a ball, would that ball hit a person?”  Basically zero.

Even in a city like LA, where we think, “oh, that’s a crowded city,” looking at it from above, what’s the cross-sectional area of humans relative to the rest of the ground?”  It’s much less than 1%, even in LA. 

So if you’re in a big city environment and you see a lot of people you sort of extrapolate that to everywhere, but it’s actually very rare to see a concentration of humans. 

Earth is very sparsely populated with humans.  There’s not enough humans, far from being too many.  I think people are still sort of operating on the assumption that the population is growing like crazy when in fact the opposite is occurring.  These numbers are easy to look up, they’re just on the internet.  We had the lowest birthrate in recorded history last year.” – Elon Musk

“Far too many people are under the illusion that Earth is overpopulated, even though birth rate trends are so obviously headed to population collapse” – Elon Musk

False perceptions persist that fewer kids are better for the earth’s environment. Credit: Elon Musk on After Skool’s video “Population COLLAPSE is Coming.”

Supporting Families at Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Co.

In addition to being very vocal about underpopulation, Elon Musk is making sure families get needed financial support at all four of his companies. The Musk Foundation is also now tasked with donating directly to families.

“Kids are worth it if at all possible. I’m planning to increase childcare benefits at my companies significantly. Hopefully, other companies do same. Also, Musk Foundation plans to donate directly to families. Hopefully, details to be announced next month.” – Elon Musk

(article update, July 12) Elon Musk responded on Twitter to this article, saying “Children are essential to the future.” His comment led to over 2000 people giving their opinions on underpopulation.

Conclusion

Elon Musk carefully explains that wealthier people have fewer kids.  In a sense, even people living at the 2022 poverty level are better off than wealthier people in times past. 

Oddly, this counterintuitive situation has parallelled a lower overall birthrate.

There are still billions of people in the world who lack literacy and access to the internet, but for those who do have it, you can learn almost anything online.

When asked if he has any other thoughts or ideas on how to reverse population decline, Elon Musk uses the first-principles approach in correcting the false notion that there are too many humans on the planet for the earth to sustain, “I think people are still sort of operating on the assumption that the population is growing like crazy when in fact the opposite is occurring.”

Finally, Elon Musk has directed both the Musk Foundation and his companies to directly support families with children.

My thoughts

Most people are surprised to find out I have 5 kids. I do, and they are all amazing! After we had our 5th, my husband and I wanted more. My husband’s logic was that the USA is wealthier than most countries and he liked my parenting style. Kids really DO grow up fast, making parenting easier and less of a challenge than I once thought.

I think first-principle thinking can be applied to population collapse.  Here are a few of my observations:

  • Raise awareness that population decline is a real problem, in the process people, will stop thinking that there are too many people
    • After Skool created a great education video featuring Elon Musk, Chamath Palihapitiya, Dr. Shanna Swan, Jodan B. Peterson, Chris Williamson, and Dave Chappelle, you can view it on Youtube
  • Change the fact that wealthier people have less kids.  As world literacy and education and internet connectivity rise, this will become more important
  • The Tesla Optimus Bot can help relieve the difficulty we will face with too few young people to care for older people
  • Optimus can also perform tedious jobs that people find unattractive

Though it may be inevitable that we will experience population collapse, we as a society can still work towards lessening the severity of it.  We can work towards correcting misunderstandings about it. Companies can increase childcare benefits, encouraging and supporting their families.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you agree with Elon Musk?

Downtown Austin, Texas at night. Credit: David Gallentino on Unsplash

In addition to solving the problem of underpopulation, Elon Musk said, “I want to do everything we can to maximize the use of technology to help achieve a better future for humanity. To that end, any area that contributes to a sustainable future is worthy of our investment.” You can read more about this in my article, “Read Elon Musk’s essay on technology for a better future.

Gail Alfar. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – This blog post was created utilizing STARLINK satellite services. All Rights Reserved. July 9, 2022

Header photo by Tyler Nicks on Unsplash

A white Tesla charges up at Superchargers

Breaking down Tesla’s 6+ businesses, comparing them to a traditional car company

Welcome back to my blog, I hope you’ll enjoy this week’s post. I am sharing part of Elon Musk‘s words from the All-In Summit on May 16, 2022. The reason I’m focusing on this in today’s post is that I believe Elon explains what Tesla is in an easy-to-understand way. We are all transitioning away from fossil fuels and into a clean energy future involving solar, wind, battery storage, and electric vehicles.

I believe that after reading this you will be inspired to see the future in a more positive way. So find a cool spot, grab an iced beverage, and enjoy!

A white Tesla charges up at Superchargers
Tesla Supercharging Network [Credit: Tesla]

When Elon Musk spoke at the All-In Summit on May 16, he detailed how Tesla is 6+ businesses. Below is Elon’s response to the question: Could you just explain to people all these companies inside this super-company just so folks have a sense of what had to be done to get here? 

"Okay, I mean this question requires thought and I’ll probably be leaving out quite a few things but if you look and see what does a typical car company do, what they do is they assemble vehicles and they send them to dealers and they manage the supply chain. They might make the engine, they typically will make the engine but most of the parts are made by suppliers and a lot of the actual technology development is done by suppliers, and most of the vehicle software is done by suppliers, so the actual amount of a real work done by car companies - what you think of as GM or Ford - is not actually that much. They don’t do sales, they don’t do service."  

Tesla Sales, Service, Supercharging Network

"So in the case of Tesla for example we do our own sales and service. We don’t have dealerships. Tesla also has by far the biggest network of superchargers, the electric equivalent of gas stations.  We built the entire global supercharger network, which is still the most advanced and by far the best way to charge your car when traveling long distances or if you live in a city and don’t have the ability to charge your car because of street parking or an apartment. We developed the Supercharger network, and we deployed it I think we have around 15,000 superchargers globally.  You can travel anywhere in America right now with the Tesla supercharger network."

Tesla Vertical Integration

"In terms of vertical integration, we make the battery pack, and the power electronics, the drive unit.  We are more integrated into the parts, we actually make so much of the car internally, we’re vertically integrated, not necessarily because we think that there is some religious reason to be vertically integrated, but because the pace we needed to move is much faster than the supply chain could move.  To the degree that you inherit the legacy supply chain, you inherit the legacy constraints including their speed, cost, and technology."

Tesla Software, Hardware, Artificial Intelligence

"Tesla is as much a software company as it is a hardware company.  The software that runs in a Tesla operates the car, operates the screen, does the charging, and all of that stuff is developed by Tesla. And so we have sort of a ‘Tesla OS’ in the car." 

“Very importantly, Tesla has built an autopilot AI team from scratch that is the best real-world AI team on earth and if anyone else has got a better one I’d like to see it demonstrated in a car.” 

"The full self-driving beta at this point very often can take you with zero interventions across the Bay Area from San Jose to Marin so through complex traffic it’s really quite sophisticated and I invite anyone to join the beta or look at the videos of those who are in the beta.  We’ve got like 100,000 people in the beta so it's not tiny.  We’ll be expanding the beta to about a million people or on that order by the end of the year."  

Tesla Chip Team

"We also built a chip team because there wasn’t the hardware that we could run the friggin AI on. We couldn’t just fill the trunk with a whole bunch of GPUs.  That would’ve been very expensive and take massive amounts of power and cooling just to do what Tesla designed full self-driving computer can do." 

“We started chip team from scratch and it was the best in the world and still is the best in the world several years later.”

Tesla Dojo Supercomputer

"We’re also designing a dojo supercomputer to be able to process all video that's coming in from billions of miles of data, because, just sort of like the way that its critical to compete with Google because they have so much data and they have all the people doing searches all the time and humanity is training it.  The same is true of Tesla.  You really need billions of miles and ultimately tens of billions of miles of training data combined with sort of a vast training computer and then optimize inference hardware in the car and state of the art AI in training, and specialized software across-the-board to be able to achieve a full self-driving solution."  

Tesla Insurance

"Insurance is quite significant.  The car insurance thing is a bigger deal than it may seem.  A lot of people are paying 30% to 40% as much as their lease payment for the car in car insurance.  The car insurance industry is incredibly inefficient because to put it this way, you’ve got so many middle entities from the insurance agent all the way to the final set of reinsures each taking a cut."  

“The car insurance thing is a bigger deal than it may seem.”

"It's all very statistical so that even if you are a very good driver, you could be like 20 years old and a great driver but it's all statistical so you either can’t get insurance or it's extremely expensive.  Tesla allows for real-time insurance based on how you actually drive the car.  If you drive the car in a safer way you actually have lower insurance.  So our insurance is based on how you actually drive not how historically people fit your demographic drive and you close the loop around your insurance rate by simply driving better and looking at your score and lowering your insurance in real-time and people do it.   It actually promotes safer driving."

A Brief Summary

Elon Musk highlighted why Tesla is unlike any other company involved in vehicle production.  He spoke about the importance of Tesla Sales, Service, and the Global Supercharging Network.  Tesla’s vertical integration model, as well as Tesla Software, Tesla Hardware, Chip Team, and Tesla AI are unprecedented.  Tesla’s Dojo Supercomputer work will serve to usher in an age of vehicle autonomy.  Tesla Insurance is also an integral part of why Tesla is so unique.  The insurance allows for younger (and also older) drivers a rate based on how they actually drive.  The All-In Summit was a good opportunity for people to hear Elon speak, and to consider being “all-in” for Tesla!

The All-In Summit was hosted by Chamath Palihapitiya, jason@calacanis.com, David Sacks, and David Friedberg. You can follow Jason Calacanis on Twitter and be one of his Besties!

Elon Musk talks at All-In Summit. [Photo credit: Juilian Hosp]

When I bought my Model 3 in 2019, I joined a community of many people who love Tesla. Every time I drive my Tesla around my hometown Austin, Texas, I’m reminded of the extraordinary effort that is put into making Tesla succeed. In January 2022, I started this blog to write positive things about Tesla and Elon Musk. I’m thankful to Johnna Crider for supporting and encouraging me to start this blog. 

You can read more about Tesla Insurance here and you can read about how Tesla owners feel about full self-driving here. Thank you!  

Gail Alfar, [Edited by Sarah Alfar] Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – All Rights Reserved. May 21, 2022

Is a Tesla Worth it? Does Tesla Insurance and Maintenance Cost Less?

Black Tesla Model 3 by Zack @BLKMDL3 [used with permission]

Every car looks promising when it is sitting on the dealer’s lot. It’s nice and clean, begging you to hop in and take a drive.

Getting started in life as a young person can seem like a vicious cycle when a car is involved.  There’s a circle of making payments and sinking money into insurance payments, not to mention the nightmare that happens when your car needs repairs. Since gasoline prices are spiking, combustion engine cars cost a lot to operate.  On the other hand, electric cars are becoming more common because they cost little to operate.

If you absolutely have to own a vehicle, then there is no better choice right now than a Tesla.  I’ll argue this statement in this blog today based on the low cost of Tesla insurance, the ease of charging the battery, and zero maintenance. 

Tesla Insurance is low cost

Tesla Insurance, which is based on real-time driving behavior, is available in Arizona, Illinois, Ohio, and Texas [Virginia and Oregon soon]. Real-time driving behavior means that the monthly rate you pay for insurance will drop lower if you drive safer, and will increase if you drive less safe. Tesla will help you drive safer, through their app and your usage of the vehicle’s autopilot software that comes with every car.

California has a different kind of Tesla Insurance, and it is not based on real-time driving [but this may change, each state has complicated laws].

Tesla insurance usually costs less than $100 a month, with the likely probability that it will decrease in price. Or, it could increase based on your driving habits.  

I am unsure what you expect to pay monthly, but I was paying about $250 a month before I got Tesla Insurance.  I thought I had a good rate until I experienced the kindness of Tesla.  

Old fashioned style insurance companies cannot compete with the low price of Tesla Insurance.  The antiquated way is to charge you more based on your age instead of your ability to drive carefully.

Charging a Tesla is low cost

Your Tesla, if you decide to get one, costs much less to charge than what you would pay to fill a combustion engine’s tank up with petrol.  

I am not going to give specific overall dollar amount averages in my argument. Instead, I will explain what I pay. Since I charge at home, I do see a small increase in my electric bill.  I set the charge time to when electricity rates are low.  I don’t notice more than a $25 increase in my monthly bill since I got the Tesla.  Supercharging my Tesla away from home costs anywhere from $15 – $20 for a full charge.

Maintaining a Tesla is also low cost

My Tesla has an electric motor that requires no maintenance.  There’s a saying among Tesla owners, that annual maintenance costs are about $7 [cost of windshield wiper fluid].  Conversely, people pay a lot to maintain a combustion engine as there are so many moving parts, valves, and coolant needs.

My own view is that when you need to get your first car, there really is no better car to buy than a Tesla. Here is a brief comparison of Tesla versus combustion engine car:

TESLACOMBUSTION
insurance costs much less in some statesinsurance based on your age, costs are high
avoid the gas pumpsubject to high gas prices
no maintenancescheduled maintenance and constant repairs
A comparison of the costs of owning a Tesla versus a combustion engine car.

Overall, owning a Tesla is less expensive than owning a combustion car. This issue is important because your vehicle is one of the biggest purchases you will ever make so it needs to be one of the best you can get.  

Why I wrote this article and who I wrote it for

A few nights ago, I signed up for Tesla insurance.  I was really happy with the significant rate reduction Tesla gave me.  My teenage kid was also happy.  She explained to me that her friends are just starting out with jobs and their first cars.  She told me they have constant car expenses like insurance [big one], gasoline, and huge maintenance bills [one car needed a whole new engine].  She asked me to consider blogging in a “style that might help her friends believe they could afford a Tesla.” 

Interested in what people think about Tesla Autonomy? You can check that out here.

Red Tesla Model 3 by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

Main header photo of Black Tesla Model 3 by Zack @BLKMDL3 [used with permission].

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Gail Alfar, Edited by Sarah Alfar. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – All Rights Reserved. March 19, 2022

Honoring SpaceX Raptor 2

Raptor 2 featured in Charro days parade [photo courtesy whataboutit ]

In this blogpost, you’ll see how SpaceX -the most successful rocket manufacturing company in the USA- is closely involved with local students. I also share a brief scenario of what it might feel like to be a spacefaring civilization. Find a nice comfy chair, sit down, relax, and enjoy!

Star of the Parade: Raptor 2

Charro Days is a week-long celebration of friendship between the citizens of Brownsville, Texas and Matamoros, Tamaulipas along the Rio Grande. It began in 1938 to boost the economy and the spirits of the community suffering from the Great Depression and aftermath of a category 5 hurricane. This year marks the first one that SpaceX has participated.

Employees of SpaceX donned traditional Mexican costumes, built a float and rolled the superbly engineered Raptor 2 engine down Elizabeth Street. Using a huge LED screen showing Starship, and passing out small white SpaceX maracas, they gave the engine a proper introduction. This matters because Raptor 2 will carry Starship into orbit soon, and bring humans to the moon!

Free rides to all kids were provided by SpaceX. According to local club spokesperson from ‘Space X Girls’ there were about eight rides and the spaceship ride was the one that stood out the most. ‘I did see them [the kids] have so much fun’ said Space X Girls.

Elon Musk was seen with his 21-month-old son, X, enjoying a delicious festival treat called Spiropapas or spiral potatoes [fried potato cut in a spiral and stacked on a long stick]. Fans hope this will become the official food for SpaceX and Tesla.

I caught up with Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa [Commissioner, District 2], after the festival. "Charro Days," she says, "is an intricate celebration between three organizations. SpaceX caught us by surprise and was a major sponsor of all three. We were very excited to see how willing they were to contribute to the festivities." 

She tells me that, "the best part was seeing how many children came to see the SpaceX float in the parade on Saturday. There were at least ten times as many children at Saturday’s parade than any year that I’ve participated in.  Mr. Musk has been incredibly generous to our students, so they really wanted to meet him and see him in person. It was very exciting that many kids did get to see and thank him personally." 

Also, she adds, "Mr. Musk distributed 20 million dollars to schools for our students in Cameron County, 10 million dollars to the City of Brownsville for downtown revitalization, and other significant donations throughout the community."

We talk about the generosity of Elon Musk. "Just last week," she says, "he donated a Starship prototype to the Brownsville airport." She continues, "It’s incredible to see that Brownsville ISD students are now able to have access to technology, math, and science programs."

"The city was finally able to install much-needed lighting that makes our downtown area feel safer. Community members are able to venture out as a family during the night hours because it’s cleaner and safer." 

"More than anything," she continues, "we appreciate the kindness, thoughtfulness, and generosity behind Mr. Musk's contributions to our community. He is a person that gives from his heart, and we are incredibly grateful to support and have him in our community." 

Humans as a Spacefaring Civilization

When you were a kid, did you ever imagine autonomous flying cars, battles in space? I’d like to leave you thinking about a beautiful future, inspired by the Raptor 2 and Elon Musk. Here’s my updated vision of life for future humans,

Gathering in Spaceball City [Brownsville elected to be renamed in 2099] via supersonic rocket travel, are humans from all over earth.  There is a welcoming complex with as much or as little entertainment or information that anyone could want in order to learn about Mars, SpaceX and the glorious history of its founder, Elon Musk.  

At Starbase, families rally around their beloved Mars-bound astonauts as they watch Starships launch elegantly to space.  Boosters return to earth, landing gracefully, as Starships glide effortlesssly among the stars and past the moon to the red planet.

Every single human, upon arrival to Mars, stops at a memorial called Thrawn. Thrawn, a statue similar to the Thinker, inspires the Martians to continue their mission to travel beyond Mars, to other galaxies. 

Traditional folk dress combined with a celebration of space travel [credit Space X Girls]

Gail Alfar, Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – All Rights Reserved, March 5, 2022

Breaking New Ground on the Racetrack: Plaid Model S at COTA

Tesla Model S Plaid (credit: Tesla)

(Austin, Texas) A Tesla Plaid Model S will compete on the track at Circuit of the Americas in the 4th annual Super Lap Battle time attack event, held February 19-20. This is important because it is the first time a Plaid will compete in the event in Austin.

The Plaid is an example of great craftsmanship and superior technology. It is Tesla’s best vehicle. Being both a four-door family sedan and a vehicle that can compete on the racetrack is a huge achievement. It is the fastest production car in the world. It is also proudly made in the USA.

Brief Interview with Plaid Model S Owner, Mike Dusold

I spoke to racer Mike Dusold earlier this week while he was at his shop in Lewisville, Texas.

Gail Alfar: How long have you raced, how did you get your start?

Mike Dusold: I’ve competed for 9 years. I started racing motorcycles and switched to cars because I kept getting injured.

GA: Well now you are in one of the safest cars made. How does it feel to drive the Plaid?

MD: It is my first Tesla. I like it, it’s quick.

GA: Wow, your first Tesla, and you get a Plaid!

MD: Yes, It surprises all my friends!

GA: Tell me about the race, have you practiced?

MD: I am excited about this race. I took it to COTA for practice and it was raining. We did 163 mph in the rain. The car handles it well.

GA: Have you modified it in any way?

MD: The only changes we made to the car are new brakes and tires.

GA: So, you did not remove the backseat?

MD: No, the regulations are that if you do that you have to install a roll bar. We are not going to do that.

GA: So, you are going to race a stock production car, up against a lot of finely tuned combustion cars, how do you think it will do?

MD: I know there are other cars that may go faster, I am going because I want to compete with the Plaid. I think it is better on the track.

GA: I am so glad you are doing this, I’m rooting for you!

MD: Thank you, that’s great!

Mike Dusold is helping to break new ground. As more and more racers switch from combustion engines to electric, we can expect to see more drivers competing for first place in Teslas.

As Mike races his Plaid, Tesla Giga Texas, which lies just up the road from COTA, moves towards certification of the first Model Y vehicles made in Texas. It is a milestone for Tesla to begin mass production of the Model Y in Texas.

Tesla has also updated the Model S product page with some new beautiful videos, photos and animations, as reported by Sawyer Merritt on Twitter.

A Model 3 driven by Dai Toshihara will also participate in the Super Lap Battle.

Tesla Model S Plaid in Austin

Thanks for reading my blog, my goal is to support Tesla through a fresh approach where good thoughts are communicated quickly through both Twitter and here.

Interested in Battery life in a Tesla, traveling, or what people love about their Teslas?

Tesla Battery Life is an article highlighting what to expect from your vehicle’s battery.

Tesla Summer Travel Trip shares ideas that will help you plan your next trip
Frunk Stories From Tesla Owners shares how Tesla owners are an amazing group of people and very inventive regarding ways to use the frunk!
4 Families from the Southern USA tell what they love most about their Tesla is a great read if you are on the fence about if you should get a Tesla or if you know someone who is trying to decide if they should get one.

Downtown Austin by Chris Sharmin

Gail Alfar, Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla, February 18, 2022 – All Rights Reserved.

Model Y Emerges from Giga Texas Today

Austin Model Y Production (credit Jeff Roberts, February 17, 2022)

(Austin, Texas) 17 Feb 2022. Today was a very exciting day, as it marks the day when numerous made in Austin Model Y emerged directly from Giga Texas. Tesla employees parked rows of Model Y in a large parking area just south of Giga Texas, possibly because they have now run out of room to store them inside the gigafactory.

All of the Model Y were covered, for reasons unknown. This could possibly just be to protect them from weather exposure, or possibly because Tesla has not yet certified their vehicles for delivery to customers yet. Vehicles spotted today were of colors Solid Black and Deep Blue Metallic.

It is thought that Giga Texas has produced Model Y in all of their offered colors, as a car carrier truck was spotted recently loaded with all variants.

Jeff Roberts contacted me today after he photographed these beautiful vehicles. I asked him how he felt seeing these emerge straight out of Giga Texas for the first time. “I had seen new Model Y in the Westside parking lot, and that was cool, and I had seen a full load of Ys on a car carrier with Texas plates, but until you see them driving out of the factory, you always wonder in the back of your mind – are these production vehicles that were made at Giga Texas? – but now we know 100% and that felt so exhilarating! I’m on cloud nine!” stated Joe.

Currently, the paint colors that Tesla offers at no extra cost are Midnight Silver Metallic and Pearl White Multi-Coat. Tesla also provides the 21’’ Überturbine Wheels for no extra charge with the performance version. Model Y has two independent motors that digitally control torque to the front and rear wheels. The Performance Version of the Y goes from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds. Tesla’s website states: “Model Y is fully electric, so you never need to visit a gas station again. If you charge overnight at home, you can wake up to a full battery every morning. And when you’re on the road, it’s easy to plug in along the way—at any public station or with the Tesla charging network. We currently have over 30,000 Superchargers worldwide, with six new locations opening every week.”

Tesla Model Y Supercharging (Credit: Tesla)

Why I created this blog

I love to share good vibes about Tesla, Giga Texas, Tesla China & Tesla Solar. I really do believe our future is bright! “What’s Up Tesla” is one way that I support the mission of Tesla and Elon Musk. It is also my way of preserving what I consider major milestones for Giga Texas. There is truly a long road ahead for Tesla!

Having fun painting the Flying Model Y

Gail Alfar, Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – February 17, 2022 –  All Rights Reserved

Header Image Red Model Y Supercharging Credit: Tesla

Something Palpable Has Changed at Giga Texas

(Austin, Texas) by guest contributor Joe Tegtmeyer

Jow Tegtmeyer is a dedicated Tesla enthusiast and highly skilled drone operator. Today he shared observations of Tesla Giga Texas with me that I would like to pass along to anyone interested. Thankfully, Joe gave me his permission to do this.

Giga Texas South End

The morning started out with strong winds, low clouds but warm temperatures. Immediately noticeable when I arrived at Tesla Road is that something palpable has changed on the site.

Tesla Giga Texas North End

Most, if not all of the equipment, cranes, materials, and trash containers have been removed from the north and northeast sides of the casting, paint, and battery cell structure, and the stamping test part containers and other materials have been removed from the southeast corner of the stamping machine area. Other areas around the main factory building similarly look much cleaned up. Only one small crane was lifting drywall up onto the loading platforms which themselves look much more “clean” with all of the plastic and extraneous structures now removed.

As I said, it is immediately noticeable today!

Tesla Giga Texas 4680 battery production area

 We also get a good look into the 4680 battery production area on the 3rd floor of the battery cell structure this morning. We see quite a bit more has been installed and most appear operating. There was also activity of workers in this area tending to the machines, possibly doing tests or calibrations. It appears more “completed” for lack of a better word and more of the equipment appears to be operating. All great signs!

Here are some other highlights from around the site this windy morning:

Tesla Giga Texas South End

– On the south end, we see quite a bit of concrete has been poured and is well on it’s way to curing, while some of the remaining phase 2 area forms and rebar are in preparation to complete this area. The stormwater pipe install in this area also is nearing completion.

– The south end of the General assembly structure also is much cleaner with most equipment and materials relocated to the east side staging areas. We look briefly into the two large openings on this end (ground level) and see more materials moved inside here as well. Overall, the south end looks much “cleaner” and organized this morning.

– On the east side of the stamping area, most of the AIDA stamping press crates and parts are now gone, with just a few remaining near the disassembled gantry crane. The bins that were used for test parts in this area are also noticeably absent, which may mean they have moved to a different phase of operations.

– On the roof of the General Assembly structure, we see solar panel installation continuing, but also nearby, we see crews working on the HVAC large ducting over the body-white structure. The vents themselves were emitting quite a lot of vapor, but it was quickly blown away due to the strong winds.

– On the north end of the battery cell, we also see more wall panels have been added, almost finishing off this area (except where the temporary loading platforms are). Only three much smaller loading docks are now visible on the ground level.

– The electrical conduit installation on the northeast of the casting structure is now surrounded by concrete barriers and overall this area also presents a much cleaner appearance.

– On the east parking lot area, we see the earthwork nearest to the powerlines has moved farther north and now reaches the new Tesla Road. The parking lot also had a lot of cars parked on the eastern half, indicating lots of activity.

– The trailer area just south of the electrical sub-station also has much of the equipment and other vehicles formerly located on the north end of the main building, possibly indicating a shift in where this equipment will now be stored.

– The far northeast clearing area is buzzing with activity this early morning with many earthmovers and excavators at work removing hills, ponds and getting ready to improve the overall grade of the land area.

Overall, there is definitely something that has changed in the construction of Giga Texas, and it seems we may be moving into a new phase of operations, possibly related to Model Y production-ready to pick up soon.

Distinct Tesla T at the entrance to Giga Texas

Gail’s Thoughts on today:

Tesla Model Y production in Texas is going to move Tesla into a new and brighter phase that will put this factory on the global stage. Giga Texas will take center stage as it ramps up production. Currently, Giga Shanghai leads in production, and my take is that operations in Austin likely benefitted from talent from both Tesla China and talent from Giga Berlin Tesla team (as well as Tesla Fremont of course). This places Giga Texas in a position to serve as a flagship model for future operations.

Gail Alfar, Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – February 16, 2022 –  All Rights Reserved