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

Elon Musk Conversation with Reporters (Only 4 minutes long and packed with information)

Elon Musk with reporters, Stavenger, Norway. credit video image from TV 2 Norway.

You may notice that it is rare for Elon Musk to talk with reporters.  In a gesture of love for Norway and it’s people, he stopped and had an informal conversation with reporters outside under the beautiful trees on his way into the ONS 2022 Conference (on August 29, in Stavanger). Here is the conversation and major highlights. I also share my informal outlook at the end of the article.

  • Gratitude from Elon Musk to Tesla owners in Norway
  • Why we need to maintain oil and gas production 
  • Is it possible for Norway to produce more wind and hydropower?
  • Norway possibly storing wind power from North Sea in large battery packs 
  • World’s Biggest Challenges: Underpopulation and transition to sustainable energy
  • Underpopulation is at a crisis level

Elon Musk visits Norway to show appreciation for the support of the Norwegian people for electric vehicles

Elon Musk: Hello everyone, I look forward to speaking today.

Reporter: Why did you come to Stavanger?

Elon Musk: Actually I came in appreciation for the support of the Norwegian people for electric vehicles. I wanted to say thank you to the people of Norway for their tremendous support for sustainable transport over the many years. 

Reporter: What’s your message for today?

Elon Musk: Actually I came in appreciation for the support of the Norwegian people for electric vehicles. I think I’m going to maybe answer some questions and provide some ideas for the transition to a sustainable energy world, But, like I said, the reason that I’m here is in appreciation for the support that the people of Norway have provided for electric vehicles, so once again, thank you very much for that! 

Civilization depends on energy and would crumble without it

Reporter: What do you think about the oil and gas now? Should we use it?

Elon Musk: I think, realistically, we do need to use oil and gas in the short term, because otherwise, civilization would crumble. So, in order for civilization to continue to function, we do need oil and gas. And I think actually, especially these days, with the Russia sanctions, we do need to provide oil and gas to keep civilization running. I think any reasonable person would conclude that. While at the same time accelerating the advent of sustainable energy.

Winters in Norway may benefit from stationary battery packs storing wind, hydropower

Reporter: So, Norway should explore more?

Elon Musk: I think some additional exploration is warranted at this time, and also continue to support the transition to electric vehicles.

I was sort of wondering if it’s possible for Norway to produce more perhaps hydropower, and wind power as well? And potentially export that to Southern Europe?

But overall, I’m very glad to be here and I’m looking forward to a lovely day, and I always have a great time here in Norway.

Reporter: Would you consider yourself endorsing oil and gas?

Elon Musk: No, ha ha, I’ve got to focus on sustainable energy, electric vehicles, stationary battery packs, and solar.

But, one of the things I was wondering, is if there might be sort of the North Sea, places where it’s very windy, there might be a potential for a tremendous amount of wind power.  And then, when combined with stationary battery packs, this could be a very strong sustainable energy source in the winter. So, that seems like something that would be worth exploring as well.

Reporter: You were here in 2014, what is the biggest difference now?

Elon Musk: I don’t know, Norway looks great, ha ha! I mean I just got here, so… I don’t know, I love Norway, it’s a great place! 

World’s Biggest Challenges: Underpopulation crisis and transition to sustainable energy

Elon Musk also met with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo on the sidelines of the ONS 2022 Conference. credit The Brussels Times

Reporter: What is the biggest challenge for the world right now?

Elon Musk: Definitely, one of the biggest challenges that civilization has ever faced, is the transition to sustainable energy.  And having a sustainable energy economy, so obviously, we’ve got that. But that will take some decades to complete.

And then one of my sort of less obvious things to be concerned about, is the birth rate. You know, I think it’s important that people have enough babies to support civilization. and we don’t sort of dwindle away. Because they say like, civilization may end with a bang or a whimper. and if we don’t have enough kids, then we will die with a whimper in adult diapers. and that will be depressing, and… 

Reporter: So make more babies?

Elon Musk: Yes, make more babies! At least make enough babies to sustain the population. you know, we don’t want the population to drive so low that we just eventually die, you know? haha 

Sorry, I’ve got to go inside guys. 

Reporter: Energy crisis, climate crisis, and also the war crisis?

Elon Musk: And the baby crisis! Let’s not forget the baby crisis. 

Reporter: More babies means more demand for energy.

Elon Musk: Trust me, the baby crisis is a big deal.

Elon then said goodbye to the press and was soon talking to Xenia Wickett inside at the ONS 2022 Conference.  You may enjoy that interview here, on Elon Musk Interview with Xenia Wickett in Norway (ONS 2022 Stavanger Conference August 29th) Less than 25 min long and packed with information (full interview)

CONCLUSION

Elon Musk at ONS 2022 Conference. credit Twitter user @kapsarc

Norway is a leader in the support of EVs. On his way to the ONS 2022 Conference, Elon Musk expressed gratitude for this, saying “I came in appreciation for the support of the Norwegian people for electric vehicles.” Norway has promoted EVs by giving certain benefits at different times to EV owners. (These have included lowering taxes on EVs, some free parking and toll road access for EV owners.) About 75% of NEW cars sold in Norway are electric and most are Teslas. Tesla vehicles are also known to perform well in cold weather.

I agree that keeping civilization running smoothly depends on energy, and today that has to include gas and oil.  Norway currently supplies about 22% of the EU’s natural gas demand using subsea pipelines.  Elon Musk said he does not specifically endorse this, and said more exploration is warranted due to the Russian sanctions.  He did emphasize that he wonders if Norway could produce more hydropower and windpower and export that to Southern Europe. He also said that stationary battery packs could store wind power from the North Sea and that could provide Norway with power in the winter. 

When asked what is the biggest challenge for the world right now, Elon spoke about both the transition to sustainable energy and underpopulation.  He said, “Definitely, one of the biggest challenges that civilization has ever faced, is the transition to sustainable energy.”

For the last 70 years, fertility rates have significantly decreased worldwide, with a total 50% decline, according to numbers from Our World in Data. Elon spoke with conviction about the low birth rate, saying “I think it’s important that people have enough babies to support civilization. and we don’t sort of dwindle away.” He later called it a baby crisis and urged people not to forget that the baby crisis is a big deal.  I agree with Elon Musk and hope to offer my personal encouragement in a future article, written from the viewpoint of a mom with 5 kids.

If this topic interests you, you may also read  Elon Musk: Discussion About Underpopulation.  I think you’ll enjoy it!

Watch the video of Elon Musk talking to reporters here. (credit, Tesla Hype)

Tesla Model 3 | Norway by Minimal Duck.
Boats in the harbor of Stavenger, Norway on the day of ONS 2022 and Elon Musk’s arrival, credit Juliet Dunlop.

Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – This article was created by Gail Alfar with the goal to preserve this interview in text or written form for the purpose of 1. education and 2. preserving the brilliant insight and words of Elon Musk. All Rights Reserved. September 11, 2022

Have questions about Buying a Tesla? From fires to how to drive one, here are the answers

Texas made Model Y at the Tesla 2021 Shareholder’s meeting. credit: the author

When it comes to asking questions about buying a Tesla, word-of-mouth is the best!  Here are the most common questions I get asked, from fires to how to drive a Tesla:

  • I heard they catch on fire, tell me about that. 
  • How do you charge a Tesla, do you plug it into a regular outlet?
  • How long does it take to charge?
  • How far does it go on a single charge? 
  • How much does a Tesla raise your electric bill?
  • Can you still own a Tesla if you live in an apartment?
  • I heard they are too expensive, aren’t they? 
  • How do you drive one?

I heard they catch on fire, tell me about that

The media used to exaggerate any report of a Tesla on fire in order to generate more revenue (clicks). It was never about Teslas being more fire-prone than combustion engine cars. The number of fires in a gasoline car is vastly higher.

“Now that the big automotive advertisers are making EVs, you will see far fewer articles about EVs catching on fire.

It is not surprising that internal combustion engine cars have a tendency to combust externally too.” Elon Musk

Credit Tesla 2021 Impact Report, p. 90

Tesla 2021 Impact Report states how low the risk is for a fire to occur in a Tesla,

Fire incidents are ~11x lower for Tesla vehicles than the average vehicle in the U.S.

From 2012 – 2021, there has been approximately 5 Tesla vehicle fires for every billion miles traveled.

By comparison, data from the National Fire Protection Association and U.S. Department of Transportation show that in the U.S. there are 53 vehicle fires for every billion miles travelled.

How do you charge a Tesla, can you plug into a regular outlet? 

Tesla Home Charging. credit, Tesla

This is a great question and I love it when people ask me this.  My answer is that you’ll likely want to plug your Tesla into an outlet that’s the same as your dryer outlet, and a regular wall outlet (110V) can work, especially if your daily commute is not very long.  Many owners install a Tesla Wall Connector in their garage.  Tesla recommends the Wall Connector on their website,

“Tesla Wall Connector is an efficient and convenient home charging solution that lets you plug your vehicle in overnight and start your day charged.” 

How long does it take to charge a Tesla?

I plug the Tesla in at home at night so that its all charged up by morning. If you go to a Supercharger it will only take 15 minutes to recharge up to 200 miles.

How far does it go on a single charge? 

The most popular Tesla,  Model Y,  has a range of 330 miles. Almost everyone asks me about traveling, so I wrote about that in my article “Tesla Summer Travel Trip.” Tesla provides an automatic navigation route that works very well. Tesla Superchargers are plentiful, and you can travel anywhere in the USA. There are over 35,000 Tesla Superchargers in the world today and more are being built every day.

How much does a Tesla raise your electric bill?

The quick answer is that our bill raised from anywhere to $30 – $50 a month.  Of course, this will vary due to daily miles driven.  Tesla has a Charging Calculator and in the above example, a Model 3 driving 49 miles a day would cost $1.69 a day to charge on a wall connector.

Tesla’s Online Charging Calculator

Tesla says,

“The most convenient place to charge your Tesla is at home, overnight. Plug in when you get home and let your car charge while you sleep. You no longer need to take trips to the pump with a gas-powered vehicle, and you can utilize low overnight utility pricing during off-peak hours, saving both time and money.” Tesla

Can you still own a Tesla if you live in an apartment?

Tesla Destination Charging, Apartments & Condos may install these. credit, Tesla

Yes. Many apartment complexes, workplaces and even schools have or are planning to install chargers.

Tesla’s website is encouraging,

“Increasingly, condos and apartment buildings are required by law to allow EV charging. Installing charging makes business sense, and the case will only get stronger as more people buy electric vehicles. 

Additionally, incentives may be available to you or your building property manager to alleviate cost, at the federal, state, county, municipal and utility levels.”

Tesla’s website is helpful, saying,

We offer the following templates to help get these conversations started with your building manager or HOA:

I heard they are very expensive, aren’t they? 

As of today, the Model Y costs $58,190 (including potential incentives and gas savings of $7,800).

I wrote about the vast savings in buying a Tesla in my article, Is a Tesla Worth it? Does Tesla Insurance and Maintenance Cost Less?

Model Y pricing from August 27, 2022

How do you drive one?

Model Y at Tesla Gigafactory Texas, Austin on 8/24/22 credit, Joe Tegtmeyer

This is a great question!  I have driven so many cars both stick shift and automatic, there is no easier car to simply drive than a Tesla.  You will enjoy that the car is always on.  You get in, there’s nothing to start, the car is silently on and ready to go.  It has the basic brake pedal and accelerator pedal, which I still call the gas pedal by mistake. 

Two things make the Tesla feel very roadworthy, that’s the fact it has a low center of gravity as the heavy battery power pack forms the base of the car.  And the other is the fact the drive train is all electric and there’s no transmission.  This leads to better safety and also a heightened experience when driving.  The car is a total pleasure to drive, it’s like happiness on wheels. 

You can schedule a test drive at a service center or rent a Tesla.  Hertz rents out Teslas and they have a good webpage “What’s it like to drive a Tesla?” They say,

“Driving a Tesla is an exhilarating experience. While the basic driving principles remain the same as in a gas-powered car, the available torque, technology and braking methods are driving features which distinguish Tesla and other EVs. Learn more about how to operate your Tesla before you get behind the wheel of this sleek vehicle.”

Hertz has a dedicated EV Customer Support Team that is there to answer any questions. The best experience is to test drive one after watching the videos on how to drive one.

CONCLUSION

  • Fire incidents are ~11x lower for Tesla vehicles than the average vehicle in the U.S.
  • Tesla Wall Connector installed at your house is the easiest way to charge every night
  • If you go to a Supercharger it will only take 15 minutes to recharge up to 200 miles
  • Model Y,  has a range of 330 miles. With over 35,000 Superchargers in the world, you can travel anywhere
  • Expect your electric bill to go up anywhere from $30 – $50 a month. Tesla’s Charging Calculator will customize this figure to your needs 
  • Apartment Living: Many condos and apartments have EV charging or are planning installation
  • As of today, Model Y costs $58,190 (including potential incentives and gas savings of $7,800) Model 3 is the best purchase I have ever made in my life, worth every penny   
  • There is no easier car to drive than a Tesla. Many cities have Tesla stores where you can test drive one https://www.tesla.com/drive

My Model 3 is the best purchase I have ever made in my life, it’s pure happiness to drive it, and it just gets better with the over-the-air software updates.

Tesla Gigafactory Texas, Austin on 8/24/22 credit, Joe Tegtmeyer

Like this article? You can read more like this

Is a Tesla Worth it? Does Tesla Insurance and Maintenance Cost Less? If you absolutely have to own a vehicle, then there is no better choice right now than a Tesla. I base this statement on the low cost of Tesla insurance, the ease of charging the battery, and zero maintenance.

American Innovation: Tesla owners share their favorite features I share the enthusiasm of Tesla owners by telling their unique stories, as well as putting a spotlight on some of their favorite features in their Tesla! Hope you’ll relax and enjoy these positive vibes!

Article by Gail Alfar. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – All Rights Reserved. August 28, 2022.

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

5 Takeaways from Tesla’s 2022 Shareholder Meeting

Elon Musk spoke at the 2022 Annual Shareholder Meeting on August 4th. I attended in order to experience the event firsthand so I could write about my impressions for you.

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.

Elon Musk at GIgafactory Texas, credit: Tesla

Elon Musk and Tesla, Inc. are grateful to you as a Shareholder

The Cyber Roundup was Tesla’s kind way of saying thanks to you as a retail TSLA shareholder. This year’s meeting was the largest in-person meeting ever and it provided an opportunity to see products up close, take a factory tour, and even speak with Elon Musk.

Towards the end of this article, I will share info with you on how you can attend in the future. Martin Viecha, Tesla’s Investor Relations, opened the meeting and he later joked on Twitter, “It’s not a Shareholder Meeting, it’s really a rock concert for TSLA supporters.” 

Cyber Roundup felt like this because it was a way for Tesla supporters to thank Elon Musk and Tesla directly.  This was evident as I observed many people cheering, clapping [sometimes standing], and even whistling after every informational slide, statement, or joke that Elon Musk made.  

A new way of thinking about a factory

Model Y front hoods as Art Installation at Gigafactory Texas, credit: the author

Cybernetics is a term coined by American mathematician Norbert Wiener to refer to the general analysis of control systems and communication systems in living organisms and machines. At the meeting, Elon explained how Tesla went from a small start-up to what it is today, with factories as a giant cybernetic collective,

“When we started out here, we were told electric cars were impossible and if you could make an electric car with a couple hundred miles range then nobody would buy it anyway because people just love gasoline cars.

You know, when we started out it was down to a start-up company and then down a square to an electric car company, and we were told you are never going to make money, etc. and we didn’t for a while, but now we have the highest operating margin in the whole industry. 

Tesla is not just a car company, Tesla is many companies in one and we’re as much a software company as we are a hardware company and that’s really going to be obviously essential for the future.

Software in the car, and in neural net training, but also software in the factory as well.

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 at 2022 Shareholders Meeting

Tesla is close to solving an important part of AI and Welcomes Talented People to Apply 

Elon Musk shares the hands of the Tesla Optimus robot for the first time. credit: the author

Fully autonomous driving is an incredibly difficult problem to solve.  Elon‘s positive outlook at the meeting gives us hope that autonomy will be solved.  Elon stated, 

“It’s really interesting because we are effectively solving an important aspect of artificial intelligence, real-world AI for self driving, which, when you think about it, is what’s needed to solve self-driving because how was the road system designed?

Its designed for a biological neural net and eyes, and so naturally the thing that would therefore work for the silicon analog is therefore cameras and silicon neural net.

So, sort of by accident, we’re actually solving an important and very useful element of artificial intelligence.

I definitely want talented people who are working on AI to consider working at Tesla because I think we’re solving an important part of AI, and one that can ultimately save millions of lives and prevent tens of millions of serious injuries by driving an order of magnitude safer than people.” – Elon Musk

Elon Musk talks about upcoming products Cybertruck and Optimus

Cybertruck at Gigafactory Texas, credit: the author

On Cybertruck, Elon said,

“What I can say is that the Cybertruck will be one hell of a product, and it’s going to be like a damn fine machine, and we’re on track to be in production middle of next year from this factory. 

So we’re going to be installing the production equipment, the tooling and all starting the next couple months we will begin the installation so aiming to be in volume production middle of next year.” – Elon Musk

Elon Musk spoke about Optimus,

“I’m sort of surprised that people, or at least analysts out there are not understanding the importance of the Optimus robot. 

My guess is that Optimus will be more valuable than the car long term. 

In fact, I think it will turn the whole notion of what an economy is on its head. 

The point at which you have no shortage of labor.  You know, the economy is capita, if you don’t have capita constrain then the economy will be arbitrarily huge, so it’s crazy.” – Elon Musk 

The Mission to Accelerate the Transition to Clean Energy and How you Can Help

Tesla let shareholders sign a Model Y, credit: the author

The shareholder’s meeting took on a Town Hall vibe towards the end, where people formed two lines and were given microphones to ask Elon questions.  That portion starts at 51 minutes into the video, and it was delightful to experience.  A total of nine lucky people had the chance to comment, suggest, and or ask Elon a question. 

The last question was by a young man who said he simply wanted to thank Elon for everything he has done for the earth and the community and ask, aside from working for Tesla, being a shareholder, or purchasing a Tesla, how can the masses help push your vision? Elon replied,

“Well I think just generally encouraging sustainable energy and being supportive of that, I think is really helpful.

I say, you’re doing great so far! Without your support, Tesla wouldn’t be where it is.

Its people like yourself, and everyone in this room and out there and the 3 million people who bought our cars, and the millions who have gotten solar, that all really helps make the world a better place for the future. 

I’d like to sort of convey a message about optimism about the future. If we work really hard to accelerate sustainable energy and sustainable transport, the future will be good!

Just make sure people know that, I’m not suggesting complacency at all, I’m literally saying, if we work hard towards a sustainable future, we will achieve it!

And the future is bright!” – Elon Musk

CONCLUSION

5 Takeaways

  • Tesla goes above and beyond to show appreciation to shareholders, the Cyber Roundup was a unique event that was well planned out and a delight to attend in person.
  • Elon Musk is advancing the concept of a giant cybernetic collective, saying, “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.” 
  • Once again, Elon asked for people talented in the field of AI to consider applying to work at Tesla. Elon also said, “I think we’re solving an important part of AI, and one that can ultimately save millions of lives and prevent tens of millions of serious injuries by driving an order of magnitude safer than people.”
  • The exciting news about Cybertruck was that the production equipment will be installed in the next couple of months. About Optimus, Elon said it, “will turn the whole notion of what an economy is on its head.  The point at which you have no shortage of labor.”
  • Finally,  Elon thanked all of Tesla’s customers and shared a positive message about the future, “I’d like to sort of convey a message about optimism about the future. If we work really hard to accelerate sustainable energy and sustainable transport, the future will be good!”

As a Tesla shareholder, you can become involved by voting.  Tesla has shared information about how you can vote on their website

Tesla Investor Relations has shared that the new Tesla Shareholder Platform has been launched.  You can join the program to participate in Tesla events and receive updates about events by logging into your account at this link.

Tesla Semi awaits outside the doors of Gigafactory Texas, credit: the author

Article by Gail Alfar. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – All Rights Reserved. August 7, 2022.

4 Families from the Southern USA tell what they love most about their Tesla [series]

Are you on the fence about if you should get a Tesla or do you know someone who is trying to decide if they should get one? This article shares good practical reasons why people love Teslas.

So pass this along to a friend who might need it and I will pass along to you my Southern Sweet Tea recipe. Iced Tea is great in the hot summer. Recipe below.

CAMPING AND TRAVELLING

Tesla at Lindsey’s Resort, Arkansas

“We never camped as a family prior to owning a Tesla.”

“Tesla has plenty of amenities like air conditioning and entertainment so we felt confident enough that even if our campsite wasn’t great, we’d still have fun and be comfortable.

We have camped in Arkansas, Missouri, and Texas.” – Simon, Little Rock, Arkansas

Simon’s kids love camping! Lindsey’s Resort in Arkansas has 12 Tesla Destination Chargers. Simon told me his family had a great time there. If you plan to travel this summer in your Tesla, check out Tesla Summer Travel Trip.

SAFEST CAR MONEY CAN BUY

The Tesla 2021 Impact Report emphasizes safety as one of Tesla’s top design priorities. Tesla says,

“At Tesla, safety features are not optional. Our full suite of safety features comes standard with every vehicle.

When we design vehicles, first and foremost, we want them to be safe.” Tesla 2021 Impact Report, page 81

Three diono child safety seats in Model S, credit: Jack

Safety was the #1 reason one father of three kids bought a Tesla. He trusts his three kids to be safe on drives as well as entertained watching Netflix in the back.

“Safety & performance immediately come to mind.

I could not wait to put my family in a Tesla for safety reasons.” – Jack, father of three, North Carolina

ENGINEERED LIKE NO OTHER

Tesla Model Y in Austin, Texas, credit the author.

I asked a family in Alabama with two Model Ys what they love most about their Teslas and the list was amazing!

“Some of the things we like best are the organically integrated software including the battery management system, the minimalist user interface, the extended range due to superior battery tech, regenerative braking/one-pedal driving, the incredibly efficient onboard HVAC system, and having the privilege of testing the FSD Beta software.

I also love not having a transmission; the available power and torque are instantaneous and astounding. The Model Y Long Range handles amazingly well for a small SUV; it stays planted and flat in turns.

It’s a very versatile vehicle. I like the ride height and large cargo area. The seats are comfortable. Overall, the Y’s are a pleasure to drive. The design is truly inspired; the lines, curves, and glass roof are beautiful AND aerodynamic!

I like all the little touches like Santa, Sentry, Camp, and Dog Modes, and over-the-air software updates. We love charging at home and saving money (not having to buy expensive, smelly gasoline).

The Tesla Supercharger network is a huge plus for extended trips.

Most importantly, we fully support Tesla’s mission of accelerating the transition to sustainable energy and enjoy driving these incredible, environmentally-friendly vehicles.” –Wanda, Huntsville, Alabama

DITCH GAS STATIONS, ZERO EMISSIONS

Heather loves her Model 3. Credit: Lee Overstreet

“Nearly everything about the car is a dramatic upgrade from our last car, a 2001 Maxima.

The Tesla is non-polluting, non-stinking, comfortable, cheap to charge, and partially drives itself.

You never go to the gas station and never get oil changes.  Most repairs I’ve ever done to a gas car were to things that don’t exist on a Tesla Model 3.

I’m thrilled to not be belching out pollution everywhere I go, and to at least be doing my little part in slowing our effect on the climate.”

Lee, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Conclusion

Tesla owners love their cars for many reasons, here are some shared in this article,

  • #1 in Safety
  • No gas stations, no oil changes, charge at home
  • Zero emissions
  • Great for travel and camping
  • Comfortable seats, a pleasure to drive
  • Beautiful and aerodynamic, glass roof
  • Over-the-air software updates
  • Instant power, torque, great handling
  • Model Y – ride height and large cargo area
  • Camp Mode, Dog Mode, Sentry Mode, and Holiday Santa Mode

Many people are finding out the advantages of driving an all-electric Tesla. It is no shock that Tesla was #1 in premium vehicle segment sales and also the EV sales leader in the USA in Q1 2022. Eva Fox of Tesmanian reported, “without a doubt, Tesla continues to be the absolute sales leader in the EV segment, which is obvious given how much effort the manufacturer puts into this, especially when compared with other brands.”

To read what four more Tesla owners love about their Teslas, see “American Innovation: Tesla Owners Share Their Favorite Features.”

Maybe one of the reasons why you love your Tesla was not mentioned. Feel free to share it in the comments.

Southern Sweet Tea:  Boil 4 cups water. Let family-size tea bag steep 10 minutes (add a pinch of baking soda to reduce bitterness).  Remove tea bag. Add 4 cups cold water and 3/4 cup sugar and stir.  Chill and serve with ice and lemon.

Rooftop view of Austin, credit the author.

Like this article? You can read more like this

Article by Gail Alfar with thanks to Lee Overstreet, Simon Mahan, Dr. Jack, and Wanda Husdon. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – This blog post was created utilizing STARLINK satellite services. All Rights Reserved. July 30, 2022

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

Elon Musk: This is Part of Master Plan Part 3

Welcome back to What’s Up Tesla! I’m celebrating today with you the fantastic opportunity I had to meet Elon Musk at Gigafactory Texas this past week.  I was invited to be present during Johnna Crider’s interview for her podcast, “Getting Stoned: Interview With Elon Musk.” So let’s have a slice of Pecan Pie, and enjoy! 

Elon Musk explained details about Master Plan Part 3 and making sure the power stays on in an easy-to-understand way. I am excited to share his words with you in this article!

3 Pillars to a Sustainable Energy Future

In the interview, Elon Musk said

“There are three pillars to a sustainable energy future. 

One is electric transport, the other is sustainable power generation, primarily through solar and wind, and then the third is stationary battery energy storage because the sun doesn’t shine all the time and the wind doesn’t blow all the time. 

You’ve got to store the energy while the sun is shining and the wind is blowing in the stationary batteries and then those batteries provide power to the grid. 

We can have a fully sustainable energy earth just with those three things. 

Tesla is working on all those three things.”

“There are three pillars to a sustainable energy future.” – Elon Musk

“The stationary battery part is a big deal and we are ramping that up. 

It’s going to be a very big part of our business long term.  It’s a very important part of the total energy solution for earth. 

Our estimate is that you need about 300 Terawatt hours of energy storage or 300,000 Gigawatt hours.  Other people may come up with different numbers but in order to fully transition the earth including all electricity, transport and heating, I think it’s probably around that number. 

So, that’s a lot of batteries that need to get made.  And if you assume a battery life, before it gets recycled, of 20 years roughly, then you need 15 Terawatt hours a year of annual production at steady state.  So, 15,000 Gigawatt hours a year.

Our current production is much less than that.  I think we might be approaching 1000 Gigawatt hours or thereabouts at this point.”

Giga Texas Battery Cell Production [credit: Tesla]

Master Plan Part 3

“And this is like my, sort of, my Masterplan Part 3. It’s about scaling. How do we scale?

How do we get to that fully sustainable energy economy?

And what tonnage do we need of what materials?

And what is maybe the best way to get all of those materials and turn them into batteries?

But the fundamental governor of the rate at which we can transition to sustainability is the rate at which we can grow the output of lithium-ion batteries.”

100% Renewable Multi-Customer Microgrid Is Now Operational at PG&E credit: PG&E

In response to Johnna’s comment that the weakest part of Texas is the grid, and here comes Tesla trying to strengthen that weakest part, Elon replied

“The batteries are helpful even without sustainable energy because they can sort of load balance the grid so if you have power spikes the batteries can absorb the power spike. 

If it dips or there’s a drop in power or an increase in power, like power fluctuations, the batteries can smooth it out. 

And so the Tesla Megapack and Powerwalls and stuff can be really helpful for stabilizing the grid even in the absence of sustainable energy.”

Making Sure the Power Stays on in Texas

I asked Elon Musk if he could talk a little about Distributed Energy Resources [DERs] and if Gigafactory Texas could be protected in the event of an emergency, Elon replied,

“Well, I think this is going to be in terms of batteries, a combination of large batteries, sort of utility-scale batteries with very big installations. 

Like we just did a big thing with PG&E at Moss Landing in California which is going to be very important for maintaining power in California.  There is a number of other installations happening. 

And then at the local level, you’ve got the Powerwalls that collectively can stabilize the grid within a neighborhood. 

So, the combination of centralized batteries with Megapack and distributed batteries at homes and businesses with powerwall working together can have a very positive effect in making sure the power stays on.” – Elon Musk

Tesla Megapacks at Moss Landing with PG&E [credit PG&E]

I stated that I think it brings people hope when we think about how much people depend on energy for just about everything.  Elon replied,

Absolutely, energy is the foundation of the economy.  Civilization would crumble immediately if we didn’t have it.  There would be mass starvation. Terrible. – Elon Musk

Conclusion

Elon Musk wastes no time explaining that Tesla is working on the three pillars to a sustainable energy future. These are electric transport, sustainable power generation, and stationary battery energy storage. Elon’s Master Plan Part 3 aims to quickly solve the problem of how to get to a sustainable energy economy. Elon said, “the fundamental governor of the rate at which we can transition to sustainability is the rate at which we can grow the output of lithium-ion batteries.” Energy is the foundation of the economy. Elon stated, “the combination of centralized batteries with Megapack and distributed batteries at homes and businesses with powerwall working together can have a very positive effect in making sure the power stays on.”

My thoughts

My impression of Elon Musk is that he’s extremely focused and dedicated. His attitude was one of genuine kindness and enthusiasm about doing the interview. Several times he also expressed a sense of urgency about wanting to get to work with the Tesla Team at Giga Texas that day.

The conference room the interview was in gives you a floor-to-ceiling view of the inside of the gigafactory [see below]. Factory sounds were present, including Model Y horns beeping beyond the glass. We are all a witness to the beginning of something very big. Gigafactory Texas will soon produce an unprecedented number of Model Y, batteries, and Cybertrucks at a steady, fast pace.

Many people are interested in learning more about energy storage, so to have the chance to ask Elon a question about Distributed Energy Resources [DERs] and keeping Gigafactory Texas’ power on was a real honor!

What would you ask Elon Musk if you had the chance?

Gigafactory Texas as seen from the interview conference room. [credit Gail Alfar, All Rights Reserved, June 25, 2022]

Want to read more excellent articles? I suggest…

You can subscribe to this blog here, and you can listen to the entire interview with Elon Musk here and on Spotify or Apple Podcasts

Gail Alfar. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – This blog post was created utilizing STARLINK satellite services. All Rights Reserved. July 3, 2022

Energy Reliability from Big Batteries for Texas and Beyond

Welcome back to my blog. I am excited to write about Tesla Energy. This week I was honored to host Johnna Crider in Austin when she was here to interview Elon Musk for her podcast, “Getting Stoned.” She invited me along, and even let me ask questions to Elon Musk about Tesla Energy. I will share more about that in the future after she releases her podcast. In this article, I will give a little background on the developments related to Tesla Energy in Texas.   In November 2021, Elon Musk said

“Tesla Megapack batteries will help stabilize the grid this winter” – Elon Musk

Tesla Working with ERCOT at Full Speed

Arushi Sharma Frank, US Energy Markets Policy Lead at Tesla, spoke about something few people know. Tesla has been working successfully for nearly three years with ERCOT. Here is part of what she said in public comments to the ERCOT Board of Directors on June 21, 2022.  Arushi said,

"Tesla has been working with ERCOT in Texas to support its efforts to improve the resiliency and innovation of the grid. 

In 2020 Tesla approached ERCOT for the first time to come up with the language in the nodal protocols that will allow Tesla Megapack to interconnect in the state. 

We participated and collaborated with all stakeholders, utilities, independent generators, the consumer segment, and the whole group, and within a year we were able to pass changes that allowed a 100 Megawatt battery to interconnect timely the following summer.

For perspective, this was just a few months after storm Uri when the battery went live in June ... and support the grid immediately the next summer. 

The one-year time period is incredible.

There is no other market where I think our company or any other company could change market rules, implement them and interconnect a 100 Megawatt battery in one year.

That was an incredible success! I want to make sure that everybody knows that it is an incredible precedent and that precedent must continue in how ERCOT addresses and how stakeholders address innovation in this market.  

In 2021 Tesla sponsored another NPRR [Nodal Protocol Revision Request] which is happily on your agenda today as unanimously supported by the Technical Advisory Committee.  

That is NPRR 1100. We came up with NPRR 1100 in its infancy when we realized that we had the ability to build another large battery on land that is contiguous with the Gigafactory Texas and we had more than one use case for how that battery could be used.”
Gigafactory Texas Solar Roof spells TESLA June 23, 2022 Credit Jeff Roberts

Arushi explained that in the simplest case, the big battery can participate for its full nameplate value in the energy and ancillary services market and provide grid reliability services. 

In another case, she explained,

“If the substation or the connection to the grid is down, and the battery just cannot get its energy out to the system, the battery could still be used and be connected locally as a microgrid to another load to help that load with its operations,”  or to put it another way, when the grid is in a crisis and a substation is down and the load can’t get power from anywhere else, NPRR 1100 will allow that battery to provide that power. 

In the case of Gigafactory Texas, Arushi explained that NPRR 1100 would allow the gigafactory to receive backup power for some functions such as the safe shutdown of critical equipment if there was a grid failure impacting the electric substation.

Protecting People and Businesses in the next Critical Emergency

I interpret that what Tesla is offering to the grid will help protect people and businesses in the next critical emergency.  Arushi explains it this way,

“The reason this NPRR is so important is that it creates a brand new value proposition for large batteries which could be essential to a lot of large critical loads in the state. 

Think hospitals, think companies that make toilet paper, think anything that can suffer from a grid emergency and allow those companies to enter into contracts with developers of large batteries, and that contract is still economic for the developer, because on a good day they can participate in the market and get that value from the ERCOT but on a bad day they can turn around and use that large capacity the system to support safe operations at a very large facility.  We're talking facilities with loads of 50 to 100 megawatts.

DERs [Distributed Energy Resources]

The Texas grid can become even more stable with the help of individual powerwall owners’ contributions. Arushi explained Tesla’s next step,

“I want to end it by talking about Tesla’s next initiative, and that is something you’ve heard about in the news I’m sure, as well as from ERCOT directly - and that is figuring out the reliability of the distributed energy system. Tesla’s first initiative in 2020 was about Tesla participating as an independent generator in the market. Tesla’s second initiative was about Tesla participating as an industrial consumer in this market. 

This initiative is about Tesla’s customers.  And it is also about the retail energy offer that Tesla can bring to this market that relies primarily on the reliability and the innovation that is waiting on the distributed system, to the tune of gigawatts.

It is going to be a lot of work and we know it is because DER  [Distributed energy resources] integration has taken work in every market. It is probably going to take three or four years. 

But the efforts that Tesla has led over the past year not only speed things up but will allow this market to dip its toe in the water and do so by using private companies like us to take the front load of the efforts to support the studies that are needed to change the system for the better.

If the board has questions or if you believe the ERCOT staff should be working on these specific issues we would love the board's support and the public support to unlock this next step of resiliency on the grid. Thank you.” 
Tesla Powerwall as a DER, Credit Tesla 2021 Impact Report

You can listen to Arushi Sharma Frank’s comments at the Texas Public Utility Council Board meeting here.

A brief summary and my thoughts

Tesla is ramping up its participation in strengthening the Texas grid with big batteries, and soon with DERs that include powerwalls from Tesla customers. Tesla has already helped support the grid, and has done it faster than expected. We depend on power all the time, for our devices, our apartments, food storage, and just about everything.  Power requirements are increasing, not decreasing. All people, globally, will one day rely on energy stored in giant batteries.

Here are two ways you can support these efforts, and you do not need to own a Tesla or Powerwalls to do it.

  • Send an email to your state’s utility commission or power provider expressing your support for a strong energy grid based on battery storage. 
  • Take the opportunity to learn about Virtual Power Plants and Distributed Energy Resources.  

Here is a link to information about Tesla Powerpack [Utility and Business Energy Storage]

Link to learn about Tesla Energy Plan, Australia’s Largest Virtual Power Plant

Photo by Tomek Baginski on Unsplash

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Gail Alfar [Edited by Sarah Alfar] Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – This blogpost was created utilizing STARLINK satellite services. All Rights Reserved. June 26, 2022