Tag Archives: tesla

Russia’s biggest gun maker thinks its electric car is a Tesla killer. HAHAHA!

Can the modern but retro Kalashnikov CV-1 take on Tesla?
Image: Kalashnikov

Russia’s biggest gun manufacturer is looking to take on Tesla with its new electric concept car.

Kalashnikov, maker of the AK-47 assault weapon, has gone retro with its new “supercar,” the CV-1, unveiled at a Russian defense show near Moscow Thursday.

According to media outlets reporting at a press event at the expo, a Kalashnikov media rep said the car will “let us stand in the ranks of global electric car producers such as Tesla.”

It certainly looks retro, with the design and body of an old-school IZh 21252 “Kombi” car — the Kombi came from a Soviet era car maker from the 1970s. It’s a bold design decision, a vintage throwback akin to the Fujifilm Instax camera.

The CV-1 supercar has a rather old-fashioned design.

Image: Kalashnikov

Aside from making guns, Kalashnikov had previously built electric motorcycles and electric “Ovum” vehicles that were used at the World Cup in Russia this summer. The electric motorcycles had been used last year for police patrolling roads. But mostly the company builds weapons. And the occasional salt-and-pepper shaker.

So, will the company’s CV-1 “supercar” stand up to Tesla’s electric empire?

A limited number of Tesla vehicles have been sold in Russia in the past few years.

Kalashnikov didn’t give any pricing details for the potential vehicle, but the specs that the company provided didn’t exactly stack up with Tesla.

Tesla’s electric vehicles boast much more impressive stats. The CV-1 claims to have about a 200-mile range and go from 0 to 60 mph in 6 seconds. Tesla’s newest affordable sedan, the Model 3, has a 220-mile range and a long-range battery that reaches 310 miles. The Model 3 can reach 60 mph in 3.5 seconds.

If the concept car isn’t that impressive to you, check out the gun maker’s walking robot named Igoryok, also unveiled at the defense show this week. 

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/08/23/kalashnikov-electric-car-cv1-tesla-russia/

What Does Tesla’s Automated Truck Mean for Truckers?

On Thursday night, Elon Musk rolled out Tesla's biggest gizmo yet: a fully electric semitruck. The Semi can go a whopping 500 miles between charges, hauling 80,000 pounds along the way. And it can sorta, kinda drive itself—on highways, anyway. The truck comes with Enhanced Autopilot, the second generation of Tesla's semiautonomous technology, equipped with automatic braking, lane keeping, and lane departure warnings.

"Every truck we sell has Autopilot as standard," Musk said of the Semi, which goes into production in 2019. "This is a massive increase in safety."

That may be true—about 4,000 Americans die in truck-related collisions every year, and human error is responsible for many of them. Self-driving trucks will certainly change lives. That goes double for the nearly 3.2 million people currently employed as delivery and heavy truck drivers. But we don't know how: A dearth of research means that no one really knows what effect automation will have on the sector. It's clear that truck driving will change, though, and companies testing autonomous trucking today in Florida and California and elsewhere show what that new future might look like.

Driving Today

Trucking jobs are, as a recent report from the Washington, DC, think tank Global Policy Solutions points out, solid, middle class jobs. The median annual wage for delivery and heavy truck drivers is $34,768, 11 percent higher than the country's median wage. Trucking has also been an opportunity for black, Hispanic, and Native American workers, who have faced serious, race-based barriers to entry in other blue collar jobs and are now overrepresented in the industry. Many trucking jobs are unionized, and the gig doesn’t require an advanced education. You probably won't get rich doing it, but driving a truck is an option for those—men, in many cases—who might otherwise have done the kind of factory work that's left the country in the last three decades or so. Losing these jobs outright could devastate them.

Truck driving is, at the same time, a not-so-great job. Driving is solitary, physically inert, and psychologically exhausting. And long-haul truckers can be on the road—and away from family and friends—for months at a time. So people leave. In fact, there aren't enough truck drivers to go around. The American Trucking Associations reports the annual driver turnover for large truckload carriers reached a whopping 90 percent this year, and it projects a 50,000-driver shortage by the end of 2017.

Meanwhile, the freight shipping industry grows like Elon Musk's plans for the future. Today, trucks carry 70 percent of all goods shipped in the US, about 10.7 billion tons this year, pulling in $719 billion in revenue. And thanks to a burgeoning economy and population, ATA expects the industry to swell by 3.4 percent annually until 2023. Robo-trucking could help the sector dodge growing pains.

And, better, autonomous driving on highways should be easier to figure out than driving in cities, because those big rigs don't need to navigate pedestrians, cyclists, and traffic lights. That means most of the country's first experiences with driverless vehicles may be in the form of 70,000-pound trucks, instead of the kinds of driverless taxi services testing in sections of Pittsburgh and Arizona.

Driving Tomorrow

But what does the future look like for truck drivers? That kind of depends on how you define trucking. Because autonomous big rigs aren't going to be 100 percent autonomous, at least not in the near or medium future.

For example: Peloton Technology, a 6-year-old startup, envisions “platooning” trucks that can travel in packs and “talk” to each other via radio waves. Drivers in these trucks need only sit at the wheel if their vehicle leads the platoon; others can fill out paperwork, nap, or sit at a laptop and manage the fleet’s logistics network (though they'll probably need more training for that). Autonomous startup Embark sees a future in which drivers are more like tug boat pilots, waiting at a highway’s exit ramp for self-driving trucks to arrive and driving them into “port”—in this case, a distribution center. (The company announced this week it’s using semiautonomous vehicles to ship refrigerators between Texas and California, though today there’s always a safety driver inside to monitor the tech.)

The trucker doesn't even need to be in the truck: Starsky Robotics—a Silicon Valley startup that employs six full-time truck drivers—would put the driver behind a screen, in a call center-like office. The company, which today is testing and collecting data on Florida highways, envisions one joystick-equipped driver manually guiding trucks through the trickier bits of operations, though construction zones and the last few miles between an interstate and distribution center, while the computer handles the bulk of the simpler, highway driving tasks. One driver might be able to handle up to 30 trucks per eight-hour shift, the company predicts. “These would be remote drivers who get to go home at the end of the day,” says founder Stefan Steltz-Axmacher.

But yes, trucks that drive themselves are going to need fewer people to drive, and Goldman Sachs economists predict all driving industries could lose up to 300,000 jobs a year to automation. Still, those effects won’t kick in for decades. “This technology will be introduced sooner than people think, but take a longer time to diffuse through the country,” says Jonny Morris, who heads up policy for Embark. At first, these vehicles might be constrained to certain parts of the US, maybe those with good weather. (At this point, self-driving sensors do not love snow That could give drivers time to retrain, or retire. (The median age of a truck driver today is 49).

Not surprisingly, the Teamsters are skeptical. “It’s not just job loss,” Sam Loesche, a legislative representative for the Teamsters, told WIRED in September. “It’s also what happens to the working conditions of the person who remains in the cab. How do we protect the livelihood of the driver who may be pushed to operate on a 24-hour continual basis because the company is claiming he’s in the back of a cab?” The union, which represents almost 600,000 truck drivers, is also concerned that that lower demand for actual, human workers could mean lower wages overall.

The trucking jobs that do go away will affect some states more than others. That report from the Washington think-tank Global Policy Solutions notes that states with high shares of trucking industry employees, including North Dakota, Iowa, Wyoming, West Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Indiana, would be the most vulnerable. But not enough research is being done on the effects of automation on the trucking industry in the first place.

Maya Rockeymoore, who directs Global Policy Solutions and helped write the trucking report, says she’s been surprised by how little thought lawmakers, policymakers, and the automotive industry itself have given to the repercussions of their technology. When she took the report to industry meetings and congressional offices, “it wasn’t clear that any of them had done any modeling or forecasting or research about the impact of their disruptive technologies on the labor market before developing their technology,” she says. "It signals, perhaps, that disruption and the value of disruption itself as being a more important factor than the impact on society." The first bill regulating self-driving technology is working its way through Congress, but commercial vehicles like trucks aren't likely to be included in the final legislation. That means states will continue to decide individually how to regulate self-driving trucks on their roads.

Morris, of Embark, says this lack of research is partly out of necessity. “It’s much easier to measure the things that you have now that might go away,” says Morris. “It’s much harder to measure the things that will be created through innovation.” Cars might have killed the buggy whip industry, but they created jobs in the hospitality industry, the oil and gas industry … and trucking.

Tons More Trucks

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/what-does-teslas-truck-mean-for-truckers/

Elon Musk hands over first Tesla Model 3 electric cars to buyers

With 500, 000 orders for that $35,000, 350km-range vehicle, the upstart carmaker faces its greatest test

Tesla boss Elon Musk has paid the very first of the items he hopes is a mass-market electric vehicle to worker buyers,setting happens for that greatest test yet from the companys intends to revolutionise the car industry. .

Outdoors Teslas factory in Fremont, California on Friday night, Musk demonstrated from the $35,000 Model 3 which has a variety of 220 miles (350 km) on the charge that marks a departure in the companys earlier luxury planet.

Hrs prior to the event, Musk acknowledged it might be a significant challenge to construct the vehicle noisy . times of production.

Would undergo a minimum of six several weeks of producing hell, Musk told journalists.

The over 500, 000 reservations are up from about 373,000 disclosed in April 2016. Customers pay $1,000 refundable deposits for that vehicle, that is qualified for tax credits. Any new buyers may likely not receive their vehicle before the finish of 2018, Musk stated.

An extended-range form of the vehicle costs $44,000 and can drive 310 miles (500 km) on one charge. The cars have a streamlined dashboard lacking of buttons or knobs, having a touchstream display right from the driver.

Tesla faces major hurdles living to the Model 3 hype. The 500,000 vehicles Tesla vows to create the coming year are nearly six occasions its 2016 production.

Were Tesla to create, then sell 500,000 cars each year, the organization may likely still outsell the BMW, Mercedes, or Lexus brands within the U . s . States.

Production delays and quality issues damaged the launches of Teslas Model S and Model X vehicles, and the organization blamed production trouble for a shortfall throughout the second quarter of the year. Musk has stated a less complicated Model 3 design will help reduce potential set up-line problems.

Tesla has burned through greater than $2bn in cash to date this season in front of the launch. A troubled Model 3 launch could heighten the potential risks for the organization, while a stable delivery of Model 3s could produce a stream of money that will allow Tesla to prevent going again towards the capital markets to finance its operations.

Teslas share cost has surged 54% since The month of january awaiting the Model 3 launch, and Teslas pricey valuation now exceeds that of traditional rivals like General Motors and Ford .

So far, Tesla has operated like a niche producer of luxury electric vehicles, having a charismatic, showman leader who regularly interacts with fans on his Twitter account. Now loss-making Tesla is attempting to maneuver right into a different league, building vehicles in high volume for purchasers capable of paying merely a couple of 1000 dollars greater than the typical cost of the conventional vehicle or truck offered in america.

The Model 3 belongs to Musks broader intend to develop a clean energy and transportation company that provides electric semi trucks, rooftop solar power systems and enormous-scale battery storage systems.

Find out more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jul/29/elon-musk-hands-over-first-tesla-model-3-electric-cars-to-buyers

Tesla factory workers reveal pain, injury and stress: ‘Everything feels like the future but us’

Exclusive: Chief executive officer Elon Musk defends workplace, saying [we’re not just greedy capitalists who skimp on safety and declares his $50bn company overvalued

When Tesla purchased a decommissioned vehicle factory in Fremont, California, Elon Musk transformed that old-fashioned, unionized plant right into a much-vaunted factory of the future, where giant robots named after X-Men shape and fold sheets of metal in the gleaming white-colored mecca of advanced manufacturing.

Hunger for Musks planet, and the promise to disrupt the carbon-reliant automobile industry, helps Teslas value exceed those of both Ford and, briefly, General Motors (GM). But a few of the human workers who share the factory using their automatic counterparts complain ofgrueling work pressure they attributeto Musks aggressive production goals, and often existence-altering injuries.

Ambulances happen to be known as greater than 100 occasions since 2014 for workers experiencing fainting spells, dizziness, seizures, abnormal breathing and chest pains, based on incident reports acquired through the Protector. Hundreds more were known as for injuries along with other health problems.

Inside a phone interview concerning the conditions in the factory, which employs some 10,000 workers, the Tesla Chief executive officer conceded his workers have been getting difficulty, working lengthy hrs, as well as on hard jobs, but stated he cared deeply regarding their health and wellness.His company states its factory safety record has considerably improved within the this past year.

Musk also stated that Tesla shouldn’t be when compared with major US carmakers which its market capital, now greater than $50bn, is unwarranted. I do think the forex market cap is greater than we’ve any to deserve, he stated, mentioning his company produces just 1% of GMs total output.

Were a cash losing company, Musk added. This isn’t some situation where, for instance, we’re just greedy capitalists who made the decision to scrimp on safety to be able to convey more profits and dividends which type of factor. Its only a question of how much cash we lose. And how can we survive? How can we not die and also have everybody lose their jobs?

Tesla worker Jonathan Galescu says he has seen co-workers collapse or be taken away by ambulances. Photograph: Josh Edelson for the Guardian

Musks account of the companys approach differs from that of the 15 current and former factory workers who told the Guardian of a culture which they described as requiring working long hours under intense pressure, sometimes through pain and injury, in order to fulfill the CEOs ambitious production goals.

Ive seen people pass out, hit the floor like a pancake and smash their face open, said Jonathan Galescu, a production technician at Tesla. They just send us to work around him while hes still laying on the floor.

He was one of several workers who said they had seen co-workers collapse or be taken away in ambulances. We had an associate on my line, he just kept working, kept working, kept working, next thing you know he just fell on the ground, said Mikey Catura, a worker on the battery pack line.

Richard Ortiz, another production worker, spoke admiringly of the high-tech shop floor. Its like you died and went to auto-worker heaven. But he added: Everything feels like the future but us.

Tesla sits at the juncture between a tech startup, untethered from the rules of the old economy, and a manufacturer that needs to produce physical goods. Nowhere is that contradiction more apparent than at the Tesla factory, where Musks bombastic projection that his company will make 500,000 cars in 2018 (a 495% increase from 2016) relies just as much around the sweat and muscle of a large number of human workers because it does on advanced robots.

Inside Teslas car-production center in Fremont, California. The factory employs some 10,000 workers. Photograph: Tesla

From what Ive gathered, Elon Musk began Tesla a lot like an application startup and didnt understand that it’s not just nerds in a computer desk typing, stated one production worker, one of many who requested to not be recognized by name. You actually start losing the startup feel if you have lots of people doing physical labor.

In Feb, Tesla worker Jose Moran printed a blog post that detailed allegations of mandatory overtime, high rates of injuries and occasional wages in the factory, and says workers were trying to unionize using the U . s . Auto Workers.

Morans publish shone a spotlight on the workforce that’s almost entirely absent from Teslas official pictures of the factory.

Michael Sanchez had two dreams: to become a painter along with a vehicle service specialist. He stated he was ecstatic as he was employed 5 years ago to operate at Tesla, a business he believed was area of the future.

Now Sanchez has two herniated dvds in the neck, is on disability leave from work, and can’t grip a pencil without discomfort.

Tesla stated the employees injuries happened as they was installing one of the wheels, but Sanchez stated it had been brought on by time he spent focusing on Teslas set up line. The cars he labored on were suspended over the line, and the job needed searching up and dealing together with his hands above his mind all day long.

You may make it through Monday, Sanchez stated. You may make it through Tuesday. Come Wednesday you begin to feel something. Thursday is discomfort. Friday is agonizing. Saturday youre just enduring your day.

Teslas manufacturing practices have been most harmful in the earliest many years of operations. The organization doesn’t dispute that it is recordable incident rate (TRIR), the official way of measuring injuries and illnesses that’s reported to workplace safety regulators, was over the industry average between 2013 and 2016.

Tesla declined to produce data over individuals 4 years, saying similarly info doesnt reflect the way the factory operates today.

Tesla worker Michael Sanchez outside the Fremont factory. Sanchez has two herniated discs in his neck and is currently on disability leave. Photograph: Josh Edelson for the Guardian

The company did release more recent data, which indicates its record of safety incidents went from slightly above the industry average in late 2016, to a performance in the first few months of 2017 that was 32% better than average. The company said that its decision to add a third shift, introduce a dedicated team of ergonomics experts, and improvements to the factorys safety teams account for the significant reduction in incidents since last year.

Musk said safety was paramount at the company. Its incredibly hurtful and I think false for anyone to claim that I dont care. The CEO said his desk was in the worst place in the factory, the most painful place, in keeping with his management philosophy. Its not some comfortable corner office.

In early 2016, he said, he slept on the factory floor in a sleeping bag to make it the most painful thing possible. I knew people were having a hard time, working long hours, and on hard jobs. I wanted to work harder than they did, to put even more hours in, he said. Because thats what I think a manager should do.

He added: Were doing this because we believe in a sustainable energy future, trying to accelerate the advent of clean transport and clean energy production, not because we think this is a way to get rich.

Tesla workers who spoke to the Guardian echoed this sense of pride and enthusiasm for the companys mission. Were changing the world, enthused Ortiz. I cant wait for my granddaughter to one day go to class and say, My grandfather was in there.

But that pride did not erase what Ortiz described as a prevailing mood of mass disappointment over working conditions and what he alleged were avoidable work-related injuries.

He recently lost the strength in his right arm, a situation he said was scaring him. I want to use my arm when Im retired, he added.

Others described repetitive stress injuries they linked to working long hours. Before the companyreduced the average time of a workday in October 2016, workers said they routinely worked 12-hour shifts, six days a week. Tesla said the changehad been a success, and resulted in a 50% decline in overtime hours.

Tesla worker Richard Ortiz says that despite being proud of the companys mission, there is a mood of mass disappointment over conditions. Photograph: Julia Carrie Wong for the Guardian

Sanchez and other workers said they believed more injuries occurred because, for years, the company did not take worker safety seriously, with some managers belittling their complaints and pressuring them to work through pain.

When workers told managers about pain, Sanchez said they responded: We all hurt. You cant man up? Alan Ochoa, another Tesla worker who is currently on a medical leave with an injury, alleged that superiors put the production numbers ahead of the safety and wellbeing of the employees.

The company said that Ochoa and Sanchez are especially outspoken workers whose views do not represent the wider workforce. However, the Tesla spokesperson added: In a factory of more than 10,000 employees, there will always be isolated incidents that we would like to avoid.

Complaints about working conditions at Tesla are not universal. Ive got benefits, Ive got stocks, Ive got [paid time off], said a worker who has been at the company for about a year. I thoroughly enjoy my work and I feel Im treated fairly.

Another worker, a temporary employee, said that he sees some teams in the factory doing group stretches in the morning to prevent injuries.

However, some Tesla workers argue the companys treatment of injured workers discourages them from reporting their injuries. If workers are assigned to light duty work because of an injury, they are paid a lower wage as well as supplemental benefits from workers compensation insurance, a practice that Tesla said was in line with other employers and California law.

I went from making $22 an hour to $10 an hour, said a production worker, who injured his back twice while working at Tesla. It kind of forces people to go back to work.

No one wants to get a pay cut because theyre injured, so everyone just forces themselves to work through it, added Adam Suarez, who has worked at the factory for about three years.

Tesla said it was determined to further improve its safety standards. While some amount of injuries is inevitable, our goal at Tesla is to have as close to zero injuries as possible and to become the safest factory in the auto industry worldwide, the spokesperson said.

Inside Teslas factory. Elon Musk has said his company will make 500,000 cars in 2018, a 495% increase from 2016. Photograph: Tesla

Musk has a well-documented tendency to promise Mars and provide the moon. His electric vehicle company was, by their own admission, a bet. Musk stated beginning a vehicle manufacturer on your own was likely the worst way to generate money, honestly, though he caveated that perhaps rockets really are a bit worse. On the risk adjusted return basis, a car company needs to be the dumbest factor you may start.

The organization has been successful at growing its production rate every 3 months. Within the first three several weeks of 2017, the factory created greater than 25,000 cars a Tesla record. To satisfy Musks goal for 2018, they’re going to have to quintuple that rate.

I believe one of the leading problems is the fact that people at the very top are earning impractical quarterly goals, stated a staff around the battery power line.

Three workers described an administration tactic of assigning a financial value to each delay around the set up line. Once the robot came lower and [the supervisor] returned screaming at us, Thats $18,000, $20,0000, $30,0000, $50,000 because everyone cant have this done, Gelascu remembered.

Tesla argues the task in building vehicles on your own with new production and manufacturing methods shouldn’t be undervalued, however that there is nothing more essential than protecting the safety and health of their workers.

Were attempting to do great for the planet so we have confidence in doing the best factor, Musk stated. Which reaches caring concerning the safety and health of everybody at the organization.

Its a far more humanistic tone compared to one he strikes with investors. You actually cant have individuals the development line itself. Otherwise youll instantly drop to individuals speed, he told investors within an earnings call this past year. Theres still many people in the factory, what theyre doing is maintaining the machines, upgrading them, coping with anomalies. However in the development process itself there basically could be no people.

Find out more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/18/tesla-workers-factory-conditions-elon-musk

Autopilot supplier disowns Tesla for ‘pushing the envelope on safety’

Mobileye says capability of system to do the drivers job was overstated but Elon Musks company denies ever suggesting its cars could drive themselves

Mobileye broke ties with Tesla Motors because the Silicon Valley firm was pushing the envelope in terms of safety with the design of its Autopilot driver-assistance system, its chairman has said.

It is not designed to cover all possible crash situations in a safe manner, said Amnon Shashua, who is also chief technology officer at the Israel-based maker of collision detection and driver assistance systems.

No matter how you spin it, [Autopilot] is not designed for that. It is a driver assistance system and not a driverless system.

The safety of Autopilot, which helps drivers stay in lanes and steer on highways, was thrust into the public spotlight after a fatal crash involving a Tesla Model S driver using the new technology in May. Tesla said in a blogpost after the accident that neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied.

In China, a family is suing Tesla after the driver was killed when a Model S struck a road-weeping truck.

A Tesla spokeswoman said on Wednesday the company had never described Autopilot as an autonomous technology or self-driving car.

Since the release of Autopilot weve continuously educated customers on the use of the features, reminding them that theyre responsible to keep their hands on the wheel and remain alert and present when using Autopilot, the spokeswoman said. Drivers must be prepared to take control at all times

However, drivers using Autopilot have been known to take their hands off the wheel at highway speeds for several minutes at a time. YouTube videos proliferated soon after the systems launch showing Tesla drivers going hands-free, prompting Musk to express concern about drivers doing crazy things.

On Sunday, Tesla said it would update Autopilot to make it more difficult for drivers to ignore warnings to keep hands on the wheel and other changes that Musk said would probably have prevented the fatality in May. Musk said on Sunday that as drivers became familiar with the system, they tended to ignore audible warnings to retake the wheel.

Still, Musk said, the revised system would allow a drivers hands to be off the wheel for up to three minutes while following a car at highway speeds.

Shashuas comments escalate an unusually public rift in an industry where suppliers and automakers rarely speak ill of each other in public. After Mobileye announced its break with Tesla in July in the wake of the fatality, Tesla said in a statement that Mobileye could not keep pace with Teslas product changes.

Our parting ways was inevitable, Musk told a press conference in late July.

Shashua said the company had reservations about the mixed messages from Tesla about Autopilot both boasting of its capabilities while cautioning that drivers needed to keep their hands on the wheel especially after watching Teslas response to the Florida crash.

Long term this is going to hurt the interests of the company and hurt the interests of an entire industry, if a company of our reputation will continue to be associated with this type of pushing the envelope in terms of safety, he said.

The company counts as customers 27 automakers for its collision detection systems, which represent around 70% of the current market.

Tesla and Musk have also said the Florida death was the first known fatality involving a car operating on Autopilot in 130m miles of driving, and have compared that with the average of one death every 60m miles of driving by vehicles worldwide.

With Reuters

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/15/autopilot-supplier-disowns-tesla-for-pushing-the-envelope-on-safety

How to go camping in the trunk of a $145,000 Tesla

As the sun set beyond the long-needle pines and emerald waters of Lake Tahoe, I looked across the campfire and laughed out loud. I was about to go camping in the back of a $145,000 electric car because, well, it’s become a thing.

Tesla Camper Mode, as its often called, may not be sanctioned by the company, but a community of drivers is devoted to the practice. There are forums and YouTube videos that praise the virtues of Tesla camping and explore the hacks youll need to make it work. Theres even a third-party Tesla car app, with a Camp Mode function that will optimize the cars systems for a good nights sleep. This is a quirky, little Tesla subculture, and of course I had to try it myself.

A hotel on hot wheels.

Image: Tom Randall

I know what youre thinking (because it was my first thought, too): Why would someone who can afford a Tesla need to bed down inside one? The last time I slept in a car was on a college road trip from Iowa to Florida, and it was a night of eternal torment, with cramped seats, suffocating heat, and mosquitoes that swarmed when we cracked the windows. Who would choose that again?

But Tesla camping promised something different. The sapphire blue Model S I was driving for the week has a 90-kilowatt-hour battery the largest you can find in a car on the road today. In theory, it should be able to handle a night of climate control and HEPA-level air filtration without much limiting of the vehicles range. Also, electric cars are virtually silent and release no tailpipe emissions (they dont have tailpipes) so they wont suffocate the camper or disturb the local fauna. As for the Model Ss panoramic glass roof, well, no tent can compete with that.

Theres also something romantic about the idea that you slide into a car to enjoy the solitary pleasures of life on the road and you need to stop only when you, or the car, need to recharge. And Camper Mode could be a real draw for Teslas next car, the more affordable Model 3, which is headed for production in 2017. According to a person familiar with the final design, which hasnt been made public, Camper Mode will indeed be possible. (More specifics below.) Tesla is hoping to make at least 500,000 Model 3s a year, beginning in 2018. In doing so, it may open up a whole new approach to road tripping for 21st century Jack Kerouacs.

Image: Stephanie Davidson

Step one: Park it

One beauty of the Model S for camping is that the back seats fold flat, creating an impressive expanse that can accommodate someone more than six feet tall, or even two people side by side, as Norwegian Tesla enthusiast Bjrn Nyland shows in this video from April 2015. But what I didnt realize is that the 2016 Next Generation rear seats dont fold completely flat. In fact, they leave a hump of several inches that could be a real pain in the backside.

My solution: I stopped by a sporting goods store and picked up a few leftover cardboard boxes. It took only a minute to even out the hump, but its an annoying extra step that somehow feels like cheating. Cardboard in place, I unrolled a self-inflating sleeping pad and made up my bed with a sheet, pillow, and light blanket. The parking spot at my Lake Tahoe campsite was slightly inclined, so I backed the car in to level it out, accounting for my cardboard job. There. Now it was time for a campfire.

This hump couldve been a back-breaker.

Image: Tom Randall

Why they call it Camper Mode

Driving a Model S takes some getting used to. Theres little difference between having the car on or off. When you approach it with the key fob in your pocket, it unlocks itself and the climate control engages, ready to drive. When you leave the car, everything shuts down and locks up automatically. You can even use the official Tesla phone app to pre-heat or pre-cool the car from a distance. Theres no key or ignition button.

Unfortunately for campers, when the drivers seat sits empty for more than half an hour, the car wants to turn itself off. Here are the steps to trick the car and get it ready for camping:

1. Put the car in neutral and manually engage the parking brake on the touchscreen. This will prevent the cars systems from turning themselves off. (Dont worry: You cant accidentally disengage the parking brake without having your foot on the brake pedal.)

2. Turn off the headlights, though the daytime running lamps (a thin outline of LEDs) will remain on when the car is in neutral. For stealth mode, I cut out squares of cheap backing for blackout curtains and hung them like sunglasses from the cars front hood.

3. Set the temperature, fan, and air filtration to your preferred levels for sleeping.

4. Manually lock the car via the touchscreen.

5. Change the screen to the nighttime setting and dim it to the lowest setting. If thats still too much light, you can also set the screen to cleaning mode, which blacks it out, though I preferred to maintain instant access to the controls. I threw a towel over it.

6. Do yourself a favor and pick up a portable electric espresso maker or kettle. They plug right in to the car, so in the morning you can recharge before hitting the road again.

The Camp Mode option on the unauthorized iPhone Tesla app works differently. Instead of shifting to neutral, the app checks in with the car every 30 minutes to re-engage the climate control when it would otherwise turn itself off while parked. This has the added advantage of allowing you to charge the car while you camp and to turn off the headlights completely, but it disengages if you ever use your phone. I wasnt able to test it because theres no Android version of the app yet.

Coming Soon to the Model 3?

Short of a literal camper, the Model S may be the only car in the world ready for full Camper Mode. Other electric carsthe Nissan Leaf or BMW i3, for instancedont yet have the battery range to drive to a remote destination, park, leave the cars HVAC system running overnight, and return home. After driving the car from Reno, Nevada, to the south shore of Lake Tahoe (mostly on Autopilot), the cars navigation system told me I had enough power left to make it to the next Supercharger station on my route with 40 percent of my 270-mile range to spare. A night of camping ultimately sapped that range by about 7 percentage points.

Surprisingly, the Model Ss bigger brother, the Model X SUV, makes an unsuitable camper because the unique monopost second-row seats dont fold down. The Model Ss little brother, the Model 3, will be camp-ready, if a bit cramped.

The Model 3 seats will fold flat, and the storage well at the bottom of the trunk will have a leveling cover, similar to the setup on the Model S, according to the person familiar with the final design. However, the flat bed on the compact Model 3 is long enough to accommodate only someone who is about 5 1/2 feet long, stretched out. Anyone much taller than that would need to bend their knees or sleep at an angle.

The Model 3 Bed5 Feet Long

Better for side sleepers

Confirmed: The seats will fold flat.

Image: Stephanie Davidson

After a meal of brats and beans, roasted marshmallows, and a few nips of bourbon before bed, it was time for me to put camping mode to the real test. The campground was still noisy with late arrivers and late-night revelers, but when I closed the doors, all was silenced. I stretched out on my Tesla bed and realized for the first time that I was in a room of windows, with a panoramic view of the mountains and trees and the stars beyond.

It took a century of human technology to create this fully connected pod of an electric camper. Teslas Autopilot removes the physical stresses of long-haul driving, and the large-screen maps and integrated Supercharger navigation leave the traveler to think about the bigger picture. The great American road tripper, Jack Kerouac, drove a 1949 Hudson Commodore made by a scrappy U.S. car company and priced a step above the average car at the time. If he were alive today, hed probably be checking out a Model 3.

Camping selfie.

Image: Tom Randall

Sometime after midnight, I awoke in a climate-controlled sleep bubble beneath a view of the Milky Way. New to electric driving, I had a bit of range anxiety and checked the battery gauge. The car was barely sipping juice, confirming what a Tesla salesperson once told me when I asked how long the car could keep me comfortable in gridlock. His response, which I now believe: Days.

Tesla camping is still an imperfect experience, but it doesnt need to be. The company clearly didnt design the Model S with the camper in mind, given the hump, the cardboard boxes, the auto shut-off, the daytime running lights, and the inability to turn off the dash. It wouldnt take much for Tesla to code a sweet official version of Camper Mode and to ensure a big enough flat bed in the Model 3. I hope it does, because I could get used to this.

This article originally published at Bloomberg here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/08/21/camping-in-tesla-model-s/